A New School of Thought

Though leaving one school system and building one of their own had many challenges, this couple faced it all with comforting thoughts from God.

By Nancy Higham, Santa Rosa, CA

Categories: Guidance

My husband and I both worked in the public school system. The school board started to make changes that were unsettling for many of the teachers, including my husband, who was the principal. Teachers began to resign. My husband decided to leave, too. So he was now without a job.

So when a friend of ours in another town suggested that we start a school, I felt that it was a divine idea. But we needed to find a location, and we needed to sell our 40-acre property, which had one problem: no running water. We spent eight years there digging for wells. The first one was dry. But we put a pump on it and ended up recovering one gallon per hour most of the year. The next two were no better.

It was a stressful time. I loved the Bible verse about the "watered garden," which goes like this: "And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not" (Isa 58:11).

One day, our friend asked us to come look at their house. She told us that there were people down the street who had a house, which they'd already taken off the market. They had had other offers. But they liked us. That was the first and only house where we got out of the car and went in to look. The owners of the house carried us for five years so that we could buy their house. The verse from Exodus rang true: "Behold I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared" (4:12).

While I ran the small summer school of about six students in our new home, my husband was still trying to maintain and sell the 40-acre, waterless property. By the end of the summer, he did! The most amazing part of it was the fact that the buyer wanted the property because we had not signed away our steam lease. He had his own drilling rig and wanted to find steam and make a family spa. He paid an amount for the property that allowed us to recover our costs of purchase, drilling three dry wells, and installing half a foundation on a house. It was a remarkable demonstration.

In September, once the property was sold, we opened our school with three students. My husband ran the school, while I kept my part-time jobs in nearby towns to make ends meet. By the end of the year, we had seven students, and then about fourteen the second summer. By the third year, the enrollment was so strong that we dropped the pre-school and accepted students through fifth grade. But once students started here, they did not want to leave, so we decided to convert to K-3 so our enrollment numbers worked, and we did not overload at the top.

We had some real challenges. Someone turned us in for not having a use permit. When we started, we didn't know we were going to be successful. We were pretty naïve. So this was really devastating. We also had to reconfigure our house for handicapped access. I remember calling someone to help pray for us. She told me, "You can't outline. God has a plan."

I had found comfort over the year from the Bible verse, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10). It silenced the clamor of failure and lack. I knew that there was an answer. What we learned from our years in the public school system enabled us to make a well-regarded private school, and not having water for those eight years made us grateful for everything we did have now.

Eventually, we got the use permit and were able to remodel the house to accommodate handicapped access and add on a classroom for me. The story of Nehemiah rebuilding the wall was one of my favorites, as we were faced with having to rebuild and reinvent what was here. The result was a very satisfactory life work and a lot of really successful kids. One idea that offered support through a number of trials in making these changes was, "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me" (Ps 138:8). God certainly had perfected all our work.