Because life is a series of edits

Letter to My 8th Grade New Testament Parents

In Parents on August 21, 2012 at 9:08 pm

As school starts in two days and as I'm teaching New Testament to eighth graders this year, I thought it might be a good idea to send a personal note to my students' parents before we get started. I'm grateful for the relationship I already have with many of them to feel comfortable enough to send this.

Dear 8th Grade New Testament Class Parents,

It was good seeing some of you at the WISE Parent Training Conferences
this past weekend, as well as some of you at Meet the Teacher today.
Thanks for making the effort to come.

As we all finish up preparations before school starts on Thursday, I wanted to touch base on a couple of things:

1) I've posted my contact information on my RenWeb page, so if you or
your student needs to reach me, all the details are there. The good news
is that, as one of only two full-time Veritas staff, I have the
privilege of being available for questions just about whenever you might
have them. The other news, of course, is that as Head of School, the
hours of that availability vary week to week and often day to day,
depending if I'm at either campus, in meetings with parents, students,
and staff, or dealing with the crisis du jour (of which there are very

That said, you're welcome to try me whenever it's convenient, but if you
could first take a look at the different response categories I've
listed for each form of communication, that might help me sort out your
need on the front end. (Note: Please don't begrudge other teachers
having to set more narrow or specific hours than mine; as part-time
educators with other roles and responsibilities to make ends meet, it's
unfair to expect them to respond in a full-time capacity when they're
homeschooling their own kids or working part-time jobs to teach ours.)

2) In addition to the contact information, I've posted the first several
week's worth of lesson plans. My goal is to always be a couple weeks
out with them, and I'll do my best to make them as clear as possible. If
something changes, I'll always send out an email in plenty of time
letting you know. As you have feedback or questions, please contact me.
I'll post the syllabus for the course before class on Thursday, as I'm
tweaking a few things and would like the chance to review them one last
time before publishing it.

3) Finally, a word about New Testament class. Despite being
-trained and having taught New Testament multiple years to logic
and rhetoric school-aged students, this will be my first time teaching
this particular class within our blended model. As you can imagine,
challenges of time and selection abound, but all of them can be overcome
as long as we understand our goals here. I'll cover a lot of what I'm
thinking on this in the syllabus (so there's an actual reason to read
it!), but perhaps the most important thing I'd like to suggest is that
both you and your student commit (with me) to having a spirit of
teachability as we read and study the New Testament.

In my experience with students – particularly those who have been raised
in the Church and in Christian families – Bible class often gets
thought of as a "been there, done that" endeavor. This leads to students
not taking seriously the text because of its familiarity, thereby
writing it off as a book they've already "read." What we must help our
students understand is that we don't just read the Bible, the Bible
reads us – often speaking to, for, and even against us as God's Spirit
uses His chosen means to speak into our lives. I want our kids to get

In my experience with parents – regardless of whether they have been
Christians for a short or long amount of time – Bible class should line
up with what we've always been taught or believed…or else. This leads
to parents often being dogmatic about what the Bible just isn't dogmatic
about (or conversely, being lacksadaisical about what the Bible isn't
lacksadaisical about), and students get confused about what may
be "true" as much as finding and inculcating what such "truth" might mean. (To
be clear, I believe truth exists, that it all belongs to God, and that
He has made enough of it known to us so that we may love, trust, and
follow Him.)

Rest assured, as both a Christian and as Head of School teaching New
Testament, my intention is not to resort to novelty or heresy in
response to either of the aforementioned scenarios. I would ask all of
us, however, as we set out on our studies, that we begin even now
to cultivate a humble and teachable spirit toward God, His Word, His
Spirit, and each other, that all may lead us to love and be more like
His Son, Jesus. It will be interesting to see how God works in our 8th
grade micro-community, as working in community is always how God works.

All this said (and I'm sorry for my wordiness here), I'm looking forward
to having your student in New Testament and am trusting that
God's desire for us to be His people and Him to be our God would be
realized in our class. Thanks for the opportunity to share these
thoughts with you. By God's grace, it's going to be a good year.

Soli deo gloria,


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