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iWhyWhy I Want to be
a Lutheran Educator

God’s Calling for Me as a Future Lutheran Educator

Two choices, two schools, and two completely different degrees. What was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to go?I paced in my bedroom frantically as I gazed at the two folders that lay on my bed. Two choices, two schools, and two completely different degrees. What was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to go? I had no idea what God was calling me to do. How was I supposed to make that big of a decision as an 18-year-old? Struggling with these thoughts, I positioned myself next to my bed, on my knees, and I prayed, “Lord I don’t know where you are calling me. Frankly, I do not know how you are calling me to serve you. I want to help you, to glorify you in all that I do, but I, I just do not know how I can do that best.” Well, it took some time, but God answered my prayer. Although, it was not until my sophomore year of college that God confirmed my calling to be a Lutheran educator. As a senior in high school, I had wrestled with the decision between the two very different paths that were placed before me, but today as a senior at Concordia University Nebraska I find comfort in knowing God is calling me into the classroom. This was a not a magical journey of an instantaneous feeling from God saying, “This is what you are supposed to do,” but it was my own personal journey.

During my senior year of high school, I struggled over the decision to go into the Nursing program at Concordia University Wisconsin or into Elementary Education at Concordia University Nebraska. I had loved the idea of helping people and being a caregiver, but like many might know, nursing and education are not the same thing. Yes, they help people, but in contrasting ways. Fast forward two years to my sophomore year of college and I was still wrestling with thoughts, but not of which school or major to choose, but if education was right for me.

I was in the midst of my Lutheran Teacher’s Diploma classes as well as other education classes when these thoughts popped into my head. I remember vividly learning about classroom management and using differentiation for students and thinking to myself, “How am I supposed to do this? How is this your calling for me Lord?” But, as the Lord does so well, He calmed my troubled heart and helped me to find assurance in His calling for me to be in the classroom. It was through long conversations with my program director, Professor Shanna Opfer, and my family members that God reassured me in where He was taking me, and His reassurance did not stop there.

During my time working with students, God truly opened my eyes to the world of education and all that comes with it. For instance, during the spring semester of my junior year, I was able to expand my knowledge of education through independent field experience hours in a fourth-grade classroom at a Lutheran school. At that school, I was able to develop relationships, facilitate small groups, and overall publically encourage the students I was working with in their walk with Christ. Through that experience, God made it clear that He was calling me to a Lutheran school. Now, this was not something new. He had presented this idea to me before, because of my background in attending Lutheran school growing up, but through this, He confirmed my thoughts of Lutheran school teaching.

As I look back on this journey of finding my calling in Lutheran school teaching, I cannot help but be amazed by the little instances of reassurance that God has given me over the years. What makes me most excited about teaching, especially in a Lutheran school, is that I get to share, or even observe, the little instances of reassurance from God in my future students. As I look to the future, I find comfort in knowing God’s calling for me and the numerous things I still have to learn, and I pray for an abundance of joy in wherever He decides to take me.

Leah Mussell is from Buffalo, Minnesota, where she attended Buffalo High School before coming to Concordia. She is an elementary education major at Concordia University Nebraska with an emphasis in social sciences and Lutheran Teacher Diploma. She has a passion for all things education, coffee, and, of course, Minnesota. 

My Path to Teaching

I began to realize that I wanted to provide an environment for my future students in which they could find some peace and support instead of pain and fear.Sometimes, when I am sitting and talking with my friends about our respective journeys through college, I am unable to relate to them. Almost every one of my friends has changed their major over the course of attending Concordia University Nebraska. Whether changes in life or changes in life outlook, something has caused them to alter their course, if sometimes only a little. I have never really had that experience, at least, not in college. I have always wanted to be a teacher.

Opportunities to spend time with children have never been scarce in my life since my mom and dad both work with kids for a living. My mom is a kindergarten teacher and my dad is a DCE. When I was in elementary school, I loved getting to spend time with younger students, and when I was older, I found myself loving to help lead middle schoolers. When I helped my youth leaders at church and spent time with the junior high students, I felt like my gifts were being used better than anywhere else. So, I decided to be a middle school teacher. I also enjoyed art and language arts classes and am passionate about sharing the beauty of each with others, so I decided to concentrate on art and language arts during my time in the education department of Concordia.

As I began committing to becoming a teacher, and more specifically a middle school teacher, other motivations for educating the age group came forward. Often when I talk about teaching middle school with others, I hear stories about the pain and struggles people went through in junior high. My experience was not filled with much drama or struggle, but I began to realize that I wanted to provide an environment for my future students in which they could find some peace and support instead of pain and fear. I cannot control my students’ home lives, and I cannot keep them from going through the identity-centric struggles that come with adolescence, but I can try to listen and guide my students and teach them how to do the same for one another.

Determining, or rather, exploring one’s identity is a hallmark of adolescence. Another passion God has placed in me is helping adolescents discover who they are. Scripture’s familiar words tell us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:14 NIV) and that “each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV) I want to share with my students that they are intentionally created and valuable in God’s and my eyes. I want to teach them how to best use the gifts they have been given to love others. I do not think it is a problem that my path has stayed the same over the course of my college years. My path is a tool God has used to place me where I am today and one He will use to bless my future students and everyone I meet in the future.

Micah Symmank is currently a middle school education major at Concordia University Nebraska with a concentration in language arts and a minor in art. He was born in Olathe, Kansas, but grew up in Woodbury, Minn. He attended Concordia Academy in Roseville, Minn. and elementary and middle school at Trinity Lone Oak Lutheran School in Eagan, Minn., where his mom works as a kindergarten teacher. He is a member of Woodbury Lutheran Church in Minnesota, where his dad works as a DCE.

If you want to share an iWhy, send the story of how you became a Lutheran school teacher to ed.grube@lea.org with the subject line iWhy. (Try to keep it to 600 words or so, if you can.)—the editor