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Growing Excitement for Reading in Newark - Faith Watts

To decide how they feel about a book, my students look at the cover, read the title, and—if vaguely intrigued—flip open the book to see the pictures, or lack thereof. Sometimes they seek out a specific book because they enjoy the author or someone else in the class has read it, but most of the time, the cover becomes the deciding factor. Because I want them to read, I say nothing about their judging of books by the cover.

Enter the fifth-grade reading circle, where novels have filled our year. Many books greet us with one cover picture or perhaps different printings provide us with different pictures. Slowly but surely, each story pulls us in. The characters become our friends. Their trials and troubles become our problems to solve. We are convinced that the author might have said more to us than the mere words on the page. The challenges of the lives in a story apply to our lives in the real world. Their successes and failures show us more than we might have seen on our own. One student recently commented, "These books are really interesting! If I had just looked at this cover, I would have thought it was an adult book and was going to be boring because it didn't have any pictures, but this is really exciting!"

The excitement for learning warms my heart.  As I direct discussions and give meaningful assignments, it can bring the written word to life. The Bible is a book often without pictures, and the fifth-graders are being encouraged to read it for themselves. I am thankful for quality devotional materials that help my students read the Word and apply it to their lives. I watch as students joyfully lead each other in devotions during Bible class once a week. They dutifully prepare and share with the group when it is their week to lead, volunteer to pray over lunch, and share about the special events at their respective churches, but it does not always produce excitement for the God we sing to in chapel.

As a teacher, I pray that the interest and joy of learning remains as these fifth graders move into middle school. I pray that their interest in God becomes more than teacher/parent/pastor-directed discovery. I pray for committed devotion to the excitement in following Jesus. I pray that their devotion inspires the students around them. I pray that these students will be used by God to further focus the middle school and entire student body on Him. Praise God for His perfect Word, which is much more than any book cover could ever boast.

Faith Watts is a teacher at Newark Christian School in New Jersey. To support Faith, click here. Click to Change Destination > Staff by Ministry > Newark Christian School > Faith Watts


A Teacher and Friend - Jennifer Hammond

I am a teacher: I tie shoe laces, break up and reconcile fights, plan lessons like a well-oiled machine, find lost snacks, wipe tears, greet students every morning, drink coffee, listen to rambling stories, answer question after question, enforce rules, patrol the halls, and do way too many more things to count. But at the end of the day, my biggest hope is that I am a friend.

It is not customary for teachers in public schools to spend time outside of class with students—mostly due to restrictions from administration or law. This is what makes my job at Los Angeles Christian Schools (LACS) so much fun! There is much freedom, and we are actually encouraged to spend time with our students and their families outside of school. After they move on to high schools around Los Angeles, many of our graduated students say they really miss quality time with their LACS teachers.

I am thankful to have these opportunities to spend time with my little ones. Recently, we received free tickets to several UCLA sporting events. The girls in my class had been talking for a while about how much they love gymnastics. One even said at the beginning of the school year that her dream job would be a gymnastics instructor. Sadly, none of them had ever been able to watch a gymnastics meet in person. When I saw that one of the available events was for UCLA gymnastics, I snatched up the tickets right away.

The girls were ecstatic! As parents dropped the girls off, a similar story was told: their daughters climbed out of bed that morning immediately wondering if it was time to go to the gymnastics meet. Unfortunately, it did not start until 6:00 p.m.! As we sat in the huge arena, I smiled the whole time at their gasps and marveling and curiosity and questions—oh, the questions! This age is so beautiful. The world is still so new, and they are so moldable. I pray that the friendship I have with them is a tangible reminder of the amazing friendship that the Lord offers us as His children. I know they remind me of this truth every day.

Jennifer Hammond is a Kindergarten teacher at Los Angeles Christian School. To support Jennifer, click here.

Wichita Mobile Dental Clinic Brings Smiles

"The homeless population in the United States is one of great diversity that continues to increase in number. Although data on the oral health status of individuals who are homeless is limited, studies consistently report both the perception and clinical evidence of dental needs among this population as well as a low utilization rate for dental services." -TB King (Oral health needs and access to dental care of homeless adults in the United States).

The needs of the homeless are numerous and often undocumented. The statistics on the number of homeless in the US are in constant flux and the health care issues they suffer go untreated and unrecorded. Often homeless men and women go to the ER and receive minimal care or stop in a clinic where they are shuffled through so the next patient can be seen. This is not always the case; there are exceptions, and the Mobile Dental Clinic in Wichita, Kansas, is one.

Jim, a homeless patient, came to the Mobile Dental Clinic after leaving the Emergency Room. He had been in twice for the same problem—an infection in his mouth that continued to get worse. The ER had administered round after round of antibiotics for two months with no improvement. Jim was in pain and needed the problem-causing tooth to be pulled. His oral health needs actually exceeded that one tooth, and the Mobile Dental Clinic dentist proceeded to extract several infected teeth. Jim later returned to meet Dr. Chris Majors, a volunteer dentist who offered follow-up work like cleanings and x-rays at no cost.

The care Jim received was a combination of the services and accessibility of the Mobile Dental Clinic, as well as the spirit and generosity of the volunteer providers who choose to serve Jesus with their time. Because of this, men like Jim see love expressed in a tangible way.

Click here to learn more about our Mobile Medical Ministry.