LA PLATA – Just because public school teachers don’t wear their testimony on their sleeves doesn’t mean Christian educators stop being followers of Jesus when they set foot inside their classroom. Just ask Billy Pippin.
Pippin teaches elementary special education in La Plata, in north-central Missouri. A 21-year veteran of the classroom, he is also an ordained minister of the gospel and a member of First Baptist, La Plata.
He “lucked into teaching,” he says. His mom, aunt, and cousins all spent time in front of the classroom and though he wanted to go a different direction, God pulled him into education and led him to get a degree in special education.
“It’s new every day,” Pippin said, “especially in special ed. It’s kids who want to learn and I love to see that fire in kids.”
That environment gives him the opportunity to pour into his students, and Pippin said part of that naturally flows from his faith.
“Even though we can’t directly share the Word, a lot of my approach is just letting the kids see it in my life,” he said. “They see that that I care about them. It’s sharing God’s love and they can see it. We’re in a small town, so a lot of my kids know where I go to church. Some of them have even seen me if I’ve filled the pulpit here in town and I was the Vacation Bible School director for a long time. You can make that connection without ever having to actually say, ‘You know, this is where I go to church, this is what I do, and this is what I believe.’”
But regardless of the setting or classroom, Pippin said starting the year off bathed in prayer is key for teachers, and families.
“Pray that we as teachers actually reach our communities for Christ,” he said. “With school, [academic success] starts at home. It’s the same thing for our kids’ beliefs; it starts at home. If we as Christians don’t reach their home lives, it’s really hard.
“So just pray,” Pippin said. “Pray for our kids, pray that our teachers are strong. Pray that they live out their faith in the classroom and then pray for the homes these kids are coming from.”