October 2, 2020

Mission Unstoppable: Education

Unstoppable is the word that comes to mind when you look at the early days of the church. Conflict and controversy threatened to take down the young group...

Unstoppable is the word that comes to mind when you look at the early days of the church. Conflict and controversy threatened to take down the young group but, instead of destroying it, the challenges fueled the fire that spread across the first-century landscape. 

And now, in these challenging times, we are reminded of our mission through the following stories from Lake Union department leaders what being the Church is really about — God’s people doing God’s work together by the power of the Holy Spirit. 


Teachers appreciate having time to collaborate, time to share ideas and probe praxis deeply. They covet time to explore multiple approaches to common problems. They crave time to learn and grow — together — and they appreciate the investment of resources that afford them these opportunities.  

A recent forum held for science teachers led Dave Carter, Biology teacher at Great Lakes Adventist Academy, to express appreciation for, “the excellent day and the food, company and learning [which] was well worth the trip.” Dave’s sentiments were echoed by many of his colleagues who participated in the March 3 Science teachers’ Professional Learning Community (PLC). 

In the past three years, Lake Union’s Math, English and Science academy teachers participated in PLCs, forums intended to bolster a professionally-supported community where teachers conjoin on instructional strategies, engage in a supportive and collegial context, explore the nuances of the subject content, receive job-imbedded professional development opportunities, and form mentoring relationships.  

At the 2019 fall English teachers’ PLC, educators collaborated on the theme: “Writing to Elevate Students.” Professors from Andrews and Southwestern universities, academy faculty from outside of our Union, and the PLC coordinator engaged with English teachers on topics such as “Giving Students the Right Kind of Writing Practice”; “Writing to Learn, Not Learning to Write”; “Increasing Student Engagement in the Language Arts Classroom.” 

This spring, Biology, Chemistry and Physics teachers met with a team of Science professors from Andrews University and a guest Life Sciences teacher from xxx, to explore teaching on topics such as, “Seeing God’s Hand: Understanding Chemical Design”; “Teaching Biology: It Should Be Fun”; “Shedding Light on Physics” and “Women and Minorities in STEM.” A Physics workshop led by Dr. Margarita Mattingly and her team offered teachers experiments and ready-to-use kits. 

Attendee Steve Atkins appreciated the Physics presentation in “not only showing us how to do experiments, but also providing the tools to actually do the experiment in class!” Mr. Atkins returned to his Biology class at Andrews Academy and sent the following note — what Physics presenter, Dr. Mattingly, describes as proof-of-concept of what Atkins had implemented in just 24 hours: 

“On Monday, part of the Earth Science lesson was on why the sky is blue and sunsets are red. As I explained it to the students, I was thinking I wish I had Dr. Kutzner's demonstration on this that I had seen him do before. So, at the worship on Tuesday, I was so glad to learn how to do this and have the container and supplies to do the experiment!  As I do each day, I reviewed concepts from the previous days when I begin the new lesson . . . and today, I did the experiment as a demonstration for the students which was intended to serve as a review activity! It now will be a permanent part of the lesson that I will do about atmosphere colors​.” 

A professional learning community that began with bringing LUC Math teachers together is expanding to include additional subject areas in an effort to reduce the professional isolation academy subject-area teachers may experience. What a blessing! 

Ruth Horton, EdD, PLC coordinator/facilitator, is the associate director of Education of the Lake Union Conference.