Alexis Mazey

About Alexis Mazey

Small-town Ohio native and sophomore Adolescence English Education major at Nyack Rockland. Lover of books, coffee, and nature. My talents include eating, consuming too much caffeine, napping, and making things awkward. Oxford comma supporter.

Education Alumni Spotlight: Rebecca Collins

Rebecca Collins graduated from Nyack’s School of Education in 2011 with a degree in Early Childhood/Childhood Education, and then again in 2013 with a Master’s of Childhood Special Education. Since graduating, Rebecca has taken a job at a large public school district in Arizona, where she is a K-3 resource teacher. She is also the team lead for the special education program at the elementary school and the regional resource leader, supporting resource teachers at 7 elementary schools within the district. At home, Rebecca is a wife and foster mother to a 22 month old little boy named Jesse, who is their second foster child.

In honor of the SoE’s 50 anniversary, Rebecca shared some of her favorite memories and the way that Nyack has prepared her for her career:

My favorite memories of fostering are the moments that show how a loving connection has grown with a child who came as a stranger.  Our current foster son came to us on Easter Day 2017, and he cried and screamed so much during the first month that my husband had difficulty feeling any connection with him.  Now every time my husband or I come home Jesse gets a huge smile, starts squealing excitedly, and runs to give us giant hugs.  We can’t help but smile when we see his enthusiasm and love.  The joy of these times help us through the tough court hearings, constant meetings and visits, and the unknowns of how long this little boy we love will stay with us.  It is a reminder that although parts of this journey are extremely difficult, it’s all worth it to make a difference in Jesse’s life and to be walking in the path God has planned.

Nyack prepared me as a teacher through the training I received in the undergraduate childhood education program and master’s special education program.  I use the strategies and content I learned there everyday with my students.  Aside from teaching skills, the professors at Nyack helped encourage and shape two of my biggest strengths as a teacher: my positive attitude and a commitment to doing my job with excellence.  My professors viewed preparing teachers for real life as more than asking college students to complete assignments to prove knowledge of teaching. They really looked at the deeper heart and mind skills a teacher needs, and I know I have been successful because of these deeper skills and the love for teaching that was instilled by the staff at Nyack.  Even the leadership skills I am using this year in the district were started at Nyack when I held a leadership position in the Early Childhood Educators club.  

My life as a foster mom has also been impacted by my time at Nyack.  My undergraduate early childhood classes taught me how to engage toddlers in learning constantly through play and everyday activities.  This is exactly what I do with any child who is placed in my home.  Often these children have delays in different areas, and I feel confident that I understand developmental milestones and can help my current and future foster children grow towards reaching these milestones.  Even the business side of being a foster parent and working with many people from all different backgrounds and viewpoints was something Nyack exposed me to through its values of diversity and loving others, even if you have different views.

50th Anniversary Interview: Dr. Schepens

Dr. Bennett Schepens has been working at Nyack College since 1995, when he started as the Dean of the College of Education, Head of the Division of Education, and Dept. Chair of Secondary Education. In 2007, he became the Assistant Provost and Dean for Graduate and Professional Programs, and he has remained in those positions ever since.

If you’re a part of the SoE, or if you follow my blogs, you are familiar with the SALT conceptual framework. What you might not know, however, if who created it.

Dr. Schepens was one of the people that invented the SALT model, and it has had a very strong impact on him. He said that the SALT model contains values that he feels, “express the Nyack ethos by starting with service and including the elements of academics and leadership to produce teachers of excellence.” When asked how he is being SALT in his own life, he said, “I try to teach with a strong academic base.  I serve students in the best way I can to facilitate their learning.  I try to lead by example by being a good teacher.” He said that he also does the same in his local church and in his family.

In addition to creating the SALT conceptual framework, Dr. Schepens is responsible for Nyack’s first NCATE accreditation, which is something that he is very proud of.  Dr. Schepens also played a part in the creation of Nyack’s New York City program and the MS in Education.

Since he began at Nyack, Dr. Schepens has seen many changes in the School of Education, namely changes in enrollment and degree choice trends. One change he hopes to see in the future is the growth of undergraduate degree programs. He said that he also hopes Nyack’s School of Education will receive a CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation) accreditation.

One thing Dr. Schepens would like to remain the same is the close-knitted nature of the SoE’s faculty. He said that they “spend a lot of time working together and it develops strong relationships.  When someone leaves it is like losing family.” Another aspect that he would like to remain the same is the level of care the faculty has for the students, which is something that he believes makes Nyack special. Dr. Schepens values the amount of personal attention the professors give to their students and the relationships that are formed as a result, both in the SoE and the rest of the college.

When asked what advice he would like to give, Dr. Schepens said, “Walk in the path the Lord sets before you,” and, “Talk less and involve students in activities more.”


50th Anniversary Interview: Professor Miriam Velez

Professor Miriam Velez of the School of Education has been working at Nyack College since 2000, when she began as the Director for Academic Development. She has also served as the Student Teacher Coordinator for the Manhattan Undergraduate Program for the last sixteen years and has been the director for Masters in Inclusive and Bilingual Education for the last three years. Here, in this series of stories about the 50th Anniversary of the School, she discusses the most important part of her work as an educator of educators.

To Professor Velez, the SALT model at the School of Education is not just a framework, but it is her “philosophy of life” and guide to teaching. With regards to the model, Professor Velez said this:

Service:  I strive to be a servant model for the students by having an open door policy to my office and my home.

Academics is the pursuit of truth and knowledge. In the School of Education, knowledge and truth begin with the fear of the Lord. I teach the Christian Teacher course, and I often remind the students that God is not pleased with mediocre teachers. We must strive to be effective teachers, growing professionally and spiritually.

Leadership: Luke 6:40 states,  “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”  This is a sobering thought, to think they [teachers]  will impact the lives of their students not just by their teaching, but by what they model for them.

Teaching requires a commitment to excellence, always striving to become the Christian educator that will open his classroom doors, as well as his heart, to all children, especially [to] disadvantaged students.

Throughout her time at the School of Education, Professor Velez has been most proud of one thing: the people. She said that she is proud of the current students and alumni because they “become kingdom agents, teachers with a godly vision for all the children they serve. Regardless of where they serve . . . they [bring] God’s love and grace to all children.”

To all of the future educators out there, Professor Velez gave this advice:

Teach each day showing and reflecting God’s love in everything [you] do and say. Be thankful for the students God gives [you]. Always teach with excellence and from the heart as [you] provide a Kingdom class education to all students. Recognize that God holds his people to a higher standard to improve us so that the children will benefit from inspired and highly effective teaching.

Lastly, when asked what advice she would have been given as a new teacher, Professor Velez said this:

The goal of Christian teaching is always Christ likeness, regardless of the setting. . . It is important to focus on the children, not the institution.


50th Anniversary Interview: Dr. Christine Buel

Dr. Christine Buel is the director of the Master’s degree for Childhood and Special Education. She has worked at Nyack College for 30 years and has served as an Academic Development Specialist HEOP and an Assistant Professor of Childhood Education.

For those of you that don’t know, part of the School of Education’s mission involves following their SALT model (Service, Academics, Leadership, and Teaching) to prepare future educators, as well as to further develop current ones. The SALT model involves the whole person, not only when the individual is in the classroom. (To learn more about the SALT model, click here.) This SALT model not only affects the curriculum and how it is taught at the college, it affects those who teach it.

Dr. Buel said that the SALT model, specifically the Service aspect, has affected her the most. She enjoys building into her students, praying with them and having them over for meals. She has also shared her passion for the Nyack Homeless Project and Soup Angels, and she has had students serve there with her. Additionally, she brought students with her for several years to the One 2 One Tutoring Center in Nyack to minister to immigrant families.

Being a part of the Nyack School of Education community is something to be proud of for everyone, but especially for Dr. Buel, who has worked to shape it and mold it for the past 30 years. She said that she is, “most proud of watching career changers enter into the School of Education at Nyack and making profound changes in their lives.” Not only that but she also enjoys, “helping them pass the New York State Assessments and negotiating the state requirements.” Throughout her time at Nyack, Dr. Buel has, “seen many changes in the school, such as the addition of the Masters program in childhood, special education, and TESOL.” She has also, “seen the hiring of many wonderful adjuncts to enrich our program.”

Dr. Buel would like to see the School of Education continue to grow and change, and her “vision for the SOE includes strong collaborations with schools serving special populations of students.”

When asked what advice she would give her younger self, she said:

The advice I would give myself is that teaching is fluid and never the same from year to year.  Learn to be flexible and look for the blessings of newness.  I would also work harder to help new Christian teachers understand their rights in the public school classroom and encourage them to be a witness in large and small ways.  I would look for teachers who reflect Christ in how they set up their classroom communities and I would showcase these classes.  


On The School of Education and its 50th Anniversary: An Interview with Professor Kristen Luba

     For those of you that don’t know, this year marks 50 years since the opening of the School of Education here at Nyack College. In honor of such, I have interviewed several of our School of Ed’s faculty and gotten their insight and perspective on the college, what changes they have witnessed in the School of Ed, and what being a part of the School of Education means to them. I hope you will join me these next weeks as we take a look back on where we came from and where we are headed as an institution.

– – –

     Professor Kristen A. Luba, M.A. has been the Director of Assessment for the School of Education (SoE)  since 2008, but she has been working for Nyack since 1996 when she was a student assistant in the library.  After graduation in 2000, she began working full-time for the School of Education as the Administrative Assistant.  In 2006, Prof. Luba was promoted to Assistant to the Dean of Education for Assessment and Field Experience. Seeing as Professor Luba has been a part of the staff for over 20 years, she has watched and helped the School of Education to grow and flourish into what we know today.

     When asked what major changes the SoE has experienced, Professor Luba said that, “the number of certification programs available to candidates and the degree of difficulty in qualifying for and completing the programs,” has changed remarkably since she started back in 1996. She continued:

Back in the day, there were only Bachelor’s programs in Elementary Education, Music Education, and Secondary Education (English, Math, Social Studies).  Shortly after came the addition of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and Early Childhood Education and then a boom in Master’s level programming–Inclusive Education, then Childhood Special Education, then Childhood Education, then the move of TESOL from undergrad to grad level.  Programs began to be offered at both campuses and online.  There have been some recent shifts in scaling back programs because of reduced enrollment, but the field of education has had many enrollment shifts over its history in this country, and I expect numbers to increase again as the pendulum swings.


     Professor Luba also spoke about the changes that the state of New York has made that have impacted teacher candidates, specifically those changes that have made life more difficult for teacher candidates:

Students used to take two State exams (Liberal Arts & Sciences Test and the Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written) and be able to get their certification and a job, but the State soon added a third test (Content Specialty Test) and then increased the rigor of the first two tests (Academic Literacy Skills Test and Educating All Students exam) and added a fourth exam–a portfolio that required theoretical underpinnings for lesson plan decisions, data-driven decisions for instruction, student work samples, video evidence, and so on–called the edTPA.  Now the State has taken away the ALST but increased the rigor of the CSTs.  The net difference between 2000 and now is two more rigorous exams plus a portfolio exam!


     Things have changed not only for the students, but for the faculty and institution as well. Because of all of the changes from the state, the School of Education had to adjust their programs to better prepare the students for their certification exams, as well as the changing classroom. Since Professor Luba’s start at the SoE, “field experience hours have increased to 100+ prior to student teaching.” This means that teacher candidates are better prepared for their student teaching, though it does sometimes seem like a strain on the student’s schedule. Another change is that New York State, “added required workshops on violence prevention and Dignity of All Students Act and a requirement for a 3-credit course on educating exceptional learners, all of which the faculty accommodated.” Since Professor Luba’s arrival at the School of Education, New York “has also mandated national accreditation, which has meant the school’s redesign of curriculum, increased rigor in assessments, the addition of the Assessment of Dispositions, and stricter policies on admission.” This meant that the school changed from open admission to strict entrance requirements (50th percentile on SAT/ACT/GRE and a high school or previous college GPA of 3.0+).

     One thing that hasn’t changed in the School of Education is the faculty’s care and devotion to the students and to each other. This Christ-like attitude is one of the things that makes Nyack’s School of Education unique, but there are many other aspects that make it stand a head above the rest:

The diversity available in the college and local community is special.  The hard-core commitment of the faculty to train candidates in current methodologies and terminology is special–they don’t base their teaching on classroom experiences from 20 or 30 years ago!  The commitment to God is special and it reveals itself in classes, in departmental chapels, and even in email conversations and advising sessions.


While Professor Luba has had a large impact on the School of Education, it has impacted her as well. She said this about the matter:

Since I have ‘grown up’ in the School of Education for my entire adult life, I would say it has had an enormous impact on me.  Although there are many things I could say, these things mostly fit two categories: personal transformation and skill development.  I used to be a bit shy and insecure, but God has used my time studying under and working with the faculty in the School of Education to provide the encouragement and opportunities I needed to push my personal barriers and grow in confidence.  The faculty are not afraid to ask tough questions in a loving way in order to propel your growth.  At the same time, the context of education and educator preparation has been an ever-changing landscape over the last two decades.  This has provided many obstacles and many opportunities to rethink and reinvent processes and procedures within the SOE.  As a behind-the-scenes contributor, my skill set has grown so much in the use of a variety of technological platforms, in working collaboratively with school partners, in developing new assessments, in analyzing data sets, in writing reports at the institutional, state, and national levels, and so on.

Lastly, Professor Luba left one piece of advice for future Christian teachers: “Keep following God’s path for you.  It might not head the direction you think it will, but it will always lead to transformation along the way and to rest in the right destination.”


Four Things I Wish I Knew as A Freshman

Welcome to Nyack, where your walk to class is uphill both ways.
I hope you brought some decent shoes.

It seems like just yesterday I was preparing for my freshman year. Not of college, but of high school. I blinked, and then I was packing up the car and journeying across the midwest to get to Nyack for my freshman orientation. Now I’m preparing for my sophomore year of college. People are not kidding when they tell you that time flies.

As I approach my sophomore year and reflect on my freshman year, there are things I wish people would have told me. As your friendly, neighborhood collegiate, I hope I can share these things with you, like I wish someone would have done for me.

1. Stop and smell the coffee. (Or roses. Whatever floats your boat.)
As you prepare for this next stage in your life, deliberately stop to take it in. While in the midst of things, you think you have all the time in the world. But before you know it, you’re on the other side and wishing you could go back and have just a little bit more time. Trust me, I’d know.

So take the time to take it in. Take mental notes. Take pictures. You’ll want to be able to look back on all of these years, hopefully some of the best years of your life.

You’ll want mementos from this time in your life, as well as photographic evidence of all of your poor fashion and hair decisions. We need something for our kids to laugh at, right?

2. Go do things.
There are a million things to do in college, so you have no reason to be bored. There are even more things to do during your first couple weeks at school. Even if you’re an antisocial introvert (like me), you should take advantage of as many opportunities you can handle your first year, especially your first week. That is the time when everyone is just like you: nervous and and looking for friends.
A pretty picture, right? Not so much.

Everyone is searching for a friend when they first get to school. All of those annoying luncheons and ice cream socials are there to help you meet people. Take advantage of them.

When some random person invites you to go grab a bite with a bunch of other random people you don’t know, say yes. Some of those random people I didn’t know are now some of my best friends.

3. You don’t have to stay friends with people.
It seems like every adult I know has at least one friend that they met freshman year of college, and they have been friends with that person for years. I also know a lot of people who are still friends with their freshman roommate, and that their roommate was later in their wedding.

Maybe you’ll have that friend too. Maybe you’ll meet them week one, maybe week fifteen. Maybe you won’t meet them until year four. Who knows.

But know this: you don’t have to stay friends with the people you meet week one. You don’t have to stay friends with your roommate from freshman year.

Not everyone is cut out to be friends for a lifetime. Think about it. How many of your ‘BFFLs’ from elementary school are still your best friend?

You don’t have to try and save friendships just to save face. You should obviously salvage a friendship if you can, and be cordial at the least. But I know a lot of people who continued to be in torturous friendships because they thought they had to, because it was the first person they met on campus and it makes a good story, etc..

4. Don’t stress over grades.
Yes, the education major just told you not to stress over grades. If you look out your window, you just might see a flying pig.

Stress about your education, not about your grades. Grades are not always an accurate reflection of your effort. Almost anyone who has taken an upper level math class will agree with me.
Whether or not your grades reflect your effort, B’s still get degrees. (Yes, C’s do too for the most part, but C’s don’t always get scholarships.)

So care more about your learning, comprehension, and retention. After all, that is supposed to be the reason we go to college, right?


All in all, enjoy college. Take pictures. Don’t stress. Put your theological studies and knowledge into practice. Seek God and trust Him to guide you. It’s that simple.

The Prodigal Son: The Older Brother

This year at soccer camp we have been teaching the kids about the story of the Prodigal Son during Bible time. (For those of you who are not familiar with this story, the original text can be found in Luke 15:11-32.) I am a coach/counselor for the pipsqueaks of the camp, ranging from age 6-8. Actually, this past week I had a 3 year old and a couple of 5 year old campers in my group. To my surprise and delight, their age in no way hindered them from understanding the story and the main points that they were supposed to learn. If anything, their young minds understood it better than those who have had time to assimilate to the world.

When most people read this parable, they only focus on the younger son, the prodigal. They focus on how the younger son dishonored and hurt his father, took his inheritance, and wasted it all on useless and fading pleasures. They focus on how he, like we all do, tried to do things his own way and ended up failing. They focus on how, when he decided to come back home to his father and older brother, was welcomed back by the father with loving, outstretched arms, just like God does with us.

And that’s where most people normally leave it.

I am not most people.

The older brother in the story stayed home and worked for the dad while the younger brother was off doing his thing. The older brother resolved that he would work all day everyday, earning his keep instead of demanding it like his younger brother. That might not have been such a bad idea, except that the older brother lost sight of why he was working, lost sight of why he was home with his father. As a matter of fact, he was working so much that he never even saw his father.

How often do we get so caught up in what we’re doing, be it things for the Kingdom or for ourselves, that we forget to look up to our Father? So caught up in life that we forget why we are even alive in the first place? We know that life is nothing without Jesus, yet we lose sight of that while we are commuting to our 9 to 5, or even on the arduous journey from Hilltop to Simpson.

When I asked my campers if they could have a relationship with someone they never see or talk to, their answer was a resounding “No!” If small children understand that, why can’t we? We think that we can claim to be Christians, claim to have a relationship with God, and then go on about our daily lives, uninterrupted.


A 6 year old knows that. When we take a step back, you and I know and realize that too.

The older brother was so caught up in working that he forgot why he was living. He was working to earn his keep, working to earn his father’s love. In all his toils, he forgot that love is not something to be earned, but given. Furthermore, the love of a father, at least our Heavenly one, is unconditional. God’s love is not bound to our good deeds, which are nothing more than filthy rags in light of His glory (Isaiah 64:6).

The younger son, the one who betrayed his family and effectively wished his father dead, was the one to come back home and admit his wrongs. He was the one to enter into the father’s love and forgiveness, the one to enter into the celebratory feast.

The older brother, on the other hand, the one who thought he did everything right, refused to admit his wrongdoings, refused to admit the fact that maybe he didn’t know everything, refused to admit that he couldn’t do everything on his own. But more importantly, he refused to enter into his father’s love, the very thing he was trying to earn. When the father invited him into the feast, he angrily declined, his pride and sense of entitlement welling up within him. Instead of forgiving his brother and setting their differences aside, he seethed with anger. He couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that his father could love unconditionally, love without expecting anything in return.

Friends, our Father loves unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. He does not ask us to try and earn His love with good deeds or with hours spent in the sanctuary. He simply asks that we love Him back and that we follow His lead.  

Top 9 Things You’ll Miss While at College

So you’ve made it to college, the big leagues. You’ve finally gotten out of the house and on to bigger things. Actually, I’m willing to bet that your dorm room is smaller than you imagined. Anyway, that’s not the point. While there is a lot about college that is amazing and freeing, there are a few downsides, some things that are better at home.

1. A Home Cooked Meal
Cafeteria food will never replace a home cooked meal. That’s just how it is. Though they try, the chefs in the caf can’t make pasta sauce like my mother. No one can.

To combat the longing for home-cooking, I recommend keeping little reminders of home around in your dorm. Maybe your favorite snack foods from home, like chips and hummus or your favorite salsa.

2. Your Own Bathroom
There is just something wonderful about not having another human next to you (or the next stall over) when you’re in the restroom. Call me crazy, but some things are better done alone.

I recommend bringing along a little speaker or just your phone speaker when you shower. Listening to your favorite song and singing off key makes it feel more like your own shower at home. (But don’t play/sing so loudly that the whole floor can hear you. Don’t be that guy. No one likes that guy.)

Spending a little bit extra to get the huge, fluffy towels doesn’t hurt, either.

3. Cooking in Your Own Kitchen
I love to cook. I always have. Granted, it has always been in my own kitchen, a kitchen that has everything I need and I know where all of those things are. I also don’t need an RA to unlock said kitchen.

4. Not Having to Label Everything You Own
This one is only partially true. I don’t know about you, but my family thinks that any takeout box that finds its way into the kitchen is fair game unless someone puts their name on it. And even then. . . You know, that actually does sound a lot like college. Never mind.

5. Free Laundry
This one speaks for itself.

6. Friends and Family
Yeah, your siblings annoy you and your parents don’t give you enough space. But nothing beats coming together as a family, even as a dysfunctional one.

7. Your Home Church
I don’t know about you, but I come from a very small town where everyone knows everyone. My church is the same way. We have a congregation of about 150 or so, and they are the village that helped raise me. Going to Sunday service there is going home.

8. The Familiarity of Your Hometown
Exploring your new college town is wonderful and exciting, but there is comfort in driving the streets on which you grew up.

9. Freedom
Didn’t see this one coming, did you? It is a widely-held belief that you have more freedom when you are in college than you have in high school. There is certainly some truth to that. But I long for the days of not having to worry about student loans, the job market, and whether or not I can manage two jobs with my current course load.

Are you a future teacher? Click here to learn more about our School of Education!

Global Worship

I’ve had the privilege of being a part of Ambassadors Football for several years now, an international soccer ministry. They put on soccer camps all around the world, and it is currently camps season in the US. Footballers from all over the globe come to the States to coach the camps, from small town Ohio, to London, to a village in Liberia. They come here for five weeks in total, one week of training and four weeks of camp. We have about 70 coaches at our training week this year, the training week being referred to as TREC (Training, Resourcing, and Equipping Coaches).

Every day at TREC starts out with corporate worship, believers from 25 different countries coming together to praise our Father in song. This is typically led by the host church’s worship team. On the last day of TREC, however, worship was led by some of our South African coaches, and being led by some of our own created an even deeper sense of unity as we started our day.

For those of you that are not familiar with South Africa, the nation has 11 official languages, some of the more prominent being Afrikaans, English, and Zulu. Seeing as this is so and that South Africans were leading worship, we sang praises to God in several different languages. While I like to think that I am knowledgeable and good with languages, I am not fluent in Zulu or Afrikaans. Luckily for me (and the rest of the room), the translations were written beneath the lyrics.

As I stood there worshiping beside my brothers and sisters from across the globe, I feel like I caught a glimpse of what Heaven will be like. Represented in that room by 70 people were 70 unique testimonies, 25 countries, and even more languages (apparently being trilingual is a common thing in the rest of the world). Despite the differences between us, cultural and otherwise, we were all united there for one purpose: to glorify God.

I was moved as I listened to the songs and the quiet prayers in Afrikaans, French, and other languages that I didn’t recognize.  I caught sight of a bigger picture, of a bigger and more glorious God than I had fully realized before. We know conceptually that God is more powerful, more magnificent, more creative than we could ever imagine. Yet in that moment I was surrounded by His power, majesty, and creativity from all over the globe, and I was in awe. I still am, and I pray that I will never cease to be.

Friends, I wish that I could recreate that moment for you, that you might experience it for yourself. But unless you join us in ministry next summer, I don’t know how to do that. Instead, I urge you to ask our Father to give you that glimpse, for He is actually able to do so. I urge you to go beyond conceptual knowledge and to go deeper, to belief, to awe.

Our God is staggering and awesome, in all senses of the word. Not only that, but He is gracious enough to let us enter in to His kingdom, to become His children. His glory is all around us. We only need to open our eyes, fixing them on Him and things above, and He will reveal to us more than we could ever imagine.

Perception: Coffee Shops and Book Covers

Image result for starbucks book creative commons

So I’m sitting outside at a local coffee shop (confession: it’s just Starbucks), and I’ve been stationed here for some time trying (and failing) to write a blog post. It was quiet and serene when I got here. Well, as quiet and serene as it can be when you’re positioned on the corner of two main roads. Slowly but surely, the place started to fill up, the customers inside spilling into my outside space. With more bodies come more noise, and to me, that means more distractions.

I am first joined by a couple of women who look to be in their early 40s, the typical soccer mom type. (In my head, one drives a Nissan Pathfinder and the other woman drives a Honda Odyssey, in case you were wondering.)

Next to the scene are two high school girls. They come out to the patio and sit down, and the only thing going through my head is, “Oh, great. More humans. My favorite.” (Spoiler: humans are not my favorite.) One girl was wearing all designer brand clothes, complete with an MK handbag and Birkenstocks. The other was nicely dressed as well. They were also drinking some non-coffee beverages at a coffee house. There’s just something not right about people who don’t like coffee.

In my already less-than-chipper state, I was expecting the girls to be another nuisance to me. I had assumed that their preppy selves were going to talk for ages about their pretty high school drama, also expecting them to talk loudly enough for me to hear their every word even though they were tables away.

Much to my surprise and delight, only half of that was true. The girls were talking loudly enough for me to hear them, but their conversation was much better than I imagined. The first words out of their mouth were about a Bible study that they were in, and then they were talking about needing to find a Blue Letter Bible. Not at all the topics of conversation that I would have guessed. My initial assumptions about these girls were incredibly wrong, making me feel ashamed and hypocritical, but also glad. As a matter of fact, my whole demeanor changed after overhearing their uplifting conversation.

I was judging them based off their appearances, something that drives me crazy when other people do it. You know, the judging books by their covers thing. (I still stand by my judgement of people who don’t like coffee, though. That one is valid.)

I was being a grouch because I allowed the circumstances of my own life to affect how I viewed the world and others, subconsciously choosing bitterness instead of joy. Because, friends, that’s the thing: joy is not just an emotion, but a choice. It is not always an easy choice. No, as believers it is frequently not an easy choice at all. It is much easier to look at the evil and destruction in the world and allow ourselves to become discouraged and bitter. I would know, because it happens to me. Friends, understand that these sorts of things happen when we aren’t expecting it, when we aren’t watching.  That’s why 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be alert, that we might not fall, and Colossians 3:2 reminds us to always have our minds set on things above, not on earthly things.

So, brothers and sisters, I leave you with some verses to marinate in. May they be an encouragement to you no matter what season you are in. And remember, as cliché as is seems, books are not always their covers.

1 Thessalonians 16-18, NIV Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:12, ESV Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Philippians 4:4, ESV Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

James 1:2 -4, NLT Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

1 Peter 5:8-9, NIV Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.

Living out the School of Education’s Mission


If you tuned in to last week’s post, you’ll remember that we discussed the School of Education’s mission and motto, SALT (Service, Academics, Leadership, and Teaching). However simple it may seem, the acronym reminds us of our calling as educators. As a matter of fact, the calling stems farther than educators, but to all believers.


As followers of Christ, we are all called to serve, and we are each called to serve in different ways. As believers, we are called to serve our neighbors, whoever they may be. As educators, we are called to serve our students, their families, and the community. Note that we are called to serve all of our students, even the ones that drive you up the wall.

At Nyack, we believe that individuals can serve better when they know better. That is why education majors receive thorough and comprehensive instruction, which they can then implement in their field experiences and student teaching. Throughout the education program’s curriculum, teacher candidates are taught about student and community diversity, various teaching methods, and how to utilize the methods in various situations to reach all students. By doing so, our teacher candidates better understand those that they serve, that they might serve them better.


Academics is obviously a crucial part of teaching and education in general. As teachers, we must not only throw information at our students, but to show it to them, why it matters, and how to apply it to their lives when applicable.

Education is not about being able to pick the right answer on an exam, though today’s school system might tell you otherwise. Education is about seeing and understanding the big picture, about knowing why to choose that answer on the test. Without that deeper understanding, education has lost its purpose. We need to change the focus of education from a student’s GPA to their effort and willingness to learn, showing students that their worth is not determined by their SAT scores.

As educators, we need to take state standards and teach them effectively, showing our students why the information matters beyond the scope of a test score.


Teachers are the primary leaders in the classroom. As such, they need to both lead and encourage their students, modeling for them how a great leader should act. In essence, their behavior should model that of Christ, just as every believer’s behavior should.

Educators need to lead their students by example, showing them how to respond to conflict, how to interact with others, and how to respect one another and their opinions.


It is no surprise that teaching is a part of the acronym. Because it is so obvious, I feel like we often lose sight of its importance. As teachers, we need to be cognizant of our students and teaching methods, and we then need to evaluate what methods work best for a given class. Our goal as educators is not simply to teach, but to teach effectively and thoroughly. That is best accomplished when we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, evaluating what instruction practices and curriculum are the most beneficial for our students.

For more on what it means to be SALT, check out the School of Education’s webpage.

When Being Salty is a Good Thing

What do potato chips, pistachios, peanuts, and popcorn have in common?  They all derive their most memorable flavor from the magic of salt.

Food would be both bland and significantly less sweet without salt, and the same goes for life. Well, at least metaphorically. (I know, I know. That salt-makes-things-sweet bit doesn’t make sense. But trust me, it’s true. Well, trust science. Check it out.)

If you’re well versed in trivia, biblical or otherwise, you know that salt is used for its preserving, healing, and seasoning properties. In Biblical times, salt was a hot commodity for trade, right up there with gold. While now not as rare or expensive of a commodity, salt is still useful and valued today.

Here at the School of Education, we value salt more than most. Now, I’m not talking about being snarky or about good ol’ sodium chloride, but S.A.L.T., our acronym to live by. SALT stands for Service, Academics, Leadership, and Teaching.

As you might have guessed, our SALT model comes from Matthew 5:13, part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus instructs his followers to be the salt of the Earth, essentially instructing them to encompass the preserving and healing qualities of salt.

In an open letter to future teacher candidates, Dr. Looney writes:

“Teacher candidates are instructed to be ‘the salt of the earth’.  This summarizes the belief that candidates and professional faculty in the School of Education strive to become, by God’s grace, individuals who reflect the properties of salt.  They are to season and enrich the lives of others.  They are to become the preservative of hope and encouragement to others.  Ultimately, they are to become healing agents serving others who need help overcoming the difficulties of life.”

We are all called to be the salt and light of the Earth, yet we so often forget our calling. That is why we constantly need to remind ourselves of the standards we are to live by, remembering that they are heavenly standards, not earthly ones. Furthermore, teachers are to be held to an even higher standard, as they are responsible for educating the future generation(s). This is a call that is to be taken seriously and should be understood completely.

Salt is used to heal wounds, add flavor to food, and preserve the perishable. It is versatile. We are to be the same.

Join me next week as we take a closer look at what it means to be the S.A.L.T. of the Earth and of our campus.

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