Mark Schuldt, an Upper School humanities teacher, tells us about his love for Bear Creek.
I had the great fortune of marrying into the Bear Creek community and received an unlooked-for and unanticipated blessing. When I married my wife Emily, Dean of Academic Advising, in 2013, she had already been working for the school for some years, and for many years before that, had significant friendships with members of the school community. So, I came to know the school first through friendships and only later as an employee. I must say that I owe my career as a teacher to my wife and her friends within the Bear Creek community. After the financial crisis of 2008 to 2010, the ministry world for which I had prepared with a Princeton M.Div. had been seriously shaken financially, and there were very few jobs for an aspiring pastor. It was Emily's idea that I would make a good teacher and that teaching could be God's ministry through me. After consultation with Karen Blankenbeckler, Vice President for Academic Affairs, I decided to give it a shot and go back to school for a master's in teaching. I have never looked back. Teaching students has opened a door for my best strengths to serve young people and families for God's kingdom in the world. The Bear Creek School has become a significant center-point for God's work in my life through my work, many friendships, and considerable personal development.
I have enjoyed being able to see the school from the outside then from the inside as a teacher. That perspective has allowed me to appreciate better what the school does for the community of students, families, faculty, and staff. My diverse experience of other ministries and secular organizations and schools has given me the perspective to know just how unique and special a place Bear Creek is. I have worked in ministry with chaplaincy to the mentally ill, support homeless youth, establish micro-enterprise among the urban poor, youth ministry, and I have taught in the public school system. In all those experiences, I have seen God's work and providence, but I have never worked with an organization as effective as Bear Creek at pursuing its calling. It was truly a no-brainer when it came time to enroll my oldest son, Luke ’34, for preschool. I have had the pleasure of teaching seniors at Bear Creek, and every day when I am in conversation with those seniors, I find myself thinking, "I want my sons to be like them." Students leave this place able to think clearly and make wise decisions. It strikes me how rare those qualities are in our broader culture. The ability to weigh ideas, hold things in tension, reserve judgment, consider alternative points of view, make principled decisions, and then act virtuously is so desperately needed for a community or society to function well. It is wonderful to see an educational ministry empower children to become young adults like that.
Faith in Christ is the core of our lives, and Bear Creek provides an education that fully engages the Christian faith with the world. I have seen Christian schools that nominally tip their hats to Christ, and I have seen schools that hunker down in Christ, keeping the world at arm's length. Christ put us in the world to serve the world, and that is precisely the kind of faith in action that Bear Creek trains in its students. That is another reason why I want to see my boys cross that graduation stage in the years to come. When I see how many ways God has put our alumni to work, bringing His light into the world, I cannot wait to see how my children will use their education for Him. For a school to invest so much in children, it needs others to invest in it.
Emily and I believe very strongly that everything we have is from the Lord and for His work in the world, not just to meet our needs but also to empower us to meet others' needs. We do not ever want our money to own us; we want to own and steward our money. The only way I can think of to know whether or not my money owns me is to give it away. I believe that is why God gave us tithing. Emily and I believe that it is our fallen nature to worry about the future and to try to create our security. As understandable as temptation as that is, it is a certain trap. Emily and I strongly believe in giving generously both to our church and worthy institutions serving God's work in the world. When I think of giving as a means to freedom, for myself and others, I do not want to give thoughtlessly. For me giving is an investment, and I want to invest in work that will see returns. Bear Creek delivers on its mission. In addition to my anecdotal experience of the educational environment, Bear Creek provides as well as the kinds of students who graduate from here, I have made a purposeful investigation of the school's management. I am confident in the stability, clear-sighted leadership, and mission-centered community of The Bear Creek School. God has used the school as an instrument of His providence for my family, and so it seems doubly appropriate to reinvest back in the school.
Giving to the annual fund, donating to and bidding in the school auction, and volunteering time are meaningful ways to invest in what the school is doing. Emily and I are not tycoons, but all contributions, no matter how modest, are significant. I feel a sense of pride when I see my students growing when I see them graduate, when I see the school weather a crisis, when I see the school thrive even in strange times, and it is a pleasure for Emily and me to partner in that.