What a friend we have in Jesus
By Katrina Kutschkau
This year I chose a word to focus on for the 2020-2021 school year and the word I chose was “personal.” We believe in a personal God—a God who knows us and loves us. What I want to bring to the classroom is a personal touch. I hope to accomplish this by getting to know my students and showing them I care. Maybe, just maybe they can see God’s love in my eyes. Maybe, just maybe I can introduce them to the friend I have in Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of self-control.” Part of my identity is found in being a wife, mother, and a teacher. But the cornerstone of my identity is found in being loved by my Heavenly Father. It is who I am. This knowledge gives me the power to want to share this love with my students. As a Christian educator my prayer is always the same. Lord help me see my students, know my students, and love my students the way you do. Maybe, just maybe they can see God’s love in my eyes.
How do I practically do this? I listen to Christian music every morning on my way to school. I need to get my worship on every morning. I listen to the words as I pray to God and listen for guidance. I look for ways to enter my students’ lives. I find ways to try to get to know their story, and I take every opportunity to listen to them. James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” I want to take the time to listen to the voices of my students. My students study the subject of mathematics in my classroom and I study my students. I want to know what defines them, what their hopes and dreams are, what their hobbies are, and in what areas of their life they need encouragement. I want to celebrate their birthday, their accomplishments, and be there for them to help pick them up when they are feeling down. In entering the world of my students, I hope to earn the right to be heard, and maybe, just maybe, I can introduce them to my friend Jesus.
The margins of time between the bells and questions of the day are two of the things I like to use to build relationships with my students. As my students walk into my room, I am intentional at greeting them by name. I try to ask them about their sports events, their clubs, their weekend, their family, comment on their hair cut, etc. I want them to know they are seen, and heard, and cared for. Then once class starts, they answer the questions of the day in pairs. If I forget to do the question of the day the kids will stop me and ask me, “What about the question of the day?” or they will tell me their answers as they walk out the door, because they want to be seen, heard, and loved.
Colossians 4:5 says, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” Lord help us to walk with wisdom towards our students and redeem the opportunity we have been given as educators. Help us to listen to our students, help us to seek ways to better know our students and love them. You have known them before they were knit together in their mother’s womb. Help your love to shine through our lives as educators upon our students so they can understand that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and loved beyond measure. Help us to be an instrument of that love. You stand at the door of our students’ hearts and you knock—if anyone has ears to hear let him open the door. Help us to be part of the knock at the door so we can introduce our students to the friend we have in Jesus.
I have taught math at Kamiakin High School for 24 years. I love working with the kids. I have coached volleyball and basketball but getting involved in Young Life the last 9 years of teaching has brought me the most Joy of all. I love teaching kids the Pythagorean Theorem, but as a public-school teacher I cannot share my greatest love, which is the love of Jesus. So, I got involved in Young Life so I can share what I love most. Although the Pythagorean Theorem is very useful, it is the love of Jesus that can transform lives.
Katrina was honored by her school district in Kennewick, Washington as their Crystal Apple Award Winner (teacher of the year) for 2021. We bet you can’t keep a dry eye as you watch the short award presentation. Congratulations to Katrina! We are proud to have you as a member of CEAI.