While we were thrilled to celebrate the graduation of Harambee's second ever 8th grade class in May, it was bittersweet to celebrate the careers of three veteran teachers who also finished out their last year at the school.
Jim Flaherty (3rd grade), Annette Hank (2nd grade), and Stephanie Riggs (1st grade), have each been staples at Harambee Christian School for over a decade, with Annette also serving as Urban Concern's very first employee, having started her ministry in South Linden in 1989.
What was the most rewarding aspect about teaching at HCS? "Watching God transform the hearts and minds of our students over the years," says Flaherty, who has taught at HCS for 12 years.
Unsurprisingly, Riggs shared the same sentiment: "It's always exciting to see 'light bulbs' come on, whether relating to academic or spiritual matters. Watching a former reluctant reader walking down the hall with their nose in a book - awesome! Seeing a six-year-old's face light up as they begin to understand that Jesus wants to take away their 'bad choices' and be their friend forever - amazing!"
Having taught multiple generations at Harambee, Hank remarks how rewarding it is, "seeing students who came to UC's Monday night Bible study over 20 years ago send their children to Harambee."
Ask any of their students or coworkers, and you'll know these teachers are leaving big shoes to fill. Luckily, they've left future Harambee teachers with some words of wisdom: "Delight in the children! Sometimes the behavior you see masks pain. Pray to see them the way God does. Remember that having been born again to a living hope, we have hope to share." says Hank.
And Riggs reminds future teachers of the loving support system Harambee provides to teachers and students alike: "Be confident that God has placed you at HCS. There will be some very difficult times and the enemy will cause you to question your skills and abilities...these are the times when you will be so grateful for the support and prayers of your co-workers. It is wonderful to work where people build one another up!"
To send these teachers off right, we put together some videos reflecting the opinions of some of their biggest fans: