Stepping into 4th Grade

I can’t believe we haven’t written since Christmas. Well actually, I’m not surprised as my one track mind has been fixated in one direction over the last few months. Perhaps Daniel’s Facebook and Instagram posts are about all that we have shared recently.
At the beginning of January I stepped in to substitute teach for the KICS 4th grade teacher who was taking maternity leave. I loved being back in the classroom, though it was a bit all consuming at times. Being in 4th grade was quite a shift from my previous middle school and high school teaching roles. However, I enjoyed the challenge and learned a lot along the way.
KICS started a J-Term this year. For the primary kids, each grade had a different direction that they focused on for a few weeks. In 4th grade we had the opportunity to dive in to discover Rwandan culture, history, geography, dance and language. It was a fun start to my three months in 4th grade.

The 4th grade class learning Intore (Rwandan traditional) dance

I also had the privilege of shepherding the kids through their second student-led conference of the year. It was so fun to see the kids take responsibility for their learning, set goals for their final quarter and articulate to their parents areas that they have grown and where they are struggling.

Student Led Conferences

On a daily basis I was the 4th grade homeroom teacher and taught Math and Science to both 4th and 5th grade. One major highlight for me was the first 15 minutes of each day. After greeting the kids as they arrived, we would begin each day with a brief class community time. We shared and discussed a passage of Scripture, sang a song or two and prayed – something that is so rare nowadays in typical American classrooms. I treasured those kids’ hearts as they lifted their voices in praise and as they prayed for one another and for the world.

I am so thankful for my time back in the classroom with these kids and once again reminded of what a joy it is to serve in this community in Rwanda. My time filling in as the 4th grade substitute came to a close at the beginning of April. The kids showered me with kind notes and hugs, though I will still be close by.  As the kids adjust back to their “real” teacher, I’ll now begin the transition to a different, more longer-term role as the Director of Teaching and Learning. Thanks be to God for this beautiful, yet short, season – for the challenges that came, the lessons learned, and the precious learning moments with students.

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Kids and Christmas Crafts

Josiah and Norah are at a fun age for messy play. Crafts aren’t quite crafty, yet. Their “crafts” are more of an exploration of color and texture and the products are a little-kid kind of beautiful. As we prepare for another Christmas in Rwanda, we’ve had some special moments together – so far we’ve done some baking and decorating cookies, finger painting a “Christmas tree,” and lots of coloring and cutting. We’ve also shared some lovely mornings with friends. In a few of the pictures below Josiah, Norah and I are decorating cookies with Katie and her kids who are new, dear friends. We have another big batch of cookies to make this afternoon for some special guests coming to visit for a Christmas meal. I can only hope they turn out as lovely as the first batch!

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Thanksgivings Continued…

I’d like to share one more thanksgiving, though this blog topic could continue with endless thanksgivings and praises. In mid-October, I returned to work full-time at KICS (Kigali International Community School). Josiah and Norah transitioned to being in a morning Montessori preschool very well, and in time we all transitioned to the new schedule.

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Josiah is in the red shirt… 🙂

That is a thanksgiving in itself, but I want to share more. I guess you could say that I had joyously agreed to step back in at KICS as a pinch-hitter – filling in where there were gaps. This semester I worked to “investigate” the current primary curriculum. Basically, I spent my time asking teachers and administrators questions – lots of questions, observing classes, digging around in old documents, inventorying resources, researching what’s out there in the realm of standards, curriculum and resourcing and working with the Primary principal to state concerns and suggest “next steps”. It was challenging, invigorating and I hope helpful for the school in the long run. Pinch-hitting again next semester, I’ll be jumping into another role – to teach 4th grade while the teacher is on maternity leave. I’m looking forward to the time in the classroom again and working more directly with kids.

All that said, in the way of thanksgivings, I thank our loving God and father that I have this opportunity to be back at KICS. I thank God for this school, for the privilege to serve alongside others with a similar desire to know Christ and to make Him known within this community and ultimately the world. As I “investigated” the curriculum, I was encouraged to witness many instances of teachers sharing the grace, truth and love of Christ with kids. I even had the opportunity to hear the Junior class share what they learned this semester in Bible class, and was personally encouraged by their testimonies and the Truth that they articulated with deep conviction. I praise God that He is at work in each student’s life as they hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and “are rooted and built up in him” during their time at KICS.

Last week, I was also offered the opportunity to continue serving at KICS next year in the role of the Director of Teaching and Learning. Humbled by the opportunity and acknowledging that I have a lot to learn in order to fulfill this role well, I’m thankful that the Lord has given me an unshakable love and commitment to the people that make up this school community and that he has called me back to more fully participate in the work that He is doing at KICS. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and I trust that He will be with me and will be my ever-present help.

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More Thanksgivings and Praises

Another praise we’d like to share is about a friend, Joy. Joy has been an important part of our lives over the last few years. When she returned home to Rwanda from school in India, Joy re-joined one of our church choirs – Prince of Peace. She has also been a part of the young ladies Bible study that meets in our home, and she was my Kinyarwanda language teacher for a season. Our lives are deeply connected, and she is a dear friend and sister to us, including to Josiah and Norah. On November 27th Joy had the opportunity to release her first gospel album. At the album launch Joy shared a few of the songs that she has written in over the last few years. On the whole, she testified to the grace and love of God in Christ. She truly shined that night as she proclaimed the Gospel through song. Thank God with us for our friend and His child, Joy, and the incredible gifts that He has given her as a musician. Pray that she would continue to use her gifts to share Christ’s love with this generation of youth in Rwanda. Also pray that as things return back to normal now that the big event is past, that she wouldn’t forget what God has done, that she would continually give thanks to Him and that she would never cease to unashamedly sing His praises!

Here are a few songs from her album. Enjoy!

Kamikazi Joy joy-albumlaunch

 

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