This week Fellowship Baptist Academy opened its’ doors for another year of training young people. As the pastor, I am so thankful for the people whom God has sent us to work with our students. I believe that He has given us some of His most choice servants for this task.
Each year, new teachers join our teaching staff here at FBA. My heart always goes out to these young men and young ladies who have placed so much trust in our ministry by relocating here to serve. It is always our hope that these teachers will choose to serve with us for many years, but even those with long tenure had to start.
I was recently speaking with a pastor about the joy of longevity on a school staff. His response was, “Longevity can be good or it can be bad.” His comment turned my attention to first year teachers, the challenges they face and the potential they possess. I penned the following thoughts about first year teachers.
I’m a First Year Teacher
I hope that you will pray for me. Right now, my life is just a little bit overwhelming. I have recently gone through more transitions than I have at any other time in my life. Just a few months ago I graduated from college and went home to spend my last college summer with my family. The last several weeks have involved trying to make memories with those I love the most before I relocate to spend all of my time with people I’ve never met before. It’s a bit unnerving.
Right now, I hope I never have to look at a heavy-duty plastic tub again! I’ve spent the past three months putting all of my belongings into one of those things, and just in the past few days, I’ve emptied them all out, placing my stuff in my new home. Don’t feel sorry for me. It’s not like I have a lot of stuff. Remember, I’m just getting started.
Then, there is Teacher Orientation. I’ve never tried to absorb so much information in such a short period of time in my life! I’m learning the procedures and policies of my new school, while trying to understand the hearts of those who lead me. You see, my desire is not to be just a good employee; I want to be an extension of my pastor’s ministry in my classroom. I’m trying to observe those who have much more experience than I have. Sometimes, it’s a bit intimidating. Sitting in meetings with people who have taught five, ten or twenty years can make me feel so inadequate. I hope that someday I will be able to boast of that kind of tenure, but right now, I bear the title of first year teacher.
In the past, when I have gone through these types of unsettling experiences, church has been my refuge. Don’t get me wrong, it still is. However, I’m in a new church. I like it, but it’s not exactly what I’m used to. While trying to find strength from the pastor’s sermon, I’m trying to remember the names of that couple that I just met during the handshaking time a few moments ago.
On top of all of that, I’m learning a new community. Where is the post office, the library and the most affordable grocery store near my home? Which areas of town do I need to avoid? Where do I choose to bank? If I am under the weather, which doctor’s office do I call? It seems like my life is one big question mark right now.
Just when I begin to question whether or not I made the right decision in coming here, everything changes. It’s opening day at our school. Today, I realized my dream! I walked into a room of children whom I had envisioned long before I ever met them. I looked into their eyes and saw their potential. It was instantaneous. God gave me a love for these kids that I never thought I could have. No matter how long I teach, these kids will always hold a special place in my heart because they will always be my first class.
As a parent, you probably raised your eyebrows when you found out that I was your child’s teacher. I can understand that. I don’t have a track record. All you know about me is what you heard from our pastor, and all he knows about me is what he read on my resume or learned from one of my references. If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you just a little bit about myself.
Teaching your child is something that I’ve dreamed about since I surrendered my life to the Lord as a young person. It’s why I left my parents and moved into a college dormitory four years ago. It’s why I worked long hours to help pay my school bill; studying into the wee hours of the morning so that I would be ready for this task that God has placed before me, teaching your child. It’s why I spent holidays away from my family, and if my birthdays were even celebrated, the celebrations were with a few college roommates who couldn’t afford a cake or decorations. I am so excited that I can hardly go to sleep at night, even though I’m exhausted from the events of the past few months. Maybe when I’ve gotten a few years under my belt, I won’t be so nervous. I’ve noticed that some of my coworkers seem much more calm. Obviously they’ve been there and done that. Right now, all I can think about is that teaching your child is the biggest job and the greatest privilege in the world!
I cannot rely upon my experience, so I must rely upon my Lord. I’ve never prayed so much in my life! Maybe when I’ve taught several years, I won’t feel so dependent upon Him, but right now, He is my hope, my refuge and my strength. I refuse to walk into the classroom to teach your child without Him and trust that I will always feel this way.
Obviously I’m not married, and I have no children of my own. Although I’m hoping that one day, the Lord will bring someone into my life, right now your child is my family. Some of the other teachers have husbands or wives and children to care for, but at least for now, I can pour most of my time and attention into my students.
I’m sure I’ll make mistakes. I want to thank you in advance for being gracious towards me. Please know that my lack of experience doesn’t mean that I lack enthusiasm, passion or desire. Neither do I lack qualification. I have worked hard to prepare for this particular moment in my life, and my preparation does give me a bit of confidence. I am here because I believe God led me here. I believe that same God placed your child in my classroom. I also believe that same God will enable me to be the teacher that your child needs. I covet your prayers.