Monthly Archives: April 2016

“What does a culture of honor look like?”

For some time now, SCS has focused much of its energy at creating a culture of honor. You can look for the fruit of such energy in the interactions our elementary and secondary students have in the hallways, classroom, and cafeteria. My personal definition for honor is giving attention and care to someone of esteemed worth. At SCS, we want to instill in each student that every person they come in contact with has intrinsic worth as they are created in the image of God. Furthermore, in Psalm 139:14 the Psalmist writes that he is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” There is enough of God’s handprint on each individual in our school, that they are to be shown honor in how we treat them when they are present (in our words/actions) and when they are absent (with personal integrity).

We also strive to teach our students how to honor their own bodies in how they take care of themselves and in remaining pure. That is the major reason for our upcoming chapel series on relationships in which our speakers and teachers will shed Godly light on some of the current teen struggles and how God’s Word has the answer for how to remain Christ-like in a sin-stained world. You can see these principles being tried out as students dive into hard topics in Bible class, finding the timeless truths still standing against the cultural grain. The ancient gentile converts had to learn the same lessons of righteousness as modern Americans.

We also want to teach our students how to relate to their authority figures in a healthy, God-honoring way. In a society that flouts God’s authority, we want our students to act upon the truth that God is All-powerful, holy, and loves them. In a teen culture that dismisses parental input, we want to show them how to find wisdom from those that have “been there, done that.” At SCS, our students know that they can come to teachers for advice, and more often than not, you’ll hear – what does the Bible say about this? At SCS, the Bible has the first and last word as the staff strive to cultivate a culture of biblical honor. Thanks be to God who performs for us all our work!

Max and Faye

What’s the difference between Max and Faye?

They’re both extremely intelligent and energetic and they both love to chase things.

Faye is a border collie, and her master is an accomplished trainer. Max is a mini-schnauzer, and his master is a well-meaning dog owner. Faye’s master is committed to training her, and spends hours working with her in the yard. Max’s master wishes Max would listen to him whenever he calls, and gets frustrated when Max acts like nothing else exists beyond the squirrel he has treed in the backyard.

Max is actually an exceptionally good dog. When everything is going well (read: no squirrels are in the backyard), Max is the ideal dog. He listens when his master calls, he doesn’t chew anything in the house, and he loves people. But if a squirrel enters his domain, forget about controlling him; his natural inclination is to chase anything that has four legs and a bushy tail. Because he hasn’t been trained well in this regard, he gives full vent to that inclination, even to his own harm, like the time when he was running so recklessly across the backyard in pursuit of a squirrel that he plowed into an oak tree, leaving him limping and whimpering for days.

Faye is also an exceptional dog. The difference between her and Max, though, is that Faye has been trained to listen to her master, even when things are not going well. Faye’s natural inclination is to chase and corral anything that moves. However, with years of unseen training, she’s learned to listen to her master and not chase things like cars, which would not be very good for her.

In thinking about Max and Faye, I’m reminded of our need to be trained well by our Master, so that we don’t hurl ourselves into destructive behavior like envy, gossip, or lust.

God’s training comes largely in the form of the spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are the simple acts of obedience we as Christians can do, which, when practiced consistently, open us to the transforming power of God’s grace. They are largely done in secret, away from the “main stage” of life. Jesus practiced the spiritual disciplines (prayer, Scripture memorization, fasting, solitude, etc.), and as a result, He had the power to live a grace-filled life, even when “the pressure was on.”

Wishful thinking won’t position us to live a Christlike life; it takes hard work and discipline, behind the scenes. Strength to overcome our most deeply ingrained habits and inclinations comes as we obey in the “little” matters of consistent time in prayer and reading the Bible, in practicing solitude and study. As a Christian practices these disciplines, the grace to obey in the bigger issues is provided as well.

As Solomon demonstrated in Proverbs, there’s much wisdom to be gained by observing the animal kingdom. A contemporary version of Solomon’s words might read, “Consider Faye and Max… how one obeys her master and one does not. A dog’s obedience is not forged in the moment, but comes as the fruit of long and diligent training.”

“Help! My high school student is struggling!”

“Help! My high school student is struggling in ____________.” As a teacher for many years, and now as a principal, I’ve had many conversations with parents that reflect this sentiment. Parents really want to help their children succeed in school, but many times, they’re at a loss to know how.

Throughout my experience, I’ve seen that some common strategies for supporting students at home can make a significant difference in their academic performance. Here’s what I’ve found really helps:

  1. Establish routines. All students thrive in a predictable environment. When students know what to expect in class, they are able to focus on what they are learning, rather than figuring out what is going to happen next. This translates to the home as well. Establish a homework routine and keep to it. A sample routine might be to come home, have a snack, and then begin homework or studying. Having a set routine minimizes the stress of figuring out what to do and when to do it.
  2. Foster a distraction-free environment. When students are studying or doing homework, help them focus by removing the distractions from their environment. This would include the TV, cellphone, tablets, and other even other conversations. If your student works at the kitchen table, talk with other people in another room. Be considerate of your children as they seek to focus on their homework.
  3. Engage your student’s learning. Ask your student, “What did you learn today?” When he or she answers, “Nothing,” push a little harder or focus the question. Ask, “What did you do in Biology today?” Engaging your student in this way will serve two purposes. First, it will help to establish that what they are learning is important, since you are talking about it. Second, in order to summarize a lesson, a student has to understand it. By talking about it with you, your student will have to process and review the lesson in his or her mind, which leads to better learning.
  4. Manage conflict well. If conflict occurs between your child and a teacher, or you and a teacher, don’t engage it in front of your student. Support the learning process with your student and speak with the teacher in private. Just as it is important for children to see their parents as a united front, it is also important for students to see the parent/teacher relationship as a united front. Make phone calls, write emails, have meetings– whatever you need to resolve the issues– but stay united in front of your child.
  5. Keep grades in perspective. Finally, remember, it’s only a grade. In our culture today, we tend to get so focused on the number that we lose sight of the actual goal– learning. We don’t send our children to school to get an “A”; we send them to learn. A grade is simply one measurement of what has been learned and what still needs work. Focus on the learning. Use tests, quizzes, and homework grades to help direct your student’s studying. If your student is doing their absolute best and is getting a 75, then be happy and encourage them. If your student is getting a 95 and isn’t working that hard, then push them to grow more, even if they already have an “A”.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Each is simple, but can yield positive results. We still have some time left in the school year. Give them a try!