I like to think of my time at The ARK Educational Resource Center as a search for pearls of great price. As in the parable in the bible in Luke 15, the merchant sought for valuable pearls; and when he found one and recognized its’ value, he gave his all for it. Our young people are pearls, but it is up to us to help them recognize their value. Everyone wants to be valued; to do something of value, to have value in the eyes of the world, and especially to know how much they are valued by God who loves them (and us) greatly!
It is hard for some kids today to realize that they have value. If we think about the stages of development described by psychologist, Erik Erickson, kids are in the time when they must begin to develop a sense of competence in this world, and to trust that they can “make it.” They begin to establish their own identities.
When you consider all the challenges young people are facing, some in their schools, some in their families,and some in their communities, you begin to see why valuing yourself might not be an easy thing – why they begin to doubt that they can be competent and successful.
A recent study from the CDC showed that in 2021, 57% of girls and 29% of boys experienced “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness during the past year. Sadly, this is up from 36% and 21% in 2017). This is unacceptable for our students or any students! This is where ARK teachers, tutors, volunteers, and staff have an amazing mission. Here, we can show our students that they are, in fact, valuable individuals – not only by tutoring them and helping them develop
confidence in their schoolwork, but by being there for them. We need to be a consistent cheerleader for them! We must listen; be available, build them up with positive feedback and be that person who lights up whenever they walk into the room (everyone needs one of those to have a happy day!)
I was once in the customer service line at a local store behind a brother and sister about 10-12 years of age. When it was their turn to be waiting on, the clerk looked over their heads to me and asked if she could help me – never acknowledging them. We cannot overlook and not pay attention to our children! We have to be the one who say, “can I help you – you are of value and you matter.”
We all need to be pearl merchants. There is an ocean of undiscovered pearls of great value out there. We need to find them and celebrate them! Come to The ARK and come pearl searching with me and the wonderful, caring ARK staff.
- Dr. Carol Owens, Retired