As an educator and coach for the Macon County school system for the past three years, the journey that brought me here traces back to a transatlantic leap from England, landing on American soil to play Division One soccer at Jacksonville University in Florida. Raised outside the influence of a Christian upbringing, my college life was standard until a pivotal moment when my wife, Heather, and I devoted ourselves to the Lord in 1997. Since then, our lives have been dedicated to a higher purpose, embracing a shared commitment to our faith in Christ and serving our community.
The calling to teach and guide young minds became our mission, anchoring us in the unwavering pursuit of serving the Lord. Heather and I recognized teaching as more than a profession — it was a calling from God. While simultaneously desiring to be the best teachers we could be, we also started to see the spiritual needs in our schools. With the permission of parents, we began picking up students who needed a ride to church, and before driving them home we had a meal together. After several months, many of these families decided to attend church with us. After a while, this developed into a van ministry, then a bus ministry. After a year, we had an inner-city children’s ministry serving a couple of hundred children weekly.
Most rewarding was observing the divine touch of God radically transforming lives and families for Christ. Our conviction has always been rooted in providing hope and purpose amid the struggles children face in today’s world. This aspiration fuels our dedication, driving us to be opportunities of unwavering support for the younger generation.
As I step into Macon Middle School each day, my purpose as a STEM teacher takes centerstage. My primary objectives extend beyond the traditional confines of a classroom; they are driven by a purpose in fostering curiosity, passion, and a lifelong love for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. My foremost goal is to be the teacher my students remember as their favorite – a mentor who goes beyond traditional learning to instill a genuine enthusiasm for learning.
STEM isn’t just another subject; it is an exciting journey that sparks creativity and problem-solving skills crucial for the challenges of tomorrow. In cultivating STEM as their favorite class, I attempt to employ an engaging and hands-on approach through project-based learning. By initiating and developing the engineering design process, my students dive into a world where theoretical concepts transform into tangible solutions. From flying and learning about drones and learning the skill of coding, to the intricacies and mathematical analysis of bridge building, rocket launching, mousetrap car races, and the wonders of 3D printing – each project serves as a gateway to the vast possibilities within the realm of STEM. The dynamic nature of project-based learning not only captures attention but also nurtures critical thinking, collaboration, and teamwork.
Students learn to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios, a skill set essential for future success in any STEM-related field. My ultimate aim is to inspire a generation of budding engineers. My dream is to witness these young minds, fueled by their experiences in my class, pursue fulfilling careers in engineering. My hope is that they are armed with the confidence and skills nurtured in the stimulating environment of Macon Middle School’s STEM classroom.
As a Christian teacher in the public-school system, my commitment to imparting knowledge while respecting diverse beliefs is paramount. Striking a chord of inclusivity, I ensure my classroom fosters an environment where students feel valued, irrespective of religious backgrounds. While I refrain from explicit proselytizing, my faith in Christ unavoidably influences my approach to compassion, understanding, and moral values. In the ever-evolving landscape of education, I find purpose and fulfillment in shaping not only academic achievements but also the trajectories of bright young minds, sowing the seeds for a future where innovation and problem-solving thrive.
Beyond the classroom, my role as a coach amplifies the importance of instilling values of integrity and truth through athletics in our players. While victories on the field are important, the enduring lessons, skills, and character developed through sports participation hold the power to last a lifetime. It is this enduring impact that fuels my commitment to shaping not just skillful athletes but individuals of strong character.
I have been coaching at the middle, high, and college levels for the past 30 years, but the past three years coaching soccer with Samuel Vargas have been a true blessing. We focused on elevating the success of the team, which resulted in back-to-back conference champions.
However, the program’s core was a family-oriented culture, fostering not just athletic prowess but more importantly, relationships – putting the development of people before results. We initiated a soccer summer camp, a pivotal step in intertwining the community with our team, offering a platform for growth beyond the sport. This initiative not only nurtured talent but also provided a unique space for raising coaches and building relationships. We have hopefully blended soccer with community engagement, emphasizing the importance of teamwork, dedication, and the impact of a strong, interconnected environment through community.
This academic year saw a significant shift in our ministry with an increased involvement in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). This incredible organization operates within the public-school system, providing invaluable support and hope to our students. Our FCA huddle meetings have grown to an average attendance of more than 90 students. One goal was to develop a core group of student leaders who have admirably shouldered the responsibility of serving and ministering to our students. We have initiated Monday morning Bible studies and Friday leader meetings, with aspirations to expand these initiatives to other schools within the district. Our vision is simple yet profound: To work in tandem with the churches and families of Macon County, serving as a bridge to address the needs of our community.
The overarching goal of our efforts is ensuring that the faith and values we impart in our classrooms and on the field are reinforced within the wider community. The union of education, athletics, and serving the Lord forms the crux of our family’s mission and purpose.
Philippians 3:12 states: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
Often, when I cannot reach the top cabinet in the house, I pick up one of my young children to “grab hold” of that which I cannot reach myself. This is what I envision of our Heavenly Father. God has given us the privilege to grab hold of that which He allows me to reach because He is the one holding me.
FCA is raising money to support 200 student scholarships for Franklin native Molly Hornsby’s “Future of Hope Family Ministry” Honduran education efforts as a holiday ministry project. Each scholarship is $60. Mail checks to Future of Hope Ministry: 158 Groaning Hill Rd, Franklin NC 28734, or visit: www.futureofhopefamilyministry.com