DAYTON, OHIO – “Accepting God’s Call” by Brittany Ravestein
On the first day of school I felt the usual emotions of a new job. Anxiety, eagerness, enthusiasm, and fear were at the top of the list. I am currently in my tenth year of teaching and I still consider myself an amateur. Each day I learn something new and I have made it my life’s purpose to inspire young minds to love the gift of learning.
“It truly is a gift of the Holy Spirit,” I told my principal after the first few days of school. I prayed all spring and summer for God to share with me His plan for my career during this season in life. St. Benedict the Moor Catholic School is the place where God called me to be and I am in awe of how truly amazing God’s plan has been.
St. Benedict the Moor is an urban school located in Dayton, Ohio. Urban education has a reputation of being a challenging community to teach. Educators have identified limited resources, high poverty rates, large class sizes, and low student achievement to be some of the major challenges they face when working in an urban school district. To overcome these challenges, the staff at St. Benedict works together in the mission, which is our motif this school year. We have prayer partners and support each other in every way possible. We fill in the gaps and work together to make sure everyone’s needs are met. The support and personalities of the staff is a joy and a blessing.
When I looked at the data, ninety percent of my students were below grade level. My job as their teacher is to decrease the gap and have the students at grade level in nine months. I felt very overwhelmed and hopeful. Through many prayers of asking God for the right words to empower, inspire, and to change me to be the teacher that these students need, I have been privileged to see how much these students have grown not only academically, but spiritually as well.
At St. Benedict the Moor, our mission is not just strong academics, but building God’s kingdom through making disciples. One day a student came up to me and said with the biggest smile on his face, “Mrs. Ravestein, I have gift for you. It’s from God!” I was overwhelmed with the feeling of gratitude that a student of mine was developing a close relationship with God. He pulled out a piece of junk mail from the Publishers Clearing House that had the word “ACCEPTED!” printed on it in large, bolded font. I replied, “Thank you so much, Malique! I am so happy that God used you to tell me how much he loves and accepts me just the way I am!” Conversations about God are crucial in developing the students spiritually. Each day I get to share and show that they are loved and adored.
Academically the students are growing. Children grow at their own rates and I see an eagerness and self discipline that wasn’t there the first few weeks of school. One morning as I was engaged in my morning duty in the multipurpose room, I witnessed two girls holding a nonfiction book looking at a picture of a world map whispering the song I had taught them to remember the names of the seven continents. I feel proud and excited that God is using me to help these children develop a relationship with Him and expand their knowledge about the world around them.
We have a motto in our classroom. It is “We can do hard things.” There are days when we are challenged, but we work together to overcome our challenges. I have a thankful heart that God chose me to work with these students out of thousands of other educators. I look forward to the end of the year to see all the spiritual, social, and academic progress that was made with the help of God our Father.[St. Benedict the Moor Catholic School is run by St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church, a parish in Dayton, Ohio led by Fr. Francis Tandoh, C.S.Sp. This article was originally published in the Spring 2018 One Heart, One Spirit newsletter.]