After 22 years, my wife and I returned to Norristown Area High School on Ash Wednesday, March 5th. Maria Loebig, 12th grade English teacher, invited me to present my board game to her students. All I can say is that this moment was divinely orchestrated.
One month earlier I was struggling with disappointment because, despite the promising strides made right out of the gate, progress had stalled with Phoenixville High School. I sighed more than I prayed that morning but I asked God to surprise me with opportunities to share my Hope City board game with High School students. That same day a woman came into Collegeville Liberty Thrift to buy a set of chairs. As Regional Manager I was working on some projects in the office and not on the floor. The cashier called over the radio for a manager to help a woman get some chairs off the shelf. No one responded so I called back and said I would come out, kind of odd that two other managers were already occupied. The woman was wearing a sweatshirt with a giant letter “A” on the front. I knew the symbol because I had worked with Americorps too. We struck up a conversation about where and in what capacity we had served. I was not surprised to hear that she became a public school teacher after her Americorps experience, a natural career progression. Then we introduced ourselves and I learned that we had another significant life experience in common- our connection to Norristown Area High School.
Having established such an immediate but unexpected connection with Maria, I bluntly asked if I could present my board game in her class. I said the game would teach her students leadership skills, teamwork, strategic thinking, systems thinking, hoping skills and life skills. Without hesitation Maria invited me to come and share the game with her 12th graders and she asked what day I would be available. We exchanged our contact info and after a number of text messages we finally landed on a date. Two snow-storm cancellations later, I finally made it to Norristown Area High School.
Maria started teaching at Norristown over 7 years ago. I attended Norristown from 1988-1992 and worked with students there up until 2001. Interestingly, I married my High School sweetheart and we were now returning to our old stomping grounds, as if on a date, to share our Hope presentation with Maria’s students. I prayed that God would go before us to create a learning environment but I was not expecting such an obvious sign of His presence. As we walked towards the main building there was a woman who entered before us. She was wearing sweatpants with a word stitched across her butt: HOPE.
I smiled to myself.
The students in Maria’s class showed tremendous enthusiasm in game play and almost everyone was fully engaged. I could not have imagined a better first experience. How fitting, yet peculiar, that I had this opportunity to share hope with High School students in the same place I went to High School. All I can say is that this moment was divinely orchestrated.