When I graduated from Concordia Lutheran High School back in 1986, I left for college knowing I wanted to either go into business or to become a teacher. So, two of my first college classes consisted of Intro to Business and Intro to Teaching. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was not destined for the business world, but instead was called to be a teacher.
My first teaching job after college was a part-time math position at Bishop Luers. I really enjoyed the idea of a smaller school where I could get to know the students and faculty in a more personal way than if I taught at a public school. My five years at Luers was very enjoyable. I gained a lot of valuable experiences and developed friendships that still last to this day.
While at Luers, a colleague introduced me to Culver, IN. I had never heard of Culver before, but he said it was a great place to work during the summer. It is located on beautiful Lake Maxinkuckee, about an hour and half west of Fort Wayne. My summer “job” consisted of teaching basketball and indoor racquet sports during the day and then going home to my lakefront motel room and spending afternoons swimming and watching gorgeous sunsets on the lake. After my second summer at Culver, there was a full-time math position available for winter school. My wife and I decided it was an opportunity to work on my interview skills if I ever decided to get another teaching position in Fort Wayne. After a daylong interview with nearly 15 staff members, I was offered the job the next day. After discussing and praying about this offer, we decided that we would be on a two-year plan … and then go from there.
Early in my time at Culver, I had a few experiences with students that made me wonder if I had made the right decision to leave Fort Wayne to teach at a private boarding school. I also began to wonder if I had even chosen the correct career path. I would find myself entering my classroom not looking forward to working with my students. But then during a weekend devotion and prayer time that CHANGED everything. It occurred to me that I was focused on ME, and not what I was called to do. On a Sunday, I went to my classroom to prepare for the next day, and when I walked in to my room, I pretended that there were students in the room … and I said, “Good morning students. God loves you very much, and so do I. We’re going to have a great day.”
My focus and motivation for teaching had changed. My classroom had now become a mission field. Students were no longer people I tried to tolerate, but now were opportunities to witness. After this awakening, my Culver experience really flourished. What had begun as a two-year plan, turned into a 17-year, life-changing experience!
It was during the 2014-15 school year, that I begin to feel an urge to return home to Fort Wayne. I started having thoughts that I would be nice to finish my teaching career where I had had so many wonderful high school memories year earlier. I began having conversations with my cousin, Kim Nash, who is a guidance counselor at CLHS. She said she would let me know when something came up. Fast-forward to 2015. Kim calls to tell me that a math teacher (Phil Brackmann) had just been hired as the new Dean of Student Success, and that there would most likely be a math opening for 2016-17. God had provided this opportunity for me to return home, and I am so thankful that He granted me this opportunity.
While CLHS is not the same as it was in 1986 when I graduated, it is still magical to walk down the same halls I walked as a student. One of the changes that has taken place since my graduation is Koinonia. Something like Koinonia is one of the reasons I felt led to return to Concordia. CLHS is a mission field, and there is no better way to connect with students than in small group settings. I look forward to this time every week. I treasure the opportunity to share my life experiences and to encourage my students in their walk with Christ. I have shared, on several occasions, with my group that I was not very spiritual when I was in high school. But my experience at Concordia planted the seed in my Christian walk — and is an important part of who I am today. So I am so blessed to have the opportunity to give back to the students and staff of Concordia Lutheran High School.
As we begin this season of Lent. My prayer is that you will remember the trials and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a new and refreshing way. Life is a mission field, and every one of us has an opportunity to share their faith with the people they come in contact with. I am just fortunate that I have this opportunity working at Concordia Lutheran High School.