Certainly I have not kept it secret that I am a retired educator, and also there is no secret that I served in the pulpit for 10 years in a bi-vocational role. Therefore surely there are no surprises that my thoughts for this week are closely connected to the ending of the school year.
The postings on Facebook are flooded with graduation notes, and I cannot help reflect, especially on the ones that are students of my former students graduating.
I have been watching one whose sons are graduating one from college and entering into the world of professional football, and his brother graduating from high school moving into college football. Oddly their dad was a basketball player, not football; but the pride he shows and the quality of athletes he and his wife have raised is evident. And I admit a sense of pride seeing the postings.
Another graduation I watched via postings was a former student from an entirely different program who walked across the stage getting her masters degree. I feel so privileged to be part of her academic journey.
I could continue listing graduations for all levels: from pre-school to kindergarten, from kindergarten to elementary, from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school and the list goes on.
Each graduation marks the end of one set of struggle,s but also notes the beginning of the next challenges. The resilience of our young people can be amazing, but there are those who may never experience the emotional high of moving from one transition to another for any number of reasons.
Consider all the children who live in settings where there is no Christian foundation. The values outlined in the Bible are unknown to these young ones and there may be no sense of being valued as an individual. They may not even experience positive child-parent relationships.
The children who escape from negative home environments rely on school for a sense of safety, for being valued as an individual, to receive unconditional love, not to mention the physical needs of clothing, food and shelter that are provided during through school systsems.
And then comes the end of the school year and the students begin acting out when for months they have been doing so well. Educators know; and dread what is ahead for these students. They must find ways to let go of their students with prayers for their continued well-being.
Today, I encourage all Christians, all people of faith, to join in concentrated prayers for the young people who are closing another school year.
- Pray that they may be safe in their homes.
- Pray that they will have food.
- Pray that they have an adult who mentors them.
- Pray that there are programs that can provide positive experiences.
- Pray that they are safe.
The list could be continued, but prayers are also needed for educators. They too, have reached the end of a school year and the demands on them have worn them out.
Even though they are adults, they too may struggle with the shift to their routine. They may be highly gifted with interpersonal skills in the classroom, but the demands of the students—academically and emotionally—drain them and they need prayers too.
- Pray that educators find mental rest.
- Pray that educators have time to enjoy their own families.
- Pray that educators can find ways to expand their professional growth.
- Pray that educators can prepare for the upcoming year with enthusiasm.
Finally, there are others, too, who are critical to the education of our students. These are the supporting teams who work along side the educators making sure that the entire system works smoothly.
The secretaries, the maintenance crews, the technology teams, the kitchen staffs, and even the groundkeepers have so much to do when the students and educators are not in the buildings. These individuals are essential and need prayers, too.
- Pray that they have the energy needed to work long days to repair, to improve, and to prepare for the coming school year.
- Pray that they are trained to do all that they can for the success of the students.
- Pray that they are valued for all the extra effort that provide for the well-being of the students.
Undoubtedly the calendar is guiding my thoughts today, but how easy it is to forget the needs of our students, the educators, and the support teams working diligently through the school year. How easy it is to forget they need our prayers now as well as during the school year.
And I know, summer vacation brings summer schools, advanced degree work, and vacations. Maybe those of us who are not educators tied to the school calendars, should remember John Wesley’s principle: Do all that you can in any way that you can for all students and educators that you can when ever you can–prayers and even more if you can.