Sunnyside Christian School Blog

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Archives - October 2012

Success at School - Encouragement

October 29, 2012
By Laura Eisenga

I love the way my daughter’s eyes light up when I encourage her. When I tell her that the colorful scribbles on her paper are pretty, she beams and works even harder to scribble just so. She’s only three years old, so she hasn’t learned to ignore compliments or be embarrassed of her mommy. She loves having my attention, and the smallest amount of praise is a big deal for her.

When does this change? Or does it?

I remember when I was a teenager, I didn’t take my mom’s compliments seriously. I knew she was only complimenting me because she’s my mom, and she’s proud of everything I do. Anyway, I didn’t want my mom gushing about me in front of my friends. How embarrassing!

But I don’t think it changes – ever. Deep down, each of us long to be complimented and praised. We all work at our jobs, at parenting, at living for Jesus. After all that work, it is nice to be recognized, complimented and feel appreciated.

Our children long for this kind of encouragement too. I think a key component in success at school is encouragement.

In Acts 20:1, it is said that Paul, “gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope.” (MSG)

A good dose of encouragement does a lot for the soul. It lifts our spirits! After your child does well on a difficult test, tell them you’re proud of how hard they worked and how much they deserve that good grade.

A good dose of encouragement charges us with fresh hope. I imagine the battery indicator on my phone with the bars getting bigger and bigger. Our hearts gain hope with encouragement. If your child experiences mean words from a friend, your encouragement gives them hope for a better day tomorrow.

One of my favorite ways my parents encouraged me was writing notes to me. I got many of these notes of encouragement while at college. And I still have them. These handwritten notes of encouragement give me doses of spirit-lifting and hope-charging again and again.

Encourage your children.
Encourage your friends.
Encourage yourself.
Encourage your child’s teachers.
Encourage your pastors.
Encourage your parents.
Encourage that person that annoys you.

I think you get the point. :)

Needing to be Rooted

October 22, 2012
By Del Dykstra
Photo courtesy of

“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. It is one of the hardest to define. A human being has roots by virtue of his real, active, and natural participation in the life of a community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations for the future.”
-Simone Weil, The Need for Roots

I read this quote a few weeks ago, and recently came across it again. After pondering this for awhile, it got me thinking. The upbringing between the home, church, and school are huge factors that helped form my roots.

My roots stretch from the Iowa farmlands, a land and people that most definitely formed much of who I am. Growing up in Iowa, multi-generation relationships were valued. Trips to the nursing home to set up church and attending the hymn sing were common. Babysitting three children at the age of twelve was my after school job. I still can’t believe the parents trusted me with their kids. My childhood participation in the Iowa community made an enormous difference on who I am today.

At Sunnyside Christian School we are trying to partner with parents to establish roots in our children that will go down deep. I think in a 24/7, convenient, all-accessible nation, it’s hard to get rooted. I find it easier to chat about the latest reality tv show than I do getting up to turn the tv off, much less converse with someone how the show doesn’t fit into a Christian worldview. I think a lot of people do. We have option after option in America to fill our minds and bodies with activities and stuff. I find it easy to fill, fill, fill, when I need to stop, stop, stop.

I love hearing stories from some of the elderly people involved at SCS. They will often talk about how during the toughest times in their life (and these were difficult times) they felt closest to Jesus, and trusted Him. Now that is being rooted. I hope and pray that the kids at Sunnyside Christian School will grow their roots so deep that when those tough times come in life, they can stand firm on the promises of Christ.

Not a Bubble

October 15, 2012
By Laura Eisenga

It’s a common misconception that Christian schools are a sheltered community of perfect children always on their best behavior. When mistakes are made by these cherub children, the outside (and usually inside) community collectively gasps and points fingers. 

Obviously, I’m being overdramatic to simply state a point: Christian schools are a differentiated learning environment, a place where God’s name, His love, His creation, and His plan is celebrated.

We often say in our enrollment interviews that Sunnyside Christian School acts like a family. Our students and teachers spend nearly seven hours a day with each other for five days a week. We know each other pretty intimately! We pray for each other, celebrate with each other, play together, eat together, and learn together.

That sounds pretty great, right? But, like a family, we also bicker, pick on each other, push each other at recess, steal a favorite pencil, and generally make bad decisions.

It is living with these mistakes and learning how to discipline them and live with them that is a valuable trait of being within a Christian School. Our teachers can ask our students, “Is this the way Jesus wants you to live?” We can expect excellence of character from our students because God expects us to use our talents and abilities for His glory.

Sunnyside Christian School is not a bubble of perfection, but we definitely are a community of believers. We are responsible to each other, to those in authority, and above all, to our Creator.

Teachers Renew and Refresh at Convention

October 09, 2012
By Dean Wagenaar
Photo courtesy of

Last week while SCS students were spending a few days away from school, the SCS teachers enjoyed the privilege of traveling to Lynden to attend the CTABC/NWCSI Teachers’ Convention. Accomodating approximately 1,100 educators while trying to provide numerous options for instructional enhancement is a large challenge; nonetheless, during the sessions excellent presentations existed. Let me share a few observations from the convention.

First, during the opening devotions and worship time both singing and hearing the beautiful voices together praising and glorifying God, especially with the traditional hymns, is a glorious time. Opening God’s Word together also “establishes the foundation” of the first priority we all share in coming together-to glorify God and live by the very spoken words of our Heavenly Father. 

Second, as I renew and “catch-up” on previous friendships from other veteran teachers, the reality of change and growth again becomes apparent. Their children are growing and moving on to college, spreading their wings and owning their futures. Time keeps marching on, and we need to be busy living out God’s call every day in His World. 

Third, with each session I attend, I try to discover one or two workable ideas/practices that I can implement into the school setting and usually those goals are met.

This morning at our staff devotions, I asked several teachers to reflect. I will identify just a few of their thoughts: 

  • Being reminded again of the responsibility of their position and the influence involved.
  • The ability to share ideas for creative lesson plans and activities to enhance learning.
  • To learn more options with the new technology that has now been developed and is available.
  • Numerous teachers shared about being reminded again of how important it is to be immersed in Scripture because they were challenged again by Godly presenters.

These are just a few thoughts on last week’s convention. I suspect all teachers would like to thank the SCS constituency for allowing them to participate in this yearly gathering. Thanks again!

In Christ,
Dean Wagenaar

Out of the Lips of Children

October 01, 2012
By Laura Eisenga
Photo courtesy of

Last Thursday, I attended chapel at Sunnyside Christian School. When they put “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” on the overhead projector, I wondered how many K-8 students would know this old hymn. I was surprised and blessed when I heard their young voices behind me, singing with gusto those beautiful words:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!

Mrs. Martinez, who was leading that chapel, also must have been blessed by the singing, because when the song was finished, she whispered into the microphone, “Beautiful!”

And it was simply that: beautiful.

A long time ago, Jesus was healing the blind and the lame in the temple. The teachers of the law “saw the wonderful things He did.” But when they heard the children praising Jesus, the Pharisees “were indignant.” They were angry, up in arms, and offended. They asked Jesus, “Don’t you hear what these children are saying?”

And Jesus replies with this, “Yes, have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

The reference Jesus is talking about is from Psalm 8:2, which says, “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”
Why has God used the mouths of children and infants to call forth His praise? How are those children’s words powerful enough to establish a stronghold against enemies?

Because their praises are simply beautiful. Those young voices remind us of the innocence of our youth.

When we didn’t worry about money, marriage, and meetings.
When we didn’t notice nicer cars, cuter clothes, and different skin colors.
When we remembered these wise words from our parents, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.”

Remember that people are listening to what you say. Remember that your children are listening to what you say. Remember that Jesus hears what you say, whether it’s what you tell your best friend, what you write on Facebook, or what you whisper to yourself in the car. Let’s be mindful to be more praiseworthy.

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