I enjoy bringing all the faculty and staff of ECA together once a month for an “All Hands” Meeting (I can’t help but use some Navy lingo). While together, I teach on some topic, then allow time for splitting into small groups to share stories and relate to the topic personally. A story emerged out of our last meeting that touched me and everyone else in the room.
Justine Atkins, ECA’s Pre-Kindergarten Aide and Middle School Volleyball Coach, was once an ECA student. She transferred in at 7th Grade and remained through graduation in 2002. Yet, she will tell you that it was not a happy time for her. Though she was raised in the church and in a Christian home, she did not have faith in Christ. She had learned to say the right things and keep a low profile, often concealing her rebellious heart and sadness.
Amidst this difficult time, Justine signed up to be an Office Aide during a free period. That put her in regular contact with the office staff of Joyce Lanford, Debra Rohrer, and Marcia Iverts (Joyce has since retired from ECA, but “Deb” and “Marsh” are still here!). And it was these three ladies who showered Justine with kindness and slowly filled her hardened heart with joy. They were so genuinely happy to see her every time she walked into the office, they affirmed her in her work as an Aide, and they saw her in a way that left her feeling loved and valuable.
Justine did not come to faith in Christ until she was 20 years old, well after she left ECA. Now she is back as a teacher with four of her own children in the school.
Back to the All Hands Meeting… As we randomly split into small groups to share stories, Justine heard Deb humbly downplay her ability as office staff to teach from a Christian worldview (my topic for the meeting). Justine stopped her in her tracks, and she was able to encourage her encourager by reminding Deb of the one bright spot in a dark time of her life. Deb and Marsh and Joyce had made a deposit in Justine’s heart, one that was clearly remembered nineteen years later. The everyday kindness of this office staff now lives on in Justine’s testimony and her service to others in the school today.
I was touched by Justine’s story, especially as I considered how she has been making deposits in my own daughter’s life this year as her volleyball coach.
God is good.
Head of School