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On Thursday, I watched as Miss Mona rolled out the coveted prize cart. I heard the pitter patter of students skipping in the hallway and saw heads peeking into the hallway to see if it was their turn to make a purchase at the cart. The prize cart. It's the reward at the end of a long week of working hard to complete homework and tutorials and reading and extra work. I watched as each student approached and grew wide eyed as they surveyed the loot. They held their fake dollars preciously as they contemplated carefully the sea of choices. Would it be Pokémon cards? Bouncy balls? invisible ink pens? Or the grand prizes of extravagant Lego sets, Squishmallows, blue tooth headphones?

I watched as Miss Mona coached, advised and also allowed them to make their own choices. I witnessed real life skills being taught and learned right before my eyes: saving today for something you really wanted in the future, counting and assessing value and percentages of what to spend and what to save, assessing the value of items that would last or be eaten and gone, the gratification of working hard for something and being rewarded and many more important life lessons.

Our academic program staff and classroom leaders have created a system that truly is teaching our students, discipling them in the most important lessons of life and equipping them with essential life skills: delayed gratification, integrity, work ethic, patience, perseverance, discernment, cost analysis, opportunity costs and much more.

I watched as the final student came. A second grade student, super cute, excited to spend her hard earned dollars. She looked at everything she could in the 60 seconds Miss Mona allows. And then she decided, "I'll take two Pokémon cards." She carefully picked a Cresselia and a Dialga. The money changed hands. Her smile followed as she clutched the treasure.

I leaned over and commented, "Oh wow, you got two legendaries. Good job.”

Miss Mona quickly realized that she had accidentally placed legendaries in the bag of basic pokemon.

"Umm.. oops" Miss Mona chuckled. "I guess you can keep the legendaries because I already sold them to you."

The student’s wide eyes turned and met mine, "They're for my brother."

I whispered, "God honored your decision to buy something for your brother. You could have chosen something for yourself, but because you sacrificed, God gave you something special, a gift you didn't purchase or deserve.”

Her smiled widened and she skipped away.

Truly, these leaders are not just loving students, not just affirming their value and worth, not just tutoring, not just helping, not just teaching life skills. They are changing lives. And they are creating opportunities for Christ’s love and truth to enter.

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