A Teacher I Once Knew

All Saints PhoenixA masterful middle school English teacher I once knew always began with her students by talking about the kind of classroom community they would create together. We can’t always control the world outside our classroom, she’d say. And what’s out there, well, we bring it all right in here with us. But we can choose how we will be here, together, in this classroom. We can create our own world.

As a middle school teacher, division head, and ultimately head of school, I returned to Ms. Sjostrom’s words over and over again—for myself, for students, for the school and church-school communities. How shall we be together in this place? Can we build, in some small way, the kingdom of God on earth, if only among us—one relationship at a time, one classroom at a time, one school at a time? And if we practice here, might we change our lives, relationships, and world “out there” in some bigger way?

For many grown-ups and children right now, these are trying times. For all, these are changed times. How shall we respond?

The season of Advent carries within it the promise of new possibility, of God’s love made flesh in a small child, fully human and fully one of us. As Episcopal schools, we are grounded in this same promise and possibility—of love, light, and redemption—and in the knowledge that the very human journey of that young child born in Bethlehem would be one of tireless teaching, trouble-making, and sacrifice to make manifest God’s kingdom on earth for all people.

As Ms. Sjostrom always said, here in our classroom we can create the world as we would want it to be. It’s up to us.