By Robin Neyer
God called me to teach. There is no debate in my mind or in the minds of my family and those closest to me. Becoming an educator was in my DNA from the time he created me. I instinctively wanted to help others learn new things and share what I knew. As a child much of my time was spent enjoying school, church school, and “playing school” at home as much as I possibly could. I did not have parents or grandparents that were teachers as models, but I had the master teacher, Jesus. He was beginning a process to bring me to himself and equip me for the ministry of teaching he prepared in advance for me.
I look at teaching as a ministry. This became truly evident after being saved. Being filled with the Holy Spirit helped me become aware that His fruits are to be expressed through teaching. Galatians 5:22 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Jesus became my vine, and I was His branch as I reached out to provide the fruit of His knowledge and shared the joy of learning with the students and families He put in my path. It is a privilege and serious responsibility to teach and educate others.
As I realized my calling and prepared for a career in education, I sought to understand what type of teacher to become. I was aware that I was creative, organized, and loved giving children opportunities to discover and learn new things. This led me on a path to Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Jesus said, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me” (Mark 9:37). These are critical years where minds can be molded, developed, or stifled. I wanted to make a difference, so I looked for models of excellence in my school history and throughout my college years.
In my present position as a Christian school administrator, I am encouraged by Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders who first taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and trust the Lord as they do.” I hope to be a humble example and leave a legacy of faith to those I teach.
From the beginning, I recognized that education was not a one size fits all production line. I believe all children are capable of learning, and as educators, it is imperative we find the methods or strategies that work for each child. All students can achieve the skills and thinking abilities necessary to be successful, productive citizens in God’s world.
As a result of this firm belief, I was drawn to learn how to provide a quality education and inspire students to learn. Strategies need to meet the needs and developmental stages of all children. As teachers, we need to understand our students developmentally, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Being Christ to these students and their families requires we care enough to invest in them beyond just knowledge and understanding of educational content.
My passion and God’s divine plan soon led me to an opportunity to become equipped with skills to meet the needs of students that didn’t fit the mold of the “average” student. I learned how to teach both dyslexic children and gifted and talented students. Both groups required that I rely on the gifts of the Spirit and seek God’s help in teaching them. I began to truly understand my personal philosophy of education as I worked with these precious children. God has created each of us unique, and His design is perfect. Psalm 139:14 reminds us, “We are to praise you because we are fearfully and wonderfully made.” God doesn’t make mistakes, and all children deserve an education that enhances who they are and how they learn. My years of experience confirmed this through the testimonies of many students and their parents as to the difference it made in their outlook on education and the change in their self-worth.
As educators, we need to inspire students to achieve to their fullest potential. We do children a disservice when we do not expect their best and lower the bar in our goals and curriculum. I believe that a differentiated instruction is critical in meeting all students’ needs. We can understand what type of instruction works using models like Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. We need to identify whether a child uses bodily-kinesthetic, verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical or other intelligences to learn and offer strategies utilizing their types of thinking. Doing this shows we care about them and see them as individually precious and important. In my eyes, this is modeling the Master teacher and acknowledging their value.
I also was drawn to the study of Bloom’s taxonomy and how important it is to provide opportunities for students to use creative thinking, higher order thinking, critical thinking, and problem-solving. This is critical in instruction and outcomes for education. Without teaching students how to think, we deny them the preparation to be successful in a challenging and competitive world. The goal of education must be to develop thinkers, not just to deliver knowledge.
When I thought I had “fought the good fight” and was ready to leave the halls of education, God showed me just what I was being equipped for and the ministry that was yet to come. God opened the door to use my gifts and abilities to lead in a Christian school. I was introduced to a Christian worldview of education. Without teaching children to think and to filter learning through God’s Word, generations could be lost by accepting false doctrine and not using their intelligence capability to honor God’s plan for their life.
Christian education needs to integrate academic content with biblical worldview thinking. With this goal in mind education will honor God, enrich learning, and build stronger foundations of faith in our students. All the pieces of our life and learning need to be within the context of God’s framework. We need to help students think by making connections, integrating ideas, and having moral integrity. By seeing students as God’s perfect creation with a distinct purpose and gifts, we can share content, problems, and situations as opportunities to better understand God. God’s creation, plan for man, morality, and purpose of life need to be the foundation for all learning. Helping students understand this essential truth is the core for true Christian education and education in general. It brings a purpose to education that students so often seek. Instead of asking, “Why do I need to know this,” they can see God’s bigger picture for the knowledge and understanding. Education then becomes relevant and satisfying even when it may be difficult. As a Christian teacher, your job has rewards beyond just the academic success of your students.
Today’s culture has embraced Humanism, and education has become the tool of choice for its delivery. As a public school educator for more than 28 years, I have witnessed the subtle yet determined focus to draw children away from biblical truths and God. Christian teachers in public education are not as free to make these connections for their students. God’s Word says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). We need to equip this generation to renew their minds and defend their faith by making learning exciting, using technology to enhance learning, and teaching them to critically compare Christianity with other belief systems. It is imperative that Christian education points students toward making connections between life and God’s larger plan for the world.
John MacArthur Jr. writes in his book, Is the Bible Reliable, “The Bible is the only completely trustworthy source of knowledge about God. Man can’t learn all he needs to know about God from human reason, philosophy, or even experiences. God alone is the source of the knowledge about Himself, and He has chosen to reveal Himself in the Bible and in no other book.”
This is why it is so critical to provide a biblical worldview education. True knowledge comes from knowing God and applying our reasoning, philosophies, and experiences to that personal relationship.
Students need to have a safe place to express biblical views, ask the difficult questions in their studies, and build confidence as learners and thinkers. We also need to help them pray and discern the voice of God in their lives.
James 5:16 reminds us of this truth, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” We need to focus our prayers for education and offering a Christian worldview to our students. Intercessory prayer for our students, the staff, and community are crucial. As teachers and administrators, we need to seek the Lord daily and discern His voice so we can be in His will and provide the excellence in education that our students deserve.
Providing opportunities for rigorous academic instruction, the study of the Bible, prayer and praise, and ministry to others are all necessary components to achieving a full education. As we commit to educating children with a Christian worldview focus, we are preparing leaders for Christ. It is my passion to impart a love for learning while meeting the individual needs of all God’s precious children. The time is now to respond to God’s clear call to the task at hand.
Robin Neyer is the Preschool/Elementary Principal at Oconee Christian Academy in Seneca, South Carolina. Before accepting this position, she was an elementary gifted support teacher/trainer and primary grade teacher for more than 28 years in Pennsylvania and Alaska. She earned her BS in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Kutztown University and a Master’s Equivalency Certification from the state of Pennsylvania. In addition, she has been trained in the Slingerland Method for teaching dyslexic children. Robin is a wife, mother of two children and two stepchildren, and proud grandmother of seven amazing grandkids.
This article originally appeared in The Renewanation Review® magazine. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted here by permission of Renewanation. For more information regarding Renewanation, visit renewanation.org.