Barbara Bedingfield founder of Suncoast Waldorf School

Suncoast Waldorf School

Barbara Bedingfield founder of Suncoast Waldorf School

Barbara Bedingfield, founder of Suncoast Waldorf School

In 1990, equipped with their passion for education and a strong dedication to their community, Dr. C.E. and Mrs. Beulah Glover opened the doors of Mount Bethel Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale. The school was designed to provide an educational alternative for Broward County children, especially underprivileged children from the inner city whose needs were not being met at their traditional public school settings. Parents with three children of their own, the founders of the school also served on several committees associated with the public school system and understood the challenges that Broward County youth were facing both in and out of school.

When the school opened 18 years ago, the founders only had the funds to serve children in grades Pre-Kindergarten through third grade. However, the growth of the school was fueled by a steady increase in enrollment combined with the persistence of parents who wanted their children to continue at the school after the third grade. Today the school serves 92 students in grades Pre-K through sixth grade.

Although the school’s tuition is only $3,700 per year, for many low-income parents, finding the funds to send their children to Mount Bethel can be challenging. Through a partnership with Step Up For Students, Mount Bethel has been able to extend its services to children who, without the financial assistance from the scholarship program, would not have the opportunity to attend the school. As a result, the school currently serves 20 Step Up For Students scholarship recipients, making up 22 percent of Mount Bethel’s student population.

The teachers and staff at Mount Bethel focus on providing a strong educational foundation for children and helping kids who have fallen through the cracks get back on track. The teachers at the school have worked with numerous students who enter Mount Bethel after falling behind in their public schools. The teachers work to address each student’s academic challenges so that they can excel in school, whether they stay in Mount Bethel through sixth grade, continue on to another private school or go back to public school. The administrators and teachers at Mount Bethel just want these children to succeed.

“Our goal is to provide children with the proper educational foundation to lead successful lives, regardless of what school they choose to attend in the future,” says Beulah Glover, the school’s administrator. “I have seen many cases of students who enter our school in the third grade, yet they cannot read. Our job is to help them develop the skills necessary to perform well in school and in life. I strongly believe that by giving children the ability to attend a school best suited to their needs, the Step Up For Students program is fueling the success of our youth.”

Using the A Beka curriculum and offering classes such as Spanish as a second language, Mount Bethel provides children with the skills necessary to become well-rounded individuals. The school also administers two standardized tests to assess student achievement and abilities – the Stanford Achievement Test (Stanford 10) and the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT). Additionally, the school has a tutoring program called “Powerline” to assist students with building reading and spelling skills. Mount Bethel’s dedicated staff and education programs have proven to be very successful; on average, the school’s first through sixth grade students test approximately a year and a half above grade level on standardized national achievement tests.

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The typical scholarship school

Is small in size: The average total enrollment is 161 students.

Serves mostly private-paying students: Step Up students make up an average of 30 percent of total enrollment.

Serves elementary students: About 66 percent in grades K-5.

Is faith-based: Seventy-five percent of the schools are faith-based. The 193 Catholic schools represent the largest single group.