Planning Our Return-to-School
As Indiana continues to move forward on its five-part reopening plan, we are excited about developing our return to school plans. While life on campus may feel differently next year with increased health and safety procedures and other appropriate operational changes, we desire to reopen this August safely.
I am so proud of how our teachers, staff, and administrators have stepped up to deliver effective education during this challenging time. However, we lose something beautiful and irreplaceable when we are not in the classroom.
To adequately plan for a safe return, we have launched a Return-to-School Task Force of 15 parents and seven members of the Leadership Team. These parents were selected from over 60 volunteers and they represent all ages of our school children. This team is equipped with many professional skills to include medicine, strategic planning, and military planning. This task force will be developing a recommendation to be presented to the administration and School Board as consideration for final preparation to reopen in August safely. To broaden our perspective, I am also involved in a strategy group with leaders of central Indiana Christian Schools. It is important to note that, according to the Governor and Indiana Department of Education, guidance for schools is not planned on being communicated until June 30th. So, our plan is designed to be flexible and adaptive. We hope to present a plan in late June or early July to our school families.
Despite the current challenge, we are working hard to maintain the positive momentum that we have experienced in the last two years. An essential component of our success is the ongoing value that our community places on the Christian education provided at TPCS.
What about questions you may have? Questions about finances and how the next school year may look? First, I hope that this communication has underscored for you our desire to return to face-to-face learning. While I cannot make any specific guarantees at this point, I can tell you that we do not want to continue with distance learning as a fulltime learning model. If we do need to return to a short-term distance learning model, we will take what we have learned from this experience and make our delivery even better next year. We are also looking at many alternatives, including a hybrid model and a modified calendar, among many other options. We will be communicating our plan in late June or early July.
Second, if you are experiencing financial or other uncertainty, I urge you to contact our Finance Office. Our Finance Office will work with you to explore options and try to find an appropriate solution. If you want your student to have a quality Christ-centered education, we want to work with you to make that happen.
Lastly, as we prepare for whatever next school year holds, I am confident in our ability to provide ongoing excellence in Christian education. Now more than ever, I am convinced that our Christ-focused education is needed. It is our priority. I trust that it is yours as well.
TPCS has weathered many storms. I invite you to STAND STRONG with us as we overcome this current challenge and build an even better and stronger TPCS.
Parenting is Hard
There are many tough choices to be made by parents regularly. During this challenging time, there are even more tough choices. So how does a caring, conscientious, community-minded parent navigate the many decisions necessary to raise children to maximize their God-given potential? Books have been written on this subject so I won't try to start one now. But clearly, the most important book on the subject is the Bible. I want to share a couple of thoughts from my recent Bible reading.
Social distancing – let's not do that. Physical distancing may be helpful but not social distancing. Hebrews chapter 10 talks about believers gathering together. While I am not addressing how I feel abut churches gathering together in buildings, I want to point out the value of humans interacting with each other in a beneficial manner. Note this passage and especially verse 25. We are to gather together (while maintaining a healthy physical distance) and encourage one another to hold on to the hope we profess, remain firm in our faith, and encourage one another to good deeds. What are you doing to model this to your kids? What are you teaching them about your hope and faith? How should your social distancing look in light of God's Word?
Heb 10:19-25 19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Who is sharpening your child's ax? In 1 Samuel 13:19-20, there is a story in which the children of Israel find themselves in captivity by the Philistines. The Philistines have made a strategic decision that to keep the Israelites captive, they needed to control their access to weapons. So, the Philistines did not allow the Israelites to have any blacksmiths from their own people. Therefore, they could control the manufacture of weapons.
19 There was no blacksmith throughout all Israel, for the Philistines said, 'Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords.' 20 But every Israelite went to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his ax, or his sickle.
I see how this story can be a parable of state education today. As you think about what you will do for your child's schooling next year, think about who is sharpening their ax and what limitations will be placed on the tools they are equipped with.
As you face the tough choices of parenting, let this adverse time weed out what's wrong, and clarify what's important. Let this adversity catalyze wise decisions to improve conditions. Parenting is hard, and it requires people to see the big picture, think long term, and take the high road.
Life doesn't get better by chance but by choices. - Jim Rohn
Life rewards action – John Maxwell
Happy Mother's Day
I want to wish all our mothers a very happy Mother's Day weekend. I am most blessed among men to have a mother like I do and to have a wife who is a model of a Proverbs 31 woman. So, on this Mother's Day, I hope that each of you receives the honor that you are due. I pray that the passage below is true for you and your family.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass the"
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
An old church friend shared this post on FB. It's relevant for every person in a different way.
Me: Hey, God.
Me: I'm falling apart. Can you put me back together?
God: I would rather not.
God: Because you aren't a puzzle.
Me: What about all of the pieces of my life that are falling down onto the ground?
God: Let them stay there for a while. They fell off for a reason. Take some time and decide if you need any of those pieces back.
Me: You don't understand! I'm breaking down!
God: No - you don't understand. You are breaking through. What you are feeling are just growing pains. You are shedding the things in your life that are holding you back. You aren't falling apart. You are falling into place. Relax. Take some deep breaths and allow those things you don't need anymore to fall off of you. Quit holding onto the pieces that don't fit you anymore. Let them fall off. Let them go.
Me: Once I start doing that, what will be left of me?
God: Only the very best pieces of you.
Me: I'm scared of changing.
God: I keep telling you - YOU AREN'T CHANGING!! YOU ARE BECOMING!
Me: Becoming who?
God: Becoming who I created you to be! A person of light and love and charity and hope and courage and joy and mercy and grace and compassion. I made you for more than the shallow pieces you have decided to adorn yourself with that you cling to with such greed and fear. Let those things fall off of you. I love you! Don't change! ... Become! Become! Become who I made you to be. I'm going to keep telling you this until you remember it.
Me: There goes another piece.
God: Yep. Let it be.
Me: So ... I'm not broken?
God: Of course, Not! - but you are breaking like the dawn. It's a new day. Become!!!
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” - Jim Elliot
When our world faces an outbreak, trade-offs are made. Sometimes, we trade something we usually enjoy to enjoy something else. Governments and the general public face a trade-off between economic stability and public health and safety. The more we prioritize health and safety, the bigger the short-term cost to the economy and vice versa. In other words, if we do the right thing and make sure everyone is safe, we don’t open our stores or host our events, and we pay a price. Commerce takes a dive. Obviously, we want both.
Three Keys to Making Trade-Offs
- Always make a pros and cons list of what you gain and lose—both short and long term.
- Long-term benefits often equal short-term consequences. Short-term benefits often equal long-term consequences.
- Never give up what you want most for what you want now. Never compromise values.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul and Timothy were writing to the church at Corinth and the people of Achaia. In chapter 4, Paul talks about the trade-offs they are making. The apostles are mistreated in cruel ways. Paul tells this story of their persecution in verses 8 and 9. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Their trade-off comes in verses 14. 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.
2 Cor. 4:16 Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly, we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
One of the things I have heard from parents is that during this time, they more clearly recognize some of the trade-offs they have made in the past for the lifestyle they were living. So, as we go through this trying time, we should consider the trade-offs that we are making politically, economically, and socially for our health. As you reflect on this season and its effects, make a list of all the things you want to start doing and then a list of the things you would stop doing to make room for the new ideas you plan to start doing.
During this time, what trade-offs are you ok with? What trade-offs or compromises do you want to take back? What trade-offs do you wish to continue? What trade-offs will shine the light of Christ for the glory of God?
Being grey-haired as I am and having been in church since I was born, I recall the words of the old hymn How Firm A Foundation. Over the past four weeks, I have sung this song in my head several times. Now maybe this song is not one you are familiar with, but the words are powerful. The song was published in 1787 by John Rippon and has remained a familiar hymn sung in traditional churches today. There are two points I would like to make about this hymn.
As families going through a challenging time, we need the reassurance in our lives that comes from the foundation of our faith and hope. Verse one of this hymn points out directly where that firm foundation exists, in "His excellent Word," and in Jesus as our "refuge." The author, probably Robert Keene, encourages us not to be dismayed because God is with us, He will strengthen us, help us, and uphold us when we go through deep waters. Keene goes on to say that if we rest in Him, He will bless us, refine us, and we will never be forsaken (drop the mic).
Our kids need that same reassurance. Their lives have equally been disrupted, and their foundation is shaken. I am confident that at home, they are being cared for and loved in mighty ways by you. As you know, many voices speak to your child, and the largest group of voices is their school community made up of their peers, friends, and teachers. Since you have chosen TPCS, you have obviously weighed the voices and foundations that you want for your child. There is no more critical time for alignment of voices to instruct and reinforce the building of the foundation on Jesus Christ than during and right after a crisis. Your investment in Christian education might not be more critical than during this time.
Yes, we believe that we are meeting our credo of Training scholars, Making disciples, and Graduating leaders during this distance learning format. Unlike secular school options, we believe we are pointing them to a solid foundation that can carry them through deep waters. We are providing instruction in the Word (the Bible) and pointing kids to Jesus in such a way that when they lead their future families through difficult times, they will be able to "repose" (lie back and rest) on the firm foundation established through their relationship with Jesus and understanding of the Word. John Maxwell says - "If you don't try to create the future you want, you must endure the future you get." Let's create a great future for our kids.
Thank you for choosing TPCS to help lay a firm foundation for your kids during this critical time.
As the stay-at-home order drones on, our character is tested. Some say that it is during a trial that we develop character, but I believe that during a trial, our character is revealed. The learning takes place before and after the test. So how we prepare ourselves and train our children will be reflected during a trial. How or if we reflect on the trial and grow from it will tell in our character. While you are at home with your kids, their character is on display, and maybe one of the patterns demonstrated is a lack of manners or rudeness.
Dr. Tim Elmore authored the article Five Ways to Help Students Cure a Culture of Rudeness, and I hope you will review this short but valuable resource. Stacy Farrell, in a recent article on teaching manners, shared the following thoughts.
WE'RE RAISING IMAGE-BEARERS.
As parents, we have the opportunity to influence our culture profoundly and healthily. We're representatives from another country—and our King rules with the Law of Love. We're raising image-bearers. How do we train them?
APPLY VIRTUE TO DAILY LIFE.
The fruit of the Spirit, as described in Galatians 5:22-23, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Applying those virtues to daily life, several training targets emerge.
Love can be expressed as:
- listening without interrupting
- apologizing when you are wrong
- treating others as you wish to be treated
- praying for those who are hurting or in need
- standing up for those who are being oppressed.
Kindness can be expressed as:
- holding the door open for others
- offering to help carry groceries or other packages
- offering to others before taking the last cookie, piece of cake, etc.
- getting a beverage for others when you get one for yourself
- speaking words of encouragement.
Faithfulness can be expressed as:
- obeying your mother and father
- honoring your elders and those in authority (unless doing so violates a biblical principle)
- doing your chores without being asked
- asking permission before using that which belongs to another
- showing appreciation for home and family by putting things back where they belong when you're finished with them.
Self-control can be expressed as:
- behaving in a way appropriate for your circumstance (sometimes that means no running or climbing, speaking quietly, waiting patiently)
- making eye contact when you talk with someone
- shaking hands firmly and confidently when you meet someone
- saying "please" and "thank you"
- practicing basic table manners like: wash your hands before you eat, chew with your mouth closed, don't talk with food in your mouth, etc.
SMALL THINGS CAN HAVE A BIG IMPACT.
Don't underestimate the power of good manners. Even small acts of kindness can make a significant impact. As the light of civility in our culture grows dim, our light of love, as expressed through godly manners, will shine all the brighter. Raise image-bearers of light. Seize the opportunity to prepare your children for the profound assignments that await them.
John Maxwell – “It is not what happens to you, but what happens in you. Choose not to surrender to the adversity in your life.”
Ephesians 5:15-16 says 15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Recognizing that this is a stressful time, we look at our situation and hope this evil ends soon.
Conversely, maybe we should look at the opportunities that arise out of a crisis. Every few years, our world experiences a sobering natural disaster, health crisis, mass shooting, or global tragedy like a war that harnesses our attention and activates our fears. It becomes the topic of discussion in the “carpool line,” on social media sites, or in coffee shops (which you can’t sit down in now.) It promotes fear and anxiety and can often bring out the worst in society. I believe the Coronavirus is a perfect opportunity to carpe diem (seize the day) and talk about matters of the heart—the importance of life, family, health, faith, and even what we value. Just like weddings and funerals bring people together, this season can be leveraged for conversations about priorities.
Now is a time for collaboration, not criticism, faith, not fear, discipleship, not seclusion, empathy, not judgment, for family and community. Now is a time to lean in and focus on the most valuable things in life. To this end, I want to recommend a book for parents to read and, in turn, to invest in shepherding your child’s heart. Tedd Tripp authored the book Shepherding Your Child’s Heart in 1995, and I believe it can be a game-changer for many of our families today.
This crisis of health and now the economy can also be the breeding ground for innovation. We have challenged our teachers to be innovative in their delivery of instruction. At least for now, there is a new normal for our EC-12 education. Many things can and will be learned by both students and educators during this time. Don’t misunderstand me when I say that content isn’t the most crucial thing to be learned in school. Process and soft skills are essential for future success. Right now, your kids are learning to manage time. They are learning project management skills and developing independent learning skills. But that’s not all. Getting a technical education is good but does not teach you to live a good life. The ability to make a living and provide for yourself and your family is essential, but not enough. TPCS continues to include spiritual formation in its delivery of instruction. We are pouring into more than just your child’s intellect; our learning plan continues to feed the soul. Our mission has not changed during this time, only our delivery of instruction.
As Christians, we should live like we were dying (maybe from the Coronavirus or something else) and pursue all God has given us to do while we have time. So, what are you going to do with the time and opportunity God has shaped for you as a parent? Are you going to redeem the time? I have included some great resources from Dr. Tim Elmore to assist in conversations with your kids.
We’ll likely look back on this spring of 2020 and remember how scary it was for so many. May our memories be fond because we redeemed the time and led our children well.
How Involved Should Parents Be in Their Child’s Education?
In a recent blog, Dr. Tim Elmore addresses this relevant question. Read his guidance below.
During the past month, I found myself speaking to more than 6,500 parents in various locations across the U.S. I never have a more engaged audience than when I’m interacting with moms and dads.
That month, I found the most popular question was—how do I support my child in school?
Behind that question are looming thoughts like:
- My daughter is so stressed out—should I just do her homework for her?
- My son is so busy with sports and lessons—should I excuse him from doing his chores?
- My kids are both falling behind—should I talk to their teacher about easing up a bit?
Today’s parental expectations are different than they were in the past. All generations of parents care about their kids’ future, but today, we feel we need to ensure they reach their goals, even if it means:
- Negotiating their grade with a teacher, like we’re an agent.
- Advising their coach on our kid’s playing time, like we’re a personal trainer.
- Confronting those in conflict with our kid, like we’re a referee.
- Intruding on an activity to control the outcomes, like we’re a court judge.
Phil. 2:5 In your relationships with one another have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
Stephen Covey, in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about our attitudes and how they are exposed in our words. Because our attitudes and behaviors flow out of our mindset, if we are self-aware enough to examine them, we can often see in them the nature of our underlying maps. Our language, for example, is a very real indicator of the degree to which we see ourselves as a growing or a fixed person.
The language of the fixed mindset person absolves them of responsibility.
·“That’s me. That’s just the way I am.” I am determined. There’s nothing I can do about it.
·“He makes me so mad!” I’m not responsible. My emotional life is governed by something outside of my control.
·“I can’t do that. I don’t have the time.” Something outside me – limited time – is controlling me.
·“If only my wife were more patient.” Someone else’s behavior is limiting my effectiveness.
·“I have to do it.” Circumstances or other people are forcing me to do what I do. I’m not free to choose my actions.
Fixed Mindset Language Growth Mindset Language
There’s nothing I can do. Let’s look at our alternatives.
That’s just the way I am. I can choose a different approach.
He/she makes me so mad. I can control my feelings.
They won’t allow that. I can create an effective presentation.
I have to do that. I will choose an appropriate response.
I can’t. I choose.
If only. I will.
I must. I prefer.
Parents listen closely to the words your kids are saying. The language of a student with a fixed mindset can be heard and then addressed. I often encourage our staff to “listen for understanding” not just to hear, defend, or correct. When your kids are talking, be intentional about listening. When you hear words that point to a fixed mindset, determine how you can change the tenor of the conversation. Demonstrate for your kids in your words or reactions the language of a growth mindset. When you hear words of a growth mindset, encourage and applaud the thoughts and emotions behind the words.
Parents, you are the most impactful adult in the life of your child – own it, endure it, rejoice in it, and be intentional about your words.
Would you faint if your child said to you, “I just keep motivating myself to study even when I don’t like the content or the teacher is not engaging.” Your thinking, this is only a comment that would be made by a mature student who is in college, or is it? If you think that your students can’t respond this way, then they probably won’t.
Parents, you make the most significant impact on your child’s mental and emotional approach to challenges, school, relationships, and life in general. A student who approaches a relationship, a difficult course, or a teacher who doesn’t fit their personality with a positive attitude is the result of hundreds or maybe even thousands of minor contact points throughout their life. These contact points can occur with their parents, extended family, friends, mentors, youth pastors, church leaders, and more. The circumstances or context of these instructional contact points can be most influential during a challenge. When these contacts occur, and you point the child toward a growth mindset, the outcome can be transformational.
The words used, the advice given, the expectations set, the accountability or ownership required, shape the foundation for how children will respond. There are many shaping influences in a child’s life, family structure, family values, family response to failure, school environment, friends, spiritual influences, and more. While these shaping influences, personalities, and the Holy Spirit play a large role in how students react, the real crux of the matter is that the heart dictates our actions. The heart is the wellspring of life, so as you parent, you need to shepherd your child’s heart because that is where attitude originates.
Navigating these contact points is the shepherding process we are called to as parents. It is our role to see that the key ingredients for a child’s growth are available to them. Challenges often allow for high impact opportunities to shepherd your child’s heart and shape their response mechanism. Don’t avoid these challenges and teachable moments, or you may raise a child who does not demonstrate effective coping mechanisms. The younger you teach your child to interpret their attitudes in light of God’s word, and you teach an attitude of growth versus victim mindset, the more likely you are to see your child respond like the one in the opening paragraph. Don’t underestimate your children and their ability to respond in amazing and positive ways to the challenges of life.
Tim Keller - Lord, so many of my problems stem from not remembering you. I forget your wisdom, and so I worry. I forget your grace, and so I get complacent. I forget your mercy, and so I get resentful of others. Help me remember who you are every moment of the day. Amen.