Hebrews 11 lists a number of biblical characters who were commended for their faith. And in Hebrews 12, the author reveals that the purpose for publishing these short narratives was for our encouragement: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”
Likewise, the Eastern Christian community is comprised of countless individuals past and present who have walked by faith, upheld by the promises of God. And so this spring over social media, Eastern Christian School asked our community to tell us about these individuals: the specific people in our midst who inspire others, encourage others, and support others along their journey. Following in this blog series are the results, and the stories of just a few of the people in our great cloud of witnesses.
“Florence exemplified Christ to staff, students, and the EC community. In her former role as educator and ECMS principal she demonstrated gifts of leadership, a tireless work ethic, compassion and a strong desire to bring the best education practices to the students. She did this all while most importantly remaining close in her relationship to Christ through prayer and Bible reading. Sharing God’s word with her staff was paramount.” (Nominating Quote)
Although she’s been retired for more than 15 years, Florence Nieuwenhuis is still doing what she loves: teaching. Today, that teaching happens at New Hope Community Ministries and at Ridgewood Public Library with adult ELL students. But for decades, it happened at Eastern Christian.
“I’ve always had a desire to be a teacher,” she shares. “I’m passionate about teaching and excellence in education. Even now, I have that same motivation for my ELL students, taking those people into my heart and my home and sharing my faith with them.”
Her faith is a driving force in her life. Nieuwenhuis grew up in a Christian family and recalls the church always being part of her life. Believing in Jesus even as a little child, she remembers making a public profession of faith at 13 years old after her father passed away.
Along with home and church, Eastern Christian was also heavily influential. Enrolled as a kindergartener at Midland Park Christian School (one of the grammar schools that would soon consolidate to become Eastern Christian), she graduated from Eastern Christian, and then went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s in education. She also married her high school sweetheart, Garry, and just celebrated her 61st wedding anniversary.
Except for adjunct teaching at William Paterson University in the summer, Nieuwenhuis spent her entire career at Eastern Christian. She taught fourth and fifth grade before becoming a middle school principal in the 90s, a position she held until 2006. Never one to rest on her laurels, she joined with Bergen County Special Services a year after retiring and in the past several years, keeps busy studying Spanish and Dutch for personal enrichment.
Of her time at EC, she shares she is most grateful for “the camaraderie and the joy in working with other Christians. And just the joy in the mission of Eastern Christian—being part of something big and having the privilege of sharing God’s word with the next generation.”
Enjoying this blog series? Read more stories in the fall edition of The Herald, publishing late August 2022.
Would you like to celebrate another member of the EC community for being an inspiration? Send your nominations to Herald@easternchristian.org and we may feature your nominating quotes in our final Cloud of Witnesses blog. EC reserves the right to edit/omit submissions.