There are quite a few differences that I have discovered over the past week at my new school in the Philippines from the schools I have taught at in Chicagoland:

  • In Chicagoland, first period opens with pledge and announcements on intercom. At Faith Academy Manila, first period opens with teacher making announcements, reading Scripture, and prayer.
  • In Chicagoland, I can answer students’ questions about faith. At Faith Academy Manila, I integrate faith and academic learning.
  • In Chicagoland, I teach more classes; shorter school day. At Faith Academy Manila, I teach less classes; longer school day.
  • In Chicagoland, all kids are in the lunchroom with multiple staff. At Faith Academy Manila, kids spread out on campus with a roaming staff.
  • There are just under 900 students in 6th-8th grade at my school in Chicagoland. There are about 125 students in 6th-8th grade here at Faith Academy Manila.
  • The students are busy outside of school with club sports, youth group, volunteering, park district activities in Chicagoland. Here in Manila, the community doesn’t offer much for middle school students. Faith Academy Manila offers more clubs, sports, youth groups and volunteer opportunities.
  • Schools in Chicagoland have indoor hallways. Faith Academy Manila has outdoor, covered hallways
  • The average class size in Chicagoland is 30+ students. The average class size here at Faith Academy Manila is less than 20.
  • In Chicagoland, my classroom is set back from the street with an amazing view of the forest preserve. At Faith Academy Manila, my classroom is set in the mountains with a view of the Manila skyline, mountains, and tropical plants.
  • Students ride bus, walk, or carpool to school from within district boundaries to schools in Chicagoland. Students walk, ride a 15 passenger school van, or carpool from across the Metro Manila area to Faith Academy Manila. Very few missionary students live in the dorms.

Students from one of my classes.


Whatever cultural/environmental differences there may be, middle school students are middle school students. Most are full of energy. Many are insecure and desperately wanting to fit in during a season when friendships ebb and change. Some friendships dwindle, which is painful, but others usually grow in their place. Students are trying new things, learning what they are (or aren’t!) good at, and forming habits and patterns which determine how they will make decisions for the rest of their life. Most of my beginning of the year sixth graders are enthusiastic and eager to learn. Please pray with me that this year the Holy Spirit will equip me to

  • connect with each student
  • communicate clearly and creatively
  • challenge my students to grow academically and in their faith
  • set an example as a student of the Word who also enjoys learning about the world around her
  • see my students as God sees them, see who they are becoming in Him
  • speak life and encouragement into my students

Thanks for your prayers, encouragement and support. Betsy Lyons