Heart of the Christian Education Teacher
Heart of the Christian Education Teacher

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The Heart of the Christian Education Teacher: Guiding Children in Knowledge & Faith

Story by Barb Maher
Photos courtesy of Calvary Chapel Honolulu

“You are my hiding place … Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Psalm 32:7a, 56:3

“Mrs. Johnson, what are we going to do?” asked the children sitting in Tammy Johnson’s 3rd and 4th grade classroom. Tammy later recounted, “I knew they were afraid when COVID-19 began back in early March. I started talking to them and pouring into them my experiences with God, helping them to understand the way God is in control of the events in our lives.”

Children relax and have fun with chalk during recess.

Children relax and have fun with chalk during recess at Calvary Chapel Christian School of Honolulu.

Tammy reminded her students about 2 Timothy 1:7: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. She asked them to try to recall a time in their lives when the sun did not rise. Through her passionate encouragement, Tammy’s students were able to affirm in their lives the significance of God’s sovereignty and protection. She remembered, “That really calmed them down, and I was able to see once again the impact of speaking biblical truth into their hearts.”

Tammy is a Christian educator working at Calvary Chapel Christian School (CCCS), a ministry of Calvary Chapel Honolulu in Hawaii. Ed Arcalas is both an assistant pastor of Calvary Chapel Honolulu and the school administrator. He described some of the issues facing the teaching staff, parents, and children of CCCS under the guidelines and restrictions developed by the Hawaii Department of Education in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. CCCS of Honolulu plan to open to in-person classes in early September, based on governmental guidelines.

Second graders practice their writing during a class.

Second graders practice their writing during a class.

Adapting to the Times

Ed explained, “We ended in-class learning and shifted to virtual online classes in late March. I told our teachers they needed to expect to be ready to implement a distance-learning program in four days. We sent the students home for the remainder of the school year on a Thursday and welcomed them to the on-line classrooms by the following Monday. Teachers created their [own] online classes, with the aim of bringing about a peaceful transition to online learning.” The school implemented a Google Classroom check-in system.

Kindergarten students enjoy dressing in “the Armor of God,” from Ephesians 6.

Kindergarten students enjoy dressing in “the Armor of God,” from Ephesians 6.

He continued, “Our greatest priority has been to remain effective as Christian educators, helping our students and their families hold fast to their spiritual foundation in Christ, and [helping them] achieve their academic goals. My heart in all of this has been to [ensure] that students continue to receive a quality Christian education.”

Grounded in the Truth

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17

Spiritual growth is a top priority for the teaching staff, who believe that quality education begins with, and is sustained by, biblical truth. Celestine Gadingan teaches secondary math and science at CCCS. With 40-45 students in her classes each day, Celestine found that switching to virtual classes gave her an opportunity through her Google classroom posts to show her students that they could continue to share close fellowship. “Students, especially my high school students, can get just as discouraged by things occurring in the world. Many people assume kids only care about their video games, social media, etc. But I’ve found that they need encouragement,” Celestine reflected.

Her students told her that they felt that her online teaching was personal. “They could hear my voice and see my facial expressions and my hand motions in the way I wrote. I found that my students wanted online classes to feel as close [as possible] to being in class together, so I tried to put as much of my personality into the classroom posts as I could..”

A high school student assists elementary students in making craft pretzels, symbols of the Trinity.

A high school student assists elementary students in making craft pretzels, symbols of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

Celestine’s Sample Online Post to her students on May 1, 2020:

My devotion[al] last night was so good. I needed to share it with you.

I read over Romans 4:20-21 which says, “No unbelief made him (Abraham) waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.”

I parked on a few things:

1. He did not waver. He didn’t sometimes believe in the promises of God. He didn’t sometimes doubt. He did NOT WAVER at all!
2. “But”, or instead of wavering, his faith grew stronger!
3. How did his faith grow? By giving glory to God.
4. I want my faith to grow, so…do I consistently give glory to God?
5. He was FULLY CONVINCED. You could not bring any doubt to that man’s faith…is there anything that makes me doubt God’s promises?

Class Comments?

 

Second grade students discuss their history lesson.

Second grade students discuss their history lesson.

Leaning into Jesus

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Kindergarten teacher Kara O’Neil has had to re-evaluate her priorities throughout the pandemic. “I have looked inward at my thought and prayer life, and recognized that as the pandemic has tested my faith, it has made me lean into Jesus more and trust that He indeed is in control.” Kara believes that she has learned to embrace the issues surrounding the pandemic as opportunities to praise God for her life, her family, and her ministry to children. She exclaimed, “God’s love and joy cannot be quarantined! What a time to be alive!”

Elementary students work on their assignments at recess.

Elementary students work on their assignments at recess.

Kara is mindful of the account in the Book of Esther and through it has been exhorted to simply walk with God throughout the challenges. “I want to be found faithful and continuously choose facts over fear, realizing that the world will eventually fade away—but God’s Word remains alive and active. The most encouraging [action] I can show my students is to pray with them, and over them, for the things that are happening in their lives. Knowing that each child needs encouragement in their own way is a part of being called to teach.”

Maria Martin, a 2nd grade teacher at CCCS, believes it is her duty to show her students that the Lord is real and moving, full of love and grace. “I plan to create a bulletin board centered on the promises of God with my students. Every week we will look at a passage of Scripture, and my students will learn how to identify and apply the promises of God in their lives. My prayer is that each student will store up these promises in their hearts so that when difficult times come—such as a pandemic—they can remember the truth of His promises and be encouraged.”

Two kindergarten students at Calvary Chapel Christian School of Honolulu hold paper signs.

Two kindergarten students at Calvary Chapel Christian School of Honolulu hold paper signs they’ve written, expressing what Christ and His Word represent.

Casting Out Fear

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear." 1 John 4:18a

Pastor Ed Arcalas has resolved to address the specific—and continuing—fears of parents, children, and school staff. “Perfect peace is found in Jesus Christ. If we allow our minds to wander into doubt and fear, then we will find ourselves in a place where we are not trusting in the Lord. We need to be … walking by the [Holy] Spirit and not in the flesh.”

With a heart to share the Good News, Ed noted, “The Word of God is coming to pass. I think that today’s circumstances position us, as Christian educators, to get the message out to our students and parents that now is not a time to be passive about our faith … but to be sober-minded and serious.” He added, “The ultimate encouragement of Christian teachers is to witness the ways in which the Lord changes hearts and minds. The fruit of Christian education is witnessed after the kids leave our school. … We watch them hold fast to the Lord and see His continued presence in their lives.”

cccsofhonolulu.org

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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