Earn straight A’s, make the soccer team, collect the spelling bee trophy, conquer the latest technology gadget—indicators of excellence? Or not? The current culture around us tends to the casual and mediocre, making it easy for this generation to coast and just get by. While that generational descriptor has its own attributes, it has also assisted in reshaping the look of excellence. There is certainly nothing wrong with achievements and accomplishments, but pursuing excellence is about so much more. Scripture passages such as 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17 set a high standard of excellence—of doing all to the glory of God because we are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As elementary educators overseeing our youngest students, we are daily guiding and motivating students to establish the habit of giving their very best a hundred percent of the time. Even in an excellent learning environment like BJA, there are times when students find it more convenient to settle for less—turning in sloppy work, not taking time to look up answers on an open-book worksheet, being careless with items that belong to others, or not attending to homework deadlines—and it is in those moments when we have a great opportunity to challenge them to push and give their best efforts. Education isn’t primarily about student achievement and getting good grades but about learning and contributing their best with the right spirit.
Elementary students have quite a bit of schooling ahead of them, and part of our job is to help them understand and experience that hard work is meaningful and rewarding. There is joy in pushing through a challenge and seeing the reward of their hard work. So much of this process is directly tied to attitude and helping students adopt a “can do” spirit to view challenges and problems as opportunities. That’s why even in an elementary classroom we consistently set high expectations and goals and then celebrate and reward quality effort. Even as elementary students, they are learning skills that contribute to doing things with excellence, such as self-assessing, problem solving, using time wisely, and communicating with the right words and tone, and these developing character qualities are as much worth celebrating as any high grade.
Unfortunately “Pursuing Excellence 101” isn’t a class, but as with so many traits and skills, if we want our students and children to develop it, we must effectively and consistently model it. As educators, we are modeling this pursuit of excellence every day. When we are learning and growing and taking a positive approach to challenges, we are demonstrating skills for students to develop now and take with them for the rest of their lives. I often hear teachers sharing real-life situations with students and how they were handled—and again providing students examples of working through challenges in the best, most God-honoring way possible.
We, as students of all ages, work for an unseen Boss. He expects—and deserves—our very best in all we do, whether a handwriting page or a financial analysis report. It’s not all about the grade or the salary raise but about honoring the One we represent.
Bob Jones Academy exists to assist like-minded Christian parents in challenging students to love Jesus Christ, to embrace God’s truth, to exercise integrity, to pursue excellence, and to serve others.