ACSI — Vol 17.3
First Corinthians 12 speaks to the diversity of the body of Christ and how it is composed of many different parts, each working together to fulfill a common purpose. As an association, ACSI is composed of many different schools filled with many different teachers, each working toward a common purpose in educating children for His kingdom. As you stand within the four walls of your classroom each day, it may be easy to forget that you are part of a larger body working toward a common goal. We often hear from Christian educators, and they tell us about their students, their classrooms, and how they came to Christian education. In these conversations, we often see and hear a common thread that runs throughout the hearts of those in the association. Last fall before NEXUS Live, we interviewed two ACSI educators whom we will introduce to you here. We believe you will find that the passion they bring to their classrooms is familiar and is an example of this common thread. Let us introduce you to two educators who serve this common purpose with you: Cecilia Callaway serves at Union Christian Academy, and Karrie Blagg serves at Crossings Christian School.
cse: What brought you to Christian education?
C Cecilia: Christian education came to me. I ran into a friend at a ball game who worked for [the school], and she told me that [they] desperately needed a Spanish teacher. Before I left the ballpark I had the principal’s card in my hand and an interview time for the next day. When I got to the interview he offered me the job, and I told him I would work part-time until they found a full-time teacher. I have been working here for eight years, and I cannot imagine doing anything else at this moment.
K Karrie: I became interested in teaching at a private Christian school because I wanted my children to attend there. However, for several years before coming to a private school, I homeschooled my children using a Christian education philosophy. I wanted to include God and a biblical worldview into my children’s daily life in learning.
cse: What class or age of students do you teach?
C I love teaching Spanish to my high school students, and this year I am also the dean of students.
K I teach in a third-grade classroom.
cse: How do you prepare yourself spiritually for each day?
C I get up in the morning, and I read my Bible and pray before going to school. Some days I spend an hour a day; other days I spend more or less, but rarely does my day start without His cleansing. I am in desperate need of the Lord.
K To prepare myself spiritually, I have a short time of prayer and Bible reading on my back porch. Twice a week my family has a short Bible devotion while we are eating breakfast. I also have a few Scriptures taped to my mirror, which I meditate on while getting ready. Sometimes all of these take place, and other times only one.
cse: How did God prepare you for this role?
C Like I prepare for everything, I read His Word, I ask for guidance, and I trust that at the proper time He will give me what I need when He calls me to a certain task.
K God has given me a special love for teaching; plus teaching is one of my spiritual gifts. Growing up I had many opportunities to serve in teaching positions at church. These experiences really showed me that I enjoyed teaching and helped me pursue it as a lifelong skill.
cse: How have you seen Christian education make an impact on your own children or family?
C I have two children who attended our school, and I feel they received the very best training. Not only do they know the word of God, but they have learned how to defend their faith and recognize truth from deception. They also know how to study His Word. I stand on God’s promise of Isaiah 55 that the Word of God doesn’t come back void, and as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, it will not return without watering and nourishing the earth (their hearts).
K Christian education impacts my family in many ways. The teachers have a real desire to help bring out the best in my kids academically and spiritually. I feel my kids are not [seen as] just a student but also someone they are molding into godly men and women. I have seen teachers go the extra mile with encouragement and help academically. Having a biblical point of view in education has made my kids stronger in their faith, and they are equipped in biblical principles and how they apply to learning. These biblical truths will truly help my kids stay strong in their faith in God. Another way Christian education has impacted our family is through the extracurricular activities. My son’s coaches are outstanding. They not only teach students about the sport, but they are fine godly examples. Their first goal is teaching my son how to live as a godly young man. They are tough, yet encouraging. My daughter has also experienced many wonderful godly women that invest not only in her abilities but want to look at the heart issues. All the coaches expect godly attitudes on and off the field. This is huge.
cse: Tell us about your community and your school, and describe the students you teach.
C Our school is one of three high schools in our community; it is the only Christian high school that I am aware of in the area. Our students are just like any other high school students; they love to have fun, and they play, study, and go through many hardships. Satan does not discriminate in his attacks; his desire is for our children. He wants the next generation and the next and the next. Our students are in the line of fire as much as any other students in any other schools.
K Our community is very broad. We are in a metro area, so we have students coming from all over.
cse: How would you describe your students’ academic needs?
C What I teach is mostly prescribed by state standards; specifically and individually my students want to learn how to speak Spanish. Some are motivated by getting academic scholarships, but for the most part, the students I teach are self-motivated to learn the language.
K Academically, many of my students need challenging curriculum in a fun, engaging way. Other students I have still need extra time and guidance in their learning.
cse: How would you describe your students’ spiritual needs?
C Like all fallen humanity, in need of a Savior. We as a staff, and I personally, point our students to the one and only one that can satisfy their deepest cavernous needs.
K Spiritually, I feel my students have a great background in Christian principles from their parents. However, I think my students benefit from constant teaching of God’s Word and how that fits into what we are learning academically. Many students are in need of seeing outside of the walls they live in. The most significant need spiritually with my students is their need for a Savior in Christ, letting God’s Word guide them to the realization they are a sinner and in need of God’s redeeming love.
cse: What do you want your classroom to be for your students?
C I want my room to be a place where learning takes place—lots and lots of learning—a safe place with lots of laughter, and a place where the Word of God flows freely.
K I want my classroom to be a place full of joy and peace, a place where they feel loved and accepted, a place where they are not afraid to try, a place where they want to do their best, a place of excellence, a place where they can share hurts and happiness, a place where they can find friends, a place of learning new things, a place where they are challenged, and a place where Jesus is honored.
cse: How do you demonstrate your love to your students?
C Oh, I would say that if my students know one thing for sure it’s that I love them. I spend time each day telling them, I listen to them, I encourage them, and I point them to the Word of God, and when need be, I correct them in love.
K I try to demonstrate love to my students when I take interest in them and what happens in their daily lives. Any opportunity that I can to take a minute to hear about a student’s life outside of school I think means a great day. It’s a goal of mine to let my students know I believe in them and what they can accomplish. Just taking time to help a student when frustrated or giving second chances says volumes. Many hugs and smiles go a long way too.
cse: What is the one thing you want your students to remember about you in 25 years?
C That I loved the Lord with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, with all my strength, and with every fiber in my being.
K One thing I tell my students is that if they do not remember anything else about third grade and Mrs. Blagg it is to love God’s Word. I never want to lose sight of God’s Word in the classroom. So, I guess if in 25 years they will say, “Remember that teacher who taught us about the Bible and how much Jesus loves me.”
cse: What are you doing today to ensure that is the thing they will remember?
C I tell them every day.
K I have Scripture hanging all around my classroom; plus I share Scripture during our lessons. I think it’s important to say why the objective being taught has something to do with God’s Word. When students have a difficult time, I always tell them, “Let’s think about what the Bible would say about this.” Deuteronomy 6 really points me to the answer; when we walk, sit, lie down, or get up, teach your children about God’s truths.
cse: Why do you believe God brought these students to you?
C God is the blessed controller of all things; nothing happens by accident. Each one of these students is handpicked to be in my class. He is weaving a story, and we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. These kids were chosen to be here at this time [Ephesians 2:10].
K I believe God has each student placed in my class for a special reason. Somehow, through God’s help, I can connect with that student and or the family in a way no other teacher could. Sometimes it is just through my own life experiences that help me see how to best work with a student.
cse: At the end of the year (or your time with them), what is your greatest hope for your students?
C That they will fall in love with the Lord and want to spend the rest of their days on earth learning about the most wonderful being ever who loves them fully. I also want my students to be tough! They are growing up in a very hard time, especially if you proclaim the Word of God boldly. They will have a lot of opposition; they will also have problems, and Jesus Himself told us that in John 16:33. We should never be shocked when we go through problems. I pray they will be tougher than their problems. In Ezekiel 3, the Lord tells Ezekiel exactly what people He is sending Ezekiel to. He tells him in verse 8, “Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces and your forehead as hard as their foreheads” [ESV]. The Lord did not send Ezekiel unprepared: He commanded Ezekiel to “eat this scroll” (the Word of God). That is what I pray for my students, that they will be tough and be tougher than their problems and that they would go into battle prepared.
K My greatest hope for my students is for them to know and love God in a personal way, believe they are champions, and feel proud for all they accomplished throughout the year. My motto in the classroom is “We are champions.” I want my students to live excellently like champions in all they do. Jesus tells us that whatever we do, do it with all our might, working for the Lord rather than man [Colossians 3:23]. We are champions for Jesus. It’s my job to set them up for success. Sometimes this is easy and other times not so easy. We all depend on the Lord to help us work as a champion would.
Shannon Bomar serves as the virtual content specialist for ACSI NEXUS. Before coming to ACSI, she served in a Christian school as the high school library media specialist and K–12 technology coordinator. She has long been involved with Christian education: first as a product of a Christian school, then faculty, and now as a parent to her third-grade son. She is currently writing her doctoral dissertation.