When the school year began at Ovilla Christian School (OCS) Aug. 14, Daniel Foster was one of nine new faculty members. But he was the first and only teacher in the 15-year history of the school to be a returning alumna.
A 2002 OCS graduate, Foster took junior high and high school level courses in sports, math and science at the school while completing work for other subjects as a homeschool student. Later, from the second semester of 11th grade through graduation, Foster attended OCS as a full-time student.
Following high school, Foster became a student at Texas A&M, where he graduated earlier this year. His future plans included optometry school.
“My father is an optometrist,” said Foster, who explained that he felt that field was an “open door” to him.
After applying for optometry school, however, Foster was not accepted but was placed on a list of alternates. Then in July, Foster received a letter informing him that there were no openings at the school for him this fall.
“A week later, I was speaking at a camp,” said Foster, who was working this summer at a youth camp for teens and pre-teens in grades 7 through 12.
“The topic of my talk was how God opens and closes doors,” said Foster, who pointed out the immediate relevance of his speech to the current situation he found in his own life.
While at the camp, someone mentioned to Foster about an opening at OCS and suggested that he apply for the job. Their words were an answer to prayer for Foster who was unsure of his next step, but had prayed for guidance and was awaiting direction from God.
“I’ve always enjoyed teaching,” said Foster, who explained that, although his plans were to become an optometrist, his “back up plan” was to teach.
Foster taught English for one month in Taiwan with a group from Dallas Baptist University.
“There were three groups of students,” said Foster, “and I had the group that knew the least amount of English.”
While a teacher in Taiwan, Foster received positive feedback from students and peers regarding his teaching abilities.
In addition, Foster has worked with youth at summer camps, on mission trips, and as the school worship leader.
“Every summer since I graduated (from high school), I’ve worked at camps. I’ve also worked at three or four mission trips. I went on one every Spring Break,” said Foster.
“My ministry has always been with the group just younger than me,” said Foster, who went on to explain that when he was a college upper classman, he ministered to the college freshman and when he was in high school, he ministered to the junior high students, and so on.
“As the worship leader for chapel (in high school), I spent a lot of time praying for them,” said Foster, who also led the lunchroom in singing “Happy Birthday” to each student on their birthday, a tradition he initiated himself.
“It never irritates me if someone needs something repeated or explained again,” said Foster, who describes himself as patient “because I required patience as a student.”
Foster encourages participation from his students and believes in repetition and review of the material being studied in order to ensure a good grasp of what is being taught.
“I need repetition, so I teach that way.”
Fresh out of college, Foster explained to his OCS students that he is “of their generation.”
“I told them, ‘I am in the same generation. I grew up text messaging and instate messaging,’” said Foster of things he shared with his students during their first week in class.
To further establish a connection with his students, Foster also shared with them, “I sat in this classroom. I wore the same uniforms.”
Foster plans to use his age and his recent graduation from college to his advantage.
“I just came from college and I know what it’s like. It’s completely fresh in my mind,” explained Foster, who saved materials and tests from each of his college classes. On his first day as a teacher at OCS, Foster brought something for his students to see. It was the first physics test Foster took in college for which he earned the grade of 100.
“My goal is to prepare them for that,” said Foster, whose goal is to prepare his students for a successful college experience.
Guiding them spiritually for success in life is also an important goal of Foster’s.
“Our generation has grown very untrusting of institutions like this. They’ve become hard ened to institutions just giving what they see as a list of do’s and don’ts,” said Foster. “But I want to encourage them to take what they learn here and make it a personal choice.”
Concerning Christian education in particular, Foster said, “If there’s no personal relationship with the Lord, it’s just religion, rigidity, and legalism.”
Although he accepted the job only weeks ago and had prior to that only considered a teaching job as a “back up plan,” Foster is certain that he is in the right place at this time.
“I know for sure that the Lord has put me here right now.” said Foster, who is thoroughly enjoying his new career.