No Child Left Behind – From a Christian Teacher/Camper Perspective
No Child Left Behind, better known as the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. NCLB ensures that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments. It is based on the belief that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education.
The NCLB is defined and focused on the academic child and what a teacher must do to help this child finish school; but for the Christian teacher it’s different. It’s so much more than just “teaching”. It’s training the child for life, focusing on holistic education and making sure the main focus is Jesus.
I began this article defining the law and differentiating between teachers because it’s important, and because it became a whole new reality to me this summer through the eyes of a camper. In July, Pastor Jeff Wines invited my husband, Pastor Carlos Rodriguez, to be the speaker for Tween camp (12-13 year olds) at North Star Camp. We thought it was a great opportunity, and we brought our 13-year-old daughter to experience summer camp for the first time ever. Now, I must admit that I have always been skeptical of summer camps. I have not been sold on the idea that a parent can leave a child to complete strangers for a whole week. So, knowing that I would be present and able to observe, the idea was not as horrifying to me. Wow! What I learned was amazing!
I had a preconceived idea that camp was all about outdoor activities and plain fun. Instead, I learned that it is also a tremendous spiritual experience for everyone involved – including myself. The camp staff had a daily skit on the life of Paul and how his life touched so many around him, converting people from different walks of life to accept Jesus. I saw children connecting spiritually to the staff, the pastor and to one another on a daily basis. The staff made learning about Jesus fun, and the campers were all excited to participate. They wrote songs, poems and even made up skits of what they have learned and experienced about the Bible. The staff were very much tuned-in to their campers and because of this the children confided in the staff more every day with their personal struggles and problems. I witnessed children playing and some who were not up to playing or being involved, perhaps because of their problems and worries. But I also witnessed that these children were not “left behind.” I saw the staff putting aside what they were doing to stop and check on these children and care for them. Even right in the middle of the games, they stopped to pray with them and for them!
The connection these young adults had with the preteens was amazing! God was working through the camp staff and almost overnight these young adults became role models and mentors to the campers. The young men and women, many are seniors from high school and/or college students, were modeling Jesus! They were becoming Paul! They were witnessing to all of these children every moment. I even experienced prayer before going on a boat ride!
I was so impressed, I asked Pastor Wines, “How do you find staff like this?” I believe that Pr. Wines gives all of his concerns and worries to Christ and he allows the Holy Spirit to guide him through this selection process. It is the only answer that makes sense. You see, he was not just looking for staff; he was looking for the holistic staff that could make the difference at North Star Camp. I know that someday these young adults will become pastors, teachers, counselors or some profession where their God-given gifts will be put into practice and they will reach the world for Christ.
When the Sabbath was approaching the staff concluded their week-long story of Paul. Then Pr. Rodriguez delivered a very powerful message in regard to the sacrifice the Father made for us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) He illustrated it by asking the campers to participate in a difficult fictional exercise. They were to write on a piece of paper five things: their best friend, pet, mom, role model and Jesus. If one by one these persons were tragically removed from their lives, what would be the order and who would they choose to be last? As the names were being slowly deleted, the expressions on the camper’s faces and staff were becoming worrisome and sad. At the end, Pr. Rodriguez told them that if the last name standing was Jesus they had made the right decision, because as hard as this exercise was Jesus is the only one we can rely on. As hard decisions and circumstances come our way, Jesus will always be the one we can trust and only through Him we will have our loved ones returned to us.
Afterwards, the program director announced to everyone that we would begin Sabbath by having the staff wash the camper’s feet because this camp was about and for the campers. The staff were there to “serve” and make them feel accepted. What a way to end a wonderful week! There were circles of prayers and tears. There was so much joy that really could not be described with words. This was another way of demonstrating that “No child was left behind” during this camp; everyone was included and it was truly an inspiring experience. I am certain that with the Holy Spirit leading the staff, no camper will be left behind; we will all have a place a Jesus’ feet.
By: Elizabeth D. Rodriguez Principal, Capital City Adventist Christian School
e-TNL Staff: Jeff Wines, Director; Carol Lyons, Editor; Melisa Mauk, Website-editor
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