I'm Different Today

July 02, 2020 | Education | Jay Wintermeyer

I read a study recently that theorized how the loss of education during World War II had lasting negative effects for more than 40 years.

It’s interesting how a little perspective enables our minds to process and assimilate what’s going on around us. If you had asked me to read that study six months ago, I would not have had the thoughts I’m processing today. I would have looked at it, made a mental note and moved on. 

Today, that study stopped me in my tracks. What effects will COVID-19 have on my nephews, on my grandson? 

The more I’ve processed the study in light of the coronavirus outbreak, the more thankful I am. I am deeply moved by how Adventist teachers bravely faced the challenge of finding ways to keep kids learning and growing even when their classrooms were completely removed from the equation. This issue highlights these heroic efforts.

It made me stop and reflect how education made me who I am today, simply by always being present. I’ve never had to face a lack of school or a paucity of caring teachers in my life.

There are three educators who immediately come to my mind who’ve made a powerful contribution to the man I am today. Lynn Futchcar, my primary Sabbath School teacher; Patricia Eiseman, my sophomore English teacher; and Carol Summerlin, my junior Bible teacher, all spoke life into my soul during my formative years. 

Lynn took a quite shy boy under her wing and encouraged my creativity to flourish. I remember how she asked me what we could do make the Sabbath School room more inviting. Lynn let me cut down a tree and bring it into the classroom. Together, we hot-glued silk leaves and flowers onto that dead snag, bringing a little of the outdoors in. Because of Lynn’s encouragement, I see the world differently and am able to express that through photography and countless other outlets. 

Patricia taught me how to treat others with respect as well as how to begin to understand ways to effectively communicate through written word. I remember the freedom she gave me to express myself, first through journaling and later in more public settings. Because Patricia loved me and showed that care openly, I am able to be vulnerable more than ever before.

Carol is another who made a special contribution to my life. She helped me begin to see past the do’s and don’t’s of religion. For the first time, I remember beginning to be able to see God’s unconditional love. Carol also gave me a glimpse of what a prayer warrior can look like. 

I am a different and better human today because Adventist educators cared. As you read this issue, I invite you to consider this incredible gift and ministry we have in our teachers and schools here in the Northwest.