After 25 years, I find myself retired from teaching – a career I’ve truly loved. While I was prepared to slow down significantly during retirement, I did plan on staying busy with part time work or volunteer service of some kind. Mr. Steele convinced me that he could still find a place for me at NorthCreek, and I began this school year teaching one day per week for our distance learning program. Our school was allowed to return to in-person learning after Thanksgiving break, but some pre-existing health concerns would have made classroom teaching too risky for me, and I deemed it prudent to step away.
The natural question became, “OK, what now?” With COVID, the part time work and volunteer plans I had considered were no longer possibilities. But, over the years, I have learned that sometimes the best way to move forward, is to take a look back at where I have been.
I had always wanted to be a teacher as far back as I can remember. My mom worked for the local Recreation Department in our town, and from about the age of 10, I was always her “junior leader,” helping with crafts or games. When I was old enough, I also went to work for the recreation department. As I began my college education, I worked as a teacher’s aide at a couple of local public schools and I set my college track towards a career in teaching. I never stopped to consider if this was the path God had for me – it was simply my decision, my plan.
As the 1960s turned into the 1970s, the prospects for a teaching career were changing. Families were having fewer children and schools were closing, meaning there were fewer teaching opportunities available. College counselors tried to direct me toward other goals, but this was not part of my plan, so I dropped out of college before graduation, and settled for “jobs” rather than a career.
As a young husband and father, I became involved with my local church through teaching Sunday school and by being a youth counselor for the older kids. I spent many summers being on the leadership team for a Christian music and drama camp in Loma Mar. Looking back, I can see that while I had given-up my hopes of a teaching career, God had not given up on me. He continued to provide opportunities for me to feed my passion for teaching — by providing me with opportunities to teach for Him.
God always has a good plan. The trick is discerning the plan. This never happens when we are relying on our own understanding. Folks love the passage in Jeremiah that reminds us of God’s plans “to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Here, Jeremiah reminds us of God’s intentions toward His chosen people, the descendants of Abraham. But, what folks often fail to remember, is that this plan also included seventy hard years in exile (Jeremiah 29:10), and this “hope and a future” happens only after that hard time, a time when “you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13) There’s the plan!
I had never turned to God to help me plan my career. So, instead of teaching as a career, teaching became a lifestyle. Regardless of whatever job I had, those volunteer teaching opportunities that came my way turned out to be the most satisfying “work” I would do.
It was through my volunteer service that I was offered my first class of sixth graders at a tiny Christian school in Alameda (even before I had finished my college education.) I had six students in that first class, and during that year with them I began to get a glimpse of God’s plan for me – my calling. This job didn’t pay much, and I had to keep another job at the same time, but I couldn’t wait to get to class. After my second year, the school closed and I thought, “I’m glad I had the chance to see if I had what it takes to be a teacher” and, I went back to work. But, this was not the end. Other teaching opportunities continued to come my way, each one was a step closer to God’s revealing a bit more of His faithfulness, to Him showing me His plans for me.
Along the way, I did my due diligence and completed my education. However, I continued to teach only in Christian schools. I felt comforted and strengthened by the routine of including God and the Bible in my daily planning. (I’m not sure I would have had the strength to do that in a secular setting. God knows me so well!)
This year would have been my 25th year of teaching. Not a bad career, but certainly fewer years than I might have had if I had understood God’s plan for me from the beginning. There have been challenges and disappointments along the way, but always more victories, satisfaction, and progress in the balance. Teaching at NorthCreek Academy has been a blessing and, certainly the “cherry on top” of a too-short teaching career.
I’m not certain what the next season holds for me. I am certain that God will be faithful to present me with opportunities that will ignite my passion and fill my soul if I will let Him do the planning.
So, I will pray, and I will listen and, if I will seek His leading, I will find it because that is His promise – to walk with me through His plan for my life.
Now, that’s a Good Plan.
Written by Rich Silveira
Retired NCA Teacher