Fifty Ways #23 — Teachers Rock

What would be most effective in improving education in the Lone Star State? Increase teacher pay? Increase school funding? Reduce standardized tests? Yes. Not surprising responses to a recent poll by the Texas Tribune. Also among the top suggestions was Encourage teaching as a profession. The first half of Way #23 of the list of 50 Ways Your Church Can Bless Your Community Through Literacy. The second half? Honor teachers in your congregation. Logically when you do one, you do the other.

Teacher&kids

Picture this as a part of a pastor’s greeting or sermon in May or June: “A special thanks to all the teachers in the congregation. Another year invested in young lives. Would you please stand? You make a big difference in the lives of our children and youth. We appreciate you! And children and youth here today, you do well to consider teaching as a career choice. Think about following in the footsteps of teachers you admire.”

Or, in late August, show this lively video created by Preston Trail Community Church, to show appreciation and give teachers a boost before heading back to the classroom. (This is one of many inspiring examples of the 50 Ways included in the electronic version here on our website.)

Teachers

Consider teachers you admire. Many computer passwords are linked to security questions such as “Who was your favorite teacher?” Who was yours? Is it possible to drop a note or an e-mail today? And who are the teachers in your congregation? I can think of several in mine: active and retired. One recently retired educator in our congregation – Caroline Bell – is on the board of Literacy Connexus. She leads our church in affirming the teachers at the school we adopted. A monthly snack or other reminder that they are appreciated means so much.

Back to the future: today’s students. I’m happy to report that I know a couple of young men at my church who are preparing to become teachers. Something they observed inspired them to consider teaching as a profession.

Good job, teachers!

black square sig 201

 

Fifty Ways #33 — Thoughts for Flag Day

Right there on the 50 Ways list, she’s flying. On this Flag Day, 2014, George M. Cohan’s lyrics come to mind:

You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flyin’ flag
And forever in peace may you wave . . .

Fifty Ways Flag

Many will fly flags today. Consider this radical act of patriotism, too. It’s one of the 50 Ways Your Church Can Bless Your Community Through Literacy:

33. Encourage ethnic diversity in your church and awareness of the accompanying needs of non-English speakers and readers.

What’s the connection? In the midst of emotional rhetoric about immigration reform in Washington and elsewhere, Emma Lazarus’s poem fixed at the base of the Statue of Liberty reminds us of our heritage and opportunity.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

(The entire poem The New Colossus is worth reading; a poignant challenge for America at a crossroads politically and otherwise.)

statue of liberty

Here is an action plan for today and tomorrow . . . simple steps as a precursor to #33:

Compare the faces, the colors and the languages of those in line with you in commerce today (Walmart?) and those in the pew with you tomorrow. Disconnect or congruence?

For many around this hungry, war-torn globe, Old Glory still represents hope and opportunity. Symbolically, it is linked to the torch in New York harbor lifted by the “New Colossus.” Practically, it is as real only as the attitudes and actions of those who recite the Pledge and fly the flags. People have come to this country for many reasons. One thing is certain, how we respond to those who are different from us is a reflection of our sense of God’s working in the world. By encouraging ethnic diversity and awareness of needs in our congregations, we take beginning steps that can lead to ministry and authentic witness.

Watch for the newsletter next Wednesday to see how one congregation in Texas responded to unique needs in their community.

Meet you at the pole…

black square sig 201