Kate Allen (’10) is a woman with creativity, determination, and big ideas on how to use her talents to positively impact the world.
Currently enrolled in the Master of Health Administration program at USC, Kate is passionate about healthcare! She founded the non-profit Norkova Health in 2019 after realizing how under-appreciated and ignored mental health is in the US. In fact, the organization is named after her dear friend Tereza Norkova, who passed away from suicide. After that, Kate knew she had to do something to help the mental health problem in the US.
Essentially, Norkova is crowdfunding for healthcare. They add $0.10 – $0.20 good-will donations onto a multitude of goods like shampoo, granola bars, band-aids,
etc. to create a massive healthcare fund. Their focus is on mental health, and they fund services for COVID-19 relief and at-risk children and young-adults. Norkova is built on the idea that “small impacts by the masses create massive change.”
The cause is in its infancy stages, but Norkova has big plans to partner with companies around the globe. Currently, due to the quarantine, revenue is coming from customizable COVID-19 mask sales. They are on the RedCrow crowdinvesting website, gaining some publicity, and counting on more industry professionals to weigh in on the platform.
To find out more about Kate’s venture, visit Norkova Health – Crowdfunding for Healthcare
Or to purchase masks of any color, any size, any logo – contact Kate Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear MCS Community,
Over the past month, the board and I have met extensively to discuss various matters related to the pandemic, state mandated social distancing requirements, and resulting transition to remote learning. One important topic has been the severe financial strain some MCS families are experiencing during this time. As a Christian community, it is our desire to follow the example seen in the early church described in Acts where “all believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed any of their possessions as their own, but they shared everything they had…. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy among them” Acts 4:32-33.
The desire to care for the MCS community extends to our staff and families alike. For our staff, it is our intention to fully utilize each staff member to support remote learning and maintain full employment of the entire staff. Through this difficult season, this is an important commitment we feel strongly convicted to fulfill.
Just as we desire to care for our staff, we also desire to support families now experiencing a financial crisis. We have prayerfully decided to focus attention and resources on providing assistance to families with true need as modeled in the early church (Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:32-35). To that end, the Board and school administration have established a MCS Relief Fund for the purpose of providing short-term financial assistance, or emergency tuition aid, to families whose finances have been specifically affected by COVID-19. Families can apply for emergency aid in accordance with the school’s established COVID-19 Emergency Tuition Assistance process. Assistance will be awarded based upon demonstrated COVID-19 related need that has led to the inability to continue tuition payments. To support this fund and better serve and meet the needs of the MCS community, we seek donors with the capacity and heart to live out Acts 2 by contributing to the MCS Relief Fund. If your family feels particularly led to contribute, visit the MCS Relief Fund Giving page. More information regarding the MCS Relief fund and tuition assistance process can be found below.
Know that we are in constant prayer for the MCS community. We trust God’s provision, faithfulness, and goodness at all times. We are confident God is ever-present working all things together in our lives and our community. As always, we deeply appreciate your partnership and prayers.
Heather Harrison, Head of School
Keven Kroehler, COO
Important and Common Questions
Is MCS going to offer a tuition discount?
The Board, administration, and Finance Committee have had significant conversations surrounding this topic. Through much discussion, serious consideration, and prayer it has been decided that MCS will not offer a tuition discount. This decision was based on several factors. First, one of our key goals is to provide and maintain an affordable Christian education. To do so, we strive to maintain a balanced budget that manages expenses and relies upon annual fundraising (Annual Fund appeal and Spring Gala) to achieve the operational budget. As a result, the school’s budget does not have the ability to absorb a school-wide discount. Second, given that we continue to pay our entire faculty and staff through this remote learning season, the operating costs and streamlined budget of the school remain unchanged. Third, we strongly believe that the budget’s limited financial margin should be earmarked for helping families experiencing severe financial need directly related to this unprecedented season of COVID-19. As modeled in Acts 2, it is our intention to support meeting specific needs rather than provide a broad discount. Fourth, we are confident that the remote learning program maintains our core value of Exemplary Academics. While we fully recognize the added responsibility and support parents have had to assume, faculty and staff are working tirelessly to continually improve and provide high quality online instruction, support and engage all students in learning, and provide enrichment opportunities all while prioritizing spiritual nourishment and relational connection.
My family is experiencing significant financial impact as a result of COVID-19 and we are in need of assistance. What options and process can we pursue for support?
Because we are dedicated to supporting members of our community experiencing unexpected need due to COVID-19 related issues, available funds within the budget have been specifically designated for emergency, short-term financial assistance. This aid is specific to financial impact occurring within the timeframe of COVID-19 shutdowns. Though funds are limited, if you truly find yourself financially impacted by COVID-19 and therefore unable to continue tuition payments, we will do whatever we can to support through financial aid or tuition payment extensions. We care deeply about our families and want to make sure we do what we can to address any issue that is within our ability. Please do not just cease tuition payments, but reach out to learn more about our financial assistance program through the COVID-19 crisis. We are all in this together and there is help available for those who have true need. For more information, please contact Keven Kroehler.
The MCS Relief Fund was mentioned. Is there a way for my family to contribute to this fund to support staff, their families, or financial aid for MCS families in need?
Yes! To augment this fund and better serve and meet the needs of the MCS community, we seek donors with the capacity and heart to live out Acts 2 and contribute to the MCS Relief Fund. We are thankful for a generous MCS family that has already contributed to this fund and seek additional families who feel led to contribute. Further details for this fund can be found here. Contributions to this fund can be made here. Please contact Heather Harrison or Julie Hellriegel with further questions.
A prior letter mentioned continual improvements to remote learning and increase in rigor. What are some of the specific changes?
Upon returning from Easter break, our students’ schedules have changed incorporating more time with teachers to dive deeper into subjects. Teachers have developed a new scope and sequence that will guide instruction for the final weeks of the school year. Additionally, assessment practices have been adjusted to better monitor the progress of student learning. In elementary, science, social studies, and Bible are now incorporated into the weekly schedules as well as rotations in art, music, and Spanish. For middle school, students are now participating in weekly electives in addition to all core classes, Spanish, and Bible. And, all students now have PE each week. These additions provide a well rounded, full schedule experience for all students. For more information, please refer to the communication sent by our division principals last week.
Have we lost instructional days due to the extended Easter break?
While extension of Easter break may appear to be a full week, the net impact on instruction is three days. The break had always been planned to extend through Monday after Easter. The last day of school has been moved from Thursday, May 21 to Friday, May 22. Additionally, though this school calendar year felt more compressed, the earlier start in August ensured the total number of teaching days matched the 2018-19 school year. You will likely recall this was made possible by changing the holiday break schedules (Thanksgiving and Winter Break/Ski Week) and eliminating staff development days. In addition, instructional time has been prioritized by reducing the number of events that can tend to impact instruction. Finally, the last week of school is typically busy with end-of-year celebrations but the staff is planning alternative options that will allow the final week to be fully utilized for learning, moving celebrations outside of instructional time. More information regarding end of the year celebrations will be provided before the end of April.
Does MCS qualify for any of the available federal assistance funds?
Yes, and we have been approved through our lender. However, MCS can only draw these funds as necessary to supplement any shortfalls in revenue required to cover operating expenses including staff salaries. MCS will fully comply with all federal funding guidelines which states “funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments.”
Will we take advantage of an empty campus to pursue early Bright Future construction?
his is definitely an option we are pursuing and our Construction Committee has been exploring all options. More information on our Phase II Bright Future construction will be provided soon! As a reminder, Bright Future funds are restricted designated to construction-related work only. Donors pledged their funds toward Bright Future and there are strict guidelines by which those funds can be spent. Bright Future funds cannot be spent on the operating budget. As communicated in the fall, 5% of the annual budget is provided through undesignated giving provided by the Annual Fund and Spring Gala. These proceeds are generally used for operating needs and are separate from designated fundraising such as Bright Future or Fund a Need (Gala).
Our Head of School search has successfully concluded and we are elated to announce Heather Harrison as our next Head of School, effective immediately!
Starting in December 2019, the Search Committee, Advisory Committee, our search firm (Job Fit Matters), and an organizational consultant launched a thorough, extensive national search process which generated 40+ initial candidates. Our Search Committee and Advisory Committee were composed of current and former parents, school staff, current and past MCS Board members, and a current MCS grandparent. They met regularly and often throughout this process. After multiple rounds of interviews, the Search Committee presented the unanimously-supported recommendation to the Board that Heather was the ideal choice for the next MCS Head of School. The Board approved this recommendation with a unanimous vote. Throughout this past school year, she’s demonstrated grace, humility, excellent communication, and exemplary, prayerful leadership, all while maintaining a sharp focus on God and His direction for MCS. She’s led her team fearlessly and successfully, as evidenced by the 100% of our teachers’ intent-to-return rate for the 2020-21 school year.
Heather brings 19 years of distinguished experience in education to this role, including 10 years of teaching, and 9 years of administrative leadership experience. She has served as Middle School principal at MCS since 2013, and most recently has also served as Interim Head of School after obediently answering God’s calling to that role in August 2019. She has a deep love for MCS, and she has clearly demonstrated her strength as a godly, prayerful leader during this school year which has presented many significant challenges. Heather holds a Masters degree in Education from Vanguard University. She and her husband Josh have three children: two MCS alum daughters Buze and Marta, and one current student son Elijah in Kindergarten. Josh is the co-lead pastor at Canopy Church and Heather serves in ministry with him.
Our Board’s focus has been and remains selection of a godly leader, revision of Board governance/policies and investment in building a high-trust culture. These efforts are intended to develop a lasting working partnership between the Head of School, Board, administrative team and staff and to maximize school leadership longevity. We’re committed to continuing a godly and supportive relationship with Heather and her team, laying out clear expectations and providing guidance and resources as needed. Importantly, our approach remains steadfast in maintaining MCS’s mission to build a firm foundation through Christ-centered education. Accordingly, we’re confident that His school is on a solid path with a strong strategic plan that’s been formulated in partnership with school leadership and staff.
We are deeply grateful for the support, feedback, and prayers we’ve received from the community throughout this search. Thank you!
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10
We’re sincerely appreciative of the time and energy that our Search Committee and Advisory Committee members have put into this rigorous process: Mark Nowlin (Co-Chair), Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi (Co-Chair), Marc Aneed, Tim Bahadoor, Lewis Brewster, Bob Bernatz, Clifton Chang, Melinda Choi, Jennifer Crowell, Sharee Pfaff, Jim Harmon, Aaron Hudy, David Giunta, Keven Kroehler, Susan Morehouse, Chris Stratton, Eleanor Tang, and Mitch Vance.
Dear MCS Community,
When we first set out on this remote learning journey, we were unsure of how long the school closure would be. Our greatest hope was for a short closure, one that would allow for the students to be with us and for the school to be full and joyfully noisy again. The original closure of two weeks extended to three and then beyond Easter break. Today, we share the final duration of the school closure.
We have been closely following the CDC, WHO, state and federal government’s social distancing guidelines, direction from the Orange County Department of Education, as well as decisions made by local districts and schools regarding school closures. Additionally, on March 31, the California Department of Education issued a statement that recommended schools remain closed and fully employ remote learning for the remainder of the year. After much consideration, discussion, and prayer, the very difficult but necessary decision has been made. MCS will not reopen but will continue remote learning for the duration of the 2019-20 school year for which the last day of school will now be Friday, May 22nd (extended from the original ending date of Thursday, May 21st).
We remain dedicated to providing exemplary academics and, as such, are committed to improving our remote learning program. Considering this dedication and long term timeline, it is imperative that our staff be given the opportunity to further plan, prepare additional home learning kits, implement program improvements and changes, and receive necessary professional development. For these important reasons, we are extending the student’s Easter Break by one week through Friday April 17th. All students will resume remote learning on Monday, April 20th with an increased level of instructional support and academic rigor. Principals will provide further details regarding improvements and adjustments before students return from the extended break.
We recognize there are many year-end events that are cherished and loved by students, families, and staff alike. It is our intention to preserve these beloved traditions regardless of the school closure. At this time, planning continues for these events including character quality awards, class celebrations, 8th grade awards and parent blessing, and graduation. Our hearts share in the disappointment over the change this may bring, particularly for our 8th grade students and families. Please know, while the dates and avenues of these important events are not yet determined, all possibilities and alternatives are being pursued. We will ensure a special end to the school year for all of our students. Families will be provided more information regarding end of the year events from the divisional principal by the end of April.
In this unprecedented time, we know that this decision is particularly difficult on the community. However, the administration, staff, and Board unanimously believe this is the best course of action for the well-being of our staff, students, and families. We also believe this decision demonstrates a genuine love and care for our community. Across the 33 years of our school’s history, we have seen and experienced challenging times. This time is uniquely challenging. Yet, no matter the season or challenge, we have remained a community that loves, supports, prays for, and champions one another. Colossians 3:14 provides a beautiful picture of this, “And over all virtues, put on love which binds together in perfect unity.” This is undoubtedly true of the amazing MCS family. The entire school team sends you love and prayers, even from afar, and we are thankful for yours!
Interim Head of School
MCS Mission Prevails through COVID-19 Pandemic
On March 12, MCS announced a proactive school closure in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. In the weeks leading up to this decision, teachers and students were being prepared and trained to transition our TK-8th grade students to a full-scale remote learning program, which put us in a strong position for the closure. Within 72 hours, our administration, teachers, and IT team successfully launched the plan. Rooted in our Core Values, our remote learning program allows all MCS students to continue progressing through the 2019-20 school year in spite of present circumstances, connecting our MCS Community in Spirit and purpose as we walk this unprecedented journey together.
The MCS Mission is now more important than ever. Whether remote or in person, our staff is “building a firm foundation through Christ-centered education” in the hearts and minds of students. We are harnessing the power of Next Generation technology to ensure that each child’s academic and spiritual growth continues uninterrupted during this season.
Parent Preparation Key for Remote Learning
Preparation of MCS parents was paramount to a successful transition to home learning. Through a dedicated webpage, we provided parents with a central place to locate all necessary resources, including Daily Schedules, Community Updates, Enrichment Class Board, and 14 Helpful Tips for Supporting Remote Learning. Our parents have expressed their gratitude for the level of prayerful, intentional care provided by our staff during this sudden shift to home learning.
Foundation of Next Generation Technology is Springboard
Because of our historically strong integration of technology within academic programming, the vast majority of our students were well-equipped to make the transition. Middle School in particular had a solid foundation of student-ownership in learning via Schoology and a 1:1 iPad program, allowing for the switch from on campus to off to transition more smoothly. We quickly integrated the Zoom video-conferencing platform to support our instructional needs in all grades, while elementary teachers walked students through the process with loads of patience and TLC.
Continuation of MCS Exemplary Academic Program
To-date, every student has been equipped with the necessary technology and resources to continue learning pathways in all subjects, including enrichment classes for Whole Child instruction. Our specialist teachers created a phenomenal Enrichment Learning Board with videos, lessons, and options for students to supplement their core curriculum each day.
Students have been provided with daily schedules that require them to login to a video conferencing platform for lectures, group discussions/activities, and more. Their daily school schedule is supported by teachers who are dedicated to building relationships with each student, including 1:1 facetime and small group instruction with students who need extra support. In fact, our Student Support Program, which provides vital academic support for many students, is in full swing with study sessions and individual check-ins scheduled throughout the school day.
Parent feedback to our Remote Learning Program has been tremendously positive! Social media comments, emails, and texts have poured in with supportive feedback on the homefront. Passionate about their students, our teachers have been burning the midnight oil to build a program that is engaging and comprehensive as well as fluid and responsive to the present quarantine.
Prioritizing Spiritual Enrichment
MCS teachers and administrators have gone above and beyond to partner with parents and ensure students are including time to pray, worship, and study God’s word.
Our Bible teachers are producing a video curriculum for TK – 5th grade, as well as teaching two interactive middle school Bible classes every week. In addition to studying God’s word in the classroom, teachers are continuing to start each class with prayer, and incorporating times of worship when possible.
Daily Devotionals are being offered to students and parents. Each day, a new morning devotional is posted so that families can begin their day with encouragement and teaching from God’s Word.
Maintaining Connection as an MCS Community
MCS will not be deterred in our efforts to build community during this challenging time. In addition to providing daily devotionals, we’re leveraging our social media to maintain a connected community. We recently launched MCS Community Challenges which encourage families to share short videos of themselves participating in challenges like sharing something they’re thankful for or showing off their best dance moves. To read up and join the challenge, click here.
Even our Parents in Prayer committee has embraced the remote concept, and they are continuing to meet online weekly, lifting up prayer needs within our school community as well as requests for our nation and our world.
Coming soon will be “Acts of Service,” an opportunity for MCS students to be the hands and feet of Jesus, salt and light, to the hurting community around us. Our staff will provide practical ways for them to serve and encourage their neighbors and the world, even while social distancing.
Without question, this has been the biggest global crisis of the Century — yet as a Christian community, in all communications, we encourage each other to continue looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith. We may not know what will happen next, but we know that HE knows, and we can find comfort and peace in that simple yet irrefutable fact.
Dear MCS Parents,
We can all agree that we are not just living in uncertain and unprecedented times, but these times are a bit crazy too. Yet, even in these times, we can also agree that God is still sovereign, He is still in control, and He is still good. As a community of believers, these times bring a unique opportunity to live out the command Jesus gave to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). The opportunity to love as Jesus called us to love is for us within the MCS community, and to the world who desperately needs to know the love of Jesus. If we ask God to give us ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to understand, He will show us exactly how to love one another through these difficult times. On behalf of the staff, I want to thank you for how you have already loved, supported, and encouraged the school team. Know that we desire to do the same for each of you.
As we head into a new educational world of remote learning, we continue to be committed to the success of each student and close partnership with parents. It is with this in mind that I share the following important information.
Updated Length of School Closure
Over the past couple of days, it has become clear that it is best and wise to extend the length of our school closure from two weeks to three weeks. Therefore, the school will remain closed as remote learning will continue Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, April 3. Easter Break will be observed as originally planned April 6-13. The situation will be closely monitored which will determine whether further extension of the school closure is necessary or if school will reopen following Easter Break. It is our commitment to provide as much advance notice as possible.
Launch of Remote Learning
Today: By the end of the day today, you should receive a communication from your child’s teacher(s) with a link inviting you and your student to their first live Zoom session tomorrow. The purpose of this Zoom session is to give students and parents the opportunity to practice “Zooming In” before remote learning begins. We encourage all to attend this session, however, it will be recorded and shared by the teacher in the event it is missed.
Tuesday: Join the first Zoom session hosted by your teacher(s) at the designated time provided by your teacher. This will be a great opportunity for your teacher(s) to welcome you to remote learning. Also on this day, teachers will email a written summary of class expectations, daily schedule, and other important information specific to their class/grade.
Wednesday: Remote learning begins! Follow the instructions that were provided by your teacher(s) on Tuesday to kick off our first day of remote learning. It is going to be an adventure and one we will take one day at a time. There will be some bumps along the way but your teachers will be with you every step and we will be successful together! We are learning together and that is the best way to learn!
Daily Schedules by Grade Level
As we all adjust to not only remote learning but to learning at home, it will be important to establish a daily routine with defined structure. We believe this will help all adjust more quickly and successfully. Grade level teachers have worked hard to develop a daily schedule for all students to follow. To see the daily schedule for each grade level, click here.
While a daily schedule has been provided, we do understand that families are developing new routines. As a result, please know there is flexibility within the schedule based on individual needs. It will be important to prioritize all live instruction and support provided through Zoom though all sessions will be recorded and shared.
Enrichment Resource Board
In addition to the academic learning and support, we are excited to announce Enrichment Resources for Remote Learning. To explore these enrichment opportunities, visit https://sites.google.com/marinerscs.org/enrichment-resources/home, or access the board through our MCS website.
The Enrichment Resource Board is full of activities including MakerSpace, Music, Art, Theatre, PE, Gardening, Pen Pals, and more! If you check out the MakerSpace section, you will also find fun family activities you can enjoy together. In addition, each day, a new morning devotional will be provided so that students can begin their day with encouragement and teaching from God’s word. The first devotion will begin on Wednesday which will be a wonderful opportunity for our community to still worship together, even from afar. Enrichment resources will be updated regularly and there is no shortage of activities to keep students busy!
On the daily schedules provided by each grade level, you will note teachers have included enrichment time blocks. It is our hope that, during those times each day, parents and students will utilize these optional opportunities and we are confident they will bring fun and excitement to the day.
Remote Learning: Recommendations for Parents
The school closure and remote learning presents new challenges for all parents as you seek to find the best way to support your child’s learning at home. We are in this with you so please do not hesitate to work closely with your child’s teacher. We will find a groove and settle in but it will take some time and adjustment. By the end of the day Tuesday, check out the Enrichment Resource Board (link above) for helpful tips and recommendations on how to best transition to and support remote learning.
Through these times, no matter how long they may be, I pray that our students, staff, and parents feel His presence in tangible ways. That you are comforted with His peace, filled with His goodness, and strengthened by His power. I pray that, as you draw near to Him, you experience His nearness in new ways, because His mercies are new each morning. That you are enveloped in and covered by His Spirit. I ask that God surprise you with unique gifts and joys, even in the midst of uncertainty. That your family is strengthened and renewed during this unexpected season. That God’s protection surrounds and shields you, mind, body, and spirit. And I pray that we embrace His grace for ourselves and for each other as we navigate these new waters together.
With prayers and blessings,
Interim Head of School