Thursday, February 14, 2019

Our Hope Filled Christian School

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 
1 Peter 1:3 

“I hope you remember to wear your snow pants.”
“I hope that treatment will work for her.”
“I hope we can enroll our children here.”
“I hope I get the part of Juliet.”
“I hope tomorrow will be a snow day.”


I’ve been noticing the word hope being used more frequently in my circles Most often when we use that word, it shares a desired outcome or wish but doesn’t communicate confidence in a certain outcome at the same time. A biblically grounded concept of hope runs deeper than a strong wish.
God's Word assures us that our hope is a sure thing. Jesus has already won, and we are renewed creations! This world belongs to God, in its entirety and we are assured that there is nothing we can do and nowhere we can go that we can escape the love of God. (Romans 8) What else do we need to know?

Christian schools, like ours, are places where that kind of hope is the anchor. Our Christian school teachers don’t see a group of students to manage for the day or even year, they also see future mechanics, engineers, mothers/fathers, social workers, electricians, politicians, web designers and accountants. They see them all with a grand vision implanted of hope for a world that is entangled with sin, but redeemed by Christ. Woven into the fabric of how the board of directors and administration sustains this school is confident hope that God will provide for our parents, and as result bless our school with all its needs. Our children are free to embrace a certain hope in learning in these things: that this is God’s world, that Christ is enough, that they belong, and that they have a purpose in God’s kingdom.

We know the future will be great, because Christ is already there!

 Please pray for the board, administration, staff and parents as we balance our faithful work and a hope filled trust in getting the 2019/20 school year organized.

SJ

Friday, February 8, 2019

Fruits In Winter At Our Christian School

Although they are leafless outside, we were talking about trees this morning in chapel. Fruits, students were reminded, are evidence of a healthy tree. Characteristics of Christian living are described as the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 3:22-23) because the tree image also applies here: healthy people produce healthy ways of living. This makes people flourish as God intended them to. Here is the list and some of my first thoughts of fruits evident at LCES:

Love: I listened to deep learning last week in an intermediate classroom on what love for God, others, and self looks like when they are balanced correctly. Profound thoughts for an emerging worldview.

Joy: Hearing grade seven students describe their experience trying out curling was evidence of their joy of being a community.

Peace: Junior students (grades 3-5) practice being peacemakers on the playground after having been
equipped with skills to see and resolve conflicts that can often be solved in simple ways.

Patience: Grade six, seven, and eight students help in the JK & SK classrooms and learn just how long it takes to eat lunch and get on snow gear when you are five or six!

Kindness: A Leave Others Encouraged bulletin board in the south hallway has names of students “caught” being kind by LCES staff by doing something as simple as sharing a lunch item for someone who forgot theirs.
Goodness: Through class devotions, novel studies, and class discussions I hear a vivid picture held before students daily of God’s “very good” creation and the good He wants us to experience.

Faithfulness: Students in several classes have personally signed and decorated LCES thank you cards that will eventually be sent to community donors who pray and give to support our school.

Gentleness: In December I watched a grade eight bus buddy walk past my office window patiently leading a kindergarten student to the bus in the middle of a temper tantrum. Graciousness and gentleness got the child on the bus.

Self Control: We work actively at LCES to help students understand academic and social expectations that are good for them and help them realize how to make things right when they have gone off the rails. It’s a joy to hear them self-report how they made a wiser choice the next time.

We do important work at LCES. May God bless our orchard!
SJ




Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Big Pillars at Our Christian School

It is a very regular occurrence that I am asked by a student or teacher here at LCES to come to a classroom to appreciate the unique, meaningful things our students are up to. Whether it is creating and describing pizzas in French, wrestling with a unique math challenge, acting out a Bible story, or students intently focused on creating beautiful art – our classrooms are places of joy and discovery. It is a privilege to be a welcomed as guest to these precious moments where young minds and hearts are being shaped in such wonderful ways. I notice four main things during these visits:

Connectedness We aim for our students to see God’s creation as an intricate, complex, and amazing example of how purposeful God 
is. God’s world is something to be studied as a whole, as well as in its parts. 

Discernment We want our students to develop tools and have opportunities to practice, under the watchful idea of a passionate educator, figuring out what is God’s truth and what is means for them. God’s world is designed around God’s truth.

Service We strive to have our students live out the truth of biblically knowing as the study the Lord’s handiwork directs them to love their neighbor in every way, in everything they do and say. God’s world is one of community.

Wonder God’s world is a thing of beauty and we wish for our students to meet God in new ways as they learn. God’s world speaks of his greatness, of which we can never stop finding things to praise him for.

Big things guide our learning! What a joy that our children may experience this every day, whether its in the January deep freeze or the summer heat. Do you know of someone who should be coming to see us for a tour and consideration enrolling at LCES? I encourage you to have that direct conversation with them.

SJ



Sunday, January 27, 2019

A Beautiful Oops: Inquiry as Learning at Our Christian School

Being a teacher means you don’t stop learning! Staff were at school last Monday taking in a unique PD day.

In the morning, the focus was on becoming more familiar with the role of inquiry in guiding student learning and encouraging a mindset toward life-long learning. Much of the framework of newest curriculum development in Ontario leans heavily on it. As an example, here are three highlights:
  • We serve our student well when we enable them to ask excellent questions that move from easily known, factual type answers toward questions that encourage comparison, ranking, valuing inferring, and more.
  •  Encouraging students to see each other as part of a knowledge group that can answer a driving question. An example of this might be a group working to answer Why is construction paper not recyclable in the city of London?
  • With inquiry, and “oops” of getting something wrong can lead to a whole new world of possibility. Think of the discovery of penicillin! Students who can see mistakes as opportunity, hard as that may be, are able to continue to learn – perhaps the most meaningfully learning they will ever do.
Staff stopped for lunch and enjoyed a meal provided by the board of directors. It was a wonderful time to connect and be blessed by connection and community over a delicious hot lunch on a frigid day.

In the afternoon two of our own learning leaders, Alison Lise and Chelsea Appendino, led us through a team building art activity using unique paints, paper, and tiles. You will be able to see the combined efforts in a collaborative piece of art that we’ll display somewhere in the building. There were both moments of focused concentration and joyous laughter. It was good for teachers to reverse roles and becomes students. I caught myself thinking “I’ve never done this before. Will it work? My neighbour is doing this better than I am. Should I start over?”

Clearly, learning how to learn is a life long journey. I’m grateful for a wonderful group of educational leaders at LCES that continue to shape our children’s love for God and his world.

SJ

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Spontaneous Grace At Our Christian School


Working with students after things go wrong is part of the important work we do here at LCES. Like anywhere else in a world affected by sin, our students have moments where harsh words, frustration, or impulsive moments or words create friction and moments of tension. Things go off the rails.  

Often I need to help students name and understand choices in the past, what they represented, and how to go about making things right. This can be challenging depending on the circumstances and the students’ willingness to take responsibility for their previous words or actions.  Sometimes it is hard to even get a clenched-teeth apology from two or more that don’t see eye-to-eye.

Other times, as was the case this morning, its more about providing the space and letting it happen.  Two students had a scuffle before school outside and both walked away affected by the event. Thirty minutes later when I brought the second student into my office, the first immediately stood up, named what they had done and offered an apology and reached out to hug the other (older) student all in one fluid gesture. No prompting. A warm, gracious acceptance was immediately offered, and they shook hands and walked out together.

These two didn’t need my involvement other than arranging the meeting. This was moment in the making for a long time I’m sure. Many influences had patterned their lives with a working model of reconciliation and graciousness. What conversations had they witnessed where tensions were sorted, and justice was restored? Where did they see grace extended after pain inflicted? Who did they see the humility of taking responsibility?

Practising accountability and reconciliation among our students is just one of the reasons that I’m thankful for Christian education at LCES.

SJ

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Letter From God: A Children’s Christmas at Our Christian School

One of the focal points in SK recently has been mail and the activities of a post office. Letter and parcel mail has been moving around the building, including several staff members who have special SK mailboxes which get regularly filled with proud notes and letters sharing their developing printing and writing skills.

Ms.  Stortz  has  given  me  the  happy  responsibility  of  delivering  some  pieces  of  group  “mail”  to  arrive  during lessons. Today,  I  played  the  role  of delivery  person  with  a  baking  recipe for this morning’s  class  in  a  large envelope. One of the students saw me with the large letter in hand and said “Maybe it’s a letter from God!”

A letter from God. What a wonderful way to think about the focus of this unique week of school! Jesus is the Word  made  flesh  (John  1:14).  Immanuel  –  God  with  us. How  precious  is  that Word  enabling  us  to  receive God’s gift of grace. That Bethlehem baby became a living letter to us of God’s unfathomable love and paved the way for us back to a perfect relationship with him.

Between a Christmas program, pasta lunch, carol sing, and school skating we will have many times to gather as a community this week. May we do so with the same awe and wonderment of the shepherds who, bursting with  joy  cried  "Let's  go  to  Bethlehem  and  see  this  thing  that  has  happened,  which  the  Lord  has  told  us about." (Luke 2:15)

The  LCES  board,  staff,  and  students  wishes  you  all  a  faith-filled,  safe,  and  memorable Christmas.  Merry Christmas!




SJ

Thursday, December 13, 2018

"Christmas Ready" at Our Christian School

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Amid the ‘festive’ merriment of a retail world doing its best to be hope-filled and pretending to be full of Christmas joy, an employee asked me on Saturday “Are you ready for Christmas?”  Sadly, the question was more motivated by the chance to reach deeper in my wallet, not deeper in to my heart.

I know of those with true Christmas joy , who like the wise men of old have smiles on their faces and gratitude in their hearts. Equally present are those with bruised hearts and shaky confidence in believing things are as joyful as the tinsel and tunes tell us they are. News of cancer returning, a job lost, and the despair of struggles with parenting are looming large for several in our community.  

A public prayer I heard once at this time of year comes to mind. It was a petition that this be the “last advent ever.” It sticks with me because I’m not sure I’d ever heard an advent pray like that.  “Come quickly, Lord Jesus” was the intent of the worship leader, longing for the second coming of Christ to complete the renewing of God’s creation back to the perfection of what it was before sin. That’s the true joy of Christmas!

May our celebrations be deeper than the annual return of comfort food, pleasant music, and the opportunity to extend gifts and cards. I’m thankful for Christian education which can remind our students in very real ways that they are part of that story and will share in its joyful ending. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

SJ