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Posted: September 24, 2010 12:30 a.m.

The Learning Center

The Social Circle Christian Learning Center class size swells

Chris Queen/

The Christian classes: (L-R) Tiffany Beckles, Director of the Social Circle Christian Learning Center, and Stephanie Dills, teacher at the center, work with high school students to provide a Christian-based curriculum outside of the school, in acc...

At the Social Circle Christian Learning Center, high school and middle school students have a chance to develop both spiritually and academically.

The learning center, 141 Alcova Drive, is working with 81 students this year and has been providing religious education programs since 1998.

"The vision of the Christian Learning Center is to help students see God’s plan for their lives, to develop Christian character and integrity, and to withstand the things that are going on in the world around them," said Tiffany Beckles, the program director.

Federal law allows for release-time programs for religious education that are held off campus and privately funded. Students must have permission from a parent or guardian to attend. The center is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The Christian Learning Center offers three high school classes and three middle school classes. The classes work with the school system to allow high school students to receive elective credit and middle school students to receive connections credit. Classes are free and the center provides transportation.

The center offers a four-year revolving curriculum for high school students. Courses include Family, Community, and Careers; Social Skills, which includes character education; Current Events, which examines recent world issues through a Christian worldview; and Comparative Religions, which includes the basic tenets of other religions as well as how to share one’s faith. Middle school students are learning about the Fruit of the Spirit and character education.

The Christian Learning Center has received positive feedback from both students and parents. Word of mouth has proven to be effective advertising for the center, according to Beckles.

"We can see the difference in our students as they come through our doors," said Beckles. "Through word of mouth and positive feedback, our program has grown."

The Christian Learning Center is a non-profit organization, independent of the school system, that is funded through contributions from churches, businesses, and individuals. Beckles and teacher Stephanie Dills are the paid staff.

Beckles and Dills, who are both alumni of the center’s programs, said they are grateful for the relationship they maintain with the schools.

"It’s a win-win situation, because we are able to legally provide Christian education in the public school system." said Dills.

Similar centers have opened in Morgan, Walton, Fannin, Gilmer, and White counties.

"We’re touched at how the Lord is expanding this program throughout the state," said Dills.

Unchurched students are attending classes there in addition to the students who have a church home. Beckles noted that five students have gone from being unchurched to becoming active in a church.

"We’re encouraged by the changed lives that we see," said Beckles.

The center welcomes volunteers and financial donations and prayers. Volunteers can also help with maintenance and lawn work.

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