I have been teaching at Newberg High School for 19 years. I primarily teach health classes to 14-16 year olds. I am amazed at the ways God has taught me in my 19 years of teaching high school. I generally have around 35 students in my classes. One of the biggest challenges is grappling with the diversity of life experience and perspective in the room. Some students have been exposed to substance abuse from an early age, some have been sexually active for years before they start high school. I have always seen my teaching as a ministry. When I began teaching, I thought my mission was to convert students into people who saw the world like me. I quickly found that this is not a sustainable way to live out love in the world. I learned over the first few years of my career that loving people in our community meant accepting them as they are, where they are—learning about their lives and their perspectives. My vision for ministry in the community quickly changed. I love being able to laugh with students, to learn and discuss challenging social topics and to give students the room they need to evaluate their lives on their terms. I assess learning in the classroom, and students receive a grade in my class, but the heart of what I do is much deeper than that. It is a struggle to balance caring about a student’s life and avoiding the impulse to control it along with their choices. I continue to walk that struggle daily.
One of my passions is seeing students become indignant about injustice in the world and to begin working to make our community a better place, locally or globally. When students realize that racism and sexism and other forms of discrimination are some of the biggest barriers to health, they begin to explore ways they can work to improve the lives of their families and people in their communities. I love to see the spark of love ignite in the lives of young minds. I love to see God working in the world. I struggle to let God be in control of the outcomes. I struggle to live out love in ways that are supportive and sustainable. God continues to transform me in this process, and it is good.