Teaching With A Purpose
A Ministry Minutes Guest Blog by Sandy Allen
Please welcome my friend, Sandy Allen to the blog today. She’ll introduce us to her passion for teaching children, and take us on her journey from the wildness and beauty of Alaska to teaching at one of the jewels of the Yakima Valley in Washington State, where we both live.
The stage is yours, Sandy…
I was born and raised in South-central Alaska. I grew up in Anchorage, but my family is from Palmer, a small town 35 miles north of the city.
My dad was in the light-aircraft industry (think small, single engine planes with floats instead of wheels) so I got to go “fly-out” fishing every summer where I experienced the more remote, wild parts of Alaska. It was a great way to grow up, for sure!
In 2008, after 40 years as an Alaskan, I packed up and joined my husband Bill in a big move to the Yakima Valley, located in the central part of Washington State.
I had done my homework ahead of time, making sure that my Washington State teaching credentials were in place before we arrived. I knew that there were plenty of public-school teaching jobs available, so imagine my surprise when I couldn’t even get an interview.
I was heartbroken, crying out to God, “Why did you move us here if You’re not going to let me teach?”
In my years as an educator in Anchorage, I had been a Christ-follower ministering carefully in the semi-hostile environment of the public school system. Praying for (and sometimes with) my co-workers and students had been such an important part of my life—but now…
One Sunday at church, a young woman mentioned that the school where she worked was looking for a second-grade teacher and that I should apply.
Forty-eight hours later, I was hired! Riverside Christian School became my new mission field, and God had proven Himself faithful yet again. All my worry and crying out to Him were just evidence that I hadn’t been aware of His plan to move me from public to private school teaching.
Riverside is a Christian school in Yakima, Washington that serves children from preschool to 12th grade. Our motto is Rooted in Christ, ready for tomorrow, and we are dedicated to providing a highly academic education that is distinctly Christian.
I was a classroom teacher at RCS for twelve school years, then two years ago I became the director of our Support Lab and special education services. Instead of teaching in a regular classroom, I now work with kids one on one. Some of my students need short term support to fill academic gaps so they can succeed in school.
Other students I serve have documented special education needs, so I get to design instruction just for them. I also support classroom teachers and interact with our local public school district to provide special education testing and services.
Riverside is a unique environment in that we intentionally partner with parents as they seek to raise up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We do not replace the Church as the source of Christian teaching and growth—instead, we try to integrate a Biblical world view into every subject and every classroom.
We also try to model a Christlike lifestyle and attitude before the kids. Children can spot insincerity instantly, so living out our faith before them is essential.
A recent social media post provides a perfect example. One of our first-grade teachers snapped a photo of two students in her room—one had an ice pack on the knee she had bruised in a fall. The other student was holding her hand and praying for healing.
Both girls had their heads bowed in a moment of spontaneous, genuine trust in the Lord.
The teacher’s comment was, “This…THIS is what we are fostering. A place where God always comes first and where He is always the answer and our students see that. They will repeat what they see done, not what they are told to do.”
Riverside actively engages kids in service projects to share the love of Jesus with others.
In the last few years, our Thanksgiving food/clothing drive has benefited Sacred Road ministry, serving families on the Yakama reservation.
Our elementary students have done a yearly Valentine’s Day sock drive for Camp Hope, a local homeless shelter, and (pre-COVID) our first graders minister twice yearly at Living Care Retirement Center showing love to our elders at Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
Our high school missions class has done community service projects such as yard work for widows and the elderly.
Working at Riverside has been a blessing to me in many ways. Primarily, I have been surrounded by believers from many Christian backgrounds who represent an amazing array of experiences. I have been mentored by fellow teachers, administrators, and parents to grow not just as an educator, but as a believer in Jesus. He has used their examples and encouragement to help me become more effective for the Kingdom, and I am thankful to serve among them.
If you are interested in learning more about the mission of Riverside Christian School, you can check out the website at www.riversidechristianschool.com.
Thanks, Sandy, for giving us a glimpse into one of the most priceless missions on planet earth–teaching our children well.
And thank you for your service to the families in our little valley.