Ruth A. Moller|The Miller Press
New year, new leadership at SBA
Another school year is underway at Sunshine Bible Academy, and a new superintendent is on board. Larry Mehlhaff, who has served as superintendent for the past nine years, will be retiring as of September 30. Jason Watson will be taking the reins.
Watson, from Virginia, saw the job listing on the Internet, applied and was hired for the position.
Watson, his wife Kristina and children Cassidy, seven, and Owan, four, arrived at SBA on August 18. The landscape and topography, he admits, is much different from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, although he says they like what they’ve seen.
Watson grew up primarily in Maryland. He lived a few places in the Midwest during his early years, and he earned his undergraduate degree at Drake University in Iowa.
He went on to earn his master’s degree in education leadership from Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Va.
Prior to coming to SBA, Watson was executive director of a children’s home in Virginia, and then was head master at a Christian school.
So the move to South Dakota was a big decision, although Kristina Watson grew up in the Midwest and her parents now live in Hot Springs, S.D.
He and April Teel, who teaches high school English and Spanish, are the new faculty members this year.
Watson says SBA brings a bit of both his former positions: it is a boarding school, as was the children’s home, and it is a Christian school, although the one in Virginia was a day school. He says he brings to the job, “a passion for Christian education.”
He’s impressed with the fact that SBA faculty and their families live on the SBA grounds, which allows for more interaction with one another after hours, as well as with the students.
He’s looking forward to the coming year. “There is excitement, seeing the new building going up, and celebrating the 60th anniversary year of SBA.”
The multi-purpose building, now under construction, is the first of SBA’s expansion plan. It will include classrooms, a new gymnasium and a wrestling room. It was entirely funded by donations, and hopes are it will be completed in time for graduation next spring.
This year, SBA enrollment is at 100, with about 80 percent in high school. Watson says the fact that students come from all over the world, as well as several different states, speaks well for the offerings at SBA, and the commitment to Christian education.
“SBA also has a loyal alumni base that supports the school. Several siblings and cousins attend SBA, and parents and even grandparents of many of today’s students are SBA grads,” Watson commented.
And even with winter coming on, Watson says he and his family are enjoying the school activities, the atmosphere, and the focus on Christian education.
SBA’s homecoming is Friday, Sept. 30, beginning with the royalty coronation at 11 a.m. The homecoming football game against Colome kicks off at 1:30 p.m. A banquet begins at 6 p.m., at which time outgoing superintendent Mehlhaff will lead the celebration of the 60th anniversary, and representative graduates of the various decades will speak and reminisce. Special music will also be provided.