Meet my sweet friend and former student Joelle Baker Inpyn on the blog today . . .
Since 1986, I’ve taught in three different Christian high schools. My longest stint by far was the nineteen-year period I spent at Northern Dutchess Christian School in Red Hook, NY. At NDCS, I grew up as a teacher. During my years there, I realized that even an ordinary English class taught from a biblical perspective with an emphasis on spiritual themes could help equip my precious high school students for whatever future God had in store for them. And it was there that I made some of the best friendships of my life—many from among those very same students.
Joelle and James
One student who became a dear friend is Joelle Baker Inpyn. I first met Joelle about ten years ago when she was in my high school English class at NDCS. She impressed me as an exemplary student and tender-hearted friend to all. Then when I discovered how much she loved to read, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit! (I think the first author we found in common was Karen Kingsbury.)
After high school Joelle started out at Gordon College (Massachusetts) and then transferred to Gardner Webb University in North Carolina, where she earned a degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Professional Education. Today she lives in Mooresville, NC, with her husband James. Joelle teaches first grade in a Christian prep school and James is a financial representative with American General. They’ve been married for four years. (I helped take photos at their beautiful wedding!)
I caught up with Joelle recently and interviewed her for my blog . . .
James & Joelle at a family theme party
Okay, Joelle, tell us how God brought you and James together. James and I met the first week of our Freshman year at Gordon College. We were arranged on the steps of the chapel for the Freshman Class Photo, and I ended up standing right next to him. We chatted a bit and went our separate ways. Apparently, James was interested. So he sought me out a few days later at the Freshman orientation closing ceremony. We ended up walking around the campus quad for about two hours talking. And the rest is history!
James & Joelle with Joelle's parents, brother, and three sisters
I know you’ve always been close to your family. What are some events from childhood which you would like to recreate for your own kids someday? Family Camping Trips! My WHOLE family – aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents, siblings, would go camping several times a year together. We would pack up our campers (we started in tents and then moved up to pop-up campers) and all caravan to wherever we would be camping. My favorite trips were to Myrtle Beach, SC, each spring and our two week-long trip out to Colorado for a family reunion when I was twelve.
What are some special memories from teaching so far? I feel like I have too many to count! Last year when I was teaching at the Charter School (Not a Christian school), I had a parent come up to me and say that her daughter had decided to be baptized. This mom then shared that when she’d asked her daughter how she’d come to this decision, the little girl said, “Because of what Mrs. Inpyn said.” The parent didn’t know exactly what it was that I had said, but it made a difference!
Joelle and one of her students
What has God taught you through your experiences with your students? The biggest thing that God has taught me is that teaching is not just a job. It’s a chance to play a huge role in the lives of His children. I have to step back sometimes and remind myself of that–especially when I get caught up in planning, paperwork, and the “stress” behind the job. I think my faith in Him has grown through my job because I see Him working all the time! In my life, in my students lives. It’s exciting!
I’m sure your students look up to you. What are some things they’ve said or written or done to let you know this? I got a card from a student once that said “Mrs. Inpyn – You are my everything!” That one made my day! With the age group I teach, I always get lots of hugs, cute notes, and reassuring comments. It’s these little things that keep me encouraged no matter what kind of day I’m having!
Tell us a little about your school. The school I am teaching at now is called Liberty Preparatory Christian Academy. It is a university model school, meaning we go to
One of Mrs. Inpyn's classes
school three days a week and the students do school at home on the other two days using teacher-planned lessons. I am teaching first grade, Latin to 3rd – 5th grade, and a class called Introduction to Cultures for 1st and 2nd graders.
What are some goals you have for your class? Well, of course all the basic goals of a teacher: cover all objectives, have fun learning, make sure students are where they need to be by the end of the year, etc. I also hope that my students know that they are so special to me and that they can feel the love of Christ through me!
Who are some influences that have inspired you to become a teacher, helped you grow as a person, or guided you in some way? The biggest influence in my becoming a teacher was YOU, Renee! I cherish all you did for us–your students–and hope I can leave positive memories with my students as well! You invested your time, energy, prayers, and more into your students and that means the world to me!
(I know–it touched me so much when I read her answer that I had to grab a few tissues before continuing!)
Does James ever help grade papers? Has he met your students or any of their parents? James does help me out sometimes. He’s a great sport about it – even though I know it’s not his favorite thing. He has met a few of my students, and they think that is just the coolest thing to meet Mr. Inpyn!
I’m not sure if Joelle will see this interview right away, because I usually contact her through Facebook. However, she won’t be using that social medium for the entire month of January. When I asked her why, this is what she wrote: Every January our church leaders fast to start the new year and seek God’s direction for the church. The last two years they’ve encouraged the church members to choose a fast as well. So I’ve decided to start my year by fasting from Facebook! With the time I would usually be on FB, I’m going to try and spend time seeking God’s direction for this year!
Joelle’s friendship has greatly enriched my life, and I pray that reading this testimony of how God is using her will encourage you in some special way, also! Blessings!
A few more photos . . .
Best friends from high school to today
The digital images I saved of Joelle’s December wedding four years ago died with my old hard drive. So I took a few photos of the photos to share here . . .
Little sister helps the bride
Time to reflect . . .
Before I went blond . . . Did you recognize me?