Drayton Community Christian School principal Jerry Ottens has a few simple plans for her upcoming retirement.
She intends to dote upon her grandchildren and shower them with the same sort of affection she’s shown countless kids who’ve passed through her school during 38 years as an educator there.
She’ll grow a few more flowers in the garden, watch a few more birds, and read a lot of mystery novels.
In the final month leading up to official retirement, she looked back briefly on a career that saw her act as both teacher and principal.
“I always enjoyed working with kids, whether I was the teacher or the principal looking after more administrative details,” Ottens says.
“I love children and I think educating them with a Christian perspective is very important for their development.”
When she looks back over her career, some of her most motivating experiences involved children struggling in the classroom who managed to persevere and ultimately succeed thanks to a bit of guidance and patience.
In her roles as both a resource teacher and regular classroom head, she saw this happen in numerous young minds.
“It’s always the students that you were able to help with their reading and math skills who then later say ‘thank you for helping me,’” she says.
Over the years she’s watched as young minds become more inquisitive and savvier in the ways of the world. They’re not afraid to challenge ideas and think for themselves; traits she says are valuable as they face the future.
She hopes when people look back at her career they’ll remember that while she helped children develop an academic foundation, she also helped them see that “God is the creator who took care of them.”
She says the future of Christian education remains bright because there will always be a need for them, and as long as faith is strong, so too will be the schools.
“I think they really are God’s schools, and He will take care of them,” she says.