Does That Place Really Exist?
I was on supervision duty a few weeks ago, and what I expected to be a normal teacher obligation turned out to be a wonderful blessing for my week.
As I stood by the gate greeting students when they entered, I was pleasantly reminded of the very atmosphere of LCS I enjoyed during my time as a student. Most students greeted me with a smile and a “Good morning.” Students who know me well asked about assignments in class, musical activities, or even simply asked me what I had ordered from Chick-fil-a or Starbucks that morning. Elementary students bounced past with enthusiasm for their new classes. Friends waited for each other at carline so that they could walk in together. New students were welcomed into established friend groups.
I also got to see the LCS community on display. I watched young elementary girls run over to high school cheerleaders and give them a big hugs because they remembered them from cheer camp. I saw high school football players fist bump the preschool students who look up to them (both metaphorically and literally!). I saw kids of all ages who participate in the musicals catch up and ask about each other’s weekends. I saw older brothers holding the hands of their younger siblings as they walked them into school, offering advice or making them laugh. I saw secondary students waving to their elementary teachers who still mean so much to them. I saw teachers greeting each other with warm smiles, waves, and jokes.
This is the LCS community that I remembered as a student, and it’s so wonderful to be a part of it again as a teacher. I think many of us with a connection to LCS would say that it is a place like no other. It truly is a unique place of joy that seems like something increasingly hard to find these days.
When I was in graduate school, I took a class about effective teaching practices. One day, my professor asked us to share a story of a teacher who did something meaningful for us that we still remember. The goal of the exercise was to reflect on why those acts were meaningful and to try to replicate them as teachers ourselves. He gave us a few moments to recall a memory. Several of my classmates stated that they had a bit of trouble coming up with one or that only one or two teachers stood out in their minds as someone with a significant impact.
Meanwhile, I was struggling to pick just one story! Should I tell them about the time Mr. Musick refused to write me a hall pass because he was trying to inspire confidence in me? Should I talk about how Ms. Oncu lovingly pushed me in my writing abilities because she knew I was capable of more than I was giving myself credit for? Should I describe how Mr. Livesay enthusiastically taught us to embrace challenges as a good thing? Should I share how Mr. Stabler pushed us every day in Bible class to ask the hard questions because he cared so deeply about our salvation? Should I talk about how the students trusted the administrators because they knew they cared?
That day in class, and whenever I’ve talked about LCS to people who don’t know it personally, I’m often met with some form of the question “Does a place like that really exist?” Sometimes it’s hard to explain to people who don’t know just how spectacular LCS really is. I’ve been met with many incredulous reactions whenever I’ve talked about my high school experience or my current job. Is there really a K-12 school where the high school students have relationships with the elementary students? Can there really be a high school experience out there that people enjoyed? Is any school ever really like a family?
The answer is always yes. It does exist, and it’s right here in Lakeland, Florida. Anyone who knows me knows that, if they let me, I’ll talk their ear off about LCS. It really does exist, and it’s a wonderful place to be.
But there’s another place that really exists that people need to know about. Do we talk to friends, family, and acquaintances about God and Heaven as much as we do about LCS? Do we tell people that, yes, there really is a place where they can one day worship in God’s presence eternally?
As wonderful as LCS is, and as much as I want people to know about it, people need to know that That Place really exists too, and it will be more glorious than any of us can imagine.
I’m so glad to live in a country and work at a school where I have the freedom to talk about God with my students. My hope is that our students see Jesus Christ through us and that they’ll know that however much we care about them, God cares so much more. I want them to know that a place like that really does exist, and that one day, we can be there in the presence of the Lord forever.