NORTHBRIDGE — Whitinsville Christian School is welcoming a longtime educator as its new head of school, and the school community is confident the transition to new leadership will go smoothly.
Current Head of School Lance Engbers is stepping down after 36 years at Whitinsville Christian. He first arrived as elementary school principal, and taught a fifth-grade science class before transitioning into educational administration.
The school has announced that Engbers’ role will be filled by new Head of School Richard Lukianuk, currently serving as head of school at Heritage Christian Academy in Kansas. He is scheduled to arrive in June, according to the school.
Lukianuk will take over a school that has positioned itself as a thriving institution while other private schools have experienced declines. Student enrollment is “booming,” according to the school. There is a waiting list for its kindergarten program and applications are up for elementary, middle, and high school over this time last year, said John Casey, president of the Whitinsville Christian School Board of Trustees, in a press release.
Started in 1907, the school has grown steadily, starting with the purchase of a 27-acre campus in 1966, the addition of a high school in the 1970s, and other major building projects. Last year, the school dedicated the Nehemiah Center, an $18.5 million athletic facility and center for arts and worship. The school draws its enrollment from Worcester and Central Mass. to the Metro West area, Rhode Island, and eastern Connecticut.
Engbers spearheaded enrollment growth and fundraising for new campus facilities, and has overseen changes in school curriculum that include a shift to a project-based, student-centered, and personalized learning approach. Elementary pupils take “Outdoor Ed,” in which they do everything from build rock walls to make art projects outside. According to the school, the innovative programs offered to Whitinsville Christian students have opened doors for high school seniors — graduates are regularly admitted to prestigious and highly-ranked colleges and universities.
Other programs allow students to explore topics of their choice through guided independent study, and the school robotics team has competed at the FIRST Robotics Competition World Championships.
According to the school, students are encouraged to explore their spirituality through regular chapel participation and opportunities for service, and are taught to engage in the world through a Christian lens.
Lukianuk began his career in international law, and became a vice president and general counsel for Fisher Scientific Worldwide Inc. before becoming an educator. He served at three different Christian schools, and has a passion for writing music, recently co-writing a musical that was chosen for last year’s Broadway Summer Music Festival.
In the press release Lukianuk, a native New Englander, said he sees his move to Whitinsville Christian as a homecoming, and said his dual background in the corporate world and education will help him prepare students for a global marketplace of economics and ideas.