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Gardening with God: Growing and Cultivating a life with Christ

Gardening –“ the practice of growing and cultivating plants”.

This academic year ushered in a new opportunity for our BCA students – gardening! As a teacher preparing for this new endeavor, my thoughts were:

  • “What does this look like?”
  • “How will I work this into the schedule?”
  • “How often do we NEED to do this?”
  • “What is the learning objective?”

What I should have considered and known from the beginning was the ultimate experience and outcome of such a privilege for the children. As teachers, we often miss the purpose for the planning.

Fifth grade began our gardening in the fall with watering. We knew the importance, but yet had a moment to really discuss its importance. Later in the fall, we planted mustard seeds. We did our duty. Don’t get me wrong, the students enjoyed every minute of watering and planting. I was the one who had not yet considered or appreciated the value it held.

It wasn’t until I needed an idea for Morning Meeting discussion time that the true reality and benefit of gardening dawned on me. We had approached the time to “maintain” the garden. What a great topic of discussion. Little did I realize the importance it would hold for me and the spiritual opportunity it would be for the students as they grow in their faith.

I asked, “Why do we need to maintain the garden?”

The replies I received from my students were profound upon reflection:

  1. “Because if we don’t take out the weeds, they will take over and smother the plants.”
  2. “Because without water the plants won’t survive.”
  3. “Because plants need fresh soil to continue to grow.”
  4. “Because we have to remove the bugs/snails that might prevent the plants from growing.”
  5. “Because if we don’t, the plants will die.”
Gardening: Cultivating and Growing a Life in Christ

BCA Students learning how to grow and cultivate a life in Christ through the experience of gardening

As I sat there, it finally became clear to me the purpose.

We don’t just garden to provide the experience for children learning HOW, but we also provide the experience, so they can see WHY and relate it to their walk with God.

I hadn’t planned on asking the next question, but as the students responded, the Lord led me to ask,

“How does this relate to our walk with Christ?”

An opportunity had come to provide students with a life lesson that neither I nor they had seen coming. We discussed the many ways gardening is like taking care of our walk with the Lord.

We came to realize how taking out the weeds is like recognizing our sin and asking for forgiveness; how Jesus is our water, and without Him, we won’t survive; how God’s Word is fresh soil to help us grow; how putting on the armor of God is protecting us from the darts of the devil like bugs and snails in a garden; and how simply, if we don’t take care of our daily walk with God, we will die a spiritual death like a garden that is left unattended.

What began as a time slot on a schedule and an opportunity for students to do something outside the classroom, became a life lesson in “growing and cultivating” a life with Christ.

– Vanessa Robbins, Fourth/Fifth Grade Teacher

Hip Hop Dance Club: Self Expression, Confidence and Teamwork

This year we have had so many fun after school clubs.  Today, I am writing about our latest fun and instructive club offering which is on Hip Hop Dance. My background and degree in Dance Performance and in Physical Education and a love for teaching children the joy of physical activity and health made this club a perfect fit for all of us. 

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Hip hop dance classes give students a great opportunity to share experience and grow as a group. In each class, students face both physical and mental challenges simultaneously. Students learn dance combinations that engage various groups of muscles that stimulate mind and body. This comprehensive kinesthetic learning opportunity is a great way to engage even the busiest of learners. 

The emphasis on self-expression in hip hop dance class separates dance from other physical activities. Expressiveness is imperative to a great performance.  Hip hop dance class gives students the freedom to be themselves and to be proud of who they are and how they express movement, thought, and emotion.  Dance is a great way for them to release their emotions physically. 

Students grow as a group of dancers and learn to persevere in overcoming obstacles by working together to create and master movements and perform together.  

And I’m sure you thought it was just Hip Hop. It turns out, we are growing healthy, confident kids, who can persevere, express themselves and work together via another method – Hip Hop dance.

– Coach Rothlisberger

About Shanshan Rothlisberger: Shanshan earned her Bachelor in English and Dance Performance from Inner Mongolia University in China and a Masters in Physical Education (emphasis in curriculum and instruction) from the University of New Mexico. It was not until coming to the United States that I discovered most Chinese children are not given an opportunity to enjoy daily physical activity and learn the importance of physical health. I feel greatly honored to have been uniquely blessed with an opportunity to share my passion for physical health with others.

Over the last 8 years I have been gaining teaching experience working with youth and adults in China, South Korea, and the United States. I believe that the diversity of this experience has helped me develop the ability to quickly recognize and honor each individual’s learning style. In addition, my challenging dance performance degree in China taught me to approach physical education with a cheerful and encouraging attitude. In Season 10 of “So You Think You Can Dance”, I was selected to go to Las Vegas to participate in the final round of television auditions. In addition to teaching Physical Education, I also have experience teaching Chinese, ballet, ballroom dancing and Pilates.

Finding Poetry

I discovered poetry in the fourth grade when a student teacher, fresh from college, bravely undertook the task of leading nine year olds through the poems that are always included in the anthologies of best loved poems. At that time, it was hard to imagine anyone loving them. I don’t remember the teacher’s name, but, she had long brown hair, silver hoop earrings, and a patchwork skirt. She smiled… a lot. Our class teacher, Mrs. Stern, whose name tells you all you need to know about her, had admonished us to listen, behave, and learn something. Then, she excused herself and left the student teacher to her fate. I would like to say that it was at that moment I learned to love poetry, but like many love affairs, poetry and I did not hit it off at first. I came away from that experience with an understanding that not all poems need to rhyme and with a wish that I had a pair of silver hoop earrings and a patchwork skirt.

However, some of that experience must have made a significant impression, because in the 5th grade it was such a feeling of revelation when I discovered the humorous poems of Shel Silverstein. I was completely enamored by “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and began to write my own poems. I remember particularly enjoying pairing words and names. For example, Wyatt Earp and burp. Much can be written on the subject of a burping gunslinger. By middle school, I expressed my teen angst in a journal filled with poems that owed much of their inspiration to song lyrics and boys I liked. My poetry may not have been great, it may not have been original, but it made me feel both great and original to compose it. Once all of my teen moodiness had found a home on the page, I was a gentler and kinder daughter, sister, and friend.

Today, I enjoy reading, discussing, and, sharing poems with my students, and still occasionally writing them. I love to tell my students that poetry is everywhere. It can be found in a drop of rain that falls from the eaves, or in the song of a cricket. It certainly can’t be contained in a single form, or follow one particular set of rules. Even the Bible is full of poetry, in particular, the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Poetry can also be found in the New Testament. Mary and Zechariah’s songs of praise from the book of Luke come to mind, and the Beatitudes are as beautifully worded as any poem. We talk about the power of poetry to paint a picture with words, to capture a moment, or to give expression to pain and joy.

One of the pleasures of our after school poetry club has been watching students develop their own love for poetry while experimenting with its different forms. I also relish those opportunities to share poems that I think they will connect with and love as much as I do, or listening as they read aloud a special favorite of their own.
Poetry club resumes during the 2nd session. I hope your 3rd, 4th or 5th grader will join us!

Melissa McDaniel, 3rd Grade

Discovering Hidden Textures

“The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself, but in the colours and textures that come alive in others.” – Albert Schweitzer

In the art world texture refers to the tactile qualities of a surface, actual, or to the visual representation of such surface qualities, implied.

Currently in art class students are creating texture rubbings by using crayons and a variety of organic (from nature) and geometric (man-made) shapes. The physical and exploratory nature of this assignment causes the most reluctant or introverted learner to dash about excitedly in order to collect and reveal the hidden surface textures surrounding their lives. They often squeal in delight while rubbing the crayon over the object as the image magically appears. And as if they can’t believe their own eyes they quickly find a friend to show them their latest newly discovered texture.

Encourage your young artist to discover some of the hidden textures that surround your home and take notice how the 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional world around us “comes alive” through actual and implied texture.

Martin Johnson Heade
Martin Johnson Heade
American, 1819–1904
Cattleya Orchid and Three Hummingbirds, 1871

Rene Santoro, Art Director

Is Library all that important?

Sometimes when I tell people I’m a librarian they seem a bit surprised. “Do we even have libraries anymore,” one man asked me recently. I assured him that we do indeed. He said, “Well, I don’t use them. I have Google.”

Saying that Google replaces libraries is like saying WebMD replaces hospitals. While the Internet is an amazing tool (and one which I heartily embrace and employ), to build a lifetime love of learning, schools need to go further.


Bannockburn Christian Academy’s library has nearly 6,000 volumes of books and we constantly add more. It’s a small room but it’s bright and cheerful and packed to the max with interesting, engaging reads.

Students arrive quietly because that’s what they’re expected to do but even as I approach the doorway, I can feel their excitement. I have it, too. Curling up on the soft, squishy rug they listen to me read aloud book after book. We explore new worlds together and discuss whether those Berenstain bear cubs could really build a rocket and fly to the moon on their own. One scholar asked me, “Don’t you think their parents should go along, just to be safe?”


We delve into literature by local authors or laugh out loud at the pigeon’s antics. Older students lean forward as I take them through the vast prairie with Mary and Laura or to the principal’s office with Ramona Quimby, age 8. I discuss dragons with the boys and know every princess and fairy book because your daughters do. They love being surrounded by the books and every year as their vocabulary increases and their reading skills bloom, I have the privilege of sharing my favorite authors, classic titles and new releases with them.


As Americans our attention spans continue to decline. We live in an instant gratification world. We get frustrated when Youtube videos take too long to load or a website isn’t mobile friendly. We often prefer devices over hardbacks. The world has changed.  At BCA we are constantly changing, too, so we can provide the most current technology and opportunities to our students. Can you say STEM lab? I’m all for it.

The library is very technology driven with its computers and online catalog, as well. However, at its core, the library is a place of respite and wonder. There are no grades. Everyone has an opinion about which genre is the best and they’re all correct. We celebrate advancing from yellow dot books to green dots. I’ve been doubled over in laughter. Sometimes we get a bit teary-eyed together. Books are special for so very many reasons but mostly, I love being a librarian (and yes, I believe libraries to be necessary!) because I see every, single day what those pages do for your children.


Put down your phone. Step away from the computer screen. Join us at the BCA library anytime! You can read to the kids, visit characters from your own childhood, help me shelve books or just sit quietly and take it all in. Our library is good for souls of all ages.

Lisa Wellman, Librarian

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