Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Room 204

I am sitting in Room 204 at a local high school, substituting for the second straight day for the chemistry teacher, a woman that apparently misses school extremely rarely. Today was the first time I heard any discouraging words about her from her students, as all the students from yesterday praised her highly. Even in those unkind words I saw the reality that she is a tough teacher with high expectations for her students. Those unwilling to do the work find themselves pushed harder, and they resent it.

Room 204 faces the parking lot and front of the building. The view is pleasant, although spring-but-not-yet-showing-leaves-of-spring in Maine certainly lacks an element of beauty. The grass is very green, a result of regular rains. The trees show their buds of orange, red and green, but the leaves that exist are small and insufficient to provide the comfort that comes with the bursting renewal of full springtime. With rain in the forecast for most of the day, it looks like late fall more than mid-spring.

A classroom below 204 is listening to some boisterous and enthusiastic music. There is a sound of drums, a festive melody, and then, there is silence. The students in this period would prefer the silence. They’re taking a test. That is what I have done for two days now—proctor chemistry tests.

I have met a student or two whose family or parents I know from childhood, and one young man talked with me at length yesterday. He was sporting an interesting t-shirt and I asked him what it meant. As I suspected, it identified him as a Christian. When he learned that he was speaking to a brother, he was excited and pleased. He is of a charismatic persuasion in the Christian faith, and he spoke of his desire to share the Bible with his schoolmates. I encouraged him to be grounded in the truth and to wait for the opportunities the Lord brings to him for evangelism.

My wife asked me last night if I could see myself working in an environment such as this. I quickly answered with a Yes. As much as I love and support Christian education, I see more clearly now the very real need of Christians in public education. While laws exist that prevent me from speaking openly about the beliefs that are the foundation of my very life, I still possess the legal right to answer questions asked of me, and there is no law that can prevent my praying for students while I sit and monitor them during a test or a study hall. As I hear of the hedonistic and empty pursuits of students’ lives and relationships, prayers come quickly to my heart and mind, trusting that in the Lord’s timing he will open the door to speak a timely word.

As I told my interviewers (from a Christian school in PA) on the phone yesterday afternoon, my approach to students (and parents, colleagues, et cetera) must be in light of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Consummation. That is, what God created as good and to which he gave the mandate of stewardship and dominion, having then fallen into sin and corruption, can only be redeemed by the grace of God by the saving work of Jesus Christ, in whom we live in the present world in preparation for the next. Knowing that my students are made in the image of God helps me to treat them as they should be treated, with respect and with the expectation that they do their best, while recognizing that the sinful nature they possess will strive against them. If I can model the love of God in Christ to them, then if the opportunity arises to speak the gospel to them, they will be more likely to be open to what I have to say. That is my prayer and desire.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It is absolutely essential to the success of an organization that the leadership at every tier

Friday, May 6, 2011

There has been little to say of late. A week before the big show (barbershop chorus) I came down with a fever and barking cough that put me down for several days, including the better part of Easter. In God's mercy I had enough voice back to sing in the show--what a blast that was! We sang to a sold out, enthusiastic audience. The "after glow" party for the singers and their wives/girlfriends was at my folks' house. That had great food and fellowship. The guest quartet, The Average Joes, asked me to sing a song with them. It took a few moments to screw up my courage to do it, but it was fun.

In other matters, I've had just three days of subbing in Brewer, but will be at Hermon High for two days next week. I love it when they call in advance, as it makes it much easier to plan my days! I've signed up for a world geography course online with U-Maine, Orono. It's a May term class that'll be all over and done with by the end of the month. Then I need to take an economics course. Following that, I'll have to pass the PRAXIS exams to complete my certification attempt in Maine. I am hoping and praying to find a public school teaching job (jr high or sr high) for next fall. If not, I'll keep subbing and waiting for the Lord to provide.

Lastly, I have not cut myself off from all potential administration positions in Christian schools. While no longer my focus, if a school contacts me and wants to interview me I'll do it. The Lord will open the door he wants me to pursue and close the ones not right for us (and for the school). As my dad has always said to me, it's important to keep my options open. In connection with that, I have a phone interview on Monday with a Christian school in the Pittsburgh, PA, vicinity. They found my resume on the ACSI web site and wanted to talk with me. We'll see how it goes.

I see supper's about ready. I'll sign off for now.