When my youngest first enrolled at CHA in grade three, CHA was her fifth school in five years: Taiwanese preschool, international school kindergarten, first grade in Park Ridge, grade two in Libertyville. To be honest, my wife and I were not planning on enrolling our three daughters during my first year at CHA because they had changed schools so often. We thought it would push them over the edge.

But then our family did a school tour. 

As we drove home after our visit, we were overwhelmed with the undeniable reality that CHA is a familyand that we could be a part of it

After our first few weeks at school, I remember an evening conversation with my wife and kids about how they were feeling about CHA. My oldest was brutally honest: this was by far the easiest school transition she’d been through. Granted it wasn’t without a tricky social situation here and there, but for our daughters the impression of the tour was real. CHA was a family. 

We were overwhelmed with the undeniable reality that CHA is a family.

Let me share a few anecdotes. 

One afternoon this fall I texted Joan Okamoto, our Lower School Principal, about completing an administrative task we’d been discussing. She texted back to say that she wouldn’t be able to get to it that evening because she was on her way to the hospital to visit one of our students—whom we’d all been praying for for weeks—who had just had surgery. And this was not the first Lower School family she visited this fall at a hospital. 

Two years ago my extended family was going through some troubles and, after receiving some breakthrough news, we told our oldest, an eighth grader at the time. Her face filled with excitement, and she said, “I can’t wait to tell Mrs. Ledbetter in the morning.” Turns out she had been praying about it all semester with her English teacher. 

Last year I popped into one of our Upper School English classes to observe the lesson. They were having Friday Prayer Time, one of their weekly routines, and I was welcomed right into the mix, not only hearing about student prayer requests but sharing my own—and having students pray for me. Could you imagine praying for your Principal or Head of School as a kid? Incredible.

At CHA, students are known within our community. 

Last spring we asked Middle and Upper School students to complete a survey for us to gauge how we are doing in this area, among others. We found the data to be quite encouraging. See below.

Middle & Upper School Student Responses

I have a positive relationship with my teachers at CHA:

There is at least one adult at CHA that I feel comfortable asking for advice or counsel:

CHA Parent Responses

My child(ren) feel(s) accepted and loved at CHA:

Our family feels accepted and loved at CHA:


This kind of loving and supporting community is not the result of programs and incentives. Rather, it’s rooted in the fact that CHA’s entire collective purpose is to “equip and inspire followers of Jesus who love and serve others.” How could we call ourselves Christ followers if we weren’t characterized by the boundless love of Jesus?

That said, we do have a number of hallmarks that enable us to do that well.


Our Middle School students meet weekly in small groups with an adult mentor on staff at CHA. We’re all involved, including me! My sixth grade “manatees” and I meet weekly to discuss and pray through a range of topics relevant to the sixth grade experience, from technology to friendships to locker organization. We also do a 1:1 check-in every quarter to look at grades and to discuss growth. Our Upper Schoolers also meet with mentors many times throughout the year, checking in during our chapel and discipleship period.

Small School Involvement

On top of that, CHA is blessed with a wonderful community in part because of its size. We know our students. Just a few months ago our Upper School principal told me about a great conversation she had with a student because she had pulled him aside to ask how he was doing “Because he just didn’t look like his normal self.” Our faculty and administrators know our students. 

More than that, our students have abundant chances to become involved, pursuing their interests and taking on leadership roles. Any student can play an important part on one of our athletics teams or theater casts. Students can join or lead one of our 17 Upper School clubs—or start a new one. Our Student Council members understand what it means to listen, engage, and lead their peers. At CHA it’s hard to hide and easy to be involved. 

Parent Partnership

A hallmark of our school for decades has been parent partnership. Parents are engaged in coaching, working in the lunchroom or as aides, or reading in class. Our Parent Volunteer Organization coordinates parties, helps with fundraising, and hosts events. When students are struggling in school with behavior or academics, we partner immediately with parents, working together on raising CHA kids to walk in God’s ways. We believe that school and home should work in harmony, and that is a huge part of our healthy community. 


Finally, we believe in the power of prayer. Our faculty gather every morning at 7:35 to pray together for our students and families. All of our parent-teacher conferences start with prayer for your kids. Every Monday morning CHA parents gather together to pray for CHA students by name and create locker magnets with encouraging verses each quarter. Every Friday morning CHA men also gather to pray for the school and its students. We host a prayer walk every fall. CHA is a place bathed in prayer, because we know that without God no good thing is possible. 

A Final Challenge

A healthy, vibrant community is something that does not happen by accident; it’s something that is cultivated. Our community at CHA is the result of decades of following Jesus in the context of community at CHA. If you are a current CHA family, my question for you is this: Are you doing your part in building CHA’s community for the benefit of your kids and the other kids at the school? If not, join in! 

For those of you who might be prospective families: If you are looking for a community where you and your kids might be known and loved in the name of Jesus—and where you might play an important part—come and join our family! We’d love to have you with us on the journey. 


A healthy, vibrant community is something that does not happen by accident; it’s something that is cultivated.