CEA always begins with a time of praise and worship with fellow Christian Educators. What a blessing to join with over 1,000 teachers and administrators to lift our voices in singing and prayer. I remember the first time I attended CEA... walking into the auditorium and being awed by the number of people joined together by a common goal.. to teach the children of God. I remember being surprised to see many of my past teachers there.. they were still teachers! I remember reading the names of teachers who had been teaching for 25 years, 30 years, and even 35 years! Wow.. I could not imagine teaching for that long. Now, suddenly, that does not seem so far away. Our keynote speaker this year was Gary Schmidt, one of my professors at Calvin College. Hearing him speak brought me right back to college days. The days when I was so wise and had all the answers. I had my life planned out. Now, looking back, I see how God was always in control. It was not me, but Him. I am thankful that God is using me here and now to be a small part of something so much bigger.
Another highlight of my day was meeting a former student Lindsey from 20 years ago. I met Lindsey during a time in my life when I was definitely asking God the "why" questions and struggling to see God's plan for my life. I had graduated from college with my teaching degree and had been looking for a teaching position for 4 years. I had many interviews but the answer was always not here, not now. So I took a position as a third grade Paraprofessional at a Zeeland school. Lindsey was a student there. When I talked to Lindsey at CEA she said that she still remembered me and loved having me as her teacher. She remembered that I wore turtleneck sweaters with a little necklace that dangled out; that I always put the mail in the student's boxes; and that I nominated her for the PIT Team at school. (Playground Improvement Team) She still has the newsletter to prove it. It struck me how God used that time in my life to prepare me for my job at HCS. It also reminded me that although I may have taught some great math or reading lessons, that is not what Lindsey remembered. She remembered that I smiled at her and nominated her for something special. Now Lindsey is a third grade teacher at a local Christian School and is sharing her love for Christ with them. We don't know what little things we do will be remembered by others 20 years later. What will my students from this year remember? Probably not the writing lessons or reading strategies... hopefully they will remember that I loved them and made them feel special.
A third highlight was attending a session presented by our very own first and second grade teachers. They did an awesome job sharing some of the little things they do each day in their classroom to enrich the lives of their students. I was struck once again by what an awesome staff we have at HCS. I can do my job as a third grade teacher because they do their jobs so well. What a blessing to be a part of a team that works together.
So why here? Why now? I don't know.. I don't need to know.. I just need to take it one day at a time and be thankful for the many blessings that God gives me each day. I pray that God will use me here and now to be a blessing to my students and to help them discern who they are in Christ. I am excited to see how God will use them to make an impact in his kingdom.