Striving for excellence

Monday, 30 Jul 2018

Dear Parents and Caregivers, on Friday 20 July, the staff met for our usual Inservice prior to the start of the term. The Inservice has two purposes, i.e. staff growth and school organisation. We started our morning studying, and reflecting on, a Biblical view of excellence since our staff focus this term is “Tyndale Park Christian School assists parents by providing a Christ-centred education that encourages academic excellence … to the glory of God”. At the end of last year, I briefly shared the following thoughts about excellence at the Thanksgiving Assembly.

We often find in Scripture the call to abound or excel in Christian character, especially in the various ways we can express love to one another. Spiritual maturity is a quest for character for which there will be little progress without the pursuit of excellence. Without pursuing excellence in character, life will remain bland, lukewarm at best. The quest for excellence fuels our fire and keeps us from just drifting downstream gathering debris. This focus and need becomes quickly evident from verses such as the following.

  • Ecclesiastes 9:10: Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;
  • Philippians 1:9-10: And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
  • 2 Corinthians 8:7: Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31: Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
  • Matthew 23:37-38: Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.

Tyndale Park Christian School (TPCS) strives to encourage excellence in academic work at school not to prove to other schools and the community that we are the best. After all, that seems to support the naturalistic notion of survival of the fittest or “best”. Instead, academic excellence at TPCS means that we create a learning environment, with a context appropriate to the New Zealand economy, in which every student has the opportunity to pursue excellence, or abound, in their Christian character as they learn and develop academic skills.

We want our students to read and write so that they can make sense of God’s Word and explain who He is to people who don’t know Him. We want out students to discover the order in God’s created world through mathematics, to marvel at the irreducible complexity and design of the created world that glorifies God in science, and to see God’s hand in history, His story.

The staff and I also worked on documenting an initiative that was started last term, i.e. “The profile of a TPCS student”. It is not only important for the students and us to know what we are aiming for in their character education, but it is also important for us to be intentional about it. We cannot leave our students’ character education to chance since popular culture often encourages a negative, oppressive approach to relationships.

During the final few weeks of last term, our students brainstormed what they thought a TPCS student should be like. The teachers used these ideas during Inservice as inspiration to start formulating “The profile of a TPCS student”. One of our teachers was inspired to summarise our students’ responses this way: “A TPCS student loves God, loves people and loves learning”. I really like that! It reminded me of Jesus’ words when a Pharisee lawyer asked Him what the greatest command was in the law. Jesus replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). As a follower of Jesus I have to love learning, because learning to love God and people is a lifelong process!

I hope to get some feedback from you, the parents and caregivers, as well. We will send a paper and electronic form to you soon. As I have mentioned in a recent Facebook post, “it truly takes a community to raise a child” and I really value your ideas and input.

Lastly, we need volunteers who are willing to invest in the next generation of Christian leaders by supporting TPCS in its efforts to provide a personalised education for every student who attends here. Some of our classes need someone who is be able to donate some time towards supporting students with specific areas of academic improvement, e.g. literacy, numeracy and English as Second Language. If you are able to do so, please contact us!

A few months before Miss Lynda Muir moved on to the next chapter in her life, she suggested that we needed to create a “TPCS Friends” initiative. The idea is to volunteer time you have available, in an area of strength, to improve the learning outcomes for our students. I want to act on this idea and ask whether there are people in our community who are willing to help out in the following areas.

  • Friends of the Garden: if you love gardening, this is for you! We need someone who will be passionate about keeping our garden beautiful, with a specific focus on planting natives. This person may also want to have their love for gardening rub off on the next generation.
  • Friends of the Veggie Patches: if you love growing vegetables, this is for you! We need someone who is passionate about eating healthy by growing your own vegetables. This person may also want to have their love for growing vegetables rub off on the next generation. We have three veggie patches (and we hope to get a fourth) that are under-utilised.
  • Friends of the Fruit Orchard: if you love growing, or taking care of, fruit trees, this is for you! We have a growing fruit tree orchard that needs someone with horticultural knowledge, or willing to learn something about horticulture, to enable us to fully utilise this resource God has blessed us with. It will be great if such a person is willing to raise up a next generation of horticulturists.
  • Friends of Chess: is there someone in our community, who loves chess, who is willing to start a chess club? Chess is an excellent game and the students are really enjoying it. Someone has a great opportunity of both laying the foundation for and starting a club that can have a big impact on our students’ learning in general.
  • Friends of Sport: last, but not least, is there someone who is willing to run a soccer (or other?) practice for interested students once a week this term?

Have I missed your area of strength? Please don’t feel excluded. Contact me. I look forward hearing from you! Let’s work together to build God’s Kingdom, one student at a time.

Barend Blom – Principal

Photo credit: Excellence by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Excellence

p 09 274 9771   e admin@tyndalepark.school.nz   a 206 Murphys Road, Flat Bush, Auckland 2019