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Donald VanderKolk

Donald VanderKolk
Donald VanderKolk
Groups: High School
Employed Since: 9/1/1997
21 Years Experience At School

Faith and Learning Statement

The Love Mandate: “Love the Lord your God…Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-38). This mandate serves as a reminder that I do not teach curriculum, I teach students. As enthusiastic as I may be about literature—and it is important to communicate the passion I feel for my subject matter to my students—my primary concern in my classroom is my students. So, the first manifestation of this mandate is that love shapes the way I relate to and treat my students. I am committed to treating my students with the respect and dignity with which I expect them to treat others, and modeling these behaviors is the best way to teach them how to do so. As a result, I am also committed to a pedagogical style that expresses love for my students, a style that affirms their personal worth, the value of their opinions, and to creating a classroom environment that promotes mutual encouragement. A second manifestation of this mandate will be evident in the content of my instruction. As we study literature we will consider with respect the authors and the ideas of the great literature of the western tradition. Recognizing that the study of literature is not an end in itself, I commit to helping my students identify ways in which literature can enhance their lives and help them to extend the love of God to others. 


The Image Mandate: “Let Us make man in Our image….  Be fruitful…fill the earth…subdue it…rule over every living creature” (Gen 1:26,28). This mandate reminds us to be caretakers of what God has made; and under the very broad umbrella of this mandate is our stewardship of God’s revelation to us—His truth. Working with the premise that “all truth is God’s Truth,” and, like the Bereans of Acts 17 who tested the words of Paul against the scriptures, we will pursue our study of the great works of American and British literature with the intent of discerning that Truth wherever we find it. Not only do we attempt to comprehend the worldviews of the various authors we read, but we attempt to understand the historical and cultural contexts, as well as the personal experiences of the authors that gave rise to those worldviews. Through this process it is my goal to model for my students how to discern the truth for themselves as they engage literature and media on their own and to enable them to contextualize within their own experience the Truth as they discover it.

The Mission Mandate: “Go and make disciples…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28-20). This mandate becomes an extension of the two previous mandates and is most obviously manifested through the writing component of English 11 and 12. It is as important as ever that students develop the requisite writing skills that will prepare them for college and life, but in this day it is becoming increasingly important that they understand the Christian ethic of writing. For the follower of Jesus it is important not only to be able to discern the Truth, but it is equally important to be able to clearly communicate it with integrity and in love. This means that students must treat their readers with respect, avoid plagiarism, write honestly and forthrightly, consider counterarguments, and avoid the tendency of our culture to merely “spin” the truth and manipulate facts in order to serve their own ends. It is my goal to develop my students’ rhetorical skills so that they are able to effectively communicate the Truth to their world.