IN the Classroom with Mr. Giles

Educating. Preparing. Inspiring.

By Sarah Novlan, Director of Academics

December 15, 2022

Dear Hill Country Families,
I’ve spent the past fifteen years as a teacher walking through challenging questions with high schoolers, delving into how literature can help us understand the human condition. But recently, I found myself deeply humbled when presented with a question that stumped me; the question was posed by my four year old son, who, in an attempt to evade bedtime, decided to strike up a deep, theological question.

“Mom, why did Jesus rise again in three days? Why not four?” Before I could attempt to explain the theological significance of the number three, my son rephrased his question, “Why did God pick the number three?” Good question. There is nothing like the innocence and pure curiosity of a four year old to put your own knowledge and learning into perspective.

I am so thankful God continually uses the simple and humble things in my life to reorient my own heart to a position of humility. As educators, we want to be knowledgeable and wise. We want our students to grow in their knowledge and wisdom. But we must model growth and excellence from a spirit of humility. Humility is the right orientation of who we are in relation to who God is, the recognition that all our accolades and achievements are through Him and to Him. The apostle Paul, a man who had every reason to boast, encourages us in our commitment to humility: “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

To me, humility is always worth contemplating and examining, but even more so during the Christmas season—when we remember our Savior humbled Himself to come in the most lowly and meek manner. In our classrooms at Hill Country, we want to encourage the posture of students’ hearts to be ever connected to the grace of a humble Savior, in whose presence all strivings cease. In this second installment of our IN the Classroom series, I had the opportunity to sit down with a teacher who not only exemplifies humility but also points his students towards it in their learning. In our time together, fourth-grade teacher Mr. Mike Giles and I discuss how he came to Hill Country, the key transitions fourth graders experience, and why he thinks the greatest line in all of literature can be found in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I hope you enjoy our conversation, and I wish you and your family a blessed Merry Christmas.

Also, if you missed our first interview, I sat down with first grade teacher, Sherrie Reichenau, to ask her about the joys of teaching first grade, how she encourages her students’ curiosity and wonder, and how she models lifelong learning in the classroom. I hope it’s a blessing to you.

With excellence,

Sarah Novlan,
Director of Academics