Those three words always tend to put a smile in my face and a pep in my step. Then all of a sudden, I’m clapping and dancing like the kids on the Charlie Brown Christmas special, because the theme song from The Jeffersons is blaring in my mental music player and I just can’t help myself.
But after this summer, the phrase means a bit more to me. It was the theme for our church’s Vacation Bible School and let me tell you, it was a BLAST!
Our whole idea for our program was to do a back-to-school theme, but we (the pastor and I) decided that as the month of August kicks off, kids don’t want to hear “back-to-school” in any form or fashion--they wouldn’t have come to VBS. So when the name was chosen, we were thinking that it could signal the start of something new--whether kids were going to start their schooling as precious kindergartners, kicking off the year at a new campus, or moving on up to middle school.
I’ve been out of school for four years, so the preparation for this program took me back to my days at Bible college, putting together craft ideas and browsing through game books, sifting through lessons to teach during the week-long VBS (side note: week-long VBS programs are what I grew up with, and I believe the kids of today love nothing more than to have five days of what I call “Jesus fun”) and scrolling through Pinterest in my search for snack ideas.
Was it challenging trying to get everything together? Absolutely. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! (And as I write this, ideas for our next program have already been bouncing around in the walls of my head.)
But while my afternoons were filled listening to kids’ worship songs, running back and forth around the church, and copying off more papers for our incredible VBS workers than anyone could ever imagine, a thought kept popping up in my mind.
I only spent the summer getting ready for this program, for a program totaling ten hours in one week. But our local teachers--they commit so much more time and effort than I ever will.
I owe a lot to teachers, and I think we all do. They’re the men and women who cared for me and made an investment in my life that’s made an impact now. They’re the folks who saw that I had a talent for writing as early as the second grade, when I won my first writing award for a story about Rudolph losing his red nose.
They’re the group of people that thought I wrote a pretty good poem about the real meaning of Christmas as a fifth grader...the ones who encouraged me to take part in UIL academics as an eighth grader, staying after school or arriving before the morning bells rang to do practice runs and read my stories.
These teachers are the individuals who saw that I had some sort of talent during my freshman year, but because I knew that I would be able to hone my craft so much more, allowed me to continue with my classmates instead of move to another class.
And after that first UIL writing competition, they’re the ones who, during my senior year, trained me to the point that I did well enough to compete at the state competition.
Yet today...they’re the people I see at the grocery store or somewhere across town, saying that they enjoy reading my stories or they’re proud of what I’ve accomplished. I thank them for the compliment and smile sheepishly, because while I understand that God gave me this talent, He used these fine folks to strengthen this love of mine in becoming what it has today.
I also think about our administrators, and all the work that gets done at the highest level...the people who work behind the scenes who may never get the audible praise they may or may not be searching for...the parents who want to make sure their kids are doing their absolute best and are willing to do what they can for their kids and their education.
Everyone has a part, everyone can make an impact in the life of a child to do great things. God used me to reach some kids for one week, but teachers have an opportunity to spend nine months molding young minds and shaping little lives. As a community, we must never forget to pray for the teachers, faculty, staff and administration of our local schools.
So as I come back from my mini-dance party of that classic television theme song, I remember--we’re moving on up to a great school year full of endless opportunities and limitless goals and dreams. Let us all do what we can to show support, love and encouragement to those who educate others--whether in the schoolhouse, the church, or in the classroom of everyday life.
Belinda Serrano is a staff writer with the Sweetwater Reporter. Comments about this column may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org