In the book, Art and Faith: A Theology of Making, Makoto Fujimura writes, “God is not just restoring us to Eden; God is creating through us a garden, an abundant city of God’s Kingdom. What we build, design, and depicted on this side of eternity matters, because in some mysterious way, those creations will become part of the future city of God” (12). The teachers at South Christian this past school year have been cultivating a garden for the “future city of God” through each deep hope. A teacher’s deep hope is their strongest desire for each student. A deep hope goes beyond a student’s performance on a test or a class’ cumulative GPA. A teacher’s deep hope, to borrow Fujimura’s phrase, is “What [teachers] build, design, and depict on this side of eternity [that] matters…” For each student to discover, practice, and live their highest calling is, in essence, each teacher’s deep hope.
In the midst of a challenging school year, teachers rely on their deep hopes to be able to focus on what matters. While each teacher works tirelessly to bring meaningful and engaging learning in the classroom, the following teachers share how they have seen their deep hopes flourish.
In Mrs. Wierenga’s College English class, her deep hope for her students is, “As we learn to express in words our unique insights into God’s amazing world, may we delight, create, and even struggle together.” In the class, the students reflect on the power words have and how the students, through researching and reflecting, may build up or dismantle the power words convey. One student wrote an essay on the power of grief and loss in order to share with her loved ones who are stuck in the grasp of grief. Another student reflected on the word justice to focus on the power of the word, especially in an unjust world. A student wrote on the meaning of the word awe that prompted the student to reflect on personal testimony. The students in Mrs. Wierenga’s course wrestled, struggled, and delighted with words – words that ultimately gave power to the students to see God’s amazing world through a richer vocabulary.
In Mr. Copeland’s class, his deep hope for his students is “to realize their spiritual, physical and mental strengths and weaknesses while formulating their own plans for action in God’s kingdom.” Through his Strength and Conditioning class, Mr. Copeland witnessed students grow in their self-confidence and compassion for others. The students honed more than physical skills in the course; they grew as a community that actively sought out how to help each other thrive.
Community is a strong component in Mrs. Alderink’s class. Her deep hope for her students is to “Deeply desire unity among all Christians and seek it with love and humility.” In Mrs. Alderink’s Foods class, her students mix unity with love by baking treats for teachers, administrators, and families that need extra care during this difficult year. Mrs. Alderink showcases to her students how preparing and giving wholesome food can be a ministry.
Mrs. Wesseldyk pours her personal ministry into her Advanced Algebra II class. Her deep hope “is that we create a community that welcomes all people to experience both the joy and blessing of belonging.” Mrs. Wesseldyke invites her students to do what she does: listen for opportunities to serve. The students pause, listen and do an intentional act of kindness to a friend, a parent, or a grandparent that may need a bit of joy or blessing. The students practiced a habit that Mrs. Wesseldyke practices, reminding all that listening for opportunities to serve create a community that blesses each member.
Mr. Walstra integrates the new opportunity of the solar panels on South’s property. His deep hope for his students is “Together, we can investigate the creation and give praise to the creator.” Mr. Walstra’s Physical Science students wrestle with understanding the impact and power of electricity: as a force, as a utility, and the effect it has on the environment. By investigating the monthly cost through family utility bills, Mr. Walstra helps the students understand the benefits and lasting effects of electricity and solar power. With the solar panels on South’s property, Mr. Walstra’s students can witness the stewardly value, both environmental and financial, it has for South Christian.
The teachers at South Christian witness their deep hopes come alive in their students. The meaningful instruction and student work cultivate a beautiful garden that is deeply rooted in faith, service, and purpose. South Christian teachers empower students to grow not only to be a Christian influence on culture but also to be Christ-centered caretakers for each member of their community. Through each course, both students and teachers know that there is an immeasurable value in what they do. “What we build, design, and depict on this side of eternity matters, because in some mysterious way, those creations will become part of the future city of God” (12).Fujimura, Makoto. Art and Faith: A Theology of Making. Yale University Press, 2020, p. 12.