MEI Secondary School
“I have had the privilege and pleasure of being employed by MEI for more than seven years now, where I am surrounded by caring and dedicated co-workers, and am continually uplifted by God’s presence. ”
My MEI story began over 15 years ago.
Back then my daughter, Katherine, was in Grade 1 at a public school and I was becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility that questionable materials might be introduced into the classroom. I didn’t want her to be brainwashed into a viewpoint I didn’t agree with, and certainly not into one that I believed would have a negative influence on her life. Another concern was her teacher: she was often harsh and impatient with her, and I would receive almost daily messages about Katherine’s lack of maturity and attentiveness, along with suggestions that she should be put on medication. As she was only 6 years old, I grew tired of this negativity and I decided to find a safer place for her to go to school.
A family member suggested I check out MEI. I didn’t know a lot about MEI at the time – just that it was a Christian school with a good basketball team – so I assumed it would be conservative in its viewpoint and wouldn’t teach anything too radical. I called the school and was told that although there was a waiting list for the new elementary school that would be opening that September, I was welcome to submit a registration form for her, which I did. Months later I discovered that many parents had camped out for up to a week in order to secure a spot for their child. Not so for me … I had notification within two weeks that Katherine was accepted for Grade 2. Looking back, it’s clear to me that MEI was the instrument God chose to use to change the direction of my life and my place in eternity.
There was one last hurdle, however. Katherine didn’t want to change schools. She had been through a lot in her short life – my separation from her father, several long distance moves, and my recent re-marriage – so the idea of changing something that was familiar and known to her was unpleasant. But, I was determined, and over the course of the next several months I gently tried to get her used to the idea of going to a new school. She finally relented, at least in her mind, and said that she would go to MEI for one year but after that she was going back to her old school.
The first day of school arrived, and she was placed in the class of Mr. Shawn Burkinshaw, who was then in his first year of teaching. As he is now the Principal of MEI Elementary, he obviously has his own MEI story. He greeted her like a long lost friend, making her feel welcome instantly. The atmosphere in the classroom and throughout the school was warm and inviting, and it turned out that two friends from her old school ended up in her classroom – God’s handiwork again.
After the first full day of school I was dying to know what she thought about MEI, yet I was afraid to ask. If she said she hated it, I knew we were in for a very long year, and I would need to be constantly encouraging her and pointing out all the positive things about the school. Finally, with some trepidation, I asked her, “So, Katherine, do you like MEI?” She looked at me in total seriousness, said: “Oh, no, Mom, I don\’t like MEI, I lovvvvvvve MEI! And I’m never going to go to any other school. I’m going to go to MEI until I finish high school. It’s the best!”
Over the course of the next year or so, she became a Christian through the loving instruction and support of her teachers, and my new husband and I got to know a number of MEI parents through her. We were invited to church events, coffees, breakfasts, lunches and dinners. God relentlessly pursued our hearts through these encounters and, after resisting the pull of the Holy Spirit for as long as we could, we both finally surrendered and accepted Jesus as our Saviour. We were baptized together in 2000.
Katherine’s high school years were difficult as her father died of cancer when she was in Grade 10 and her grief at times overwhelmed her. Fortunately, being at MEI, she was surrounded by loving and prayerful friends and teachers who helped her get through many rocky days. Mr. Jim Williams, her English teacher, was particularly gentle with her, making arrangements for her to meet with an older student who had lost her mother the year before. This mentorship allowed her to share her grief and get support from someone who truly knew what she was going through. Her Bible teacher, Mr. Henry Zukowski, always encouraged her to go deeper into her relationship with God and was instrumental in her being baptized while on their missions trip to Cambodia when she was in Grade 12.
I have had the privilege and pleasure of being employed by MEI for more than seven years now, where I am surrounded by caring and dedicated co-workers, and am continually uplifted by God’s presence. I have had the opportunity to co-lead missions teams to Ukraine, Costa Rica and Quebec and to see God at work in these foreign places and in our students’ lives.
I can’t imagine what our lives would be like had it not been for this school. MEI has changed our lives forever and I will always be grateful and supportive of it. When people ask me if I like working at MEI, I say, “Oh no, I don\’t like MEI, I lovvvvvvve MEI, and I never want to work anywhere else!”