Harvest Community School moves back into renovated Clarendon County facility and could expand

BY SHARRON HALEY >br>Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 1/11/19

SUMMERTON -- Harvest Community School's enrollment has grown by more than 250 percent since the Christian-based school opened its doors in 2013.

"Our desire is to glorify God by training up children to delight in the Lord Jesus Christ, to develop …

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Harvest Community School moves back into renovated Clarendon County facility and could expand

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SUMMERTON -- Harvest Community School's enrollment has grown by more than 250 percent since the Christian-based school opened its doors in 2013.

"Our desire is to glorify God by training up children to delight in the Lord Jesus Christ, to develop virtuous habits and to discover joy in learning by the power of the Holy Spirit" is the school's mission statement.

"God's plans for us were so much higher than we ever expected," said Angie Bruner, headmaster of Harvest Community School. "We've grown beyond the scope of our expectations in this small amount of time. If we keep growing at this rate, we'll need to add another location."

According to Bruner, when HCS opened its doors in the fall of 2013, the school had 18 students enrolled. On the first day of school in 2018, 65 students walked in the doors.

The growth of the young school meant the school had to expand its doors, and a recent expansion and renovation was completed during the recent holidays with the addition of two common rooms, two new classrooms, a teachers' workroom and a storage room.

Bruner said that the new design incorporated a way to turn the workroom into another classroom should the enrollment continue to increase.

HCS features grades K through 12 with a 1-to-10 teacher-student ratio for kindergarten through elementary school and a ratio of 1 to 15 students per teacher for the middle and high school classes.

"Our teacher-to-student ratio allows for a very personalized education," Bruner added. "The low student-to-teacher ratio allows students to get to know their teachers better while it also allows the teachers to get to know the needs of their students."

Bruner said that the staff allows the students to work at their own pace.

"Our parents are seeking something different for their children," Bruner said. "That's why we provide an individualized education plan."

Bruner said the HCS is a Christian school where the staff and its students "live by Biblical principles every day."

"Our expectations are high," she added. "We want our students to be well rounded. We want them to interact well with adults and each other. We're a Christian school that lives out a Christian lifestyle every day."

Since its inception, HCS has built its curriculum around the Charlotte Mason method of learning which is based on three elements: atmosphere, discipline and life.

"Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child's inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food," is a quote from Charlotte Mason.

Bruner said that Charlotte Mason's revolutionary methods of learning have led to a shift from utilitarian education to the education of a child based on living ideas.

Bruner said when the school first started that teaching strictly from textbooks was a thing of the past.

"Textbooks are gone in favor of books that tell stories, and instruction will focus on teaching each child as a person and not just as a vessel for receiving information," Bruner said in 2013.

That is still the case in 2018.

"We do a lot of work outside the classroom," Bruner said. "We go on field trips and nature walks. We learn about our environment in the environment when possible."

Bruner said HCS teaches students to give back to their communities through community service.

"They are learning to serve others," she added. "We have one group that visits a local nursing home every week. We have a Blessing Box that our students maintain by keeping it supplied. They monitor it and keep extra food on hand for when the box is running low."

HCS is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3, private school that is accredited by the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools. The school has students from a tri-county area, including Clarendon, Sumter and Orangeburg counties.