I do not look back on my high school career with fondness because it was a great and joyful experience (although it mostly was). In fact, my high school years were filled with the same pain and frustration that fill many of our teenage years. Instead, I find myself looking back on my high school career with great admiration because my high school did school well. I find myself reaching back into my teenage school years and pulling out ideas to implement into my own high school classroom. Teachers, administration and staff of Northern Dutchess Christian School, you completed an excellent work in me, and I know this because when I think about my current school, NDCS is always in the forefront of my mind.

When teachers at my school get together and talk about dress code for our students, I think about my own dress code and the benefits that it brought to our school community. I think about how it forced us to learn respect for ourselves and the way we look at school. It got us ready to learn by teaching us to care about ourselves and therefore our education. I believe in teaching students how to respect themselves because someone taught me how to respect myself.

Then, when I look around my classroom, I find weekly quotes, monthly calendars, and educational experiences built into my English curriculum because that’s how I was taught to learn and love English. I also find myself recommending books to kids or giving them my own personal copy of a great book because I so badly want them to love reading just as I love reading. I want to teach my students to love learning because someone taught me how to love learning.

I also will find myself plotting and planning field trips all the time. My high school years were marked by field trips. I remember each year clearly because of the trips we took and the memories we made. I do not care that it takes time and energy to plan a trip (more than I ever thought!) I care that my students will see and experience things that will shape their world and their memories and make them better students. I find myself longing to show my students the world because someone took the time to show me the world.

I recently decided that I needed to duplicate our Spruce Lake retreat for a small group of my NHS students. When I think back to the lessons I learned, the relationships I built, and the experiences I had at one weekend of Spruce Lake, I know I NEED to do this for my students. They need to grow in fellowship, in community, and in fondness for one another. Spruce Lake was not only educationally focused, physically challenging, and mentally stimulating, but it was a unique experience that taught me the value of creating community among students. I want to give my students the opportunity to create and value community because someone took the time to give me the opportunity to experience community.

Were all these experiences always great? No, but the principles remain despite the fact that high school students were just that, in high school, and were subject to moments of stupidity. My students will also suffer from those moments, but perhaps they will value their high school experience as much as I valued mine. I do have one benefit over them, though. My teachers were able tie all these experiences directly to Christ, and I have to bring them Christ discretely. Oh well, as long as they get Christ in the end.

Thank you, Northern Dutchess Christian School for doing school well enough to inspire me to teach and to give me the tools and ideas to make my students’ experiences as meaningful as my own.

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