SFL Back To School Day 5: Teachers In Fundyland

Whenever I happen to reminisce with people about days gone by at fundy schools, one common theme almost inevitably emerges: there were some teachers who were pretty awesome people. It is a paradox that in the midst of such oppressive rules and sloppy scholarship that there are a handful of teachers who are both decent human beings as well as accomplished in their field. And often times it was that one English professor or Computer Science teacher or choir director who helped make life just bearable enough to survive through one more semester or one moreΒ  year.

It’s not as if the teachers themselves have a particularly easy time dealing with the administrations of their schools either. The hallmark of teachers in fundyland is that they are paid a pittance and then assigned constant menial labor in addition to their actual teaching duties. Then they are generally disrespected and belittled at every turn. Yet, somehow, a few still manage to maintain a shred of humanity and goodwill and do their best to minister to the students that they teach.

So let’s hear it for the few good eggs that manage to bring a little cheer and comfort to the hearts of fundy students who are on the brink of despair. Let’s give our thanks for kind words, encouraging smiles, good humor and overlooked faults. And let us send our best wishes that they soon find employment in other places where they will truly be appreciated and rewarded for their efforts.

91 thoughts on “SFL Back To School Day 5: Teachers In Fundyland”

      1. Um… well… sort of. I had gotten up and didn’t see a post so wondered if something was wrong so I sent Darrell a quick IM to see if all was well and he said he was just finishing up. So, I sat around on the page waiting for him to finish.

        I’m so pathetic.

        But, I NEVER get to be first! *pouring out some fine NC wine* πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

        1. I came on this morning and didn’t see it up so I was waiting for it but I got distracted for a little too long and missed it.

          I mean, I was spending time in the Word and prayer and the Spirit was moving so I just couldn’t think about earthly things like the computer. πŸ˜‰ 😎

        1. Watch the side ads for the release of a wide selection of butt cushions that shout your favorite fundyisms. These phrases include, but are not limited to: “Honolulu!” “That dog’ll hunt!” “BAM! QUALIFIED!” and many more fundy favorites!

    1. I totally missed this post all day because I saw the Bonus Day 5 post go up first with no comments. It’s only just now that I reread the Bonus Day 5 post and realized there was a non-Bonus version preceding it.

  1. In fact in my personal experience, this was the rule rather than the exception – The institutions that trained me were definitely fundy, but they also had high quality academics and generally I liked and respected many of my teachers. I consider that a huge blessing since I know this is not the norm across the IFB spectrum.

  2. A lot of the teachers in my school had to take second jobs which some still work.

    We had our real fundy teachers and then we had ones that went to different churches who weren’t as fundy. They were great, and one in particular, who’s now retired, gave me a love of writing and classic literature.

  3. aw, I had just commented about this on the Fundy U post. I had the most genuine, God-loving professors who really took the time to help us and get to know us. I keep in touch with many of them and have really been blessed and challenged by their wisdom and love. My husband and I have such great admiration for our Greek professor that we had him perform our wedding ceremony, which he traveled five states away to do for us. I also liked that they didn’t always agree with each other on every point of theology and we knew it and respected them because we knew they were coming to their conclusions between them & God and they weren’t just parroting the creed of the place.

      1. They couldn’t afford to! He was a fantastic Bible teacher, and if they had let him preach more often more of the students might have figured that out–and then they might have started really thinking and questioning, which is definitely NOT where the administration wanted the students to go.

  4. Many teachers where I attended tried to come across as open-minded and accepting but given the chance would turn on you like a monkey on a cupcake. I felt I constantly had to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Trust no one; you never knew who might turn on you. So many hidden agendas.

      1. Princess – smart move! That bait would have bitten you in the butt for sure! That is funny. πŸ˜€ Not being a BJU’er, what was ‘the rule’? I’m not familiar.

    1. I’m pretty sure this goes on at my church/fundy school and I already remember having a conversation with one of the higher ups in the school where they acted open and hip and then suspiciously the pastor preached a sermon refuting and mocking my position on the matter discussed and staring right at me while he said the mocking parts for emphasis. It took a lot of self control not to stick my tongue out at him to mock him back. Sad! I am on high alert this year and I am going to start speaking my mind with the administration, they will probably tell me to pull my kids out if I don’t like it and I probably will. I would never work for the church or the school because then they think they own you. Yuck. 😈

  5. Even though I was fundy (BJU brand), I don’t think I would have been able to stand college if it weren’t for my teachers. I LOVED most of my professors. Of course, being an English major always helps, because those teachers are constantly reading non-fundy material and I think have a more balanced view of life, philosophy, etc. In which other fundy classroom can you discuss the sexual preferences of the Greek gods, aphrodisiacs, racial discrimination, etc.?

    I even had one teacher say, “The story on page X is probably too racy for me to be able to assign for you to read. Otherwise I’d put it on the syllabus (hint, hint).” Pretty sure most of us read it, and it ended up being referenced in class the next time. :mrgreen:

  6. I went to a very small FU: the professors were almost all either assistant pastors at the church, or their wives.

    There was one teacher though, she taught english, speech classes, and psychology. Meanest thing alive, had an eagle eye for too big earrings and dress code violations. Made me paranoid first two semesters πŸ˜›

    Until I got her for her psychology class: it was just her, me and one other student, and we LOVED the class. I think that influenced her mood πŸ˜› Tuesday mornings were the highlights of the week, and I am even more interested in psychology and precognitive development and such. Might make a career of it =O

    Evidently she’s good at that. She got my sister obsessed with English literature, though she’s acting on it by going to the college herself /eye roll Jeez, if you’re going to spend all that time and money, spend it on something that will be beneficial in the long run!

  7. HAC: Maxine Barber, the only standout, and one who saw the truth and got OUT, enhanced my love for literature and composition, and for the aesthetic. I agree with the post-er who said that the English teachers may be more balanced because they read more. Because of MB, I not only became an English teacher, but I also saw the truth about Jack Hyles and his cult sooner than I would have on my own.

  8. BTW, Darrell, you are pretty terrific for posting this today. Great teachers are generally under-appreciated, and those in fundy situations even more so. Bless you. πŸ˜›

  9. Very interesting. I became a teacher, and there were two teachers I had @ Fundy High that motivate me to this day. One was great-ish and helped make things not-so-suckish for those 4 awful years of Fundy High. The other was a witch: pure evil. She was an ignorant liar and sadistic … well, I don’t really want to flame on her right now. She still is a motivation for me to be the direct opposite of what she was for those years. I hate you S

  10. I have nothing but good to say about my teacher/principal in the Fundy Christian School that I attended. He may have been “Fundamentalist” to the core, but he was just an awesome teacher. He would stop sometimes in the middle of the day and tell us random science facts (he actually had a real world degree and loves science). He also gave one-on-one help to students struggling through a particular subject, like math, english, or whatever. He made school awesome, even if all the rules sucked so bad.

  11. Shoutout time? Gladly. First and foremost, Drs. Grant and Camille Lewis. Grant was my voice teacher in grad school, and after my hasty departure from Fundy U they were both instrumental in shepherding me through the chaos as they had both been through that not too long ago themselves.

    Fred Coleman, professor in the Church Music department, for carefully treading the razor-thin line between answering our hard questions while still not upsetting the Administration. It was he who encouraged me to begin searching the Scriptures for myself to see what *I* believed, not what my parents or school believed.

    Dr. Dave Parker (and his wife Linda), for being choir parents to so many students through the years, showing unconditional and sacrificial love to all of them. I could write volumes but I’ll suffice to say that I love him and his wife dearly.

    And Dr. Richard Hand, Sr., easily the most controversial name on this list. πŸ˜€ If you know who I’m talking about, you either love or hate the man; there is no middle ground. In many ways he reminds me of the way I remember my grandfather (passed away when I was 10). And while he was very much the archetype of the conservative Fundamentalist, I have an enormous amount of respect for him. Earned his J.D. from…I wanna say Purdue. Not in Fundyland, wherever it was. Thoroughly enjoyed his classes in the Pentateuch and Romans – who better to teach the ins and outs of the law than a lawyer? I also got to spend some time with him over a summer while I was fixing his laptop. We must have spent almost two hours chatting and that’s where I learned about his very very careful consideration and application of Scripture. He and I don’t agree on a lot of applications, but I nonetheless respect the way he is settled in his own heart of what he has studied, admits to what he hasn’t studied, and most importantly recognizes the difference between hard doctrine and interpretation. In our conversations I’ve always found him to be honest. And if nothing else, you have to appreciate the fact that never once has he ever held a class a microsecond after the bell; in fact, he always finished his lectures exactly one beat before the bell rang. And because his punctuality was so legendary, woe be unto the student that started packing his bags before the lecture was over. 😈

    And I know they’re not faculty but I think I have to extend a shoutout to two staff members I had the privilege of working under – Tom Allen and Alice Weisbecker. I spent countless hours in their offices when I was on staff. Both would always take time to listen to my complaints and either commiserate with me or suggest an attitude adjustment. Without them I would have gone insane in very short order.

    There are probably more, but these are the brightest spots in my time at Fundy U. I thank God for each and every one of them.

    1. I second Dr. Grant Lewis (I never had the privilege of meeting Camille while they were there) and Uncle Fred. Actually most of the music faculty there were way cooler than I ever thought… Mr. Ream played for my wedding after we’d been blacklisted. We got letters from the Dunbars as well. And I have to thank Dr. Wilson for giving me my love of Music History – she and I got along great and I really loved her. In all, the music building was the one place I felt safe in.

  12. I’ve been enjoying the posts this week. They’ve been somewhat bittersweet. I had been teaching at a fundy school for the last thirteen years, and I am really going to miss seeing the kids this fall. I had to leave mostly in order to better provide for my family, but also because I’ve slowly been seeing through the errors of modern fundamentalism. It’s been a frustrating transition period.

    I am proud of my fellow teachers at the school, however. None of the horror stories I have read on this site apply to my former school. The love and attention as well as quality education that my coworkers have given should give encouragement that not all fundy schools are the same. In the past we have hired several teachers who have tried to bring that hard-nosed, my-way-or-the-highway, judgmental attitude. None of them fit well at all in our school and were gone after a year or so.

  13. Jon Krause was my high school principal and English Grammer teacher. He had a real love for English Grammer. It was because of him that I aced English Grammer in Bible college (and developed a love for it to).

    In Bible college Tim Butterfield, Mike Lester and Rick Houk taught the best classes. (And Bro Houk had the best blonde jokes)

    1. I generally wouldn’t do this, but since you said that you had aced grammar I thought I’d point out the following: “grammar” is not spelled correctly, you used “to” instead of “too”, and your final parenthetical is missing a period. 😈

      (You are, however, free to blame George for these errors!)

      1. I was never good at spelling, even when I was a kid. My dad and his dad were the same way. My teachers always found that strange. While in Bible college I would have to study my vocab words for almost an hour a day to pass the tests. Not good. I had an easier time spelling Greek words than English words.

        Also, when I made that post I just got back from working the graveyard shift at my job and was so ready for bed. πŸ™‚

    2. I believe I met Rick Houk briefly when he spoke/visted at my church once. He was known as the walking Bible, right? I know Rick Houk’s son much better. In fact, I traveled up to my first spiritual leadership conference with his son and son’s wife.

      Sigh. These circles are small indeed.

  14. I spent a summer studying Shakespeare with Dr. Jane McCulley. (sp?) Learned a lot.

    There were classes that I HATED but were in the long run good for me. I am thinking of Dr. Horton’s critical writing class. One assignment. Ten mandatory re-writes. Most hated and yet most valuable class I’ve ever taken. Give me a full length novel and I can condense it down into two sentences because of that. : πŸ™‚

    I had a linguistic class that I enjoyed but for the life of me I can’t remember the teacher’s name. I can’t remember my French teacher’s name either but I enjoyed her class.

    If its the same David Parker and Linda that I’m thinking of I believe my husband was a member of their wedding…I’ll have to ask him.

    1. Janie McCauley was the one teacher that stood out during my graduate classes. She made 17th century lit and Chaucer into my most favorite classes. She also had the dubious privilege of seeing my husband and me in her classes while we were dating. IIRC, during one semester, she had me one period, and him the next… she couldn’t have missed my looking out for him to say, “Hello.”

    1. Mr Loach has a rather popular blog now that is just great… I really enjoyed him and since my section was at 8:00, I really needed to have a teacher I enjoyed to live through a foreign language that early in the morning…

  15. Miss Dunckel always had a great Detroit crime story to tell….she came across as tough, but if she knew you weren’t intimidated by her, you had an A on every essay assignment.

  16. “Yet, somehow, a few still manage to maintain a shred of humanity and goodwill and do their best to minister to the students that they teach.”–Mickey Stemen at PCC

    1. Totally. I feel 90% positive Darrell was referencing Stemen when he said Computer Programming. I personally adored Mr. Howell as well, although he at times was a bit more of a stickler for the rules, he jokes & personality were pitch perfect with mine. He’d tell jokes about cobol periods making piles in the computer lab, and everyone else was confused, and I would be bursting out loud laughing. I loved both of those guys.

      Had an English Lit teacher that I kind of liked, although I didn’t get to know her at all being a large freshman class, and I wasn’t doing the reading, so I don’t know how well she was on a personal level.

      And an economics professor, who also I didn’t get to know personally, but had the courage to teach things that are VERY dangerous to say in Fundyland like the 1964 Civil Rights Act did not solve race issues in America. Very excellent teacher that I looked forward greatly to his classes even though I couldn’t tell you a thing I learned in them.

      Kudos to the few excellent teachers at PCC.

        1. Bwahaha! I think he may have gotten that doctorate while I was there. I know when I started he was Mr. I think he was Dr by the time I left, or was really close to finished.

        2. If you ever spend time at a non-fundy, public university one of the first things that will strike you is how much less people who have earned doctorates place on that little “Dr.” in front of their name. I am talking about people who are published authors of books and well-known and respected in research science. Seems another of the foibles of fundamentalists is their hang-up on that title–when most of them could do no better than a post-doc position in any accredited institution of higher learning!!!

  17. My BJU picks:
    Dr Gary Guthrie – Math – loved this man. He was so grandfatherly. We continue to email once in a while. He was kind and understood that sometimes we just weren’t going to understand. He was also friendly and just plain fun to have in class!!

    Dr Linda Hayner – History – so much fun. She had stories to tell about most of the places that were discussed. THat made the subject come alive.

    Mrs St John – Speech – I guess Math majors and Speech minors were a bit rare so she was interested in my choice to put the two together. Poetry was a required class for my minor and I wouldn’t have taken it any other way. While I wasn’t rude, I didn’t hide the fact that I wasn’t a fan of Poetry. Yet she still went out of her way to help me and would spend extra time with me outside of class to help me prepare for the next speech.

    There may be others, but those 3 come to my mind quickly.

  18. PBBC: Mr. Ken Marsh and Dr. Andy Hudson, although I must say that I appreciated all of the faculty who taught me. Some of them more fundy than others, but all in all, they were good men. The two I mentioned, however, helped first open my mind to a world outside fundyism (altho they might never have intended that!) I appreciate them so much!

  19. High School–Mrs. Sharon Harmon. She is the reason that, while my math and science skills are non-existent (“we can only afford so many teachers….”) I can read, write, speak, and understand English. And make my children think I’m a grammar Nazi.

    BJU–Dr. Pete Steveson. Cannot thank him enough for helping me to think outside the box I had allowed myself to be stuffed into. He even helped me to question my KJVO background.

  20. Does anyone who went to HAC remember the name of the man who taught Physical Science Survey? I don’t know how long he stayed on after I left, but I thought I saw a picture of him teaching in one of their promotional videos, so he may still have been there recently. He was my favorite teacher. Always kind and had a great sense of humor. He was the only person there who I felt actually liked his job, or the students, or the Lord. (His wife taught Home Economics when I was there, but I don’t remember their names.)

  21. BJU:
    Dr. Caren Silvester
    Dr. Dan Forrest
    Fred Coleman

    and most of the music faculty were pretty good – had to tread lightly sometimes, but overall they were very nice.

    1. Mark, you and I shared a class in the Music department once, although I’m quite sure that teacher doesn’t rank with either of our favorites πŸ™‚ (think a certain Piano class….)

  22. Oh – another thing about teachers at BJU… a lot of them are not aware of all the rules being enforced on the students… they have a general knowledge, but I know several of my teachers were shocked when they heard some specifics from us students. Undoubtedly, if teachers (and of course students) were allowed to have a voice at FU’s the rules would be a little less stringent.

  23. Chuck Harding was my FAVORITE speech teacher at Oklahoma Baptist College. He was enthusiastic and really had a great understanding of the subject matter he was teaching.

    I think he left OBC not long after I did. I’m sure getting out from under Vineyard’s rule was a relief for him.

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