September 11, 2001 was a day of infamy for America. It also marks the beginning of a unique and distinctive partnership of education between home educators and the Church. This new partnership, called Providence Extension Program (PEP), began to serve together at Faith Church, in Milford, Ohio, to equip home schooled students to make a strategic impact in all areas of culture for Jesus Christ.
In the providence of God, this day was an object lesson of one of the central teachings of PEP. Ideas have consequences. Idolatry and false worship not only bear consequences for the people who practice them, but for all who are within their sphere of influence. This was the day that it was universally recognized that the United States had come within the sphere of influence of Islamic terrorism. But there are also many other false gods and ideologies that receive wide acceptance within our culture that are threatening to destroy or captivate the present generation of students. To meet this challenge, PEP has emphasized from the beginning the importance of bringing a biblical world and life view to each of the educational disciplines that we offer.
God has blessed PEP with constant, steady growth primarily through word-of-mouth for fourteen consecutive years. Starting with 34 students, today we have five locations that serve over 700 students. We plan to grow as far and wide as God leads and provides, in obedience to the Great Commission to “teach the nations to obey everything that I have commanded you,” in dependence on our Lord’s promise that “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Founders of PEP
God called three key people to step out in faith and put the vision into action to found PEP. Beth Smith, Bruce Chester, and Mark Shunk (“a covenant of three families”) gathered a team of people who implemented the PEP vision in 2001.
Beth Smith is a veteran home educator who home schooled her first child through high school. After sending him off to Bryan College and career, she developed a passion for helping other parents provide their teens with academic excellence within a comprehensive Biblical worldview setting for the purpose of having a positive impact for Christ in every area of life. With the direction, encouragement, and support of her husband, Trey, she shared this vision with a few wise teachers, friends, and business leaders whom God raised up to partner with her in founding this ministry. Her remaining two children finished their high school education with the help of PEP and received scholarships to the college of their choice, Hillsdale College and Regent University. Like many other PEP graduates, the next generation of the Smith family influences the culture through their lives and vocations.
Beth holds a degree in Accounting from Texas A & M University and worked in industry as an accountant for two years prior to starting her family. She is the President of Providence Extension Ministries, Inc., the parent company of the PEP sites.
Bruce Chester is a home school father who also shares a passion for helping parents to provide their teens with an education that includes academic excellence within a comprehensive Christian worldview. Bruce Chester holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University, B.S. in Foreign Trade from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management, M.A. degree in Ministry from Moody Graduate School, and M.A. in Education from the University of Cincinnati.
His work experience includes: Field Engineer (foreign and domestic) for Schlumberger (5 years), Export Sales Manager for Xtek (3 years), Jr. High Math and Science teacher for Cincinnati Public Schools (19 years), Walnut Hills High School Math Teacher (6 years), Mathematics Specialist, Cincinnati Public Schools (5 years), Math and Biology teacher at Regional Institute of the Torah and Secular Studies (1 year), and teaching teenagers at church and at the home school extension program Algebra I, II, and Geometry Problem Solving, Logic I&II, American Covenant, Worldviews of the Western, Christian Apologetics, Economics, Literature, Art History, Christian Worldview, and Bible, as well as helping his wife, Jan, home school their son, who graduated from Cedarville University.
During his teaching career, he began to be captivated by the idea that the Bible is the integrating point for all wisdom and knowledge. This fascination led Bruce to see the necessity of discipling as many as possible with a Biblical Worldview. He serves as an elder at Faith Church in Milford, Ohio. Bruce also serves as an advisor to the PEP Curriculum Committee on the Advisory Board.
Mark Shunk's passion for PEP is rooted in his strong belief that parents who have been called to home school their children should have high quality resources available to them to support their desire to continue to home school their children in their high school years. He particularly favors PEP's emphasis on a sound Biblical Worldview curriculum, and its classical education foundation.
Mark L. Shunk is a Senior Partner with O’Brien Group, Inc. (www.obriengroup.us,) a management-consulting firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mark joined O’Brien Group after serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of Cincinnati based Cadence Network, Inc., a leading provider of web-based utility expense management services. Prior to Cadence Network, Mark was Vice-President, Retail Sales and Operations for Sempra Energy Solutions, a San Diego based national provider of energy and facility management solutions. Mark began his career and spent 17 years with Honeywell Inc., where he served in a variety of sales, marketing and management positions before leading the company’s $100 million healthcare business unit.
Mark graduated from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management, and has served 8 years on the Krannert Alumni Advisory Board. He currently serves as an Elder at Faith Church in Milford, OH. Mark has also been active on the board of Northern Kentucky/ Cincinnati Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Xenia, Ohio based Athletes in Action. Mark currently serves on the Advisory Board of Providence Extension Ministries which manages the PEP sites. He and his wife Suzy home-schooled their two children who are now students at Hillsdale College and Taylor University.