“I never thought I’d be a teacher. Now I really love teaching!”
by Kevin Wahl
“I could not be teaching without the experience I gained as a student teacher at Hartland Elementary School,” states Jim Whitaker, a Christian Elementary Education major. “At Hartland College I learned social skills, how to keep going when things get hard, and how to trust God.”
Jim is doing his college internship at Monument Valley Mission School in Utah, teaching Navajo children. “I mostly teach grades 4, 5, and 6. I also substitute for the lower grade teacher when she can’t be there. I’ve even taught kindergarten—lots of fun!
“I’ll never forget when a boy I taught finally volunteered to pray after always being unwilling to pray. This boy liked me a lot, treated me almost like ‘Daddy,’ and copied me.” Along with teaching, Jim adds, “I cook breakfast for the school every morning. Sometimes I cook lunch, too.”
Unfortunately, many Navajo children do not receive the best parental care, so Jim helps take care of children, as well. “From time to time, I babysit a now 10-month-old and her five-year-old sister. Learning how to get the baby not to cry, watching her learn to crawl, and now to walk, have made me amazed at how God created us. And sometimes I have to get a seven-year-old and her 10-year-old sister ready for bed or school.”
Jim also babysat a five-year-old boy. “He really acted like I was the father he always wanted. I had only one weekend to spend with him, but he wanted to see me the next weekend. He really made me feel a responsibility to troubled children.” Jim sums up, “I see how the Lord is using children and my care for them to show me how He feels about me—how much He loves me and how disappointed He is when I make wrong choices.”
Jim’s college classes, vocational training stations, and outreach programs “did a good job of preparing me to be a faithful and effective teacher. Conversion and Righteousness by Faith class was where I came to experience conversion as an adult. Canvassing helped to develop my character so I could handle the challenges that every teacher faces. Working for Hartland Plant Services taught me a lot about handyman work, which I now do on weekends and during breaks. I’ve remodeled and renovated some trailers to meet staff housing needs.”
After Hartland’s spring graduation, Jim expects to apply for a teaching job at a school in Arizona, also located in the Navajo Nation. He concludes, “I feel a calling to work for the Navajo people.” Amen.