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Resilience in the Classroom: When Students Take Ownership of Their Learning

Resilience in the Classroom: When Students Take Ownership of Their Learning 960 639 nccsadmin

By Rika Meyer and Nick Sigler

Teachers in all grades are observing varying levels of learning loss in students after an entire year of instruction online. At Rio Lindo Adventist Academy, new students who attended a public school the previous year have demonstrated that their knowledge is not at grade level. A record four new students are repeating a grade this year after not receiving credit for last year’s high school classes.

One surprising aspect of learning in a COVID world is demonstrated by Rio’s freshman class. This class of 25 students has overwhelmingly taken ownership of their learning and turned their challenges into resilience as they find intrinsic motivation that we haven’t seen before in a freshman class. The freshman class also has a record high number of students who had previously attended an Adventist school—with 22 out of 25 coming from Adventist education, versus about half of all other new students, who have previously attended a public school.

English teacher Nick Sigler (pictured above) explains:

“At the end of most units, I have my students complete a reflection survey. This wrap-up assists them in taking what they learned about the content, the educational process, and themselves and applying it to future subject matter. My hope is always that they will grow both in their knowledge and gain confidence in themselves as students. The comments usually run the gamut: ‘I wasn’t interested in this subject,’ ‘Assign less reading,’ ‘I think I did pretty good.’ This is all normal teenage perspective on school and studying.

“However, this year (and the previous 18 months) has elicited a new perspective from my students that I haven’t seen before. When I assigned the first unit reflection, the comments by and large exhibited a more determined tone than I have ever seen before in my years of teaching. Students commented: ‘I know I can do better and I want to try harder this unit,’ ‘I’m enjoying reading so much more now,’ and ‘I am going to spend more time preparing for class.’

“Two characteristics of this point of view jumped out at me. Number one: their comments were ‘I’ focused. Then took ownership of their efforts and acknowledged what they each individually had put into their unit. If they had not done as well as they could have, they owned their mistakes. Which leads us to number two. These comments exhibited a growth mindset. The growth mindset is an indicator of success because it demonstrates the person is looking at obstacles as opportunities. It is a brave resilience that shows their ability to grow in the face of struggle.

“I believe this resilience is a product of what all our students have gone through this last year and a half. Our Rio students faced school as they have never known it before; they have been ingenious about how to make their lives work in a quarantined existence; they have had to pivot at a moment’s notice. And yet through all of it, they can still see the possibilities for growth and improvement.

“I am hopeful. If a student body can see their own potential, take ownership of their mistakes, and set goals for themselves, then the future of Rio Lindo, our country, and our planet looks like a place we all want to be.”
Rika Meyer is Rio’s vice president of marketing, admissions & development.
Nick Sigler is Rio’s English teacher.

10 Days of Prayer 2022

10 Days of Prayer 2022 1152 648 Julie Lorenz

Gym Night Engages East Bay Young People

Gym Night Engages East Bay Young People 960 720 Julie Lorenz
Every Saturday night, 70-80 teens and young adults from around the East Bay gather at Pleasant Hill Adventist Academy for gym night. Around 8 p.m., organizer Wayne Ogata offers an opening prayer, and they play volleyball and socialize until midnight.

Ninety percent of those who attend are not connected to the Adventist church. They learned about the gym night through friends and social media. Many play, but others come just to watch, socialize, and eat. Food is sometimes provided by the Pleasant Hill church and others. Last week, a taco truck stopped by!

A Pleasant Hill church member, Ogata works hard to ensure that everyone gets the opportunity to play in a positive environment. He began organizing gym nights because he loves the game, but he now realizes they make it easy to engage with young people.

Ben Saechao, a young adult from Oakland, has been coming to the gym nights for years. “You go to a lot of other gyms, and it’s kind of intimidating for new players,” he said. “Wayne makes it clear that it’s all just for fun—a way to socialize and meet new friends and have a good time.”

Ogata is planning to invite participants to several pre-volleyball worship services during the holidays. However, he realizes that friendship is the best way to reach these young people. “One of them told me, ‘You don’t have to talk about church; the kids are going to ask you,’” he said. “We have kids showing up who haven’t been to church in years. You never know where it’s going to lead.”

Religious Liberty Event – Dec. 5, 2021

Religious Liberty Event – Dec. 5, 2021 1280 720 Julie Lorenz

LIFE Church of Berkeley Hosts Fall Festival

LIFE Church of Berkeley Hosts Fall Festival 640 481 Julie Lorenz
On Nov. 6, the LIFE church of Berkeley invited university students and neighborhood families to a Fall Festival. About 70 people enjoyed a meal and fun autumn activities, including a country hymn singalong, a chili cook-off, a pumpkin pie eating context, and the Tony Hannah Country Band.
“People commented how great it was to be together and sing some well-known songs and share some delicious home-cooked food together,” said Carolyn Pickell, church events coordinator. “What a great evening of fun, bringing students, neighbors, and friends of our church community together in celebration of fellowship and the change of seasons!”

Adventurer Family Fun Day

Adventurer Family Fun Day 720 540 Julie Lorenz

After a long time apart, NCC Adventurers were finally able to gather for a conference-wide Family Fun Day! On Sunday, Nov. 7, more than 400 Adventurers and family members spent a day at the Sacramento Zoo learning about animals and having fun!

The Espinozas, the Hiratas, and the Slatons (Adventurer area coordinators) hosted 18 clubs during the event. “I’m so happy conditions allow for Adventurers to finally get together safely once again,” said Barry van Iderstein, newly elected director of Adventurer, children’s, and family ministries.

The next Adventurer Fun Day is being planned for spring 2022.

Sacramento Ukrainian Church Organization

Sacramento Ukrainian Church Organization 720 360 Julie Lorenz

On Sabbath afternoon, Sept. 18, the NCC formally organized the Sacramento Ukrainian church—the only official Ukrainian congregation in the Pacific Union. The service took place in the congregation’s rented church sanctuary in Fair Oaks.

The joyful program included music from children’s and young people’s choirs, as well as a sermon by President Marc Woodson. The congregation presented the conference with a beautiful illustrative carving of Psalm 23, created by Ivan Noshyn, church elder.

“The members are very happy! It’s a big step in their lives—a miracle for a lot of Ukrainian people here,” said Roman Tsyganiuk, senior pastor of the Sacramento Slavic/Sacramento Ukrainian district. He serves with Andriy Mykhaylovskyy, associate pastor of the Ukrainian church and youth pastor of the Slavic church.

The new church has its roots in the Sacramento Yugoslavian church, where a number of Russians and Ukrainians worshipped together several decades ago. The Yugoslavian church established the Sacramento Slavic company as a “daughter” congregation, which became its own church in 2004. Later, the Slavic church created a “daughter” congregation of its own. The new Ukrainian group, with 116 members, held its first service in October 2018. They were organized as a company a few months later in January 2019.

About 100,000 Ukrainians live in the Sacramento metro area, and church members are eager to reach out to them. The new church has active ministries for children, youth, families, and health, as well as a vibrant media ministry. The congregation is making plans to eventually purchase a church facility of their own.

“Please pray for this church and for the pastors,” said Tsyganiuk. “We believe that this church will grow and be a blessing.”

Helping Churches Unite in Their Mission

Helping Churches Unite in Their Mission 432 324 Julie Lorenz

In-person evangelism has been difficult during the pandemic, but outreach meetings are still going on, and church members are eager to get involved! “It’s important that the mission God gave us doesn’t stop because of COVID,” said Roseville church Pastor David Resendes. “People still need Jesus—especially now!”

In October, President Marc Woodson held an in-person and live-streamed Bible seminar titled “What on Earth Am I Doing Here?” at the Roseville church. “I enjoyed Dr. Woodson’s message, the fellowship with the members, and praying with people,” said Kathy Kordenbrock, worship coordinator.

Volunteers helped with registration, parking lot security, sound, and more. “It takes a team to put on an evangelistic series,” said David Gainer, a member of the audio/visual crew.

Executive Secretary Jose Marin has presented several seminars this year, including “Revelations of Hope,” a series of meetings held in the Pleasant Hill church courtyard in April.

Volunteers helped with everything from live-streaming to childcare. “The event was one of the first we had as we were breaking out of the pandemic lockdown,” said Senior Pastor Mitch Williams. “It gave our members the opportunity to do ministry and use their gifts.”


Light Up the Night!

Light Up the Night! 2560 1920 Julie Lorenz

On October 31, the Pleasant Hill church invited families to an event called “Light Up the Night,” an alternative to Halloween activities. “We wanted to make it a fun evening but maintain a spiritual emphasis throughout the event,” said Natalie Bechtold, children’s ministries director.

Fifty kids, from toddlers to high school students, attended from the church and community. “We were really happy to see our kids bring their friends,” said Bechtold.

Families enjoyed a pizza supper, and then youth group members shepherded the children through many light-themed activities, beginning with a short worship led by Youth Pastor Miguel Verazas. Kids hit piñatas, played on a huge blow-up obstacle course, went on a treasure hunt, and created paper lanterns and lightning bug crafts. They also received treats and prizes, including glow sticks and flashlights.

“Everything was light oriented to drive home the illustration that we can be light in our community,” said Bechtold. “On a dark night, we wanted to be the opposite, making light and joy and creating great memories for kids.”

NCC Office Team Serves Our Church and School Community

NCC Office Team Serves Our Church and School Community 1280 960 Julie Lorenz

The NCC office team spent Monday, Oct. 18, working on service projects at nearby churches and schools, including the Carmichael church, the Lincoln Amazing Grace church, the Orangevale church and school, the Roseville church, and Sacramento Adventist Academy. The team completed a wide variety of projects, including yard work, office tasks, washing, painting, building, and helping at a food pantry.

Allan Willmott, associate treasurer, built grow boxes at Orangevale SDA school. “What impressed me the most was how much the school appreciated our help,” he said. “I was also impressed with the staff—their friendliness and how much they enjoyed ministering to the children.”

Jeffrey Maxwell, risk management director/associate treasurer, did yard work at the Carmichael church. “Most of the time, we are at the office and don’t get to see the faces and physically rub elbows with our people on the front lines, and I very much enjoyed doing this,” he said.

Yolanda Frazier, administrative assistant in multiple NCC departments, helped with the Lincoln Amazing Grace church’s food giveaway program. “The Community Services team and volunteers were great to work alongside,” she said. “We were able to help load four vehicles with good food items for the community. We were all blessed by the experience and appreciated the opportunity.”