The best lesson results in the best gifts
Homework: the cause of many groans and complaints from students past and present. But sometimes, when a teacher is especially creative, homework can stretch students, aid in the growth of their character or, better yet, lead them to the discovery of an important life lesson.
Earlier this month, Henry Herrera, Spanish and Bible teacher at Faith Christian High School, assigned the juniors and seniors in his Bible class to perform a "random act of kindness" of their choosing to be completed within a week. The entire assignment was based on each individual. The only requirement? Do something a little outside your comfort zone to help a person or make someone's day brighter and better.
For the students, making someone's day a little brighter meant something different to each of them. Some fulfilled the assignment in groups, while others did it individually. For Lacy Bicknell, a junior at FCHS, this meant taking her little brothers to see a movie — a daunting task when there are four of them.
"For me, it's too easy to overlook my brothers," Lacy said. "They were just so happy that I took them to the movie they had wanted to see. It was worth it to see their smiles, even when they fought the whole way home, crammed in the back seat."
For other students, their "random act" meant helping members of the community and strangers. One group put together care packages filled with food, warm winter items and Bibles, then proceeded to hand them out to the homeless men and women they sighted around the Yuba-Sutter area.
The reactions were incredible. Some danced, others cried. Lauren Heinrich, also a junior, said, "Witnessing the people's joy and thanks was a great reminder for what Christmas is really about: giving." In this season of giving, capturing the expressions of gratitude of those you give to is the best gift you can receive in return.
Every student came back to class with stories to share, bubbling over with the excitement of what they had done. Some offered their help to a stranger or aid to their parents, while others chose to give rides to students they saw walking home in the cold.
These tasks were anything but extraordinary, yet they served as something out-of-the-ordinary for each person. By the end of the week, the students had learned an invaluable lesson: Giving takes time and love, and sharing these two elements is important, not only in this Christmas season, but in the rest of one's life. Love is what you hold in your heart and can — as well as should — continually offer to others. Time is the invaluable gift you can give but never get back.
"Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas," author Peg Bracken once said. As we celebrate this holiday with family and friends, be reminded of the "random acts" and what they truly require. Donate, not solely money or food, but the worthy investment that is you, and enjoy a very merry Christmas.
Courtney Taylor is a junior at Faith Christian High School. Her column appears every six weeks in Education.