Our lesson last Sunday was about community. Taken from the same root as ‘common’, community means a group of people with like interests. The New Testament describes the church community as people “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
A true community (in the biblical sense) is a place where you feel safe to share your feelings and to explore ideas without fear of criticism. In our class, we were asked if we felt part of a community anywhere other than our church family. One person said her neighborhood was such a place, another mentioned her quilting group. And, it occurred to me that I work in a community.
Some of you know that I am employed at an education cooperative. To be specific, Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative in Beebe, Arkansas. We all know how a cooperative works. Ours provides sixteen school districts across four counties with professional development, HIPPY, Career Technical Education, Special Education, testing and therapy for learning disabilities and special needs, and the Gifted/Talented program. This is just part of the services we offer to our partner schools.
I work in the Professional Development Center with five specialists who not only help afford educators the continuing education they need to maintain their licenses, but bring to the classroom teachers ideas for innovative projects and special activities to enhance learning.
Last Friday, our Science Specialist planned to visit an elementary school to show five classes of second graders how to make ice cream in Ziploc bags. Early in the week, the ones who were going to assist her had to drop out. She was faced with the prospect of cancelling the project, or tackling it alone. The first possibility brought her to tears, but the second scenario sent her into panic mode.
A Literacy Specialist said he could help (giving up a cherished office day). Then, one by one, others in our community volunteered to change their schedules. Finally on Friday, four specialists in literacy, math, and science helped over 100 children (in waves of 24) mix milk, sugar, vanilla, crushed ice, and rock salt to make ice cream.
Where is your community?