May 1, 2015
Online Journal - LIFT. ENCOURAGE. INSPIRE.
Cathy Domke, Principal, Fraser Valley Adventist Academy, Aldergrove, BC

I love walking the halls of my school.  I enjoy greeting the students each day and sharing laughs with them.  It gives me a positive charge when students, both younger and older, come up to me and give me a hug or a highâ€Âfive.  Being an educator brings me such joy.  I am constantly reminded of how blessed I have been by God and by the individuals who cared about my future and made a difference in my life. And that’s what drives me to keep going, to walk through the doors of FVAA with joyful anticipation each morning, and to stand before staff and students ready to share with them the blessings God has prepared for us.
 
Being a blessing to our young people is a huge responsibility.  It means more than just a few kind actions and a hand on the shoulder.  Blessing our young people requires lifting them up, encouraging them, and inspiring them to live a Godâ€Âfilled life.  It means continuously bringing them before God, and then letting Him direct us as to how we can make a difference in their lives.  This has been the focusâ€Âgoal of the teachers and staff at my school this year.  We have made it our purpose to lift, encourage, and inspire our students in as many ways as possible.  In her book Living Blessed, Ruthie Jacobson wrote, “When God places His blessing on something or someone He gifts them a part of Himself.  Some of Him rubs off on them.  He is no less, but they are much more.”  Our main purpose is to provide ways and opportunities for God to “rub off” on our young people, to bless and change lives so that they are much more.
 
LIFT.  Lifting others up means showing people that they are respected and valued.  It means bringing them before God as His chosen children.  It means not just saying that we will pray for someone, but actually doing it, right there and then.  Each day, at our daily staff worship, the FVAA staff spend time praying specifically for three chosen students, lifting them to God and focusing on their personal journeys.  When we go into our classrooms, teachers purposely plan ways to share positive interaction skills and strategies to help students lift each other up rather than the world’s way of pushing each other down.  Lifting is blessings in action.
 
ENCOURAGE.  Sometimes it is hard for us to accept help from others.  We need to remember that God wants to encourage and strengthen us, so He sends encouragers (family, friends, coworkers, and others) into our lives to help build us up.  We are to be encouragers for our students.  We need to show them how to deal with frustrations and stress, how to overcome obstacles both in life and in academics, and how to change challenges into growth opportunities.  As Christian educators, we need to encourage our students to seek goals and success that will take them on a life journey of excellence by seeking God’s face, His blessings, and His joy.  This school year, God has encouraged our FVAA family through such blessings as a higher enrollment, donations and gifts, amazing volunteers, and miracle answers to challenges before us.  It is always with great joy that we are able to share these blessings with our students, showing them that God is actively working at FVAA today, for them.
 
INSPIRE.  Many young people just want to blend in with the crowd around them and become invisible.  They don’t realize the exhilaration and wonder that comes from living bold and striving to follow God’s plan for them.  Inspiring our young people to see beyond the now, to look into the possibilities of the future, takes educators who are inspired to take risks and who will themselves boldly stand firm on their values and beliefs.  While the crowds around them are changing like the tides, we want our young people to be inspired to build personal relationships with God and then courageously walk tall for Him.  We desire our youth to become blessings to others, inspiring others around them to know our most loving and gracious God.
 
Being a Christian educator takes passion, determination, and a willingness to boldly live a life of being blessed.  It means becoming an extension of God’s hands through touching the lives of our students the way He touched us.  It means lifting, encouraging, and inspiring our students every day through prayer, relationships, and actions.
 
Reference:
 
Jacobsen, Ruthie and Karen Martell.  2013.  Living Blessed:  the mission statement of the born-again follower of Christ.  Hiawasse, GA: HighWalk Productions.