“Shaping minds with knowledge and hearts with love,” is the motto of the NES. And that's not just empty words – it’s a vision made reality.
But making this vision reality can only be done if everybody participates – teachers, students, administration – to turn their school into a home. It requires the right attitude, and the NES teachers are living this for their students and, by their example, encouraging the positive behaviour that creates the NES’s atmosphere of love and acceptance.
And there are other things the NES does to intentionally foster this family environment.
Twice a week, the students have a “classroom time” in which they sit together with their class teachers for a period to discuss and solve any issues that have come up. At least two field trips per class per year give additional opportunity to share fun times together and build relationships. Recently the school started football and basketball teams that help kids from different religions and ethnicities to bond outside the classroom.
All students are required to attend chapel two to five times per week, and teachers or outside speakers take this opportunity to teach the children about healthy relationships, loving God and one’s neighbour, and treating each other with respect. These topics are deepened in Bible classes as well as the Saturday kids and teens clubs that the Sin-el-Fil Church of the Nazarene offers and which about half of the NES students attend.
Mutual understanding and respect among ethnicities and religions are also fostered in separate activities such as sessions on conflict resolution for the children conducted by Save the Children, and a reconciliation program offered in partnership with Youth for Christ and the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, where 10 teenagers from different faiths, and of Syrian and Lebanese background, met once per week for two months.
This school year, the NES started a “treasure token” system, where students are awarded tokens during chapel time for positive behaviour. With a certain number of tokens, the students can then choose a reward, for instance wearing regular clothes rather than their uniform on a school day or getting a free period.
In addition, in elementary school a “theme” is chosen each month, such as “kindness” or “honesty,” and elaborated upon in chapel and class. At the end of the month, one child from each class is selected as “Mr.” or “Miss” Honesty, Kindness, etc. and honoured during chapel.
For grades 7-9, the “NES police force” system encourages an attitude of serving, caring and taking on responsibilities. Twenty volunteers are trained by the dean of students and take turns to keep things peaceful during recess times and help in other ways. Two different groups have served so far, and it is considered an honour to be on the “police force.”
Fifty-one years of “shaping minds with knowledge and hearts with love” – a motto that is written not onto a plaque, but into the lives of children and teachers alike.