In 1969, a New York City disc jockey named Scott Ross heard God’s voice as he stood on the grounds of an old cow barn in Freeville, N.Y. He envisioned a church with open doors where adults and children would come regardless of their background or appearance. It would be a place where people learned about Jesus and found acceptance. A vibrant Christian community called Love Inn sprang from the implementation of this vision. The former barnyard became the site of public outreaches, public media distribution, theater ministry, and more.
As the community grew, church members expressed their concerns with public education, which neglected the development of a child’s soul. They desired to have a school where children could receive academic training while teachers encouraged a growing relationship with Christ. Church members also hoped that a school would help them to pass along a spiritual legacy to the next generation.
God called an extraordinary woman to the task: a Norwegian schoolteacher named Ragnhild Kjeldaas. She was serving in a Connecticut high school on a Fulbright scholarship. Through the invitation of a church elder, she eventually visited Love Inn and received God’s confirmation that she should start the school. Despite the time crunch, Kjeldass worked quickly to prepare for students.
The school started in the Holy Cross Catholic parish building in the nearby town of Dryden in the fall of 1974. The one-room school had five students on the first day, all with widely different backgrounds and learning abilities. Kjeldaas built an academic program that would lay a foundation for her students’ intellectual, spiritual, and emotional development. She believed that unconditional love would unlock the heart of a child. Once grounded in this love, the child could learn. The school would serve as an extension of the parental training and discipline that the child received at home.
After six months, the church decided to move the school to the Love Inn property, where children could witness Christian community and benefit from exploring the extensive grounds. In the ensuing years, the school expanded throughout the building as it grew to accommodate students from Kindergarten through Grade 8.
Through the years, enrollment numbers have fluctuated, but the mission of Covenant Love Community School remains unchanged: to partner with parents in training the next generation to know God’s truth and to prepare them for their calling in His kingdom.
- Student enrollment:
43 full-time and 3 part-time students
- Churches represented:
18 in Tompkins and Cortland counties
- School districts served:
Dryden, Groton, Ithaca, Lansing and Whitney Point
- Instructional class sizes:
2 – 10 students
- Financial aid recipients: