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What's the Difference?

Jessica Potter

This year marked the 20th anniversary of when I graduated from college with a degree in elementary education. Twenty years ago, teaching in a Christian school was not even a thought in my head. I grew up attending public schools and graduated from Towson University, a public college. After graduation, I applied to the public school system I had attended, and I taught in two different schools while we lived in Maryland, one for six years and another for one year.

I left teaching disillusioned and planned to never return to a job in education. I was disheartened by the focus on test scores when I knew that my students needed so much more than just the ability to score well on the state tests. I realized that the behavior management programs were not having a lasting impact on my students. I saw kids who were just being passed through a system, and I felt like my hands were tied and that I couldn’t truly make a difference.

My family and I moved to Pennsylvania, and for three years I tried to find a different career as I stayed home raising my daughter. Finally, God stepped in (a long but fun story that I may share another time) and directed me back into teaching -- this time at a Christian school. That first job began a journey that led to KCA, and the things I learned along the way helped shape the philosophy that guides much of what we do here.

So, how is KCA different? One way is that our teachers are not tied to a specific curriculum. They are given skills and expectations, but are then given the freedom to teach according to their students’ interests, strengths, and needs. I love the creativity that this allows in the classrooms. Another way we are different is in how we address behavior. We recognize that behavior stems from something that is going on inside of a person, and so we strive not just to change the behavior, but to address the heart issues behind the behavior.

But, when I really think about what makes us different, the bottom line is that we are able to share the love of Christ with our students. Last week, I had to talk to one of our classes about some behaviors that were occurring in the classroom, and I shared with them that often our behavior stems from something hard that has happened in our lives. I told them about a hard thing that recently happened in my life and the impact it had on me. One boy raised his hand and asked, “If you have had hard things happen in your life, then why are you so happy?” I was able to look at him and tell him that it is because of Jesus. The Bible says that God brings beauty from ashes, and I could look at this child who I know has gone through some really hard things and share hope with him. That is what makes us different. Many of our students come to us hurting and we are able to offer them hope which I have seen lead to healing.

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