Today some hundred plus adults entered elementary school again. Three times a year, business leaders, community volunteers and other friends of The Oaks Academy see what life is like inside this special school. (I have included excerpts from the Oaks website as clarification below.)
What a privilege it was to witness students with their partners as they dissected starfish. A pleasure to see them create early Indiana “quilts”. A joy to watch students showing off their medieval castles and their Roman villas. And the goosebump-inducing highlight, which I hope I can gain permission to show, – my young friend, Najah, as she portrayed Sojourner Truth giving her famous speech: “Ain’t I a Woman.” The video quality is poor from my little camera, but if you can get a copy of the words online as you listen to her speak, you, too, will certainly have goosebumps upon her closing words. The Partners roared with applause and gave her a standing ovation.
So why the title “Courage Actually?” Because today I saw courage all around me. I saw courage coming from the adults who had never walked into this multicultural, Christ-centered, classical school in what used to be the worst neighborhood in Indianapolis. At first glance, some seemed tentative and unsure of what they were doing there, or why they had come. But when the middle schoolers escorted them to the gymnasium where they were greeted by staff and more students, they were put to ease by the welcoming spirit that embraced them. As many have said, “I don’t know what it is, but something here moves me. I just can’t explain it.”
I know what they mean. There is something moving at the Oaks Academy. And in that movement, there is an abundance of courage.
I saw courage in Najah, who not only memorized a beautiful speech, but embraced it as if she had written the words herself. I believed she WAS the heroic Sojourner Truth.
Courage came out of each person who took the scapel or scissors to dissect a very large starfish and document what they saw with diligence and care.
The first graders, although they had no official Partners, exhibited courage as they sounded out each letter in their storybooks. Their teachers and parent volunteers partner each day with them as they learn new life skills.
I imagine it took courage for some of the new Partners to consider a donation to the school, as it did for the Head of the School to announce that the price of partnership had gone up to meet the increasing budgetary needs.
And then I saw an incredible quote about… what else… but courage on the fifth grade chalkboard. As I read it, I heard another woman ask to whom the quote is attributed. The teacher said it was an assignment that the class had worked on together. The ideas came from the fifth graders and he had formed them into sentences. Hold onto your keyboards because this is deep:
Cowards are not only a danger to themselves, but also to everyone around them. By fearing the worst before the worst comes, cowards can make foolish choices like surrender or suicide. When an enemy does threaten, the coward is likely to betray his friends in hope of saving his skin.
That’s about being a coward, you say. No, it’s about courage, actually. If I had courage, I would not be the coward I can so often be. I am ashamed to admit this, but it’s also so freeing to admit my defects so I can ask God to rid me of them.
I have been the kind of coward that wants to save my own skin.
The kind that betrays.
The kind that worries more about how I look than how others feel.
I have surrendered when I should have keep fighting.
And I have feared the worst before the worst comes… in fact, when the worst never came at all.
So, today I hope to cement the images of courage in my mind so I can remember that courage comes in a variety of ways. I saw it from 7-year-olds. I saw it in 67-year-olds. I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to observe all of these people who made brave choices at Parnter morning. And I pray that I may be filled less with cowardice and more with courage, actually.
If you are interested in seeing photos from the day, click on the link below:
then go to Partner Morning on the top of the page.
Partners are special friends of The Oaks Academy who donate financial gifts at a certain level that help support student tuitions.
Attending Partner Investment: $1500/student
Join your student three Partner Mornings a year. Spend quality time working on a project together.
Supporting Partner Investment: $1500/student
Support one or more students, even if you cannot attend Partner Mornings. Receive a student profile for each student you support.
Partner Group Investment: $1500 /student
A group of people that “pool” their donations together to support one or more children. This makes it possible to support the mission of the school without having to make the entire $1,500 contribution alone. The total annual investment of the group is $1,500.
Good Shepherd Investment: Open
Invest yourself as a substitute on Partner Mornings. Consider a donation at a level you decide.
Partners represent promise.
The Oaks Academy is committed to providing an education of extraordinary quality that is accessible to all. This school year 70% of Oaks students receive scholarship assistance, provided by our Partners.
Partners encourage potential.
That’s the role of our Partners. They are individuals, couples, families, corporations and foundations who come alongside our students to support their efforts. Partners pledge time, finances or both. In whatever way they partner, they encourage our students toward lives of excellence and achievement.
Some Partners support one student, some provide tuition assistance for several, and others support an entire classroom.
Partners enjoy participating.
Being a Partner at The Oaks Academy is easy! Plan to join us three mornings during the academic year to participate in a slice of life at The Oaks.
Join us for Partner Morning!
Here’s what to expect when you join us for these special mornings: Partners enjoy a brief welcome from the head of school and then spend time doing a planned activity with their student partner(s) in the classroom. It’s a great opportunity to participate in the life of the school and experience the investment of an Oaks education. Partner Mornings are scheduled from 9-10:30am typically scheduled three times during the school year during September, December and March.