The reason Christian education struggles in much of the country is because many Americans see faith and academia as unrelated or polarizing fields, Porter said.
Porter plans to continue an “emphasis on academic vigor” at Christian Heritage, adding that he sees no conflict between faith and intelligence.
“We can produce great thinkers who happen to be great people of faith as well,” he said. “If you look at our profile sheets you can see that 97 percent of our students go on to universities and do well.”
Porter said most students do well because of the Christian Heritage “platform.”
“We want students to learn things from multiple views,” he said. “We don’t want to just feed students information. We want them to be thinkers. We want them to be in the learning process.”
That’s worth the $8,200 to $9,100 in yearly tuition, Porter said. Even with 413 students bringing in more than $3 million a year in tuition, Porter said private schools are facing a money crunch like their public school counterparts.
“It’s a challenge,” he said.
Especially with plans to build a $14.75 million high school across the street, expected to begin at a yet to be decided date this year.
“The students are worth it,” Porter said, noting a background in real estate has him already visualizing the new building “beyond blueprints.”
“It’s exciting,” he added.
Having more space to teach will help the Christian Heritage platform grow, Porter said. Seeing teachers and administrators work together to build a bigger presence in the community by expanding the school could be a lesson for the youngsters, he said.
“We want (students) to be collaborative with their peers and their calling,” he said.
But how someone finds their call isn’t always easy.
Figuring it out
Finding a calling comes down to an “intersection” of passion, talent and God’s will, Porter said.
“It may not always be easy, but it’s something you’ll enjoy,” he said. “You may not figure it out before you graduate high school. You may not figure it out before you graduate college. I was 28 when I nailed it down.”
So how does one nail it down?
By thinking about what makes you happy, Porter said.
“If you get people talking about those events in their lives that leave them most satisfied they are usually bread crumbs to where the Lord wants you to go,” he said. “I remember a kid I was talking to once at my house ... He had no idea what he wanted to do. We started a conversation and he started talking about a mission trip he had gone on to Africa.
“He’s one of the shyest kids I know, but 30 minutes had passed and he was still telling us his story. There was a young lady there that night who had kind of already figured her life out. She said, ‘He doesn’t see it, does he?’ I said, ‘You’re right. He doesn’t.’ He asked us what we were talking about and I told him, ‘This is your call. This is what you’re passionate about.’”
That’s the kind of conversation Porter said he hopes to have with Christian Heritage students in the coming months.
“I’m very excited about it,” he said.