By: Hadley Butler
The big one-room
Vanessa Halford, co-founder and director of White Horse Christian Academy, said she is hopeful that the private school on the outskirts of Stephenville can forge ties with incoming students to Tarleton State University and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Rodeo.
“If we could start some type of relationship where the rodeo coach gets to know the kids that I have here, then our kids could showcase their leadership abilities and their talent,” Halford said. “Not only for the kids that come in here, but also for the distant kids.”
In addition to area students, White Horse also has students from South Texas to New Mexico and Oklahoma. The school has a total of 160 students and 11 faculty members in just three years.
“Jesus walks in this building every single day,” Halford said, beaming.
With daily devotionals at 10 a.m., Halford strives to maintain an atmosphere of growth, devotion and character. She said her hope for the students is that they gain a solid education, solid character, know the love of the Lord and leave with a solid foundation to live the “good, Christian lifestyle.”
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes Rodeo Division, a non-profit religious organization, is a ministry devoted to seeing the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches, competitors and champions. In the fall of 2018, the FCA rodeo organization was brought to the Southwest Region and Tarleton State University’s rodeo team in efforts to cultivate a kingdom-like culture within the rodeo community.
Within the FCA rodeo organization, athletes, coaches and students alike each gather to equip, motivate and empower one another through the word of God.
With a large number of high school rodeo athletes enrolled in White Horse, these students could provide a positive upcoming impact as students and rodeo athletes for Tarleton.
“I would love to have FCA Rodeo established here, is what I would love for y’all to do,” Halford stated. “If we could get these kids tied in here, that’s also their tie in to Tarleton. If they listen to people more their age that’s willing to jump out there and talk about Jesus, then it would make a greater impact.”
Founded in fall 2016, White Horse has grown very quickly. With a Christian-based curriculum, the school has worked well with parents in establishing relationships both educationally and biblically. Halford said relationships are key to holding one another accountable and providing students a way to get engaged in their education.
“In public schools, teachers are unable to build relationships with their students when they only have them for 45 minutes a day. We know our kids here,” she said. “Every single staff has a relationship with every single student.”
Senior Madelyn Eddleman smiled when she told what she was most thankful for at White Horse.
“I am most thankful for each and every teacher at White Horse having an inspiring relationship with God and setting such a good example,” Eddleman said. “I would not be the person I am today without this school.”
Halford plans to add a second building over the summer to separate K-3, 4-6, 7-8, and high school grade levels. However, due to the continuous growth, she plans to cap classes at 22 give-or-take, and eventually cap the entire program at 200 students in order to prevent becoming a public school.
Halford continued to give all of the glory to God as she voiced hopeful connections for incoming students to Tarleton State University and FCA Rodeo.
“Like I said, this was God’s plan. I’m just hanging on for the ride,” Halford said.