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Trees, Trucks, and Quantifying Miracles
  • Community
  • Formation
Renee Polka

“If you want to buy a truck when you’re older, you’re going to need to know math.” 

This sage truth was told to me by one of my second-grade math students. I affirmed that indeed, he would use math skills to buy a truck someday, and I reminded the class that math is also useful for helping us understand the world around us. 

“Look at the tree outside our window. What could we measure about that tree?” I asked. 

“How many leaves there are... how tall it is… the number of branches,” they excitedly suggested. 

“Yes!” I told them. “We can measure anything about that tree, even how green it is or what the cells of the leaves are doing. We can count, add, subtract, multiply, and divide just about anything. This helps us gather information. And the more we know about something, the more we can make predictions about it.” I crouched down to their eye-level and lowered my voice. “When we study something, we see how perfectly God has made every detail in creation. Everything is a miracle!”

Working in the Development Office, I think a lot about the concept of measurement and prediction. What type of auction items receive the most bids? How many gala tickets should be sold to meet our Stretch Goal? How many donor meetings, newsletters, events, and grant applications are necessary to meet the needs of our students so that they can study at TSCS?

The answers are kept on excel spreadsheets and reports that this technical-minded fundraiser enjoys putting together! Data splicing and strategizing is one part of the equation.

The other part is measuring the intangibles of sacrifice and gratitude.

Some things are not so easy to put on a spreadsheet: the generous $10 donation of the grandparent on a fixed income; the $100,000 gift of the businessperson supporting their community in honor of all that that community has done for them; the TSCS family selling packet after packet of raffle tickets, knowing they are direct beneficiaries of the scholarship funds raised. How do we quantify a parent’s gratitude at the relief of being able to choose and stay at TSCS? How do we measure the impact of an education focused on presenting students with the True, the Good, and the Beautiful? – of an education where our purpose is nurturing the young generation of saints and shepherding them toward heaven?

Of course, we can share with donors about our SAT scores being well above average or stellar college acceptance rates, the common metrics with which schools measure success. But the best way is to come to campus, to experience our joy and share our stories. God is in every detail, and miracles are happening every day.