By Robert Skead
Chances are, you’ve heard of Eastern Christian School, Hawthorne Christian Academy, or any of the fine Catholic schools in Northern New Jersey. But few people know Dawn Treader Christian School, the oldest – and now the only – Christian school in Paterson, N.J.
The school opened its doors in 1977 when Herbert Van Denend, a board member of Eastern Christian School and member of Ridgewood Christian Reformed Church, founded the Dawn Treader Christian School. Mr. Van Denend, along with the other founding members, had a heart for Christian education and wanted children in Paterson to have an opportunity to learn and grow in faith in a Christian environment. They ventured out to find a suitable building and settled on purchasing The Rosen Mill—the first silk mill ever built in the late 1700s in Paterson’s historic district, in the shadows of the Great Falls.
The name Dawn Treader comes from the ship in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia book series, and represents the school’s goal to help students embark on a voyage of learning and discovery. For more than 40 years, Dawn Treader has been a safe haven of hope and strength for many families in the city of Paterson and its surrounding cities. A place where students thrive in an environment where education, cooperative learning, and the fruit of the Spirit are nurtured and celebrated.
A high percentage of Dawn Treader students score on and above grade level on state standardized tests in math and language. In many non-Christian Educational environments, students are challenged with bullying, low self-esteem, and ungodly influences, which tend to lead to poor academic performance.
Upon graduation, most Dawn Treader Christian School alumni are accepted into the high school of their choice. More than 80 percent of Dawn Treader students graduate from college. Many receive acceptance into impressive universities and have become doctors, lawyers, judges, real estate agents, teachers, business administrators, principals, musicians, journalists, and marine biologists, to name a few. (story continues after photo)
The school needs help
Many students come from a single parent home and desire a nurturing learning environment. In light of this, students need financial assistance in order to attend and remain at Dawn Treader. Additionally, the school’s magnificent facility is in need of many renovations. The school can only give every child an opportunity to receive a great Christian education if the facility remains a safe and efficient place in which to serve and educate. The doors of Dawn Treader Christian School have remained open through the generosity of many people who opened their hearts and sowed a seed of love. Like the Dawn Treader ship, you can help students embark on an incredible voyage of Christian education and prepare them to make a difference in our world.
As the story of Dawn Treader continues, you can invest in the lives of students as the next chapters of the school unfold. Will you please prayerfully consider sponsoring a student with a donation toward their tuition or simply provide a financial gift to help keep the school operating? Both will go a long way to ensuring this school’s Christ-like light burns bright in Paterson and changes lives.
Please help Dawn Treader create more success stories. To make a donation, please visit https://www.dawntreaderchristian.org.
Special note to pastors and churches
Dawn Treader teachers and former students are available to visit your church, in person or virtually, to share the school’s story with your congregation in a simple, brief Q & A format. If you’re interested in sharing the Dawn Treader story with your congregants via a school mission moment during your service, please contact Pastor Charles Salinas, Head Master, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Skead is a board member of Dawn Treader Christian School and the author of several children’s books. His website is www.robertskead.com.