Lessons from Cindy
She was a student at Wollondilly Anglican College. She left a few years ago but she left
many of us with a lesson in life; a gift.
We will call her Cindy. She had led quite a traumatic life and it had left her with physical
scars and learning difficulties. She was difficult to manage, had poor social skills was poor at sports,
Music, arts and academic studies. Some of the staff complained that she was disruptive in class. In those
days I was teaching classes too and so I shared some strategies that had worked for me and listened so
that I could learn a few others to try myself. Teaching Cindy was hard. Some days were better than others
but most were just hard.
They were early days at the College and we were keen to establish the Five Distinctives – the Pursuit of
Academic Excellence; Quality Christian Education; Pride In Belonging; Community Service and a second
Education (Values, Virtues, Character). After refining an early attempt at a Merit scheme, we settled on
the current recognition of Academic and Sporting progress as well as College Contribution and community
Service. There was some spirited debate as to whether Community Service should have equal footing
with the other noble awards that represented effort and achievement; after all, “anyone can receive recognition
for Community Service just for turning up for a while”. The debate raged and the relegation of Community
Service started to win the day until one grandma asked to speak.
“My granddaughter’s name is Cindy”. One or two of those assembled rolled their eyes.
“Cindy is not very good at class work or homework. She lacks concentration. She is embarrassed by her
lack of skill in sport and so she avoids it. She would like to contribute more to College events but she can’t
dance and can’t sing or play an instrument – her disability makes it hard”.
“Every time there is a Working Bee, Family Chapel or ANZAC Day Service, though, she gets so excited
and won’t let us miss the event. Maybe it’s because that is the only time she is recognised for what she
can do – she is only good at turning up and helping”. “Please keep the Community Service Award. It is the
only award that will ever be on our ‘fridge’ at home”.
One of the things most valued at the College is the willingness of many staff, students and parents to pitch
in when they see a need and seek to help others. Ever since our first year there have been many
occasions where this has happened. It gave them a better understanding of Cindy and other kids like her.
And Cindy was special to God. Not surprisingly, the willingness to use our God-given gifts for the good of
others is a strong Biblical principle. Romans 12:6 tells us that “We have different gifts according to the
grace given us”.
And this brings us to you. Seventeen years after we began, you are the students who are writing our
history. Some of you will have gifts that you have yet to discover. They may be academic, sporting or
creative gifts. Some of you will be the great encouragers who roll up their sleeves like Cindy did and who
just show up.
Term 4 will be an opportunity for many of you to consider leadership at the College. If not this year, then
certainly next year. Leadership is not a gift that is exercised from behind a desk. If we are a College that
values enterprise – and we do – I cannot imagine anyone appointing a person to leadership who does not
have a habit of turning up – and they don’t.
And here is my lesson from Cindy, the encourager …
God loves Cindy exactly as much as He loves Jesus