By Patty Long, Ed.D.
What a privilege it is to contribute to the inaugural issue of The V.O.I.C.E. (Vision, Opportunity and Inquiry in Christ-centered Education). No doubt much thought and consideration have gone into planning for this exciting publication which will serve to communicate many voices in support of education from preschool through higher education.
Let me encourage you to remember a time when there was a voice you heard or whose message you read that was particularly timely and impactful. Be reminded of how appreciative you were of others who were willing to share what they had learned and experienced which then had a positive influence on the decisions you made.
Perhaps in particular you remember the voices that shared with you the good news of Jesus Christ and encouraged you to place your faith in him. Do you recall the voices which prompted you to consider the tremendous opportunities a call to teaching might afford? And all along the way, it is likely there have been many voices helping to shape your understanding concerning the very best instructional practices for the most effective learning.
One of the voices I have listened to over the years has come from my sister, an elementary school teacher in Newport News, Virginia. She has spent more than 25 years at the same grade level, fourth, in the same school. The school has a very diverse student body and my sister has developed a reputation as a teacher full of hope and equipped to reach some of the seemingly “unreachable.” Not all teachers have been as eager to face the challenges in this fourth grade, since in Virginia, high stakes testing comes at the end of that school term. Yet my sister has enthusiastically accepted the assignment, year after year. She has felt called by God to these children and has had a vision for achievement that included every student. They have regularly performed beyond expectations, and how they have loved Mrs. Sadler!
While a teacher educator, I observed my sister’s classroom and often asked about her students and teaching experiences. She gladly shared. On one occasion, she told me of ways in which she attended to the emotional needs of students whose parents were being deployed overseas for military duty; mindful of the impact such separation could have on learning. It was my sister’s voice I often heard while encouraging teacher candidates to love and care deeply for their students, with the belief that all can learn.
Be confident, you have a voice to share! You also have the wonderful privilege of learning from others, particularly those who have experiences and backgrounds different from your own. This online journal will be a tremendous resource for many and no doubt supply encouragement and help to those facing important questions about education today. Above all else, I pray our voices give honor to the Lord Jesus Christ, who calls and equips us to do this good work.