Valiant Teachers (Part 1)

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
― Mother Teresa

Some folks are called to be teachers, but only a very select few are called to be teachers at Valiant Cross Academy.

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There is no doubt in this WORLD that Adreka Parks was called to be one of those teachers.

Her story is one that shows God’s timing, His placement, His goodness, and His encouragement.

Starting at the front counter of Plato’s Closet, this petite, beautiful and encouraging woman thought to herself ‘There must be more out there for me to do for the kingdom of God.’

and there was.

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Ms. Parks graduated from Alabama State University with a degree in Education.

While in school, her goal was to find a job that paid her the “big bucks”, as she put it , but as soon as she finished, she was working the front counter at Plato’s Closet wondering what in the world she was doing.

“Something just had to give, I just needed to find a job that gave me more of a reason to get up in the morning. I needed to teach.”

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With an inquiry online, she landed an interview with a new school that would be opening the Fall of 2015.

An all boys Christian school.

The board of directors for Valiant cross gave her an interview but had only planned to hire an all male staff  to teach their students.

The Lord had a different idea. 

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In the midst of the interviewing process, she discovered that she carried a chronic illness, that could hand over some challenges to her energy level with a job in the teaching world.

But God said “YES” to Ms. Parks and gave her the strength needed to take the job in spite of the hurdles ahead.

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From the outside looking in there would be no question that this woman has energy for days.

But Adreka claims that her strength comes from the power of the Lord and the faith of her students.

“The students pray for me, they help me, they bless my life daily.  “My kids are gentlemen, it blows me away. I’m not a very emotional woman, but these kids make me want to cry everyday because of their goodness.

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There aren’t many in the world that would give all the credit of the joy and love for their job to the students or the Lord,

but Ms. Parks does.

She is so *evidently* called to this place for the this time and this season.

She was chosen for a position originally set for man because God knew what Valiant Cross and Adreka Parks needed.

She is blessing a classroom of young scholars with the nurturing spirit God so beautifully placed in her.

She is touching the hearts of the staff and administrators of the school.

She calls the parents *valiant parents*, placing the same dignity in them the way she does with the scholars.

She takes the moments of frustration as an opportunity to pour out a response of restoration.

Ms. Parks is a teacher that strengthens her students with words of power and love.

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If you ever walk through the halls of Valiant Cross, you’ll feel the peace of heaven literally fall on you, and Ms. Parks is a helping hand in creating that atmosphere.

To the woman that is nurturing the hearts of the young men in our community, we so deeply thank you.

Thank you for rising above the call of duty to love the scholars with the kindness of the Lord.

Thank you for rising above your own circumstance to pour out opportunity to kids that are hungry for it.

Your selfless nature touches more than you’ll ever know.

Bless you for your grace,

your worth is far above rubies.

Liberated #ValiantWednesday

“Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

IMG_4380Yesterday I hurried through the back door of Valiant Cross Academy after running behind on time to tutor my student.

I scooted through the entry way and found my student’s paper work.

The Language and Social Studies teacher approached me saying,

“Vocabulary words are the best thing to focus on this afternoon” as she handed me a sheet with words and definitions. 

IMG_4355My scholar and I found a place at a table amidst many other tutors and scholars and started going over the words and definitions, practicing spelling, and finding ways to connect the definitions to examples in our own lives.

“Liberate. LIB-ER-ATE.” I said as my scholar was trying to figure out how to spell the word.

Instead of attempting to spell the word in that moment, this incredible almost-teenaged boy asks,

“Oh Mrs. Bell, isn’t that kind of like getting to be free? If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed, right?”

*Pause for the water the fogged my vision momentarily.*

I simply nodded my head as he continued,

“We have been liberated by Jesus!”

IMG_4354I just kept nodding in agreement and trying to gather my emotions so the two of us could keep working diligently on the assignment.

IMG_4370IMG_4371 These boys hang their coats on the wall of a place that tells them their identity, freedom, and ability. Every. Day.

And in the midst of my spastic, flustered, and rushed afternoon, 

I was re invited into a place of intimacy with the Lord that gave me permission to remember my freedom in HIM, all because of a child who knows what Jesus has set before him to do in every life that he comes into contact with.

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How is it that a 12 year old was able to redirect my mindset for the rest of the afternoon?

Whom the Son sets free, He is free indeed.

No matter where we come from, what we look like, who we are in contact with in a day,

We have been LIBERATED.

We have an assignment to be the light and freedom that others are so hungry for.

Take some time to invest in the Kingdom,

because when you invest in the Kingdom,

the Kingdom invests in you.

#ValiantWednesday

Excellent Way

“Who wants to be excellent?” Mr. Brock asked the scholars as Valiant Cross Academy began the after school program.

“YA!” they responded with a united voice.

I really wanted to raise my hand high too! 🙂

But, I’m not so sure I would look as cool as the boys yelling “YA!” and throwing my arms up like Cam Newton.

IMG_4322I stood with my aunt, Kathy, in the back corner as we waited to tutor our students.

We both stood their smiling at the sweet response to all that was being discussed by the scholars during their devotional.

As we watched, I heard whispering behind me in the stairwell.

It was Mrs. Parks, the Languages Arts & Social Studies teacher.

As I turned, I saw her speaking with another tutor, when one of the scholars approached her.

The boy was clearly upset about something that had happened previously that day.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

He shrugged his shoulders.

Mrs. Parks looked at him and smiled and said “Well, look what I have!”

She pulled a piece of paper from around her back.

A graded quiz of 100 with his name on it. 

Anyone could see that Mrs. Parks was beside herself with pride for her student.

I could feel it, he could feel it.

It was so honest.

IMG_4327“You made a 100! Excellent job! Let’s keep this up, man. I’m so proud of you!” she said.

His sadness was slowly turning as he tried to mask the excitement of his good grade.

But there was no stopping that smile. 

He had been excellent in some form that day.

He had done something right.

IMG_4333Sometimes you need someone to ask you every day if you want to be excellent,

and then remind you that you are.

All it really takes to become excellent is to start with simply wanting to be.

and then,

Believing it.

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#valiantwednesday