The Light

APRIL 2022


"Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" -John 8:12


Greetings Harbor Light Christian School Community,

First of all, I want to take a moment to give a special thanks to everyone who made the Annual Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser, Bloom and Grow a huge success! From the event committee to the sponsors and auction item donors, to the staff and students, to all those who took the time to come, mingle, and celebrate HLCS, thank you!!

April is the month HLCS starts re-enrollment for current families and opens applications to new families. This year, re-enrollment will start on April 20th. For re-enrollment, we will use FACTS, our new online platform that replaces Praxischool. Current families, keep your eyes peeled for an email with more details the week of the 20th.

This spring we have been blessed by a higher than usual number of enrollment inquiries. It seems that each week, more and more new families call the school office for information about our school, and to explore if HLCS is the right fit for their educational needs. God is calling new families, staff, and volunteers to HLCS for the 2022-2023 school year. While this will be an exciting season of growth, it will also be critical to protect and fight for the culture of our school to ensure it is the same HLCS we know and love.

While meeting new families, and sharing the mission, visions, and most importantly the heartbeat of the HLCS, I will do my best to share these things:

  • HLCS is so much more than just an educational institution. Our unwritten curriculum of modeling and encouraging a mature Christian walk is more important than our written curriculum.

  • In order to be successful, we rely on volunteers of all kinds. We are not a consumer population, we have a collaborative environment.

  • Our staff are missionaries in every sense of the word.

  • We strongly believe it takes each family working together with their church and the school to raise and launch students successfully.

  • Parents are responsible for the child they send to school.

  • When conflict arises, we use the Matthew 18 principle for conflict resolution.

  • Our culture is excellent. There is a reason people want to join this school. It is an absolute gem.

  • We all collectively have a duty to prayerfully support the school and students.

In a more administrative vein, I want to announce that at the March school board meeting, the board approved a restructuring at the elementary level. There was a position created for long-time elementary teacher Katherine Johnson that will help move HLCS forward. Katherine will split time as the Head of Elementary Instruction and a Reading Specialist, see her letter below. In addition, we will split each grade kindergarten-sixth grade to have one grade level per class. These changes are being made in an effort to keep classroom sizes intimate, support the needs of individual students, and continue to provide an incredible education in a loving environment.

In closing, I pray your time with the Lord and with family and friends throughout Easter weekend reminds you how amazing God is (Romans 5:8), and how special you are (Ephesians 2:10).

In His Service,

Kelly Dutcher

Letter from Mrs. Johnson

As we look forward to next year, God has some exciting changes in store for Harbor Light Christian School. One of those changes is welcoming a new role on staff. Katherine Johnson has prayerfully stepped into the role of Head of Elementary Instruction and Reading Interventionist. While she will be deeply missed in the classroom, we are confident that her impact on students' hearts and minds will be even greater in this role! Please join us in congratulating Katherine on this transition.

From Katherine:

"Proverbs 3:5-6 proclaims, 'Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.' Such a fitting verse for my family this year with three kids graduating in the next two months. I found myself proclaiming it to them again and again with great confidence that the Lord knew exactly what He was doing as He straightened the path before them.

Little did I know that as I “preached” this message to them, it was also for me. Despite having the most amazing group of students this year, I felt an unsettled spirit in my heart about whether I was where God wanted me to be. At first, I discounted the nudging, but the Lord has a way of making His voice louder when our ears aren’t listening. As I prayed, my heart kept being drawn to the idea of serving kids in need of extra help in reading, working with kids who were struggling emotionally, and serving teachers on the front lines of loving kids. I fought the idea for a long time, after all, my whole life’s goal had been to be a teacher, and besides, it was not as if a job like that existed.

In March, I met with a friend and shared my heart. Their advice was they felt the Lord was saying that I should take a huge leap of faith. Anyone who knows me knows I am a planner, not a leaper, so this was terrifying advice. I felt so strongly about this prompting, though, that I decided to leap. Within days, the Lord opened a door that was not even on my horizon, but luckily God saw it there waiting for me once I left the safety of what I knew so well.

So, it is with great excitement that I start a new adventure in June as the Head of Elementary Instruction for HLCS along with providing reading support to our students. The job will allow me to do exactly what the Lord had been placing on my heart for over a year. I know that I will miss having my own class, but am thrilled at the opportunity to serve more kids and meet their needs. I pray the Lord uses me to help your kids learn, heal, and grow as they come to understand their great value in His Kingdom plan."

Love, Katherine Johnson

Our Month in Pictures

Upcoming Events

April 13-15: SAT/PSAT Testing for 8-11th grades

April 14: Parent/Teacher Conferences for K-12

April 15: Half Day of School (11:30 am dismissal)

April 17: Easter

April 18: Board Meeting (6 pm)

April 22: Elementary Spring Concert (6 pm)

April 27: Blood Drive (10 am)


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Last month, just before Spring Break, we sent our students off on various mission trips on the local, national, and global scale. This past week during chapel, we spent time processing through the way God orchestrated every piece of every trip. What we discovered through discussion was that, whether the way he wove things together was practical or profound, it was always personal.

We walked through 3 verses of Scripture that spoke directly to the application of missionary work: Proverbs 16:9, Ephesians 3:14-20, and Acts 20:35. Mrs. Dutcher was able to reference aspects of her family’s mission to Kenya that resonated among the students because their experiences were so fresh. In the room, there was a genuine feeling of seriousness about the call to be missional in the way we, as Christians, live daily. This feeling of seriousness was tempered with fascination at the way “it is more blessed to give than receive,” as Paul says. The students shared example after example of how they expected to be the ones bestowing blessing, but came away filled with treasure themselves.

We heard from Rosemary, who observed how God had prepared within her an awareness and readiness for answers He was about to give her to questions she was mulling over. During her mission trip in North Carolina, a speaker who was a last-minute replacement for someone else spoke specifically to the things Rosemary had been praying over the night before.

Kately shared how she had been so nervous to go to Detroit, and was able to see Holy Spirit working when the trip was canceled and re-rerouted to Wolverine. There, she was able to sleep in the sanctuary- a dream she had held close since she was younger. She was able to articulate the overwhelming peace that comes when we know we are within the will of God. Bobby also got to see how much God values his contribution. Though he was excited to go minister in Detroit, Bobby was going to end up missing the trip because of a pre-arranged family vacation. But since the trip was relocated to 15 minutes from his house, he was able to serve with his team and see the needs of his own community, while still getting to go with his family on his vacation as planned.

An exciting fruit for Ambria was confirmation on where she is to attend college! She served on the North Carolina team as well, and, through overwhelmingly positive interactions with the students there on the Excel Campus, she was convicted that Excel is the college for her. The stress over that decision that was alleviated was huge for her.

Jade had an emotional testimony about how she and the rest of the Wolverine crew were able to minister through basketball to the kids in the Wolverine community who were home on Spring Break and needing life-giving activities to fill their days. Our students hosted an open gym, where they met one girl in particular and started growing a friendship. Later in the evening, they were made aware that this girl was from Oxford, and had been at the school when the shooting occurred. She was in Wolverine to tour the school, but hadn’t known it was Spring Break, and therefore missed the normal school schedule. That student has since been able to complete a tour, and will be relocating to Wolverine where she feels safer as a high school student. Had she come a week earlier or later, our students would never have met her and had the opportunity to pray for her peace.

Kirk brought awareness to how Satan will, at the last minute, desperately try to insert himself into our plans to cause chaos and doubt just before we’re about to do something great. Kirk was very sick when his North Carolina team left, and he was unable to join the team on the bus. Providentially, his family had a trip planned to South Carolina anyway, and were able to drop him off to the team before the real work began. He told all of us how one night, he found a little note on his hotel lamp that had “Deuteronomy 28” on it, a section that talks about the blessings we receive for being obedient. Kirk impressed on all of us how great the blessings were for him for not letting the enemy disrupt his mission. He spoke of the trip as an awesome experience and mentioned how he spent extra time in the evenings journaling and reflecting on what God was doing right before his eyes.

Haleigh was one of the 2 students to go to Jamaica. What she was able to identify for us was the true conundrum of mission work: who is really helping whom? She recalled how Jamaicans kept showing up from off the street to help renovate the childcare center they were working on. With only 3 working days in Catadupa, Haleigh reminded all of us that sometimes our job is just to sow, sometimes it’s to water, and sometimes we reap, but the glory always goes to Jesus.

Fiona had a lovely anecdote about how God prepared her desires to fit the needs of the mission she was being asked to fulfill. Having been sick the whole week prior, Fiona was ready to be off the couch and cook something, ANYTHING! And what was she doing the first day of missions? Cooking meals for local folks in need. God loves a cheerful giver, but it would seem he also prepares us sufficiently so that when we are asked to answer his call, we don’t do it with a sullen attitude or murky outlook, but rather leap to it with eager intent. What a great God we serve!

Finally, Mrs. Dutcher brought the discussion to conclusion by referencing the poem, “Tapestry,” by Corrie Ten-Boom. One of the lines is: “He gives the very best to those who leave the choice to Him.” In keeping with Proverbs 16:9, which says, “We may make our plans, but the Lord orders our steps,” this poem was a perfect articulation of how our effort is far better spent considering our reaction to God’s leading instead of stressing over what comes next.

Mission Week 2022 was such a fruitful week remembering to keep our hearts soft toward Jesus, because he is still very much in love with his people- to the point of, as Corin told us, providing money to fix the plugged up sewage!

May this recap serve as a reminder to all of us to keep our eyes open to the tapestry that God is weaving before our very eyes.

Here are a couple thank-yous the students received:

“I feel so blessed that a youth group would be so kind to help me to do something that has needed to be done for years. It is nice that you all have big hearts and care for someone you don’t even know. Thank you so much for your help. I pray you can continue to bless people with your caring hearts.”

“It was a blessing to have students from Harbor Light Christian School volunteer with us on March 21 and March 24. They raked leaves, pulled weeds, spread mulch, and helped clean. Staff commented that your students were very hard workers and helpful! We are very grateful for all they helped us to accomplish in a short period of time.”


North Carolina- Beautifying the campus at Black Mountain Home for Children, Youth & Families, serving Excel College and Western Carolina Rescue Mission

Wolverine- Helping at Cheboygan ReStore and serving Wolverine Public Schools through renovations and open gyms

Jamaica- Renovating a home to become the only childcare center in Catadupa

Local- Making meals, yard work, organization and cleaning, childcare

Recommended Reading:

When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert

Corrie ten Boom - Tapestry Poem - Every Day with the King


Janae Ernst- Coding/Cross-Training

As Harbor Light has shifted the Wednesday schedule to allow more elective classes this year, we have welcomed some amazingly talented new staff members. Meet Janae Ernst! Her son Manu is in kindergarten, and she and her husband Ben are first-year parents at HLCS. We've been blessed by their family and by Janae's presence as a volunteer and teacher.

Significant life experiences that brought me to HLCS: We witnessed God moving in big ways through our family members who were called to the school; they were the ones who first put HLCS on our radar. Then, when the pandemic started during our son's first year at public preschool, the shut-downs gave us an opportunity to step back and reevaluate our trajectory. During the next year, we took time away and traveled across the country in a camper, withdrawing and exploring, seeing the world with fresh eyes. We grew closer as a family and closer to God, and our prayers about schooling, our careers, and the state of our world led us to HLCS. The mission to raise up the next generation of leaders for Christ seemed more important than ever. I'm thrilled for each opportunity to pour out into that mission.

Activities and hobbies I enjoy: Family hikes, mountain biking, paddle boarding, skiing, dancing, drawing, poetry, learning new things.

I love HLCS because... it is built differently. Love, compassion, and service are prioritized alongside academics, preparing students for their higher calling. Every person here is valued and cherished for the important role that they play to make the school all that it is.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself/your family? I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. I studied math and physics at Northern Illinois University, and I met my husband, Ben, during graduate school. We moved up to northern Michigan in 2017, the day after our son Emanuel (Manu) turned one. Outside of HLCS, I work remotely for the Chemical and Materials Science group at Argonne National Laboratory, and I teach group fitness classes at a few local gyms and studios.

Favorite Bible verse or story: Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14


Hope Turner

Though I have other tasks, God has made it really clear to me that I'm a Mom first, and that I need to be intentional in parenting and making time for my son. Meanwhile, I’m also a full-time college student at Grace College and Seminary. I serve in the Kids' Ministry at Genesis Church and am blessed to have a retail job on the side, where during the slow season I am able to study at work. I also loved working in the rental at Nub's Nob this winter with the famous former math teacher Kate Kloss. I was a missionary with YWAM for about 7 years, and have a huge heart for sharing Jesus with people, and my son has also joined me. So fun!

My son, Micah, is 9 and is in Mrs. Ernst's class. We were led to Harbor Light when Micah was 3 and a half when I was offered a job as an Assistant Preschool Teacher. I had the privilege to serve under Pat Wendt just before she left. Her compassion in the way she led and cheered on the teachers made my first teaching experience at Harbor Light one to be remembered. However, the next year, the Lord led me to homeschool, and since then every year I go to God about what & where is best for our family.

We enjoy a good movie, curled up with our fluffy pup Bingo, playing music, and basketball, we also love going on adventures with our friends and family when our schedules match! One of Micah and I's favorite things about HLCS is the teachers, whom we love! Every teacher has been so kind and professional, and their heart to share Jesus in their classroom has always been so evident. I like that I can text or email any of these teachers throughout the years, whether for a quick update, concern, or whatever is on my mind, and I always have received awesome communication. It's such a game-changer to have teachers who genuinely care and are good communicators.

Something the Lord is stirring in my heart is how human understanding when compared to the Lord's, is so frail and tiny. I'm challenged and feel revival stirring in me to seek more than my own understanding regarding so many things. I used to think I had an opinion on things, and perhaps a prideful outlook, and now I feel sick when my own sinful human understanding that’s sinful (our natural default) or even my professional outlook tries to speak without waiting on God. I'm hopeful that at 36 years old, I'm learning HIS voice is to override mine, leading me to walk out in courage and obedience. Sometimes what God says does not always make sense, and I would rather err in walking in obedience seeking Him, knowing he leads with lovingkindness.

Harbor Light is Hiring!

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Enrollment Season Begins

Do you know a family that is interested in enrolling their children for the 2022-2023 schoolyear? Feel free to share the information below with them! We are excited to be able to offer a Christ-centered education to more children this coming year.
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Getting Involved

If you are interested in volunteering at HLCS in any way, please contact Heather Standish, our Volunteer Coordinator!
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Audi Raffle Opens Next Month!

Once again, we are partnering with our local Audi dealer to raffle off an exceptional car to one lucky member of our community! Tickets will go on sale May 16.
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Has HLCS had a positive or life-changing impact on your life or that of someone you love? Please share these stories with us so we can keep letting others know what a wonderful difference we can make! Send your experience to


We are grateful to partner with Oleson's and D&W this school year. Receipts collected from these grocers may be dropped off in the office at any time, or in the bin at the welcome desk this month.