Imagine Greer auditorium packed with smiling, eager young faces dressed in fresh uniforms and ready to explore their world. This was the scene at the first Lower School Morning Meeting of the 2017/2018 school year. As the drum beat the cue to sit quietly and focus on the speaker a small, glowing woman took center stage. This is Sam Oakley, Episcopal’s new Lower School Religion Teacher.
Mrs. Oakley delivered a message befitting the promise of a new beginning:
“Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already – you can see it now.”
Isaiah 43:18-19b (GNT)
In this verse, God tells us not to cling to the events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Maybe last year didn’t go as well as you had hoped. Maybe you struggled a little bit more than you wished in your friendships. Maybe you had a hard time keeping up with all that you were learning. Maybe you had a hard time remembering the ways that we show respect to our teachers and our classmates. That was last year. This is a new year. You can leave behind and say goodbye to whatever things you may have struggled with last year and trust that your teachers are here to help this year be a different and good story.
God reminds us that he is already doing a new thing for us. As you look around at the bulletin boards on the hallways and enter your new teachers’ classrooms, you can see that a new thing is already happening. You have new teachers and new classmates, and you will learn together so many new things. You will make new friends. You will learn how to care for all of those around you – students and teachers – in ways that show you respect them and are thankful for them. You will take what you have learned here back to your homes and your families, who are looking forward to watching you grow and learn this year.
As the students looked on, Mrs. Oakley shared that Dr. Seuss is one of her favorite authors.
In his book, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut, the older cat brags to the younger cat about how he can read so well that he can even read with his eyes shut. But, throughout the book, the older cat says, “There are so many things you can learn about but you will miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut…Keep your eyes wide, keep them wide open…If you keep your eyes open enough, oh the stuff you will learn! The most wonderful stuff!”
So, together, let’s take the advice of the Cat in the Hat and keep our eyes wide open, looking forward to the new and great things that are going to happen this year, and let’s hold on to those memories and celebrate them together as we commit ourselves to making a difference in the world.
Here at Episcopal we are excited about the new school year. We invite you to be an active participant in our community, whether you are a parent volunteer, a grade level representative or a proud grandparent cheering on your student. Please keep in touch with your child’s teacher and support your child’s progress in their learning journey.
Meet Sam Oakley
Before joining Episcopal this year, Sam Oakley previously served as the Associate Director of the Center for Family and Community Ministries at Baylor University. While at Baylor she conducted research, developed resources, and edited a journal. She received her M.S.W. and M.Div. from Baylor University. Sam is married to David Oakley, who serves as the Youth and Children’s Minister at Broadmoor Baptist Church. Together they have three children: Elijah, Taylor, and Sadie.