My first year of writing news stories for the OACS News Service is finished and I’m mindful of a piece I published in October, about Marilyn Chandler McEntyre’s keynote address at the 2013 Edifide Convention. Those who filled the seats of Redeemer University’s crowded auditorium may recall McEntyre reflecting on what it means for us to be “stewards of stories” and, by extension, “custodians of something that needs to be cared for”.
In a way, my job at the OACS has allowed me to embrace that invitation. The bulk of my work this year was about the act of “stewarding” or “caring for” stories—and doing that in community. Almost all of the feature articles I wrote came out of conversations with teachers, principals, students and board members who were willing to share their experiences with me. By making time for a phone call, an email, or a face-to-face conversation, these people were also helping the OACS create a space for stories—and, in doing so, taking part in a joint act of stewardship.
That communal effort has added up to something quite substantial. Collectively, the articles to come out of the 2013-2014 school year paint an engaging picture. Look closely at the picture’s parts and you’ll see individuals working together, trying new things, seizing unique learning opportunities, and striving to bless their communities. That came through in many of the articles to appear on our website over the last few months.
Take the story of Providence Christian School’s Special Olympics Bocce Ball Tournament in October, for example—the event had staff and students designing posters, forming high five lines and leading tours around the PCS campus so that athletes felt like honored guests. Consider the article about the First Nations protest movement project at Calvin Christian School in November, an assignment that inspired students to create thoughtful, inquisitive presentations about an issue happening in their own backyard. Or, recall a piece published in March about grade 8 students from Dunnville Christian School who spoke to hundreds of people about Lake Erie’s toxic algae bloom.
Within the classroom this year, OACS teachers have been willing to rethink educational spaces and explore new and emerging avenues in learning. In January we published a story about students becoming imaginative inventors and coders through a Raspberry Pi computer project at Ottawa Christian School. In February we shared an article about flipped classrooms at Halton Hills Christian School, which invited readers to rethink their ideas about homework and technology in education. Later, we shared a piece about Woodland Christian High School’s robotics club—an instance where creativity, technology and playful competition collided.
Also explored in this year’s batch of news stories was the importance of inclusion in education. A piece about Mary Guldemond’s long career in Special Education affirmed to me that the diversity of learning needs, preferences and strengths is wider than we may think in any given school. An article highlighting Edith Van der Boom’s interest in differentiated instruction introduced readers to an intriguing learning framework that is meant to celebrate that diversity and meet students where they are.
Looking back, I can see that exploring these themes (with the help of my editor, Chris van Donkelaar) through the telling of stories has allowed the OACS to honor a wide variety of voices in Christian education. As members of the OACS community I hope that the habit of sharing “good news” articles has allowed you to learn from one another and provided you with small moments of inspiration when you needed them!
To all those who connected with me this year: thank you for giving me the chance to tell your stories! I hope that you have an excellent summer with family and with friends. May the next two months allow you to find rest, experience the joy of a new routine and continue honing the unique gifts that you bring to Christian education.