Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

9/29/08

Scene from a New Day: Doing an Old Thing a New Way

Wheaton Academy
Remnants of morning mist lingered, waiting for sunlight as I drove in from Prince Crossing Road. Everything was new, except for what I will be doing. Writing, once I could write anything, was what I have wanted to do. That's what I have been doing. Nothing new there.

What's new? Context. Message. Vision.

Wheaton Academy.

That's my new employer. Started Monday, 8:00 a.m., with a wonderful boss, but, as rich as that is -- great colleagues.

What Makes a Colleague Great?
For now, first impressions, though in a few cases, old allegiances. People who love teaching enough make this their lifestyle, not just their career, fill the classrooms. These are Christians who understand the difference between doing a good thing and doing a godly thing, and do it without compromise. They are not just "Christians" at their workplace, but, in the rest of their lives, are feeding the hungry, walking with the lonely, and serving those in their lives.

Good ol' buddy Bob Vishanoff is on the IT front, heading up systems there. He's not the only one I know from "the outside." There's Kim, Lori, Cindy, just for starters.

A good first impression is hard to define, as what is new is new on many levels. WA is a private Christian school. That's three new things all at once.

Schools
I have been involved in schools as a substitute teacher and as a private tutor visiting teachers, and as a playground monitor while in college. There was a fun gig I had teaching storytelling and chess at the Blooming Grove Academy in Bloomington, IL. A private school, yes, but not a faith-based one.

Christian Ministry
WA is a ministry. Though a high school with strong academic credentials, it concurrently is working to engage the students as believers. I have worked in a few ministries over the years, and here, I see it is more than something that happens serendipitously. It is intentional, with the depth of the full Bible. More than trying to create little Billy Grahams (which is OK in my book), they are working to raise up students who excel in loving their neighbor, and will bring the love of Christ into whatever place they land as adults. This is not just something on their motto, then forgotten day-to-day. No, no. Much more. I see this in staff all around.

I have plenty to learn about the school. With 155 years behind them, it will take some time to catch up. As a communications director, which is a generalist position, there are aspects I need to hone up on, relationships I need to make, and the tasks at hand.

My First Day
Students, celebrating the upcoming homecoming events, wore mismatched clothing. At an assembly, I saw teachers got in on it too. I, wearing a trusty sport coat, mock t, and black slacks, was mismatched in that I matched (as pointed out by Steven Knoerr, who, ironically, is a friend from my own high school days).

Nikki, my boss, and headmaster Gene Frost took me out to lunch at the former King James, current Boondocks. We talked about the school and things I will involved with.

I met several teachers, including the head of the poetry club, an English teacher whose first love is grammar, and Jessie - a social studies/Bible teacher (great combo), and others whose names are fuzzy at the moment.

Took in part of the JV soccer game before the rain hit, and met a couple who happen to be missionaries from my Sunday school classes. Their son played for the other team, but we sat together anyway.

My Tasks
There's a lot that may fall across my desk, from increasing a media presence, guiding the presentation of the WA mission and vision through website content, brochures, videos, letters, and other types of communiques. There will be a strong electronic communications component, including HTML newsletters. As I get my feet wet, defining/refining editorial policy.

My days will be a combination of relationship building (getting to know the people and needs of the school, as well as related media), strategic planning, and lots of writing. Some of the writing will be quick e-mails announcing activities, and other pieces will be considered with more creativity.

And Tuesday, my second day? Faculty and staff wear orange, and each class wears a different color. With no orange in my closet, a quick trip to Target was required.

This is the beginning of a new adventure, and, like the verdant colors of a Midwestern autumn, will scan the range of subtle and bold derivations of God's glory. It is a good day.
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