When you open up your social media pages this time of year, you will find “First Day of School” pictures filling up the feeds. Whether your children are enrolled in a public or private school, homeschooled or beyond the school age, you can’t escape the nostalgic buzz that surrounds this time of year. The school zone signs begin flashing, reminding us to slow down and be aware. Every commercial on TV seems to be advertising back to school sales. The football boys are back on the field, enduring the heat, to get ready for the excitement that the Friday night lights will bring. With all of the signs of school starting all around you, have you given any thought to how education affects you, your children, or your grandchildren? Have you considered that the future of our nation is sitting in the classrooms of today?
My love for education began in elementary school. It was my third grade year, and I had no idea that I would encounter a teacher that would change my life forever. Her name was Mrs. Trower. She was a short lady with curly hair and a contagious smile. I was a timid eight year old without much awareness or belief in myself. It wasn’t one single thing that Mrs. Trower did, but a whole year of building up and encouraging that changed my life forever. As a result of Mrs. Trower’s love and affirmation, she took me from being a mediocre student to a top performer in the class. Most importantly, Mrs. Trower’s example led me to my calling: education. From that day on, I never wanted to do anything but become a teacher. Most of us have at least one teacher that fondly sticks in our memory. Chances are that teacher saw things in each of us that we couldn’t see in ourselves.
I recently read of a movement among some Christians to pull away from public schools. On the one hand, I fully believe that parents know what setting is best for their own children to receive an education. On the other hand, I wholeheartedly believe that we need more Christians in the field of education than ever before. The students rolling into classrooms this fall are a reflection of our world. You only have to watch the news for a few seconds to discover that this nation we live in is hurting and broken. Needless to say, the students we teach today need the influence of godly teachers more than ever. A poll conducted by the Barna Group, revealed that nearly half of the nation’s public school teachers are practicing Christians. So, why are we not seeing the dividends of Christian influence in public schools? Are our Christian educators taking Jesus with them into the classroom or leaving him at the school door? After visiting with many educators it is clear that they are afraid of litigious consequences for making their faith too visible. In other words, they are fearful and not fully living out their calling.
Unlike many professions, the rewards of teaching are long-term. It may take decades for teachers to see the fruits of their labor. That is why teachers need our encouragement today! Organizations like Christian Educators Association International are rising to the challenge. Within the past two years, they have started a movement called LIFT America. LIFT stands for Lasting Impact Fellowship for Teachers (https://ceai.org/lift-america/). The goal of LIFT America is for teachers to form support groups within their school and communities to remind them that their greatest source of strength as they walk into the classroom is the Lord. Through LIFT America, our teachers also learn about the legal guidelines and boundaries for Christian educators in public schools. When our teachers know their rights and boundaries, they can teach without fear. We want our teachers to be empowered and ready to meet the challenges of the classroom. We want teachers who have the strength and determination to make connections with their students and see them through the lens of who our Lord has created them to become. What hidden gems lie beneath the surface just waiting to be exposed? Teachers hold the tools to reveal gifts and empower students to live to their full potential.
It cannot be denied that the students sitting in the seats of our public schools will become the future leaders, parents, and policy makers of tomorrow. Being passive about the education system in our communities is no longer an option. We, as a nation, have too much at stake. If our parents, churches, and communities pray for and encourage our teachers to fully live out their calling, our schools will change. In fact, our state and nation will change. The key to revival in this nation begins with Christian educators. When educators make Christ a living reality in their classrooms hearts and lives will be changed. Wake up Christians, our schools need your prayers and support. Attend a school board meeting, serve on a committee, and find a teacher or better yet an entire campus to daily lift in prayer. Together let’s start a movement that will affect our children, grandchildren and this nation. Together let’s LIFT our teachers!