OWNER & PROPERTY MANAGER
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up just a mile west of The Elementary which was close enough that our family dog would break out and come play at recess on occasion. Most of my family attended school at The Elementary, even including my grandfather back when it was LaFontaine High School.
I graduated from Southwood and attended Indiana Wesleyan University where I studied Business, Bible, and Missions. I loved it there, and the best part for me was meeting my incredible bride, Deanna. We have been married for 7 years now, and she is a righteous fox! Not to mention, she just auditioned to be a Disney princess. Despite her singing and other princess skills, she works at IWU, while I work on my family’s farm. I have no princess skills myself.
How did you come about owning a school?
The Elementary has anchored the LaFontaine Community for generations, and in many regards its closure was a sad page in the chronicle of our community. As I contemplated the closing (let’s be honest, you have a lot of time to think while driving a tractor at 5 mph…), I dreaded the building becoming dilapidated and decrepit—destined to the ashes of Ashland.
Why couldn’t something good still happen with a building that has served so many families? Would my grandchildren ever walk its hallways? Call it youthfulness and naivety, but I couldn’t help myself from thinking: ‘Why not?’
What’s your vision for The Elementary as a whole?
It’s pretty simple. I want to see The Elementary continue to be a blessing to the LaFontaine community. How that parses out is really up to the person reading this right now (yes, you!). The Elementary can’t be a community center if there isn’t any community support. The nonprofit we have organized, LaFontaine Learning Community, is Phase 1. If the local support is there, we’ll continue to renovate the facility into a stronger location for venue opportunities (everything from graduation open houses to Nerf war leagues). Who knows what is on the horizon?
As the future phases unfold, anything is on the table from a coffee house, a restaurant, a fitness center, or an amusement park. Ok. Maybe that last one is a stretch. But then again, what does LaFontaine want?
Did you ever think you’d help start a child care? What has that process been like?
Never! I don’t even have children of my own yet, but in learning all that is involved with early childhood education, it has given me a great confidence in the people who have devoted themselves to the mission of nurturing children. There are many regulations to learn, many conversations to have, and many details to pursue, but ultimately, quality childcare comes down to quality people. Men and women who love children and are desperate for their good. This process has been a constant encounter with some really great people.
Both The Elementary and LLC aim to serve the local community. What would you like the community to know about your heart behind these projects?
I don’t want anything about this to be about me. (Call me a reluctant blogger here.) Frankly, I’m a pretty disappointing person, but I do have an incredible Savior. It’s from the life of Jesus that I learn: You can serve without loving, but you can’t love without serving. The heart of all of this is really not service, but love—a love that wants you to know Jesus for yourself and the joy found only in Him. If a bunch of bricks in a building can have a resurrection, maybe it will give me a chance to tell you, even right now, that you can experience resurrection too! (John 11:25-26)