Story by Jennifer Miller
Who would have ever thought that a worldwide pandemic would completely transform how Seventh-day Adventist schools reach kids for Jesus while maintaining high educational standards? On March 16, Pennsylvania Conference transitioned to distance learning, due to a mandate from the governor’s office.
Schools immediately needed to change everything—from how teachers connected with students, delivered lesson material and educated students to rely on Jesus during this crisis. This was a mammoth task to launch with such short notice. While some public schools were unable to accomplish this, educators across the conference rose to the occasion to satisfy academic requirements and to follow the call God gave them to teach and share the gospel.
Educators used a variety of means, including Zoom, Google Classroom, Google Hangouts, phone calls and text messaging to personally connect with their students. They delivered material by emails, scanned documents, text messages and information packets mailed or dropped off at homes. Teachers spent countless hours online, phone calling, messaging and emailing to ensure students (and parents) understood the assignments.
Beyond academics, teachers intentionally connected students to Jesus. This looked different in each school. Some students wrote Bible verses on sidewalks and driveways to encourage neighbors. Others shared scripture, notes, letters and pictures with area medical professionals, patients and residents, paramedics, grocery store workers, truck drivers, mail carriers and family members. Still others prepared new recipes for their families or completed art projects to help loved ones know Jesus better. Several students even made masks to send to those on the front lines fighting the pandemic.
“I’m proud of our educational team,” shares Jeremy Garlock, education superintendent. “Education and the gospel did not stop because of the pandemic. Each day teachers, their students and families drew closer to Jesus. They learned to adapt, change and learn in spite of this sudden crisis. More importantly, God blessed all of us to draw closer to Him during this storm.”