My name is Christine Swiersz. My husband, Tom, and I have had the great blessing of having all four of our daughters graduate from Fort Myers Christian School. Our youngest daughter, Annelisa, graduated two weeks ago. Her graduation is what prompted me to write this letter to you.
The sixteen consecutive years our four daughters have attended FMCS have impacted our family and each of our lives in ways that words can never describe. All six of us have been changed for a lifetime. We have grown in our relationships, in our academic strengths, and, most of all, in our faith. Our children have grown exponentially in their faith in amazing ways, and so have Tom and I! The greatest growth Tom and I have experienced is in the area of our finances.
I would be lying if I did not say that it was with some fear and trepidation that we took on the task of paying tuition for each of our children to ensure they were receiving the best education both academically and spiritually. While we knew that they would be receiving the very best at this school, we also knew that we would have to modify our family’s budget in order to pay tuition on a monthly basis. My husband teaches math to adult students, and I am a social worker; therefore, we do not earn large salaries, and we live on a budget like most families. We learned that we were to trust God to help us find ways to work with our finances. We realized that, if God had placed it on our hearts to choose Christian school education for our children, then He would most certainly provide a way for us to have them in Christian school.
We began to pray every day that God would guide us to find ways to have the finances to pay for tuition. Our budget was revised to decrease some additional expenses for extra “stuff” that we honestly found we did not need in the long run anyway! Some ways that we were able to decrease expenses included purchasing nice used cars instead of brand new cars; planning vacations that were less expensive, and a whole lot more fun, than before; purchasing groceries in bulk at Sam’s or Costco and buying during sales at various grocery stores; decreasing the high-cost extracurricular activities for the kids and choosing lower cost activities or sports; purchasing uniforms from the uniform sale at school for a few dollars per item; packing lunch and purchasing school lunch once a week; decreasing the number of gifts for holidays to focus on quality versus quantity; and teaching our kids that their commitment to the above ideas was just as important as our commitment.
We accomplished this by discussing, as a family, what each child loved so much about attending FMCS and how everyone helped one another to make it possible to enjoy all the benefits of attending this school. We did not repeat ourselves or re-discuss. We kept it simple and committed to the process as a family. I can truly say that my kids have been the winners in this process. They have learned what is important over the years and have become more responsible with their money management than even Tom and I have. They have seen God provide for what is really the priority, and they are very good at reminding us of that when we adults sometimes lose sight of what He has done for us over the past sixteen years! It’s been an amazing time for our family, and we have all grown beyond words.
I want to encourage you, whether you have one child or several, to not talk yourself out of your child attending a Christian school due to finances. If God is speaking to your heart, do listen – He will provide ways for you if you are willing to follow His plan! This may mean having to modify the way you do things, but it will be well worth what your child and your family gain! FMCS is a most special place that is truly filled with God’s Spirit. What your kids gain by attending here will last for a lifetime.