A freshman at a small high school failed to pass the tryout for choir. This was a crushing blow as music was very important in his family. The next year the student fearfully tried out for choir again and not only made the choir, but the director seemed to see something in him.
The director suggested voice lessons and then, after a few months, suggested that the sophomore would be singing the Christmas solo traditionally given to a senior. The director continued to build the confidence of the student, helping him with other opportunities for performance such as the leads in an opera and musical and encouraging him to try for, and obtain a scholarship to summer music camp, which was a life-changing experience for this student from a small, rural farming community.
The performances that the student participated in helped him to get used to being up in front of people and were most helpful for a later speaking career. After college and many years went by, the student re-connected with his mentor and expressed his gratitude. By now you may have guessed that I was that student. I remain grateful to God that I was given that opportunity to properly express to my mentor and advocate (before he died an early death) what his belief and support of me meant and how it changed my life.
It is Teacher Appreciation Week (arguably, this should be more than one week!), and if you are an educator, I hope you are being fully appreciated! I would also encourage you to reflect on the teachers that shaped the course of your life, as my friend Joel Hazard has done so well here. Take the time to make a call or write a note - it will be deeply meaningful to them...and you.
Education is an extraordinary profession, and yet the complexity of it is not well understood. Here are some ways that I want to express my gratitude for what you do - as one who has been there (and one who has failed as well!)
A Word of Thanks to Those of You Who.....
kept in focus the big picture of nurturing faith in students, despite all the distractions and obstacles during this school year;
kept your cool when working with a student for the umpteenth time on a repeated issue—thanks for remembering that God continues to forgive each of us for repeated sins;
listened well and were fully present even though you knew what a student or colleague was about to say and you had 90 million other things calling to you;
found a way to mediate and bring peace between student and student, student and teacher, teacher and parent, administration and board;
challenged students to connect their beliefs and their actions;
shared your faith even though it felt risky and you weren’t sure how students or parents would receive your testimony;
cared deeply about the hurts and pain of students and staff and demonstrated your concern through seen or unseen acts of kindness;
did the right thing from a Christian perspective even though it was unpopular and you took some heat for your decision;
pointed students and teachers toward prophetic living and expanded their worldview;
attempted to live and model Christ in faithful service;
saw the image of God in each person and tried to see them through the eyes of Christ; or
helped move your school forward in reaching its mission.
Well done, good and faithful servant—enter into a time of renewal and refreshment during the summer months!
PC: Courtney Hedger