Why hike 2,200 miles over the Appalachian Mountains through 14 states just to touch a wooden plaque in Maine? One is for the adventure and the challenge; two is for my school and what we instill in the lives of children. Here are three events that will show you what I mean.
Dayton Christian School System is a Christian school which attempts to prepare students for life – spiritually, academically, socially. One of the key skills we try to teach at the junior high level is organization and responsibility. Keeping an organized notebook to track all the classroom handouts and notes, the research assignments and deadlines, and the study guides and homework is a common classroom expectation. The middle school recently received this note from an alumni parent. “I don’t know if you remember me or not, but my son, he was in your 7th grade English class several years ago – he just graduated in June 🙂 I had to send you a quick email because he just started college and you would be so proud! He worked last night organizing his binders with dividers and the syllabus in the front, etc. Completely organized! I just wanted you to know your hard work DOES matter and what you are teaching those kids in Middle School really does stick! Thanks so much – we sure do miss DC already!”
In the midst of the “ME” generation and a very self-centered society, the school tries to instill a sense of service and self-giving. Teachers will regularly rotate students assigning them with the responsibility of cleaning up the classroom. One teacher reported that she had designated 2 students for clean-up duty one particular week. But these two middle school students, on their own, took the initiative to stay after school to do a REALLY good clean-up job on her classroom – they straightened rows, wiped down desks, just really took the time to make it look great—all without being asked.
We have new students in our school every year and making the transition to a new environment is never easy, but arriving as a new 8th grader is particularly tough because the 8th graders are the top of the pecking order in the middle school and most of the returning students have taken at least four years to develop their status and position in the class. One 8th grade teacher shared, “I have a few new students in my 8th grade homeroom this year. A returning DC student in my class took it upon herself to reach out to one of the new girls. Today, I assigned prayer partners – students who will pray together every Thursday before chapel. I paired two of these girls together. Later in the day, the returning student came to me all excited, sharing how she had written a three page letter to the new student the night before and she was going to give it to her later that day! What an encouragement to see an 8th grader be a leader and servant by loving on someone else without being asked.”
I love my school and I love to watch the transformation in students as they experience the school’s culture. God does some really amazing things for them and to them and through them. My three examples above are not unusual – things like this happen every day (often unnoticed and unrewarded). I want to hike so that more children can experience our school system and get a glimpse of what God has in store for their lives.