Kassie Neumann

About Kassie Neumann

Midwest native and Adolescent English Education Major at Nyack College. I thrive on poetry, mentoring, deep conversations, and really loud laughter. I believe that Christ, community, and cups of tea can restore the world. Wonder and mystery are two of my favorite words.

How to Choose the Best Summer Reading List

2187aa8f-5a37-4315-a0ca-d8f441195e87 We’re at the point in the summer when you may need a change of pace. Whatever your summer plans are they’re probably set, and you’re either trudging through them, sleeping through them, or running wild through them. I don’t know where you are, but reading during the summer months has been a source of strength–and often needed conviction for me, depending on what I’m reading. It’s one of the best rituals of the summer to finish school, visit the public library, and bring home a stack of books.Sometimes, though, you have a problem. You get lost in having too many choices. The thousands and thousands of books at the library fluster you, and you leave with a stack that consists of that tween romance novel you half read in seventh grade and its two less-than-literary sequels. Let’s try again…

Here are ways that you can avoid that situation and pick the best reading list for this summer.

  1. Read a Book You’ve Already Read: Find an old favorite you haven’t read in a while. Wander. Wander through the pages and remember what struck you about this book.
  2. Read a Book that Gives You a Different Perspective: Think. Think. Think. Don’t waste your summer. Find a book that challenges you with a different perspective. International memoirs are a great idea for this category.
  3. Read a Book Outside Your Normal Genre: We all have that favorite genre we like to camp out in and read all day. I enjoy old, literary books. I know titles in that section of the library by heart, but there’s something to be said for being a well-rounded person who reads outside their genre. Try something else. If you’re into fiction read a nonfiction book. If you only like popular books turned to movies try reading a literary masterpiece that no one has dared submit to Hollywood.IMG_1362
  4. Read a Book that Challenges You Spiritually: There is much to pick from in this category. This could be a book on persecuted Christians in the Middle East, a book by a thoughtful Oxford Christian Writer, or that book by Francis Chan you’ve been wanting to read. Find something solid that challenges your faith.
  5. Read a Book in Your Major: Immerse yourself in your field. Find a book on a topic in your major. Be constant, curious, and always learning whether you’re enrolled in school or not. I’m an English Education major, and for me this means reading books on teaching and consuming literature.
  6. Read a Book a Friend Recommended: You have this friend who you really respect and they recommended a book to you. Seize the day this summer and read it.IMG_1137
  7. Read a Book Your Professor Mentioned in Class: Professors like to drop the names of books in their classes that have influenced their lives, are excellent resources for your field, or are just books they really enjoy. Now is the time to pick up a few of those titles.
  8. Read a Book For You: Go into a library and wander through the stacks. Pick something that draws you, something you want to read. Read for the pure pleasure of reading. Let a book take you somewhere. Enjoy the wonder and mystery of turning the pages of a book.

Friends, make your time meaningful. Read, read, and read some more this summer.

10 Reasons You Should Check Out the Education Program at Nyack

education program at nyack collegeI wanted to make a list for you guys this week. Lists such as“Five Steps For Fantastic Eyebrows” or “Six Steps for Speed Reading War and Peace” are all over the internet, but today I wanted to share one of my lists with you: 10 Reasons You Should Check Out the Education Program at Nyack College

#1 The Professors, the Professors, the Professors

They’re amazing people. They want you to succeed, and will remember your name. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to drop off a form or something at one of their offices, and they ended up encouraging me. They’re rooting for us to succeed both spiritually and professionally.           

#2 The Education Program Lab

We have a building dedicated to Ed. Majors at Nyack. There’s  teaching supplies we can use for projects, a computer lab, and even a laminator. They even have copies of kid’s books that you can borrow for projects.

#3 The Class Discussions

My Education classes have had some of the best class discussions. We’re all passionate about teaching. We’re also a group of fighters, you have to be to pass the State tests. As a result, we have fiery, thought-provoking, and challenging discussions. Iron sharpens iron.

#4 The Fitness Center

If you’re an Education Major you will have most of your classes in the building closest to the Fitness Center. You can pack your gym bag and go work out after class.

#5 Field Experience

New York State requires all Education Majors to complete one hundred hours of observations in classrooms, and Nyack’s education program works really hard to show you all different kinds of teaching contexts. You might end up doing hours at a private school with international students, a charter school in the city, or at a middle school in town.

#6 The Master’s Program

If you’re a Childhood Education Major you can apply to the Master’s program which gets you both an undergraduate and graduate degree in five years. Check it out.

#7 Online Classes

Almost all of your program will be in person, but depending on your program there are classes available online. People have different opinions about online classes, but when it’s your Senior year and you’re scrambling for time…being able to do class at 2am is a plus.

#8 Job Opportunities

When I said that the Education Department wants you to succeed, I meant that. They’re always sending out emails about opportunities for teaching positions. These jobs might be in New Jersey or in Uganda (seriously, one time they sent out an email about a Ugandan school that needed a middle school English teacher).

#9 Donuts

Occasionally…people bring donuts to Ed. Lab for sugar starved students.

#10 Christ is Here

And lastly, the most important reason is that the Education Department believes that teaching is just another way to serve Christ. This belief permeates the entire Education Department at Nyack College.

 

Pink Lemonade and Christ’s Love

IMG_1448I am reminded and I am convicted. What I’m doing this summer is just as valuable as the summer of someone’s else fabulous summer doing fabulous things. If I live this summer in love, my service remains because of that love. Dear readers, whether you are working in an orphanage or serving pink lemonade live your life through Christ’s love.

It’s June already. I can’t believe that. A few weeks ago I just wrote about making the trek back home to Indiana. The summer is here. Summer days filled with work: rushing glasses of lemonade to customers and taking pizza orders.

“We only have pink lemonade. Is that alright ma’am?”

The elderly woman turns to me. The wrinkles etch a life into her face. Her blue eyes are fierce with the kindness and the sadness she has seen, and yet those eyes still grin at me.  

“Hon, I thought that was the only kind that existed.”

And we share the sincerest of smiles.

This is life for me right now: waitressing and taking care of stuff at home. It’s nothing glamorous. My mom’s having knee surgery soon, and that means I’m going to be the one watering her beloved (and high maintenance) plants, trying to figure out how to avoid burning dinner, and grappling with the ratio of vinegar to hot water in order to mop the floor correctly. I’m not on the mission field converting people to Jesus. I’m elbows deep in dish suds, washing dishes, and taking pizza orders. Could I be doing something better with my summer? Maybe I should’ve gone and volunteered at an orphanage to help AID’s babies. Maybe I should be sharing Christ in South America. Maybe then I could be making a difference.

But a Whisper,

My Child….

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Last week I had some time off, and a friend and I decided to take a walk through a cemetery tucked into a nook of our town. That might sound like a strange thing to do, but we think it’s healthy every once in awhile. Let me explain. I got some perspective as we strolled through that place. The silence, the Memorial Day flags, the last inscriptions defining lives all stared at me from the well-mowed grass. This will be us someday, this will be you, Kassie. Every roaring dictator and every spunky grandmother shares this fate. Death doesn’t care who you are. It still comes. How was this comforting? It was comforting because of the perspective. It defined what is important. No one is going to remember your trophies, Kas, even your service. No one is going to remember your high scores. In fact, all those able to remember to remember you will fade too. That doesn’t mean we don’t serve. Jesus knelt down and washed his disciples feet, but I am reminded that someday all our striving will be forgotten, as my thoughts wander back to the words of Ecclesiastes where it is written that we will all fade.

And then I was reminded.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”-Corinthians 13:13

Love will remain.

Dear readers, this summer wherever have been placed be faithful, work hard, and do everything through Christ’s love, the one thing that will not and cannot fade.

Dear Freshmen: May You Ask

A world without questions…

I’m sitting at my kitchen counter thinking about that, “What would a world look like without questions?”

The answer slowly overcomes me.

Without questions there are no answers.

Friends,

Whether you’ve been enrolled at Nyack for five semesters or are reading this blog because you’re nervous/thrilled/excited about being a freshman this Fall, I offer you this: ask questions. I don’t offer you this so you can neatly fold it into your pocket, like a napkin from yesterday’s lunch. I offer you this thought in order that you may indeed begin to ask questions. I implore you to ask questions–challenge you to, actually.

We sometimes have this idea. It’s a terrible idea, really. The idea is that those who ask questions lack knowledge. In other words, those who ask questions are sometimes seen as people who lack answers. We want people to think we have the answers, that we’re not clueless. We want to avoid looking dumb at all costs. I think it comes down to pride; you and me are ridiculously good at that pride stuff. In life, this can translate itself into silence in the classroom and outside it. We don’t ask questions because we don’t want to look stupid. We hold clutch our dignity, this bizarre mix of paralysis and pride. We do not ask and therefore are not given answers.

Friends,

Ask questions. In class, ask questions of your professor and your classmates. Involve yourself. You’re not being annoying. Ask questions whether or not others around you are as well. Wrestle with questions, whether you come across them in your Bible, Chemistry, or Education classes. Remember all those stories in the New Testament? People ask Jesus questions all the time. Jesus asks people questions all the time too. In the Old Testament, Scripture echoes over and again that we are to seek after wisdom and understanding. You can’t seek after this understanding unless you admit that you don’t understand something, and begin searching, asking questions.

I had to learn the hard way on this one. I came to college thoroughly stuffed with a million questions, important questions, but often my pride got in the way. I was self-conscious. What if people thought I was weird for asking things? Maybe I shouldn’t stop by my professor’s open office hours to get this answered? I took myself way too seriously, and this pride blocked my learning. However, slowly, steadily, but consistently Christ began to work in me. He’s still working. Amen to that. Sometimes my pride still gets in the way; I want people to think I’ve got it all together. I don’t, but I learned. I learned to lay down my pride, raise my hand, and ask.

Friends, be ridiculously bold and ask questions. It makes your college experience so much better. (Sidenote: life with a lower dose of pride also tends to be better). It is my prayer that you who are reading this will have the courage to wrestle with important questions, to ask those questions, and to be answered. Brothers and sisters, may you never be ruled by pride, and may you have the courage to ask many questions and seek after understanding.

Many, Many Blessings,

-K. N.

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The Class I Didn’t Want to Take

I’m going to be a little honest here.  There was a class I really didn’t want to take.

I know what you’re thinking, don’t we all have classes like that? Well, this class I extra didn’t want to take.

I remember finding out about this class. It was a game changer. What happened was our department used to require us to take a two-credit freshman seminar on Education. However, the requirements changed and those two credits were moved to a two-semester seminar during junior year. I groaned, probably out loud. One extra credit may not sound like a big deal, but the schoolwork load was getting intense. One of those semesters I took twenty-two credits. I didn’t have time for this, and honestly had no desire to spend Thursday afternoons from 3:55-4:55 talking about educational problems I could not solve. However, I desired to graduate and dragged myself to class.01869

Reader, if I’ve learned one thing in college it’s that being able to say that you’re wrong is a life skill more valuable than your impressive resume. Indeed, I was wrong. That class turned out to be one of the best classes of my junior year, and I say that with deep sincerity. Professor Nygard taught our class. I’d never taken a class with him before that semester, but I’d seen him in passing. He seemed like a friendly person, but he made that class more than just credits that fulfilled a requirement–he made that class valuable. Every class he had us bring questions we had about the videos or articles that had been assigned and then discuss the questions as a class. His rule was that these questions didn’t always have to be from the reading, but as long as they were educational we could ask them. We asked everything. We discussed everything. Professor Nygard had this knack of letting us discuss a sticky question amongst ourselves, and then he’d tell a story about his years as a junior high teacher or principal to illustrate a lesson for us to learn. He told us stories about science experiments he did with middle school students, experiences he had maintaining order in the classroom as a first year teacher, and even tricks on how to use Google Spreadsheets for grading. I noticed that he’d even mention mistakes he made in his first years of teaching, because he wanted us to understand how to avoid those mistakes. There’s not a lot of college professors willingly to talk about things like that.

The practical application from those stories was intense.

Readers, the reason this was one of my favorite classes was because Professor Nygard taught with such a Christ-like combination of excellence, experience, and humility. I’m only twenty-one, but even I in my youth know that this is a rare combination. I went into Education Seminar dragging my feet, and finished the class having learned far more than I had intended because of the example of Professor Nygard. This class taught teaching strategies, but also how to work out the theory of being a Christian teacher in real life. I am now sincerely grateful for that class I didn’t want to take.

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The Trek Back Home

IMG_1041Finals finished. I cannot explain how tired we all were. There’s something about the end of the semester, not only are you probably deprived of sleep, but you’re probably at a point of deep weariness in both body and spirit. I was at that point. I had a couple days before I went home. I didn’t realize how much I needed those days. I found a Bollywood movie on Netflix and re-watched part of a favorite independent film. I found myself wandering around the park with friends, reading for leisure, journaling to make sense of my thoughts, and beginning to take a deep breath again. Those days before we began the trek back home were worth a great deal to me.

For me, back home is in the Midwest, Indiana specifically. My mom picked me up, moving my ridiculous collection of books into our car. My mom is pretty awesome, I might add. She encouraged me to come out here for school, and she and my dad believed that I could do it. The older I get, the more I appreciate my parents.IMG_1057

Then we began the drive. I’ve gotten home in a variety of unique ways throughout college. One time I caught a ride to Ohio with some upperclassmen and spent eight hours listening to their top 40 music and hilarious stories. Another time I took an eighteen-hour train ride with some friends (we got hungry and had pizza delivered to one of our stops), and other times I flew back from Laguardia on cheap flights my dad had found.

This time my mom picked me up and we drove home. I know that drive. We can tally up the states we pass through–New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and finally Indiana. In Jersey we have to remember that you can’t pump your gas. In Pennsylvania the highway winds through the fog and forest of a state I’ve always considered definite and yet mysterious. In Ohio, we pass by this exit that is right by my Grandparents’ house. We always stop for the night. My grandparents have lived at least a state away my entire life, and one of the perks of going to NY for school was being able to see them more often. My grandma is funny. She always has a ton of food set out for us–even if we show up at 10pm. My grandparents are pretty cool people, godly people who have shaped my life, and they’re the kind of people who know the value of sharing stories and very loud laughter. They are also passionate about the game of three-thirteen.

We leave their place the next morning, continuing the trek back. I recognize landmarks now, the fields tilled in spring, grain bins, rows of cattle, white houses edging on vast landscapes of farmland, all of this is my visual echo of home.

Eventually, we turn into my street, and pull into an asphalt driveway. We are home. Again, this drive has been so valuable to me over the last few years. Sometimes it’s been hard to know where I really belong; there are people I love out East and people I love who still live back in the Midwest. My professional life has shifted more towards New York, but I can never forget my roots and memories of Midwestern fields and husking corn in the afternoon heat with my family, the whistle of evening trains outside my window, and the growth of corn in July. I cannot forget my roots.IMG_1071

Dear readers, this is my call to you. I don’t know where you are this summer.  You might be two blocks from school, or it might be in the wilds of Montana. Now that you’re in college, you’re probably going to question where you really fit in, where’s your place. That’s okay, but my call to you is to be present where you are no matter the questions. Grow roots even if it’s only for four months in a summer. God still works in weird, awkward times–even in weird times like summer break. Some of you are going to have summers full of difficulty. Some of you are going to have the best summer of your lives. Whatever your summer is, keep moving, keep praying, keep yourself in Scripture, and keep being present where God has placed you for these next months. 

See you all back at school.

Meet Dr. Nichols

Hello Everyone,01066

I’d like you to meet someone who has been a big part of my life at Nyack. Meet Dr. Nichols. He’s the Chair of the Adolescent Education Department at Nyack College, and if you’re an Adolescent Education Major, chances are you’ll find yourself in some of his classes, wind-up in his office for advisement, and you’ll also get to hear some interesting stories from his years of experience in our field. Meet Dr. Nichols:

  1. How Did You Come to Work at Nyack College?

I had just retired from working for thirty years in the public school system, and decided that I really wanted to try working in a Christian college environment. Fun fact, my first day of teaching at the college was at the Manhattan Campus. I’ll never forget that day, because I had been stung by a yellow jacket (I’m allergic), and I had to teach my first class on crutches. That was quite a day.

 

  1. What is Your Favorite Part about Teaching at Nyack?

That’s easy. It’s the students. I love working with the Christian college students here, and am constantly amazed at the Christian values of our teacher candidates.

 

  1. What’s Something Interesting/Random that Students Might Not Know about You?

In eighth grade I was the spelling bee champion at school.

 

  1. If You Could Design and Teach any Course What Would it Be and Why?

I would love to teach a course on practical writing. It would be a College Writing course designed specifically for future educators, and would focus on the kinds of writing so prevalent in the world of education. We would focus on things like lesson plans and the like. It would be all about real life writing.

 

  1. What One Piece of Advice You’d Like to Give Students?

I have two pieces of advice, really. My first piece of advice is to work smarter not harder. My second piece of advice would be specifically for Education Majors. Always realize that schools are for learning, not teaching. You have to figure out as a teacher how to create the best environment for learning.

 

  1. What’s Your Favorite Quote?

(He started singing this one). That would be Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

 

Thanks for listening, everyone.

Now you have officially met Dr. Nichols. Welcome to the Adolescent Education Department at Nyack College.

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Encouragement Amidst of “Much”: The School of Education Dinner

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The end of the semester is full of… so much. Assignments are due. That senior paper on that obscure topic is looming over your existence. Those group projects happen where everything that can possibly go wrong does. You wake up one day and realize that you totally spaced, and forgot to submit that project that also happens to be 25% of your grade. Panic and stress are often your constant companions, and then on top of everything there are all these end of the semester events…because everything is ending at the same time. There are hall meetings in the dorms, awards banquets, and thank-you dinners. There are good-byes to say to friends who are graduating, thank-you notes to write, applications to submit, jobs to secure for the summer, and an endless list of things that must be done before the last day of the semester. There is much. Amidst all this “much” being invited to one more event can make me want to crawl under my desk and hide from the world (for the record, don’t do that. I confess to having done this, and it doesn’t help anything).

Amidst all this “much” I got invited to the School of Education Dinner. However, this was not an event to add to my list of things to do. This was an event I wanted to attend and knew I would thoroughly enjoy. Let me explain…

The Dinner is always held in Shuman Hall. Shuman Hall seriously looks like a castle from a Dutch fairy tale, and I even heard once that someone got married there. The windows overlook campus, the town, and the river. You can see beyond your stress there.

At the Dinner, the meal was great. Though, I will admit to attending campus events only to get free food…that’s not why I came to this one. I came because of the community of the Education Department and the care of its professors. I sat at my table with people I have gone through the program with, people who understand where I’m coming from, but there were also new people to meet, new freshmen. The Education Department doesn’t have this snotty separation between freshmen and upperclassmen; we all encourage each other. There were more good things at the Dinner as well: awards given, thank-you’s said to both professors and students. We were all cheering each other on–and I realized what a privilege it is to be a part of a community that is able to cheer one another on in the midst of “much”. Friends, this is one of my favorite parts of being an Education Major at Nyack College.

Christian Music You Don’t Hear on the Radio

Friends,

The day is warm. Sunlight sifts over us as we travel between classes, almost-goodbyes with friends, treks downtown for coffee, quests for sunlight, library days, and midnight diner visits for cinnamon milkshakes. We hold all of these things close as the semester draws to a close. Soon we can drive with our windows down amidst the sun and wind of the highway. Soon we’ll stuff our highlighted textbooks and dirty laundry into a car, and drive to wherever we call home. Music tends to be a big part of that trek, scanning the radio dial, loading songs onto your phone, burning a CD or two. The music on these trips has evolved for me throughout the last couple of years. Let me explain…

Faith and Music

I listened to a lot more Christian music a few years ago. In fact, most of the music I listened to was Christian music. My musical tastes shifted towards the end of high school and as college began, as I discovered new artists and new ways of blending the notation of music and lyrics. I stopped listening to Christian music almost entirely. It wasn’t that it was bad, but my tastes had changed. Some of the stuff on the radio seemed too perky for me. Christian radio is great. I’m not knocking it. It’s a privilege to live in a country where Christians are allowed to have their own radio stations. Don’t take that for granted, but I have also found music made by Christians which doesn’t get a lot of air time, and which fits the evolution of my musical taste. These artists range from independent artists to artists with record labels, but they all have Christ in common:

Mat Kearney:

You may have heard of him, actually. What I really appreciate about this guy is that he does his own thing. People play his songs all over the place. He’s been played on Christian stations and non-Christian stations, but not a whole lot, just enough to take notice. His music blends pop, rap, and sounds like a group of old friends getting together to discuss old times and the currency of life happening tomorrow. There are times when his music makes you want to laugh in celebration, but sometimes the words slow and you want to ache for the dysfunctionality of life. His story of coming to Christ is pretty interesting too.

Audrey Assad:

She actually did get air-time several years ago, but since then she’s switched to the freedom of independent projects. Her recent album, “Inheritance” echoes with the mystery of ancient hymns and current devotion. My roommate and I have had her on replay all semester.

Andrew Belle:

My heart. Andrew Belle’s style has the sense of a gorgeous and lengthy slow dance after some event, a wedding, a funeral perhaps. You’re never really sure. He grapples with his faith and the weight of relationships in his lyrics. You have to untangle the confession and conviction, but it’s there.

Playlists on Spotify:

People spend time compiling playlists of random Christian music. Look them up. My two favorites are, “The Hipster Hymnal” and “Not Your Mother’s Christian Music”.

Andrew Peterson:

He had one or two hit songs in the 90’s, but since then he’s exited the radio scene. If you like hipster folk music, you’d probably like Andrew Peterson. Each of his songs is a crafted story.

Jon Foreman:

Youth group kids of the 2000’s, remember Switchfoot? Jon Foreman, their lead singer, does a bunch of solo projects now. If you want to listen to something with depth check out his collection of albums called, “The Wonderlands”. His lyrics carry the ideas of our own brokenness, the more tragic parts of life, and the wild moments of redemption.

90’s Music:

Something I’ve been learning is that if you like a type of music now…it was probably done before. Check out some of the Christian music from the 90’s or early 2000’s. Bebo Norman, Rich Mullins, and Bethany Dillon are a few names.

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Keeping Friends and Schoolwork in Balance

I’m smiling a little as I write, because this is a topic I’ve had to learn through tested disaster. It’s something I began to figure out as I started to grasp what my priorities were in college. The reason I’m in college is to study, to gather an education that not only gives me information, but also transforms and challenges my personal thoughts. The two departments that have become my life here at Nyack College, the Education and English Departments, have a real understanding of how to teach students in a personally challenging way.

Through all of this, it is my prayer that we may serve Christ through our academics, as we holistically serve Christ in and out of church buildings and worships services. I came to college with this belief, but I also came to college wanting to make friends. This became a conflict. My first semester I struggled between spending the majority of my time in the library and trying to hang out with friends. I want to share a couple things I learned about balancing the two: 

  1. You’re a Student First, Social Butterfly Second: I am so glad you have friends, but if your grades begin to slip because time with friends is cutting into study time, then reflect on your priorities. Your decisions in this area can decide issues about scholarships, whether or not you will be allowed to remain in your major, or even if you will be able to stay at school. Think about it.                                                                                            
  2. Relationships are Important: Alas, I must admit that I am an introvert. Some people are surprised at this, but it’s true. I can spend an entire day by myself and be content, but college has taught me the value of relationships. Find friends. Find a few good ones who don’t drag you down. Find friends who think being a student is important too. People tend to rub off on each other.                                                                                     
  3. Figure Out Who You Can Study With: I made mistakes with this my first semester. People would be like, “yo, you wanna study with us tonight?”, and I would beam and say “yes”. We would usually end up watching more Youtube videos on cats than doing homework. As my major began to require more work, I realized this wouldn’t work. I really enjoyed these people, but studying with them became unrealistic. Hanging out with them was fine, but it was better to leave the textbooks in my room when they asked me to study.               
  4. Headphones and Soundtracks: I discovered that putting in your headphones and listening to movie soundtracks, was an excellent way to be able to study in groups and still be productive. Three-fourth’s of my college homework has probably been to “Concerning Hobbits” on the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. Embarrassing Truth.                                                                                                                                                               
  5. Separate Study and Hangout Times: There are times when you need to focus and study. No talking. However, there are also times when you need to hangout with people, fully look them in the face, and have an undistracted conversation. Homework can distract from this. This is why I decided to never (almost never) bring homework into the cafeteria. I wanted time to focus on people, not textbooks.

Friends are one of the best parts about college, and your experiences with them are what you’ll remember after graduation. My advice is to keep your friends and your schoolwork in balance. If one area of your life is negatively affecting the other area, than have an honest time of reflection with yourself. Make changes. I messed up a lot in this area my first couple semesters, but eventually I began to get it. Balance having fun in college and studying can be difficult, but completely and totally worth it.

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A Tale of Procrastination

We only have a few more weeks left in the semester. The deadlines for so many papers and projects are staring us in the face, and for Education Majors the creation and formatting of lesson plans is certainly on our minds. It might be tempting to push everything to the last minute, to start, work on, and complete that fifteen page research paper the night before it’s due. However, do you really want this? I want to explain what happens when you procrastinate like that…

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What Happens When You Wait Until the Night Before….

  1. When you try to raise your hands in chapel the next day, you can’t because they’re cramped from typing that fifteen page, a hundred source paper…last night.
  2. At this point any minor computer malfunction becomes a life and death issue. Christie wifi going out makes you look up that verse about Jesus weeping.
  3. You end up angering your once pleasant roommate who now has to listen to you rustling bags of chips, opening cans of Monster, and loudly typing…at one in the morning.
  4. (You angered your roommate prior to this by stealing her chips and Monster. You get into a debate about situational ethics…at three in the morning).
  5. The building gets very quiet and very creepy at night when you’re the only one up to hear it.
  6. You feel absolutely defeated because you know this paper is lousy. You’re too tired to try, reach for that grade, or much less learn anything.
  7. The song lyrics from your earbuds start mixing with your paper. Why does Plato have one less problem without you?
  8. You actually see the sunrise, wait, it actually does that? You remember why you like sunsets.
  9. You run out of highlighter ink. You run out of printer ink. You run out of energy. You run out of time.
  10. You fall asleep and have to wipe drool off your computer.
  11. You feel embarrassed about turning this thing into class tomorrow. You feel like a mess, the paper looks like a mess. Let’s be real, it is a mess.
  12. You have zero time to proofread or make drafts of this paper.
  13. You embarrassingly turn in this sad, sad paper. You walk away exhausted, realizing that you may have missed the point of learning anything, and the thought occurs to you that the level of stress it took to write this paper was not worth it.

Friends, don’t do this to yourselves. Not only is it a miserable experience, but it makes the process of learning so painful. Learning should never be painful. Work smart. Pace out your assignments. Figure out when your paper is due, assign time slots for an hour or two a day, and work on your paper. Create drafts. Edit. Revise. Get feedback. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the gift of being able to discover ideas, information, and write about them. I’m speaking to myself as well as everyone reading this post. Let’s end this semester well, but let’s avoid the procrastination.

Top Teaching Program Nyack Education

And the Word Was With Us

Easter came to us recently, holy weekend. I went to the city with my parents that weekend, and we wandered through Brooklyn pizza shops, flowers budding beside concrete, and a lot of laughing and updating each other on the comings and goings in our lives. I remember eating breakfast with my dad, looking out our glass window at this tree growing in the middle of the square. It reminded me of some of the trees we have on on campus too. The tree had these thick, white blossoms, fragile beauty surrounded by concreted lives. It’s roots weren’t fragile. It got me thinking. I started turning over the ideas of roots, of life, of who sustains life. There’s this verse in Colossians 2:6-7, in the New Living Translation,

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And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

“Let your roots grow down into him”. That morning I was reading the end of the book of John, reading about Jesus’ resurrection, and I was reading the Scripture in a new Bible. My last Bible had managed to survive the days of highlighting frenzies and youth group events. I carried that copy of the Scriptures with me for a few years into college, but last Christmas I asked for a copy I could carry in a backpack. That was the Scripture I was reading that morning. The last few months I’ve been wandering through some of my favorite texts with that copy, and even though the text is ancient, far beyond the words of my own life, the words have been carrying a sense of newness to me as the pages don’t look read–nothing is wrinkled or highlighted. There’s no coffee spilled on the edges.

“Let your roots grow down into him”.

It has just made me think so much about how Scripture allows us to do that, grow our roots into Him, indeed into Christ. Centuries have passed where the majority of humanity spent their lives illiterate, and could only know Scripture by listening to a reading of it or through the testimony of stained glass windows painted with Biblical scenes. We have a distinct gift.

Sometimes carrying the gift can feel tiresome, grow weariness in our bones. I know. I’ve been there too, my friend, but read the gift, still, in spite of, and through the tired times. Try something different. Switch up translations. I usually read the New International Version, but sometimes I also read a more traditional version. Sometimes the words sound like Shakespeare, but their sound is different to you. Their sound is new again.cc1a96ec-47b7-4eb6-9b13-c4eda562f0b4Find a completely new copy of Scripture, and read its pages as if you just stumbled upon them in a bookshop. Walk through the weariness. The tree in the square was beautiful in Spring. Spring will come, my friend. Dwell in the gift that is Christ, and the breath of His Word, that is Scripture.

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