Lessons from a WWII Veteran: Student Response

Last week we were privileged and honored to host Metanoia guest speaker, Clayton Nattier (see photo above), World War II Air Force pilot, purple heart recipient and former POW. Mr. Nattier shared stories of his personal experiences leading his flight team, parachuting into enemy territory and enduring the hardships of life as a POW in a German prison camp. His compelling stories left an impression on Anastasis students. See some of their comments below:
Times are changing. It’s not before long when souls move on and their legacies remain. Thank you so much Clayton for sharing your inspirational story. I’m still amazed that I got to speak with a national treasure such as yourself. Your story showed me the dire importance of Bravery even when fear seems to crown itself, the importance of hope when the lights seem to fade away, and the power of love even when times seem as if they are out to destroy us. I encourage you to keep spreading your story and inspiring souls in this universe. Your story has made an impact on our world and an imprint on my heart.
Even with hardships I saw the amazing faith and positivity. The story that you shared with us is so special and heroic. It’s amazing to think that through trauma God has a plan for all of us. When you told the part of your story when you had to bail from your plane, I was astounded by your true bravery and courage. You have inspired me and I am so lucky to have heard your story. Thank you, Clayton, you are truly a national treasure. 
Thank you for teaching me something that I will never forget. Something that will not just be planted on my heart, but rooted in it. You taught me that when life is hard, God is good. That when life isn’t going how we planned, all we can do is put a smile on our face and believe. Believe that something will change. Believe that God isn’t a dictator or an enemy. He is a Father, our Father. “You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.” You have taught me that it’s not just about how you have lived life, it’s about what you 
have learned from it. 
Thank you for serving in a hard war and wanting to do it again. Thank you for being vulnerable and talking about it. Thank you for sharing I learned that it helps to share your story so we can learn from it. Thank you for taking precious time out of your day. You are a great story. 
Clayton is truly an inspiration to this day. He had hope, faith, courage, and bravery in one of the most hardest times in history. Thank you so much Clayton for sharing your incredible story with us today. It is truely an honor to hear and see you to this day still living life to the fullest. Thank you for coming and serving your country.
Not many people will be able to say they have heard a story of a war hero. Today I was lucky enough to listen to Clayton’s story and how he protected our country. The most amazing thing ever to hear is that even though Clayton was a prison or of war, that he lost some great friends, that thousands of people died, he would do it all over again to protect our country. I would like to thank Clayton and all the veterans of World War Two for protecting myself and all the citizens of America. These veterans are treasures of the war that should 
never be forgotten.

Thank you, Mr. Clayton for everything you have done for our nation. I thank you for having served bravely with the love you have fueling your spirit. We are forever grateful to you for protecting our freedom and way of life, as well as protecting our independence. I thank you for that. I thank you for every act of love you have shared, and I thank you, most importantly, for never forgetting who you are.
Clayton was a brave and inspirational man. I loved hearing his story and that if he could change anything he wouldn’t. I loved hearing him talk about how he got to fly the airplanes and how much work that was. I took a lot away from this but something that I will remember for a long time is that he was brave and didn’t give up. Thank you Clayton for speaking to us and serving our country.
Clayton is a national treasure to many people. Not too many people are still alive today from WW II to show the new generation what true courage and bravery is. Thank you Clayton for sharing your story and being a primary source to all of us. My grandpa was a Colonel in the Army and hearing his stories was life changing and every single time I hear a story from experiences from war they all sound different in there own special way. Your faith and joy throughout your experience is inspiring to me to be more faithful and be brave. Thank you.
Clayton, thank you so much for all you have done for me and this country. Your really are a national treasure because there’s not many people left that are similar to you. I loved hearing your personal story and your experience in World War II. My favorite part on what you said was about how even in all that had happened to you, you still had hope. I think you were super brave to go and be apart of the war and you would still do it if you traveled back in time. 
May God bless you.  

Q Ideas Conference

|Kelly Tenkely|

Recently I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the South Denver Q Ideas Conference. It was truly wonderful to hear from passionate individuals from all walks of life. What I appreciated the most about each of the speakers was the intention to change the narrative and focus on the humanity in their respective realms of influence. This was a collection of change makers who are transforming the world by choosing to start with people. Amazing!

Below is the transcript of my Q Ideas talk about education reform:

Everyone in this room, and I would venture to guess, who will watch this video or read this blog post, have one thing in common: Education. And in a very real way, this commonality makes us all experts in education. We’ve all been through it and likely have varying degrees of opinion about how that worked for us and what needs to change. Because of our shared expert status, we hold assumptions about what education is and needs without really realizing it. Education reform is a hot topic in the media and in politics right now and we hear words like “no child left behind” and “race to the top” and then frame the conversation by talking about rigor, and in terms of tests, and standards, and competition with the rest of the world, and scores and grades. In a lot of ways, this expert status and these assumptions hold us back from making the changes needed in education. We assume things like schools must include tests and grades. How else will we know if a student knows something? How will we know if we’ve done a good job educating.

When I decided to start a school 4 years ago, it was motivated by one thing: students who have names. I mention that they have names, because too often when we make decisions about education reform, we make these sweeping statements about “students” and very quickly they become numbers, and scores, and faceless beings. I was a teacher who saw that I had all these incredibly brilliant CREATED individuals who had names and stories to go with those names, but were being made to look exactly the same. Being asked to fit the same mold, to learn things at the same time. I had this sense of urgency to change things for these kids. Because I knew their names, I knew their stories. This is Camryn and Maddie, our youngest students when I started Anastasis Academy. When we make decisions at Anastasis, we do so with these two in mind. We do so knowing these students and these stories. Kids don’t have the luxury of waiting for us to get this right. They keep growing.

The problem with most education reform is that it is continually attempts to change surface level systems while hoping for deep systemic change as a result. What we actually end up with at the school level is new mandates. We hear politicians wax poetic about the new rigorous curriculum, the new testing mandates that are going to ensure that kids get the best, new technology in classrooms. Everything gets turned upside down and inside out, and the end result is the same, the new push ends up in a heap shoveled to the side when the next new idea comes along.

At Anastasis, we’ve been camped out in Romans 12 for a few weeks with our students. It strikes me that the idea of renewing our minds is exactly what is needed in education. With all the new initiatives that are added, we never really change our minds about what education is and what it needs. We continue approaching the problem with the same assumptions and no matter what new shine we add, the result is the same. Swirl.

And so this is my challenge for all of us. A renewing of our minds. A stripping away of the assumptions of what education must look like and starting with the most important thing. Students who are uniquely created. Students who have names and with those names stories. At Anastasis Academy what we do looks vastly different from what you see in most schools. We didn’t make change for the sake of change. We made it for Camryn and for Maddie, and for all of our other students with names.

And so when we engage the world of education from that standpoint, it looks much more like an unleashing students who are capable of the extraordinary. Starting from the assumption that we have students who have a unique purpose and gift for the world, we offer learning fueled by curiosity and passion instead of the test. We give students opportunities to learn how to properly manage their freedom rather than sit in desks and rows. We model mindfulness and community. We provide opportunities for growth rather than stifling learning with a grade that ends it.

Maddie and Camryn are more than a collection of facts that they’ve memorized. These young women have absolute genius that this world needs. When we think about education, it has to begin with the humanity, with the students that have names. We must stop focusing on the finish line (as if learning has one!) and instead engage in this idea of Metanoia, the journey of renewing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life.