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Tineke Lutgendorff sets example with commitment to God and children

Written on July 8th, 2009

Family continues legacy by serving in Christian education

Tineke Lutgendorff’s passionate commitment to God and children set a powerful example for those who knew her, as family-members and the school community of which she was a part attest.

A teacher for 36 years at John Knox Christian School (JKCS) in Brampton, Tineke made a profound and lasting impact, according to principal Ed Boelens, who wrote a full-page newsletter article about her.

“It was clear that Tineke had a great interest and concern for her students,” Boelens writes, going on to describe her many gifts, ability to take on a plethora of different roles, and boundless energy.

Boelens says Tineke, as well as her husband and children, continue to “shine their light on our school from many angles, placing their footprint on the history of JKCS. They have blessed us richly.”

According to Tineke’s husband, John Lutgendorff, her driving force was that “she loved children and took seriously God’s command to train up a child in the way they should go.”

Tineke herself was steeped in Christian training, attending Christian elementary and secondary schools as well as a Christian teacher’s college in Holland.

But her son Larry Lutgendorff, director of development for the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS), says her commitment to Christian schooling was about more than just carrying on a tradition and went beyond Christian education.

“My mother’s passion was not so much for education but for a life of active service for God,” he says. “She loved teaching because it gave her the opportunity to serve in a concrete way, by teaching the next generations about God.”

While Tineke died October 21, 2008, her life continues to have a ripple effect, the circles of influence even now continuing to enlarge.

In addition to the JKCS school community, her children have been profoundly affected by her life and passion for God and children.

Larry notes that while he never consciously set out to get into Christian education, he did learn from both his parents that “in anything you do you are working for the kingdom of God and so it has to be your best work.”

With a career focus on marketing, promotion and development, Larry joined the OACS where his mission to promote Christian schools in new and innovative ways stems directly from his mother’s influence, he says.

Marilyn, Tineke’s daughter, teaches at the same school her mother taught, also a result of her mother’s impact.

“The way my mother dedicated her life to her students inspired me to follow her example,” says Marilyn, noting that her mother’s example of taking the time and effort to build community within the school has also been a guiding point for her.

As the Christian education community today faces the challenges of vision and maintaining school enrolment, Larry says his mother’s response would be to get active.

“My mother would say, ‘Just do it and lead by example.’ She would not spend a lot of time fussing about the big picture because for her a big picture is put together by every little brush stroke. When you do the small things well every day, the big picture will take care of itself.”

He notes that her example of loving God and loving the children can be the path that leads to excellence for those in Christian education.

When one begins with that love, “you will strive to be the best teacher you can be in the best school you can build with the best resources you can afford, because you want to do your best for those you love,” says Larry.