The Hearts They’ll Have
Mark Sneller remembers his first-day teaching at Zeeland Christian thirty-nine years ago, watching the joyful little students climb the stairs up to his classroom. He also remembers his first fire drill, carrying each nervous child down the stairs so they would not have to exit by themselves, “It’s what you do,” Mark says, reflecting on it.
Connecting with and understanding his students has been a passion of Mark’s since his first day. Having struggled in school himself as a child, he found a purpose in helping students through their frustrations and taking it one step at a time together. His motivation is to have the children see him in his walk with Jesus, taking steps backward and forward, so they understand that this is normal. In turn, he feels they have taught him so much in their journeys with Jesus.
After teaching for years, Mark has shared the classroom with plenty of kids, some being the children of his former students. He remarks about the generational love he witnesses every day that is passed on from parents to his current students. This love spans beyond generations and into the daily life of the classroom as he praises the understanding and love he sees them display towards one another. His students have an acceptance of each other’s differences, and he says the inclusivity of the school is at the heart of this understanding.
Fostering a love for Jesus and one another is something Mark is very passionate about, and in such an inclusive environment, his students develop this quickly. He attributes the student’s accepting perspectives to the Inclusion program that teaches them to love each other despite their differences. “The kids are just amazing,” he says.
His students teach him something new every day and continuously demonstrate a willingness to help one another. Mark remembers a parent once praising the successful students the school creates, but more importantly their love for one another. A testimony to the love Mark is a part of spreading to ZCS students; he fondly repeats their admiration, “Think of the hearts they’ll have.”