I tend to be an optimist and believe that together - with the strength of God and others - we can work through many of life’s challenges. One or our staff recently reminded me that it’s also important to recognize our losses and why we are feeling sad and disoriented in times of life change. For many of us in the current COVID-19 situation, we are missing and aching for ‘normal’ and for others and - our families, our colleagues, our sports teams, our friends. We want stability and security. We acknowledge the weight of our pain and suffering before God, and in the midst of it all, acknowledge the God above it all. When it feels like the world is unreliable, we can remember God never leaves us. He is our salvation in every moment.
Our angst is real. So, also, is God’s strength, the refuge He offers us, and the salvation we have in Him. We will encounter trials. Jesus tells his disciples to expect them. When we face difficult times, how do we hold on to hope? King David knew a few things about suffering. As we read David’s Psalms, we see him fighting for hope. He struggled through threats to his life, country and his leadership, family brokenness, betrayal, the death of a child, and much more over the course of his life. In his writing in the Psalms, we see his incredible strength and an example of how to cling to hope in hard times. Psalms offer an example of fighting through emotional and spiritual difficulty and will help you look to God for hope in hard times.
Even in our greatest struggles, we can know that God is walking through it with us. (adapted from crosswalk.com)
Bible reading this week: Psalm 71
If anyone is interested in this Bible study about hope through hard times, here is a link: https://www.crosswalk.com/
A time for... Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 3.
If you are like me, you sometimes hear yourself saying, “When this or that happens, then I will . . . or, If only so and so would do this, then …. " In longing for some future good or longing for the good old days (of teacher strikes and railroad blockades :) we sometimes forget that every day — regardless of the weather or our circumstances or pandemics or finances or mood or health — is a gift from God to be used for His glory. According to author Ron Ash, “We are where we need to be and learning what we need to learn. Stay the course because the things we experience today will lead us to where He needs us to be tomorrow.”
In every season, there is a reason to rejoice and an opportunity to do good (Eccl. 3:12). The challenge for each of us every day is to find something to rejoice about and some good to do—and then to do both. (adapted from OurDailyBread.org)
Looking for spring: I was looking for signs of spring and look what I found (look at the very bottom of the photo)! Do you know where this is? Be specific - which window?
Blessings for your week, Mrs Verbeek.
The other day when I came home from school my daughter requested a signature on her math test. You see, I had been working with her a lot on her math this year, and so when it comes to math she asks her dad. She had scored a lot of 88% or higher, but this one test stuck out; it was in the 60’s. How was I to react? I looked over that four page test, and though she did great on three pages, she hadn’t done well on one page. Upon closer inspection I realized that she actually knew the concepts, but I didn’t particularly like how the one page was graded by the teacher; you see my daughter received a 30% when I knew that she showed that she understood it, but made a few mistakes. I so wanted to call up the teacher and ask the teacher to reassess that page, but I didn’t because I recognized that in the great scheme of things it doesn’t matter. My daughter is not defined by one poor test.
This week report cards and map test results go home. Reports are one way to communicate how each child is doing at school. Wouldn’t it be great if students received all 100% or Advanced, and level 4 for every subject area and criterias, but then we wouldn’t be telling the truth, would we (assuming that no one has received a perfect report card)? Or wouldn’t it be great (as a teacher) if we didn’t have to give out any marks, and just encourage students to do excellent work, but that is not how our current education system is set up.
In Max Lucado’s book, “You Are Special”, the main character Punchinello was living life in his town trying to receive stars for doing well, rather than dots for not being particularly talented at anything. He just didn’t feel good about receiving all the dots that he received, and pretty much stayed home to prevent himself from receiving any more dots. That changed when he noticed that someone didn’t have any stars or dots and wanted to be like her, a character named Lucia. She pointed him in the direction of his Maker who said, “You are special because I made you. And I don’t make mistakes.”
That is exactly how it is with our children. We value them for who they are, created by God, and not for what they have done academic wise. As teachers we strive to have all our students do well, and to reach all students where they are at, but at the end of the day we remember that students like ourselves are God’s created beings. In fact, we are loved by God unconditionally, and so valued that he sent Jesus into the world. Praise God that he values all His children! Have a great March Break!
WCS Quiet Time
Consider the energy and intensity that often accompany the middle of the school day. Lunch and recess provide students with opportunities to run, play, eat, and socialize. Teachers often see this energy spilling over into the classroom as students reenter for the learning block that follows. Students come into the school, laughing and talking loudly; sometimes they return upset about something that happened in the playground or on the soccer field. The energy can be overwhelming for both teachers and students. So how to transition from high energy time to work time?
One of the Responsive Classroom strategies that we have implemented school-wide at WCS is Quiet Time. Just 10 to 15 minutes to read, write, draw, work on a puzzle, or do some other quiet work can help students take a physical, mental, and emotional breather so they are more ready to engage in learning in the afternoon. If you were to visit WCS following morning break, you'd hear quiet music, you'd see classrooms with lights dimmed, students drawing, reading, or just sitting quietly. Students learn to 're-set' from active body mode to a calmer, more focussed mode. Many teachers say they can't imagine school without quiet time. Some teachers even say they save time, because many disputes and worries that spill into the room after lunch often dissipate as students relax into quiet time. Quiet time offers an opportunity for students to transition back into the classroom in a purposeful and relaxed way so they are more ready for an afternoon of learning. (Sources: wcs practices & responsiveclassroom.org)
C. Verbeek, Principal
February can often be a blah month - I am sure many of you can agree. Here at Woodstock Chrstian School our junior and senior grades help break up the February blah’s with electives - activities such as baking, skiing, hairdressing and other alternate activities So we as primary teachers also decided to break things up for the students in our primary classes this February as well.
In Grades 1, 2, and 3 this past month we have been enjoying a combined grade exploration unit about Structures. We are learning that structures need to be strong and stable, that they need a strong foundation and strong materials in order to support a load. Students are experimenting with building, using various materials, while also exploring some man made and God made structures in creation. One of the great things about Christian education is the opportunity to weave our Christian faith in to all that we teach. Throughout our primary devotions and structures unit studies, students have made connections to the parable of the wise man and foolish man and how we as believers can build our lives on God’s Word, the Bible which is a solid foundation. Students have also learned that there is a time to build and a time to tear down, a season for everything- a message from the book of Ecclesiastes.
When you are in our school building take a moment to walk down our primary hallway and enjoy the photos on the bulletin board displaying our learning from this unit.
WCS PANCAKE BREAKFAST is happening tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, February 19th. Students are excited about wearing pyjamas, carrying their ‘stuffies’, and eating deliciously sweet and sticky pancakes with their buddies. As a school, we also get excited about being able to support children in countries like Cambodia and Zambia with school supplies, resources, and education programs. Did you know that at least 72 million primary school-age children worldwide are not in school? Children either live too far from schools, need to work/earn money to support their families, or they can’t afford essentials such as uniforms or school supplies. Our annual pancake breakfast @ WCS helps support our neighbours around the world. This year, breakfast money is designated for World Renew.
World Renew’s goal is systemic, generational change in five key areas: community health, food security, economic opportunity, disaster response, peace and justice. When we partner with this agency, we are supporting programs that work across these areas, renewing more hope for more people in all the ways that count. Check worldrenew.net to read stories of strength, courage, and the faithful love of Christ present around the world.
So, students, wear your pyjamas and bring your appetite and your favourite 'stuffy' to our annual pancake breakfast on Wednesday, February 19th. The cost is $5 per person or $20 per family. Donations will be gladly received for the work of World Renew. Education is one of the most powerful tools for reducing poverty. Thank you for joining us in changing stories for hope.
It’s recruitment season at Woodstock Christian School. Last Thursday evening, we held our annual kindergarten information session. Representatives of the Community Relations Team prepared and set out refreshments. Chairs were set up, screens and projectors and presentations were ready to go. Our 7th graders who were telling about their school experiences arrived, spruced up, with cue cards in hand. Board and committee reps were present to be able to answer questions about governance, finance, transportation and membership. As more and more new and potential families arrived, more and more chairs were set up! Various staff members spoke about the everyday happenings at WCS, and the bigger picture, who we are, what we strive for, and how we offer a different kind of education - a school that sees God in everything we do. Education that sees each other as people uniquely made and as image-bearers of God, sinful - yes - but forgiven and forgiving as we experience God's tremendous grace. It is exciting to be able to share who we are, our mission and vision and our school’s distinctive perspective with a brand new crew of parents. A WCS parent told the story of the nurture her children have experienced here and the growth and learning she has seen. She knows that God is in this place. It made me wonder about the story each of us is telling. We are partners. WCS is our school and we are on this educational journey together. How has your family been blessed? What’s your story?
Gates of Praise https://www.dpmuk.org/article/devotional-gates-of-praise
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
How important it is for each of us to know the way into God's presence! How do we enter His gates? How do we come into His courts? The psalmist points out the way that God has ordained: We enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. It is only as we come to God with thanksgiving and with praise that we have access into His presence.
The prophet Isaiah likens the presence of God among His people to a city, concerning which he says: "You will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise" (Isaiah 60:18). The only way through those walls of Salvation is by the gates of Praise. Unless we learn to approach God with praise, we have no access into His presence.
Confronted with this requirement, we are sometimes tempted to look around us at our situation and ask: "But what do I have to thank God for? What do I have to praise Him for?" There may be nothing in our immediate circumstances that appears to give us cause to thank or praise God.
It is just here that the psalmist comes to our help. He gives us three reasons to thank and praise that are not affected by our circumstances: first, the Lord is good; second, His love endures forever; third, His faithfulness continues through all generations. All three are eternal, unchanging facts. If we truly believe them, then we have no alternative but to praise God for them-continually!
Mrs. Karen Poort
Growing in Faith
One of our guiding documents at Woodstock Christian School is the Student Character Profile. In developing this document a few years ago, our desire was to articulate more fully the words in our tagline - FAITH, LEARNING, COMMUNITY. As we partner with you in your child's education, join us in praying for and and working together to cultivate, and to model for our children/ students these key characteristics and skills. While GROWING IN FAITH, students will:
• live their lives in thankfulness to God, praising and serving him
• think critically, test the spirits of this age, and show thoughtful discernment
• share their conviction that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world and that God the Father is the creator and keeper of all
• have a sense of wonder for the fallen but beautiful creation
• show basic Biblical literacy, cultivate a Christian worldview that combines intellectual understanding of God's call on their life with the awareness of the need for action through the prompting of the Holy Spirit
• possess a deep understanding of God's grace and a sense of humility about self
• articulate that God created them uniquely as his image-bearers, that God loves them, and has called them serve in this world
C. Verbeek, Principal
We are all aware of the distraction and distance our cell phones can or have created with others and the impact they can have on relationships. In November, I was reminded of the blessings that can come when devices are absent from a gathering.
During Parent/Teacher conferences we (the staff) were blessed to have supper prepared for us. As a staff we gathered in the staff room to break bread together. We had an hour to look up and meet each other face to face. During that time the room was filled with much conversation, laughter, support and really, over all, peace. It was lovely.
It wasn't until I returned to my classroom and checked my phone (that I had left on my desk) that I realized the blessing and the presence of God that existed. It hit me that NO ONE, I repeat NO ONE was on their phone or even had it out. We were truly in community. We were truly breaking bread together. We were truly in relationship with each other. We were doing what God has intended for each of His children- being in and building relationships.
God has put that deep sense of desire to connect, to belong and be face to face with others in each of us. Next time you are at home, out with family or friends, watching your kids play a sport; etc; Look Up! Don't miss the blessings God has waiting to pour out on you and those you are with.
It’s a brand new year! Welcome back to WCS in 2020. Wishing you God’s blessings, strength and grace as you journey through this year. Whether you are about to walk through the greatest year of your life, or the most challenging, know that God’s word and promises hold true. It’s a new year and as we plan how we will live our lives this year, perhaps make some changes and resolve to do things better, be guided by these words from Psalm 119 in which the psalmist recognizes God as a God who makes and keeps promises, who is strong, generous, wise, and loving. Teach me lessons for living, give me insight, guide me down the road of your commandments, give me a bent for your words of wisdom, divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way, affirm your promises to me Let your love, God, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised (vs 33-41, The Message. Reframe: Today) Be confident that God will use you and build you this year. Trust that he will provide and that his grace and love will continue to flow over and through you.
Blessings for 2020.
Christmas season is here! It’s a great time of celebrating and showing good will to others. At WCS we have the blessing of keeping Christmas all year! Enjoy the words of this song:
Let’s keep Christmas the whole year through;
Think of all the good we’d do
Light the spirit of love anew
So that all the world might see.
We’d be patient and kind and good;
Understand and nee understood,
Treat each other the way we should
So, we’d live in charity.
Christmas time is a time to care,
Full of love that you want to share,
Christmas time is a time to give,
It’s a whole new way to live!
Let’s bring Christmas to every heart;
Love and joy that will ne’er depart,
Each one wanting to have a part,
What a difference that would be!