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Foreword to 2021 Edition

How to Start A Christian Daycare

Rev. Ellsworth E. McIntyre

Founder of Grace Community Schools & Early Childhood Education Pioneer

Foreword to 2021 Edition

I first heard about Grace Community School and its apprenticeship program in 1999. I visited Naples, Florida, and met with Pastor Ellsworth McIntyre to learn more about his schools and the apprenticeship program that he offered. I was a young eighteen-year-old fresh out of high school. My first job was working at the local Dairy Queen, and at the time of my visit with Pastor McIntyre, I was working as a station technician for a national talk radio station. Working and making money was a necessity of life. Still, I knew that though I enjoyed the work I did at Dairy Queen and the talk radio station, I knew that these jobs were a means of earning a living and paying my bills, but they were not what I was looking for in the way of a career or calling.

I was able to talk with Pastor McIntyre at length about his schools, how they worked, his vision, and reasoning for starting Christian preschools, and I was able to visit one of the schools and see it in operation. This short visit was both informative and productive. I already knew my community and the world, in general, were in desperate need of moral and academic reformation. My many years of government public school education and private Christian education made me sure of this.

Children all over America were, and are, being systematically stripped of all Christian influence and morality. There is a systematic effort to dumb down education, which produces at best children that graduate from high school believing themselves to be educated because they have been given a diploma, but who are barely literate, struggle to understand basic math, and have no marketable skills at all.

I moved to Southwest Florida and joined the Grace Community School Apprenticeship Program in November of 1999. I went to work straight away and began learning how to teach immediately; the GCS Apprenticeship program is built on practical training and apprenticeship with oversight from veteran teachers and managers. They helped to guide me in learning the craft of becoming a master educator. I found this both exciting and very challenging. What I liked the most was that I was not being taught theory on the subject of teaching; I was being taught how to really teach from day one. I was given a home to live in rent-free for the duration of my apprenticeship (three years). I was paid a full salary, which I was able to save most of during my apprenticeship due to the low cost associated with a single man living rent-free. I was enrolled in an academic program at no cost to myself to help me receive state-recognized degrees such as a CDA and even eventually earned a bachelor's and master's degree in Christian education at no cost to myself. I was licensed to preach by Nicene Covenant Church. Finally, after completion of my three-year apprenticeship, I was ordained to preach by the leadership and elders of Nicene Covenant Church.

As the years moved on, I married my wife Abigail Walker, who was one of the daughters of Pastor McIntyre, and my wife and I ran the Grace Community School in Bonita Springs, Florida. It is hard to explain how wonderful it is to be able to work side-by-side with my wife. Sharing my career and calling with my spouse was not something I had ever thought about doing, nor did it ever cross my mind how fulfilling and rewarding it would be to do so.

It had always been my impression that husbands and wives got along, but if they spent too much time together, it could cause marriage problems. It was a commonly held belief, and liberally stated that you do not mix business and family. Perhaps this was true of non-Christian marriages and families, but not of Christian ones. Working together daily did more to strengthen my marriage more than I could have ever imagined. Over the next twenty years of marriage and working together, we were blessed with eleven children: five boys and six girls. We have now not only managed to work together for the past 20 years, but we were able to completely control our children's religious and educational lives and ensure that they were correctly reared and given a real Christian education. Besides the religious and moral training I speak of, our children from the youngest of ages began helping us maintain our school and eventually became integral to its operations.

As I sit writing this, two of my oldest sons have also begun their official apprenticeship with our school: the same formal training I had undergone years before. However, this formal training is much easier for them than it was for me because of the years and years of experience and informal training they have already received by being at our school each day, seeing us work, and performing the various tasks that they have been given. As an example, my daughter, age fifteen, is already able to handle the full responsibilities of a secretary. She can handle phone calls, knows how to do accounting, and much more. Operating a Christian preschool and business has had many, many personal advantages for my marriage and family.

Lastly, Pastor McIntyre had written a book entitled, How To Become A Millionaire In Christian Education, which I had read before deciding to join the apprenticeship program and had found intriguing. Many people judge a book by its cover; people certainly judged this one. After I read the book, I realized that Pastor McIntyre's vision and purpose behind desiring to start Christian preschools were both evangelistic and practical. He never suggested that Christians should want or work to become millionaires, but rather that Christians could work as full-time missionaries and educators and still make enough money to care for their families' needs.

After twenty years, I can say that it is not only possible in theory to be a full-time missionary and have more than your family needs, but that I have done it. My wife and I have never wanted for anything. We are raising eleven children without worry about not being able to provide from their needs. We own our vehicles and home. We have no debts. And we can save money for any rainy day or emergency that may come our way. More than this, I can't underestimate the impact that my family has had on the children and families that have been in our care over the last twenty years.

God has blessed me in every way possible and in more ways than I believed possible. I want you to be able to say this too, Lord willing. Read on if you wish to know how. You will be inspired and equipped.

— Rev. Jeremy Walker

November 2020

Be careful: this book might just change your life. It did mine.

One man, Pastor Ellsworth McIntyre, wrote this book. It’s not just one man’s journey; it’s the story of his whole family (including my future wife, Amy), who moves towards freedom and a calling and a unique educational facility called Grace Community School. This story just might lead to your own adventure.

God led Pastor McIntyre to an endeavor that has changed and continues to improve the lives of many thousands of students and showed families the path towards financial freedom and a calling in Christian education, with an unparalleled opportunity to make a difference in the world and earn a reward.

We all want to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” We only get a certain amount of time on this earth to do something to make a difference. Your calling is the tool you use to do that. What has God put you on this earth to do?

I’ve detailed my journey in the book A Full Reward: Reformation Through Family-Run Christian Schools. When my parents came to be apprentices for Grace Community School in 1997, the same year this book, under the provocative title How To Become a Millionaire in Christian Education, was initially published, I had no idea of the impact this ministry was going to make on me.

As I was making plans to head off to conventional college, God drastically intervened in my life, and I became an apprentice at Grace Community School instead. In the past twenty years, I’ve gotten married and had seven kids with my wife, bought and paid off a house, obtained my master’s degree (paid for by Grace Community School), written a book, and become an internet marketing expert managing our schools’ advertising.

All this while homeschooling our kids, teaching Bible daily to hundreds of students, and supervising multiple Grace Community School locations here in Southwest Florida.

Another thing: this is a ministry your family will do along with you. I work daily side-by-side with my wife, Amy, and our children. My kids start helping out at our school as soon as they can, teaching reading, working in the office, cleaning, and learning how to deal with people. Every day is an adventure filled with teachable moments. They are learning a practical trade - how to operate a Christian school. As a result, they are showing a level of maturity far beyond what most people think kids of their age should have.

None of this would be possible without Pastor McIntyre’s pilgrimage, the details you’re about to read. You’ll notice the book is now called, How to Start a Christian Daycare. Something similar was going to be the original title until it was suggested a more provoking title might drum up interest. We’ve gone back to it in an attempt to stay authentic to the central concept.

I’m now writing this in the year 2020: it’s been almost a quarter-century since this book was originally published. Things seem different, but are they? Epidemics - moral and literal - are out there. Communism fell, but socialism is at our door. Christians focus on the political realm, and churches are weakening. Perhaps most disturbingly, Christians still are not regarding early childhood education nearly as highly as they should.

The topics of this book are timeless. The more things change, the more they stay the same. I hope that this reprinting will help a new generation of Christian entrepreneurs to stop thinking small and dare to strive towards freedom and dominion.

If you are familiar with R. J. Rushdoony, know that Grace Community School is making practical application of his theology.

Grace Community School is the answer to the question, “What is the best way to make the biggest change in society for Christ? “It also answers the question, “How do you take care of your family at the same time? “because the Christian can’t do one without the other. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Those of us laboring here in Pastor McIntyre’s schools and those elsewhere following his system do not suffer for material blessings. You can become a millionaire in Christian education, but that’s not the point.

That’s not to say doing this is easy. It’s tough work, and the Christian community at large won’t respect you. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” We see people come and ago. tA lot of times, people become disillusioned when they come to grips with just how much hard work and long days are required. We’ve seen people fall away. It certainly isn’t for everyone. But, if you can do it, it’s worth it.

This book is more relevant now than ever. I’d like to say that the Christian community has come to its senses in the years that have gone by, but I’m not so sure. The original back cover of this book said it would show the reader, “How to oppose entrenched evil in this world without resorting to politics or guns.” Note that this isn’t how things are typically done. Those of you looking towards political salvation will be disappointed. I hope that you, dear reader, are prepared to have your presuppositions challenged.

R. J. Rushdoony, in his book The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum, wrote, “Humanism in the modern era has had a very simple and effective plan for conquest, control of education. By taking custody of the child’s mind, it has effectively determined the future for the past century and a half. It has so thoroughly dominated education that even most of its enemies are extensively conditioned by the basic doctrines of humanism.” (I could quote many passages from here at length - it’s an excellent introduction to deliberate Christian education)

The war being waged against Christianity was once covert. It is now in the open. Think of all the bad things going on in our society. I don’t need to name; you know what they are, and the day’s flavor is continually changing. Things that would have seemed unthinkable at one point but are now considered mainstream. These developments blindsided many Christians. Consider that despite appearances, none of these things came about because of politics. Nor were they done at the point of a gun. They were done through education, specifically early childhood education. This is the tool Christians refuse to use. Christians are still focused on winning souls at the adult level. We’re still refusing to let the little children come.

So, is the message of this book still relevant? More so! Many people see the success of Grace Community School but fail to understand the why of what we do. The enemies of Christianity understand how important education is. Children are the key. If you want to make a difference for Christ, no ministry has more of an impact on the future than the Christian preschool.

We at Grace Community School have been starting and running Christian preschools for more than thirty years. We haven’t given up, and we’re still looking for Christian men and women who want to earn their full reward in service to the King. Maybe you will join us. We’re in this for the long run. Are you ready to join the battle? Keep reading to see how.

— Rev. Aaron M. Slack

November 2020

Testimonials from Grace Community School Parents

In the now thirty-five years since the founding of Grace Community School, we have expanded to seven Southwest Florida locations (with more on the way), and thousands and thousands of students have gone through our programs. Pastor McIntyre’s ministry has tremendously benefited the lives of so many students and families. In light of this reprinting after so many years, we decided it would be appropriate and beneficial to include a selection of testimonials (some taken from Google reviews) from Grace Community School parents. Ed.

“Grace Community School has been our saving grace, so to speak. My granddaughter has been there for 3 years and will be graduating from Kindergarten this month. She can read, recite the pledge of allegiance, say prayers, and the 10 commandments. She's been in the karate, dance, art, and music classes and loves them all. I love the family feel you get when you enter, and how they really seem to understand kids. It's been perfect for us, and I thank you for all you have done.” 

— Debbie Collins

“Grace Community has become more than a school; they are all family to our children and us.” 

— Megan Sanford

“We love Grace Community School. When my son turned 6 months old, I decided to look at options for daycare. I had seen signs for GCS and did some research. Everything in their handbook sounded right in line with our values. My husband and I stopped in for a visit and were blown away. Happy kids everywhere, teachers treating kids like their own, a clean facility and the food delivery truck had just arrived, so we saw the display of healthy meals our kids are fed. We signed up and have now been there 8 months. Our son is in love with GCS. Getting him dressed each day is so much easier when I can say, ‘we’re going to school.’ He loves all the activities, dance parties, recess, and theme days. We as a family couldn’t be happier.” 

— Justine Bowker

“We enjoy sending our little girl to Grace! She loves going to school every day. The staff is very attentive, and the facility is clean. She learns letters and numbers before pre-k. We also appreciate that she gets Bible Time. A great school!”

— Deanne Boozer

“Great school (not daycare!). My daughter is 3 and already knows her colors and how to count to ten, which I think is a great accomplishment! The hours work perfectly for my husband and I as we need to be at work by 7 and sometimes don’t leave until 5. It’s truly accommodating to a working family. The weekly payments are very affordable as well! All the fun weekly themes and different parties are a plus as well. She loves it! Our other daughter went here and knew how to read before going into kindergarten which helped put her at the front of the class. We are grateful for everything this school does.” 

— Autumn Caldwell

"I am now sending my second child to Grace Community.  My wife first found this school after carefully going over the pros and cons of many other daycares in the area. While I have two daycares within a mile of my home, my wife chose Grace that was two cities down the road because of all that was being offered at Grace Community School. I could not be happier with her choice as I have seen how my son has grown both in his Bible knowledge and the educational head start he has received. I am sure my daughter will get the same head start both with schoolwork as well as with a bible-based head start.  Keep up the great work.”

— William Watson

“Great place, very warm and family-oriented. The whole staff feels like family. Would highly recommend this school. I wouldn’t send my child anyplace else.”

— Vincent Salus

“Being new to the area, I wanted my kids to be somewhere they would grow, learn, have fun, and feel safe. I found all that with Grace Community. My kids love all of the staff there. They all play an important role in my children’s everyday experience there and I am so thankful for each one of them. I am amazed at how much they’ve learned and thrived in a short time. I love the foundation on which my kid’s education is being established and the values my kids are being taught. It is a great school.”

— Lucy Carrier

“Grace Community School has been a true blessing. The staff is attentive, kind, knowledgeable, and professional. They keep us informed each day on how our kiddo is doing. They treat our family like their family. Our little one is 3 and is already starting to read! GCS takes time with all the kids to help them grow into smart tiny humans! We would recommend them to anyone looking for a thorough daycare!”

— Carrie D’Amico

"After a whole year with my kids here they ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! It was the best decision I could have made for my kids because they needed to be exposed to the school world to prepare them for later and God knows my one and only daughter has always been the most antisocial child alive, but now she literally cries on the weekends because she wants to go to school when she wakes up! Also, my children have learned so, so, so much since they’ve been here, and they will be here until they age out. Thanks Grace Community! My family appreciates you very much!"

— Denise Huff

“This place is AMAZING! I have all three of my kids there for three years. My youngest started there at 6 weeks and is now three. I have been to a few daycares around and this is by far the best. The staff are very friendly, understanding, and organized. The morning teacher says good morning to all the kids by name individually. They really are the best and always willing to help out without judgment. I highly recommend this place. They even do fun activities during the summer and holidays!!!! The teachers really do help them with reading, talking, potty training, etc. It is a good structure balance of free play and learning!

— Brittany Flemion

“We love Grace Community School! My daughter attended for 2 years. Now that she is in a new school, we see how advanced she is for her level. She keeps repeating how easy her work is. We took her into the school to get her reading tested and she tested WAY above her grade level, and I know it is all because of what she learned at Grace. We will for sure be enrolling our other daughter as soon as she is ready for school.”

— Priscilla Camacho

“I love the teachers and the staff!! Rev. Harrison and his family are amazing and care about all the children! They know every parent and child that walks through that door!! My daughter started going to Grace for pre-k and she barely knew anything she needed to know going into kindergarten. Now she is in the 1st grade reading at almost a 3rd-grade level and I owe it to Grace Community and all their amazing teachers.

— Kasidi Kent

“I love the fact that my son is excited to go to school in the mornings and loves to tell me about his day when we go home. It reassures me that Grace Community is a great school for both of us.”

— Scott Kelsey

“I'd like to take the credit for my son's accomplishments in early reading, but the credit goes to Grace Community School. From learning the alphabet song to certificates of accomplishment in recognizing letters independently, my son has been proud to share his reading development with his friends and family. The day after bringing his first early reading books home from Grace Community School, he has been reading to his younger brother and setting an example of excitement for learning. The day he read ‘Lego’ in the toy catalog I almost burst with pride. Thank you, Grace Community School for giving my sons everything I would wish to provide at home. Even before his third birthday he was reciting his ABC's and listing the vowels and the sounds they make. At age 3 he brought home his first reading books. I thought, ‘Oh, that's cute.’ But when he picked up the Toys 'R' Us catalog and read the names of the toys, I was blown away! Learning is the second most important factor, aside from safety, in choosing a school/daycare for my children. The early years set the standard and practice for a child's future learning habits. It's hard to list just one thing as the most important thing my child has learned at Grace Community School. I'm so grateful for the subjects he's learning and the social skills he's developed, but I'm most grateful for his love of learning. I'm 100% confident that my sons will have a seamless transition into primary school and have an advantage over other students. The structure of each activity at Grace Community School and the complete focus of every child in the room has surprised me. It's so different than the average daycare, where the kids seem to be left to their own devices.

— Sommer Garcia

"My family absolutely adores Grace Community School. My children have been attending for almost two years, and they have loved every minute of it. I couldn't ask for more caring educators for my girls! The curriculum is top-notch, very creative and they really know how to make learning fun! My oldest was reading within two months of attending this school. My girls come home and share the stories they learn in Bible Time, the art projects made in Art Class, and put on shows from the techniques they have learned in Dance Class. I recommend this school to anyone.”

— Ashlee Rundlett

“All three of my kids attended Grace Community School. My youngest one is getting ready to go into kindergarten and he already knows how to read basic words and write his name!!! As a parent, I cannot express enough gratitude to this school for helping our kids get a great start to their education. This isn’t just a daycare, it’s a family that has an obvious love for what they do. I have MANY photos that they take each week for us parents to keep. As for the teachers, in the years we have been using this school, I have yet to meet a teacher that myself or my kids didn’t create a bond with. (Did I mention their teachers stick around because it’s a great school?!) The prices are very reasonable and probably the lowest for this type of care.”

— Heather Adams