Educators who serve in churches need to learn too.
A conference Aug. 12-13 in Cary provided continuing education units to 20 weekday education directors and 137 staff members from 25 centers across the state.
BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Amy Braswell, left, director of The Creator’s Kids at Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Raleigh, pins a corsage on Rosemary Castellano, this year’s winner of the North Carolina Baptist Church Weekday Education Association’s teacher of the year.
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) hosted the North Carolina Baptist Church Weekday Education Association (NCBCWEA) summer conference: “Chuga Chuga Choo Choo!” based on Proverbs 22:6 about training up a child. It was also the NCBCWEA annual meeting.
Cheryl Markland, BSC childhood evangelism and discipleship consultant, Mary Sweat, BSC church weekday education consultant and director of WEECare ministry at Lafayette Baptist Church in Fayetteville, and Lana Neal, leadership development pastor at Forest Park Church in Elizabeth City, were among the speakers. Breakout sessions also offered more training opportunities.
Sweat announced the teacher of the year: Rosemary Castellano of The Creator’s Kids at Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Raleigh. Castellano, who was one of five nominees, has served eight years with 2-year-olds.
Sweat talked about the previous year’s themes and revealed the goal has been and will continue to be to help these programs in their ministry to their communities. “Do you realize the opportunities that God is providing for you each and every day to share who He is?” she asked.
Each theme has disciple-making in common.
Families that don’t attend church will send their child to a church preschool. “You can build a relationship with them and earn the opportunity to share the gospel,” she said. “We are on the front line to be able to minister to those families and their children in a way that the church is not. Our role is to lay a spiritual foundation for the children and influence the parents.”
While background checks are crucial, Markland urged directors to call prospective employee references.
“Background checks are important but do you realize that less than 10 percent of all abuse is ever reported?” Markland said. “[Parents] are entrusting you with their greatest treasure,” so centers want to take precautions for safety reasons. “Those first impressions are crucial.”
Directors also need to get out of their office to check halls and look into classrooms.
Markland stressed preventive measures to avoid incidents. For instance, having a bathroom procedure where someone goes into the bathroom to check it before the child goes into the room. Also, if you do have to help a child after they have used the restroom, Markland advised keeping the stall door open so others would know nothing deceptive was happening.
“The biggest thing is, just you as an adult, make sure you are never alone with a child where there could be the appearance of impropriety,” she said. “You want to protect yourself. Ultimately you want to protect the children.”
They discussed many other topics including sanitation, allergies, video monitoring, evacuation plans, local emergency numbers, inspections, wood furniture, playground equipment and hot beverages in the classroom.
Another hot topic Markland covered was discipline.
“Now granted, all you guys are the most patient, loving, kind, grace-filled, Christ-loving people in the world, right?” Markland said. “Nobody ever loses their temper with a child; it’s just heaven on earth in your school.”
She discussed different techniques like redirection, natural consequences and self discipline.
“Sometimes a child just gets over stimulated or just wired,” she said, and “needs to go someplace to regain self control.”
Markland offered several stations for participants to try stress-reducing activities like coloring, painting, watching a funny video, blowing bubbles, playing with balloons and sitting on a beach towel with ocean noises playing and some kinectic sand to run through their fingers.
She hoped the participants got some insights not only on how they handle stress but some ideas to take back to their centers to share with the children as well.
“Give yourself permission to live your life,” she said. “Do you trust others to do what they say they will do?”
Markland advised them to submit to God and delegate.
“It comes down to trust and control,” she said. “Surrendering is a daily battle … to surrender control of my life and my circumstances.”
She encouraged to ask some questions:
• Are you able to receive compliments, thanks and encouragement with confidence?
“Inevitably someone will say, ‘That’s a nice dress’, [and] I say I got it on the clearance rack,” Markland said. “After a while, people stop giving you compliments because it’s too much work. It’s OK to say I’m good at that. If I’m not careful … [I] more or less disagree with people when they try to be good to me.”
• Do you give compliments, thanks and encouragement to others?
“I love doing that,” she said. “I love the joy it brings to people’s eyes.”
• Do you accept your limitations with grace?
• Can you forgive and move on?
“That’s a sign of maturity too,” she said. “All these things are things that add stress to life.”
Getting adequate rest and nutrition are crucial in dealing with stress.
“When I stress, the first thing I want is ice cream [and] potato chips,” she said.
When stressed, Markland advised making time for a nap or at least a timeout to give yourself time to calm down.
Neal served as the keynote speaker for the two-day training. She describes herself as an experiential learner and teacher.
She led participants through a survey to measure their leadership effectiveness in a variety of characteristics.
“The truth is we all lead in some aspect of our lives,” Neal said. “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. As leaders we have to be smart about how we spend our time and energy.”