Photo Courtesy of the Waverly Newspapers
As a college student, Christi Lines first heard God’s call to be an educator when she was asked by a professor, “What are you going to do with your English degree?”
The question caught her up short. This was something she hadn’t considered before. What was she going to do with the gifts God had given her? How was she going to use her talents to glorify God?
“I had not looked that far ahead,” Christi recalls with a laugh.
Soon afterward, she found herself with an English degree and, by an adviser’s recommendation, a degree in education as well.
“(Becoming a teacher) was not my plan when I entered college, but I guess that’s the way the Spirit moves us sometimes,” Christi explains.
Since then, Christi has devoted 13 years to seeing that “faith and learning go hand in hand,” which is the motto at St. Paul’s Lutheran School, an ELCA elementary school in Waverly, Iowa. St. Paul’s is one of the ELCA’s 258 elementary schools, grades K-8.
Christi, who sees herself as a cheerleader for St. Paul’s, believes that she helps spread the gospel by sharing the story of the school throughout the community.
“The thing that makes St. Paul’s unique in this community is the faith base. We have a community where public education is terrific, so when parents choose St. Paul’s over the public schools, they’re choosing it because it is an extension of their faith development at home,” she explains.
Christi believes that ELCA schools are “avenues for outreach.” She estimates that 40 percent of students are from other denominations and sees this as an opportunity to be a part of a greater Christian community.
Christi was recently recognized for her dedication when she was named “Principal of the Year” by the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association and recognized as a distinguished principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
When she was asked to play a vital role in the formation of “Our Calling in Education” — the ELCA’s social statement on education — Christi was eager to participate. She served as co-chair on the task force. The statement was approved by the 2007 Churchwide Assembly.
“Our Calling in Education” states that our work in this area as Lutherans “is two-fold: to educate people in the Christian faith for their vocation and to strive with others to ensure that all have access to high quality education that develops personal gifts and abilities and serves the common good.”
Christi puts this philosophy into practice on a daily basis. Not only does she serve as the principal of St. Paul’s Lutheran School, but also as the principal of Southeast Elementary, a public school in the Waverly-Shell Rock School District.
“Serving in both places allows me to live out my calling for all students and for all families, to focus on safety, student growth, development and academic achievement,” she says.