Prof. Lenarz Works to Train Teachers, Guide Children

Children might not remember specific lessons, but they remember the teachers who taught them—even if teachers don’t always see the impact that they have.

That is the advice that Prof. Kelly Lenarz ’99, assistant professor of education and coordinator of Adult Studies special education, gave a group of professional teachers and Christian education volunteers during a recent training session at Bethel Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Oostburg, Wis.

Along with emphasizing the role that teachers play in the lives of their students, Lenarz offered practical tips and education theory interspersed with clips from “Peanuts” cartoons and “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off.” Lenarz encouraged the approximately 40 attendees to get students to talk. “If you have to talk, you have to think,” she said.

The session, which also involved a teacher appreciation dinner, included teachers from local Christian and public schools, as well as Bethel OPC ministry volunteers.

A native of neighboring Sheboygan, Lenarz said she was excited to return to Wisconsin to lead the training session at Bethel OPC. Working with church volunteers was particularly rewarding, she said. “Helping with children’s ministries often seems like the default volunteer option for those who perhaps don’t feel qualified to sing in the church choir or serve during worship,” Lenarz said. “I wanted to remind them how valuable they are and to give them some practical strategies to do what they do well.”

The training was very useful, according to Rev. Dave Veldhorst, associate pastor at Bethel OPC. “Kelly’s teaching was warm, winsome, insightful, and very practical,” he said. “So many good tips to use in the classroom in drawing out good responses from students” According to Veldhorst, one of the attendees said that the bar is usually set low for church volunteers. “She said by bringing in a professor in the field from Trinity, it made her feel honored and it made her believe teaching with excellence was important.”