Thursday, June 28, 2018

Living And Learning in the Last Week of School at Our Christian School

Here are some scenes from the last week of school. God blessed us richly with a wonderful year and we are so grateful for demonstrations of his care that we experienced ever day. 

Grade seven decorated another ceiling tile in the classroom, recording this year's school theme and adding it to a growing visual history of our years of learning on the ceiling. We are thankful for God's care yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

The students' collective JK-8 efforts for our student service project resulted in a gift of $2310.81 to LaGosette Christian School in Haiti. We pray these funds will be a blessing to that community and their future. God's blessings are meant to be shared.

A new bus arrived just in time for the last week of school! We are grateful for our bus driver team and all they do each day to get so many students to school.

Because we just had to pack in a little more fun before the year was done, a mini slip n' slide was a great way to spend a warm afternoon for JK & SK. The joy shows in the laughter and smiles.

Graduation was a highlight of the week, including unique cupcakes. It was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate with our graduates and their families. May God bless them where he takes them.

Our staff have completed the wrap up activities after students left. They are headed to a time of rest & renewal, learning, and eventually getting ready for a new year in late summer. We are so thankful for their love, commitment, and care for our students. 

We planted a tree! The wall in The Hub was decorated last week with a tree, the leaves of which were all of the hand prints of the staff and students. We are thankful for a community to connect with during our learning, serving, and growth.

A S'more is nutritious isn't it?

Coloured tongues are evidence of year-end celebrations. It's good to stop, take stock, and recognize we have much to be grateful for. God's mercies are new every morning. 

JK and grade seven had a special relationship all year in many learning tasks. The last one was to trace their outline and see just how much they had grown. We are thankful for meaningful ways to link old and young students together.

On the last day of school grade 2/3 revisited an ongoing experiment in the front garden. They studied soil composition this year and decided to try out a challenge they found of burying an item of clothing to see what happened to it after two months. We are thankful for the curiosity of our students and where it takes them. 

The joy of fellowship is a blessing everyday. 

That's a wrap! The classrooms are empty and the hallways are filled. Our custodian will go to work later this month to give the whole place a new glow and get it ready for the fall. They give us a fresh new school every summer and we are thankful for their efforts. 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. 


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Grace Filled Growth: The Finish Line!

My friends may you grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour

Our staff, parents, and student body said farewell to our grade eight class in a special chapel this morning. Original poems crafted by the grade seven class about our graduates were read. They were playful and fun, but nonetheless showed that our oldest learners were well known by their peers and the LCES staff. It’s a fun LCES tradition that brings smiles and laughter from the audience.  We closed with another tradition, singing the above song while they left their last chapel.

So begins a week of celebration and endings, including recognizing where this year has taken us. If I had to summarize some of the things I will remember about 2017-18, here is my top five:

1.  God’s favour – So many times this year we have been challenged and faced unknowns, but have been reminded that God’s love and provision never cease. We are reminded of a wider group of non-parent supporters who pray, give of time and money, and tangibly support what we do.

2. Growth – We are excited to see a strong show of parental interest in our school, in several cases from families whose children are not yet school aged.  We had a record number of families join us within this school year. There will be at least ten new families, likely more, starting this fall. It’s also exciting to see grades four through six return to single grades this fall.

3. Changing spaces– The Hub was a hit this year for our students. With the portables gone, and the area cleaned up, we are excited about doing something new in that area. Dreams and first steps exist for other changes in and out of the building to make us efficient, innovative, and effective.

4. People – There will be a significant change in the mix of people leading at LCES. A new board chair, and three new board members take over. Five new people will be part of our LCES staff this fall. It’s been an exciting journey, but there too we meet God’s wisdom and provision “for such a time as this.”

6. Student Growth – Between report cards and graduation, it is my delight to read many things this week that point to the fact our students have grown physical, mentally, socially, academically, and spiritually. Praise God for a new generation growing in wisdom each year!

The LCES Board and staff wish all of our families a pleasant summer of work, rest, and play. May the Lord be faithful to you and yours until we meet again in September.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Daybreak and Transitions: Telling Our Christian School Story

“The Lord wakes me up every day with a plan for the day. It’s my job to listen and act.”
With a smile and evidence of a wistful journey through memories, these were the words of an unexpected visitor I had last week. A school newsletter prompted a visit from someone part a group for whom LCES first existed only as a dream, a wish that wouldn’t go away, fueled mostly by determination and trust. Sounds like exciting times, but I’m sure it wasn’t that simple.  
Our school opened its doors here at this location in September of 1962, but that isn’t really where the story begins. There were other more temporary locations, and, before that, early meetings when there was no school, just a series of discussions (and not always agreement) about the why, how, and when of starting a Christian school here in East London.
I heard just enough of the story shared with me that it was obvious challenges were present when forming and maintaining our school in those infant years of the institution. Where will the money come from? How will we convince others to join us? Who should be on staff? How will students get to school? What should be studied? How should we grow? Who do we serve?
These questions sound familiar. I was struck by how, 60 or more years and two generations later, school leadership also wrestles with the same set of compass orientation type checkpoints. I’m glad that we still ask them and look for what our faithful response will be today.
I deeply appreciated the way my visitor described the first thought of the day as being a response to God’s call, and the trust that there already is a plan in place that Lord has prepared. We pray and work, but God’s work among us is greater still.  “Pray yourself into the center of God’s will” were wise words shared with me years ago.
As I think about new board members joining us and others moving on, grade eight students ready to transition to broader horizons, family transitions, and staff members preparing to leave with others taking their place, it is good to be reminded that there is a story and a plan that is much larger than we are. May that be the first thought we meet each day with as we keep LCES moving forward.


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Communication and Isolation: Our Children and Their World

I’ve been listening in on discussions in the last month of the outcome of a study by Cigna, a US health company. Among many things, it shares data on what appears to be “the loneliest generation,” largely as result of a way of communicating and thinking very different from generations before them.

An edgy public speaker I follow that talks about communication, writing, and media threw this out in a recent presentation: “I’m convinced that one day we will look back on adolescents and pre-adolescents having free range access to devices and data access without limits in the same way currently think back on the days of kids wandering around moving cars without seat belts.”

Clearly, this is a relatively new matter in the world of parenting and education without years of experience of how to put things in their rightful spot. At minimum, the growing consensus among is that technology not only changes how we connect, but more significantly how we think. As we track a generation of learners who progress through childhood, adolescence, and young adult years, information is surfacing about trends we need to pay attention to.

Some good questions for all parents to consider:
• How much time does my child spend with all of the “screens” in their life?
• What’s the ratio of real-life interactions vs. e-communication in my child’s life?
• When are they consuming vs creating?
• Is there sufficient downtime in my child’s life when they don’t have to be socially “on”?
• Are there understood boundaries, limits, or other constraints about how much, where, and about what that they communicate?

Do we talk about these things in our household and check up on habit the same way we check
for other signs of health (or lack of it) in a child’s life? Our children are waiting for us to help them through this very recent cultural change. Parents and educators alike are  quick to tell you they have personal experience that proves they can’t do it on their own. Let’s commit ourselves to
watching carefully and using faithful discernment of how to live life God’s way.


P.S. On this topic, I highly recommend The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Walking Straight And Our Christian School

A humorous CBC radio documentary on the weekend talked about a series of experiments that were conducted in 1920’s and 1930’s around the ability of humans to walk straight without the benefit of sight. While blindfolded, and in several different locations, repeated attempts were made to have someone move straight from fixed point to fixed point without curving off to the side. Most test subjects were able to start off very accurately but, without a visual reference point, would veer off and eventually find themselves close to where they started. Results were significantly better when there was someone else speaking to them to give them an auditory reference point to gauge their progress.

What a great illustration for living together and living out our school theme of One Body, Many Parts, We Belong.  We need each other! Without other people, we can easily veer off and find ourselves off track, or even worse, not make any progress. We realize that God’s gift of community is a blessing to us when we feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit though other’s words and feel comforted or inspired by other’s actions. We come to realize that we need one another more than we might have known, and are surprised by joy and the coming kingdom when we feel God working in us through others.  

Our school staff, the board of directors, and our parents are thankful for the hundreds of hours given to the school each year in the form of volunteer efforts. They help us to keep costs in check, but more importantly, those hours become part of the tapestry in which God blesses our organization with refined traditions, new ideas, connections, well-made decisions, and confirmation we’re on the right path. It’s part of what helps us “walk straight.”


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Leaving To Learn: The Classroom Of God’s World

Can you imagine a scavenger hunt in a grocery store?  Our grade four/five class and seven students both travelled to unique learning experiences recently allowing them to learn more about food systems, farming, nutrition, food preparation, and much more. Later this week many of our older students will be taking in a unique trip to learn more about how energy is used (and conserved) as part of homes being built in London. 

LCES is blessed with the means to take learning on the road quite frequently. Why do we do this?

God formed sky, land, and sea;
stars above, moon and sun,
making a world of color, beauty, and variety—
a fitting home for plants and animals, and us—
a place to work and play,
worship and wonder,
love and laugh. 
Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony

The length, educational focus, and structure of the trips is always different, but one thing remains the same. These memorable experiences are highlights of learning. I can think of several good reasons to venture out:
  • These experiences help our students to see God’s world as a place of beauty and offer experiences to develop wonder and praise for an amazing world of people and places. 
  • Taking the classroom on the road creates invaluable “touchstone” moments for our students to connect previous learning or prepare working examples for future learning as they see God’s world as a connected, purposeful, and intricate place prepared for his children. 
  • Students see their teacher, classmates, and even parents in a different way as they respond to different topics and ways of learning. They understand each other’s interests, passions, and talents more fully.
  • Students can see the world in its brokenness, and yet see hope in the ways to redeem it. 
Taking the classroom on road is part of the bold assertion that indeed, Our World Belongs to God! 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Mistakes As Learning At Our Christian School

I was with a relative who was paying for items at a checkout. Ten steps past the cashier’s till, it was realized that too much change had been given. Honesty and integrity won out over the anticipated delay in resolving the situation. When the other customers had finished, the error was presented.

“No, it was right. We don’t make mistakes here.”

Removed from the story, the statement seems a little ridiculous and plenty arrogant. Mistakes are part of our life, but what we do with them shapes their helpful or detrimental outcome. You could argue that wisdom comes from embracing one’s mistakes, and realizing that they are window to discovery and learning.

Golden learning moments are left unharvested when we pass by mistakes and carry on as if there is nothing to be gleaned from deliberately retracing the pathway. Somehow we’ve created a tendency in students to want to bury mistakes out of sight and try to quickly forget them.  That’s a sad reality. Certainly we want them feel the exhilaration of success, but the greatest potential for them to learn may well be to re-visit the places where they did not find success the first time. I’ve heard before of a helpful analogy that showed it this way: an airline pilot who first perfects the art of a good landing in a flight simulator environment hundreds of times, then moves to real-life situations under the watch full eye of an experienced pilot, all the while learning from mistakes made. Only when those items are in good shape does s/he attempt a landing solo.

God gave a tremendous blessings when he created the safe sandbox of childhood. There, under the watchful eye of loving adults, children can have free range to make mistakes within boundaries. The art comes in the balance of leaving room for children to fail, while preventing long term unchangeable consequences that will hurt them. I’m thankful for Christian Education at LCES that helps to navigate that balancing act.