Teacher Feature: Jon Duncan

Over the course of the next few weeks, the ICS blog will be hosting a teacher spotlight to showcase some of our exceptional faculty members at Immanuel Christian School. We hope you enjoy getting to know your child’s teacher better and glean some insight into why they love what they do here!

Jon Duncan is currently in his tenth year as an ICS faculty member. For the first nine, he served as the seventh grade Bible and Social Studies teacher. If you walked by his classroom on the right day, you might see it transformed into a Revolutionary-War era tavern with Mr. Duncan decked out in incredibly realistic colonial garb, holding court with Betsy Ross and King George (or…students presenting oral reports on these people). This year, he stepped into a new role as the first-ever ninth and tenth grade history teacher. His love for making history come alive and deep knowledge of the Bible have made Mr. Duncan a beloved ICS teacher who many students have credited with sparking a lifelong love of American history.

Mr. Duncan received his undergrad degree from Taylor University and his Masters from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. His wife Sandy serves at ICS as the 1A TA and fifth and sixth grade World Languages instructor, and his two kids have attended ICS since kindergarten. When not teaching, Mr. Duncan can be found exploring civil war battlefields with his family, cheering on his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates, or hitting some brutal RBI’s in the spring faculty/student softball game. Below he shares some of his thoughts about his role at Immanuel.

Favorite thing about this year:
It’s hard to choose one, so I’ll name a few. 😊

  • The first thing that comes to mind is that I love how I get to continue working with some students who I previously taught in 7th grade.
  • I’ve also loved working with new students who have come from a wide variety of places and backgrounds.
  • I’m really looking forward to being part of our Winterim study international trip to England and Scotland, especially since it will be a whirlwind tour of historical sites that I’ve wanted to see for a long time but never had an opportunity to travel to before.
  • I’ve loved being part of doing something new (and, yes, historic) at our school. I’ve enjoyed working with a great team of teachers and staff while helping to launch the new high school.
  • I’ve enjoyed the new challenge and opportunities that have come with developing and teaching new curriculum (Ancient and Modern World History this year). For nine years I was lucky enough to work alongside some amazing colleagues while teaching a 7th grade history class at ICS that allowed me to spend all year covering my favorite area of history – Early America. I had such a blast doing that that truthfully, it was not an easy decision to give that up to come to the high school. But now that I’m practically covering all of human history in my new position, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to help students think about the big issues of history and the general patterns of human behavior across a much broader scope of geography and time. I’ve especially enjoyed teaching about the impact that different worldviews and religions have had on different societies in world history.

Biggest lesson you hope to impart to your students this year:
At the beginning of the year, my classes discussed a consistent pattern that is often seen in history-one that Ronald Wells writes about in his book, History through the Eyes of Faith. We called it the “Wells thesis”- the idea that societies develop and then usually reach a point of crisis when its citizens realize that the real state of their society is greatly separated from their idea of how things ought to be. These moments of crisis have typically produced the dramatic stories of history that we tend to gravitate towards. Sometimes these stories might inspire us and help us gain wisdom in learning how to live with one another. They almost always, though, include strong elements of tragedy and divisiveness – of people falling short, turning on one another, and leading societies to fail in some way or another. In other words, while history can teach us about our capabilities as humans and how we have accomplished some impressive things over the years, it also reminds us of the destructive impact of sin in our world, and of our ultimate inability to forge bonds that are strong enough to hold societies together in a true state of peace and harmony.

As we discussed these patterns of history in my classes, we observed that while human history seems to have been in a precarious state all along, the reality is that God has always has been in control of His world and has sustained it through His sovereignty to serve His purpose. We also talked as a class about how God has given His people in history a powerful message to share through the ages – that the only thing that can bring order to this fractured world and truly unite the human race is the person of Christ. As Paul says in Colossians 1, it’s in Christ that “all things hold together,” and in the end He will “reconcile to Himself all things” and will bring a perfect and eternal peace under His Lordship in heaven and on earth when He comes again. In the meantime, we as Christians have been called by God to unite in a common purpose – to be salt and light to our world, and to be in a type of community with one another that has been very uncommon in history, but becomes possible when individuals come to know Christ and are transformed by His Spirit. As members of this community, if we grow in knowing Christ and focus on His glory, our tendency to treat one other as the rest of the world does should fade away. Instead of being transfixed on our individual rights and identities as people with distinct interests, experiences, and backgrounds, we will begin to see ourselves more as part of a diverse group of people united under the Lordship of Christ and bound by a common love for Him and for each other. The Church hasn’t always done this well, but at times in history it has – like in the 1st century as described in Acts 2, and, to a certain degree, during the evangelical revivals in the English-speaking world in the 18th and 19th centuries, and through the worldwide ministry of Billy Graham in the 20th century. It’s these special moments in history that I love to highlight in my classes – when we see the power of a diverse community of Christians united by Christ and the truth of His Gospel making a dramatic impact on societies. My prayer is that these particular lessons from Christian history can help our students gain a greater understanding of the power of Christ in our world. I also hope that these lessons will help inspire our students to play an active role in the global Christian community, and help it serve as a powerful witness of the Gospel to a needy world by modeling the unity in diversity that is only made possible through Christ.

Thank you, Mr. Duncan for ten years of excellence at ICS!

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