Archive for January, 2015

Closets and Other Gifts

by Elizabeth Wright, ESL Teacher

My office is brimming with costumes.

No, they’re not mine. The theatrical outfits—ranging from gold-hemmed crimson royal robe to fuzzy bulbous eagle head, and including boxes with helpful labels, such as “Props,” “Pirates,” and my personal favorite, “Ears and Noses”—belong to our drama department, and so did my office, until I squeezed in.

What a wonderful squeeze it was.

In 2011, God told me to go to China. I scribbled a whole host of wonderful, reasonable, Christiany arguments why that was a bad idea, and I showed this list to God. He wasn’t convinced. And he always wins arguments.

So July 30, 2012 found me cramped in the window seat of a Cathay Pacific flight to Beijing, wondering how a Colorado girl, deeply in love with Ireland, who had never once considered traveling to Asia, fit into God’s mysterious plan for Nanchang, a city I’d never heard of six weeks prior. I literally learned how to say “Ni hao” (“Hello”) during the flight.

When I think of my year in China, the images that flash across my internal movie theater are not the smiling faces of students, the laugh of my friend after she received Christ, the meal my coworkers made to thank me for counseling their marriage. Those belong on the highlights reel I dust off for donors who want to know how their money advanced the Kingdom. My screen flashes grey, a sunless haze broken here and there by grey, dirt colored buildings and grey vans swerving to miss grey cars on their way to grey schools. And my movie’s soundtrack is the heartbreaking song of monotony and disunity among my fellow workers.

When I arrived home, I pleaded. Dear God, please, PLEASE don’t make me go back there again.

God always wins arguments.

And although I knew God wanted me back in China eventually, the meantime found me directionless, laboring part time among the fabric bolts, model planes, and plastic flowers of Hobby Lobby.

On August 18, 2014, one year after my flight touched precious American ground at DIA, I was fed up with looking for purpose and a full-time job. God, my big crazy prayer request is that you would give me a full-time job in two months, I challenged.

Six weeks later, surrounded by Shakespearean garb, I became the dumbfounded recipient not only of a full-time job, with stupendously gracious bosses, at a Christian school, teaching English to Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese students, but also of a sense of direction and purpose, and deep healing. God is gently restoring my heart and deepening my love for the Asian people. And he is showing me how I can be fulfilling his call to Asia right here and now, by investing in these precious charges he has loaned to me.

One of the best gifts I’ve ever received is a delightfully eclectic, colorful closet-office.

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Tiny Hands

by Sarah Case, Pre-Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

I remember the summer day when I discovered that Heritage Christian Academy had an opening in their preschool program as an assistant teacher. My first thought was, “Could I go back to work after being home raising children for thirteen years?” As I began to ponder this opportunity, it was revealed to me that I wouldn’t be taking a job but walking into a place that was already home to my family. A home where my children are loved everyday and God is woven into every subject they teach. As I read through the job description, I thought about it — teaching tiny hands about their creator, working in a classroom with an experienced teacher and loving children. Can you say dream job!

Heritage Christian Academy is built on three foundational pillars that begin with their preschool program and continue through 12th grade. The first pillar, Academic Excellence is something we strive for in our preschool program. God has created each of these children uniquely and suited for different purposes in life according to His plan. We have children who came to school in August, just beginning to learn their letters and some unable YET to write their name. One of my greatest joys this fall was helping a child learn how to write an “E” and he said to me “I’m going home to show my mom, she will be so proud of me!” I’ve seen academic excellence in all grades but especially over finals week in December when my son in 8th grade was studying for an anatomy final with 170 questions and he knew the material and was confident in it.

The second pillar is a nurturing environment. We focus on this pillar in the preschool program. We want children to know how much God loves them so they can in turn love others His way. I’ve experienced this personally at Heritage where my children have been loved beyond measure, not as a school but a family where everyday I consider it a blessing that God led us to this community of believers.

The third pillar is Authentic Faith. Heritage Christian Academy creates servant leaders who are equipped to not only defend their faith but also share the Gospel with others. In preschool, I’ve been amazed at the wisdom and thoughtful prayer that is spoken as we begin each morning. These four year old children pray for their families, friends who are sick and their school.

I have been blessed with many joys in the preschool classroom but I’ve been surprised to laugh every day, be hugged numerous times in one morning, and to love these children beyond measure and miss them when we’re not at school.

As I walk down the halls of Heritage Christian Academy with a tiny hand woven into mine. A tiny hand thought out and uniquely designed by our Creator. This beautiful child, whose hand I have the privilege to hold, looks up at me and says “I love you!” Yes, this is a dream job.

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Why I Chose to Teach at Heritage

by Brittany Dimmen, History Teacher

When deciding what to write about in this blog, I asked my husband for advice on a topic. His response was, “Uhhhhh, could you write about pesto?” That’s right, pesto…the food. I think this suggestion was fueled by his current consumption of pesto and was not a legitimate recommendation. After such a clarifying discussion, I decided to take a few days to consider topics that are significant to me and ultimately decided on my decision to teach at Heritage Christian Academy.

I attended Heritage from kindergarten through my senior year and loved my experience, so it may seem like an obvious choice to apply, once I received my education degree. The decision was not that simplistic. Of course, HCA was at the top of my list but one thought kept getting in the way: Shouldn’t I be reaching the unreached in public education? I struggled between the pull of public vs. private and prayed for direction. I think that Christian teachers in public schools are MUCH needed and have an impact on students in ways they may never see. I also think that Christian students can do very well in public education if they have a solid foundation in family, church and friends. My husband and a variety of our friends have all attended public schools and were able to grow in their love for Jesus and others during that time. That being said, my heart in this post is not to bash public education or those teachers and students who are a part of it. My intent is to convey why I, personally, felt led to teach in a Christian school.

The question of, “Shouldn’t I be reaching the unreached in public education?” tripped me up until I experienced student teaching. I worked as a student teacher in a low-income and high-risk middle school in Loveland, CO during my senior year at CSU and couldn’t help but notice the contrasts between Heritage students and these middle school students. While these children were reading books for the sole purpose of learning English techniques and vocabulary, middle school students at Heritage were reading A.W. Tozier’s Pursuit of God. While these students were dealing with random drug searches, Heritage students were praying for each other, attending chapel, and participating in service projects. During student teaching, I dealt with students who were on probation, had parents in prison, were struggling with drug and alcohol addictions and had a couple of 7th grade students leave the school due to pregnancy. One day in class, a student was being disruptive as I passed out a test. When I gave him the test, he ripped it up, spit in it and threw it across the classroom. He was taken out of my class and, on the way to the principal’s office, he pulled a knife on the aide who was escorting him. Midway through the semester, we had to shift all of the class rosters to separate students who had been involved in a sexual assault at the school and teachers were in charge of escorting the offending students between classes.

It is astounding to think that these types of school environments exist in such a comfortable region of the U.S. In the midst of all of the darkness, I did have the opportunity to talk to a few of my students about my faith, when they asked (because in public education, you are not allowed to share your faith unless specifically asked by a student) or pray with certain students when they were going through something difficult; but aside from my personal attitude and actions, I felt unable to reach my students in a really meaningful way. The turning point for me came one day, as I was praying for my classes, and realized, “What is the point of this?” What is the point of teaching students about history without acknowledging the creator of all history? What is the point of teaching students to read and write critically if they aren’t gaining any knowledge of God? I understand the importance of developing well-rounded, literate, critically-thinking citizens, but in the light of eternity, learning to use a graphic organizer is nothing compared to knowing Jesus. When God holds me accountable for how I spent my time on earth and for how I handled the resources and lives He placed before me, I want so much more than to say, “I taught students about the Civil War.” My hope for teaching at Heritage is to teach students about history in an environment that strengthens them spiritually and in the context of Christ. There are plenty of struggling students within the system of Christian education and I felt God guiding me to reach out to those unreached students where I have not only the freedom, but the encouragement of the staff and administration to speak openly about my faith. Heritage has spent the past 40 years cultivating the perfect environment for teachers like me to come alongside and partner with them in a way that glorifies God, while providing a strong education for all of our students.

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