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Certified by The King!
by Tonja Taylor
3/23/2021 / Education
19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. -- 2 Timothy 2:19-22, KJV
"Are you state certified?" the interviewer asked me. I had been tutoring various subjects online and now the company was considering hiring me to teach ongoing group classes for enrichment.
"Not technically," I said, "but I have some masters classes in elementary education, with a completed first year of alternative state certification a few years ago. I also have over 30 years' experience teaching children and adults in many arenas, and this includes two years of full-time student teaching for different school districts, plus a few years of substituting."
"Wow, you have plenty of experience," she said. "Don't worry about the certification!"
Amen! I thought. After quite a journey--that I won't repeat here--I had finally realized that I loved to teach, and I could do that with or without a certification. Besides, "being certified" meant, in my state at least, that I had to take hours and hours of courses to "stay up to date" and then be confined to a brick and mortar classroom. Not for me, not at this state of life, in my 50s, anyway!
Not to mention that, with the virus junk, I would have been out of the classroom anyway in 2020.
The LORD is faithful and good, and He truly works all things together for our best and His glory. He helped me realize that, since I was 13 (a few decades ago!), I had enjoyed teaching. Teaching was my strongest gift, and I didn't have to have a state certification and be in a physical classroom to be a "real teacher."
I'd already done that, anyway. It had been one of the hardest things I'd done, but I know I had made an eternal difference in at least some students' lives! I had applied for a paraprofessional position at a local school district, and had been offered a full-time position teaching Piano Lab to 5 and 6 grade students, because I have seven years of lessons and experience playing the piano, plus many years of teaching kids.
After stating for years that we "needed more good Christian teachers in our public schools," and vacillating about whether I should be one of those (mainly because of fear of not doing it well enough, even though I'd been teaching private lessons, homeschool, small groups at church, and bigger groups of professional adults in various capacities), I finally decided to enroll in a state certification program. However, I didn't pass the music test (FYI, The state music test is more for band directors and covers a wide range of music theory, practice, and musicians that I neither remembered nor truly cared about).
This meant I could only teach that first year, and not continue teaching Piano Lab, unless I passed the test.
(That, to me, is one of the ironies of the formal education system--both for teachers and for students. As I've told many students in many schools for many years, "This test only measures a part of who you are! Regardless of your score, your families and I still love you!"
I know that, finally, the education system is starting to adopt different ways of teaching, such as project-based learning (PBL) and student-centric lessons, and it must: it's a different era, and these kids are almost born knowing and using technology, with lots of "whiz-bang" multi-faceted stimulation.)
However, I ultimately trust the LORD, Who orders my steps and directs my paths. I knew He'd opened this door--for me to influence the hearts of these sweet students in many ways for Him, while, of course, successfully teaching them to read, play, and perform piano music. So He touched almost 350 students that year through me, and I used many opportunities to plant spiritual seeds about Him--some subtly, but sometimes blatant.
I am bold about the LORD, because He is the Answer to everything, and He has done so much for me. I have also found that, state "rules" aside, the kids are hungry for and curious about God.
When I was hired a few years later at another school district--this time, to teach math and English to 4th graders, which was a pretty heavy load--I found the same. I rejoice to know that the LORD worked in so many wonderful ways that year, including leading two of my students to Christ! I did not lead them directly to Him, but His Spirit is always working through us, and there were other Christian teachers and professionals in the school. These two young ladies were ecstatic to tell me they received Jesus as their Savior and were going to be baptized!
I also remember my sweet Father God comforting me one day. I was at home after work and not happy, because I felt like I got very little done that I had planned, He said gently, "More has been accomplished today than you know."
Hallelujah! We pray and ask for wisdom and for Him (the Master Teacher) to anoint us and love and teach through us, then do what we know to do, and yield to His direction. He does the work, and we trust that He is doing more than we can ask or think or imagine, as it is written in Ephesians 3:20, and in Zechariah 4:6: 6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
I didn't teach for a couple years after that, but pursued and finally completed my 250-hour TESOL from an excellent Christian organization in the United Kingdom that provides such certifications--and which sows 100% of the course fees to one of seven evangelistic organizations that promotes the Gospel of our LORD Jesus Christ around the world! Hallelujah! It was a win-win!
Since I earned my TESOL, I have highly enjoyed teaching children and adults all over the world, from ESL, to reading and writing, to business, to test prep, to public speaking, to math, and more. I am also helping struggling readers in a public school many states away. The best part is helping these precious ones learn and grow, while praying for them and planting spiritual seeds as the LORD leads. In addition, I get to do this with a mainly flexible schedule, from the comfort of my own home.
So, am I state certified? No, nor will I ever be again. I'm not against it, and we need many teachers willing to serve that way. However, for me, it's a new day, a new season, and I'm thrilled about it. I have more satisfaction, flexiblity, ease, and financial prosperity than I ever had teaching in a public school building (plus, I have very few meetings to attend, and they're all online!).
I praise the LORD Who created me, called me, and equipped me, and has made me fit for His purposes in teaching. I am so thankful for His merciful, faithful hand that directs me to those people that need what He has put in me.
If you have become unsatisfied in your teaching career, or other path in education, seek the LORD. He knows all things about you and the future, and He leads us by peace and desire. Perhaps it's time for a change, and there are many careers at which you can succeed, with all of the skills and experience you have gained as a teacher.
If the LORD is leading you into the public school arena, then take heart, for He is with you and will go before you and make the way smooth, and give you great success, wisdom, and satisfaction!
"Faith begins where the will of God is known," said one great preacher, who is now in Heaven. Ask your Daddy God to show you the Path He has for you, and He will make it clear. It may take a few days or even a few weeks, but keep praying, reading Scriptures about direction and wisdom, and worship Him. Your Father Who is faithful and Who loves you so much He gave Jesus for you will answer you in a way you understand!
Glory to God! It just gets better from here!
Tonja K. Taylor is the author of many works, including THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCESS PEARL, P.O.W.E.R.* Girl! series. She and her husband Clayton minister the Word through teaching, preaching, and the arts, via River Rain Creative Arts (You Tube, God Tube), their church, and beyond.
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