Living more than an hour and a half from the nearest Seventh-day Adventist school, Prichard was short on options for a suitable alternative, so she sought God’s help.
She felt her prayers were answered when she came across information about the launch of a new technology-mediated elementary school with the acronym ASPIRE (Adventist School Preparing Instilling and Redeeming for Eternity). During its first year, Noah enrolled as an eighth-grade student.
“When Noah was accepted into ASPIRE, it totally changed his life,” Prichard explains. “He loves it and doesn’t want to miss a day. I don’t even have to wake him up! In and out of school, teachers, pastors, and church members have noticed that he’s more active and confident. He is more himself.”
ASPIRE is a grade 1–8 virtual school operated by the education department of the Michigan Conference, based in Lansing, Michigan, United States. For Jeremy Hall, the Michigan Conference’s superintendent of schools, part of the core mission of Adventist education is to find and nurture students like Noah and reach as many young students as possible for the kingdom of heaven.
The Michigan Conference has 33 schools and 180 churches and companies scattered across its territory, yet Hall explains, “many of these schools are inaccessible or impractical to a large percentage of our constituent families, geographically or for other reasons.” In direct correlation to this challenge, he says there is “a significant decline in enrollment across our schools over the last ten years.”
An Unexpected Silver Lining
Hall and his team began strategizing to address enrollment declines before COVID-19. During the development process, the pandemic struck and changed the school system—and the world—for the foreseeable future.