through Him

…all things have been created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16

As we wrote in our hero’s notebooks this week on the stumps about this verse from Colossians, I was struck how Paul was establishing the foundational nature of Christ.  As we looked out over the back thirty acres, I thought this was created through Him and for Him.  Paul went on the letter to say, “all things hold together in Him.”  This undergirding has come back to me a couple times this week.

The first two weeks of our Field Study quest have been rich with discoveries: the texture of soil, the layers, the gaggle of turkeys, the little snake, the fox den, the tracks and the scat,(the ooodles of scat). Listening to the ELS debrief their discoveries during Closing while I organized the back room, I heard theories developing about habitats. I heard ecosystems imagined.  I heard questions for further research.  

But as I came out of the back room to oversee dismissal, Clara, a hero from the Elementary Studio, met me and asked if I had heard what was discovered.

Ella had been exploring in the woods when she called out to Emmry, her older research partner.  “I found a parking lot!”

As Emmry went up to see, she said, “No I think this is the foundation for a house.  Maybe it’s the farmhouse we’ve been wondering about.”

The ES had gone on to look at the aerial photographs we obtained of the land from the Property Description and Mapping Office in City Hall.  And in their research, they found the farmhouse from 1968.  All that’s left now is the cement foundation.  But as they considered, the remains their imaginations were charged with how the land that their school is on has changed over the years and over the course of history.  

Often, we look to our foundations as a school to remember who we are as well as to tell the story of who we are.  Our mission is to help others find a calling and change the world.  Our values are being Christ-centered, Learner-driven, Curiosity-based and Courage-filled.  With this foundation established we invite others to join us. 

Looking to bless the Grand Rapids community with a chance to join in on our curiosity-based learning, we offered a taste of the same innovative learning we provide throughout the school year. Participants directed their own learning, practiced curiosity and demonstrated courage in the face of failure and challenge in the Escape Room. In a lovely bonus, we raised four hundred and twenty more dollars for our Tuition Assistance Fund to make it possible for heroes and families to attend Journey Academy.

We are fueled by new discoveries each day as the heroes learn more and more about the place where they have been planted.  While we discover, we also remember that each of these discoveries have been made possible through Him.  And they are for Him.  We give thanks for the opportunity to learn this each day.

//Dr. T//

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slow down

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)

Sometimes the task of living at peace with everyone seems impossible.  But then there are other times when the revelation all around me fills me with a humble and sincere desire to live at peace.  I just need to be able to see it.  

8 a.m. is one of the more hopeful times of my daily journey.  Each morning, our team finishes our stand-up meeting where we check in about the day and I then filter my way out to the sidewalk to await the arrival of the heroes.  Will and Stella are often contending to be the first ones to school (We GOTTA go!). That kind of enthusiasm is contagious; to be sure.  

I’m blessed by the privilege of welcoming these heroes to their day.  And at the beginning of the week, I realized that I have the above pictured view each day.  I recalled the movie Smoke written by Paul Auster and starring William Hurt and Harvey Kietel.  In the photo below the tobacco shop owner Auggie explains how takes a picture of his same street corner every day, collecting the photos. 

Sitting there on Monday, I remembered the scene where Auggie shared his collection with William Hurt’s character.  And he gave him this advice, “slow down.” He didn’t want William Hurt to miss anything.  

There’s so much division and fear in our world that most days I could worry and hold grudges and miss the whole day.  Standing out on the sidewalk this week, I try to slow down. I don’t want to miss anything.

I remember.  And I take another picture on Tuesday.

I remember Claire who has come to see herself as a writer.  In her first year in the ES, she has taken hold of her journey as a writer-hero already drafted three narratives in three weeks and is consistently pleading for more time to write during the day.  

I remember again.  And I take another picture.

I see Emmry at my office door with a letter.  The ES heroes are finishing books during their independent reading.  They are reading books they’ve selected.  Now they are reflecting and responding to their texts.  And Emmry has chosen to write a letter to the author of her book.  Positioning herself as one who is able to “talk back” with all the respect and honor that Emmry can muster, she is taking the next step of her hero’s journey as a reader.  

Today I see the moment.  Ms. Sarah has developed a new method for marking growth through the badge system.  They have created buttons for each benchmark (such as writing a narrative or completing a quest or marking a faith milestone or finishing level 2 math) that heroes achieve during their year, this year.  She’s created stoles for each hero on which to button newly earned badges. And I’ve forgotten that today is the first pinning ceremony of the year.

Instead I’m walking to the printer, hurrying to get a bill payment so I can get it in the mail.

The applause stops me.  

And I step in to view the pinning ceremony.  Will is up on the “podium” with his badge being pinned.  

Not my first instinct, I still pull out my camera and I actually document the moment.  Auggie Style.  

I’ve slowed down.  And I get to see the shy smile of a hero that realizes he has taken another significant step on his young journey.

When I see God moving, I gain hope.  When I see God moving, my faith grows.  When I see God moving, I find peace that I can share.  

May we all slow down.  

//Dr. T//

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By His wounds, we are healed. (Isaiah 53) // Live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)

This current moment is asking a lot of each of us. And it has been crucial to remember the Scripture above that we wrote about in our heroes’ notebooks the past two weeks at Journey Academy. We have been holding on to the assurance of Christ’s forgiveness as well as the exhortation to live at peace with everyone.  And I am so grateful for the chance to walk through this moment with the heroes, guides and parents of Journey Academy.

As timing would have it, we are in the final week of a Quest focusing on racial reconciliation.  For our exhibition on Thursday, heroes are creating quilt squares representing some of the lessons they’ve learned from heroes like parent Christi Gilbert (pictured above) who is working to make things right in the education of over 13,000 students who are coming from non-English speaking families.  The heroes’ quilt squares will also represent lessons learned from the many biographies of the Civil Rights Movement as well as our other hero talks with Mr. Nate on empathy and Mr. George (pictured below). They will be sharing their lessons in written and spoken form as well as their visual analysis of illustrations in books that they have read.  

I conducted an interview with Mr. George on Zoom where he told his story of growing up on a farm in Mississippi with many challenges; as well as his transition to Memphis where he faced obstacles as a city worker; to his time with Dr. King coming alongside the city workers to work toward making things right in Memphis; to finally hearing Dr. King’s final speech of his life “I Have Been To The Mountaintop.” His closing exhortation to the heroes was to work towards reconciliation with kindness and prayer.  (Click on Mr. George link above to hear the full interview with him, it is a treat.)

In response, Miss Cheryl and the ES heroes collaboratively composed this thank you note. 

Dear Mr. George,
Thank you so much for talking with Dr. T about your experiences growing up on a cotton and corn farm, moving to Memphis, hearing Dr. King give his last speech, and what life has been like for you since those times. We are thankful that you are part of the solution of reconciliation and empathy that our world needs. We are inspired by your story. You inspire us to stand up for what is right and to show empathy to others. Thank you for giving us an example of what reconciliation looks like. Christ is our ultimate example of reconciliation and empathy, and we see God’s fingerprints in your story and the choices you make that you told us about. 
With deepest respect,
The Heroes of ES and Miss Cheryl

More and more, we are noticing God’s fingerprints all around us.  During Kingdom Time, we often practice worship on our circle of stumps.  We try to keep it simple so everyone can pick up the songs.  Here’s a playlist of our current worship songs.  You might even sing along with your hero at home or ask them to teach you the songs.  Notice that we’ve also tried to work in some classic spirituals that were significant fuel for the Civil Rights Movement.  The point each time is that we go back to the Source for the grace and strength to become reconcilers in our family, in our school, in our city and in our nations.  

May we all remember that through His sacrifice we have been healed and He is making us whole, reconciled and right.  

// Dr. T //

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