Excellence in Teaching

This past week we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week, a chance to thank teachers who work so hard to educate and shape our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren. When we think back to our favorite teachers we often think about those teachers who think outside of the box. The teachers who often are our most memorable, are the ones who not only challenge us academically, but also make us think differently about ourselves. One of those teachers is Jon Bolt.

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Jon Bolt teaches Science to middle schoolers at Central Lutheran School in New Haven. That, in and of itself, can seem like a large task, but Jon takes the subject of Science and uses it to also teach the faith. “Anything we look at we can see the hand of God,” he remarked. “We talk about Jesus whenever we can. Biology, evolution, volcanoes and then look at what Scripture says. Everything points to God. These are easy opportunities to integrate faith.”

It is no wonder he is the 2019 LEA Distinguished Lutheran Middle School Teacher Award recipient. In talking with him you can clearly see his passion for Lutheran Education.

Jon is a product of Lutheran Schools. He attended them as a student all the way through his undergraduate and Master’s degrees. His parents were both Lutheran School teachers, so Jon was no stranger to the Lutheran School Teacher way of life. He grew up in the environment both at home and as a student.

Jon aims for an inquiry-based style of teaching in his Science class and uses a hands-on approach whenever he can. He talks about trying new things all the time, never being too comfortable with something and willing to make changes. His classroom is not the same from year to year. Not only do the students change but so do the activities. He mentioned, “There is a difference between teaching for 25 years and teaching something 25 times. Even when an activity is enjoyable, it’s important to take the time to evaluate its effectiveness. It may be time to replace it with something else.”

When asked, “Why Lutheran Schools?” Jon remembered what retired Michigan District Education Executive Dr. George Locke said, “We’re in the business of getting kids into heaven.” Why would he be in any other business? With that as a reason, you can see how Jon embodies the Lutheran Spirit. Congratulations to Jon Bolt, LEA’s Distinguished Middle School Award Winner.