As I packed my suitcase to go to the teacher’s convention in Tennessee, I couldn’t stop thinking about so many firsts: my first day on the job, my first time in a new state and my first time at a teacher’s convention.  I was feeling overwhelmed. However, upon my arrival at the convention I saw many friendly faces and soon felt at home.

While sitting in the different sessions, all my scattered thoughts started to focus on one thing—the first day of school.  Ideas flowed and after prayer, devotionals and sessions at the conference, I knew with confidence how I would start my new school year.

Often the first day of school begins with your typical do’s and don’ts, rules, and expectations. But in a Christian school shouldn’t we begin with God?  Our job as Christian educators is to teach the holistic child and we are proud of this educational concept. Therefore, God should be presented as the core of all we teach. For the first time in a long time I felt inspired and recharged. I was not just a teacher, but a Christian teacher.  I realized that we are ministers for God. What an amazing responsibility God has empowered us with!

When I arrived home, I shared what I felt with my husband, Pastor Carlos Rodriguez. We began planning the first day of school—a first day I hoped my students would never forget because Jesus would be the center of attention.

When the students arrived at school they couldn’t believe their eyes!

They walked into a classroom where long tables were set up in the shape of a cross. They were adorned with beautiful tablecloths, food, grape juice, candles, and wicker baskets. There was also a huge wooden cross at the front of the room.  Suddenly, in walked Pastor Rodriguez playing the part of Dr. Luke from the Bible.  He presented to the students “How to Heal a Christian Heart”, and also the story of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us at the cross.

He asked the students to write on the four corners of a blank piece of paper all their worries about their first day of school. He continued his illustration by asking them to fold the paper into a boat and explained that we couldn’t get to Jesus by a boat. Then he instructed the students to fold the boat into an airplane, saying also that it was impossible to get to Jesus by air. Finally, he told them they should rip the wings off the plane because they were not serving the purpose of taking them to Jesus. He guided them to the foot of the cross where, one by one, the students tore the wings off the plane and dropped them there. Pastor Rodriguez then had them open up their paper and instead of holding a torn airplane, they now held a cross. But best of all, all of their worries were gone. They were all lying at the foot of the cross!

The students then took part in communion with the bread and juice. And because I wanted this to symbolize our fresh start together, I washed their feet. As I humbled myself as their servant I couldn’t stop thinking about Jesus. He lived His life ministering to and serving us every day until He died. He gave us an example to follow.  And so I began my 2012-2013 school year at Capital City Adventist Christian School ministering to my students with my eyes upon Jesus. My only hope is that as I teach I can reflect the character of our Creator and Redeemer to them so one day they can all say: “My first day of school was not just another day—Jesus was there.”

By Elizabeth D. Rodriguez, principal, Capital City Adventist Christian School in Minnesota, USA