Dr. Cindy Tyner Remembers Highlands
June 08, 2012 | Orchards
By Dr. Cindy Tyner
Dr. Cynthia (Cindy) Tyner is a Professor of Education and the Chair of the Department of Education at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. She and her husband have led 15 international mission trip teams and have also led the Irish Studies Program for TU while living in Ireland for a semester. The two have made it their lifelong goal to take as many people to the mission field as they can. Dr. Tyner explains, "We believe that mission trip members are changed for eternity after an experience on a foreign field. They might not end up as a career missionary, but they will pray, give, and most likely change their mindset towards materialism." In 2010, Dr. Tyner and her husband completed a year-long sabbatical with NICS in La Paz, Bolivia, at Highlands International School. She served as principal and Stan taught 8th – 12th grade social studies for the year.
When I step back to think about the strengths of Highlands I immediately think of our director, Scott Frost. Scott is a true servant of the Lord. He loves Highlands--promoting and supporting it in every way possible. He has the tedious task of serving as the CEO of the school; managing the budget, working with the Bolivian government, attending many high power meetings to become a licensed Bolivian School and integrating governmental requirements within the curriculum and school day. He is a visionary working with an architect to design a new facility to house the school and projecting an increase in the school population. He strives for excellence and his enthusiasm and excitement for Highlands spills over to the staff, teachers, and students. My husband, Stan, claims that Scott was the most accessible and friendly administrator he has ever had and Scott is Stan’s thirteenth administrator.
Highlands could not function without the Bolivian employees and support staff. Marcos and Valeria Molina serve as administrative assistants for the school and their mastery of the Spanish language and friendly personalities serve to promote the school as they communicate with Spanish speaking parents and guests of Highlands. Their love for the Lord and dedication to serving him, with all their hearts, is evident in their words and actions on a daily basis.
Small class size is a real plus at Highlands. Our classes ranged from 8 to 18. This allows teachers to develop strong relationships with each student and to truly get to know their learning style, work ethic, and academic ability. Students felt free to come in before or after class to ask questions, discuss material, and share on a personal basis with their teachers.
When a teacher obtains a teaching license they are considered a professional. Today, many teaching professionals are handicapped by curriculum mandates dictated by the school system for which they are working. This was not the case at Highlands. The North Carolina Teaching Standards were used as the basis for the curriculum at our school but teachers were given educational freedom to meet the standards using various teaching strategies. Accountability along with trust was in play. As a result, we had happy teachers, parents, and students.
A Personal Testimony
Working at a NICS school provides the opportunity to interact with families from many different countries. We were overwhelmed to realize that we would have the opportunity to be in the homes of students from many countries including; Iran, Lebanon, Japan, Chile, and Israel. The multicultural population of the school provides rich cultural experiences and interactions that help students develop a biblical worldview far beyond our typical American mindset.
Christ truly was the foundation of our school. Four mornings a week our staff would meet for 15 minutes to share requests, pray, and listen to a short devotional given by a staff member. Our director, Scott, made sure that we were reminded daily of the fact that our purpose for being in Bolivia was to share Christ and bring students to the knowledge of knowing him as their Lord and Savior.
The most important thing that we have taken away from our year in Bolivia is a deeper respect and love for veteran missionaries. We were told by missionary friends that it will not be easy and that when you are truly in the middle of the Lord’s will for your life, attacks will come. This was evident in two situations that we experienced while serving in Bolivia:
In early October of 2010, my husband, Stan, began to develop chronic bronchitis. He would cough continuously, developed high fevers, and was completely worn out. Finally, we found a doctor in uptown La Paz who prescribed nebulizer treatments, strong antibiotics, a stronger inhaler, etc. Stan made 3 visits to the doctor in a short amount of time. He improved through the rainy season but was once again in the midst of the illness during the spring (fall in Bolivia) dry season. Still today we are working with doctors in the U.S. to try to remedy the constant cough and other symptoms.
In late October we began to receive word from home that my father was suffering with severe pain and numbness in his right arm and hand. He was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and sent home with medication. About Thanksgiving time, the pain increased and the diagnosis was recurring prostate cancer in the bones. A treatment was given that was known to diminish this type of cancer. When nothing worked and the intensity of the pain increased, he was diagnosed on December 4 with cancer throughout his skeletal system with spots on the liver. tan and I immediately made our plans to go home from Bolivia, nine days earlier than planned, for Christmas. Dad passed into eternity on Christmas Day, 2010, as I was holding his shoulder standing at his side. Dad was much more than a father to us, he was our best friend. A man in perfect condition, except for back problems, went home to be with the Lord in 3 weeks’ time.
When one commits to full-time service on a foreign field it is not easy. Much is asked of us beyond going overseas. We are away from our parents, children, grandchildren, friends, and the comforts of home. Is it worth it, you may ask? Yes, yes, yes. If we were sent to Bolivia to bring two young Japanese girls to the Lord and to disciple them it was worth all the sacrifice, illness, death, and loneliness. Thank you, Highlands International School, Scott Frost, and the Network of International Christian Schools. Since you were willing to risk hiring a college professor and high school teacher, in their 50s, who you barely knew, our lives have been changed for eternity.