For almost two years, Hampstead Baptist's pastor, Chris Bremmer, and several members of his church nurtured the idea of bringing a Christian school to northeastern Carroll County.
Their dream became a reality as Morning Star Christian School opened Sept. 5 with 32 pupils in attendance.
"We wanted another choice for parents in the area," said Linda Gilmore, secretary of the school's board of directors, who added that there aren't any other Christian schools in the Hampstead/Manchester area.
Ms. Gilmore, Mr. Bremmer and a third member of Hampstead Baptist, Karen Rhoten, have worked since January 1994 to see the school become a reality, said Lina Ferguson, the head teacher at Morning Star.
"It really was the vision of those three people," said Mrs. Ferguson, one of four teachers -- three full-time and one part-time -- at the school. "They felt there was a need for a Christian school in this area."
After getting the support of other pastors in the area, the three organizers wrote a constitution and began gathering teachers, said Mrs. Ferguson, who was hired this year to lead the school. Classes, which are also supported by Faith Baptist in Hampstead and Westminster Baptist, meet daily during the school week at Hampstead Baptist Church, she said.
"Our curriculum is Christ-centered," Mrs. Ferguson said, noting that the school is affiliated with the Association of Christian Schools International and that the state Department of Education has given the school a certificate of approval.
Bible classes are from the Abecca program, and curriculum for other subjects are from the Bob Jones University Press and Pensacola Christian College, she said.
"All of our subjects are taught on a biblical basis, whether it be history, science or mathematics," Mrs. Ferguson said, adding that Morning Star's curriculum is probably similar to those of other Christian schools in the area. "Our emphasis is the same -- good academics with the Bible as a foundation."
The school, which includes kindergarten through fifth grade, has small classes with many teachers instructing more than one group of students. Plans call for adding a grade each year. Tuition is less than $2,000 a year, Mrs. Ferguson said.
"We share the responsibilities," said Mrs. Ferguson, who taught elementary grades in Carroll County and Baltimore public schools before she had children.
When her eldest son was about to enter first grade, she began 8 1/2 years as a home-school teacher, Mrs. Ferguson said.
During the past year, before coming to Morning Star Christian School, Mrs. Ferguson taught at Carroll Christian School in Westminster, where her eldest son is in middle school.
Donna Gault teaches grades four and five, and Pam Amos covers the third-grade class for about an hour in the afternoon. Brenda Proper, who has the most classes, teaches kindergarten and first grade. She also is responsible for second grade in the afternoon and teaches the third-graders their Bible lessons.