Education all in the family at this place

December 30, 2002 11:00 pm

By SUNNY LOCKWOOD

When parents choose to send their children to the Christian Family Learning Center in Angels Camp, they're also enrolling themselves.

At Calaveras County's only parochial school, parents find themselves actively involved in their children's educational experience, be it cleaning classrooms, monitoring the school yard or building sets for the yearly Christmas musical production.

"Nothing happens without the parents' participation," said Christian Family Learning Center Principal Carla Smith. "Lots of grandparents are involved, too."

That's the whole idea.

A group of families that wanted to be part of their children's education started the center in 1991, Smith said.

"At first, they thought it would be like home schooling with a teacher's guidance, but then it evolved into a day program," Smith said.

Now the center is a full-fledged private school with nine credentialed teachers, two enrichment teachers and 90 students who come from as far away as Columbia and Copperopolis.

"The school believes that parents and guardians assume full responsibility for the content and progress of their children's education, and students are fully and primarily accountable to their parents," The learning center handbook states. "CFLC encourages and expects on-going, direct parental involvement in the function and development of the school."

The building the center leases belongs to Foothill Community Church, but the school is not sponsored by the church. Students come from a variety of denominations.

Set among rippling hills on Whittle Road not far from New Melones Reservoir, the kindergarten through eighth-grade school limits class size to 15 and offers a full curriculum of language arts, math, social studies, science, civics, history, music and dance.

Along with memorizing multiplication tables and conjugating verbs, students also worship, pray and study the Bible together.

"Without a doubt I want my kids to go to school and find out about God there," said Chris Muetterties. He and his wife, Karla, have two students at the learning center, and next year his third child will be enrolled.