Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)


My father-in-law, Clare DeGraaf, is a man who seeks to see things in a new way at every stop on his hero’s journey. He is faithful to discovering the new.  His hero talk told about his journey as an inventor some forty years ago as he developed the ubiquitous tilting mechanism supporting office chairs everywhere.  He sees the new in ways to share the Gospel with the deaf community.  He sees the new in innovating ways to care for people on the street.  He sees the new as he recognizes each person he meets as an image bearer of God.

At Journey we love to discover the new things in each day, whether it’s a new way of giving a tour of Journey Academy, hosted by our heroes in this time of distance; or whether it’s in the way that we welcome prospective heroes for a Shadow Day.


Throughout his Shadow Day, Max was been guided by the heroes of Journey Academy rather than some stuffy aging program director.  Above, you can see Jaina engaging Max during Core Skills as she reads Fly Guy and asks Max his thoughts on the story. Journey values  new ways to do things.

We believe there are some new ways to “do school” as well. You can read more about our approach to learning where we articulate our identity, the beliefs that guide us, the capabilities we look to foster, the skills we ask the heroes to demonstrate and the environment that we set up for them to learn.

During Core Skills, Will toggles between reading books about basketball, learning at his own pace on an adaptive on-line platform as well as working with letter combination manipulatives sprawled out over the studio floor.

The older heroes continue to co-plan for the Intermediate Studio with me over lunch time.  Miss Cheryl had wisely called them to develop a draft of the IS badge plan for mastery.  As heroes master skills as well as content, they earn badges.  Miss Cheryl invited the older heroes to start thinking about what kinds of performances and skills demonstrated could earn character badges.  They shared some of their initial thoughts about service as well as skills over lunch.

And as I munched on my Cobb Salad listening to them, I was struck by their nonchalant embrace of planning a studio for learning.  This is what they’ve known and they are developing into intentional learners capable of failing forward as well as advocating for themselves.  They’ve been faithfully pursuing their journeys.  It’s quite heroic.  And it’s quite new.  Let us wait as God calls them into all that they were designed to be.

//Dr. T//


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springs up

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up… (Isaiah 43:19)

New things.

The Kingdom is all about new things.  The Kingdom is all about springing up and blossoming.  As heroes immerse themselves in all things innovation, they are starting to see the reality of this declaration documented by Isaiah.

Mr. Randy said, “I think I have the coolest job ever,” as the heroes hung on his every word.  “I get to imagine what could be and then invent it with our 3D printer.”  The “ooohs” and “aaaahs” with each printed piece felt like the 4th of July had come to Journey in March.

Mr. Randy had come with Ms. Heidi to share about their journeys as innovators at Amway, our neighbor.  As Ms. Heidi oversees the land that Journey Academy is located upon, she asked the heroes for their insight into how to steward the land well, especially after their Field Study this fall.  This type of real world learning is a marker of Journey Academy’s approach to learning.

As I gave an after school tour to a potential hero and his family, I asked, “what do you like to do?”

“Build things” was his immediate response.

To bring into reality, something that is not is following in the footsteps of our Creator.  As heroes go old school and pull out the K’NEX, they are getting into the granular side of innovation.  Mr. Chris (Miss Cheryl’s brother) came in for a hero talk about his innovation journey with K’NEX.  He shared about using K’NEX since he was five years old and how it continues today with his four-year-old daughter.

As the heroes watched, Mr. Chris demonstrated his various drafts of a ball thrower for his dog, reminiscent of a catapult.  He took them throw his early failures all the way to his final draft, pictured above.  As he was demonstrating, Elias, in a well known stage whisper, called out to Ms. Sarah “He’s doing prototypes!” These real world connections help what can be clunky vocabulary like empathy and prototype click for heroes young and old.

Jonathan made the historical connection as Mr. Chris wrapped up. “They used this in the Middle Ages to attack castles.”

“And now I’m using it to keep my dog busy,” quipped Mr. Chris as he inspired the heroes to engage in prototyping of their own for their upcoming quest on innovation.

Innovation continues throughout our day.  As I was ducking into the Elementary Studio, I saw Miss Cheryl and Holden having a guide conference when all of sudden Holden erupted into a celebration dance.  I later found out when he came to me with a proposal that he had discovered Helperbird, a tech extension designed to make the web more accessible and productive for readers that need some support like Holden.  He knocked on my door and advocated for himself, making a pitch why Helperbird would be useful for Journey. He was persuasive and we’ve gotten the extension for our school.  With a variety of supports in already place, this kind of learner-driven innovation is what makes Journey such a special place.  Owning his education, Holden has come to know what he needs and figure out how to leverage that support.

Finally, this picture of the whiteboard in my office might not suggest new things at first glance.  But Thursday lunches this session have seen me hosting the older heroes for lunch as we start to dream about the Intermediate Studio next year. Over the years, I’ve dreamed about education in a multitude of ways, failures and successes.  This is my first chance to co-create with ten, eleven and twelve-olds and I’m quite certain this is the way that innovating for education should be.

In one translation of Isaiah, the word is “Behold” rather than “see.” It seems most appropriate as I survey the new things springing up in our midst.

May we all behold!


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