Student Supports in Christian Education
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Student Supports in Christian Education

January 28, 2022
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By Mrs. Duda, DMC Senior Director of Academics

At Des Moines Christian School, student support encompasses the academic, behavioral, and social-emotional strategies utilized in classrooms, social settings, and spiritual life activities across campus. The strategies used in each department vary based on the age of the child and degree to which needs can be met within our context, but in general, DMC’s student support framework follows a common set of practices and principles aligned with our school mission.

The transition from first semester to second often brings a heightened awareness of unique student needs. Children and adolescents are far enough into the school year to demonstrate to what extent they are growing academically, behaviorally, or spiritually through a variety of progress monitoring tools we utilize that measure growth such as Star, Dibels, or Global Student Assessment. Teams across divisions are analyzing the data and brainstorming ways to help children be successful. As a school leader, it is beautiful to watch a truly collaborative team come together and ask questions from our Strategic Academic Plan such as “What are the child’s academic, behavioral, or social-emotional needs and what can I do to help them succeed?”

Research Says Relationships are Key

In a recent article published by Association of Christian Schools International, research related to the impact of a caring teacher-student relationship revealed what we already know to be true - “Education is a highly relational process, and … relationships can profoundly impact student growth and learning.” Equipping minds and nurturing hearts through caring, relationships matters to our faculty and staff. Since those relationships include offering correction as well as advice or counsel, our Strategic Academic Plan is intentional in developing faculty to have a deep understanding of the children with whom they work including the strengths of who God created that child to be, their opportunities for growth, and a compassion for the experiences they carry with them.

In the student support process, there are sometimes difficult conversations about the progress a child is, or is not, making. While my experience was not at DMC (my step-daughter lives in Montana), I’m familiar with sitting on the other side of the table in a school-home meeting and the worry that settles in a parent’s heart on whether or not your child will graduate, move to the next grade, make progress with that disability, or choose the right path. In the end, my step-daughter graduated, learned coping strategies, continued on to college, and started a career in a field we could see she was called to as a child. It only affirmed in our hearts that God is faithful to continue the good work He starts in our children.

Be Encouraged! You are not Alone.

If your child is experiencing a hard season right now (academically, behaviorally, or socially-emotionally), hang in there. You are not alone in supporting your child and I have observed, firsthand, the care and compassion our faculty have for the children at Des Moines Christian School. While the journey may be hard at times, I’m grateful we can walk through it together.

If you have any questions about the Student Support System at Des Moines Christian School, please contact me at 515- 252-2491 or


About Mrs. Duda

As DMC’s Senior Director of Academics, Mrs. Duda leads the innovation and activation of deeper learning from early education through high school to build on learner strengths and needs, create new knowledge using real-world problem solving, and assist all students in identifying their identity and purpose. From academics to mental health, Mrs. Duda leads faculty in professional learning focused on creating favorable environments within the classroom, advisory, and student support framework so children and adolescents will flourish in thought, belief, and action. Her role includes fostering relationships with community partners like Heartland Christian Counseling to provide on-site mental health services and OneBody3 to train faculty in skills related to nurturing student identity and purpose.

Mrs. Duda began her career in Christian education in 2000 at Heritage Christian School located in the Iowa City area where she taught in a self-contained elementary classroom before becoming the middle school math and Bible teacher. In 2006, Mrs. Duda joined Des Moines Christian School as a sixth grade math, Bible, and history teacher. After a cumulative twelve years in the classroom, she moved into school leadership, first as the Director of Curriculum and Assessment in 2012, and then High School Principal in 2014.

Mrs. Duda holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education with a minor in mathematics, a master's degree in educational leadership, and is currently pursuing her PhD in education through Drake University.