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A Visit to Ron Clark Academy

October 08, 2018
By Emily Bontrager, 4th Grade Teacher

I recently had the opportunity to attend Ron Clark Academy’s professional development training with some fellow NCS teachers.  In many ways, the experience is simply indescribable.  However, after being asked to share about this amazing experience, I decided to try my best.

The Ron Clark Academy is a non-profit middle school in Atlanta, Georgia where students come from a wide range of economic backgrounds.  This school is performing at such a high level of academic rigor and student engagement that it is revered among many educators.  Possibly the most successful piece of RCA’s intentional and revolutionary style is the sense of community held between their students, faculty, and parents. 

Walking into the building is similar to visiting Disney World for the first time.  The excitement and magic are tangible not only between the incoming teachers but also among the students who welcome you at the doors.  Loud music plays as you walk in on a red carpet, and students greet you while they dance around together; always with a smile and a firm handshake.  They help you get through their “Harry Potter” themed building while asking pertinent and personal questions about your life.  There were many times I forgot that I was speaking to fifth and sixth-grade students instead of seasoned conversationalists and professional adults.

I could go on and on about the “experience”, but what I truly seek to focus on and pursue is how these methods can be brought into my own classroom and into our beautiful community that is already present at Nashville Christian School.  We might not have a fire-breathing dragon in the auditorium or a two-story slide in our entryway, but there are so many incredible ways we can bring magical and intangible items with us into our classes.

Change always starts at the top with teachers who are excited and passionate about teaching. This is the reason the RCA students were happy and excited - their teachers started the trend! My goal is to be more intentional with my students about raising the bar academically and giving them challenges that create grit along with their learning.  I want to encourage and cultivate social skills from making eye contact, to speaking directly and listening actively.  I desire to have conversations with my students that go past the surface level and move into deeper concepts.  I will choose to engage my kids through movement, discussion, and creativity to help them achieve more.  I want to create a bigger sense of belonging for every child, not only in my class but also within the school building.

This experience will stay with me long after the school year ends, and I hope it will continue to change the way I approach teaching for years to come.

Meet NCS Art Teacher Emily Johnson

April 03, 2018
By Nashville Christian School

What do you do at NCS?
I teach elementary art, middle school art, and high school Art I.

Tell us a little about your background (where you grew up, where you went to college, family, pets, etc.).
I grew up in sunny Florida. I always loved art as a child and knew that it was a natural way for me to express myself so I studied art education at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. I started teaching art right after I graduated and have been teaching for 15 years now. My husband, Conrad and I have 3 children. Ellie is 10, Sarah is 5, and Jonah is 1. We moved to Nashville last summer and we are loving it here. 

What is your favorite thing to do?
My favorite thing to do is to run. I always feel better after a run. Running is how I clear my mind and get lost in worship. It’s a time to myself to get outside. I just love it. 

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is getting to know the kids and being a part of their day. I love for the art room to be a bright spot in a child’s day.

What is your least favorite part of your job?
My least favorite part of my job is cleaning up constantly from paint to clay to more paint. Teaching art is a messy job!

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
I would be a lifeguard in Hawaii. 

You teach high schoolers – if you could go back and give your high school self any advice, what would it be?
I would tell my high school self to think of others as more important than yourself. I think it’s easy as a teenager to be self absorbed. I wish I would have looked outside of myself a lot more.

If you could have a super power, what would it be and why?
I would like to have a super power of blinking my eyes and the house is clean and the laundry is done!

What is the best book you have ever read?
The Shack was my favorite book. I remember writing down so many meaningful quotes. 

Tell us something that might surprise us about you?
I’ve run 12 full marathons. 

Teacher Spotlight - Mr. Caleb Goff

January 30, 2018
By Nashville Christian School

We have a few new teachers who joined the Nashville Christian School staff this year, and we wanted to help you get to know them a little better. Mr. Goff teaches Algebra and Pre-Calculus in the high school, but here are a few things you might not know about him:

Tell us a little about your background:
I grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana and went to school at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, where I met my wonderful wife, Colleen, in a Biology class. Colleen works in interior design and architecture, and together we have two puppies - Mies and Mobi (9 and 8 months old). Mies is a Mini Australian Shepard (named after Mies van Der Rohe, a famous German architect), and Mobi is an Australian Cattle Dog (named after August Mobius, a famous mathematician).

What is your favorite thing to do?
My (two) favorite things to do are to cook, and to play the board game Patchwork with my wife.

What is the best part of your job?
Seeing a student's face when they realize they understand a difficult math concept.

What is your least favorite part of your job?
That I can't bring my dogs with me.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
I would love to work in journalism or be a political commentator.

You teach high schoolers – if you could go back and give your high school self any advice, what would it be?
Don't pressure yourself into knowing what career you're going to have or what major you'll be before you graduate high school. As of 2013, the average college student changes their major 3 times, and the average person changes careers 5-7 times over their lifetime. Be flexible, take classes in subjects you love, and make strong connections with your teachers in high school (and professors in college).

If you could have a super power, what would it be and why?
I mean... can I just be Spider-Man?

What is the best book you have ever read?
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, followed very closely by One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
Throughout high school, I got better grades in English than in math (and I won 5 different poetry contests my junior and senior years).

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