The Greater Purpose of Literacy

[My own work regarding the role of high school English teachers in literacy development.]

The conceptual basis for literacy is no longer static. For multiple reasons, it is an increasingly difficult task for students and teachers to comprehend and master; yet, as teachers engage the broader spectrum of communicating meaning through different mediums, via traditional means or technological advances, students will engage all the more naturally and find relevance all the easier to grasp. This is to say “conceptions of literacy continue to expand in multiple directions, moving far beyond former emphases on reading comprehension and writing ability” (Shoffner, De Oliveira, & Angus, 75).

The role of the secondary English teacher is not that of mere literacy. Literacy is a means to the greater end of socialization and positive integration with society. It also helps teachers when developing their lesson objectives. The goal is not just to understand what happens in a book or to learn some grammar, but how to use and apply the learning experience toward something greater. How can literacy be applied to a greater purpose?

LiteracyisTo read a book simply for the purpose of reciting the plot and naming the main characters on a test is a severe disservice to the book and its author. The traditional realm of literacy does include comprehension of informational text and literature, but to stop there would neglect speaking, listening, writing, and language (as outlined in Arizona’s Common Core Standards). One could boil it down to the classic trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, each building off the other as students are given the opportunity to practice proper language conventions, argumentation skills, and the art of persuasion.

And this, here, introduces the rub, the element of discomfiture for the uninitiated teacher. Proper practice means students are called to express themselves through language, and expression introduces opinions, and opinions can differ from student to student. Conversations regarding the issues of diversity and current issues are generated, and the skills required for facilitating these discussions (Ruiz, Many, Aoulou, 26). This free expression extricates the classroom from the static, and delivers it into the bounteous, albeit unpredictable, realm of the dynamic. Bieler is optimistic that the purpose of the secondary English classroom, with its focus on the expression of language (i.e.: rhetoric), is likely to sow the seeds of compassion (Bieler, 10).

Inexperienced teachers might not see how free expression might lead toward compassion, as the freedom of expression inevitably results in a strong form of differing opinions. These uncomfortable moments, disagreements, or even conflicts are actually a desired aspect of literacy development, because it provides opportunities for students to talk, read, listen, and write with patience and rigor to a point where students are forced to resolve the dissention in a just and compassionate manor. Not that everyone is right or that there is no right answer, but that we still have to be able to work together as a society even as those differing opinions exist.

To put it another way, not all conflicts can be resolved in one sitting, and some opinions run parallel to each other, never able to intersect; even so, we still have to be able to work together, to care, to help, and to love. As an English teacher “we are often talking about the drama around the choices that human beings make – and the consequences of those choices” (Bieler, 10). The faults of characters in literature encourage us to discover real-life examples in which tragedy could be avoided and violence is prevented in order to not re-create those mistakes. Essentially, the secondary English classroom is the perfect environment to practice decision-making and conflict management. Literature, in all its intrigue, plot, drama, conflict, foil and character flaw is driven by human nature, and the sooner students learn to recognize human nature at work, the more knowledgeable they will be about handling it in their own lives. We are talking about how to foster a classroom full of mutual respect and self-control.

This will affect lesson objectives and the angles to take in dialogue. This will buck at the perfectly sanitized, politically correct, walking-on-eggshells, carefully-worded classroom of today’s publicly funded schools. Not that conflict and argument is encouraged, but that students are allowed to open up and hash out the expressions of their heart now, in the learning environment of a classroom, when they can practice how to communicate well and how to implement conflict management. It may involve stress, but it is far better now than in the so-called ‘real world.’ Therefore, teachers should grade the quality of student work on social interactivity and relational understanding as much as on the quality of student thinking and performance.

With this in mind, Beiler encourages teachers to ask the question, “Does our current choices in literature unwittingly shape a worldview that expects and perpetuates violent behavior?” Not that we exclude such books, but that we should be aware of the patterns of behavior that our choices represent. Our choices need to include instances of compassion, companionship, philanthropy, and the like.

However, another justification hindering the re-emergence of this understanding of literacy is the difficulty presented in assessing such things as empathy and community building in an era of high-stakes testing (Beiler, 14). Some believe the answer is as simple as the very fact of participation and interpretation, regardless of what, exactly, students interpret from the input provided. A teacher interviewed by Shoffner, De Oliveira, & Angus would define literacy as referring “to the idea of being able to look at that text, whatever it is, and extract some sort of meaning from it…some sort of meaning, to me, is literacy” (81). This logic encourages teachers to give extra points for freestyle meaning-making, inventive thinking, and accepting multiple interpretations of a text; just so long as students contrive some sort of meaning to personally apply to the text.

abolitionUnfortunately, this instills in the impressionable mind of our average student that statements about meaning are nothing more than feelings. C.S. Lewis addresses this danger directly, warning that this proposition will teach schoolchildren to believe “that all sentences containing a predicate of value are statements about the emotional state of the speaker” (15). It becomes meaningless to use literature toward an instructive end when students are doing nothing more than arguing opinions. Remember, the goal, as discussed above, is to promote inherently desirable values, traits which are universally acceptable and merit our approval.

Therefore, as teachers prepare their lesson objectives, and consider that which is beyond the nuts and bolts of traditional literacy, we can clarify that they also need to move beyond that which is simply empty conversation about subjective meaning in a text. Literacy encourages specific values in society and challenges students to evaluate their emotional reactions to a text, a value, an opinion, or a fact, and consider whether such a reaction is meritorious or not, and whether the object of our reaction merits our approval or disapproval, reverence or contempt (Lewis, 25).

This is a mighty caveat for free expression; without this clarification classroom discussions become the same fluff as any other form of busywork. Students are certainly learning to express themselves, but toward a logical, reasonable end of fitting into the framework of society. “Education is that vast undertaking of passing on the wisdom and knowledge of one generation to another. It involves discovery, but also instruction; it is cultural transmission” (Perrin, 4).

literacyThe goal for an educator never ends with the pure, raw facts. Rote learning is only a very small component of an effective classroom. For the secondary English teacher, literacy is likewise not so limited as to end with reading comprehension and writing skills. Literacy itself refers to so much more, so much, in fact, that it is being superseded by the goal of presenting and encouraging multiliteracies, whether in reference to reading mediums, traditional skills, or cultural, language, and social literacy.

And even so, literacy is never the end in itself, but rather a means to an even greater end—that of compassion, discourse, respect, dialogue, mature relationships, and higher order thinking. That said, this promotion of certain values as a crucial aspect of literacy is making a claim toward that which exists beyond mere opinion and feeling or meaning-making. Of course, this includes the ability to pass state standards, advance to college (if desired), and pursue a career, but these are only the results, the byproducts of a greater whole.

 

References

Bieler, D. (2006). Changing the Subject: Building Critical and Compassionate Communities in English and English Education Classrooms. Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education, 4(1).

Lewis, C.S. (1974). The Abolition of Man.

Perrin, C. (2004). An Introduction to Classical Education: A Guide for Parents. Classical Academic Press, v.2.5.

Ruiz, A., Many, J., Aoulou, E. (2011). The Prevalence or Absence of Attention to Adolescent Literature in the Initial Preparation of Secondary Content Teachers. SRATE Journal, 20(2), 23-30.

Shoffner, M., De Oliveira, L., & Angus, R. (2010). Multiliteracies in the secondary English classroom: Becoming literate in the 21st century. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 9(3), 75-89.

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Newspaper Job Listing Sample

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[This was a fun assignment (for my certification program, not an actual client) which asked for a 1/2 page newspaper job listing for a content area teacher, listing the most desirable attributes. This is the result.]

Are YOU the High School English Teacher We’ve Been Waiting For?

Keep reading if you are eager to promote social and English literacy for teenagers in a way that will prepare them to be meaningful members of society.

At [School] Academy, we don’t think it’s too much to ask of a teacher to have passion about the subject matter, nor is it unrealistic to have teachers who are just as enthusiastic about seeing their students succeed. When you think about how much time children spend at school, the role of every teacher becomes significant as educators and role models.

The following traits are expected of any effective teacher, even in the face of difficulties: Positive; Supporting; Respectful; Responsive; Encouraging; Dedicated. In addition, specialized training in teaching English to adolescents is highly desired.

The goal of a successful teacher is more than just teaching the material and keeping students under control. Their goal is to help students under their care to engage in the learning process through a variety of means, whether through technology, discussion, visual aids, role playing, giving specific feedback, encouragement, or creative group projects. A successful teacher is authentic, truly desiring that his or her students grasp the material and enjoy the process. That is why a successful teacher manages the classroom well, sets high expectations and standards, and encourages participation, because all students have the ability to learn; students just need someone who believes in them.

This type of positive and respectful climate will serve as a preventative for misbehavior, and instead, students will have the capacity to engage in higher-order thinking.

At [School] Academy, we value training and experience in our teachers, but we also seek the right attitude—a teacher’s heart. If this describes what you wish to accomplish as a teacher, please send us your resume today!

In Defense of Reading

[A more technical defense of teaching reading in all grade levels and all content areas.]

In a country prized for her innovations in science, technology, and social progressivism, the United States has stood as one of the most literate societies in history, which has made these accomplishments possible. More so than the advent of the internet, this country’s widespread literacy of the layman has allowed the dissemination of every form of knowledge and understanding. The ability to read and write has become integral to American living; from reading tax instructions to the ingredients of a recipe; from the daily news to voting amendment explanations; from reading the Constitution to reading the Bible; whether it is writing a resume, an email, or a blog post. The success of a representative government rests on a well educated, reading populace (Doran, 2005, 5).

Therefore, when reading falls out of practice, the populace loses control over their own government, as is currently taking place. Nowhere are these skills more noticeably integral to every citizen in America than their origin in the classroom. If students don’t get it right here, or rather, if students are not given strategies to succeed in literacy, they will be restricted in their participation of the American Dream. The implications of illiteracy in a highly literate society cannot be overstated. Assuming the necessity of a literate society, suffice it to say at present that teachers have an obligation to convey reading skills to their students above all else, regardless of the subject matter, lest all forms of higher education soar above their reach. Literacy is the solution that goes to the heart of many problems currently facing educators (Doran, 88).

It is not sufficient to conclude that literacy is a necessary skill, as this is already a foregone conclusion for any serious educational entity. The deficiency occurs when literacy is not emphasized at every grade and in every subject. The secondary classroom is not immune. The math, science, and social studies classrooms are not immune. Reading is a requisite still in every subject. Indeed, high schools must commonly contend with inefficient reading strategies, struggling to remediate students uncomfortable with the written word. It must then follow that all teachers take the first step toward fixing the problem by participating in the literacy scene.

Fine, Zygouris-Coe, Senokossoff, & Fang (2011) found most secondary content teachers assume that by the time students enter secondary schools, they have mastered the skills and strategies needed for comprehending content area texts, only to realize many students are not able to read or comprehend these technical, dense, or abstract books. For a teacher to consider himself highly qualified as an educator, their knowledge must expand beyond pedagogical content, and embrace knowledge of how to incorporate literacy in their content area.

Whereas remedial programs still provide the necessary services for severely lacking students, literacy in the classroom is not reserved for the struggler. The teacher must view each student as a separate literate entity—and the integrity of their reading strategies and comprehension is of gravest concern. To reiterate, reading is what connects the content areas together and opens the doors of knowledge and understanding to the literate.

However, as every mother’s child possesses different traits, so too every teacher’s pupil will possess different educational strengths and weaknesses. Some students need more help in reading than others. This begs the necessary question: who needs rescuing? There are students the educational establishment will commonly deem to have learning disabilities, dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, and problems with behavior, emotions, or social interaction. Pat Doran encourages we reevaluate our assumptions about these struggling students. Those who have disabilities, behavioral problems, suffering grades or are otherwise disinterested or hesitant may not have a disability or disorder at all. It has been shown that much of the malcontention in delinquents derive from their (almost) inevitable levels of illiteracy. Poor reading leads to poor academic performance, which leads to poor self-esteem, which consequently leads to poor behavior. The earnest teacher will discover that most academically or behaviorally challenged students fall on differing levels of the same continuum of deficient reading skills. These students will benefit most from your concentrated efforts to promote reading. As Doran facetiously quoted, “Try reading before you try Ritalin.” (Doran, 15).

This is to further enforce the necessity of universal reading practice for all students of all grades in all content areas, because the principle described above is a truism no matter who is already ‘at risk’ or not. Whatever the baseline, every student will benefit from the ability to read, and read well. Of those who excel in the skill, allow them the space to progress as far as they are able. Don’t limit their success in favor of keeping pace with struggling students. This would qualify as an equal crime to forgoing literacy altogether (Davis, 2012, 570). A holistic strategy to accommodate for these differentials in the classroom is what Steven Krashen advocates as free voluntary reading (Krashen, 2007). Free reading time should be promoted as an essential component of the classroom, as it allows students to practice reading their own choice of books at their own pace. It is the great equalizer! And it has shown impressive results in reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. Of course, content areas will have more limitations on the time and books available for this type of activity.

The astute teacher will need to be aware of one further example of students requiring special attention. Binder and Lee identified students who are considered resilient readers, those who cannot read very well, but with the aid of compensatory strategies, are still able to comprehend enough to get by. These students are adept at extracting syntactic similarities to words or concepts they find difficult to read through a cursory analysis of the context. While an impressive skill, it is dangerous because it forgoes proper reading and decoding strategies in favor of being ‘close enough.’ It does not allow full mastery of the English language by hindering vocabulary, spelling, and comprehension of more complex passages. They should still have the same free reading time as everyone else, but they will need supplementary instruction and practice with decoding strategies, such as grapheme to phoneme correspondence (Binder & Lee, 2012).

Most content classrooms will not have the ability to accommodate a high dosage of word attack skills, and this should never serve as the sole proprietor for remedial reading instruction anyway. The disadvantage of synthetic phonics is its frequent delivery outside the context of reading itself! (Davis, 561). This will prove especially difficult for resilient readers, though no student should suffer through a pile of disembodied English lexis. This is not to dissuade the importance of phonics as one of many strategies the teacher has on his tool belt, but to emphasize the importance of implementing actual practice in reading real texts and hearing how people speak real words.

Therefore, all teachers will need to prepare themselves for more. Provide specific and consistent feedback while managing a positive classroom environment conducive for those teachable moments. Foster a respectful, patient environment by telling students early on that English is a difficult language to master, but practice makes perfect. So encourage students to help each other out. If they hear someone mispronounce a word, give them the proper pronunciation. Don’t avoid correcting students on their errors. Any teacher understands the value of immediate feedback, and this is no exception. If students can’t expect correction in the classroom, of all places, (possibly to preserve their self-esteem), then when will correction ever take place? How will students learn from their mistakes?

To maintain the kind of environment where students feel safe to be corrected a teacher must give his feedback with gentleness. Reading can be a sensitive subject for a struggling student who might already possess tendencies of withdrawal in order to cope. An effective strategy, and prominent communication skill, is to balance correction with praise. Before you correct a student, praise the student’s efforts by noting a positive observation. For example, “Thank you for giving it a try, but it’s actually pronounced like this…” One way to describe it is the good news-bad news approach, or as Doran calls the 1-and-5 Approach, where the one is the correction and the 5 is the praise, as if on a scale of 1 through 5 (Doran, 95). Teachers can also model self-correction, or metacognition, through think-alouds throughout each lesson. This is just as effective for literacy as it is for other subject matter.

This is a decisively superficial defense for literacy in the classroom and only a passing review of what teachers can do to promote reading with their students. If anything, teachers are encouraged to seek out a more in-depth understanding of literacy and new ideas for incorporating it into their content areas (Fine, et. all, 26). Since blending sounds will not produce consistent phonetic pronunciation nor will it generate a word’s meaning, decisions about decoding should be left to teachers (Davis, 562) as they assess the level of comprehension their students possess. The irregularities and complexities of the English language do provide challenges for the adolescent, especially if grade school programs were lacking in this arena, but it does not necessitate hardship for your students. The same potential for difficulty in the learning process likewise provides potential for extraordinary achievement. A teacher’s focus on reading will add weight to the latter.

References

Binder, K. S., & Lee, C. S. (2012). Reader Profiles for Adults with Low Literacy Skills: A Quest to Find Resilient Readers. Journal Of Research And Practice For Adult Literacy, Secondary, And Basic Education, 1(2), 78-90.

Davis, A. (2012). A Monstrous Regimen of Synthetic Phonics: Fantasies of Research-Based Teaching “Methods” versus Real Teaching. Journal Of Philosophy Of Education, 46(4), 560-573.

Doran, Pat. (2005). The Secret Club: Why and How We Must Teach Phonics and Essential Literacy Skills to Readers of All Ages.

Fine, J., Zygouris-Coe, V., Senokossoff, G., & Fang, Z. (2011). Secondary Teachers’ Knowledge, Beliefs, and Self-Efficacy to Teach Reading in the Content Areas: Voices Following Professional Development. COERC 2011, 24-28.

Krashen, S., McQuillan, J. (2007). Late Intervention. Educational Leadership, 65(2).

Evaluating Teaching Approaches For ELL Instruction

ELL wordle[An essay evaluating the Sheltered Instruction Approach to teaching second language learners and whether the Sheltered Instruction Approach is optimal for students and teachers.]

The last fifty years have seen attempts to consolidate methodology for teaching ELL/LEP students in America. Public schooling in the first half of the 19th century had no structure for immigrant instruction, and therefore no specified expectations for teaching ESL students. Then, upon the legislative onset of the Bilingual Education Act of 1968, bilingual instruction became the predominant method. But it didn’t’ last long. Since the collapse of bilingual instruction in several states toward the turn of the century, including Arizona, several alternatives have become more prominent to meet the need, namely, Sheltered Instruction (SI) and Structured English Immersion (SEI).

As far as I understand concerning the different methods for teaching ESL, I find an important distinction between sheltered instruction (SI) and structured English immersion (SEI), though they are commonly confused. Sheltered instruction refers to a classroom exclusive to ELL/LEP students with English-only instruction geared for their language learning needs. This places students with similar needs in the same classroom, sheltering them, as it were, from the toils of the mainstream classroom. The content is almost identical to mainstream classrooms.  Structured English Immersion refers to the same but in a mainstream classroom setting, where the ELL/LEP students immersed in an English-speaking context, interacting with peers who are native English speakers. The content is still there, though structured in such a way as to promote comprehension for language learners.

Rossell’s article appears to confuse these terms as interchangeable, while seeming to intend SI during her discourse throughout the piece. Even the Arizona ELL Task Force mistakenly defines SEI as an ELL-only classroom through a misinterpretation of A.R.S. 15-751 Section 5. Strictly speaking the Task Force  defined SI, whereas the Arizona Revised Statute simply provided guidelines required in an ELL classroom, leaving it ambiguous as to whether it would be an SI or SEI classroom. Perhaps this distinction has only developed in recent years (the two examples given were published between 2004-07), but I find the lack of consistency frustrating.

Even the very meaning of SIOP, which is short for sheltered instruction observation protocol, appears to give deference to the SI model as its core strategy, but that title is deceiving. For implementation is expected in both sheltered and structured mainstream classrooms, for “research shows that both language and content teachers can implement the SIOP Model fully to good effect” (Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2008, p. 5); in the end, SIOP will integrate just as seamlessly with a mainstream SEI ‘content classroom’ than with an SI classroom that separates out  minority students.

Now, this distinction is important in our immediate context because I prefer the SEI method as the optimal approach, if used correctly. Preference is warranted for SEI over the SI model chiefly because of the peer-to-peer interaction. The immersion aspect has the most impact on natural language acquisition. Learning disjointed vocabulary will get to a certain point of understanding, but not sufficient enough for accelerated and organic language mastery. Cross-cultural training for a variety of job professions requires immersion in the language and culture.

One such profession, for example, is book translation. Accurate translation of complex topics from one language to another requires more than a thorough understanding of the language, but an intimate experience with how that language is currently being used, the current vernacular, and socio-cultural awareness. How do they behave? How do they think? What are their expectations about others or about life? What are their presuppositions? These are all essential for accurate understanding and you have to live with the people to acquire such understanding, and these are only experienced when ESL students are not separated from the rest of their classmates.

Resources:

Echevarria, J., Vogt, M., & Short, D. (2008). Making content comprehensible for English learners: The SIOP Model (Custom ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Pearson Education Inc.

Rossell, C. (2005). Teaching English through English. Educational Leadership Journal, Dec 04-Jan 05, 32-36.

Arizona Department of Education, Arizona English Language Learners Task Force. (2009). Structured English immersion ELD models. Retrieved from website: http://www.azed.gov/english-language-learners/taskforce/

Question Regarding Dynamic School Instruction

One of my Rio Salado assignments posited an interesting question, whereby I gave a equally interesting, if not tart, answer (April 2013).

Q: Imagine in your first year of teaching, your Department Chair imparts the following piece of advice, “Good control depends on finding the right gimmick.” How do you feel about that statement?

baton

A: I would joke back, ‘Yeah, the right gimmick, and a nightstick just in case right?’ The right gimmick might sound like a good option because it maintains student control, but if control is the teacher’s only concern, he might as well have a baton attached to his belt. Of course a teacher is supposed to maintain a semblance of control over the classroom, but that is in order to achieve the still higher and loftier goal of teaching, of information effectively communicated. Finding the right gimmick is just finding which form of manipulation will make the job easier and lazier for the teacher.

Concerning How Emotion Influences Learning

Emotion highly influences a student’s learning ability.  Perceived threats will set the amygdala into overdrive, effectively ‘hijacking’ the brain’s attention and functions, and redirecting its focus onto the object of the student’s emotion.

I have tutored young students in fourth and fifth grade in an inner city context, however, the teacher was less than effective in encouraging the students to work on their homework.  One student would be interacting with another in an honest evaluation of how they did with their math work, for example, and the teacher would yell at them from across the room as soon as she heard they were talking, telling them to get back to work.  I saw the student immediately stop his work, mumble something about ‘I was working,’ and then start doodling.  His emotions hijacked his once productive mindset.  The teacher unknowingly embarrassed and shunned the student even while he was doing the right thing.  Do you think the student will be very motivated to work anymore?  Not at all.  So the dejected student feels it safer to merely doodle and be quiet instead of making sure he understood the coursework and did it right.

There is an incident I still remember from before middle school, I think it was 3rd grade, where the class was free to look around the classrooms at some projects everyone had completed.  One of the less honest students suddenly started claiming to the teacher that I had broken, or at least tried to break, their project.  Now, I was already known for being a good, reasonable and hard working student by this time.  However, the teacher, Mrs. Vlasik, didn’t like me very much for some reason.  She chose to believe the trouble-making student and get angry at me for being so irresponsible.  Ever since, for the whole school year, I hated the class, didn’t like the teacher, and did not perform as well in the class either.  I was embarrassed and in trouble for something I did not do, and to make it worse, the teacher accepted the veracity of a ‘bully-like’ student over mine.  I was also never able to get over my dislike of that student even into high school.

These two examples disclose more than the affects of emotions on student learning—they show how teachers are ever presented with opportunities that will either encourage or discourage their students, depending on their decision-making skills, and that, more than anything else, will create the climate for student emotion, and therefore, motivation for learning. As a teacher, will I be like the first example, where classroom management is no more than a stifling dictatorial control? Or like the second example, where the teacher fails to evaluate the situation, desiring only to quell the squeakiest wheel? Or rather, I can choose a better way.

I only have to remember those negative experiences I had during my grade school days to know how quickly emotion can become a part of the classroom, and to know how quickly emotions can affect learning.  This applies to me in two ways: First, I have to be careful not to do anything that would evoke negative emotions in my students, lest I create a barrier for learning.  Second, I have to be aware of my own emotions, and how they can affect my own ability to learn, and my own ability to teach.  An emotional teacher, whether angry, depressed, stoic, or simply unpredictable, will never be able to effectively communicate information to his students, and the students will never feel safe in that environment.

An excerpt from my work during a class titled Learning and the Brain while at Rio Salado College, Fall 2010.

A Graduate’s Reflections

[I wrote this for the May 2010 edition of Moody onTarget & Today in the Word, a monthly alumni email & devotional magazine publication (respectively).
Copyright of Moody Ministries.]

onTarget_May2010_StoryTitle2

Why did I choose to study at Moody Bible Institute?

As a high school senior, I understood that Moody was a Bible college dedicated to training students for full-time Christian ministry. Fresh out of high school, I had no financial standing and would have had to work for years in order to afford college. I was astounded to learn that a Christian college as prestigious as Moody Bible Institute – able to rival the best of colleges in the world in terms of Christian ministry training – provided a tuition-paid education.

May_LorenandRachelStory_BI

Not only was Moody the best option for what I was looking for and needed, but it was available to me. It was accessible.

Moody’s tuition-paid education was a tremendous blessing to me, but God did not stop there. He introduced me to my wife Rachel at Moody. Rachel and I had the rare opportunity to learn about the Scriptures and about each other’s unique direction in ministry in classes we shared. I had the privilege of observing and even helping her with her linguistics studies. Likewise, she helped and encouraged me in my biblical studies, papers and sermons.

The two years I lived in the dorms at Moody were just as precious as the classes. I met lifelong friends, had intense discussions about matters of Christian faith and theology and also had a lot of fun. Before Moody, I was uncertain in my understanding of the Scriptures, but now I’m truly confident in God’s Word.

This ends my Moody story, but not before I give thanks to all of Moody’s partners who understand how invaluable a place like Moody is for countless students like me who desire to enter the ripe fields of Christian ministry. With gratitude, thank you for investing in my life and ministry.


On Saturday, May 15, Moody Bible Institute will confer over 350 degrees to undergraduate, distance learning, and seminary students at our Chicago commencement ceremony. Commencement ceremonies at MTS-Michigan and MBI-Spokane will be held on May 22 and May 29, respectively. We praise God for these future Christian leaders, men and women like Loren, who are equipped with God’s Word and passionate about reaching the lost with the message of Jesus Christ.

As a higher education and media ministry, Moody exists to equip people
with the truth of God’s Word to be maturing followers of Christ who are
making disciples around the world.

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(800) DL-MOODY | www.moodyministries.net