Why I Love Serving in a Lutheran School3 min read

Many years ago, when St. Michael Lutheran School in Wayne had just begun, there was a “bus room” off the gym for students awaiting pickup after school. Eventually, a teacher was assigned for supervision, but in those early days, the students just waited on their own. The principal may have happened to be in the area, but the students wouldn’t expect his presence.

The real hot button issue for the students was being the first there when the bus pulled up. There was a select seat that was highly desired for some reason, and apparently well worth the vigilance required to be the first on the bus. The sound of a diesel engine and the squeal of brakes made it clear that the moment had arrived, the bus was here, and the race was on!

One day, Richie, an upper-grade boy, was first off the mark, and clearly in the lead for “the seat.” Much to my surprise, he suddenly pulled up, stopped, and turned around. As the other students streamed by, I noticed that Richie waited for Becky, always one of the last on the bus. Becky was last because she had a permanent disability, requiring crutches. With crutches, a coat, and a book bag, just getting through the doorway was a challenge for Becky. Something clicked in Richie’s mind at that critical moment. He remembered Becky, and her needs. He put those needs ahead of his own. While someone else got to “the seat,” he stayed behind and held the door for Becky.

In those early years of the school, there were concerns over academics and sports and many other things. While those areas were addressed, what most frequently came to my mind was Richie, stopping to hold the door for Becky. It reminded me of the verse “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). The mission of our school. I don’t know exactly what went through Richie’s mind at that moment, but his thoughtful act of kindness was more reassuring to me than any achievement test score or athletic trophy. The opportunity, the blessing, to be part of that kind of transformation in students, was the very best kind of motivation and confirmation for the ministry that our school offered. For that moment in the gym, as the bus pulled away, I was very glad indeed, to be teaching in a Lutheran school.

I don’t know where Richie or Becky are today. The path the Lord set out for them has taken them beyond my experience. Nevertheless, I frequently recollect that event and smile again. I hope every student in a Lutheran school is growing in their faith and putting that faith in action as Richie did. Now I’m at Concordia University Ann Arbor. Guess what? A common practice for faculty, staff and students here is . . .  to hold the door open for others to pass by. It still makes me smile.

Photo (c) Pearl/Lightstock

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About the Author

Dr. Harvey Schmit served Lutheran schools for 32 years as a teacher and principal, and for 9 additional years as Dean of the School of Education at Concordia University Ann Arbor. He retired from Concordia in June of 2016.

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