Alumni Educators Adapting Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
This article is the first in a series of articles about how Central Baptist College alumni in various fields are adapting their work and ministry amid the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Serving in the Public School System
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, a pair of Central Baptist College alumni are showing the love of Christ by serving their local community through their role in the public school system. Mandi Dunlap, an elementary school principal, and Addie (Bender) Pittman, an elementary school teacher, recently shared how they are serving the students of their school districts even though they no longer see them daily on their campuses.
My Mission Field
Dunlap is the principal of Eastside Elementary School in Greenbrier. She attended CBC from 1999-2001 before the development of the education department but knows that CBC was the place for her.
“I grew up at Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Bee Branch (Arkansas),” said Dunlap. “I heard about CBC from several members of my youth group who went there and mostly from my mom, who was an alum. After I went on a tour, I wanted to go there too. I was around a lot of people going into the ministry. I never felt called to do that, but the job that I am doing is my mission field.
I get to work on hearts all the time. It is a true joy to make an impact in a kid’s life and being impacted by great peers and great professors is what influenced me.”
One of the ways that Dunlap is fulfilling her mission is by delivering meals to students every day. She said that the schools in Greenbrier are either delivering meals, allowing parents to come to the school to get meals or delivering meals to local churches for parents to access during this difficult time. She is also going “live” into the homes of her students each day along with her Assistant Principal through her school’s Facebook page.
A CBC Family Legacy
Pittman attended CBC from 2013-2017 and was one of the very first graduates of the education program at CBC. She is in her third year of teaching at Westside Elementary School in Greenbrier.
Pittman has many connections to CBC. Her father, Dusty Bender, is a Professor of History and Chair of the Social Studies Department, her mother, Paula Bender, is the Coordinator of Disability Support Services, and her husband, Blake, is a Personal Admissions Officer. “My mom and dad work there, my sister went there, and I always just grew up wanting to go to CBC,” said Pittman.
Pittman is currently helping her students in their work from home studies. “We started Alternative Methods of Instruction [a few weeks ago],” said Pittman. “It involves parents accessing the school’s website or opening paper packets so the students can be instructed at home.
We are also helping with lunches and making sure our students are comfortable during this time.” Pittman is staying connected with her students by hosting online sessions with them, sending them personalized postcards, and participating in her school’s recent “Drive @ 5 Parade” where teachers drove their school’s bus routes to see their students.
Dealing with the Pandemic Challenges
For Dunlap and Pittman, they are using their educational training and personal convictions to continue building relationships, making connections, and ensuring learning still takes place for their students, all while dealing with the challenges that exist in a global pandemic.
Advice for Future Students
Before their interviews ended, both Dunlap and Pittman had advice for future CBC students. Dunlap’s original plan when she entered as a freshman at CBC was to enter the medical field. “I thought I had all the answers,” said Dunlap when asked about her most valuable lesson. “I slowed down enough to listen to wise counsel.
I was determined that I was going to be a cardiologist. Mrs. [Judy] Gabbard, [Professor of Science and Chair of the Match and Science Department at CBC], set me up to do candy striping and it wasn’t what I imagined. I sat down with her later and she helped me figure out what I wanted to do.”
Pray Over Your Decision
When asked what her advice to a future student considering CBC would be, Dunlap replied: “Take a tour. Take time to talk to people and pray over your decision. CBC was a great opportunity for me to go to college and not be overwhelmed. I’m proud of my time at CBC.”
History is Just HIS Story
When asked about her best experience and most valuable lesson, Pittman responded: “The valuable lesson I learned was one thing that my dad always says: ‘History is just HIS story.’ He related everything that we learned back to God. I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl.
I loved being in the education program because of its size. I loved the personal bond with the professors. I was able to use my connections to land a job and be more successful in my career. That personal aspect was very helpful.”
CBC Feels Like Family
When asked what she would tell a high school senior about CBC, she responded: “Really consider what you are looking for. One thing about CBC is that it really feels like family. If you want a personal experience and to get that family feel, then definitely consider CBC.”
Are you looking for a college that equips students to serve people in a personable environment like Mandi and Addie were?
In order to comply with directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Central Baptist College campus is currently closed to visitors.
However, students can visit the campus virtually by going to cbc.edu/visit. There students will be able to view the Virtual Campus Visit Experience.
To apply for admission, visit cbc.edu/apply.
Read Future Articles
Look for future articles about how Central Baptist College alumni are impacting their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic on the online blog at cbc.edu/blog.