Free to Fly
Let me start by saying that I am a product of the public school system. I believe I received a good education and was well prepared to enter into “the real world.” This reflection is by no means a flogging of public schools. However, I would say that there is a vast difference between teaching and learning in a public school, and teaching and learning in an Orthodox Christian classical school. I am free to fly in my faith here, free to teach the lives of the saints, free to say the most important things like, “Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be!”
Christ is the answer to so many of our problems and questions in the public arena, yet He is the ONE answer we cannot dare to mention. Mental health issues can be addressed much more effectively and with eternal significance when seen through the lens of faith in Christ. Issues of bullying and how we treat one another are most effectively addressed when Christ is allowed to be in our midst. When we are free to fly in our faith, we can ask our students, “Is this how Christ wants us to treat each other?” We can suggest things like, “Let us ask for forgiveness.” We can direct our students to cross their arms on their chest in humility and bow to their brother and sister in Christ. Our public school teachers are not allowed to show students how to access the healing power of forgiveness through Christ Jesus.
At The Saint Constantine School, teachers are free to fly in their faith. We can start the school year with an image of Christ hanging in our room. From day one, we can say to our students, “You are made in the image of God and you deserve to be respected. God loves you as much as He loves me. I am going to show you love and respect because YOU are an image of Christ.”
Some students may have never heard these words spoken to them by an adult. They look a bit surprised, but nod in agreement. Perhaps they are thinking, “I am worthy to be respected. I am made in the image of God.”
The teacher, after establishing how they will show respect to their students can say, “May I expect the same from you, since I, too, am made in His image?” This is how we start our year, with this foundation of mutual respect and love. This is when true learning can happen.
As a former public school teacher, I finally feel like my whole self in the classroom. I no longer have to “be careful” with what I say or suppress the whole truth. It is so liberating! Alongside the entire school community, I am able to create an atmosphere where our students are free to fly in their faith as well.