Back in the Saddle Again

This year I have the privilege of being in the classroom again (only two hours a week as prep release). Due to the many benefits, I believe every principal should teach at least a little every year.

One benefit of being in the classroom is that it helps develop positive relationships with the students. Positive relationships lead to student engagement which, ultimately, leads to improved student achievement.

A second benefit to being in the classroom is that it allows me to utilize and refine the various teaching strategies I have used in the past. As I refine these, I can share them with the other teachers in the building (just as I can learn from them as well).

A third benefit is that I improve my credibility with the teachers. As I teach, I gain an appreciation for what the teachers go through in this building. When I offer suggestions, I can fine-tune them to the students that we have. The teachers know that I am dealing with some of the same issues they are: intermittent technology, Maplewood frustrations, and classroom composition concerns.

A final benefit is that I get to share some of my interests with my students. I have the opportunity to get students excited about some of what I enjoy doing: reading and writing. Increasing their level of excitement helps them to do better in their learning and that is something that teachers, students, and parents can get excited about.

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Death Valley

As a child, I loved our Christmas holidays. Every year we would burrow into our VW Rabbit and head down to California for a two-week skiing holiday. We would share a house with our extended family and spend the two weeks skiing, hiking, travelling to natural hot springs, and visiting with family. On the way home (if we were visiting our family in greater Los Angeles), we would sometimes swing through Death Valley .

Death Valley is the lowest point (over 30 metres BELOW sea level) in North America and a desert.

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The surrounding mountains would be cloaked with snow and there was the odd winter that featured snow on the desert floor.

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Driving through, we could see the tracks of the borax wagon trains and see where seasonal rivers (flash floods) had carved paths.

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Most years we drove through, we saw no flourishing plant life. There may have been the odd Joshua tree or other cacti, flowers withered on their stems, or the frequent bleached logs.

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One year we decided to visit our extended family in Los Angeles in the summer. My dad rarely had time off in the summer, but one year we did. My dad wanted to see Death Valley in the summer, so we drove through and saw the same valleys covered in wildflowers. As the winter snow melted (in the valley and from the surrounding mountains) the flowers had been provided with sufficient moisture to germinate and flower (ever so briefly). The appearance changed so dramatically, it was hard to believe that we drove through the same valley. It was amazing to see what a bit of water could do.

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All of this is a lead-in to the verses I just recently re-read in Isaiah. Isaiah 43:1b-3a, 19 says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed youI have called you by your  name; You are MineWhen you pass through the waters, will be with youAnd through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For am the Lord your GodThe Holy One of Israel, your Savior; 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

We have such amazing promises in these few verses. First, God has redeemed us. He found us where we were but did not leave us there. He is making something wonderful in and through us. Second, He shows us how precious we are to Him by announcing that we are His. (Everyone else, hands off!) Third, God promises that He will be with us when we pass through the waters and walk through the flames (trials and tribulations). Finally, we have His promise that He will make roads in the wilderness and call forth rivers in the desert.

Sometimes we feel like we are in the desert: nothing seems to be flourishing and the little life that is there seems to be all prickles. And yet….

When the waters come, there is life in abundance.

And God promises to provide that water.

I can’t wait to see what God will do this year. He will provide water and we will flourish. I don’t know how or where the water will come from, but that is not important. What is important is that we wait upon God and His timing for the waters (of blessing) to come. Let us do our part in being faithful to His Word and then He will do His part (in His timing) and bring the blessing that only He can give. That way all glory belongs to Him and we will have the privilege of praising His name.

Welcome Back

Welcome back to a new school year! I am excited to be here for the start of a new school year. There are lots of changes that have (and are and will be) taking place.

One set of changes is curricular. We have a new (cohesive and comprehensive) Bible curriculum from K-8 developed by Positive Action for Christ. Each student, if they start in Kindergarten and move through grade 8, will now have worked their way through the Bible two times before moving on to the topical approach found in grades 9-12. We have (that is to say, the books are ordered and will be arriving soon) a new math program, Jump Math, for Kindergarten to grade 6. We will work on adding a new math program for grades 7-9 next year.

We have added a variety of new courses as well: Accounting, Life Transitions, Calculus, Economics, and Law. These course options help us to fulfill our mission: ‘to strengthen the family, serve the Church, and influence the world’.

We have some new faces in the building this year: Mrs. Benavides (EA), Mrs. Palm (grade 6), Mrs. Clendining (Elementary Resource Teacher, and Mrs. Kotelnikoff (Business Office and Board Administrative Assistant). Even though all have worked at SCS in the past, we welcome them back this year.

Finally, we have some long-awaited updates coming out over the next month. We have updated our dress code and our discipline policy. We are still working on updating the entire staff handbook as well as the student-parent handbook. Once the update is complete, we will post the student-parent handbook on the (parent portal section) website.

 

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

I love this title from the 5th book of Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. I am guessing that a five book trilogy only makes sense to Adams.

This has been an interesting year. There have been many changes and many more are starting September. There have been difficulties, challenges, and growth opportunities. But, throughout everything, God has been faithful and God has been in control. I’m so glad that we can rest on that solid foundation.

Speaking of rest, that is one of the things I, and probably many others, am looking forward to over the next number of weeks. This is my last blog post for this school year. I will resume in mid-August. Until then, God’s blessings on your summer journeys.

Who’s On First?

Rather than allowing Abbot and Costello to continue their bickering, I thought I would answer their question by giving you an idea of who will be teaching what next year. At this date, some of this information is still tentative.

Tentative Staffing for 2018/2019

Lorene Hind                                     Kindergarten/Prep Release

Naomi Brecht                                   Grade 1 (Possible Grade 1/2)

Natasha Stonehouse                       Grade 2 (Possible Grade 2/3)

Tammy Parker                                 Grade 3

Christina McVittie                           Grade 4

Rachel Kopperud                             Grade 5

Ashley Palm                                      Grade 6

Pat Taylor                                          Grade 7

Andy Baetz                                       Grade 7/8

Jenelle Lepp                                      Elementary Prep Release

Tracy Cherry                                    Arts Ed 9; Visual Arts 20 (for Grade 12); Chapel Band                                                                    10/20/30; Prep Release

Ken Desjardine                                Computer/CWE 9; Accounting 20; Photo 10 (Grade 10);                                                                  Photo 10 (Grade 11); History 10; Graphic Arts 20;                                                                          Computer Science 20; Economics 20

Jocelyn Friesen                                Pre-Calculus 20; Pre-Calculus 30; CoCo 10 (Grade 10);                                                                    CoCo 10 (Grade 11); Calculus 30; Accounting 10;                                                                              Foundations and Pre-Calculus 10; CoCo 20 (Grade 12)

Esther Gokavi                                  History 20; History 30; CE 9; CE 10; Psych 20; Psych 30;                                                                History 30; SS 9

Katrina Whelan-Korchinski         ELA A30; ELA A30; ELA B30; ELA B30

Murray Long                                    Math 9; Math 9/Health 9; CE 20; Life Transitions 20;                                                                     Dinner Theatre; Prep Release

Aletta Luma                                     CE 20; CE 30; CE 30; ELA A9; ELA B9; ELA A10; ELA                                                                        B10; ELA 20

Glen Ukrainetz                                 Wellness 10; Law 30; PE 9; Sc 9; PE 20/30; PE 20/30; Prep                                                               Release

Temp Teacher                                   Math Foundations 20; Math Foundations 30; Sc 10; CH                                                                 30; PH 30; PSC 20; HSC 20; BI 30

The time table will be made available when the secondary students register for their classes.

NEW

Currently we offer awards for academics, athletics, and citizenship. We will be discussing new awards for our secondary awards ceremony next year. The discussion will pertain to the following list:

Academics: Honour Roll, High Honours, Administrator’s List, Top Academic Award

Athletics: Cougar, Most Outstanding Athlete, Most Improved Athlete (for each sports)

Character: Paul – Workmanship – Minimum 80% in Honour Roll Subjects; Spiritual –                                            Displaying the Fruit of the Spirit and involved in church and                                                    outreach; Integrity – Committed to keeping and supporting all school                                      rules; Respect – showing respect to teachers, fellow students, and the                                       property of others; Extra-Curricular Involvement – serving the                                                 broader Christian school community by a willingness to attend and                                         serve at non-compulsory activities; Attendance – being punctual and                                       attending consistently

Jonathan – genuine friendship and concern for classmates

Caleb – perseverance and diligence to assigned tasks

Daniel – godly development and testimony of body, mind, and spirit;                                                       being willing to stand alone for righteousness, regardless of who                                             else is

Ruth/Job – female/male student who has ensured extraordinary hardships                                               with a positive, God-honouring testimony

Christian: Berean – displaying a love for God’s Word through memorization and study

Joshua – exemplary Christian leadership characterized by participation                                                  ‘heartily, as unto the Lord’

Golden Apple – Memorizing the book of Proverbs ($400 monetary gift)

Silver Apple – Memorizing Proverbs 1-16 or 15-31 ($200 monetary gift)

David – students who strive after God by knowing and showing Him more

Fine Arts: Asaph – outstanding music student based on leadership, scholarship, and                                              character

Bezaleel – outstanding visual arts student based on leadership, scholarship,                                             and character

Jeremiah – outstanding drama student who has displayed consistency,                                                         creativity, strength of conviction, perseverance, enthusiasm, and                                             co-operation in proclaiming the Word of God through drama

PAAKoinonia – given to the top Commercial Cooking student based on                                                               academic achievement and hospitality mindset

No name yet – given to the top photography student based on academic                                                            achievement, creativity, and attempts to glorify God

Caveat: These are earned awards; not every award will be handed out every year.

 

 

Who Is In Charge Anyways?

Every year brings change. Dealing with change is hard. It is emotionally draining, stressful, and often incomprehensible. This year, one of the challenging changes is that enrollment has dropped and this has necessitated a corresponding drop in teaching staff.

It is always difficult to say good-bye to teachers, especially if they have worked in the building for many years. School staff, particularly in a Christian school context, often become like family and that makes changing schools even more stressful.

This year we have seven teachers moving to different positions and one teacher superannuating. The seven teachers are:

Chelsea Abramoff

Carmen Bekkatla

Rebecca Krieg

Wes Letkeman

Seth Peters

Sheryl Salen

Michelle Wiens

Tracy Janzen is superannuating this year.

We want to thank all eight of these teachers for the time and effort they have put into SCS. Without them, we would not have been able to offer all the programs that we have offered. We will miss them and ask for God’s blessing on them as they transition to different assignments next year.

Emotional turmoil is a common side effect of change. We often play with metaphors such as ‘the ship (SCS) is sinking’ or ‘how can those in charge do this’? There are two passages in Scripture that deal with this topic. The first one is Mark 4:35-41: 35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

There are several key messages found in this passage. First, the Lord Jesus told His disciples that they would cross over to the other side. Jesus, being all-knowing, knew what would happen. The storm did not catch Him off guard. He was not surprised by the storm. A second message is that there were other boats there with the one that the disciples traveled on. The other boats were noted at the beginning. Once the wind started, the other boats were ignored. They were impacted by the storm as well. And yet, they were no longer important to the disciples. Other schools have gone through what we go through. We may look to them at first, but often choose to ignore that other schools have gone through similar situations as well (and have survived or even thrived). The disciples accused the Lord of not caring. They took their eyes off Him and lingered on the storm. No wonder they worried. The chorus of Helen Lemmel’s famous hymn comes to mind here:

Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

After the disciples woke the Lord Jesus up, and accused Him, He rebuked the storm and it stopped. There are times when the storms of life are close to swamping us. At such times, we need to remember to consider Christ and not our issues and that He is with us in the midst of the storm. That fact should be more than enough to bring calm to our spirits.

The second passage is Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. This is a similar situation. As far as Isaiah could tell, the throne was empty (King Uzziah was now dead). He (may) have felt like panicking, until he lifted his eyes and had a vision of the heavenly throne. THAT throne was still filled; God was still on the throne and in control. If Isaiah had wondered who may have been in charge now that the king was dead, he no longer needed to wonder: God was still in charge.

We need to come to the same conclusion. There will be times when we wonder why we are going through the different (difficult) circumstances. During such times we need to remember that God is still on the throne and that the Lord Jesus is with us in the midst of the storm.

The following hymn shows this really well. The storm is acknowledged at the beginning, but the calming presence of Christ is relied on at the end. I’m sure we can relate.

Peace, Be Still

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threatening
A grave in the angry deep?

Refrain

The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, peace, be still!

 

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master
Oh, hasten, and take control.

Refrain

Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast;
Linger, O blessèd Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.

Refrain

Ireland

Ireland just recently held a referendum on whether or not to repeal the 8th Amendment (Right to Life). The pro-abortion side won (66% in favour of repeal). During the subsequent days, I came across two widely different perspectives. The first comment was on Facebook and said, ‘I’m sorry. Let me get this straight. A guy walks into a classroom and shoots 20 children causing a nation to believe it’s time to re-examine gun laws? In 2012, in the US alone, 1.2 MILLION unborn children were hacked apart and discarded like trash but that’s OK? I think it’s time for our nation to re-examine its morals.’  The second comment came on my Twitter feed and said, ‘Huge congrats to #Ireland for overturning their archaic and dangerous abortion law. They will repeal their Eighth Amendment in the name of a more humane law. See U.S.A., it can be done! #GunReformNow.

What is really interesting to me is that both quotes equate abortion laws with gun laws. They just come at it from differing perspectives. The first comment is about how abortion kills far more people than guns, and yet we only care about restricting access to guns. The second comment is about how abortion is more humane than gun deaths. I guess the second person has never really thought through what an abortion actually involves.

If you read any article on either abortion or gun laws, you will see people holding very strongly-worded opinions. Each side almost vilifies the other. Rather than appealing to reason, the object seems to be to call the ‘other side’ more derogatory names than they do ‘our side’ (whatever that means). As Christians, we are not to participate in such conversations. God has called us to support and encourage those who are weaker (1 Thess. 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all), and this includes unborn children. According to Isaiah, we also need to ‘Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow’ (1:17).

So, how should we engage in this debate? First, pray. Then pray some more. Then let your actions speak before your words. Realize that social media is (usually) not the forum to hold a civil, nuanced conversation. Don’t just talk, but act (James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves). We need to be an example (lead by doing) rather than just telling others what to do (lead by telling).

Some good books on this topic are:

Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality by Nancy R. Pearcey

A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet

Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for the Family by Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet