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Missionary to the Savages

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Who:  Kara Bertke, 6th grade teacher

When:  Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Where:  Regents Academy, Nacogdoches, Texas

Why:  Attempt to tame the savages (a.k.a. 6th grade students)

How:  After reading Sandra Boswell’s Prototcol Matters and finding that I have more gray hair than I care to own up to, I have realized that it doesn’t take a lot to raise children with high self-esteem.  It does, however, take much of the right thing!  The most important concept that our children must understand to have confidence in themselves is that Christ did it all for them on the cross.  Their sins were forgiven and they can’t work hard enough to make our Father pleased with them.  Their value, worth and salvation is found in Christ alone.  Christ has fought the fight for them and their sins are washed clean by His precious blood.

The next skill that children need in order to grow strong and grounded is manners.  A child who knows and has applied manners in a variety of situations and with people of mixed  age and gender has such an advantage in life.  When a young man knows that he shouldn’t sit before all the ladies at the table have been seated first, he is at a great advantage in life.  A young lady who knows how to graciously accept a door being held open for her is light years ahead of what our generation today breeds.  It is because of these convictions that I remind my students daily of Christ’s love for each one of them, and it is because of these convictions that I arrange to have an etiquette meal brought in to 6th grade once a quarter.

Using Protocol Matters as a diving board, I try to plunge as deeply as possible into all the do’s and don’ts that make up our world of manners.  It is tricky to present these rules as being something that will benefit my students in the coming years without it sounding like Mrs. Bertke is just trying to add more no-no’s to our life!  After a brief and joyful discussion about the importance of manners, we get down to the nitty-gritty!  I teach my students the details of how to approach a table, when to be seated, which hand is used to place their napkin in their lap as well as appropriate table talk.  I always tell my students that they will receive a grade for their attention to their own manners, and we proceed to partake of a delicious meal that a parent brings in.

The happiness and warmth that is shared during our etiquette meals is indescribable.  The students are actively thinking of their neighbor and how to include all those around them in the table’s discussion.  The gentlemen are actually acting like gentlemen!  The ladies are considerate of the food that is being placed in their mouth.  It is a time for their teacher to sit back (not literally) and enjoy watching my active, rambunctious, and occasionally gross students interact in a civilized and courteous way that is reflective of the wedding feast that we will partake of in glory.

Praise God for our school.  Praise God for our country.  Praise God for our headmaster that allows me to slightly disturb the regular rhythm of our school day so that we might send out straight and strong arrows into the world of darkness which, upon hitting their mark, may do so with graceful manners!

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Private Soccer

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We are a soccer family.  My boys have been playing soccer with our city league for several seasons.  They have experienced several new team jerseys, first game-day of the season, awesome teammates, new coaches, numerous tournaments, new soccer cleats, bigger soccer balls and the list goes on.  Here at our school, you may join Regents Academy soccer team beginning in sixth grade.  This would include my oldest son.  The normal soccer season for schools is over, if you didn’t know, but we have some teams in the surrounding area that would like to get some Spring Soccer going.

Our coach just announced yesterday that we, Regents Academy, would be participating in a game this Monday and a small tournament at the beginning of May.  The first thing I heard out of my eldest’s mouth this morning, as his hair shot up in several different directions, “I can’t wait till Monday!”  Hearing words spoken with that much passion before 6 a.m. made my heart melt.  What others don’t understand about having your children in a Christian school is the sense of community and covenant that we share in this little school up on the hill.

Although our soccer team has come a long way, we are nothing compared to my son’s city league team.  His team from the city could whip our school kids even if we strapped all the city players together and blindfolded them!  The competition isn’t what it’s about!  (And my son is super competitive!)  The love, kindness, oneness in Christ and the encouragement is what my son thrives on while he plays soccer with his school.  My boys count down the days when Regents Academy soccer will start again, even the two that aren’t old enough to play with our school.  These are the rewards that far out pay the stresses of being here day in and day out.  My son’s words that anticipate his next game with the friends that really matter help me to shake the drowsiness that I am feeling at 5:45 a.m.  His words make what we are doing worth doing!   I love soccer!  I love to teach!

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