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Making a Difference

            On my 50th birthday I made a list of my top 10 wishes. Since this particular post will be published 0n my 68th birthday, I thought I might make comment on just a few of those 10 wishes.
            I suppose that you might ask “Why not comment on all 10?” and I will briefly tell you that at the time of my 50th birthday I had recently received a cancer diagnosis and a few of my 10 wishes reflected that. I was treated for that cancer, survived the treatment (which, if you know anyone who has been through any cancer treatment, you know it is barbaric), and I have now thrived for nearly two decades since, not in remission, but cancer free.
            The first item on my 50th birthday wish list was that I would get my shop cleared of all my adult children’s stuff and have room to work and hide from my wife. Well, that shop has been cleaned out of all my adult children’s stuff, and been cluttered and decluttered many times since. Apparently at my house any empty space is a magnet for stuff. Now, if I want to hide from my wife, I have to clean my shop – but it is a rare day that I can actually work in it. (It is actually a rare day that I want to hide from my wife, too:-)
            My next wish was that I get my garage and shop wired for electricity (they are detached from the house). In those days if I used a power tool in my shop I had to have a 50 foot extension cord plugged into one of my outdoor receptacles on the house. Well, thanks to my late son-in-law, he pulled all the wire and installed all the switches and receptacles on one of their visits out from the east coast. He was like that, and we all miss him, but we look forward to reuniting with him in Heaven.
            Another wish was that my children would hold me accountable for recreation. I knew that as a lifelong academic, I could easily become less active and more studious as time passed. Well, I am proud to say when I was 65 I climbed Mount Adams with a couple of my kids and their spouses, although I did not attempt the summit but spent the night at the timberline. Afterward, I hung up my backpacking gear for good. The climb was exhilarating; it was beautiful; it was painful. However, it did give me bragging rights.
            Finally, the last wish from my 50th that I will share with you is that at that time I had spent 30 years trying to make a difference and that I would hear from people that I had indeed made a difference to them. Well, it is now 48 years that I have been trying to make a difference. God has been immeasurably good to me and to all my loved ones, and I have heard many times over from literally dozens of people that I have indeed made a difference for them.
            I am deeply grateful to the Lord that He has made it possible for me to be of service in His Kingdom over the years. I am grateful for all the wonderful people that He has caused to pass through my life in some way. I am grateful to Him for the skills with which He equipped me to do the work that He had prepared in advance for me to do. I am grateful that He has recorded my name is His Book of Life.
            I will continue to make a difference in whatever ways He makes possible for me. I encourage you to do the same. Make it your goal to make a difference, as I did nearly 50 years ago; and while you are making a difference, be sure to tell others when they have made a difference for you. Encourage one another in good works, because that is what we do. Our salvation is free – saved by grace through faith in Christ – but we do good works out of gratitude for the blessings He has added to us and will continue to add to us, day by day, year by year, until we are called Home.
            Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10 NKJV

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Thanksgiving

As we have grown and prospered in material things, so also should we progress in moral and spiritual things. We are a God-fearing people who should set ourselves against evil and strive for righteousness in living, and observing the Golden Rule we should from our abundance help and serve those less fortunately placed. We should bow in gratitude to God for His many favors.

President Calvin Coolidge, 1925

            Many of you are officially off this week and that no classes are meeting. Others have some teaching time and will have just two or three days off.. The probability is high that many – if not most – of you who teach are working this week, at least a little, regardless of any scheduled days off for the holiday. That being my conviction, I am providing a little encouraging word for you about this holiday we are about to observe.

            George Washington was the first President to declare a day of Thanksgiving, although the tradition predated the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. However, it was not until Abraham Lincoln that the first annual Thanksgiving celebration was declared by a President.

            In the decades that followed, nearly every President made a Thanksgiving proclamation. Franklin Roosevelt established the last Thursday in November as a national holiday. Later, congress changed it to the fourth Thursday to give retailers a longer Christmas season. Of course today retailers know no boundaries and advertise for any holiday whenever they want, but in a simpler time the Christmas displays patiently waited for the Thanksgiving displays to be dismantled before assuming prominence.

            Some of our Presidents articulated genuine faith when discussing the coming holiday. Whether their statements were heart-felt or simply statesmanship is impossible to discern from only the historical record, but I prefer to graciously offer the benefit of doubt.

            In 1942 FDR opened his Thanksgiving remarks with these words:

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.” Across the uncertain ways of space and time our hearts echo those words, for the days are with us again when, at the gathering of the harvest, we solemnly express our dependence upon Almighty God.

Franklin D Roosevelt (referencing Psalms)

            He said this less than a year after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

            Thirty years later a President of the other party was in office, and although he was soon to resign in shame, Richard Nixon had this to say about Thanksgiving:

From Moses at the Red Sea to Jesus preparing to feed the multitudes, the Scriptures summon us to words and deeds of gratitude, even before divine blessings are fully perceived. From Washington kneeling at Valley Forge to the prayer of an astronaut circling the moon, our own history repeats that summons and proves its practicality.

Richard Nixon

            Since 1787 we have been served by 46 Presidents as of this writing. Nearly every one of them has acknowledged God’s hand in establishing us as a nation and calling upon the people of the United States to be thankful and in unity. Many of them have articulated personal faith in Christ. This Thanksgiving we should unite in lifting up both our nation and our elected leaders in prayer.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

John F Kennedy

            God bless you. Have a wonderful and restful holiday with your friends and families, and spend some time away from teacher stuff.

Biblical Civics

            We have recently completed mid-term elections, and by now pretty much everything is over “except the shouting,” as I have heard said. We are a very rare class of people as world history goes, because until the 19th century there had not been any political structure that even remotely resembled government of the people, for the people, by the people. But any structure that makes law will be plagued by the same flaw – any law, no matter how benign the intent, will almost certainly have unintended consequence.
            Here is but a brief narrative of what I am talking about:

I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom
men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
For He is the living God,
And steadfast forever;
His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed,
And His dominion shall endure to the end.
He delivers and rescues,
And He works signs and wonders
In heaven and on earth,
Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.
Daniel 6:26-27 NKJV

            We are told in this narrative that King Darius was angry with himself for letting his advisors trick him into trapping Daniel on the basis of Daniel’s loyalty to his God. Once the ordeal was over, Darius gave due glory to the Most High God, which is a very good lesson, but there is an even greater lesson embedded in this story that is relevant to us today.
            Regardless of the way a law becomes law, whether by royal decree, legislative action, or executive order, there are always unintended consequences. This is true without regard to the intentions of the law maker because every lawmaker is human and subject to error. This is the reason we have three independent branches of government and each has the authority to hold the others accountable for their actions. It is also the reason, by the way, that every government south of the Arctic Circle is full of corruption; let us remember this before we cast a glance at any national or world leader.
            Sometimes the consequences of law are minor and are soon worked out; minor changes in wording or even in punctuation can fix flaws. When the law or decree comes from a prior agenda though, the consequences for the innocent can be severe, even in a place like the United States. History is full of such severe consequences and in some cases we still pay the price today in spite of attempts to rectify things.
            What I wish to convey, though, is that with no regard whatsoever to the intentions or agendas of the law givers, there is a Sovereign God in Heaven that is in charge of whomever we think is in charge. This is a very important idea that we should firmly embrace because at any time we – individually or corporately – may come face to face with an unintended consequence of the law – we may indeed face our own lions’ den.
            When Daniel’s companions were faced with a similar challenge they boldly looked Nebuchadnezzar in the eye and told him (with respect due his office) that their God was able to deliver them from the fire, but whether He did or did not deliver them, they were willing to trust Him in the fire rather than acknowledge a false god. They understood that God was Sovereign, and as such He would choose how they would be delivered – whether back into the king’s service or into Heavenly Kingdom service for eternity.
            Today, before we are face-to-face with a fiery furnace or a lions’ den, let’s ask the Lord Jesus to pour out on our leaders the same Spirit that He gave Darius, which motivated the king to first pray for Daniel to be delivered, and then to give glory to God afterward. We should pray that Spirit upon every elected legislator, judge, and executive in every branch of government – especially those with whom we disagree! We may elect our leaders, but God is in charge of who is in charge.



Making Unshakeable Disciples

            We have been given the vital task of discipling the next generation in partnership with the other adults in their lives. We take our role in this important training seriously, but in spite of our best efforts, our miniature disciples will eventually go out from under our wings and take to wings of their own.
            After they leave our school they will go on to another, and our mentorship will be refocused on the next class that comes up to us. The unfortunate reality is – as Peter reminds us (2 Peter 3:13-14) – that evil men and impostors will make every effort to deceive our fledglings. How can we harden our young disciples against such things?
            The most common deception that I have heard from deceived individuals is that the Bible is full of inconsistencies and conflicting information. You and I know, of course, that Peter spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit when he said that all Scripture is inspired of God (2 Peter 3:16-17). So how do we fortify the faith of the students we have today so that they are prepared for such challenges once they are outside our circle of influence?
            Bible critics have often used the stories of Jesus feeding the multitudes as proof of inconsistency, because while the feeding of 5,000 appears in all four gospels, the feeding of 4,000 only appears in Matthew and in Mark. The argument centers around the text, because except for the number of people, the quantity of leftover food, and the location, the dialogue is all but identical.
            They also argue that somehow the authors of those two gospels forgot that they had already told that story, so slipped it into the narrative again, as if they were really bad copy editors. What these critics fail to understand is that the intended audience for Matthew and Mark are Jews, and John and Luke are more for Gentiles. The writers of Matthew and Mark included some very important details that would matter to a Jewish audience.
            You see, the feeding of the 5,000 took place in Jewish territory. The amount of food Jesus began with and the number of people He fed take a backseat to the rest of the story – because the leftovers filled 12 baskets full – one basket of provision for each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Later, on the other side of the lake, Jesus was in Gentile territory. This is the historic region of the Canaanites the historic enemies of Israel, of which tradition tells us there were seven tribes. (While this is a bit sketchy from perspective of modern archaeology, it is likely something that First Century Jews “knew,” and that is the context of this narrative.)
            Now, do you know how many ancient enemies of Israel there were? And how many baskets full of leftover food did the disciples collect? If you said “seven” for both questions, move to the head of the class. There is neither inconsistency nor any error – there were indeed two feedings of the multitudes and Jesus was teaching His disciples that He was God the Provider for Jew and Gentile alike. He was setting the stage for Gospel outreach beyond the borders of Israel. They only appear in the gospel accounts that were directed toward the Jews, because only the Jews needed that revelation.
            I have outlined only one of the deceptions the enemy of God uses to confuse young believers. There are of course many others. Whenever we hear one, we must recognize that it is a half-truth or an untruth designed to confuse. It is the oldest tactic in our enemy’s book – the very one he used on Eve. Where do we go to refute such lies? Straight to God’s Word. If the truth doesn’t jump right out then we need wisdom and understanding, and these are free for asking! (see James).
            We can predict accurately that our students will indeed face such deception, and we can prepare them for it, but we must be willing to do our own homework. Have you ever dealt with an argument that challenged your faith? Are you dealing with one now? Only an accurate reading of God’s word can dispel a challenge to our faith. We have an offer from God for wisdom and understanding – just ask. We have the Holy Spirit within to guide us – just listen. We have all the tools we need to prepare our students to confront challenges to their faith; we just have to learn how to use those tools.
            Don’t give the enemy of God, the great liar, any quarter! That deceiver is completely deflated by Truth.

Old Friends, and Hope

            I recently drove 150 miles to attend a memorial for an old friend, the wife of another old friend who was in fact the best man at my wedding in 1977. He and his bride were married right out of high school in 1973. Back in those days we three were inseparable; along with a couple other classmates we did nearly everything together. I’m pretty sure that the last time I had seen any of them was at our 20 year high school reunion nearly 30 years ago.
            If that were not embarrassing enough all by itself, I found that a lot of what had happened in my life, he knew, but the opposite was not true. For example my former best man knew that I was a cancer survivor. I did not know that he was also a survivor of that retched plague of humanity.
            Had I maintained a social media account, I might have heard that. He learned it from his daughter, who is “friends” with my wife (whom she has never actually met, by the way). Of course, my very special wife would have kept many far away friends, actual and virtual, current on the years-long ordeal we faced together. I guess there may be some benefit to Facebook after all.
            The things that I am most sorry about are that I was completely unaware that when he retired as a first responder it was because the fire he was fighting had made concerted effort to take his life. I am also sorry that I was completely unaware of the long decline in health that his beloved wife faced before she was finally called home to spend eternity with Jesus.
            What I am definitely not sorry for is that I dedicated a full eight-hour day to spend two hours with him in his grief. We are getting together again very soon because we have agreed to meet at an event in my old hometown and afterward to go out to lunch before I make the three hour drive home.
            When was the last time that you reconnected with an old friend? Right now might be a good time to look up one or two of them. This blog will still be here when you are done.
            I have given this a great deal of thought. I don’t know how to relate this to teaching because those we teach do not have sufficient life experience to comprehend the loss an adult might experience from losing a friend neglected for decades. The only consolation that we have is that such loss is not permanent. Instead, let us as teachers dedicate ourselves to making disciples of those whom we teach so that they have this same assurance – that no loss due to death is permanent.
            At the end of the book of Job, God restores to Job everything that he lost, but doubles it; he gets twice as much wealth as he had before. There is one exception: his children; God gives him a living child for each child lost. The implication is that Job did not actually lose those elder children, but was only separated from them for a time. This is our hope, and hope we can indeed pass along to our students.

The Good Ol’ Days

            Under normal circumstances I consider “the good old days” a myth, generated by the imperfect memories of those of us in the “well-seasoned” category. My main reason for saying this is that we are always looking backward to those good old days when we should be looking around us today and counting our blessings. When we focus today on what is awry today we risk missing the Hand of God on us in those very circumstances we see as broken. The loss of a job, a sister, a mother, or anyone during or as a result of a pandemic is indeed an unpleasant experience even once it is over, but God has not stopped working.

            A couple of decades ago I was working the best job ever one day, and the next I was part of a “reduction of force” – the first of two before the company went bankrupt just a few months later. Bad indeed, but the company provided me with a severance package and some job search training that I was able to leverage into my first position teaching at a community college. But the best part is that it gave me a window of opportunity to draw up the documents required to organize the non-profit corporation that eventually became Agape Christian Academy.

            At the time, however, I thought things looked pretty bleak, but God never once worried about the outcome and never stopped working in positive ways in my life. I am not mistaking those days as the good ol’ days, but hindsight proves to me that my God is every bit as faithful as He is portrayed in His word. Today that school we started has 325 students and our board has committed to starting a high school in 2023.

            So, today is not the worst of times. Maybe March 2020 was close, but nope, not today. But do not let uncertainty about tomorrow steal your joy. Worry is the absolute waste of imagination. Instead, tell God what is on your mind today. There is no need to give Him any direction about how to fix things, just lay out the problem as you see it. Remember, Mary did not tell Jesus to turn water to wine, she just told Him that the wine was gone; and then she told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do.

            So, if something in your life has gone south, just tell it to Jesus – and pay attention. Too many prayers go unanswered because Jesus has already given us the next step and we have failed to take it. Don’t miss a blessing through inattention or complacency, or for lack of asking.

            Jesus parables about the unjust judge and the mustard seed faith are all about persistence, not quantity. The mustard seed grows big because it is persistent, just as the widow got justice because she just wore out that unjust judge with her persistence. If your prayer isn’t answered, pray again, and again, and again – and listen.

            Now, before this tome gets too heavy, I have a light anecdote for you. It seems that during the pandemic my daughter went into the school to drop off her kindergarten son, and the teacher hesitated and gave Rebekah an odd look.

            Now, on the way back to the car Rebekah noticed it was very cold, and then realized her cold face was uncovered! Later at pick-up time she apologized for not masking up earlier. The teacher told her she never even noticed she wasn’t wearing a mask – her confusion was because she had never met my daughter when she did not have a mask on; she did not recognize her. She had even asked my grandson if that was his aunt that dropped him off, because she knew there was something familiar about that woman.

            So, there are two important points to this post: first, never forget to count your blessings even when today could be mistaken for a bad day, and second, keep your eye open for the humor in everyday life; it is healthy to chuckle now and then, especially in trying times.

Biblical Thinking

            Are your students able to think independently? If they are able to think in abstract, can they think independently of the culture? Independent thinking is important, but thinking independently of the culture is critical to biblical world view thinking. Are you able to think independently of the culture? You will have to answer that question long before you will be able to help your students do so. Let’s look at one or two popular culture memes and see how well we are able to see them from a biblical rather than a cultural view.

            Back in about 2007, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman costarred in The Bucket List, a movie about two friends, both terminally ill, that went on a road trip together to accomplish a list of things they wanted to do before they “kicked the bucket.” Although it had mixed reviews, the term “bucket list” has become a cultural meme; if you refer to your bucket list, everyone knows what you are talking about.

            A couple thousand years before this movie, Jesus taught his disciples that all of us who walk with Christ are going to be resurrected into new bodies and that we will live forever, and our earth and all of creation will be resurrected also. Jesus said that He went away to prepare this new place for us. Peter, Paul, and John all affirmed and expanded on it in their writings.

            I have hiked on Mt. Adams in Washington State on more than one occasion. My wife has been to the summit once and a couple of my children have been to the summit on more than one trip. I, however, have never been more than a couple hundred feet above timberline. I was there most recently when I was 65 years old.

            I would love to see the world from that peak, but I know I am not going to make it there in this life. But I am pretty sure that the New Earth on which I will live in my resurrected body will have mountains, and guess what? I will have all the rest of eternity to get to those summits! That is biblical world view, and that is thinking independently of the culture. I don’t have a bucket list that includes summiting mountains, because I know I will be able to summit as many mountains as I want in my life hereafter.

            (I want to make just a quick note here: In his 2004 book Heaven, author Randy Alcorn makes a very good case that a resurrected earth is likely to have resurrected species as well as people. Is it possible that our current understanding of endangered species doesn’t align with biblical worldview? I am not making an assertion here, but asking you the same question I am myself pondering.)

            One other quick example: “Friends” was an American sitcom that was on the air from 1994 to 2004. If you are a teacher today, it is highly likely that you are familiar with Friends.

A more contemporary example might be Big Bang Theory. Both of these television shows are big influencers of the generations of people to whom they were marketed. These programs have especially influenced the sexual mores of their generations. Even within the ranks of followers of Christ in these age groups, there is widespread acceptance of cohabitation outside of marriage – a common theme in both programs.

            Only one who is able to think independently of the culture will be able to retain a biblical view of sexual intimacy within the framework of marriage rather than follow the cultural understanding of such intimacy. This is a very powerful cultural idea that has deep roots and far reaching tentacles into and through pop culture today. Is your thinking in this area independent of the culture?

            So, what cultural memes can you identify that are out of alignment with biblical worldview thinking? In my opening I asked if your students could think independently of the culture. You won’t be able to teach them if you are not doing it yourself. I exhort you who are authentic and credible followers of Jesus, the Lamb of God, to examine your own thinking to identify cultural memes that you have adopted without putting them to the test of biblical worldview.

            Once you have done this with your own thinking, put it to your students. Challenge them to think through the popular culture ideas that they take for granted and test them against biblical worldview thinking.

Code Blue

            I had a conversation with a former colleague and old friend a few days ago. She reminded me that I had once shared with her a story from my experience that had been transformational in her life as a teacher. She urged me to include it in this blog, so the following is the gist of that conversation we had one day when we worked together.

            I taught adult basic education for many years in a community college. During those years the definition, approach, and even the program name changed a number of times, but the purpose was always the same; we were teaching adults basic reading, writing, and math. My focus was always on literacy and my content ranged from writing prompted essays or reading fiction to reading and writing about social studies. There was always pressure to improve student skills enough that they could successfully navigate college level English classes.

            One program director under whom I worked for a few years had been a Life Flight paramedic before going back to school for a masters and a PhD. Whenever things went south in the department she would simply say, “There is no Code Blue in education.” It was her reminder to us that no one had died; whatever was going on was only a hitch, not a life-or-death emergency. Life as an educator was indeed far less frenetic than the previous life by which she measured crises.

            It was a life transforming bit of wisdom for me, and as I mentioned in my opening paragraph, it was transformational for my colleague as well. As we approach the autumn and winter holiday season, what is traditionally a hectic time in the academic year, I hope it will have some meaning for you also.

            So as you go through the preparation for one holiday after another and bunches of days off school; as you deal with such things as mid-term student evaluation, and pressure to do extra art and to “get through the curriculum!”  – when you are working around program rehearsals with part of your class gone, keep in mind the wisdom of my former director. There is only so much you can do within the reasonable allotment of time, and there is no Code Blue in education.

Relationship

            Our wedding anniversary is in mid-August, but over the years we have put off doing anything or going anywhere until September. There are two pragmatic reasons for this: there is a major meteor shower every year about the time of our anniversary, and for many years we took groups of youth backpacking over our anniversary so that we could all enjoy the lightshow away from the light pollution of the city; the second is even more pragmatic – destination prices drop after school starts.

            We do not actually backpack into the mountains any more, but now it is our grandchildren who want to see the meteors. We just happen to live in the country away from city lights, so it is the next generation occupying us during our special day.

            My wife loves growing things and pretty much lives outside as much as possible in the garden or puttering around the yard. I am not so inclined, but more of an academic. It happens that one of my wife’s most favorite venues is the Oregon Gardens in Silverton Oregon, so this year I booked a room for us at the Oregon Garden Resort, a small place attached to the Gardens.

            On the way down we took a side trip and spent half a day at a Dahlia festival. I did mention that she loves gardens and gardening, didn’t I? Later we stopped in Wilsonville Oregon where there is a very large outlet mall. We had not been to a mall since “before the pandemic” so we window shopped for a long time and purchased a few more baby things for our soon coming new granddaughter, very likely our final grandchild so it’s not possible to buy too many cute things, right?

            We have been married 45 years. I was recently asked how one manages to do that. The best answer that I can give is that an old grumpy academic (me) who is never happier than when reading or writing is willing to devote an entire two days to walking around looking at flowers and baby clothes, because he knows it pleases the love of his life.

            She is not responsible for my happiness, and I am not responsible for hers. We both know this, yet we both take pleasure in pleasing the other. She makes me eat green food because she knows it is good for me, but she also makes favorites of mine just because she knows I like them. I pretend not to like salad so that when I eat it, she is pleased. For the record, we both spend time in the kitchen; mostly she prepares the food, and mostly I clean up. It’s an arrangement that works for us.

            Jesus said that where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also. My treasure is my wife, and her treasure is me (and the garden); our hearts are where our treasures are.

            Do you treasure the people around you? This isn’t just for spouses but for any important people in our lives. If you treasure them you will love them. It’s in our nature, a part of how we are made as image bearers of God.

            Does this relate to teaching? This blog is about teaching after all. Do you treasure your students? Do you treasure your coworkers? If you are a teacher, do you treasure the hourly staff that makes everything work better in a school? If your heart is with them, then yes, you treasure them.

            Teaching is all about relationships. If our hearts are not with our students, they will not trust; if they do not trust they will not take risks; if they do not risk, they will miss out on learning. The genesis of the relationship that is so very critical to learning must be fostered by the teacher. When I am a teacher, the ball is always in my court.

Footprints on the Moon

            Teaching has never been an occupation for the faint of heart. To do it right requires a very great deal of work. One’s creativity is stretched and stretched as we ponder ways to engage students so that they apply themselves to academic content that would be dull by any standard. Really now, how many ways are there to make multiplication facts interesting?  (Note: this is a rhetorical question.)

            We apply high standards to ourselves as teachers because we love both teaching and learning, and we love to see our students achieve. I will shamelessly admit to you that I have discovered myself wiping away a tear when I have witnessed a student epiphany – especially when the concept at hand was important but difficult, and the student had invested a great deal to attain it. The same happens when children give an incredible stage performance. What goes unnoticed by many, though, is the effort the teacher invested to bring that student to that moment.

            To teach is not simply to educate, but to inspire. As teachers we find our reward in the achievement of others. We apply ourselves not just to fill heads with information, but to fill a child with confidence, competence, and courage.

            The Olympic motto, Citius – Altius – Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger) is very much like the teachers I know – never content with the state of learning in the classroom, but always striving to make it better in some way. St. Jerome is credited with saying, “Good, better, best, Never let it rest Until your good is better And your better is best”. That, in my opinion, describes not only the ethic I see in most teachers, but the very thing they strive to instill in their students.

            As teachers we strive to instill a love of learning, but I think we also work to foster the intrinsic love of achievement. No matter how well we do in any discipline, until we reach the very limit of strength or stamina, we have room for improvement.

            We have all heard of Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer who won an astounding 28 medals in his career. But few of us have heard of Kim Rhode. Kim competed in a record six consecutive Summer Olympics and won a medal in all six. That is the sort of stamina I see in teachers. It is one of the elements of teaching that makes me proud to have been a teacher and that keeps me involved in education still.

            We don’t meet many like Michael Phelps in our lives, but every time we enter a school we will find ourselves surrounded by men and women like Kim Rhode; people who do what it takes year after year, season after season to be not just winners, not just champions, and not even just Olympians, but medalists.

            Professional musician Paul Brandt said it best; “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.” I love that saying! The sky is most definitely NOT the limit, so perhaps we should not tell our students that it is. Perhaps instead when they are striving for achievement we should remind them that there are footprints on the moon.