Service That Goes Far Beyond Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

With students at the "Moving Up" ceremony for freshman at Shattuck-St Mary's, Faribault, MN
With students at the “Moving Up” ceremony for freshman at Shattuck-St Mary’s, Faribault, MN

One of the incredible blessings of serving as the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota is the opportunity to be involved with two phenomenal schools. Both Breck and Shattuck-St. Mary’s are not only places with very sound academics, but they are also genuine communities: they are shaping world citizens for generations to come.

At the heart of both of these institutions — as for most schools — are the teachers, staff and administrators. At every educational institution I have been associated with, I am always inspired by the selfless dedication of those who work so hard to provide educational opportunities to youth.

As we are all aware, the service of those in our schools goes far beyond reading, writing and arithmetic. In many cases, the relationship between a teacher and a student is not only life-shaping or even life-changing, but it is quite literally life-saving.

During this school year alone, teachers have protected their students in classrooms while bullets flew in the hallway, pulled their students from the twisted metal wreckage of a school bus crash, and shielded their students with their own bodies as a tornado ripped through their building.

One of life’s most significant challenges for parents is the moment when they leave their child in the care of another. I must admit to you as a one-time teacher, camp director, and youth worker that the responsibility of being a bishop pales in comparison with the overwhelming sense of responsibility I felt when I was the primary caretaker of someone else’s child. In my experience, the vast majority of those work in our schools share this same conviction.

One of Jesus’ primary identities was that of a teacher. And in many respects he taught, cared, nurtured and even protected his “students.” As the school year begins to wind down, please continue to pray for our schools and all those who give of themselves for their students.

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