One of the best hours of the day in the Upper School at CCA is from 12:20-1:15pm. Why? That’s lunch time! I love to watch students as they gather their lunch thermos bags and head for the microwaves. They are talking rapidly, there is laughter and and the anticipated joy of food and conversation with friends at the lunch tables. There is something very biblical about sharing a meal together. Scripture is full of the hospitality and fellowship of sharing food together with friends, community, and even strangers. The sharing of a meal, at least metaphorically, is alluded to in Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Suffice it to say that there is a profound opportunity at school lunch to share our hearts with one another.
School’s have an intentional curriculum (what goes on in the classroom) and an unintentional curriculum (what happens in the unguarded moments of the hallways, the break time, the lunch room, before and after school). Our teachers know that the unguarded moment is often the most powerful mentoring moment — a moment when a student might be especially open to hearing a word of encouragement or advice. I love to see our teachers in the hallways, in the break room, and in the lunch room with our students. They are often indistinguishable from the students — they blend in — which is a sign of a healthy school community where students are happy to allow teachers inside their friend circle, a part of their seriousness and their fun. CCA teachers do so well at saying “yes” to that invitation to come inside the circle, but also holding students to the cultural standards of our community, just by their presence.
Several times per week, our teachers dedicate one of their lunch hours to eating with our students, and rather than having a “faculty” table where they “talk shop” about teaching for adult concerns, they all tend to sit with students and enjoy building relationships by entering that circle of student friendship — by mentoring during the unguarded moment. I often see students laughing boisterously with a faculty member or perhaps having a thoughtful, serious conversation. This “other curriculum,” equally important to the intentional curriculum, can have life-shaping impact on our students. I am so grateful for the joyful mentoring of our faculty as the “break bread” together with our students every day of the week.
I would encourage parents and families at home not to forsake the spiritual power of a shared meal, even in the busyness of 21st century suburban lives with all the demands on our time. I am always grateful, as I look back on my childhood, that my family chose to take time to eat the evening meal together around the table each night. I know it is not possible for every family every day, but I encourage you to seize the opportunity whenever you can.
By David Church, Principal of the Upper School of Logic and Rhetoric