When we signed Eden up for school last year I didn’t think that we were going to be enfolding her into a family. When looking for schools that would meet the needs of our oldest daughter we knew we were in need of a place that would let her creativity bloom, and where learning would be a whole person experience rather than just the material being taught on the page. In preschool she got this with a wonderful teacher who challenged and cared for her in a way that began her love for learning. As a family we had a lot of conversation about what we wanted from a school and found St. Thomas More. It is a small school with lots of hands on, one on one time with the teacher, and there is a faith-filled language throughout the conversations and curriculum.
On an aside: as a home with two clergy parents one may think that the faith bit would be THE driving factor, but in reality it was one of many. However when Eden asked the principal about the “missing picture” in the stations of the cross during our interview for the school and the response was a warm and caring. For the record Eden didn’t know why the stations didn’t begin with the last supper rather than the condemning to death of Jesus. Like a good Methodist, our kid knew you should always start with a meal 🙂
Now the school year comes to an end we know we will miss our school family over the summer. As the year has gone on our family (Katie, Bethany, my parents, in-laws and myself) have been blessed with serving at the school. In various ways we have been able to get to know the children at the school. Weather it be serving pizza or bringing in milk for lunches, making crafts for parents or setting up for events we were able to get to know and partner with the school in making our school family a place where kids could come to ask questions and grow. I even had the chance to substitute one day for the middle school and it was a blast. We made a mess, read books, did some algebra, and had some neat conversation. Afterwards the 3 teachers that I filled in for throughout the day all said than you in their own perfect way. One teacher, who shares my love of Star Wars, even gave me some awesome stickers (hence the picture for this post).
Our School Family and the Church (universal)
As I seek to find God each day and the kind of “everyday discipleship” we are called to i think about this new family that has come into our lives. As I reflect on the past school year I can’t help but think about how St. Thomas More has taught me about being the community God calls the church to be:
- Stay flexible–This year has not been without the stress of a very hard winter, relocation due to frozen pipes and the necessity for being flexible. Through the hardship of change there was a unity in getting through it together, and an opportunity to share with the kids creative problem solving and living with one another in times of unexpected change. In my church we know about flexibility. Yet there are times and places when we just want to have it work the way we know it will rather than have to change. To be reminded this year that change and flexibility give opportunity for growth were refreshing reminders during weeks where I would have been more comfortable with the status quo as the pastor….
- Community blesses everyone–The school also has different “houses” made up of kids from different grades that would do some activities together. Think about it as the different houses like in the Harry Potter series. This allows the younger students to look up to the older. Also the older have a responsibility to raise up the younger. Eden was so excited when she told me all about the ways that she knows the older girls in 8th grade and that they are friends. She was beaming. I think the church can take note here. Rather than siloing our ministries into children, youth and adult there is something to be said for mixing it up and doing church as a family.
- Getting it trumps getting it right— as you walk the halls of the school there is art where children have colored outside of the lines, when i was doing math with the middle school there was joy in the right answer and a hunger for “why” when an answer was incorrect, and there was a culture of growth throughout the school. How many times have you felt like you couldn’t try to give an answer if you were not totally sure if it was right? As the church we need to be incubators of disciples. We need to, as one of my colleagues said, familiarize ourselves with failure so that we might find success when and where it counts most. The Church family, like our school family must give permission to risk getting it wrong in order to more fully understand what it is to be the person God made us to be.
I can’t wait to see what our school family will teach us next year…