BESIDES MEETING MATERIAL NEEDS, staff members try to provide their students (ranging from pre-K to middle school) with a high-quality education from a Christian worldview. At LLCS, Khoury uses curricula from her homeschooling days, but the teachers also adjust to meet students’ needs. Many students never learned how to hold a pencil. The older students use Chromebooks to access lessons online and move at their own pace.
Even more than the educational quality, teachers see their mission as loving students and building relationships, a challenge when the kids come from such a different world. Khoury said she prays for God to send qualified teachers who reflect the student demographics: Half the teachers at Little Light Christian School are white, but most students are black. Most teachers are female, with one notable exception.
The third graders left Susan Fowler’s classroom and filed into the Fine Arts building. They waited for their music teacher with their backs against the hallway wall, shuffling their feet and whispering excitedly. Minutes later, a smiling Ernie Tullis—wearing a newsboy cap and a navy blue suit jacket with jeans—appeared around the corner with his class of middle-school boys. The kids shouted greetings and scrambled to find seats in the music room. Tullis grinned as he played the keyboard with ease and style. He led the kids to sing the first verse of “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” then without missing a note he told individual students to stand and sing the second and third verses solo.
The students love Tullis, and he loves them back: “I get these kids, ’cause I was these kids. I split from home when I was 16 because home was bad. Hitchhiked to New Orleans, got a job playing piano on Bourbon Street, met Jesus there.” He played piano for Christian artists like MercyMe and Michael W. Smith, as well as Aretha Franklin and Charlie Hall: “pretty much whoever would have me. We would hit the road with one, go as far as Atlanta, wind up with someone else.”