Spotlight on Volunteers
Spotlight on Sunday School Volunteers, Raising Awareness and Appreciation
Get to know who is teaching at FPC, why they are teaching, and how sharing their gift of teaching has impacted their lives. Tune in for the next several weeks as Sunday School volunteers share with you the reasons they teach and what they have learned!
Judy Miskimmin, Two Year Olds
Judy Miskimmin has been teaching the two-year-old class for 32 years! Years ago, Judy took to heart the commitment church members make whenever a child is baptized. Realizing that she had promised to help raise these precious children in the faith but that she wasn’t doing anything about it, she made the decision to volunteer and oh, the joy that has filled her heart. Judy confessed that in her search for Bible stories that were appropriate for two- year-olds, she read the Bible more for herself!
Judy is a memory maker. Her favorite activity with the children is taking them to Big Church (sanctuary) and encouraging them to carry cans of food to place in the narthex basket designated for feeding the hungry. Children are never too young too learn compassion. The smiles on their faces when they are affirmed for helping others is priceless.
There is one particular bonus that not all teachers can claim: Judy delights in teaching the children of the now-grown-up children she taught years ago.
So what keeps Judy teaching? Her interaction with and love for these precious children is “life-giving and joy-filled.” She encourages others to try teaching because of the difference it can make in the lives of the students as well as the teacher.
Stuart Nesbit, Middle and High School
Stuart Nesbit has been teaching middle and high school youth at First Presbyterian Church for the last 17 years. One of the most meaningful things that he has experienced is “the light that goes on in their heads when they realize that the scriptures are not just words on a page but something to be understood and applied to their own lives right now. When that happens you realize you’re doing this for all the right reasons!”
“One of the reasons I think people should teach is that not only does it help young people grow spiritually, but it helps you grow in your own faith journey, too.” Stuart’s life has been enriched because of his relationships with youth. He says, “I get to know them by going to plays, sports events, and through mission trips. My teaching has led me into a larger experience in Church. I’ve been on a variety of mission trips every year since 2003 when I was asked to chaperone a youth mission trip. The experiences were so meaningful that I still keep participating with the youth on these indescribable, amazing, life-changing trips.”
You can tell he loves working with our teens. The relationships he builds keeps him coming back year after year. “It’s so exciting to see them learning and working through their faith journey.”
Jeff Nelson, “Teacher of All Trades”
Jeff Nelson is a “Teacher of all trades” so to speak. He’s taught children, youth and adults for the last 10 years and enjoys each unique group. He’s motivated because he enjoys it and his own kids like that he teaches, too. Jeff said,“This surprised me because I thought that once my daughters hit middle school they would be embarrassed for Dad to teach. However, they like seeing my wife, Jen, and I involved. They have questions and a desire to learn and they want to know you do, too.”
He also knows that teaching challenges him to “think deeper”about the Bible. “When you go through the process of writing out discussion questions or planning a project that’s related to the story you really have to read and think about it. Plus, believe it or not, I can be kind of introverted if I don’t make myself get involved.” This statement surprised me since Jeff’s nickname is the “Loud guy”!?!
Fondest memory? “Cooking lab was always fun and sticky with the younger kids.” One of my favorite times (though a little awkward) was the time poor Emmy Finguerra was the one and only middle school youth in class and all my prep was for a group activity. Emmy, Stuart Nesbit, and I became the group.” Sounds like flexibility and enthusiasm are in Jeff’s DNA. My favorite memory of Jeff is when he donned a Pharaoh’s costume and together with Matt Whalen as Moses, re-enacted the Green plagues and lamb book that tells the Exodus story in Seussical style. It was the highlight of our kids’ Passover meal!
Jeff’s advice for would-be teachers is “Don’t be afraid. Thank goodness this Church has Bible experts, I am not one of them. So we learn together, and all receive the rewards, especially me”.
By: Jacqui Horton
Liz Harris, “Why do I teach?”
“Why do you teach?” That’s a funny question, because I can’t imagine not being involved in education. It is a natural drive within me. From the time I was six I was playing teacher and had my own chalkboard! I had a fourth grade teacher who literally brought bags of learning experiences to the classroom. Each day was a different way to explore the subject at hand- from colored sand maps to writing and binding our own books. Her style of teaching influences me today. I enjoy bringing different experiences into the classroom. For me, teaching is driven by a natural instinct and past experiences. Teaching Sunday School is driven by a desire to share whatever time or talent I have with my faith community.
In particular, I enjoy teaching young people in Sunday School. I love their openness and inquisitiveness. Their questions open new paths for me to explore in my own faith journey. Who hasn’t been asked “Why?” by a younger person? That singular question pushes us to delve deeper into the central questions of our own faith. So, “Why did God choose Mary and Joseph? Why are the ‘different’ people always picked on in the Bible? Why do we need a pastor?” And then there are more questions, “What is in that bag? What are we doing today? Can we collect money for a project? What’s for snack?” Yes, we always have snacks, because we love them! Truly the bottom line is that I teach Sunday School for the pure love and joy of it. It’s really that simple.