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Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight: Caleb Hopler

Posted on May 24, 2016 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch


This month’s Liberty Christian Spotlight features alum Caleb Hopler, a 2007 graduate of LCS and son of former LCS teacher Terri Hopler.  Caleb’s interest in environmental studies led him to become involved in numerous international sustainability and social justice projects since his days at Liberty Christian School, including an internship with Maderas Collective in Nicaragua.  Here is what Caleb had to share with us.

Q. What have been your education and/or work experiences since you graduated from LCS?

A. After attending Liberty Christian School from kindergarten through 8th grade, I went on to Chapelgate Christian Academy for high school and Virginia Tech for college.

Q. What  LCS teacher had the most influence on you and why?

A. Titus McGrath (former middle school science teacher). His teaching methods and overall personality kindled a love for natural science in me. Beyond education, he and I became friends and are still friends to this day. Not only was he a teacher and friend, he served as one of my mentors during middle school.

Q. What is your favorite LCS memory?

A. During the school’s auction fundraiser, Mrs. Jackson (former 5th grade teacher) offered a fun overnight trip to her house for the winner plus three friends. I believe she had done this multiple years in a row and it was quick to become the prize every student wanted. Josh Hindle won and I was one of the friends picked to go with him. After school on a Friday we had a big dinner, went out to the movies and watched “Holes,” then just had a big slumber party the rest of the night.

Q. What is an accomplishment that you are most proud of in your life so far?

A. I have accomplished a lot so far in my life, graduating from Virginia Tech, conquering a multitude of severe health issues, and many international sustainability and social justice projects. However, what I am most happy about is the fact that I have been able to accomplish these things with God as my focus. I could not have accomplished anything if it weren’t for my reliance on Him.


Q. Is there anything from your time at LCS that sparked your interest in environmental studies or working in Central America?

A.  Liberty Christian School  is as a wonderful school that taught me much more than education, it also instilled values, passions, integrity, and a respect for all life. LCS, as well as my parents, laid the foundation for me to be able to hear God’s calling, and in this way, LCS helped lead me to work internationally in sustainable ventures.

Q. What type of work and ministry have you been involved with in Nicaragua? Describe what led you to your internship with the Maderas Collective.

A. During my time at Virginia Tech, I had a yearlong internship that took me to Nicaragua twice, focusing on ecotourism and fuel-efficient cookstoves. With a love for the country and the contacts I built up, it was easy to decide that after graduating Virginia Tech I would work in Nicaragua in sustainability, hoping to create lasting partnerships that would allow me to return to Nicaragua for new projects in the future. After cold-calling the CEO of Maderas Collective, they took me in and mentored me until I was ready to begin my first project: biomass briquettes made from local agricultural wastes. Currently, I am creating and leading a briquettes team in San Jose de Bocay, teaching English in a local school, and helping to design a sustainability program with the wastes generated by production at Maderas Collective.


Q. What are some of the interesting things you have been a part of since moving to Nicaragua?

A. Nicaragua is a fascinating place with a rich culture and gorgeous natural environments. I have hiked volcanoes, explored a cave with thousands of bats flying around me, rescued a wild sloth that was stuck in the middle of the road, watched a rural rodeo during a holiday… The list continues. Every day I experience something new.

Q. What do you envision yourself doing 5 years from now?

A. Though I love exploring new things, I also love familiarity, a place I know very well to return to after new great adventures. Therefore I’d like to move back to either Maryland, Northern Virginia, or Las Vegas, NV (all places I’ve lived) and work a job in sustainability while on the side, running a nonprofit to benefit Nicaragua.

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Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight: Sigrid Houston

Posted on Apr 26, 2016 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

Sigrid Houston

This month’s Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight features Spanish teacher Sigrid Houston.  Mrs. Houston’s enthusiasm and her love of foreign languages make Spanish class a fun and engaging experience for her students.  Here is what she had to share with us.

Q. Why do you like teaching at LCS?

A. I honestly love everything about LCS. I really mean that!  I love the supportive staff here, the students are just the best, and I love that I get to teach something that I am passionate about in a Christ-centered environment.  How could I possibly ask for more? 

Q. What motivated you to become a teacher at LCS?

A. I had served for 12 years as the Children’s Ministry Director at Covenant of Grace Church in Reisterstown while my kids were growing up. My youngest is now 18 and it’s time to get back to my passion:  Spanish!  Liberty Christian School and Covenant of Grace Church are very closely tied, so when I saw the vacancy announcement for a Spanish teacher, I jumped on it!  And I mean jumped!  It was just exactly what I wanted to be doing, and to be able to teach in a Christ-centered environment? Wow!  What an opportunity!  I feel so very blessed to be here!

Q. Where did your interest in Spanish originate? When did you learn to speak Spanish and do you speak any other languages?

A. My interest in Spanish originated in 8th grade and it was because of my wonderful teacher, Miss Doris Helms. Her enthusiasm for the language was contagious. She was a challenging teacher and her expectations were very high, but the reward was that we all learned so much from her! I went on to double  major in Spanish and International Affairs (combination of political science, history, geography, economics) at the University of Mary Washington.  I also speak Russian, and studied briefly at Middlebury College in Vermont.  After college, I worked as a linguist for the Defense Department and I learned to speak Russian.  In addition to teaching at Liberty Christian School, I have also been teaching  English as a Second Language to adults at Covenant of Grace. I teach the advanced class and have served in this capacity for 7 years. I get the opportunity to use both my Spanish and Russian in class as I teach English to people from all over the world. Even though the teaching is done in English, the knowledge of how other languages work enables me to better teach English to these populations.

Q. What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?

A. I try to keep language fun.  This, of course, means that we get a little loud sometimes. I like to challenge my students and I’m just so excited for them when they meet my challenges. I know they can do it, and I love to watch them see that, yes, they CAN do it!  It makes my heart sing!  With the lower school students, we do puppet shows, songs, games and other things to make learning fun!  The kids just love those puppets!

Sigrid Houston in Costa Rica

Q. You had the opportunity to be a part of the LCS Costa Rica Mission Team this past February. Tell us about your experience and what it meant to help lead a group of LCS students on a foreign missions trip

A. It is almost difficult to put into words how it felt to lead a group of students to Costa Rica for the first time. It was amazing!  I feel that God truly blessed me with the opportunity to use my experience with Spanish language, ESL teaching and Children’s Ministry to serve in La Carpio. All my past experience led to this place. I am just in awe of our Creator and how He knows exactly what He’s doing when he leads us all our different life paths. La Carpio brought them all together for me.  Watching our 8th graders serve and share Christ with these impoverished children touched me deeply. Our students quite willingly and enthusiastically shared their time, shared their hearts and shared the love of Jesus with these adorable kids.  Seeing their tears as we served in La Carpio on the last day and they had to say goodbye to the kids. Oh my!  How blessed we are here at LCS to have such tender souls. We are all changed as a result of having been there.  We will not forget this experience.

Q. What are some of your interests and hobbies?

A. I am a huge fan of puzzles. In fact, I just started a 1,000-piece puzzle last evening, so I won’t see my dining room table for a while! In fact, I look at Spanish and Russian as puzzles. I like to pick languages apart and see what makes them “tick.” I also love walking/hiking. I’ve done quite a bit of this with the boy scouts, but I’ve missed this a bit during the school year. I have big plans for doing lots of day hikes with my 18-year old before he goes off to basic training this summer though.  He and I are big hiking buddies.

Q. Tell us about your involvement with the Boy Scouts of America.

A. Boy Scouts. I have to say I just love this organization. Both my sons are Eagle Scouts from Troop 634 out of Covenant of Grace Church in Reisterstown.  I have been involved with scouting since my older son, Tim was a first grader and he’s now a junior in college. Ack! That’s 15 years! I started out as an involved parent when the boys were cub scouts and then, as they advanced to boy scouts I jumped in with both feet. I served as the troop committee chairman for two years until I started teaching at LCS, and I still serve on the committee.  My son Michael and I travelled with the troop on a High Adventure trip to Florida Sea Base where we spent a week as crew aboard The Yankee, a 75-schooner.  Florida. July. 30 people on a boat.  Need I say more?  It was great, but, as with all high adventure trips, not always easy...but always worth it.

The Houston Family

Q. How do you inspire your students to love learning?

A. I have to say I just love foreign languages!  OK, so maybe I’m a little weird, but I’m hoping my enthusiasm rubs off a little bit!  I challenge my students to think. Growing up is all about learning how to think on your own, and learning a foreign language teaches you more than just that language. It teaches you things about your own native language that you may have never thought about before.  It also teaches you to think outside the box. I like being outside the box! It’s fun and challenging out there! 

Q. What do you want your students to gain from having known you? 

A. My hope is that my students learn to challenge themselves and strive for their very best in all circumstances.  One person’s best isn’t necessarily the same as another person’s, and I want my students to feel confident in their own abilities to succeed. Spanish is a tricky thing to teach. Some students take to it like sponges, and others not so much.  God doesn’t need a world full of linguists anyway! He needs a world full of servants who serve Him and always do their very best with the skills they have.  I want my students to understand that God isn’t always going to put us in comfortable situations, but that He is always our Comfort.  When we do our best to serve Him even in those challenging areas, we will be blessed beyond measure. I saw this lived out in Costa Rica when my students were scared to use their Spanish the first day. Then, as they got used to the environment, they used more and more Spanish and grew in their Spanish ability and in their overall confidence.

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Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight: Shaylin & Omari Todd

Posted on Mar 22, 2016 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

Shaylin & Omari Todd

This month’s Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight features Shaylin & Amari Todd, parents of K4 student Owen and second grader Olivia.  As both parents and educators, Mr. and Mrs. Todd offered their insights as they relate to learning and education.  Here is what they had to share with us.

Q. What do love about LCS?

A. We love that Christian principles are reinforced and embedded in all aspects of learning and culture. Children are learning strong character traits. The environment is also nurturing and provides opportunities for families, students, and staff to engage and interact through a variety of programs and activities.

Q. Why did you choose LCS for your children?

A. We wanted our children to be in a Christ-centered environment where they will grow spiritually in  addition to receiving an excellent education. Developing the whole child is important.

Q. In what ways have you seen your children grow in their faith as a result of their experience at LCS?

A. Our children are learning the importance of being Christ-like and putting God first. They enjoy chapel and learning about God in class.

The Todd Children

Q. How do your children experience an education that is engaging, encouraging, and empowering at LCS?

A. They are first authentically engaged since LCS focuses on understanding how each child learns and processes information. Children’s learning modalities and learning styles are important. Second, they are consistently nurtured and encouraged to be the best version of themselves. They understand they are all uniquely created. Third, they are empowered through the teaching of the Bible to show good character, make good choices, and to be kind, thoughtful, and considerate of others.

Q. What would you tell another parent to encourage them to consider enrolling their child at LCS?

A. We would tell another parent to think about the environment that their child would need to thrive and be successful. In addition to the Christian foundation, children’s needs are put first. The class sizes are small which creates an optimal learning environment as well as creates the conditions for teachers to build strong relationships with students and families.

Q. What are the benefits of being involved in the life of your children’s school?

A. One of the greatest benefits of being involved at LCS is showing your children that we are invested in their educational experience. When we participate in activities, volunteer, or assist with a class party, our children are so excited. Parent involvement and relationships with the staff and leadership is important. It helps to motivate and inspire our children to love school and do their best.


Q. What are some activities that your family enjoys doing together?

A. Some of the activities we love doing include; going to the beach, going to the movies, visiting parks and going to library. We also enjoy traveling and visiting our families in New Jersey and Alabama.

Q. Tell us a little about your involvement with Teach for America and with the education industry.

A. Omari and I are both former teachers. We we moved here in 2000 to teach in Baltimore City as Teach For America* corps members. Currently, I coach school leaders at the elementary, middle and high school levels and Omari works as Executive Vice President, Regional Operations for Teach For America.

* Teach for America is an organization whose mission is to enlist, develop, and mobilize as many as possible of our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.

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Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight: Eliana Daniels

Posted on Feb 23, 2016 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch


This month’s Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight features eighth grade student and gifted writer, musician and artist, Eliana Daniels.  Eliana has been a student at LCS since her kindergarten year.  Here is what she had to share with us.

Q. What do you love about LCS?

A. I love the people and the warm, loving environment that we have.

Q. Describe one of your favorite teachers and tell us why he/she is a favorite.

A. One of my favorite teachers is Mrs. Nevius, LCS instrumental music teacher.  She puts up with the middle school ensemble's craziness and somehow makes us all sound really good together.

LCS middle school ensemble

Q. In what ways have you grown in your faith as a result of your experience at Liberty Christian School?

A. At Liberty, I’ve had an environment that encourages my faith rather than discourages it.

Q. How do you feel that LCS is preparing you for high school and beyond?

A. LCS is helping me build a strong foundation in God so that I can grow in him and be more ready for what will happen next. I’m preparing myself in the calm so that I’ll be ready for the storm.

Q. What are some of your interests and hobbies?

A. I enjoy listening to music, drawing, and writing.

Q. Your teachers have commented that you are wonderfully creative in your writing and artwork.  What type of writing do you like to do? What inspires you to write? Have you ever submitted any of your written work to contests?

A. I like to write stories, short stories, and occasionally I’ll write a poem. Sometimes my artwork or the artwork of others inspires me to write, other times I just come up with ideas on the fly. I have submitted works the the Association of Christian Schools Interational (ACSI) Creative Writing Festival a few times.

Q. What type of medium do you like to engage in...drawing, painting, sculpture, etc? What or who inspires you in your artwork? Have you ever submitted any artwork to contests?

A. I usually draw with pencils and occasionally colored pencils. The inspiration of my artwork is unknown even to me. Some of it is from video games I’ve played, animes I’ve watched, or books I’ve read. Some of my “inspiration” is mainly my mind experimenting and expressing itself through a pencil and paper. I have submitted two pieces of artwork to the Maryland State’s Attorney Anti Drug Poster Contest and won a spot on the poster each year. This year I am submitting artwork to the ACSI art contest.

Anti Drug Poster Contest Winners

Q. How have Art teacher, Mrs. Quenzer, and/or English teacher, Mrs. Moritz, or other LCS teachers encouraged your creative endeavors?

A. Yes, many of the staff appreciate my artwork and some have taken notice to my writing skills.

Q. Have you attended any camps, workshops, special classes to further your art and writing skills? How do you learn more about and improve your creative skills?

A. Last summer I attended a writing camp at Stevenson University.  It helped me in my structure and format for many of my stories-in-progress. To improve my artistic skills I usually look at my old work, find what’s wrong with it, and fix the problem in whatever way I find works.

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