Teaching: More Than a Job
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Annette Thompson, a local superintendent of a school that has partnered with Maranatha’s School of Education by hosting teachers in training for fieldwork, observation, and student teaching placement. We discussed a variety of topics from shifts in education to the building project Dodgeland is undertaking. Three big ideas stand out in my mind as I look back: there is a need in education today, teaching is a calling, and faithful educators are a gift from God.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “when I was in X grade, my teacher (insert ancient-sounding name) told me I could be a (whatever the speaker now excels at)?” Many biographies begin with the account of how a coach, mentor, parent, or teacher took the adolescent star aside one day to impart a piece of wisdom that sticks with them to this day. We respect teachers so much that we acknowledge them in our published works. Some parents even name their children after their favorite middle-school math teacher that took pity on them in a time of panic.
Why is this normal? Because teachers are leaders. Teachers inspire. Teachers are a quiet force to be reckoned with. My mother is a teacher. My wife is a teacher. Teachers are everywhere, and they never stop being teachers.
In a world racked by deep and painful issues, students need teachers. But not just a teacher, a Christian teacher. Many only have one parent at home or at a time. Some are raised by their grandparents. All children need “that teacher.” Someone who will alter the trajectory of their life. Someone who will introduce them to a love that only Christ can fuel.
In America, most children receive some form of education. This is not the place to debate the effectiveness of that education. Or even whose responsibility is it to teach children.
One thing is clear: America needs teachers.
This past year has provided shocking clarity to the exodus from the profession. A 2018 study found that 44% of new teachers will leave within five years. However, as COVID-19 lingers, teachers have been dropping out of the profession at even higher rates. One compounding factor is the percentage of teachers within the high-risk category published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). A May 2020 study identifies that as many as 18% of the nation’s teachers are likely to retire or resign. These gaps in personnel, while a cause for concern, provide Christians with an opportunity.
At Maranatha, we believe that every student is called to a life of service. Christians live out their faith in whatever profession God directs them into. Education is no exception. You might not teach a course in theology. You may not hold degrees in apologetics or ethics. But make no mistake, Christians teach theology, apologetics, and ethics in their classrooms. A life of faithfulness does not go unnoticed by students, parents, or fellow school staff.
Dr. Annette Thompson puts it this way; “if we (Christians) don’t, who will?” Who better to lead students into their adult years than Christians? Under the leadership of Dr. Thompson in the past 13 years, Dodgeland School District has assisted Maranatha in the development of dozens of leaders. Her clear perspective is instructive. “Christians have more reasons than anyone to be teachers,” she explains. “We believe that each child is made in the image of God.” She went on to identify key characteristics of teachers that growing Christians should possess such as empathy, patience, faithfulness, and humility. Characteristics that Jesus modeled and commanded to young and old, religious or otherwise.
Virtually no one would negate the impact that education has on a student’s life. But education from a Christian is that much more powerful. Christian, charter, private, and public schools alike need Christian teachers. You know how I know?
Because all schools enroll students and all students need to see Christ.
Since 1968, Maranatha has placed teachers all over the country. In the last 10 years, the School of Education has graduated over 700 educators. From coast to coast, our graduates are taking their posts with a desire to impact lives for Christ. Though much has changed in education, the purpose has not.
Christian teachers teach to point their students to Christ.
Through a life lived to glorify Christ, teachers provide an example. Where unrest and discontentment may grip others, Christians can be grounded and joyful. Where fatigue and fear may take over, Christians can be energized and hopeful.
If you ask a seasoned educator why she has stayed in education for so long, she will likely cite students in some way. Children are why educators saved and unsaved remain in an otherwise exhausting industry. But Christian educators can thrive, not just survive.
We are grateful for the faithful faculty God has brought to Maranatha. Maranatha’s faculty are the lifeblood of the school. There are too many to thank specifically for their enduring ministry to students and the countless many who those students will also minister.
In the School of Education, Dr. David Handyside has been a faithful educator for 50 years. At Dodgeland School District, Dr. Thompson has served in education for 23 years. Together, they form a powerful team in the training of the next generation of leaders in education. They are light for others to follow. You too can show the love of God to the next generation.
At Maranatha, you have the chance to train with educators who have honed their skills in thousands of hours in preparation and delivery. You not only train on campus with these outstanding mentors but also in the classrooms of other seasoned and passionate educators. In each year, you will observe other classrooms so that you can apply your lectures immediately, see classroom management in action, and begin to understand the necessity of assessment. In other words, you can begin to think like an educator well before you take your first classroom.
If you see the need, hear the call, and desire to be faithful, we want to help. We provide the opportunities and expertise; you provide the passion and determination. Together, we can go with purpose. Together, we can serve with passion. Together, we can lead with integrity.