MONTICELLO, Miss. (BP) – Pastor Sam Taylor of Monticello Baptist Church has heard about the challenges of being a teacher. He came from several members of the profession – active and retired – from his congregation. He heard it from his wife, Alyssa, who works as a teacher’s aide at Monticello Elementary School.
As tends to be the case throughout the country, especially in rural areas, the Monticello calendar revolves around the local school system. It’s the largest employer, Taylor said, and has a direct impact on the type of citizen you’ll end up having in Lawrence County. When it came to deciding how the church could help strengthen area schools, Taylor took a bold step.
This has led to efforts such as providing lunches for teachers and “snack buckets”, where students can receive a reward in class. But the partnership with Monticello Elementary’s Positive Behavior Program left the biggest mark. Through this, MBC held play days and movies for students who met the positive behavior criteria.
Yes, the partnership has brought several students and their families to visit the church. But teachers benefit just as much.
“I’ve had several conversations with teachers about what the program means for students,” he said. “COVID took a lot of the fun things out of school, the times when people were together. For students and teachers, having something to look forward to is important. »
On movie days, buses transport students to church for two separate viewings of the same school-approved film – one in the morning and another in the afternoon. It is treated as an excursion and reward for students who achieve their behavioral goals. Monticello Baptist provides the popcorn.
“It’s great to have fun, get out there and celebrate what you’ve done to earn this award,” Taylor said.
One state further, David Hobson is in his seventh year of teaching. That practically makes him a veteran, as half of new teachers in Alabama leave the classroom within three years.
Hobson wears many hats. At Dallas County High School in Plantersville, he teaches government and economics while serving as co-athletic director and coach of football and track and field. He is also the missions director at the Mud Creek Baptist Association in Bessemer.
“Absolutely, there are times when I find myself as a veteran teacher,” he said. Sometimes encouraging a new teacher who has had a tough day is a lot like encouraging a pastor.
“Ultimately, both [teacher and DOM] are a call to service. The great thing in either is finding joy in that service,” he said.
Hobson spent 15 years in student ministry before joining the Mud Creek Association. Students are a priority, he says, but those who direct them daily must not be far behind.
“I feel like the church is called to this school campus to deal with administration and faculty just as much,” he said. “A new teacher may be wondering if they made a mistake and need someone outside to tell them they are loved and appreciated, to get them through the week or even the rest. of the school year.”
Both are aware of the stories that led to the high teacher turnover that is being felt across the country. As the school year draws to a close, these teachers will enjoy a well-deserved break. This may also be a time for churches to reassess their involvement before August arrives and classes resume.
When that time comes, Taylor says, don’t underestimate the impact of a Christlike witness.
“If churches don’t help, schools will become increasingly difficult environments,” he said. “The learning environment and the skills of the students will only diminish. Our public education system can benefit enormously from the willingness of churches to engage, to mobilize members to reach out.
Hobson can understand the temptation for a teacher to go in another direction.
“There was a time when I myself thought of [leaving] and to give it up because I felt disrespected, condescending and even sometimes dangerous when dealing with certain superiors and relatives,” he said.
Both school systems are in rural areas, where lack of resources is a constant problem. If for some reason they need to switch to virtual learning, internet connectivity becomes an issue. Some churches have helped fill these gaps by providing Wi-Fi and a learning space for students.
Having a foot in both worlds, Hobson has ideas for how churches and schools can partner effectively.
“When it comes to churches, get involved. It really means a lot to a teacher because it shows them that they are not alone,” he said. “Teaching and ministry are two of the loneliest professions there is. We need to back and support each other in what we do.”