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New administrator to expand Victoria Christian School

By KBell
July 2, 2011 at 2:02 a.m.

Catherine Key, administrator, stands in one of the preschool classrooms at Victoria Christian School on Monday. One of the changes she hopes to make in the school is to add more elementary grades to Victoria Christian School.

Kids in the Victoria Christian School's summer program were just waking up from a nap, their tired voices echoing down hallways adorned with brightly-colored backpacks.

If the school's new administrator has her way, these halls will be louder and more colorful for years to come.

Catherine Parsons Key, 52, took over VCS in June - 21 years after she left the school to go into private practice as a licensed professional counselor.

"I felt like it was time to give back to the school again," Key said from her new office at the school.

The native Victorian has ambitious plans for the school at which she worked for nine years in the '80s. Back then, VCS was in its heyday, offering classes from age 3 up to fifth grade with students on a waiting list.

For several years, the school has been focusing on its preschool program, only offering instruction through kindergarten.

Key plans to build the school back up and add a grade of instruction each year.

"I think the school has a good foundation because it's been in business since 1978," Key said. "It can offer students a strong Christian education that is unique and personalized."

Key remembered from her tenure at VCS the difference the school made in kids.

"When you come into the school and you're one of 10 kids in a class, you feel special. It makes you feel unique, and that's what we're trying to achieve here," Key said. "There's more tender loving care here."

At least one parent agreed with Key's assessment of VCS's individualized instruction.

Grace Neibrandt's 4- and 6-year-old boys have been attending VCS for about three years.

"Even my two children are polar opposites," Neibrandt said. "They know my children that well ... they know their personalities, and they know every kid is different."

The fact that VCS offers kindergarten assessment tests attests to the school's academic achievements as well, Neibrandt said.

"As my first child in school, it gave me a real comfort level that he is ready for first grade, that even though he's changing schools, he's ready."

Neibrandt's oldest, Seth, will be going to Vickers Elementary School next year, but had more classes been available at VCS, that's certainly where he would have stayed.

Key "has made such a difference in the short time she's been there. It's really neat to see what such a devoting, loving, experienced woman can do."

Key said her experience at VCS has been equally rewarding. Former students still approach her to thank her for the education she helped them receive.

"To them, it was a special experience, too. Even as adults, they recall it with very fond memories," Key said.



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