By Chris Bavender
Debbie Duke always had the dream to open a “high-quality” Christian school where children would not only receive a solid education, but a place that would also engage them and create a love of lifelong learning. A mom of three with another on the way, Debbie wasn’t happy with the options when she was searching for day care for her own children.
“She and my Dad prayed about it and felt led to build a Christian school for other like-minded families, and the rest is history,” said Kayley Davis, marketing director of The Little Lamb Christian School and daughter of co-founders Debbie and Chuck Duke. “It opened its doors for the first time on Aug. 17, 1987. Since that day, all five of us Duke kids graduated from (classes) there and now all four grandchildren have attended.”
In the 30 years since the school opened, it has served more than 2,768 families in the Carmel/Westfield community.
“We receive a lot of referrals from families, both past and present. We also get a lot of referrals from elementary schools because of our focus on kindergarten readiness for the Carmel/Westfield schools,” Davis said. “Many elementary teachers have told us they can tell Little Lamb graduates when they’re in their classrooms because of how prepared they are.”
The school is celebrating its 30 years of service to the community in a big way.
“We had a back-to-school bash with a cookout, bounce house and lots of outside play,” Davis said. “We are overwhelmed by all the love, support and kind words we have received from the community congratulating us on our 30-year achievement.”
The Little Lamb also is offering a $300 discount off the first month’s tuition for every new family that enrolls this year as a 30th anniversary special.
Davis said teachers and staff are a big part of the school’s success.
“We have a staff of 21 early childhood educators who truly love what they’re doing and love children,” she said. “Our staff receive over double the amount of continuing education training in early childhood education compared to what the state licensing requires.”
Chuck and Debbie continue to be hands-on in the day-to-day activities of the school they founded, which allows for immediate feedback with both parents and staff, Davis said.
“Parents love our school because when they walk in everyone knows their name. They’re not just a number,” she said. “We feel like it’s an extension of our own family, and it truly is a big family atmosphere. We emphasize a strong academic standard, a Christian atmosphere and a big focus on family involvement and communication.”