school {an investment}

 It’s not at all what I had pictured. I’m not naive to think it would look like our elementary school in the Ozarks – structured, secure, classy brick buildings, organized facilities, typical of this area of the country.

Now this is our school…

a cluster of races, nations, cultures

conglomerate of children who’s parents work for hotel services, Google, Shutterfly, Gap, Apple, and the taqueria

no certain brand of shoes or clothing being worn. you couldn’t pick out the rich kids or the poor kids if you tried

solar panels adorn the rooftops and a bountiful garden grows below

families pick up farm fresh produce on Thursdays and give to the school’s food bank for needy families

children have two moms or two dads

6 hour days because of poor educational funding in the state

a fairly open campus; not questioned when you walk in or out

no school nurse; part-time secretary; PTA-funded science, art, and garden teacher

But it’s our school and that goes for our three boys, myself, and my husband. “You might be the one walking, playing, learning, but we’re praying, volunteering, and cheering for you every day,” this has been my battle cry since the moment I learned of our city school situation as we moved to San Francisco to plant a church.

———–

I showed up for pick up on the first day of school with snack sized bags of Doritos for my school-aged son and my two other sons who tagged along for the ride. Like they had another option?! I quickly became flushed with red as I noticed the other kids munching on their seaweed and fresh “whatever” in their tin cans. I WAS NOT going to be the mom with packaged items tomorrow, but I certainly WAS NOT going to expect my kids to swallow seaweed for my popularity points!

That was almost three years ago. I’m not bringing Doritos or seaweed to school, but what I do bring is a tote of intentionality and a bottle of purpose. And a packaged snack that’s been emptied into a tupperware container!

If you and I have school-aged kids, we have a specific task paired with our parenting, and that is to be present, attentive, or active among their classmates, teachers, and administration. It’s easy to let this slip by any of us, even more so, when our kids are in great schools, Christian schools, or if we work outside the home.

How to be present:

stay awhile at drop off or pick up and get to know the families

attend school events, assemblies

read what’s posted on bulletin boards, announcement sheets

How to be attentive:

ask the teachers how they are doing

listen to the things your kids are not telling you but are displaying in their actions

listen to conversations on the school campus and in the halls

How to be active:

volunteer on field trips

gift your teachers with supplies they need

communicate through email or notes to those who teach your kids

I’m sure you could add to this list. But making a list is just the start. I had the list, but was uncertain to how it would play out. For me and our church planting family, it wasn’t just a school for the boys. It was an opportunity to meet people. To build relationships. We had no church building as of yet. We were simply a launch team meeting in our home on Sunday evenings. This would be the place where the boys would interact with peers in a city that seemed so “not-kid-friendly.” {That was a myth that has been dispelled!}

This place, their school, is a place that we walk around every Saturday before school starts, praying for their teachers, their classmates, their safety, their education.

Their teachers, a half dozen or so, now, have been written to, prayed over, blessed, and gifted with our words, our actions, our resources.

Each morning on the way to school we pray that truth will sink in and that anything else will fall to the side. We pray that the boys will be the positive change in their classes. We pray that the boys will lighten the load of their teachers and brighten the faces of their classmates.

Their classmates’ names are written on small pieces of paper on the boy’s walls at home. We pray for them nightly. We pray for their families. We pray specifically for situations they are facing.

I have conversations every afternoon on the play yard. Conversations about jockey straps, spelling words, and who the Giants are playing this weekend. My relationship levels are all across the board. One mom would rather me not talk about my faith. Two other moms know that when we have an invite card, I’m giving them one. Another mom gives me updates on her brother with cancer and asks me to pray. A teacher lets me take her to lunch every now and then. Another teacher pulls me aside to tell me that she talks to God and knows I do too!

I want the people at our school to miss the Pilgreen family if we were to ever leave. That will only happen if we love wholeheartedly, serve well, and expect nothing in return. All because Christ has given this place to us and wants to be made known through us.

8 thoughts on “school {an investment}

  1. Shauna, I love this. You have some great lines here that I am cheerfully confessing that I am stealing for my own use. “A tote of intentionality and a bottle of purpose”!! Also love your last line, live in a way that if you moved, you would be greatly missed!!!!

  2. Great practical reminders, especially praying for classmates every night. Love that your family is loving and serving well in San Francisco. Pray for your family offen. Tell Ben I have been listening the podcasts from your church and God has been speaking to my heart through him.

  3. “I want the people at our school to miss the Pilgreen family if we were to ever leave.” All the time! I’m so grateful for your blog to keep up with Elijah & all of you. You know how blessed I was to have your oldest, and all of you, in my year of transition to a new school, leaving my own child behind. You were intentional in your prayers that year and I will forever remember that, as I know He placed Elijah in my room with a purpose in mind. As I embark on my 5th year at North, a place I now call home, as Em joined me & finished three years there, as I have become a part of so many wonderful families, as I celebrated & grieved with my co-workers, my “sisters”, I look back on my 1st year and I pull out my blue note from the tall, dark haired smiling mom, letting me know that I am being prayed for and I smile. I say my own prayer of thanks for the gift of the Pilgreen family, who touched my heart and spirit so deeply. I pray for Elijah, that he continues to love learning as much as he did in K and that he remains a leader to his classmates and brothers. I pray for Sam & Asher to love school and learning as much as Elijah and that they have teachers that will remember them and their spirit fondly. I pray for Ben & you, that you always feel welcome in your boys’ school and continue to lift their teachers in daily prayer :). Thank you always for being a most wonderful family and the blessings you shared with me.

    • cyndy, you could have read this and moved on. i’m grateful you left a note. you are a reciprocal story that will be the “cream of the oreo” the “caramel in the latte.” you, the teacher, make the partnership sweeter. thank you for letting others who read this know that it really works!
      you are ever a part of our story!

  4. Love this Shauna! We went to our first school work day today as Ava starts K in 2 weeks. I teared up a bit as I looked at the desks and thought of the hours she will spend there, away from me. But like you, we’re looking at her school as our place of making friends and making disciples and I want to be very present and a light there. I’ve been brainstorming ways to serve and encourage her teachers . . . any great ideas?

    • write them notes randomly and as they come to mind. pray for them by name on the way to school. bake them goodies. simply and practically love on them! it goes a long way! ask how you can help. you’ve got this cole! be you! that’s the parent they’ll love!

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