Ron and Lucy Davis were married in 1974, the same year that Sumter Christian School first opened its doors. They did not come to the school until nine years later, however, when he took a job as a sixth-grade teacher and she as an office secretary. The couple just started their 31st year with the school, and Ron, a Bishopville native, now serves as administrator, overseeing every aspect for its 200 students and 29 staffers, who include 16 full-time teachers. Lucy, originally from Wilmore, Ky., supervises day care, preschool and elementary school activities through fourth grade in her role as administrative supervisor.
Both of their now grown children, Ron and Kelly, graduated from the school, and the couple is deeply proud of its students and alumni. They are also gratified when former students entrust their own children to the school's care. One teacher, in fact, Laura RodgersMahoney, is a 1991 graduate and was in Davis' sixth-grade class.
"Being able to do this together has been great for us," Ron said. "A lot of people tell us they don't understand a husband and wife living together and then working together all day long. But we enjoy working together."
HOW DID YOU MEET?
Ron: Her brother-in-law came to be our church's pastor (in Bishopville), and she came to stay with her sister in the summer of 1971. We dated for three years, and in 1974 we married.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO SUMTER CHRISTIAN IN 1983?
Ron: We were looking for a church with a school, because our kids at the time were 4 and 6. I was specifically looking for a church to pastor that had a school, or to teach and have any type of involvement with Christian education. The week that we came here, the positions for sixth-grade teacher and secretary opened up. We saw God's hand in that. I later became principal in 1990 and assistant pastor of the church at the same time.
WHAT MADE YOU GET INTO EDUCATION AND THE MINISTRY?
Ron: I originally pursued computer programming at Midlands Tech but realized that wasn't for me after a semester. I started Liberty University the next year and got my bachelor's degree in Bible studies. It wasn't until after that that I had any interest in Christian education. ... God used something else in my life to put me in that direction.
After our first child was born, and I was in graduate school, I saw Liberty was offering a free trip to Israel for students the year after my master's in divinity was over. So, I doubled up on electives to get an additional master's degree (in Christian education) so I could go to Israel. Maybe a little selfish, but I didn't know then that God had plans of using that education degree. I believe he orchestrated that and then orchestrated those two positions opening up so we could come here. It's good to see God's hand in your life like that.
Lucy: He has always fulfilled our needs.
HOW IS CHRISTIAN EDUCATION DIFFERENT THAN WHEN YOU STARTED SCS IN THE 1980s?
Ron: I think the primary difference is back in the '80s, Christian education was still in its pioneering days. It was fairly new as a concept, and we've come a long way in terms of teacher training certification and accreditation.
WHAT'S IT LIKE HAVING WORKED WITH SO MANY STUDENTS FOR 30 YEARS?
Ron: It's rewarding and fulfilling, particularly to see our graduates go into the ministry. We have one, Tim Boggs, who's a principal of a Christian school in Colorado now, and we have others serving as pastors, missionaries, church musicians, Christian teachers and in all aspects of the ministry.
Lucy: It's rewarding to have invested your life in someone and see that have a positive impact on the ministry. I enjoy watching the kids grow up.
Ron: And even if they're not in the ministry, we have graduates who are dentists, attorneys and still involved in their local churches. I think it's really special for us, too, to have former students sending their children to the school.
WHAT ARE SOME NEW ADDITIONS FOR THE SCHOOL?
Ron: New this year in our math classes for sixth grade and up, we're adding smart board technology and the e-textbook capability with the Kindles and tablets. It's not new this year, but we're continuing with our Target Learning Center, which we started two years ago. We have two full-time teachers there, and it's primarily for students who have special needs with math or reading and language arts.
They leave the classroom during that subject time instead of being mainstreamed and work at their own levels, with the goal being to move them back to the mainstream classroom as soon as possible. This has been really good because, in the past, we were unable to accept some students due to entrance testing, and now we can accept them and have them go into target learning.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.
Ron: We have one son, Ron Davis Jr., who is married to Maria Davis. They live in Dallas, Ga., and have two children, Kaitlyn, 13, and Brett, 9. We have a daughter, Kelly Davis, who works at American Forest Management in Sumter.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?
Ron: We plan to stay right here. My dad (Lee County Clerk of Court James Davis) is 86, and he hasn't retired yet. I guess if I follow his example, I'll stay on as long as I'm here.
— Robert J. Baker