As we near the end of 2022, we at Curriculum Trak have spent some time reflecting on the value of YOU–what you do as faith-based educators is so valuable to us on so many levels. Our team wants you to know how Christian/faith-based education has shaped us, and how the work you do continues to inspire us. With immense gratitude for your ongoing efforts, we invite you to read our reflections. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the CT team!
Amy Nelson, Marketing and Client Communications
Faith-based education has been a part of my entire life. In fact, my dad was my principal, starting in middle school and going through high school. However, that wasn’t as bad as one might think! My dad is one of my biggest Christian heroes. He showed that being in the ministry is about pouring ourselves and the love of Christ into others, listening when needed, saying hi to students in the hallway, and engaging in conversation with students and parents at school and activities. Right out of high school, if you would have asked me if I wanted to work at a faith-based school, the answer would have been “no”–not because of anything negative per se, but because I saw how much my parents sacrificed in their time, energy, and money. However, immediately out of college, my husband and I were offered a job at a faith-based school in Maryland. We served there for 11 years, then moved to North Carolina where we have been serving in faith-based education for 16 years. (Disclaimer: I have not worked as many years as my husband, as I took some years off to start our family and invest in their lives.) I have learned that we are not just in this ministry for a job. It takes grit, determination, perseverance, and a constant dependence on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us. We are in this to serve Christ by building relationships with others, showing them that we care, listen, and encourage each one in their relationship with Christ.
At this point in my life, it is so valuable to be able to see administrators, faculty, and staff who recognize parents and students as their “ministry” and not just another day “at work.” It is a blessing to see those who genuinely reach out to the families to build a proper relationship with them so that the love and compassion of Christ can be shown. Also, it is so gratifying to see students who have graduated and hear their stories of success, not only in their education but also in their spiritual growth. I am also thankful to see past graduates who have started their family and now are investing in faith-based education with their own children.
I am thrilled to work with Curriculum Trak, which has created a product to help schools succeed in using their curriculum mapping to set a vision for their school and leave a legacy for their students. Mapping is essential not only educationally to ensure “no gaps,” but also to incorporate faith-based standards in any subject at any grade level. Curriculum Trak encourages schools to broaden the legacy of their students not only to the best education but to the best education with a spiritual emphasis.
Angie Parker, Technical Support and Client Training
As I get older and reflect on parts of my life, I realize the way Christian education shaped my mindset. I began attending a Christian school in the fourth grade and continued through college. It influenced me by the simple fact that God was a part of every subject at every age. I learned to filter my worldview through the lens of Scripture. I learned to be in the world but not of the world. I had the eternal perspective at the forefront of my thoughts which guided my decisions. And it continues to guide my decisions as an adult today. I am also now able to teach my own children how to filter the world through Scripture and help them to know what good choices are.
At this point in my life, the greatest value to me about Christian education is the fact that my own children are benefiting from my education as well as taking on their own Christian education. We are creating our legacy and I pray that my children embrace Christianity forever. My children are learning both in the home and at school how our choices today have eternal
consequences. Looking at eternal values, we are able to see the lack of importance of worldly things that can cause anxiety and stress. Because we have that perspective, we are able to step back and look at the big picture. We often ask ourselves, is this an eternal matter? If not, let’s relax and know that God’s taking care of us.
It has been a huge blessing to work for Curriculum Trak this past year! I have truly enjoyed getting to know many of our schools and hearing about their passion for Christian education. It’s a joy to help schools learn about and use Curriculum Trak to help further their goals and to help them create a lasting legacy. Our school representatives are so intuitive, asking great questions which help us at Curriculum Trak come up with creative solutions and additions to the software to make their lives easier. I know education is an emotionally and physically taxing calling, but to experience the kindness and happiness from our school representatives is outstanding! I can truly tell they have the joy that only comes from the Lord!
Becki Goniea, Technical Support and Client Training
I grew up in a home in which Christian education was of high value. Both of my parents served most of their teaching career in Christian schools, and my dad also served many years as an administrator. I like to say that Christian education is in my blood! Over the years, as I attended Christian schools and even went to a Christian college, my faith was stretched, grown, nourished, and strengthened by the influences of godly men and women who served as my teachers. Faces come to mind: my third grade teacher, who instilled in me a love of learning and a desire to make good choices; my middle school English teacher whose joy in teaching grammar helped me see that joy in anything is God’s gift to us; my high school math teacher who would never let his students get away with doing things the easy way, but made the “hard way” seem possible; my high school Bible teacher who opened my eyes to what the world looks like through the lens of scripture; my college theatre professor who pushed me to perform for God’s glory and not my own. God’s work through these Christian educators has truly shaped me.
Knowing how important my own education was in shaping my thinking and my desire to walk the path that God has laid out for me, I place great importance on the work that Christian schools are doing in the lives of children. I think the work of Christian education, while growing in difficulty, also grows in essential necessity as the accessibility of both obvious and subtle falsehood lies within easy reach of students. To hear my own children speak of wise counsel they’ve received from their teachers or of important discussions they’ve been a part of in class brings encouragement and joy to my heart and mind.
Administrators and teachers, it’s such good work you’re doing. Don’t lose sight of the higher purpose you have when you’re in the midst of the nitty gritty work that fills your days. I know it often seems like you only get brief glimpses of the outcomes you’re striving for, but know that when I (as an outsider) see your hard work and seek to support your efforts to strengthen your school’s curriculum and capture the heads and the hearts of your students, I am excited and energized by what God is accomplishing through you! Be encouraged. God will bring to completion the work He has begun in and through you.
Lynn Cuffari, Training and Consulting
As a former Catholic school principal and teacher, faith-based education has not only influenced my career, but also has and continues to inspire me in my own faith journey. When school leadership sometimes overwhelmed me, I would look at a figurine that I kept on one of the shelves I had in my office – one of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. The image of Jesus as the servant leader would give me the courage to do what I had to do as the spiritual leader in my own school – whether it be casting a vision for instruction, handling a complicated student issue, or working with faculty. Faith-based schools provide an environment where we are called to lead and serve under the guiding principles of our Lord – and how blessed we are!
Although I am no longer a school administrator, at this point in my life, my understanding of the value of faith-based education has expanded beyond the walls of what became very comfortable to me in Catholic education. As I work to train teachers in Curriculum Trak, I have realized that the software is truly only a tool that allows us to “do” faith-based education better. It “documents” our ability to bring together high academic standards and best teaching practices with intentional and authentic teaching of our faith. Talking with teachers and administrators in schools of several denominations has humbled me as we share stories of a shared mission to ensure the students who graduate from our schools take with them degrees that include academic, moral, and spiritually-nurtured credentials.
As demographics and student populations diversify in our faith-based schools, I would encourage schools to continue striving to attain set curriculum standards while also meeting the diverse needs of each individual child. Parents need to know they are a vital part of this process. This demands that we stay relevant in teaching practices, and steadfast in our faith.
Michael Arnold, Sales and Training Manager
My entire educational experience (with the exception of a few supplemental classes at the college level) has been from a Christian perspective. I won’t say that it has always been of the best quality or that I haven’t wondered what other opportunities I may have found at different institutions or in different networks, but I will say that I was blessed to have educators who did their best to be faithful. I am grateful for the trajectory that this educational path provided for me in both my personal and professional life. The foundation in biblical truth and spiritual development I received has not only driven me to be always learning and improving for God’s glory, but it has supported me well in my adult life – in my career, my marriage, and my parenting. My experiences, the excellent and the subpar, have given me a passion to encourage and equip Christian educators of all stripes and expand the influence a Christian education can have around the world.
I love to see the hoped-for outcomes of a Christian educator come to fruition in students’ lives. I have been in education long enough now to see students graduate and start their own careers and families. I have observed their successes professionally and spiritually, with pride and gratitude for having played a small part in their journey. But then I transfer the reality of those outcomes in my former students into hopes for my own children, who are currently in lower elementary. I take joy as a parent, but also as an educator, in recognizing the efforts their teachers are faithfully making to plant seeds of truth with great anticipation, and I am grateful for that unending commitment to every student, every year!
I am honored every day to serve educators who would do just about anything for the good of their students and for the mission of the school through which they are serving. I have seen how this strong commitment pulls heroic efforts out of educators, sometimes with great personal sacrifice. To those educators who are so faithfully devoted to the many hidden practices required of educators – diligent planning, post instructional reflection, and professional growth – I want to say, Thank you for your faithfulness! And, to those educators who are exhausted and maybe even uncertain about their own efficacy, I would encourage you to look to the Master Teacher who offers rest (Matthew 11:28).
Mike Vander Berg, Managing Director
Christian education has been a part of my family for generations. My mom was a teacher and substitute teacher for 40+ years. My wife and I both taught in Christian schools for several years right out of college and my wife still serves our local Christian school as a substitute teacher. As a student, I attended Christian schools from Kindergarten through my undergraduate degree. The same can be said for my wife and all three of our adult children.
I believe the greatest value of Christian education is how it has prepared each member of my family for lives for serving others and glorifying God. It is so important to not only learn all the subject matter but to see how God’s fingerprint is so prominent in each of those areas. My Christian school has helped me to see Jesus in every aspect of my life. While some people look to a Christian education as a way to protect their children from the secular world, I see Christian education as a way to prepare our kids to go out into an ever-increasing secular world.
At Curriculum Trak, we have the privilege to serve 1000+ faith-based schools and nearly 30,000 teachers, who in turn are pouring into approximately 600,000 students. While this is a privilege, this is also a tremendous responsibility. We recognize that the demands on teachers today are great and one way we can help teachers is to do all we can to make our software easy to use. Also, we try to answer support questions thoroughly and in a timely manner. Because our entire staff has worked in Christian education in the past, we feel that we are able to put ourselves in the shoes of the people we seek to serve. We also have a tremendous amount of respect for the teachers and administrators that we work with each day. We sincerely thank you for allowing us to partner with you as you seek to carry out the mission of your schools!