I’ve been a teacher for almost twenty years. It sounds like a long time when I read it aloud. I’ve spent my entire career at private religious schools, and most of those have a period of service every year, in which the students work at local churches and charities putting their faith into action. Well Christian Heritage School in Tyler has the same annual tradition.
As a classical Principle Approach school, CHS devotes its classroom hours to learning the history of its faith. We pour over literature, theological and philosophical texts. We study Scripture, History, Logic, Latin and the Sciences. We discuss, debate, read and write. But every year, right before observing spring break, our staff and students spend a week performing community outreach. But don’t be fooled by the verb perform, because these students are not merely fulfilling an academic requirement. Their hearts are genuinely in it and as a teacher it’s good to see.
This past week I observed teams of students composed of every grade, leaving the comforts of the classroom (along with the familiar scholastic responsibilities), and spending their days cleaning and repairing churches they don’t even attend. I saw Junior High and High School students jump into a dance with Alzheimer’s patients to country western music. I saw elementary kids delivering Meals on Wheels to the elderly. Some teams worked at the local food bank, others played music and visited with residents of the Salvation Army.
Not surprisingly, those ministering over outreach week ended up being ministered to the most. Of course, the dances would have gone on regardless of whether or not the kids sat them out. And meals would have delivered by someone. It just so happens that they were delivered by students who had the opportunity learn from and be blessed by the experience. And again, like anything else the students got out of it what they put into it. As a participant and an observer, I am confident that both the community and the students were made just a little better as a result.