There’s a playful elegance to the way she elevates the orange and black orb someone abandoned on the equipment room floor. With a flick of her wrist, Deb effortlessly spins the basketball on her finger before arranging it on the shelf by its peers.
“This is my life,” says Deb, without even a hint of annoyance in her voice.
Indeed, for the last 40 years, this has been Deb’s life, bringing joy, balance and perspective to every classroom, gym or locker room she enters. In her role as an educator and athletic director for Illiana Christian High School, it’s obvious she loves her students, and they love her.
And it’s the life Deb has dreamed of, for as long as she can remember. “My favorite pastime was sports,” she says, pointing to an eighth-grade yearbook in which her childhood aspirations are written. “In here they asked us, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and I said, ‘a PE teacher.’ I was blessed enough to be able to pursue that career by having parents that provided me a foundational Christian education in order to achieve it.”
Beyond athletics, Deb enjoys flexing her artistic muscles by teaching a digital photography class. “It’s the highlight of my day,” she says, describing how she’s able to combine her love for photography with mentoring a wide variety of students.
“As a Christian educator, we are all in this together: students, teachers, parents,” she says, “each of us trying to figure out what our gifts are, how to use them for our corner of the Kingdom. To be in education and to help kids in that discovery process – that’s a joy.”
These days, Deb is recalibrating how to use her own gifts for God’s Kingdom. At the close of this school year, Deb will be retiring from her career in education.
“When I look at my career, I like to think that it was very organized,” explains Deb, “and yet here I found myself in the fourth quarter of the game with a little bit of anxiety, unprepared for what the future would look like.”
Not even knowing what questions to ask, Deb contacted Barnabas Foundation to help her develop an estate plan that will honor God, care for her needs and further the causes closest to her heart.
“My planner walked right alongside me, helping me understand all my options,” says Deb. “She helped me look at my passions, my gifts, my blessings.”
With her plan now taking shape, Deb says she’s experiencing greater peace of mind. “It is freeing to have those important planning decisions made. I can exhale.”
As for how she will fill her time, Deb has no use for the word “retirement.”
“I’m hoping I can find another corner of the Kingdom,” she says, open to wherever God will lead her. “Life is just an extension of the classroom, and I’ve had a lot of great teachers in my life, each and every day. Whether it’s personal or professional, I’m still loving and learning.”
“I've been blessed with generations of believers in Christian education who have come before me and paved the way,” she continues. “Today, looking at my career in the rearview mirror, I am confident in the generations to follow.”