Over the past month I have been involved in three teacher conventions – Heartland, Midwest CEA, and OCSTA in Ontario. What a great privilege this has been to connect with so many committed teachers and administrators in times of worship and learning together. Highlights include singing together in Dordt College’s beautiful chapel, connecting with so many friends from various stops along my journey, being inspired by Tony Campolo as he delivered a “greatest hits” message about being passionate Christians, seeing teachers in all three places being honored for 25 and 35 years of service (wow- so many years of dedication and so many who have done it!) and hearing speakers like James Schaap and Gideon Strauss who brought the need for reverence of God and his creation to light in fresh ways. Standing up in front of the Midwest CEA and singing “Praise to the Lord the Almighty” held special meaning – I could barely look at my wife while singing this song that was sung at our wedding and holds a special place in our hearts.
If you are a board member or administrator let me emphasize to you how much these times of worship, fellowship and learning together mean to teachers – please do not underestimate how the intangible aspects of this experience of community can inspire teachers who spend much of their time alone in their work. The community that happens at these conventions does much to encourage the hearts of those who encourage the hearts and minds of our students. Hats off to Anne Maatman, Brenda VanderPloeg, Diane Stronks, their committees of helpers, and to all presenters who helped to pull these large and important events off.