Archives For Upton Lake Christian School

How can we be happier in life? By practicing gratitude for all God has given us.

In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. ~Brother David Steindl-Rast~

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. How I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment. ~Henry David Thoreau~

Here are some favorite things that tweaked my gratitude meter recently . . .

God’s beautiful creation. This is the view that greets me each morning as I travel the Taconic Parkway to school. Upstate New York on the verge of summer is a sight to behold. Love the blue Catskill Mountains in the background.

Parties at the nursing home. This pic shows my sister, Mom, me, and my little niece Amelia having a great time on Mother’s Day.

Time spent with friends. I met two dear former students for coffee as they were passing through New York. Miss them . . .

Time off! I can pause in my essay-grading to enjoy an extra-long weekend break. Time to write and watch old episodes of NCIS. How fun is that?

How ’bout you? What’s brought a smile to your heart recently?

This week I’m linking up with Finding Joy, Beholding Glory, Your Thriving Family, and Create With Joy.

“Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.” Sometimes life flies by so quickly, I have to take time out to remind myself how I spent my time. So here are the favorites from my week . . .

Reading some great books with my lively junior high class. We’re loving The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare and The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Celebrating my sister’s birthday. My brother-in-law picked up a pizza. I baked a cake. And we brought the party to my mom at her nursing home. (Of course, we shared with the staff who have been so good to Mom.)

Mom, me, my sis

Mom, bro-in-law, my sis

The dump cake doesn't look like much, but it's Yum!

How about you, my friends? What have you been up to?

I’m linking with Friday Favorite Things.

DIY: Dump Cake Recipe . . . 

  • Pour 1 can plus juice of crushed pineapple into cake pan.
  • Add 1 can cherry pie filling.
  • Pour  dry yellow cake mix over top. Spread evenly.
  • Drizzle with melted butter. (Or be generous.)
  • Bake at 350 until golden brown.
  • Enjoy!

I began my Thanksgiving celebration at school. Parents and alumni prepared and served turkey with all the fixings for the students and staff. We took a few hours out of our day to worship and share a meal together. Here’s a sneak peek at the special occasion . . .

Our musicians

The worship team

Parents and alumni prepared and served our turkey hot lunch

Students and staff ate together

Happy students

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones! Wishing you many blessings, friends!

This is the mural that greets me each morning when I enter Upton Lake Christian High School. A student’s mom created the scene. Amazing, isn’t it? As if the vistas I take in as I drive the Taconic Parkway aren’t enough, this painting reminds me of the beauty God surrounds me with. He’s so good!

“All creation proclaims His glory” is the theme we’ll build our year around. Psalm 96 shares this so well. I especially love to soak in these verses . . .

Let the heavens rejoice,
Let the earth be glad;
Let the sea resound,
And all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant,
And everything in them;
Let all the trees of the forest
Sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for He comes,
He comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
And the peoples in his faithfulness.

My classroom is all ready for students, and hopefully, I am, too! We teachers are praying that God will help us bring Him glory in each lesson, each activity, each book that we read. And that our students will want to join that chorus of praise with all that they are.

Any of you who are like-minded might say a little prayer for our school today. If you feel like leaving an encouraging comment, that would be great!! Blessings!

What’s in a name?

Renee Ann Smith —  March 3, 2011 — 76 Comments

My morning classroom

As a classroom teacher I’m typically highly conscious of time usage, scheduling, setting goals, and taking the steps to meet them. When I worked full-time, I arrived at school early and stayed late so I could study, plan, prepare. Sometimes I’d be so into that day’s tasks that when the students arrived, they seemed like an interruption.

I remember that during the early years of my teaching career, I considered teachers’ conferences a mixed blessing. I did enjoy the speakers and the restaurants and especially the book table, but it was an awful lot of time away from studying and planning and preparing . . .

Anyway, at one conference, I was privileged to hear the unforgettable Jack Layman, a professor from Columbia International University in South Carolina. He began his talk with a series of questions to ‘wake us up.’ He asked us what’s the longest name in the Bible and who said some obscure quote and other things that sent us on random, amusing thought trails.

Then he said, “Who can name every child in your classroom?”

I and the teachers near me began busily scribbling names from memory. I hoped there was a prize for this one because I had the list down cold, even after only a few weeks of school.

Once we stopped buzzing, Dr. Layman continued, “So what’s the name of every child in your classroom? Jesus Christ. Because the Bible says, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you have done it unto Me.’”

Those words changed my focus and became the touchstone of my teaching. Soon I was trying to follow the principle of that verse for every group of people I encountered in my life.

Dr. Layman opened a door for me that day, and I’ve never regretted where it led . . .

*This is a repost from my early days of blogging in August 🙂


Yes, that's me at the front of the class!

Check out these pictures of my Senior English Class. You’d never be able to tell it was a gloomy, rainy Monday morning by their big smiles.

You see, I surprised them with a special treat. First, I used a little reverse psychology on them. I leaked the rumor of a pop quiz to one of the boys and swore him to secrecy. Works every time! (And they say girls are the biggest gossips!) Then when the kids showed up for English, I prayed to begin class and handed out this paper:

The Jingo Game Board

It’s a Jingo Card. You play it like Bingo, but all the questions and answers have to do with Christmas traditions. Things like, “What is the French word for carol?” and “Visions of what danced in the children’s heads?” For prizes, I bought items from the dollar store. Lapel flowers that squirt water, cans of silly string, giant sun glasses, reindeer ears with bells, mega-bubbles, candy, and more.

The kids in these pictures are seniors at my little Christian school. They’re planning a class mission trip to Appalachia and just took a field trip to the Guggenheim. (NYC is less than 2 hours by train.) In a few short months, one young man will be enlisted in the Marines. Another will be on his way to college and then med school, with hopes of being a doctor in his parents’ native Haiti. One young lady will be off to nursing school and then on to the mission field. I have a feeling one of the young men will be called to preach. A lawyerly future seems to be in store for one of them. They have serious, godly goals and wish to change the world with their lives.

But today they could act like kids and just enjoy being together before they go their separate ways.

So what was the cost of my little game of Jingo? Printing out the cards: a portion of my stockpile of computer ink. Assorted candy and prizes: approximately 20 of my hard-earned dollars. Resulting camaraderie and joyful spirits: priceless!

Some of the kids were camera-shy, but I hope you enjoyed the photos of the ones who weren’t! And, hey, I guess I gave JOY to the World with the game and this post!

You can find other entries for No Ordinary Blog Hop at this link. Bloggers, feel free to join!

And since my students are such a blessing to me, I linked up to The Blessing Box, a special linky list at the Extraordinary Love blog!

I inherited my Jingo game, but you can find a variety of Gary Grimm’s Jingo games at his website.