My name is Trish Bergen and I am the High School Dean of Academics. Although I have been asked to contribute to our school blog, I am not coming to you as a dean, but rather as a parent. A parent who loves her kids, who worries about their well being, who wants the very best for them, who searched for the perfect school for them and decided on SVC. Sound familiar? I want to share a little more of my story…
I grew up in a family that valued education. Not because my parents or other family members went to prestigious colleges, but because they didn’t have that opportunity and came to America so that I could. At a very young age, my dad had me writing my name and rhyming words on a chalkboard. He read to me nightly, played classical music regularly and made sure my mom would practice her English (even though it was much easier for her to communicate in Italian). My dad died in a car accident when I was four, so we never got the chance to talk about colleges or my future. But I knew at a very young age that he loved me and took time to share things that mattered to him. I also knew that I really liked learning, and that I felt at home in a classroom. My mom, who was now a widow with two young girls in a foreign country, didn’t really know what to do about that, but it really didn’t matter. She continued to love and encourage me.
Fast forward a few years to the end of my sophomore year at UCLA when I got a job at a local elementary school as a teacher’s aide. I called my mom at the end of my first week and shared, “I know what I want to be: a teacher.” It was the perfect fit. Not only could I continue learning, but more importantly, I could help others find their passion and foster their love and pursuit of it.
When the time came for me to have my own children, it was the most incredible thing. However, as an educator, it was also frightening. You’d think training to become a teacher would give you confidence, but mostly it made me more nervous. I loved school, but what if my kids didn’t? Sure, I could inspire my students, but what if I couldn’t do the same with my boys? It was around this time that I felt God encouraging me to trust Him, to remember that He loves my boys even more than I do; that their path may not look anything like mine and that it didn’t have to look the same. He reassured me that He would lead the way and that all I had to do was trust and follow. And so with that, I vowed to release any preconceived plans and timelines and dreams for them to Him. He asked, “What matters most?” I knew the answer, “A heart for you, Lord.”
Not an easy thing to do, but I keep replaying that conversation I had with God. Trust in my plan for them. And the more I replay it, the more He reveals. Trust in my plan for them…just like your parents trusted in my plan for you. You see, the more I think of it, my parents valued education and shared that with me, but it was God who placed that desire in my heart. My dad introduced writing and reading and music to me, but even when he left so soon and wasn’t able to continue sharing, that didn’t bring things to a halt. In fact, I was able to work through struggles, advocate for myself, and ultimately grow in my faith, while the rest of my family listened to, celebrated with and nourished my passion with their enthusiasm and unconditional love.
So that is what I try to do on a daily basis, and the message I want to share with you today. When those doubts try to settle in, remember to trust. Share things you love with your kids and pay attention to what they get excited about. God has placed desires in their hearts and entrusted them into your care. All you need to do is follow his lead – allow them to experience and become who He created them to be. Celebrate their successes, encourage them through their struggles, listen carefully and love them through it all.
Trish Bergen is the High School Dean of Academics at Saddleback Valley Christian School. She is also the mother of two sons — Matthew (an SVC alum who attends UCLA) and Ben (a junior at SVC) — and wife of Bert, SVC Assistant Athletic Director and Head Swim Coach.
You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.