I recently read a statistic that stated that the number one predictor of a student’s success in the public sector is a child’s zip code. It is not IQ, school readiness, or the ratio of students to teacher in the classroom but where a child lives that determines if they will graduate from high school or complete higher education.

As I consider the factors that give our students the “success” of higher test scores in our schools across the nation, it has little to do with where a student lives but everything to do with how long a student is in an Adventist school. The Cognitive Genesis study shows us that students in Adventist schools outperformed the national average compared to students in both public and charter schools.

Potential and Purpose 

Our students enter the classroom each day to discover their God-given purpose and to learn skills that prepare them for a life of service.  These classrooms are led by dedicated teachers who want to fulfill the mission of Adventist education, which is to help each student reach their highest potential and foster a lifelong friendship with God that allows them to honor Him and bless others.

I asked several of our Rocky Mountain Conference teachers why they teach when they could easily do something else. As you read the hearts of these teachers, you will see they represent the mission of what makes our system so unique. Adventist teachers combine the best of academics and God’s love for each student as they minister to their students. The statements of these teachers reflects the best of Adventist education.

Why Teach?

“I love the daily opportunity to help each student experience how distinctly special they are in God’s eyes.” – Carey Jordan (7/8) HMS Richards Adventist School

 “I am a missionary of Jesus to connect Him with others.  I have chosen the “tool” of education as the vehicle to connect Jesus with kids and train them to share Jesus with the world.  The Seventh-day Adventist Church recognized the effectiveness of education in redeeming the world and, years ago, established a system of education that would “prepare students for this world and the next.” Mrs. White states in the book Education that “the work of redemption and the work of education are one” pg.30.  I am proud to be a part of the Adventist educational system with the goals of redeeming man by introducing people to Jesus and training them to go into all the world and spread the good news of Jesus.”  —Donavan Reeder, principal of Campion Academy

“Teaching was God’s plan for me! I was in nursing but prayed about what God wanted me to do. I love every moment in the classroom with my kids. They are always teaching me new things, and I challenge myself to pay close attention to each one to find out how they learn best. With God’s help, He leads my words and actions to build their characters first and then their minds. My goal is to make an impression on their hearts by my love and honor of Jesus. There are trying times in a classroom, but Jesus is my focus and motivation.” —Carolyn Adams, Lighthouse Christian School

“At risk of sounding cliché, I am a teacher because God said so. I always wanted to be a teacher when I was young, but then I was super shy in high school and terrified of public speaking of any kind—even in front of little people. After being a mom and adulting for a while, I heard God’s voice telling me to go back to school. All the pieces fell into place so quickly. I didn’t intend to teach at our church school, but again God orchestrated for those pieces to fall into place. Being able to pray with my students, talk about Jesus, and tell Bible stories has brought me joy I didn’t know before! There is no greater joy than sharing Jesus with children who don’t know who He is. The icing on the cake was seeing two of my non-Adventist students baptized last school year!” – Traci Pike, Casper

“This is a good question for all of us, especially as teaching becomes more difficult for a myriad of reasons with a world full of anger and hatred. Daily, we offer our students a different perspective on what it means to be wrapped in Jesus’ love and how to respond to difficulties and disagreements. One thing I know for sure is that I am called to teach His children during these times, especially those who don’t know about God’s love. This year we have a new student who is new to hearing about Jesus. She asked us to pray for her dad, who has been in prison. After our Christmas program, she was so excited to introduce her dad to us, and we were able to shake his hand and tell him we have been praying for him. How wonderful is that?” – Pennie Wredberg, Lighthouse Christian School

“Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to be working with children. My goal in life is to inspire others, and I couldn’t think of a better way than to be in Adventist education teaching the little ones. Being a K-2 teacher, I am encouraged every day with the hugs, smiles, and cards that my students give me. Their love for others and Jesus truly makes me dedicated to this job! When things are hard, I remember that God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called, and I am extremely grateful to be called to this position.”  —Miss Fellers, Adventist Christian School, K-2 

“Love is why I stay in Adventist education. Teaching is not peaches and cream; it’s not even peaches. But in a world that’s falling apart at the seams, often in our own students’ precious lives, showing them Christ’s love is more important than anything else. They need to know and feel the comfort and safety of Christ’s love, and if I can do that five (sometimes seven) days a week for them, I’ll be there.  —Sarah Gould, Intermountain Adventist Academy,  K-1st

“In a time in our lives when hope seems frail, I show up for the future leaders of our communities, churches, and country. Children count on us to teach them, challenge them, and love them. There is no greater way to impact the future than through education. Adventist education offers an opportunity to emphasize a wholistic approach to educating students academically, physically, and spiritually.” — Sandy Hodgson, principal/teacher Vista Ridge Academy

“With Covid, some days, well, many days, seem daunting. Things continually change. Add Covid to expectations and teaching standards—it’s no wonder why many teachers leave education. My “why” for teaching in Adventist education renewed and affirmed itself a week before Christmas vacation. We get so hectic at Christmas, all the things that we have to do as educators, Christmas programs, Christmas gifts, and cards, let alone teach, that things seem to mount up, and you question if you were making a difference. It was Monday; teachers know Mondays are challenging, and you need every minute you can get. But God impressed me to allow a popcorn prayer, and just about all of my 17 students prayed. It was still and quiet as each student listened intently to each other’s prayer.  They had so many things to pray for as well as so many praises.  Each student was so in tune with each other’s prayers that it moved me to tears. My heart was full, and I realized the joy I have coming to school every day to teach my students about Jesus and His love for them. It also made me aware that I need them to teach me and mold me into what Jesus wants me to be.  They taught me about His love that day. What other job can you do where you get to hang out with your children and your students who love you and have fun! The tasks seem insurmountable some days, the job of teaching students to read sometimes seems impossible, but the rewards Jesus gives me daily are priceless and well worth it! I’d choose teaching again every time!” —Kari Lange, HMS Richards

 It’s our privilege

Each of us has the privilege to join with our teachers to minister to the children in our schools.  Thank you for showing appreciation and support for the teachers of your community.

Diane Harris, M.A., LPC, NCC, is superintendent of education for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.