Leading with Love: Joanna Levy

As Joanna Levy began her keynote address to teachers and educational leaders, she emphasized the importance of the role of the teacher in giving her students the sense that the work they are doing in the classroom is not just work for another student, or for the teacher—they are being invited to work for God’s kingdom. “As teachers, we need to let our students know that their work has a profound purpose, that extends beyond their classroom,” she shared.

In order to do this, teachers were encouraged to consider four character qualities that they can weave into the projects and work that they are designing for their students: respect, integrity, courage, and responsibility. Respect involves recognizing, honoring, and protecting the God-given qualities of another. Integrity is achieved by learning to work independently, and still do their best work. Students learn courage by serving God through other people. And, they accept responsibility for their work and their actions by recognizing that if they don’t do the important work they are called to, no one else will. It is up to them.

How, then, can we foster a desire in students to become Christ-like? Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that information is going to result in transformation. However, in his book, “Desiring the Kingdom”, Jamie Smith talks about how the use of liturgy is transformative in shaping the identity and desires of students, through rituals, practices, habits and routines. Education, then, could be thought of as a constellation of these three that inculcate a particular vision of the, ‘kingdom’s good life’ by inscribing that vision into the hearts of the students by means of material, embodied practices.

How can we do this with our students? How can we inscribe the vision of that kingdom’s good life in our students to counter the cultural messages they are hearing every day? Joanna concluded her address by sharing several specific examples of how this vision can be instilled in practical ways in schools.

Steven and Joanna Levy were the keynote speakers at this year’s Edifide Christian Educator’s Association convention, held at Redeemer University College in Ancaster. Both experienced and passionate educators, the Levy’s embodied the theme of the conference, “Leading with Love”.