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 are the results, and the stories of just a few of the people in our great cloud of witnesses.
“He inspires deep critical thinking for his students and is passionate about the subject he teaches.” – Nominating Quote
The year was 1968. Apollo 8 became the first manned craft to orbit the moon in anticipation of Neil Armstrong’s historic moon landing the following July. And in the same year, a young Terry Allen prepared for a different launch, starting his teaching career in Salem, Oregon. Eventually, in 1990, he and his family would land in New Jersey.
Dr. Allen’s legacy as a teacher and coach now spans 54 years, with 32 of those spent at Eastern Christian Middle School. During that time, he has taught middle school social studies, Bible, American history and philosophy. He has also earned a master’s in teaching middle school philosophy, as well as an Ed. D. in pedagogy, with an emphasis in philosophy for children.
“I am very thankful to teach in a community that is truly Christian in belief and practice. Our parents have our back and vice versa. There is care and forgiveness. Families make a very significant commitment to have their children here, and they do so because they value the beliefs and perspectives of those who find the Bible and Christian teaching so important in each of our lives. Every day we as teachers know that we are involved in a vital and important ministry, in partnership with the families of our students. It is a journey worth taking.”
Allen’s faith story began with a conversion experience as a sophomore in high school. “After hearing the gospel as a young teenager and realizing my need for salvation and unreadiness for death, I accepted Jesus as my savior in Wheaton, Illinois,” he says. “Through the word, I came to understand what it means to know and love God as a person, not just a distant power with rules, promises and warnings—a living and authentic relationship that daily seeks His face is what we are after.”
As a teacher, his passion has been to practice a pedagogy of asking, and not just of telling. It involves philosophical dialogue in a community of inquiry and seeks to encourage students to listen to others and to think well for themselves. “Every student has the capacity for reasoned thinking. By asking questions and encouraging students to give good reasons for their claims, their own voices become a regular part of the classroom. Their confidence as thinkers increases.”
He adds, “Much of teaching is relational, and teachers must respect their own limits and vulnerabilities as well as those of the students they are privileged to teach. The true teacher is neither a crusader nor a prophet, but a philosopher who is able to wonder about life’s meaning and mystery together, never putting a cap on their own or others’ learning.”
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.