West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Service-Learning Means Fellowship at New Era Christian School

Peer-to-Peer: Sometimes Just Being a Friend is All Someone Needs

Every month, our 7th and 8th-grade students partner with a group of middle school students from the Oceana County area who have diverse learning abilities.

They all meet at The Ladder Community Center in Shelby. The Ladder is a friendly, intergenerational and ethnically diverse community center aimed at knowing and serving our neighbors and uniting our community around Christ so that lives are transformed. The Ladder is dedicated to impacting families by guiding people to love and follow Jesus, making the organization a great partner for NEC’s service-learning program.


The students of New Era Christian School come to the community center to enjoy their peers and build them up by spending quality time together and just having fun. Their activities range from old school games like pool and puzzles to getting creative with a giant game of spoons, four corners, among other things.

“My students are always so excited to be with the other kiddos!  They enjoy connecting with others just like typical kiddo!!  It has been a great experience for all.  I enjoy sitting back and watching the kids be kids!” shared Tonya Springer, of West Shore Educational Service District. West Shore ESD is a resource for all schools in the area and NEC works in partnership with them so they can all connect at The Ladder each month.

My students are always so excited to be with the other kiddos!  They enjoy connecting with others just like a typical kiddo!!  It has been a great experience for all.  I enjoy sitting back and watching the kids be kids!

This year they all performed Christmas carols using only their voices and spoons! It was a great time had by all. Nothing fancy. The key was the kids were present. No cell phones–simply face to face contact. Everyone connects and has a great time of laughter and fellowship. Being a friend to someone and playing together creates a powerful connection — for both the NEC students AND the kids that come to The Ladder. 

A few NEC students shared their reflections on their personal experiences at The Ladder this year:

“That day is a really big day for me. I usually hang out with Crystal. I don’t know what her disability is exactly, but she seems disconnected and younger than a typical fourteen-year-old. She is incredible at drawing and when we did a puzzle she did more than half the puzzle! I also was around another girl, Sharon, who is with autism. She seemed very shy and you could tell what she means by her hand motions more than her words. Overall, it has been a life changing experience to realize that everyone struggles with something but some things are more visible than others. They are still a child loved by God.” – NEC 8th grader Anna Morse.

“The Ladder is very fun. It is also very humbling because I have good social skills, I can run, and I get invited to parties. Gary and Rick struggle with those things.  I almost wanted to cry because of how humbled I was.  It makes me more sensitive to make sure all kids feel included.” -NEC 7th grader Brody Erickson.

This has been a great opportunity for our students to serve Jesus by serving others. It’s technically service-learning for NEC students but everyone is blessed in this win-win situation!

About NEC

Located in beautiful New Era, Michigan, New Era Christian School serves student preschool through 8th-grade. Of the many important decisions you’ll make in life, few are more significant than the ones that affect your children. Of these choices, selecting a school may well prove to be the most important. NEC exists to grow students in faith, academics, and personal maturity. To learn more about NEC contact us! 

New Era Christian School is a member of West Michigan Christian Schools  (WMCS),  a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region, including Western Michigan Christian (7-12), Fremont Christian (PK-8), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian (PK-6) and New Era Christian (PK-8). The WMCS system works under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality PK-12 Christian Education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs.

If you and your children are not already a part of the WMCS family, please prayerfully consider the PK-12 private Christian education of West Michigan Christian Schools for your children!

CONTACT US today for more information!