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Faith & Family: Teacher brings God’s word to students

Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Holy Family Early Learning Center pre-k teacher Sherry Gaines stands with some of her students in the courtyard of the school Thursday. From left are Lela Reed, 4, Draylen Scott, 3, Kyra Searcy, 4, Delaney Johnson, 5, and Kenadie Calvit, 4.
Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Holy Family Early Learning Center pre-k teacher Sherry Gaines stands with some of her students in the courtyard of the school Thursday. From left are Lela Reed, 4, Draylen Scott, 3, Kyra Searcy, 4, Delaney Johnson, 5, and Kenadie Calvit, 4.

NATCHEZ — Sometimes teaching pre-kindergarten math and spelling just isn’t enough to fulfill the desire to teach.

That’s why Sherry Gaines said teaching at Holy Family School, where religion can be implemented in the daily curriculum, was the best choice for her.

“In public schools, you can’t teach religion,” Gaines said. “But I think it’s important to bring God into the children’s lives.”

Gaines has taught hundreds of 3- and 4-year-olds in her 15-year career at Holy Family, and she said it is the right age to start instilling the word of Christ.

“This is where you shape and mold them and prepare them for the future,” she said. “If I can instill Christian values in them at a young age, that’s rewarding for me.”

It may seem difficult to teach such young children how to be Christ-like, but Gaines said it is done more by example than by textbook.

“The No. 1 thing is to be an example for them because if I’m a teacher and I don’t exhibit good behavior, they won’t,” Gaines said. “I have to show passion and love for them to imitate me.”

Gaines said she shows enthusiasm in everything she teaches to help the children learn and stay attentive,

When it comes to directly teaching God’s word, Gaines said she makes it a daily routine to learn bits and pieces of the Bible,

“They have to learn the Lord’s prayer, you always have to give thanks to God before we start our day off,” Gaines said.

Most kindergarten classrooms’ story time feature Dr. Seuss, but Gaines’ story time includes only Bible stories.

“It starts from the beginning of how God made the heavens and the earth,” she said.

So far this year, her class has learned a scripture that Gaines said they can use in their everyday lives — Psalms 51:10.

Every day they recite off memory, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

“They’re not just memorizing the scripture, but applying it to everyday life,” Gaines said. “When they’re home or in the outside world.”

Outside of religion, Gaines said her students love to learn about the different countries in Africa more than anything else.

“They’re really interested in Africa because they like saying the names of the countries like Zimbabwe and Uganda,” she said. “Before the end of the year, they’ll know all 53 countries.”

During her 15 years as a teacher, Gaines said she has been blessed to never have any major problems.

“Before I start each school year I take my blessed oil and I anoint my front and back door, my desk and my students’ desk,” she said. “I ask God to give us a safe and blessed year, and I have not come to any problems yet.”

Gaines said she loves teaching the children beyond just spelling and social studies, and she doesn’t see herself slowing down anytime soon.

“I’ll be here until they close the doors on us,” she said.