April 1, 2013
Teachers Talk - Where do you belong?
Heidi Lehmann, Principal, Prairie Adventist Christian eSchool, Lacombe, Alberta

I think we all strive to be a part of something. We want to belong. Be recognized. Have a purpose.  Belonging makes us feel included, needed, and valued.  In my life time I have belonged to Rosthern Adventist Academy, Dartmouth Sportsplex, Sandy Lake Academy, Andrews University,  Sunnyside Nursing Home, Camp Whitesand, and Casas por Cristo, just to name a few. These “memberships,” so to speak, have helped form me and make me who I am today. My experiences in all these places changed me and challenged me.
 
The people in these places taught me to add and subtract, love The Count of Monte Cristo, teach swimming lessons, mop floors, and build houses. I can look back at my life and make a huge list of all the things I’ve learned to do, but the more important list would be the list of people who were part of these learning processes. We should purposely surround ourselves with people who make us better and help us grow. What we need is to be with people who care about each other.
 
Currently I “belong” to Prairie Adventist Christian eSchool (PACeS). One of our goals at PACeS is to create a community. We purposefully try to create a sense of belonging. Our staff and students are spread out across the country and while we do not “see” each other every day, we strive to use our online connection to foster that feeling of belonging.  We want to be a community that cares for each other and helps us all grow and learn.
 
Some of the things we are doing at PACeS to help create a sense of belonging and community are:
  • Assemblies each month – We use this time to worship and get to know each other better by featuring students each month. I love assemblies. I get to see pictures and hear about the ponds our students skate on, all of the cats on their farm, and special produce from their garden. By taking time to get to know each other we strengthen our community and have a greater understanding of each other.
  • Online Week of Prayer 2 times a year – I have really enjoyed introducing the speakers to our online world. Growing together spiritually bonds us collectively and unifies our purpose.
  • Online game days, class challenges and parent meetings – Each of these help to create our school community.
  • Special Events – Our students and teachers participate in mission, service, canoeing, camping and ski trips creating “real life” connections and friendships as well as lasting memories and life changing experiences.
If you “belong” to PACeS, we want to provide you with opportunities to grow learn and serve.  Challenged and changed.
 
Living a purposeful life means that you will think about what you are doing and what you belong to. If you belong to a hockey team, you’re a hockey player.  If you paint, you’re an artist. If you cut hair, you’re a hairdresser. What you do helps to define you.
 
 I strongly believe “you are what you do.”  As they say “actions speak louder than words.”
 
So what are you doing? What do you belong to? It matters.
 
“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15 (NIV)