The Florida Conference Office of Education (FLCOE) is intentional about growing their educators. Murray Cooper, the Associate Superintendent for Administration, leads in the area of principal recruitment, retention, and success. In this position, he provides opportunities for principals to learn and fellowship at scheduled intervals in Principal Advisory.
During the February 2020 Advisory, principals formed small groups based on school size for an informal discussion about the success and struggles they face in their particular settings.
The small school group consisted of principals who are also teachers and in that circle, sat Sandra Maddox (Sandy), the principal of Indigo Christian Junior Academy. Sandy spoke of her pride in her school and her love for her students. She praised those who support her and the God who is ever-present. She also shared the hardship of returning to educational ministry ten years after retirement.
Sandy shared the challenges of teaching and leading at a small school with infinite tasks and finite time. She expressed her surprise at the millions of processes and paperwork that she must complete for the various entities that are unfamiliar to her: Step-up, School Choice, Technology Plans, Infrastructure, Versacare, etc. As she spoke, a principal asked politely: “If you don’t mind my asking, why did you return? (In the circle, it is safe to ask or share anything).
Sandy smiled as she recalled the leadership call from FLCOE. She had retired from SDA education in Virginia after close to 33 years of teaching. After retirement, she continued with her work as a remarkable artist. She served as a docent or guide for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and taught in the GED program in Powhattan County, Virginia. She also homeschooled one of her grandchildren once a week. All of that could not silence the sound of sunshine calling her to Florida. She needed a warmer climate but how would she keep busy? Where would she serve in Florida?
It didn’t take long to receive a call from Murray. Sandy now believes that the call was from God. She is humbled and it is very clear to her that children are her mission. No matter the challenges, she praises God for the privilege to love and care for her students. She uses her gifts to push the school forward, to motivate her teachers, and to uplift Jesus. As an artist and educator, her life reflects the Master Artist and Creator God and displays the beauty of a life that is committed to service.