New Photogallery added May 23. Special thanks to Dan Jongetjes ’10 for sharing his photography.
Commencement welcomed families of 185 traditional and 58 Adult Studies graduates to campus on Saturday, May 14, 2011. The speaker for the traditional ceremony was Dr. Calvin Seerveld, one of the original faculty members of Trinity Christian College. Dr. John Hoekstra, former director of Trinity’s Adult Studies Education program, addressed the Adult Studies graduates in the afternoon ceremony.
Commencement ceremonies included granting emeriti faculty status to both Dr. John Hoekstra and Dr. Randall Voorn.
Processing this year were Trinity’s first faculty and students from the College’s first class, the Heritage Class of 1961, robed in blue regalia.
Joy Meyer ’78, assistant professor of education and parent of Greg Meyer ’11 of South Holland, Illinois, gave the invocation.
Dr. Calvin Seerveld’s address, “Graduating to ‘Glocal’ Martyrdom,” related the idea of biblically-formed followers of Christ developing “a cosmic global vision and a humbled sense of local responsibility in a united (bifocal) ‘glocal’ perspective and task.”
The Commencement litany was delivered by Student Association President Jason Giddings ’11 of Pella, Iowa.
During the presentation of diplomas, there was a time of remembrance for Giselle Charissah McComb, of Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, who passed away on December 28, 2010. Dr. Michael DeVries, professor of psychology, spoke in her honor. : Giselle’s parents Michael and Janice McComb accepted her diploma.
The graduates were welcomed to their new alumni status by Kevin Lubbers ’01, president of the Alumni Board. The closing prayer was offered by Derek Woods, father of senior Velvet Woods of Chicago.
President Steven Timmermans, Ph.D., greeted the Commencement guests in the afternoon ceremony. Jacqueline Moses ’05, coordinator of Adult Studies Education-Chicago, gave the invocation. The Commencement litany was delivered by Jeffrey J. Heimer ’11.
In his address, Dr. John Hoekstra encouraged the Adult Studies education majors to go forth, make a difference in the lives of each and every one of their future students, and to answer the call to “Serve with Excellence.” Read Dr. Hoekstra’s address, “Called to Serve.”
The graduates were welcomed to their new alumni status by Travis Bandstra ’06, director of alumni relations. The closing prayer was offered by Chaplain Willis Van Groningen, Ph.D.
About Calvin Seerveld, Ph.D.
Dr. Calvin Seerveld was among the original faculty members at Trinity Christian College when classes met for the first time in October 1959. Seerveld taught philosophy from 1959-72; his chapel talks, given throughout the years, were collected in Take Hold of God and Pull. He was presented with an Honorary Alumni Award from Trinity in 2005 and was distinguished by having Trinity’s new art gallery bear his name (2009).
About John Hoekstra, Ed.D.
Dr. John Hoekstra has served in the field of education for 46 years, 11 at Trinity and 35 in the public schools in Blue Island, Illinois. During his tenure in Blue Island, he worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent. After retiring from the district, Hoekstra followed his calling in education to Trinity Christian College where he has served as the director of Adult Studies Education for over 11 years.
Called to Serve
Dr. John Hoekstra
Adult Studies Commencement, May 14, 2011
President Timmermans, Provost Rudenga, Faculty, Family, Friends and most importantly Graduates; I’m honored to have this opportunity to address you.
Graduates, this commencement ceremony officially celebrates your successful completion of the Trinity Christian College Adult Studies-Education Program. Your diligence and hard work have brought you to this point; you are teacher candidates, and soon will be certified as teachers in the State of Illinois. You have earned the right to join a profession to which there is no equal.
You have been called to serve and are now prepared to answer that call. I trust that for many years to come you will experience the deep satisfaction of knowing that you have positively impacted the lives and futures of the students entrusted to you, that you had an impact on your students’ growth as human beings and that you played a significant role in helping your students reach their potential.
Most of you started the Adult Studies-Education Program at the beginning of September 2009. All of you came to Trinity because you had a goal, a dream to become a teacher. Your reasons for selecting Trinity varied. Many of you came because you had heard positive things about the Trinity program, some of you came because Trinity promised to offer a program in a Christian environment, perhaps you came to finally realize your life-long dream of becoming a teacher, some of you indicated that you needed the accelerated program because, and I quote: “at my age I need to complete a program as quickly as possible.” However, the overriding reason you came, and you’ve expressed this in various ways, is that you want to make a difference in the lives of students.
Some of you came not particularly proud of your previous college performance; you voiced concerns about juggling the responsibilities of family and jobs and meeting all the course requirements in the Adult Studies Program. But you came to Trinity with a commitment to successfully meet all the requirements for becoming a certified teacher.
When you first saw the demanding grading scale utilized by the Trinity Education Department, you worried, because after all, your grades would need to be posted on the refrigerator along with the report cards of your children. But you’ve met the challenge, and seeing all your gold cords, you have indeed met the challenge successfully.
For about sixteen months you attended a four-hour class session almost every week. You learned how to juggle family, job and school responsibilities. Some of you rushed here right from work, hoping that the snacks brought by members of your cohort would keep you going until 10 o’clock. Maybe you had to make sure your children had dinner before you came and perhaps you had to make sure the baby sitter was in place. You learned what it means to be in an accelerated program, every five or six weeks you started a new course. You soon discovered that you had to make significant room in your already busy schedule for course assignments and textbook readings. I know that at least some of you at times had little sleep. But you persevered!
You learned about the history and the influences that have shaped American education. You became acquainted with the wonderful technology available to teachers today and you know how to integrate the technology into your teaching for the benefit of your students. You’ve learned how to plan for instruction through preparing seemingly endless lesson and unit plans. You know that without effective classroom management, optimum teaching and learning will not take place. You understand the importance of establishing positive working relationships with the parents of your students, and with other teachers and school administrators. You understand the inclusion of special needs students into regular classrooms; you are ready to do your part in RTI, the response to intervention for students, who are not progressing as necessary. You know how to make accommodations for your students, and you know how to differentiate instruction.
While you were going through the Adult Studies Program you were forced to reflect on most everything you did, and as a result, you have become reflective practitioners.
The Trinity Christian College Mission Statement in part reads:
“All programs are grounded on a core of foundational studies that address the enduring issues of human experience and teach students to explore and apply the implications of a Reformed world-and-life view to all areas of learning, living and working. Students are encouraged to evaluate their lives in relationship to God, to others, and to all creation.”
You’ve learned that it is your personal worldview that influences how you interact and approach your students. It is that worldview, which will directly influence everything you do as a teacher.
Believe that every child entrusted to you deserves your very best…even the student who brings nothing to like.
The last seventeen weeks have been demanding for you. As a student teacher you learned firsthand that excellent teaching consumes an extraordinary amount of your time, that at times every ounce of energy you could muster was consumed. But you survived; you experienced the thrill of knowing that you did indeed impact your students’ learning.
You now have a much clearer understanding of your strengths and you know the areas that may require some additional work on your part. I trust that all of you have experienced what one of you wrote a few weeks ago:
“Hey, I think I can actually do this,” and “When I left school today, I felt like a teacher.”
Reaching this milestone has to give you a true sense of accomplishment. With your hard work you have earned today’s celebration. Your family and friends are celebrating with you; perhaps they’re hoping that now you’ll have more time for them again.
But while you’re experiencing the joy of completing a demanding portion of your journey, you may also be experiencing some anxiety, some insecurity, and some ambivalence about what the future will bring.
You’re wondering about when and where you will find a teaching position. You’ve heard the news about teacher layoffs in some places, you know about the budget issues some school districts are experiencing. You know that many aspects of public education are under close scrutiny. The influence of teacher unions is certainly being challenged. Teacher pension systems will likely be changed. The disparities in education, which have been a reality for too long, are once again a focus for many, including politicians. And surely, the quality of a child’s education should not be determined by where the child was born.
Public schools in the United States will not remain the same. The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education School Act promises to include significant changes. School funding is likely to change; parent choice and the charter school movement continue to gain momentum. Merit pay recognition for excellent teachers will likely become a reality during your teaching career. We know that the quality and expertise of the teacher influences the achievement of students to a large degree. While teacher excellence is a growing concern, the reality is that there are ineffective teachers, teachers who are actually hurting students, in too many classrooms. Teacher tenure as we know it will probably not continue to exist.
Knowing all of this, rest assured that God has a plan for you. Know that there are signs of improvement for the economy. Know that new crops of students will continue to come. Know that teachers will continue to leave the profession or retire, and know that there will always be a need for excellent teachers.
Years ago, the American Humorist, Erma Bombeck, wrote a syndicated newspaper column titled Teaching the 3 R’s – plus the rest of alphabet. Perhaps some of you remember her words from your Introduction to Education class, Irma wrote:
“Welcome to teaching, Miss Stevenson. Your mission is to teach 26 first-graders how to read. You will be reinforced by every modern bit of technology, including visuals and computers. You will have the confidence of parents, support of administration and love of the children. Oh, just one thing. You won’t forget to instill good nutrition habits, teach the gifted, the neurologically impaired, the emotionally disturbed, and develop civic responsibility, will you? And check for head lice, make sure they have a hot breakfast, collect milk money and arrange their transportation to and from school. Did I mention eye testing and shots and instruction of first aid procedures? It goes without saying you will provide sex education – in a tasteful way, of course. And you’ll have to make time to build economic awareness, assist in bladder control, stress bilingual development and eliminate sex discrimination.
Just be glad you aren’t in secondary education. They have to teach kids how to drive a car, counsel them in their career, solve alcohol and drug abuse problems and counsel them in pregnancy.
You’re fortunate. All you have is bicycle safety, building self worth and respect, and instilling a sense of patriotism. All we expect from you is to give the public what they want – a back-to-basics education. Good luck, Miss Stevenson.
Miss Stevenson? Miss Stevenson!
No one wants to teach kids how to read anymore.”
Graduates, with all you know about the difficulties teachers face, with all you know about the challenges you will need to meet head on, with knowing the tremendous effort and time it takes to do the job well, with knowing that your efforts will not always be valued and appreciated, go and answer God’s call to serve. Whether you teach in a wealthy suburban school, a high needs or inner-city school, go and love your students, and give each one of them your very best. Go and make a difference.
May your students someday refer to you as the teacher they gratefully remember for truly having impacted their lives in a positive way. Serve with the prayer from Deuteronomy 32:2:
May my teaching drop like the rain, my speech condense like the dew; like gentle rain on grass, like showers on new growth.
Go and answer your call to serve and “Serve with Excellence.”
Graduating to Glocal Martyrdom
Dr. Calvin Seerveld
Tradition Student Commencement, May 14, 2011
The wise person in the Older Testament biblical book of Ecclesiastes answers the question “Is a deathdate better than a birthday?” by saying, “Yes! Entering a home touched by grief is better than walking into a house toasting champagne, because death is the conclusion of every man and woman, and when the living (face it), they have to take it to heart” (7:2).
Is a graduation day from Trinity Christian College better than the day you entered as a freshman or fresh woman?
It depends, let’s say, on whether one faces what is happening to you today.
Georges Rouault’s bittersweet print, “Il serait si doux d’aimer” (1914-48), “It would be so sweet to love,” shows a mother tenderly gesturing with her extended arm outward to where the nestling child needs to go, to places where the protecting love of the older generation is traded in for circumstances less safe, where you cannot, it seems, be your childlike self, love and be loved, without getting trampled to competitive death.
I do not mean to do a variation on the old commencement bromide of “Okay, fellows, now you are going to go out into the real world!”
No, the real world of opportunities and failure, of disappointments and acts of kindness, have been present inside your Trinity education too. You do not escape sin and blessing in daily action by going to a Christian college. However, if you have been an actual student, instead of majoring in extra-curricular affairs, you have enjoyed the wonderful gift at Trinity of an “academic” fix on your activity.
That is, you can err in a biology lab dissection experiment without killing somebody; you can be wrong in a theology class without being declared a heretic; you can do musical, mathematical, basketball exercises before you face the test of execution; you are given time to “practice” teaching and not be fully responsible yet for the lives of young learning children. The college years are a wonderful time to make mistakes, because they can be corrected by teachers in this “academic” training setting of trust.
There is less leeway for bad consequences in botched trial-and-error raising of your children, in a failed medical diagnosis or surgical activity, or in implementing unwise commercial decisions. The protecting cover of an “academic holding position” (like a circling airplane needing to wait to land at O’Hare) goes when you graduate from Trinity. [That’s why anybody who continues on to “graduate” studies must be wary of doing so just to avoid facing direct life responsibilities of landing, because “academics” can dry up and be good for nothing in God’s world, unless they envelop their research and pick priorities with a holy spirit of Wisdom.]
So, you are graduating, prepared by Trinity’s solid educational program in the tradition of the historic Christian Reformation of Martin Luther and Jean Calvin, and you are called by God, I propose, to “glocal martyrdom.”
What does that mean?
“Glocal” is a fairly new English word which combines “global” and “local”--“glocal.” Biblically formed followers of Jesus Christ, from whatever Christian tradition, develop a cosmic global vision and a humbled sense of local responsibility in a united (bifocal) glocal perspective and task. “God did not send God’s Son into the cosmos in order to condemn the cosmos, but in order that the whole cosmos (=environment, plants, animals, society of humans) be saved by God’s Son” (John 3:17). And, said the resurrected Jesus to his prospective disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you all to be witnesses of me, (of my bringing in the Reign of God, both locally) in Jerusalem, all of Judea, Samaria--that is, Chicago, mid-Western USA--to the very ends of the earth--Europe, Ecuador, Asia, Australia” (cf. Acts 1:8,3).
Glocal martyrdom: we do not have to save the world. The triune God fully revealed in the historical Jew Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit will see to that. We who are “Christians” in more than name only have to be faithful, obedient witnesses locally first of all, actually practicing, living the Lord’s merciful just Rule acoming over the earth, be bringing shalom to all creatures on earth under the sun. Μαρτυριον in Newer Testament Greek means “witness.” Martyrdom means “giving a testimony...that could cost you your livelihood, your life.”
Is that my recommendation to you who will be graduates within the hour?
Scottish poet Robbie Burns, you probably know, has that famous poem, “To a louse, on seeing one on a lady’s bonnet at church.” In the last stanza are the lines:
“O wad some Power the giftie gie us, / To see oursels as ithers see us!”
Oh, would some Power give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us!
From his pew sitting behind the lady decked out in her Sunday best, the poet noticed a dirty “ugly, creepin blasted wonner” of a louse crawling over the fancy fine clothes—
“How daur ye set your fit upon her-- / Sae fine a lady?”
But the moral the poet settles for is that if we could see ourselves with others’ eyes, it would free us from many a blunder, foolish notions, fashionable airs in dress, way of life, and “ev’n devotion!”
Do you know how others in the globalized world see us educated, graduated Americans?
In 1967, just before the so-called “Seven Day War” in which Israel swiftly demolished Egyptian military forces and took over the Sinai Peninsula, my wife and I were traveling in Egypt with a German archaeological group, speaking German, passing for Germans, since Americans were not loved during that time of Secretary of State Foster Dulles. Our Egyptian guide, at the Aswan Dam site, which the Russians were now building since America had abruptly pulled out, apparently told a group of young Egyptian men hanging around, “There are a couple of Americans here.” So they came over, faced us: “Why you no like Nasser!?” As we talked, they asked to see our American passport. I showed it to them, even let the leader hold it for a brief moment. I saw from his fixed, fascinated stare what that American passport meant to him, even though we were an enemy: Power! Prosperity! Work and Happiness! practically unimaginable for his stymied generation. And he was holding this pure gold ticket in his hand!
That American Dream of ivory palaces in the sky was brilliantly pictured by Thomas Cole’s four-part series, Voyage of Life. This is the soul of the painting Youth (1842), setting out to reach the holy grail of life, liberty, in the pursuit of happiness guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, blessed by his guardian angel on the shore. The Idealist aspiration colours much of American cultural history, and resonates with peoples throughout the world. Jules Breton’s sentimental The Song of the Lark (1884) was the most popular painting at the Chicago Art Institute during the widespread depression of the 1930’s, probably because it gilds the barefoot working poor with a halo of sunrise light and imagined, inspirational bird song--an utterly unreal escape for the urban unemployed or those “blessed” with menial assembly line drudgery.
An underside to how others see us with an American passport is this mural painted by graduate students on the wall reserved for each graduating class at the Rands Africaans Universiteit in Johannesburg, South Africa, which I photographed in 1992, almost 20 years ago. It depicts student hijinks, but up in the far corner is a sad comment about us and the Viet Nam expedition and subsequent military interventions where the stars in “The stars and stripes forever” march slide down into crosses on graveyards and the Statue of Liberty becomes a stalking Grim Reaper. Without making a political comment about the invasion of Iraq and Superpower America’s embroilment in the killing fields of Afghanistan and Pakistan today, I am just showing you how certain others see the lice on our well-cut and Idealistic clothes.
The Trinity registrar wrote me that you twenty-year-old graduates are “ready to take on the world.” If your eyes are open glocally, you know the world at large is distraught and speckled with violent abuse. Not just God’s earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, Chile, Haiti, Indonesia--California and British Columbia, Canada are still due--but human wars over clean drinking water and boundaries, life-and-death questions like “Can we dispense generic drugs to the poor who are sick unto death? Who has the right to pack a gun? Can anybody immigrate into `the land of the free and the home of the brave’?” What will your Trinity Christian College graduate glocal witness be in (American) society?
Trinity art professor Dayton Castleman gives a good imaginative example when he witnesses in an old God-forsaken stone penitentiary outside Philadelphia with a very thick steel pipe that threads its way up and down corridors and right through stone walls surfacing out into the prison exercise yard where it finally scales the impassible wall: once over on the other side, the blood red pipe (not a silver lining!) multiplies into a seven-fold set of organ pipes trumpeting a “Hallelujah! Freedom!” chorus.
I find this site specific art piece called “The End of the Tunnel” (2005) to be a fine corrective to the insatiable ambition integral to achieving “the (Idealistic) American Dream,” because the bright red pipe expresses a more humbled search, through obstacles, with a patient hope for finding the Way to become free...to praise, and thank God. The glocal martyrdom the LORD God calls us to, also you graduates as well as your parents and friends here present, is to give hope in service, not rise to success, to heal the world, not bomb it--sometimes I wish I were a Mennonite--to rehabilitate prisoners, not neglect them into incorrigibility, to give priority to the handicapped, not push them aside. The task Scripture clearly posits is: “bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
I do not know you students, but I know personally many of your professors in philosophy, sociology, art, theology, literature, psychology, communications, chemistry, and I know they have articulated and embodied, along with their colleagues, the Reformational heritage Trinity stands for--“capturing every notion (and practice) to make them obedient to Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4-5). That is how you students have been trained. And my final point is that that yoke is light! It fits well over your graduating shoulders, even if it makes you feel maladjusted in our Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest society. Glocal martyrdom is not a “downer”: with the worldwide vision of this being God’s world, to which Jesus Christ will return! Joyfully give away your life to enact locally the peace of the Lord.
You see, I have eaten in the Trinity cafeteria; the amazing surplus of good food there is staggering, available for the taking (once you have paid the piper). How can anyone who eats this luxuriously daily ever understand, I asked myself, what “hunger” is? I heard an earlier Trinity graduate, Elvia Rodriguez, say last month in a meeting here, that when she first came onto Trinity’s campus, it seemed like an “Enchanted forest.” Well, I hope you graduates will have the eyes to see that Chicago itself is...a burning bush where God says, “Take off your shoes and make my presence known on the streets here, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.”
When you business graduates walk past this city street, resolve again to open up thrifty commercial deals to the liberating profit of generosity for the neighbour. This mural-decorated building in the Pilsen district downtown (photographs taken by Professor John Bakker) is a hostel for the homeless--no home to go to!--for the unemployed who are hungry, destitute, who are losing their human dignity, while across the street a non-Trinity-graduated real estate developer has built a colourless, pricey condominium building looking like a formidable, unfriendly bunker.
When you education majors become teachers, or even principals, persist in giving the difficult or autistic unruly child in class, the extra mile of love, though it wear you out.
When you nursing graduates become overworked hospital caregivers or serve in an African village without adequate medical supplies, remember the sculpture by Britt Wikstrom called Caritas (2006) (which Professor Michael Vander Weele along with another Trinity graduate, Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang got commissioned by the University of Chicago hospital downtown; it stands in their cancer ward waiting area) where a younger man simply helps a more feeble older person put on his coat, for which the elderly fellow, as if he were Jesus (cf. Matthew 25:31-46), gives a look of quiet, bewondering gratitude.
Your graduation day from Trinity, I dare say, with Ecclesiastes, is better than your matriculating entrance day, because your profs, as a community, have spent endless hours protecting you by faithfully correcting reports and exams, so that you are now more readied to accept the glocal martyrdom of disciplined living and embodying the compassionate holy spirited rule of Jesus Christ which is acoming.
May you joy in this day, graduates, and go in peace.