This week, the cabinets in the fourth grade classrooms are covered with mission models and Native American dwellings. Banners hang from the ceilings and marvelous works of art are attached to the cabinet doors. For someone walking into these rooms for the first time, everything would look fine – the same as any year.
BUT, as you know – it has been a year like none other and, because of this, we have worked to make it a year just like any other. Winnie the Pooh believed that, “when life throws you a rainy day, play in the puddles.” During this year full of unexpected storms, instead of just hunkering down and waiting for them to pass, we decided to play in the puddles!
Whether it is Grandparents’ Day or Veteran’s Day, we teachers hold fast to the traditions that are woven into our school – and our hearts. From the very beginning of the year, we worked with the mindset of not if we would do something, but rather how we would do it. Masks, social distancing, virtual learning, cohorts – within these constraints, teachers worked to give students the best experience possible.
So, this year in fourth grade, mission models have been constructed. Chocolate-chip cookies have been massacred in search of “gold.” Music has been learned. Stories have been told. Science experiments have succeeded (or not). Tortillas have been made and pill bugs have come to visit. In the other grades, I have watched younger students arrive in pajamas and bug costumes and seen the junior high students show-up in some pretty crazy outfits during Spirit Week. In the courtyard, epic hopscotch games have been drawn, while football and basketball have been played. There has been music from under the big tent and laughter in the playground.
Each day at lunch, we met in our classrooms to listen to the Mid-Day Message as Mr. Steele taught us about something interesting – cicadas, weed-pulling, kindness, construction equipment, government leaders, favorite authors and, of course – Friday jokes. And, through these messages, students heard about the majesty of God and the unchanging promise of His salvation. While we missed gathering together in the courtyard for prayer, in some ways these mid-day messages were sweeter – providing an opportunity for students and parents to hear from our principal, and to see his passion for teaching as he pointed us to Christ.
It can be easy to look at this year as one of missed opportunities and experiences. But in Colossians 3, Paul says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” This message is one that we teachers have been reminded of during our weekly devotions and one that we have tried to live-out in our classrooms. Keeping our hearts and minds on the certainty of things above, while the things of this world have been ever-changing and uncertain, has given us peace and a deeper understanding that God is good. Always.
So, as we begin our summer vacation with many things still unknown about next fall, we can cling to what we do know. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” (2 Corinthians 4:17.) This summer, while you are away, we hope and pray that you and your family are refreshed and renewed and, that you are able to set your mind on the things above.
Written by Julie Churchill, Director of Development and Fourth Grade Teaching Assistant