By Tanya Parks
Teachers around the world have been working so hard to meet the needs of their students during 2020.
They have adjusted to the ever-changing rules and regulations with grace and patience. We are proud to know so many amazing teachers here in Slovakia. They, too, have had to make so many changes to the way they teach the students here.
Teaching Roma students in Slovakia has had extra challenges. Most of them don’t have access to technology and their parents often don’t value education enough to encourage their children to study outside of what they do in the school building. The amount of paperwork that had to be done was already difficult, but the new regulations and paperwork necessary to run a school has become even more challenging for administrators during this time. But as teachers almost everywhere, they often don’t get the appreciation they deserve.
As the school year began, we wanted to find a way to show these special teachers, administrators, and support staff how much they mean to God and to us. Thus began our Teacher Encouragement Project, in which we connected churches in the U.S. with teachers here in Slovakia. Six different churches participated in supporting 50 teachers, staff and administrators in five different schools.
This also became a great way to engage our Encourager Churches to be involved tangibly in the work that God is doing here in Slovakia. We called on these churches, and they responded with a hearty YES! The U.S. partners—both adults and children—wrote letters that were beautiful, thoughtful and so encouraging. Along with writing the notes, donations were given to provide a little treat bag for each teacher. We purchased the bags from a local partner, Hope for Roma, which employs Roma women in various sewing projects. The bag included hand sanitizer, lotion, some gum, and a little “pocket money” so they could get a coffee or tea at their favorite café.
The teachers LOVED it. One teacher said, “I am positively shocked and really surprised. I don’t remember getting anything just for me except my birthday presents. Please, send my thankfulness to the ladies that sent it to me. It is such a blessing for me to know that someone thought of me.”
The headmaster of one of the schools said she took the gift home and just cried while reading the letters.
So, a special shout-out to partner churches who participated in this project:
Ash Camp Baptist Church in Keysville, VA
Crosscreek Baptist Church in Pelham, AL
First Baptist Church of Carrollton, GA
First Baptist Church of Henderson, N.C.
First Baptist Church of Middletown KY
First Baptist Church of Franklin, VA
But, more than seeing what great things were done here in Slovakia, we encourage you to find a way to encourage a teacher/administrator/support staff. These folks are working so hard, doing things they weren’t trained to do, being flexible and still fighting to educate our children. We encourage you to find a way to encourage a teacher—be it a thoughtful note, a little “pocket money” for a coffee, or just a kind word. May we build beloved community by everyday actions like these.
Tanya Parks is CBF field personnel serving alongside her husband, Jon, in Kosice, Slovakia. Support long-term presence like theirs by giving to the CBF Offering for Global Missions.