Shoot the Moon

Shoot the Moon

Ken Shaw

It is hard to believe that we recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the successful landing on the moon’s surface by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. As a kid, I recall being glued to our black and white television, watching the astronauts come out of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module and walk for the first time on the face of the moon. I remember Armstrong’s quote, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” What a milestone!

It was in Houston that U.S. President John F. Kennedy gave his historic speech at Rice Stadium to a large crowd. He said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

As a kid, the expression Shoot the Moon was a rarely used phrase in a card game that my family played. In the game of Rook, if one did Shoot the Moon, that meant they had a hand where they thought they could take every trick. And if they did, they would score 500 points, a rare feat. Shoot the Moon means doing the near impossible.

The dream that President Kennedy had in 1962 to say that we would Shoot the Moon in this decade caused many scientists to question his sanity. However, with ingenuity and a team of thousands of people, they made his dream a reality.

Today, as I am writing, our freshmen and their parents are arriving on our campus here at Southwestern Adventist University, so my thoughts turn naturally toward the beginning of school. I know each one of these freshmen and their families have dreams of success. Some parents are sending their children to school without ever experiencing college themselves: a scary, but trusting endeavor. These students and parents value a Christian school where they can grow in their faith while pursuing a quality education. Their dreams come with high expectations for our university to provide students with rock solid academics, internships, clinicals, and practical experiences, along with opportunities where they can grow their faith through music, worship, devotionals, and participation in small groups and community service.

Last evening at our home, my wife and I hosted a number of students who came in a few weeks early to get a head start on school. As I was visiting with a couple of young ladies, I noted the passion and excitement they had. One wanted to become a doctor and the other looked forward to obtaining her degree in kinesiology.

One student shared that when she was in high school, not many of her teachers cared personally about her; they did not care if she received a good or bad grade. She then provided a sharp contrast with the experience she has had at Southwestern Adventist University this summer. She said the first professor on the first day actually said, “I care for you. I want you to be successful.” As she continued, she said her second professor told her and the rest of the class the same thing and even her third professor shared similar sentiments. She shared how each of the faculty, throughout her brief courses, demonstrated a care for her and the other students. This made such a difference in her learning.

The expectations are high from students and their parents. Southwestern Adventist University is up to the challenge; we desire to Shoot the Moon. To Shoot the Moon in the education system is not easy; it is

hard work. It is relatively easy to stand in front of class and profess what you know; it is hard to build a connection and relationship with each student so that learning becomes more meaningful.

Our faculty choose to Shoot the Moon this year in teaching by caring and connecting with each student, not because this will be easy, but because it is hard, to organize and measure the best of their energies and skills, because that challenge is one that they have accepted, one they are unwilling to postpone, and one which they intend to win.

This article is an opinion piece written by President Shaw for the Cleburne Times Review

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