I started at Bearspaw Christian School about 6 weeks after our family returned back to Canada after serving 3 years in Guatemala. The adjustment was rough. The overwhelming sense of entitlement as compared to Guatemalan students, the enormous wealth and luxury of the families connected to the school, my varied teaching assignment. My colleagues and administrators were tremendous in those early years – full of encouragement and resources and prayer.
As time and administrators moved on, my assignment morphed to the point where I now teach only high school math. Along with that, I chaired the Bring Your Own Device” committee, led a math club, coached junior high cross-country, lead Monday morning staff worship once a month, and was the go-to person for filming, advice on the grading program, and computer questions.
Prior to this year, I coached junior high volleyball, sat on a 21st century learning committee, managed distance learning, contributed to the Transformations (missions) program, sponsored a student worship team, helped with chapel set-up, spoke at a handful of chapels, and led a couple sessions at teachers conference.
One of the greatest challenges I encountered at Bearspaw is the closed environment to public theological discussion. Having taught Bible for the first three years I was there, I continually ran into problems where parents or administrators would express concerns over what I was teaching their children. From my perspective, students should be faced with challenging questions rather than given the pop answers to questions of faith and depth in their relationship with God, others and the Bible. I gave up Bible classes as the stress and uncertainty became too great. I mourn that still today. Students (and teachers) deserve an environment where their questions and views on science, Biblical authority, justice, sexual identity, sin, culture, etc. can be voiced without being labelled unfaithful.
By far the most wonderful thing about teaching at BCS has been the relationships I was able to forge and enjoy with teachers and students. The students and I got off to a rocky start – junior high Spanish isn’t exactly a place where students thrived. But over time, I developed great rapport with students in math and media and Bible classes. Most days, I woke up excited about what class time will be like.
I managed to connect really well with numerous teachers at BCS. Very few of the secondary teachers have left and when they do, it’s usually a maternity leave. The theological discussions have been very edifying, especially with Jeff (a former pastor), Dallas and the newcomer Carly. The food has been splendid, especially when I shared a room with Carmaine, the foods teacher. The administrative support and mentorship – Lara, Judy, Bill, and Dave – amazing! And the laughs – Janis, Liz, Jeff, Michaela, Dave, Jesse, Jon, Tim, and many more.
I took my calculus class out last night. These students challenge me each year as they are among the most reflective, thoughtful and hardworking people I have ever met. The reward of witnessing children grow into adults is one that I cherish. It is a wonderful thing to see people achieve their potential and to know that they will far surpass anything I could offer them is a great blessing.
As I wrapped up my duties last Friday, I made the rounds and said farewell to some dear friends. I don’t really want to leave, but a bigger paycheque, better benefits, and a pension await at Calgary Christian School. I imagine that many new friends, fantastic students, and opportunities for me to grow wait for me there too.