Trascending the classroom: LCA’s parent meeting is startling

Posted on 26. May, 2017 by in Christian education, LCA News, parent teacher, Santa Monica

parents-teachers-santa-monica-schoolBy Michael Ashcraft –

I finally went to one of the Lighthouse Christian Academy’s monthly parent meetings. The snack-and-chat meeting caught me quite off guard. There’s more here than meets the eye.

First, I kept waiting for it to get started while we conversed. After about an hour, I realized it had started and that there was no “business” to get to other than conversation. The business was getting to know people.

No, you don’t understand. This is not a waste of time. It’s a chance to break out of our smart phone bubbles and make friends — as adults. Meaningful connections. (This was actually startling because social scientists say kids make friends easiest, and it’s hard for adults to break out of their comfort zones.)

santa-monica-school-familyTo be truthful, it goes even beyond that. It breaks down walls.

It breaks the wall of the classroom, the artificial barrier between teachers and parents, between the classroom and the living room.

“Our best allies are the parents for educating our students,” said Principal Jack Mefford. He’s attended every parent group meeting — at Mrs. Lisa Clancy’s house one Thursday a month — since the beginning of the year. He smiles affably, listens to concerns and ideas.

One mom explained that parents tend to drop their earlier involvement in their child’s life because high schoolers are older, maturer and can fend for themselves. They just drop the kids off and forget about them. The parent group gets them back involved in their kids’ lives, she said.

Second, I learned A LOT about the kids who daily sit in my classes (I teach literature and Spanish). I found out that one of my students is a reenactor.

Reenacting is the coolest thing that East Coast does while the West Coast misses out. Reenacting is role-playing Civil War battles on a massive scale — 100s of people participate the reenact history. Each person plays a part, whether a townsperson or a soldier. I had never seen one — or even heard of them — until five years ago when I visited a cousin in Rochester, NY, one summer. The musketry and canons firing off on the village green and in the fields was a thrill.

So a student originally from Virginia did that! I was impressed.

Another student, I found out, is a secret actor and singer. Well, it was a secret to me. Previously, I had only known Ymani as a great intellect, no doubt a future doctor or lawyer. To find out that this straight-laced straight-A student has an unlaced alter-ego stunned me.

This is the riches of teaching. You share with human beings, their conflicts, their dreams, struggles and triumphs. The teacher is a facilitator, helping people realize their full destiny. Some are called to the Ivy League. Some to Broadway. Some to the mission field. Whatever.

A new facet was added to the gemstone of Ymani in my mind.

Another student had been bullied at came to our school to escape the hell of the public schools. This is the reason I teach in a small Christian school in Santa Monica. I was miserable going through the martyrdom of public school. My heart goes out to kids who are bullied.

The first time I came to Lighthouse I cried. The kids were pledging allegiance and praying. “This school is a refuge, a safe place, where values are still taught,” I thought.

I had slogged through evolution and existentialism. I was taught there was no God, no meaning, no purpose in life; you’re only an evolved brute brute beast. As a teen, I didn’t really know how to defend myself against these vicious ideas, although I tried.

I guess I was lucky to not be part of the popular crowd. Had I been, the abundant temptation would have been the one-two punch to knock me out — of salvation. Still, I didn’t escaped unscathed.

When I saw the chance to give kids values, I signed up, and I’ve been in Christian education ever since.

I’ve never see something so extraordinary as this innocuous parent group. It fights loneliness, the resulting social phenomenon from our society of professional specialization and individualized entertainment. When do you get a chance to know other parents in a school? To hear their relate-able struggles? It’s a support group.

The parent group resumes next year with Mrs. Clancy’s yummy treats. Rumors are afoot that a monthly morning coffee-with-principal will also be held.

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