Last night, my Facebook feed lit up during the football games — not with crowing by Auburn fans, but in shock from Paul Walker fans. He was a Hollywood actor tragically killed in a fiery car crash yeasterday afternoon in Santa Clarita, CA.
Frankly, having never seen a single “Fast and Furious” movie, I had never heard of him, but a lot of people really enjoyed his acting apparently. I wanted to learn a bit more about him, so I did some searching and came across this article. Walker professed to be a Christian and even shared his testimony. Apparently, a major factor in his spiritual life was the education that he received at an evangelical Christian school. As one who has spent over 30 years in Christian education at every level from classroom teaching to administration to graduate school professor, this was an important reminder to me.
Some of the students in our classrooms will grow up to be quite influential people. Few people know that rocker Marilyn Manson attended a Christian school in Canton, Ohio for a time. I knew one of his teachers. Of course, he didn’t go by “Marilyn” at the time. Shannon Breem from FOXNews fame graduated from North Florida Christian School in Tallahassee which was a prominent school in the association I served as President (FACCS) and she also attended Liberty University where I teach. For better or worse, many students will pass through the classrooms of Christian schools around the world. I’m so proud of many of the students who have been in one of my classes or schools in the past as they have become leaders of influence as adults. I doubt that many thought Paul Walker would grow up to be a celebrity when he was a typical, punky teen in a Christian school — but he left his mark with his career and now with his death.
To all who teach young people in schools, public, private or Christian, I’m reminded of the great privilege it is to do so. I used to have a speech that I gave to teacher’s conventions years ago entitled, “The Hand that Holds the Chalk, Shapes the Future”. We may use dry-erase markers in today’s classrooms, but the principle is still the same.
Paul Walker looked back on his education at a Christian school as the base of his spiritual training that moved him away from Mormonism into a real relationship with Christ. I hope his fans are consoled by that fact and my many friends in Christian education are challenged by it.