RMCNews – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … “We’re all working together; we all have a common goal,” Andrew Carpenter, the new principal at Mile High Academy, remarked on the collaboration he would like to accomplish among Mile High Academy, front-range churches, Campion Academy, and other schools in RMC.

Born and raised in Tennessee and graduated from Madison Academy outside of Nashville, Tennessee, he is aware of the benefits of Adventist education. Carpenter is married with a two-year-old daughter, which occupies his time when he is not at MHA. After graduating from Southern Adventist University, he began his career as chaplain at San Gabriel Academy in Southern California before being offered the position of vice-principal, where he served under the leadership of Paul Negrete the past few years before accepting the call to be the principal at MHA.

Carpenter, by joining MHA, opens the academy’s new chapter of leadership. He would like to continue to build on the innovative programs and introduce systems that would help support what the school has accomplished while continuing to move forward with best practices. “One of the big innovations is real-world learning, sometimes called project-based learning, which is a great tool for education, teaching kids relevant and authentic experiences,” Carpenter comments, adding “and getting [the students] involved in how the skills and content they’re learning in the classroom interact in the world they are living in.”

Collaboration between area churches and MHA is encouraging to Carpenter.  “We have great pastoral support, not from just our constituent churches, but also from pastors outside of our constituency who have been very supportive of the school and working to help us see how we can partner together because it’s a blessing for their ministry as well as ours to be able to minister to the families of kids.”

He adds, “I think the more we invite everybody to be a part of what’s happening in our ministries, as we partner together, the stronger our ministry becomes. I think we need to talk about how we can continue to partner together. How can we sync our calendars, our programming to benefit each other and not just for the sake of benefit, but so we can be more effective in what we’re trying to accomplish here in the Denver Metro area?”

Carpenter’s mission for MHA goes beyond preparing the students for academic success but includes equipping them to advance God’s Kingdom. “The mission is helping to prepare our young people to be active participants in Christianity and to be part of the great commission within the Adventist context, helping to train and prepare them by partnering with our churches. We are developing a program based on brain and science research, our biblical worldview combined with our historical understanding of where Adventist education came from and the counsels of Ellen White.”

The core mission, according to Carpenter, comes down to character development for the students. He takes this value directly from the book Education by Ellen White, who encourages teaching the students about the joy of service in this life and for eternity. “That’s going to be a huge component of what we do because that’s the mission of our church. The other component is, as our new [Conference] president, Mic Thurber, begins that we look at his mission and vision for Rocky Mountain Conference and see how Mile High can help collaborate with that vision.  We are all working together, and we all have a common goal. We’re looking at how we can help to support our churches and our conference with our young people completing that mission.”

Carpenter is anxious to build a strong relationship between Campion and Mile High Academy.  “I call Don Reeder frequently and ask him how Campion is doing.  I would love to collaborate with them on outdoor activities and mission projects.  I know we play sports together, which is great.  There’s a healthy relationship there, but I would love for our students to spend time together.  I would like to see prayer conferences with our academies.  I think bringing our academies together would help us realize that we are working toward the same goals and mission.”

He adds that the question he bases his leadership on is, “If Mile High can improve in one area, how do we help the school in Farmington improve, and how does the school in Farmington help Mile High improve? When we’re talking about the mission and vision for education, specifically in the Rocky Mountain Conference, how do we begin to affect more than just ourselves with what we’re doing?”

“We need to be collaborating not just with Campion, but also with Brighton, Vista Ridge, our school in Casper, and others.  I’m impressed with our teachers in Wyoming.  They’re amazing educators.  They have some tough challenges out there by themselves, but they’re working together.”  That’s a tremendous example of collaboration, according to Carpenter.  He adds that when we are focused just on ourselves, we will miss the mark, but if we continue to collaborate together, Rocky Mountain Conference education will be great.

According to Carpenter, the call to MHA was about doing more than doing a job only at Mile High but also changing the wider community. “We want to do something greater than [with] just ourselves at Mile High Academy and affect the whole conference, union, and division.” This mindset set forth by Diane Harris, RMC education director, made Carpenter want to join Rocky Mountain Conference as principal at Mile High Academy.

–RMCNews; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski