Monthly Archives: April 2011

BIG Serve 2011

What a great day and what a great group of students, parents, and teachers. The BIG Serve 2011. We are blessed indeed.

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Training Adults

Parents sometimes become distressed when their children are asked to do hard things. After all, we love our children and want to protect them. When children are challenged, stretched, or required to do things that are above them, different children respond in different ways. More adventurous souls will get excited by the challenge while more timid children may shrink away. One thing is sure: children will rise to the level of the expectations that you hold them to.

We are preparing our children to be adults. That’s why we should constantly be finding ways to prepare them for an adult world. In our culture, in which the perpetual adolescence of marathon gaming sessions, pizza on the couch and gallons of Mountain Dew till early in the morning is the ideal, training your children to be adults will be counter-cultural. Young children who act like young children are cute, but older children who act like young children, well, that’s a different matter.

When you require your children to do hard things, hold them accountable to your instructions, maintain a high standard, and expect maturity and responsibility, you are preparing them to succeed not just in school but in life. You are preparing them to be adults.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying: children should be allowed to be children. Children should play and use their imaginations and be given the freedom to explore the world as children. But a romanticized view of childhood that wants children only to play, continually to let themselves go in a responsibility-free Willy Wonka-like candyland of childhood pleasures, is a myopic view. There is an adult world that we are preparing our children to enter, and we must indeed prepare them. We have children, but we are training adults.

The Christian Scriptures require it of us. The Triune God raises His children toward maturity (Eph. 4:13-14), and so should we. So when we require children to memorize Scripture passages that they do not fully understand, when we lead children to pray prayers that are far too profound for them, when we teach children historical facts that have ramifications reaching far beyond their grasp, we are creating grooves for a  lifetime. Children’s minds and hearts can run along these grooves as they mature, and then when they are adults, they will have familiarity with Scriptures, prayers, historical facts, and worldviews that fit them for usefulness in God’s kingdom and in the world.

Do you have a vision for your children’s maturity? Are you creating grooves for their maturity? Are you challenging them to do hard things? Regents loves childhood, silliness, and play; we reject foolishness. We want to help you propel your children toward maturity and greater usefulness to God and to the world.

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Regents 7th and 8th grade students performed the comedy “Fairy Tale Courtroom” for parents, grandparents, and students in three shows on April 19 and 20. It was a huge success!

Kudos to the students and to the play’s director, Mrs. Ashley Bryant. This was Regents Academy’s first dramatic presentation, and it was a credit to the students’ hard work and creativity.

Here is the cast on the set of the play.

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Aiming at Service

If you don’t know what you’re aiming at, you’ll hit it every time. It’s true in archery, and it’s true in life.

What is Regents aiming at? The school board has articulated its vision for a Regents graduate, identifying a number of traits we are aiming to cultivate in our students as they pass through our halls.

The Regents vision for a graduate includes the following traits: virtue and mature character, sound reason and sound faith, a masterful command of language, well-rounded competence, literacy with broad exposure to books, and an established aesthetic. We’re obviously aiming high!

But then there is one more included in the list: service to others. The description attached to it reads, “We expect our graduates to ‘Love their neighbor’ by serving others in their community.  Graduates need to develop an awareness of the many types of needs that others around them have and learn to be like Christ in their willingness to minister to others.”

The BIG Serve is one way Regents Academy attempts to instill this trait in our students’ lives and hearts.

Our school has already raised more than $20,000 in sponsorships through the BIG Serve. These are critically needed funds that are paying down the debt on our school facility. Lord willing, even more donations will come in – as a result of your support letters. But the BIG Serve is much bigger than just a fundraiser.

Next Friday 116 student s and dozens of teachers and parents will spread out around Nacogdoches and serve our community. What will students be doing?
•    Going to Magnolia Court Assisted Living and the Senior Center to serve ice cream and plant flowers
•    Painting benches and picking up trash at the soccer fields
•    Planting flowers and shrubs at the landfill
•    Washing police cars and the swat van
•    Doing yard work for area senior adults
•    Sprucing up the Chamber of Commerce flower beds
•    Mulching and pulling weeds on the square downtown
•    Helping to finish up a Habitat for Humanity home
•    Going to Love INC clients’ homes to paint, build a wheelchair ramp, and do yard work
•    Planting and doing yard work at the Helping House (center for children with autism)
•    Picking up trash on the Lanana Creek trail.

And through it all, students will learn by experience what Jesus taught: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” It is an exciting day – students take a break from classes, spend the day outside, and enjoy each other’s company as they work together. But most of all, they are blessed when they give their time and service to others.

And please know that this is a great day of service for parents also. We still need volunteers! If you can devote all or part of your day to driving or working at the service sites, please let the school office know.

Proverbs 11:25 reads, “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” This is what the BIG Serve is all about.

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Green Thumbs

The second grade students are trying out their green thumbs.

The Regents second grade teacher, Mrs. Melissa Griner, has led her students to plant a vegetable garden behind the school building. The students are having a blast. Not only do they get to learn about gardening and play in the dirt, but they get to taste their hard work, as it produces delicious tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, watermelons, and strawberries.

The class has gotten help from several members of the Regents family. Mr. Bobby Phillips (Mrs. Shannon Henry’s father and Caleb and Mitchell Henry’s grandfather) has been the class’s gardening consultant. He also tilled up the ground for the garden. Mrs. Jolene Monlezun helped the class get a grant from Walmart to buy seeds, tools, and fertilizer.

Pictured below are the second grade class and also Mrs. Griner. Just one more proof that hard work can be fun and rewarding! And another wonderful way for our students to learn about and enjoy God’s wonderful creation. The second grade class includes Levi Bertke, Abigail Freeland, Sophie Jordan, Ella Milliken, Cody Monlezun, Hayli Stanaland, Reagan Taylor,  Clayton Terrell, Connor Tolson, and Trinity Tyre.

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I minored in history in college, and one of my professors was a real piece of work. The class was called “The Age of Reason,” and we were supposed to be learning about the Enlightenment in the 18th C. However, this professor had dedicated his scholarly life to studying 18th C. French gardens, and that was all – I mean all – he lectured on. He assigned three books (all about French gardens), and gardens were all he appeared to care about. In fact, it was obvious to me that while he loved his subject, he merely tolerated his students. Did you ever have a teacher like that?

Arthur Holmes, in his book Building the Christian Academy, wrote,
If we consider the art or science that is taught, then it is a contemplative life devoted to the truth; but if we consider students and their needs, then it is indeed an active life engaged in the affairs of this world for the common good. It is not a choice between the two, for with a duty to both the discipline and the student, the teacher should in reality be a teacher-scholar.

So which is it: should teachers love their subject or their students? If Dr. Holmes is right, the answer is “yes.”

In the classical Christian vision for education, the teacher is a not simply a technician who has studied the science of pedagogy. Rather, the teacher is a scholar who leads “a contemplative life devoted to the truth.” Should the teacher be skilled in the science of pedagogy? Absolutely. But a teacher’s greatest trait is a love for learning and for truth (historical truth, mathematical truth, language truth, etc.). She shares that love for learning with her students. She is first and foremost a pursuer of truth and of the One who is the Truth.

And of course a classical Christian teacher doesn’t just love his subject; he loves his students. He leads “an active life engaged in the affairs of this world for the common good” – and what greater good is there than training children to live for God? Students are image bearers of the Triune God. They aren’t pupils filling desks, by which a teacher gets a paycheck. Teachers are called to give themselves away to their students, to invest in them, and to approach them as dearly loved children.

Teachers who love their students but don’t love their subject can never lead their students to love learning. Teaching is always incarnational, and teachers are called to model their love for truth before their pupils in order for them to be transformed into their teacher’s image.

Teachers who love their subject but don’t love their students will be distant, harsh, and self-involved. Learning is drudgery when it’s about the teacher grinding through his pet subject or it’s merely about checking off the stuff you have to do to fulfill the class requirements. That drives students away. But love draws them. Relationships are powerful things.

I can still remember those long periods sitting under my French garden professor (I struggle even to remember his name). But let me tell you about Mr. Grove or Mr. Orlofsky or Dr. Lea. They were passionate for their subjects, but they loved me, too (somehow – I don’t think I was very lovable back then).

Teachers at Regents Academy aim to properly balance passion for our subjects and love for our students. The vision for scholar-teachers, with “duty to both the discipline and the student,” is a worthy vision. It is one we are committed to.

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