joy and listening


For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

To begin our entrepreneurial quest, the guides invited parent Mike Kalis to give a hero talk about marketing.  After an afternoon of selling bananas, building houses for special clients out of marshmallows and spaghetti as well as developing tools to convince parents about buying a pet, Mike reflected this with me out loud. “If they could walk away with two things I’d want them to think that business is joyful and it’s important to listen to people.”

The heroes found Mike persuasive as they built with joy and listened intently.

In the middle of the afternoon, Mike told the heroes, “You heard what Dr. T wants in a house.  He wants a huge dining room to have big dinner parties. He wants a porch for sitting.  And he threw in a request for a zip line and game room for his grandchildren.” You’ve got ten minutes to design it with the materials you’ve been given.” I was eventually persuaded by Carter’s group who came up with an innovative zip line and a multipurpose dining area.  They heard my heart’s value of innovation and multi-tasking.

Even with all of this collaboration, the vast majority of heroes are developing individual products for the Children’s Business Fair.  Conversations around slingshots, lemonade bombs, doll clothes, pillows and placemats have resounded during the week.  They have been bringing their initial plans and elevator pitches to colleague-heroes for feedback.

It’s this blend of personalized projects with social engagement that creates the dynamic flow of Journey Academy’s day.  The joy and the listening are at the heart of our endeavor.  And they will continue to accompany us for the rest of our journeys.

//Dr. T//


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‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:22-24)


The ELS heroes are celebrating after solving the mystery of the missing robot, Echo.  For the past six weeks at Journey Academy, they conducted an investigation using fingerprint, hair and footprint analysis, as well as video surveillance, witness interviews and suspect interviews. They were seeking to find what was lost.  And they found it.

To complement our project-based work, our Kingdom time focused on Scriptures like Luke 15 and heroes were invited to use their hero’s notebook to document how they might use the verses on finding on their own hero’s journey of faith.  They discovered the Kingdom practice of celebration all on their own.  Richard Foster helped me to better understand the spiritual significance of celebrating.  Clark suggested to Ms. Sarah, “We should dance.” And dance they did, with all of their might.

After celebrating the skills they employed during their investigation, the heroes had one more “testing opportunity” to show what they have learned.  The exhibition yesterday was an on-line mystery where they had to solve a second “crime” that had been committed at Journey Academy.  They taught their families about the skills they learned and then guided them through the scientific method of hypothesis, data collection, analysis and conclusion using the Exhibition Mystery Guide (1) We invite you to try to view and solve the mystery like the heroes did.

And one other celebration happened today.  In the Journey model of personalized learning, heroes progress at their own pace. Stella’s pace has brought her to the day of transition as she moves from the Early Learning Studio into the Elementary Studio.  You’ll note on her stole, the badges of learning skills and content in which she has demonstrated mastery.  Join Stella and us as we dance with all our might.

Dance With Stella


//Dr. T//

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alka-seltzer and band-aids

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find. Matthew 7:7

As we start the new year, the heroes have completed their study, design and drafting of the new prayer space called the Restorative Room.  Through learning from our friends in the UK about Prayer Spaces in Schools, the heroes took what used to be a storage room and transformed it into a room for restoring as they have an individual, scheduled time each week for prayer, silence and contemplation.  With multiple stations, heroes have a range of choices for their time in the Restorative Room.  Our hope is that they will seek and find some Kingdom practices like journaling and meditating on Scripture (pictured above) useful for their individual spiritual journeys.

One of the things we believe that heroes need is for their learning  to connect. This is why our project-based learning called Quests are so important. We are trying to connect the different content subjects like science, math and history with content skills like writing, reading and Kingdom practices. In our current quest, the heroes are apprenticing as detectives as they are learning about forensics and the scientific method. Recently, Deputy Omar Dieppa from the Kent County Sheriff’s Department came in to give a Hero Talk about his journey in law enforcement.  And as they learn about observation and investigation, the heroes are seeing how Scripture highlights the same Quest skills of seeking, asking and discovering highlighted in the Scripture above.

Alka Seltzer and Band-Aids have been places for great learning in the Restorative Room. Heroes sit down at the Fizzy Forgiveness table where they consider someone they need to forgive or some way they need forgiveness. When they’re ready, they can drop the Alka-Seltzer into the bowl of water, offering or asking for forgiveness. As the Alka-Selzer disappears, they are encouraged to let go of the transgression.  With the world map, heroes are encouraged to simply find a place in the world, place a band-aid over it and ask for healing.  On this day, I join with the heroes and ask each of us to redouble our commitments and efforts towards practicing and preaching forgiveness as well as seeking healing.  

One of my favorite features of the Restorative Room is the Big Questions corner where heroes can post their big questions about life to God.  And Journey’s embrace of big questions moves beyond the Restorative Room into Writer’s Workshop where the heroes are just starting their work with informational writing.  Today, they brainstormed what they wanted to learn more about. Their curiosity blew me away as we spent the entire writer’s workshop getting excited about all the things about which they were curious.

All in 15 minutes.  Leveraging this type of curiosity and supporting it as it drives learning forward is what Journey is about. Needless to say, the excitement grows here at Journey.

May we carry our excitement, our fizzy forgiveness and our healing into this new year.

//Dr. T//


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rustling grass

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Matt 13:44


The heroes finished their third exhibition for Journey Quest called Field Study where they studied the thirty acres behind Journey.  They created an audio tour and website filled with their research content.

As parents, siblings, grandparents and friends were led by the heroes, the audio tour complemented the in-person guiding. At home we invited families to look over the website with the heroes and ask questions.  We invite you to do the same and consider the treasure we have found in our field.

As you consider, we invite you to listen to one of the worship songs the heroes learned during this session.  Appropriately named, This is My Father’s World

reminded us of who was passing by as we heard the rustling grass. May we all remember.

//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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