PUBLIC AFFAIRS There are religious scholars who refer to Joshua as an attendant to Moses, and a fearless warrior in the service of God. In the city of Des Moines there is a school, Joshua Christian Academy, that is waging a modern-day war to turn the tide regarding urban education. The school’s Executive Director/Elementary School Principal, Reverend Keith A. Ratliff, Sr., who is also the Pastor of Maple Street Baptist Church, is considered a present-day Joshua when it comes to waging a war against substandard education in the Des Moines urban community. Joshua Christian Academy is also proud of their competitive sports activities and has an impressive basketball facility. Joshua Christian Academy is open to all, regardless of church affiliation. If you are a parent or know parents in Des Moines who are seeking a better education for their child(ren), you may want to contact Joshua Christian Academy and inquire about tuition costs and assistance. Depending on your financial status, there are several options for admission. You won’t know whether or not your child(ren) will qualify unless you call or visit the school. On July 16, 2019, I had the pleasure to visit with Reverend Ratliff and discuss his mission and future plans for the Joshua Christian Academy. Celeste: Briefly, would you please provide the objective and history of why and how Joshua Christian Academy came about to its present-day existence? Rev. Ratliff: The objective of the school is to give students who normally couldn’t afford a Christian education the opportunity to do so without the economic hardship that it can carry, and to teach Christian education as they learn other core academic subjects. Our mission statement is ‘To build a Christ-centered academic foundation within the hearts and minds of urban children, equipping them and their families to serve God and others to their fullest potential through outstanding biblical education’. Back in 2008, Ms. Chris Hurley asked me what I thought about an affordable urban Christian school. I answered, ‘Let’s pray about it’. We agreed that this would be something very valuable to the Des Moines community. During the summer of 2008, we formed a group called the Design Team as we prayed and planned what we hoped the Joshua Christian Academy would be like. We wanted to serve the underserved by providing them with love and resources necessary to overcome the odds to become catalysts for positive change in their families and communities, all within a Christcentered approach. We opened the doors of our school, Joshua Christian Academy at Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in September of 2009. We are multi-denominational, even though we started at Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church, Joshua Christian Academy is not just for those attending a Baptist church, Church of God in Christ, nor any other specific denomination, Joshua Christian Academy is open to all denominations. The Joshua Christian Academy is presently located where the Logan Elementary School was formerly located, 1740 Garfield Avenue, Des Moines. We’ve been at this location going into our seventh year. We have existed as a school going into our eleventh year. We started with nine students enrolled in K-3 (kindergarten-3rd grade), and basically added a grade each year. Now, we have students enrolled in K-12 (kindergarten-12th grade). We had our first graduate this year, Ms. Laya Rudison, who was accepted by the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, Des Moines Area Community College, and the University of the District of Columbia. She chose the University of the District of Columbia and received a full scholarship/financial package to continue her education. Currently, the Joshua Christian Academy has approximately 140 to 145 students enrolled to begin K-12 classes starting this fall. August 2019 The URBAN EXPERIENCE 37

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