Now that I am a fully certified teacher and moving into the realm of the working world I have people asking me where I’ll end up.  The question has arisen many a time, “will you be teaching in the public or private institutions?”  It’s a legitimate question and one that I don’t mind pondering for awhile before answering.

So, you ask…

The truth is that I have always felt the call to teaching in a public setting.  I’ve blogged these pages before as to the reasons for that choice but for the sake of those who haven’t heard my story I’ll share it again.

I grew up in this town, moved here when I was around 2 years old.  I’ve never known another city or had any desire to get to know one.  I attended an elementary school that was a 10-minute walk from my home from kindergarten to grade seven.  I remember every one of my teachers names and can probably give you at least one or two impactful moments that I had with each of them.  In grade eight I moved on to junior high and attended one of the original junior high schools in our town.  While I don’t remember all my teachers, there are a few that I still have such an amazing soft spot for.  My grade nine year changed things a bit!  My parents were in the process of wanting to move and we discussed where I might attend school.  As good parents do, my mom and dad gave me the choice to attend a private high school or move to a brand new, public high school (opening for it’s inaugural year the same year we were set to move).  I contemplated my options.  I had quite a few friends and acquaintances at the private school and only two, somewhat good friends moving over to the public school.  It would be a whole, new world for me and would require some serious adjustments rebuilding my friend pool.  Now to clarify, I was a bit of a wallflower in grade 6-8.  I didn’t have any really great friends, just people I hung out with.  And to say that I didn’t experience my fair share of relational issues with my peers during my years in elementary school and into junior high would be an outright lie.  It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, as my daughters like to say!

What to choose, what to choose…

I opted for the public school, trusting even then that this was where God could use me and that he would pave the way if I trusted him to do so.  I’d have to say that it really was the best decision of my life.  That’s not to judge what others chose as an avenue of education but for me it was an important stepping stone to my faith and setting a path for my future that may have otherwise looked quite different.

My years in public high school were rewarding, difficult, amazing, fun, you name the adjective and it was a part of my life from grades 9-12.  I developed an amazing group of friends, encountered a number of phenomenal teachers and a few who should probably have chosen a different profession!  But of those memories what continues to amaze me to this day is how God honoured that decision that my parents allowed me to make and used it for his glory and to impact my future.

Fast-forward to now…

When I’m asked the question about where I’ll teach I try to answer it honestly and without judgement of what others have chosen.  God called us to be salt and light in this world (Matt. 5:13-16).  In my mind that reality is hard to accomplish when I’m surrounding myself with only christian people or people who think exactly like me.  Yes, my very close friends and inner circle share my beliefs and values.  They are the people who uplift me when I need prayer and support.  They are the people I call on when I need to be challenged.  They are the people who will gently nudge me away from them to pursue those relationships that aren’t exactly like ours.  So when my children or my husband or I encounter individuals that we are drawn to we chose to embrace the opportunity to walk beside them.  We share a part of who we are and give whatever we can to a relationship that we have actually been commanded to embrace (Mark 12:30-31).  I feel that pertains to both my personal and work life.  In fact when we look at the example Jesus set for us we know that he walked among the love-starved, needy people.  The imperfect, sinners which is technically all of us but some actually know who they are while others think they live at loftier heights.  My point being that I don’t care to just show God’s love to those who already know it, I want to show it to people, children, who haven’t experienced it before.  I want to be a safe haven for those in troubled waters, to be recognized for the smile on my face that’s there because I know and feel a love so deep it penetrates even the darkest moments.  To walk beside the colleagues that are burdened and need a shoulder to cry on because that same shoulder is strengthened with a grace and purpose of One who created all.

In light of current events…

You may have read the above and wondered how that all changes when conflict has arisen to such a degree that education is actually not possible.  It does make it difficult, in fact it saddens me to see the just how incredibly far we’ve come from to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable people of our society.  Do I have an opinion?  ABSOLUTELY!  Do I want to share it with you?  For sure, if you want to go out for coffee and have a face to face!

What I see in all this is an even greater need for me to place myself in the middle of it.  I am passionate about where I’m headed.  I am terrified of the responsibility.  I am certain that whatever the outcome, I cannot give up on the direction I know God is leading.  While I will never completely write-off the option of teaching in the private educational setting I do feel strongly that each setting needs strong, passionate people who are not afraid of their beliefs and are willing to be transparent and honest in who they are in order to help children understand and value their own innate worth.

What does all this mean…

It means being an educator in a public setting that has tried desperately, and succeeded for the most part, to remove God from its schools.  It means being salt and light by my actions alone and trusting that God is bigger than words.  It means my smile has to be radiant with His love, my words tempered with His grace, my actions crying out with His mercy and every part of my being filled with His presence so that I can be what He has called me to be.  It means allowing myself to be surrounded by brokenness so that the Holy Spirit may move among the people who need to feel healing and wholeness again.

My prayer is that I may be courageous enough and bold enough to NOT use my words but to allow Him to penetrate the depths of my soul to be what each child I encounter in the classroom needs to walk away feeling loved, nurtured, uplifted and blessed.

4 thoughts on “The next challenge you ask…?

  1. I totally admire the time and thoughts you put into this discernment. Coming from someone who just battled the same decision and chose the opposite path (I will now be teaching in the catholic independent system) I understand that the decision you have made is a tough one. Keep up the good work and you are going to be fabulous in whichever classroom you step into. God bless!

  2. I love this, Elise! We went through the same decision process when we were choosing whether to send our kids to public or private school. We truly wish more christians would choose to engage the public school system both for their children and teaching! Any school will be lucky to have you 🙂

  3. This is such a heartfelt post and one that I heartily (you know!) resonate with. The sentence “I feel strongly that each setting needs strong, passionate people who are not afraid of their beliefs and are willing to be transparent and honest in who they are in order to help children understand and value their own innate worth” made me want to jump with joy. That is it! Both settings need people who are committed to their faith and committed to the students they teach. I’m honoured to be working alongside you my friend!

  4. You certainly were a huge influence in my high school experience, and I pray you will be an amazing one for a billion children in your career! Blessings on you!

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