By Katy Devereaux
“I’m having so much fun,” Rick Glass says of his first year teaching fourth grade at Harrison Elementary School in Warsaw, Indiana.
After 30 years of working at Napa Auto Parts, Glass returned to school at Taylor University in Fort Wayne, then transferred to Grace College in Winona Lake in pursuit of his teaching license. Now he has his own classroom of 25 kids. But he remembers that the road has not been easy.
In 2002, Glass suffered a minor heart attack. His wife, Deb, had lost her job in 1998 after becoming ill, and Glass began to search for ways to use his communications degree. Doors were slammed. Finally, Deb handed him a newspaper clipping for Taylor University and he enrolled in one class.
While at Taylor, Glass met Dr. William Jarvis, who had experienced a brain stem injury in a car accident. Yet as a professor, he was able to share his love for the Lord, love for children, and passion for teaching. That convinced Glass that he wanted to teach.
Glass knew he would have to obtain a teaching degree. Education faculty members at Grace College told him that if he took every education class offered and proved himself academically, he could get his teaching license. Cutting his work hours to take classes while his wife wasn’t working was when they “really got out of the boat” and trusted God, according to Glass.
“But God met our needs at every turn,” he says, adding that he believed this was the path down which God led him. “He needed and deserved my best efforts, and I believe that at every turn I gave my best efforts,” he reflects.
Grace College also thought he gave good effort–the college gave him several honors, including the Outstanding Prospective Elementary Teacher of the Year award.
During his student teaching in the spring of 2006, Glass taught the class of a teacher whose daughter was terminally ill. Because of his faith and that of many of his students, they were able to pray in class for the 15-year-old girl and her family.
When the girl died, all the teachers were given permission to go to the funeral to support the parents, who were both teachers there, while aides taught their classes. Returning from the funeral, Glass said they saw all the children run out of the building and silently line the street with their hands over their hearts as the funeral procession went by.
“After experiencing something like that, sharing one’s faith is an easy thing to do,” said Glass.
Glass is the son of semi-retired Grace Brethren Pastor Roy Glass, Jr., who has pastored at the Juniata Grace Brethren Church in Altoona, Pa.; the Minerva GBC in Ohio; the Fairlawn GBC in Radford, Virginia; the GBC in Troy, Ohio; and at Northwest Chapel near Columbus, Ohio. The elder Glass can still be heard as an announcer on Christian radio’s WEEC FM Radio out of Springfield, Ohio, and Marion, Indiana. Since Rick Glass is the oldest of seven children, his father has worked on and off in radio and television over the years to help pay the bills. Reflecting on his son’s late-in-life change of career, the elder Glass remarked, “He should have done it years ago!”
Rick Glass is thankful for his Grace Brethren past. Growing up in the church has provided him and his wife a solid foundation that has allowed them to “minister in very unique ways,” he says. He currently administrates a church program for kindergarten through fourth grade and runs a “First Wednesday” program for children.
Rick Glass has also been involved with children through magic and storytelling for about 30 years. This ministry began when his mother, Arlene, who was also a teacher, asked him to come and tell a story to her class.
By using theatrics and giving each of the characters a different voice, Glass rewrote “The Three Little Pigs” and got so carried away that he was called to the principal’s office–so she could ask him to come back to tell the story in an all-school assembly. Because his brother had dabbled in magic, Glass was able to incorporate some tricks into his program, and kids began calling him the “Rag Man.”
“We’re just open to where God takes us,” Glass says.
Katy Devereaux, a Grace College journalism major from Jackson, Michigan, is an editorial intern with FGBC World the fall, 2006 semester.