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Retention or Promotion

by Dennis Demuth on 05/07/18

As schools get closer to the end of the school year, the question often arises, “Should Johnny be promoted to the next grade level or held back? For many schools there is no consistent promotion and retention policy. As long as schools are organized as graded-schools, there will be those who do not qualify for advancement to the next grade. Given the large body of educational research supporting the negative aspects of retention, schools are modifying their promotion policies to reduce the number of non-promotions.

Think of retention this way. Suppose you need to drive from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Dallas, Texas. Under normal conditions and with an adequate vehicle and plenty of gas, you should make Dallas in five hours. Let us say, after five hours, you only reach Oklahoma City just 100 miles from Tulsa, for whatever reason—car malfunction, detours in the road, accident, etc. Should you be sent all the way back to Tulsa and told to start all over?  Unless your car is repaired, the road fixed, more gas put in the tank or detours eliminated, there is no assurance you will make it to Dallas a second time.

Retaining a student at a grade level for a second year without attempting to deal with the reasons affecting his rate of learning gives no assurance that the student will be any more successful on the second trip.

When a student fails to advance as expected, it is possible that the fault rests as much with the school and teacher as with the student. Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, author of The 7 Laws of the Learner, states, “It is the responsibility of the teacher to do everything in his power to cause the student to learn.” Consider the following strategies:

Assessment. Incorporate a system that accurately assesses individual and group progress toward achieving curriculum objectives (prescribed learner outcomes). As soon as it is evident that students are not making progress, look for reasons within the entire teaching-learning environment, not just the student.

Class Periods. Consider extending the class period, school day, time allocated to a specific skill, or even the school year (summer classes) to accommodate individual differences in the learning rate. If summer school in not an option, develop an individual study program for the student over the summer, where the student can work on mastering the objectives that were missed; then, re-evaluate the retention decision before the start of the new school year.

Instructional Adjustment. Permit teachers to adjust instructional programs, materials and methods to better meet the growth pattern of their pupils. Have students work with a classroom aide or tutor.

Reading Materials. Provide reading materials within each classroom that cover a wide range of difficulty over several “grade levels.”

Class Size. Promote smaller class sizes for teachers. Encourage them to adjust their teaching methods and to focus on small group and individual skill development.

Communication. Keep parents regularly informed about the progress of their children in all aspects of the school curriculum (daily or weekly if needed). Solicit their support and assistance in helping their child(ren) achieve specific learner outcomes.

Training. Sponsor a school-wide in-service, conference or video series, such as The 7 Laws of the Learner, The 7 Laws of the Teacher, and Teaching With Style, to equip your teaching staff to meet the needs of their students.

Computerization. Investigate using computer-aided instruction in a wide variety of subjects. For example, tutorial software is designed to teach a subject as well as drill over it. Programs are intended to stand alone as an instructional entity in the curriculum. Thus, the computer is the teacher for a particular skill or area of information.

Use tutorial programs in the classroom under the direction of the teacher, or send them home with the student to be monitored by the parent. Some schools include a variety of tutorial programs in their school library, making them available for checkout by students and parents.

Other programs can assist with drill and practice. Incorporate these programs to supplement the regular instruction. For example, concepts which have been presented in the classroom by the teacher can be practiced and refined by the computer (a good example is Skills Bank III).

Word of God. Bring the uncompromised Word of God to bear on academic challenges. Declare Ephesians 2:10 over your students, “For (your students) are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.... Part of the good works of students are good grades.

Help students to guard their words. Words can help create within them a conquering attitude thus stimulating faith rather than doubt. Their belief, coupled with God's promises, gives your students God's ability and power to overcome any homework assignment, special project, quiz, nine-week test, or any other school challenge.

Running Out of Gas

by Dennis Demuth on 04/02/18

Have you ever run out of gas? One of the most inconvenient actions I know of is running out of gas, unless you were out on a date. Running out of gas is an excuse that many teenagers try to present to their parents in an attempt to extend a date.

Today, modern technology in vehicles tells drivers how many miles they have until empty, and the number of miles per gallon of gas they are using; GPS’s even know how many miles to the nearest gas station. With mobile aps, like Gas Buddy, you can also locate the cheapest gas within miles. Yet, people still run out of gas, even when they have money to purchase gas.

Carol and I drive a Ford Fusion. It is rated to get 32 miles per gallon “on the road.” On some trips, I’ve averaged 35 mpg. If I could coast all the time, I could double the mileage. And, there have been times when I have risked running out of gas, just to see how far I could go on a near-empty tank. There is a real adrenalin rush when you push the limits to see how close you can get to running out. There have been times when I haven’t paid attention to the gas gage and almost ran out of gas. I thank the Holy Spirit for reminding me to check the gauge.

Many make the mistake of risking it and paying the price of a long walk in the middle of the night to get some gas. My father gave me some sound advice when I was a teen driver, “It is much easier to run on the top half of the tank, than on the bottom half.”

Is Your Spiritual Tank Running On Empty?


The stretch from April to June can be one of the longest periods for teachers. Even though teachers may have some days off, the push to get everything accomplished before the year ends, drains a lot of energy from one’s life, physically as well as spiritually. You may even get so busy that church attendance takes second seat to caring for the pressing needs of the family. If one is not careful or paying attention, one could run out of spiritual gas.

As Christian educators, we realize that having a full spiritual tank is much more important than a full tank of gas in our vehicles. It’s time to allow the Holy Spirit to check your spiritual gas gauge.

Mark 4:9 illustrates how the cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches, and the list of things, enter and choke the Word; the result of which is fruitlessness and an empty tank.

When one’s spiritual tank is near empty, one usually is running out of other things.  Consider these examples.

1.     Patience –“I’ve had it with the students.”

2.     Kindness – "Why should I be kind to her? Look at what she's done to me.”

3.     Forgiveness – “You don't deserve another chance.’

4.     Love – “I've given so much of myself, why don't they give back to me. I'm getting nothing in return."

5.     Moral and ethical conduct – viewing unwholesome movies and videos, cheating on taxes unfaithfulness to spouse, anger at God.

6.     Dedicated service to God – so much to do, too many good TV programs to watch, sporting events to attend, lessons to prepare, family to attend to.


Fill Up Your Tank

The solution for getting your spiritual tank full is not found at the local Quick Trip. Matthew 5:6 shows us how to be filled by hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Get filled up by surrounding yourself with the Word of God and the things of God - prayer, praise and worship, church, and a greater sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Unlike the cost of gas at the pump, Jesus’s filling station is free. All it takes is some dedicated time to pull over and get filled up. Make the decision today - get your tank full and keep it full! Be filled with Gal 5:22 and 23.

Let this be your prayer: "Holy Spirit, fill me UP!"


by Dennis Demuth on 02/22/18

Most of us have heard our students respond with “Do what?”  The use of this phrase is an equivalent of "excuse me?" or "pardon me?" when someone says something they did not catch. It is believed that this regionalism is native to the Texas hill country, North Carolina, and Alabama.

This winter, how many times have parents found themselves saying, “Are you listening to me? Didn't I just tell you to get your coat? Helloooo! It is cold out there.

Sometimes it seems that regardless of how many times you tell a child to do something, it seems like most of what you tell them falls on deaf ears or goes in one ear and out the other.

Information Does Get Inside

You may be surprised to learn that it does not work that way. The information is getting inside; they just store the information for later use.

I am always amazed during days when it is cold outside, the number of students who come to school without coats. It is not that they do not have coats, they do not plan. You would think that they would plan ahead and think “OK it's going to be cold outside so my jacket will keep me warm.” You would expect this to be the pattern of reasoning. Rather, they run outside, discover that it is cold, and then retrieve the memory of where their jacket is, and then they go get it.

Getting students to prepare for something in advance, takes extra effort. Rather than arguing and bickering, try to highlight the conflict that they are going to face. Perhaps you could say something like “I know you do not want to take your coat now, but when you are seated in the car shivering later, remember that you could have had your coat with you."    

Heartfelt Desire to Obey

Matthew 28:16, says, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.” They did not argue, bicker or delay. They did what Jesus had asked.  There was no need to coerce or beg, or to tell them a second, or third time. “Their obedience followed a genuine heartfelt desire to obey. Their readiness to obey demonstrated that learning had taken place.” Many times, our students finally do what we ask but only in a grudging way. Obedience is only superficial, “covering up an inwardly rebellious heart.”

Kenneth Gangel, in Called to Teach, shares the illustration on watered down obedience that took place in the Spanish American War. “Apparently the United States Congress came up with the idea of renaming captured Spanish warships after American universities and colleges and dubbing the collection ‘The College Fleet.’ Congress itself named the first two ships the ‘Harvard” and the “Yale.’ Admiral Dewey, in charge of American naval forces, considered this idea ludicrous. But as a veteran officer he knew how to obey orders. The next ship he captured he renamed the ‘Massachusetts School of Technology’ and after than the ‘Vermont Normal College of Women.’ As quickly as it had begun, the college fleet was disbanded.” Did he do what was asked? Yes, Admiral Dewey did what he was asked to do. “On the surface he demonstrated impeccable obedience. Yet, in his heart he had a spirit of rebellion.”

A few tips for dealing with student rebellious tendencies.

1.     Set clear expectations and boundaries as well as consequences for disobedience.

2.     Catch them making good decisions; praise good obedience and quality decisions.

3.     Minister love, acceptance and forgiveness when mistakes are made.

4.     Listen to their concerns; let them speak without giving them a long lecture.

5.     Do not compare them with others; focus on progress.

6.     Speak to them respectfully and do not embarrass them in front of others.

7.     Be patient; do not condone inappropriate behavior but offer understanding.


Working Together for Good

by Dennis Demuth on 02/02/18

There are times when the perception and reality of events, situations, wrong decisions, neglect, or circumstances that are coming against us, our families, or our students, leads to questioning Gods plan to bring us through. We know that “all things work together for good...” (Romans 8:28), but we ask, “When will the good come?” 

Confidence is a key ingredient in good work

Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

How is your confidence in God?

Usually, when we think of this verse, we remember the point in time when we gave our lives to Jesus. At this point He began a work in our lives.

For most of us, we acknowledge that He is still working in and on us. We have all heard or used the phrase, “God is not done with me yet.” It is true; God is continuing to work in all of us. He never gives up on us.

"Being confident," means we are persuaded. It also presents to us the need to release our faith for the good works to be come forth, to be completed.

Begun can also be in the present

Remember: begin, began, and begun? Begun is past tense, right? It is true; we can look back in the past and point to our new beginning in God, and recall the good things that He has done for and through us. What about the present? Is there a situation in your life or family where a new beginning is needed?

For example, take the realization for the need for more joy.  We acknowledge that it is God’s will for us to have joy. We understand that the joy of the Lord is our strength. We realize that the release of joy has a very positive effect upon our lives and those that we meet. Furthermore, joy releases chemicals that cause our bodies to fight stress, fatigue, helps bring stability to our lives, and heals emotion problems.  

So, what is it that we need to do to see that work of joy have a new beginning? Consider the following.

First, we must understand that when we received the life of God, we received the joy of God. We acknowledge joy as a good work and that God wants to work in us to raise our joy level. Paul writes, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” It is His will for joy to be in our lives. Therefore, His joy in us should come forth now, not tomorrow or the next day when things improve. If joy is not coming forth, then we must be the one who is stopping it.

Second, knowing that confidence relates to our faith, we must release our faith for joy to spring forth, to be freed. We know we will have what we say when we believe (Mark 11:23-24). Since we already have joy, we must allow it to some out. Not tomorrow, but now!

Finally, we are the ones who must release this joy. Begin by thinking about the goodness of God (Prov. 23:7), follow this with a smile on your face, a spring in your step, and a pleasantness in tone of voice. When? Right now!

We can bring joy right now into existence as it is released. It is an act of our will. “This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” When? Right now!  

This day, release your faith (have confidence) that whatever it is that you or your students are facing will start to change – right NOW!

Staying on Course

by Dennis Demuth on 01/09/18

As we head into this new year, everyone is looking for a new start, hoping to avoid or to withstand the storms that are expected to come. It is important in this new year to stay on course – the course of blessing that God has for us.  

It has been very interesting to hear how people over this past year have dealt with the financial storm that our nation faced. Prices continue to rise, markets close down one day and then up the next.  So, what can we do to weather the financial storm? Invest in Bonds? Seek guaranteed Interest funds? Keep an eye on the long-term picture more so than the daily fluctuations. How about investing in gold? For centuries, buying gold has been recognized as one of the best ways to preserve one's wealth and buying power.  And now it is Bitcoin investments.

Someone once said, “A sailor can’t be a good sailor unless he passes through the storms.” How are you going to withstand and pass through the storms that will come in 2018? Consider the following thoughts.

Trials of Your Faith

Peter likens the "trials of your faith" (I Peter 1:7) to being more precious than gold. In relating this to educators, the "trials of your faith" means problems, challenges, adverse circumstances, pressures, and we might add, financial storms.

No one on this earth is perfectly safe and perfectly immune from all the different kinds of storm clouds that can come our way in this life. Just as some feel that gold is a way to avoid losses, it is our faith in the power of God to take us through these storms that helps us overcome future trials.

Do not Deviate from the Course

Most of the trials Satan brings have the full intent to get us off the divine course. It is important that during the trials we face that we do not deviate from the course that God has directed. Throughout this year there may be words spoken and actions taken by parents and students that would appear, in the natural, to lead one to conclude that things are not going well. When this happens, we must be aware of the pressures that follow; these pressures could create a tendency to compromise and a tendency to lean towards the natural more than to put total trust in what the Word of God says.

When we face these storms, trials and tests, we need to speak faith filled words; to grab hold of all that is right and to speak with confidence using God’s Word. When everything is going "our way," it is easy to speak positively; but when a challenge situation comes along, then we really find out what is in our heart and if our words are in line with the Word of God.

Responding to Pressure and Bondage

Who is the author of pressure and bondage? It is not the curriculum. It is not the daily schedule. It is not the staff. It is not the lack of one thing or the other. It is the devil or ourselves.

Have you ever wondered why there are times when we feel under pressure and bondage? Dr. Kenneth Hagin shared that God does not have to put pressure or bondage on us to see how we will respond under certain situations, for He already knows our heart and how we will respond.

The devil does not know this about us so he must bring the challenges, problems and pressures our way to see how we will respond. It is not until we act or speak that he finds out what is in our heart.

If we will resist the devil (pressure and bondage), he (it) will flee. Resist with the Word of God and faith-filled words. We cannot afford to harbor any resentment, bitterness, ill-will, and discontentment towards any student, staff, parent or any aspect of the school program; these will rob us of our ability to release faith. In fact, these things give an opportunity to steal faith away from others.

Consider the Following Actions for 2018

  • YOU must set a guard over your lips and thoughts. Ps. 141:3
  • YOU are the testimony that God's Word works. Ps 19
  • YOU are more than a conqueror through Him. Rom. 8:31-39
  • YOU are far from oppression. Isaiah 54:14
  • NO weapon formed against you will prosper. Isaiah 54:17
  • YOU are established in righteousness. Isaiah 54:14
  • YOU are delivered from the hand of the enemy. Luke 1:74
  • YOU are an example in word and deed. Titus 2:7
  • YOU will not bow your knees to circumstances. Phil. 1:12-18
  • YOU make the devil flee. James 4:7
  • YOU place the devil under your feet. Rom. 16:20
  • YOUR mind is in perfect peace. Isaiah 26:3
  • YOU are obedient in all things. 1 Cor. 15:58
  • YOU are free from poverty, sickness or sin. Gal. 3:13, 14, 29
  • YOU reign as kings in this life. I Peter 2:9; Rev. 5:10 

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