Shameless Self Promotion

I read a story a while ago about an individual’s satisfaction with an airline. He mentioned some of the things he loved about the airline, like affordability, consistent experience, quality, no-change or baggage fees, and outstanding service. He was a brand ambassador for the airline and enjoyed sharing this with everyone. This individual wasn’t afraid to tell his story, his personal narrative. The same types of things should motivate parents and students to spread their love of UCA to their friends, family, and community members. Have you ever thought about what drives word of mouth conversations? Here are a few things that may influence one’s word of mouth conversation about UCA:

1.  Experience – Word of mouth is shared as a result of experience. How has UCA changed the life (academically, socially, and/or spiritually) of your student? UCA’s life-changing experience provides a safe, nurturing learning environment for its students through dedicated, accessible and caring teachers.

2.  Quality – You have to admit that the quality of a school sells itself. UCA produces graduates that excel in college and life: the proof is in the results. What does UCA do well? Academics! Character development! UCA graduates are well prepared for college and life.

3.  Stories – Please share your positive stories about UCA. After all, everyone likes to pass on a good story. I heard it once said: if you’re not telling stories, you basically don’t exist. Story-telling should be an integral part of your word of mouth marketing effort.

Please help us tell UCA’s story. It may be one of the greatest stories ever told!

Loving God with Everything

In Mark 20:13, Jesus said:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. When I think of this verse, I think of the question “Are you ALL in?” Although the question is not original, it is meaningful. We need to be “ALL IN” with our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

We need to love God and others-- with everything. This means loving God with all our heart — our essence. Our relationship with God begins from within each of us.

Along with our hearts, we are called to love God with all our soul. In the first five books of the Old Testament the “soul” refers to one’s whole being as a living person. I recently read a post on Facebook that stated, “Love God with your passions, hungers, perceptions, and thoughts.” If we are going to love God with everything—even our passions, hungers, perceptions, and thoughts—we must love him with how we speak, with what we do, with our hands, with how we utilize our talents, and with how we react to challenges. Our entire being is to display that we love God.

We are called to love God with our minds. Yes, our minds. Love God by what we study, read, watch, and listen to. St. Paul wrote, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8-NIV)

What then is the meaning of loving God with our “might”? The strength of a person is not simply who he/she is, but what he/she has at his/her disposal. Think with me. This could mean physical abilities, talents, and wealth. This means that the call to love God is not only with our physical muscle, but with everything we have available to us for honoring God — which includes our house, our clothes, cell phones, and movies, and music, and computers, and time.

We are called to be “ALL IN.” This means that the covenant love we are called into must be wholehearted, life-encompassing, and community-impacting. This kind of love we should have for him does not exist apart from love for Jesus. Are you “ALL IN”?

Learning Communities

Teamwork and collaboration are essential to the corporate life of any organization. This is true of schools as well. In a school scenario, community is vital. The key to strong community is healthy relationships. Theodore Roosevelt once stated, “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” How does one build strong, positive relationships? Although it may seem like a complex endeavor,  there are a few simple ingredients that set a solid foundation for a prosperous learning community. Strong communities may be built if individuals care for one another, are concerned with their wellbeing, are kind and compassionate, and collaborate and work together. Robert Greenleaf, Former CEO of AT&T, once commented: “It all begins with the individual leader putting people first.” At United Christian Academy, we are dedicated to putting others first and glorifying God through working together, open mindedness, honesty and integrity, speaking truth, service, trust, and a strong Christian community.

Here’s a great article about why we choose a Christian learning community.

Embracing New Learning Experiences and Challenges

As I have mentioned over the last couple of months, it is vital that we all have a growth mindset. This is especially true as we nurture our children. Parents have a crucial role in this nurturing process. Parents should encourage their children to embrace new learning experiences and challenges. As Dr. Carol Dweck, an educational researcher has written, “Parents should not shield their children from challenges, mistakes, and struggles. Instead, parents should teach children to love challenges. They can say things like ‘This is hard.What fun!’ or ‘This is too easy. It’s no fun.’ They should teach their children to embrace mistakes, ‘Ooh, here’s an interesting mistake. What should we do next?’ And they should teach them to love effort: ‘That was a fantastic struggle. You really stuck to it and made great progress’ or ‘This will take a lot of effort…..’. Some of us need to work at cultivating a growth mindset. It takes time and practice, but it is well worth it when one experiences the difference that it makes in our and our children’s lives!   

Student Praise

In last month’s blog, we suggested that parents should praise their children for their efforts, not achievements. Research suggests that parents should think twice about praising their kids for being “smart” or “talented,” because this may foster a fixed mindset. Instead, if we encourage our kids’ efforts and acknowledge their persistence and hard work, then we will support their development of a growth mindset. Children with a growth mindset believe that with effort and persistence they can learn and achieve in school and elsewhere. A growth mindset will better equip them to persevere and pick themselves up when things do not go their way. Parents should examine their own belief system as well. Do you have a growth mindset? Do you believe that with effort, persistence, and motivation your children can achieve their goals? Some of us need to work at having a growth mindset. It takes time and practice, but it is well worth it when one sees the difference that it makes in one’s children.  

Growth Mindset

It’s important for our students to understand and embrace a growth mindset. One way that parents can really help their children is by carefully choosing the words that are used when they praise them. Every word parents say and action they perform sends a message to their children. These words and actions tell children how to think about themselves. Parents should always praise their child’s effort instead of praising accomplishments. Some good examples to use are as follows: 1) You really work hard and pay attention, 2) You work hard in school and it shows, 3) I can see you practicing; what great improvement, and 4) When you put forth effort, it really shows in your grades. So the next time you are ready to praise your child, stop, and think about how to use that opportunity to praise his or her effort instead of accomplishments.