Polish Union Conference opens its first elementary school.
Published on: 12-29-2020
Forty kilometers (about 25 miles) southwest of Warsaw, the capital of Poland, lies the commuter town of Podkowa Leśna. This small city is surrounded by forest on three sides from the east, south, and north. Since 1959 it’s been home to the Polish Senior College of Theology and Humanities (PCTH), and more recently the School of Foreign Languages—the only Adventist school in a country of 38 million people.
“For decades Adventist parents have dreamed about the possibility of being able to send their child to an Adventist [elementary] school,” says Dorothy Porawski-Orzechowska, the first director of a school program for kindergarten and grades 1-3, located on the college campus since 2015. The enrollment for those grades currently comprises 10 Adventist children and five from the wider Podkowa Leśna community. In 2018 the curriculum was expanded, and enrollment grew to maximum capacity, with a waiting list of other applicants.
Even at an early age, “Adventist education is a combination of the development of social, emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual capabilities of each child,” says Mirosława Grześkowiak, the current kindergarten and grades 1-3 director.
HOW IT BEGAN
In 2014 it wasn’t difficult for Adventist leaders and church members, already committed to supporting Adventist education at the tertiary level, to also envision opening a primary school. They recognized the challenge: Where do we send our children once they’ve graduated kindergarten, and what will they be taught?
“From the beginning I felt that starting a kindergarten and now a primary school was a step in the right direction,” says Anna SłoneckaPołok, the rector of PCTH. “We took a risk and entered the ‘Jordan River’ with confidence in God’s help, and we can see the positive results” after installing grades 1-3. The Polish Union Conference, the college (PCTH), ASI Poland, and the Trans-European Division (TED) are now jointly financing the employment of a teacher for children in grades 4-8. The expanded primary school is located on the college campus.
“For the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Poland, this is a historic moment, raising our mission potential to a new level,” says Ryszard Jankowski, Polish Union Conference president. “This is the first Adventist primary school in the fifth most populous member state of the European Union, building on our commitment to Adventist education in Poland, which began first with our college, then the kindergarten, and now a primary school. We could see God’s leading in this project, and only by His guidance were we able to see our dreams become reality,” he says.
AN INTEGRAL PART OF MISSION
With both an Adventist kindergarten and primary school in Podkowa Leśna, what difference will it make to the mission of the Adventist Church? The school has an ever-growing waiting list of children wanting to attend, evidence that the education offered is attractive to local families and establishes a connection to the Adventist Church. For Agata Rubak, kindergarten teacher, it’s all about mission. “We pray for every child that comes to us and for the whole family,” Rubak says. “Building warm and friendly relationships with both children and their parents provides an open door to share Christ.”
TED education director Daniel Duda describes the opening of the first elementary school in Poland as the dawning of a new era for Adventist education in their region.
“During my visits to the PCTH campus since 2015, it has been inspiring to see the enthusiasm and commitment of teachers and the joy in the eyes of children,” he says. “We celebrate with them, and we pray not only that the school grows from strength to strength in Christ, but for each child as well.”