By Amanda Compton
This year’s staff dinner was bitter-sweet — as we said goodbye to valuable and longtime staff and faculty members, acknowledged employment milestones of those who have faithfully served Twin Oaks Christian School over the years and welcomed the new Head of School, Dr. David Schall.
Coordinated by the TOCS Board, attendees dined on ribs, cucumber salad and biscuits with homemade honey butter prepared by the amazing Twin Oaks Hot Lunch staff, Mrs. Helen Prouty and Mrs. Shannon Weber.
The evening opened with a warm welcome from Board President Mr. Tim Adcock and Co-Head of School Mrs. Sherry Blough, both of whom took time to share sweet notes about the staff as well as the 18-month Head of School search journey riddled with God’s sovereign fingerprints.
Below are the notes and comments compiled by Mrs. Blough regarding those who were recognized at the dinner on Tuesday, May 15. Concluding this blog post is Mr. Adcock’s commentary on the past 18 months, which culminated in the recent announcement of our new Head of School, Dr. David Schall.
Mrs. Chris Huffman, Spire Teacher
Where do you start to talk about someone who has been serving in education for 39 years, 29 of those in Christian schools. Chris is currently our Spire Reading Specialist for early elementary students, but she was a classroom teacher before that. Chris was the Twin Oaks Grade Teacher Kendall Brewer’s teacher in the second grade.
Many children have had the privilege of the instruction and influence of this consummate professional. She has modeled Godly living and kindness and created the “memory of a favorite teacher” for hundreds of kids. In fact, one of our teachers said, “It is special to see how each student feels as if Mrs. Huffman loves them the most.”
Now her own children are having children and she wants to be more available. What a joy it should be to Chris to know that so many children will never forget her . . . and neither will we. Chris, you are dearly loved and Twin Oaks will miss you.
Mrs. Carol Prosser, Preschool Teacher
Carol came to Twin Oaks from Bonhomme Presbyterian where she directed the Early Childhood program for 15 years. She has served as our preschool teacher for four years and has been an educator for a total of 29 years.
One of my favorite things to do is peak in and watch her teach three and four-year-olds. I recently attended the Mother’s Tea and was amazed to see how the children have matured over the course of the year. They followed instructions beautifully and used their manners. One of the greatest things about working with this age group is seeing how much they learn over the course of the year.
You can just see the joy Carol has in this progress. The children and their parents know how much she cares for them. What a loss to our school, but what a blessing to Carol’s bunch of grandchildren, some of whom she helps home school. May the Lord bless you as you and your husband paddle your kayak down some beautiful rivers! You are much loved and will be missed.
Mrs. Pam Cassidy, Supplies Secretary, 5-year Milestone
Pam works in the main school office two days a week. She is a Twin Oaks mom who loves working where her girls attend school. Pam recently completed nursing school, but she plans to stick with her part-time job here. Everyone appreciates her smile and helpfulness as well as her faithful service. We love you, Pam. Maybe someday, when the school grows, you can be our school nurse.
Mrs. Rachel Stain, Director of Admissions & Advancement, 5-year milestone
Rachel began her career five years ago, serving as the registrar for three years. The last two years, Rachel has been our Director of Admissions and Advancements. She wears many hats: she also manages records in RenWeb and blesses us with her expertise on social media. Debbie and I seek out and value her insight and opinions. The girl is so smart and capable . . . what a blessing she is to this school — and to Debbie and me in particular. She is one of the leadership legacies we leave behind … a true leader. We love you, Rachel.
Mrs. Katie Ragsdale, First Grade Teacher, 15-year milestone
Katie is a natural leader. She has blessed so many students who moved through her kindergarten classes. This school year she moved to first grade along with her last Kindergarten class. Katie is Team Leader for the early elementary grades and our new young teachers will tell you how valuable her leadership is to them and what a mentor she is.
She mentored not one, but three new teachers this school year. One of them, when asked, said, “Katie has supported me through my first year with steadfast guidance and mentorship, persistent prayer and is a constant person who can be all of those things and also be a close friend. When I grow up, I wan to be like Katie Ragsdale.”
Katie also contributes wisdom and with to the Education Committee. She has had the joy of watching her children, Aubrey and Hunter, move through the grades at Twin Oaks. We love you, Katie, and wish we could clone you.
Miss Kendall Brewer, Fourth Grade Teacher, Leaving us to attend Harvard
We are so happy for Kendall to have the opportunity to get a Master’s Degree in the specialized field of educating children who have experienced trauma (brain research – have you heard of plasticity?). So we have mixed feelings because we are sad that she will not be here at Twin Oaks.
Kendall is a fantastic teacher who knows her craft well and enjoys seeing her students fully engaged in learning and loving it. I know the Lord has a great plan for Kendall in the future and we send her off with our blessings and love. Come back to see us – everyone will be happy to see you.
Miss Lindsay Loyd, Fifth Grade Teacher
Lindsay has been at Twin Oaks for six years and students describe her as a really sweet teacher. She is always kind and patient and always prepared for the lessons of the day. Lindsay makes her classroom a safe and comfortable home base for our fifth graders, greeting them in the morning and seeing them off each afternoon. I have always been impressed with Lindsay’s participation in whatever is going on at school, particularly how she faithfully guides our Leadership Corps. She is looking forward to what the Lord has next for her and we send her off with our love.
Mrs. Julie Cordray, Moving back to her home state of Indiana
Ask any graduate of this school or current student and they will tell you Julie is the best Language Arts teacher ever. She not only knows her craft but she invests in the lives of her students. We had a going away party for Julie earlier in May and people had wonderful things to say about her. Julie has served here at Twin Oaks for 13 years and has been an educator for 17 years. Our Middle School students have received a first class education in Language Arts from this stellar teacher and they would be the first to say so. And what a great communicator . . . even the emails she sends to parents with “tough to hear” information has love between every line.
She is a friend to all of us on the staff and as dependable as they come. Julie served as Middle School Coordinator this school year and found that she loves administration. I will be surprised if the Lord does not lead her in that direction somewhere down the line. It has been a pleasure to work alongside you. We wish you and John blessings in your new home (when you find one!) and send you off with so much love.
Mrs. Debbie Sexton, Retiring
Debbie has served admirably and faithfully for 11 years as the lead teacher’s aide. What a blessing she is as she does everything from laminating and cutting out hundreds of things to making the required number of copies on the required colored paper. She has guided hundreds of children through their memory verse work. Before she was on staff, Debbie served the school as PIE President, Vice President and Fundraising Coordinator for many years. She went on to be a substitute teacher, After Care worker and then finally a teacher’s aide.
Debbie helps meet children in the parking lot every morning and guides them into the building safely, then goes out to one recess after another making sure everyone stays safe and on schedule. She was of great assistance to Debbie and me, especially when we first came – as she put schedules together for all of the aides and showed us how things worked. Debbie, you have no idea how much you will be missed. We wish you well as you enjoy a graduation and a wedding and a really good rest. You are also much loved, my friend.
By Sherry Blough, Co-Head of School
All I can say is that it has been a joy to work with Debbie Stair. This was literally a match made in heaven as we each experienced God’s calling to serve at Twin Oaks Christian School.
What we share most is the belief that God is sovereign over all – revealing his will and way, providing the wisdom and guidance for us to follow it and then turn the glory back to his Name. It has been our privilege to serve you, but it has strengthened us spiritually to share the journey. There has been joy all along the way, even as we saw God straighten what looked like crooked paths.
We want to commend you and thank you . . . because the camaraderie we have enjoyed with this faculty and staff will never be forgotten. We cherish the respect you gave us and the trust (even when you wondered sometimes). Debbie and I feel very much like you joined us 100 percent in the desire to see this school survive through the hardest of times and go forward to be the best it could be. You made the difference and you will continue to make the difference after we are gone because you love Twin Oaks, you love teaching, you love the children and you know it is all about Jesus . . . for His name and for His glory. We will be praying for you and watching to see what God is yet to do.
We also want to thank the school board who have blessed us with great leadership, encouragement and support. A school board’s job is the oversight of the school and its business and to have the back of their Head of School through prayer, listening and helping in any way they can. You have blessed us with your regard and truly moved the school into a position of strength for the future. Keep up the good work and thank you for your love and care.
By Tim Adcock, Board President
Two years ago, we were in a fix . . . to put it subtly.
I received a call from Sherry Blough letting me know she would be willing to help the school during this hard time. I said, “Well, there’s this part-time job that runs about 80 hours a week . . . are you interested?”
After much prayer, Sherry said she didn’t think she was called to do the entire job and suggested another qualified contact. Well, this person was taken and suggested we contact Debbie Stair, who had a similar reaction as Sherry in taking on the entire task at hand.
It was mentioned that Debbie and Sherry split the Head of School position and both reacted with great enthusiasm to this idea of working together — such was the professional respect, offsetting gifts and personal affections the two have for each other.
This is where Sherry’s 43 years in Christian education was bonded with Debbie’s 26 years. It was truly . . . a God thing!
Now where I am sitting it is very difficult to be an effective leader when you are in a temporary position . . . unless, of course, you are these two. Armed with complete reliance on God, they set about what I like to call a “plowing ministry”. They did the hard work of preparing for the planter that would follow their ministry.
You see temps don’t usually move walls around in the building. What started as a simple renovation to the front office led to a more effective use of the space we have been given and a much-needed improvement to the overall security of our building and its precious contents.
They pushed through the plans, helped raise the money and kept the project on course. And as soon as school is out next week, the hammers will start flying.
This was not just a fill-in position, it was a commitment to stewardship of what they knew belongs to God. The reports I get about the shepherding of the staff and faculty are breathtaking. They take an interest in the individual as Christians ought to do. The centerpiece of their leadership is relational.
There were many initiatives such as changes to the curriculum, blessings (bonuses) to the teachers, greatly needed upgrades to the facility. It was a never-ending, restless pursuit.
Now during this time, over the past two years, life went on. Their spouses, Doug and Carol, also submitted to God. They gave up their time which would have otherwise been spent with their wives. It was a great sacrifice.
And . . . there were the struggles in life. The loss of a loved one and concerns over health did not take a break. But through those struggles we found out just how much we loved each other.
They were ambassadors to our parent community, mended relationships from one end of the organization to the other and always, always pointed us towards God. There simply isn’t an aspect of this school where you won’t find evidence of their love and work.
Dr. Schall . . . Your field is ready.
Ending toast – (water and tea)
To the call of God and all those who answer it by faith:
May it be considered in prayer.
Received with all clarity.
And supported relentlessly by all those who claim Christ by name.
And in this way, we can give God all the glory.
Twin Oaks Christian School, a ministry of Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church