Nathasha Jayawardene or Mrs. J, as her students affectionately call her, currently teaches 9th and 11th grade Literature. She is also a TCS parent with her daughter in 4th grade. Her family moved from Sri Lanka to the United States just last year. In Sri Lanka, at the University of Colombo, she received her degree in sociology, English literature, and international relations. She has one year left in her program to complete her master’s degree in international relations. In the years before coming to TCS she worked for worked for a school that offered Pearson Edexcel examinations and prepared students for high school and AP level examinations in the British curriculum.
Read more of Mrs. J’s story as she shares with us her heart for her students and for the Lord.
What/Who inspired you to take up teaching?
I was not a great student until I met the Lord, I really struggled academically to the point where some of my teachers didn’t even think I’d go to college. I got into college because of the Lord, He changed everything for me. I learned that He gives me strength in my weakness. When I was in school my principal helped me so much. She was brilliant in language and music, and she was someone who inspired me to be a teacher. I wanted to be there for students who were like me.
Why did you choose to teach at TCS?
When my family was looking to move to the United States, I was looking for a Christian elementary school to enroll my daughter in. A family friend recommended TCS for my daughter. Meanwhile a friend from church informed me of a vacancy that was available at the time for an English teacher. I was excited about this opportunity and the Lord made a way for me to join the staff at TCS. The Lord chose TCS to be a place of blessing for my daughter and me.
What do you love most about TCS?
I love the school environment and the Christian education extended to students. I studied in a missionary school in Sri Lanka and TCS reminds me of my own school. We’re investing in children’s lives for eternity.
What is one word that best describes the school? Why?
Nurturing, because we nurture students so that they can blossom. It’s not just teaching and mentoring the students but nurturing them to grow into their potential and to grow into people that they can be proud of.
How are faith and learning integrated at TCS?
At TCS we help students view worldly subjects and theories through a biblical lens. Every lesson begins with a time of devotion and prayer. Since I’m teaching literature, we talk about lifestyles, people, and society, so in most lessons there is an easy way to integrate biblical principles. The books that I teach like Lord of the Flies prompt students to ask questions like “Why is the world so dark?”, “How can you get away from sin?”, and “How do you deal with sin?”. Last year I was able to share my testimony with my students. I was a Buddhist and came to the Lord when I was 16 years old. I know how dark life can be and the difference Jesus makes in your life when He steps in, so I was able to communicate that to the students when they had that question. It’s amazing to be in a school where you can share your testimony.
In what ways are you preparing students for life beyond TCS?
I am preparing students for life beyond TCS by helping them to view the world through a biblical perspective. I’m preparing them in the faith. I make my lessons about life and things they can relate to. I want them to see life beyond the books. That is what is required in education, it must be relatable to kids. The classroom is a good place to ask questions, even about faith. When they are in college, they might not get these answers so I am preparing students by giving them that biblical worldview and creating a space where they can ask questions.
What would you tell families to encourage them to send their children to TCS?
I would tell them that TCS is a home away from home. It’s a very close-knit community and that’s something I wanted for my daughter. You can feel the safety and love here. When I moved to the US, finding a school was something that I was worried about. I didn’t expect to find a school in a place where there are so many things right, yet so many things wrong, but the Lord provided TCS as a safe haven.
Anything you would like to share about your experience at TCS thus far?
At TCS I have learned so much about teaching. I had 10 years of experience before this, but I have learned so much more. I met some really wonderful people like Miss McKay and Barb Nelson who were there for me when I was having a hard time adjusting to the move and missing home last year. They were there for me through it all. I love learning and that’s another thing Barb and I connected on. She was an amazing mentor to me during my first year!