October 26 Home Communicator –Who Am I?
In retrospect I vividly remember 30 June 2020. It was the day my identity changed dramatically. After 47 years in Christian education, 36 of them in administration – I retired. I anticipated the day eagerly craving the freedom to pursue interests long delayed by a life full of work, good work, challenging work, rewarding work. I never anticipated or really thought about what might happen after 30 June except for pure bliss. And then it happened. My identity changed. I was no longer Head of School, a position that was my job, my vocation, my calling as a servant of Christ. It was a calling that I loved, at least 90% of it.
I lived in a world of high school students conducting mock interviews for employment, intelligent discussions about how to improve school climate, and challenges to encourage healthy spiritual growth and development. I loved my colleagues and knew them like siblings. I thoroughly enjoyed the waffle brain thinking of middle school boys and the spaghetti minds of middle school girls where you pull on one strand and the whole bunch begins to untangle. Beginning a career in middle school it became my sweet spot for some 11 years in Denver, CO. I was always intrigued by the rapidly developing minds of elementary school students from totally literal concrete thinking into cognitive discussions that were playful yet so constructive. I was eternally grateful for talented Kindergarten teachers who worked masterfully in a world where I floundered. The world of organizational development, strategic planning, and visionary thinking floated my boat. That all changed when I retired. Who was I? Where did I belong? What really was my new identity?
14 months later I was made aware of an administrative opening for an interim position. Without expectations I inquired. Newly appointed Superintendent Brinks seemed particularly eager about filling the position, understandably so since this occurred in August. It was a deep dive into the unknown for Hudsonville Christian Middle School hiring this person with a waffling identity at best. My wife and I knew it was the right thing to do and I accepted the position. A good decision indeed!
What has made it a good decision? What have I found at HCMS? After less than 8 weeks these are a few of the things I have discovered. Walking into the building there is a welcoming spirit, an engagement with sincere and authentic interest in visitors as well as long-time employees. Students easily offer a smile, a thank you at the close of a class time, and a commitment to peer friendship. The energy of a middle school student body is palpable between classes. Chapels are inspiring, designed for middle schoolers who know the expectations of respect and paying attention during the worship time. Faculty and staff are deeply committed to the Christian educational challenge and support for students. There is a cohesive community of faculty and staff that is vividly on display each day. From solving algebraic equations to learning to play a ukulele and everything in between there are high expectations and when learning becomes difficult support is available.
The words of Jeremiah 29:11 ring true again and again “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV) God had an unanticipated plan now unfolding for me. Thank you HCS for this wonderful opportunity.
Lance B. Engbers, Middle School Interim Principal