All posts by Denali Heinrichs

About Denali Heinrichs

Denali Heinrichs is the daughter of Rev. BRAD Heinrichs and his wife Cathy. Denali was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in the Caryndale New Church society in Canada. She attended Carmel New Church school from Kindergarten through tenth grade and then attended a local public school for junior and senior years. During her final semester of highschool, Denali returned to Carmel as an teacher's assistant to the first and second grade teacher, gaining credit for it as an internship. In the fall of 2017, Denali left her home in Canada and moved back to Pennsylvania to start her journey in becoming a teacher at Bryn Athyn college. She is majoring in early childhood education with a minor in religion and is excited to be able to share her love of the church with her future students.

My Philosophy of Classroom Environment

When designing my classroom environment, I want to create a space that supports students in becoming useful members of society. I want to encourage students to learn and grow in all aspects of their life: cognitive development, social development, physical development and most importantly spiritual development. I believe that all students have the ability to become valuable members of society, but they can’t do this on their own they need an environment that gives them the support and tools to help them become the best people they can be.

I think the best way to accomplish this is by offering students a variety of opportunities and settings to discover and develop their interests in a constructive way. Our role as the teacher is to guide them on this path while they discover who they are and who they want to become. 

Creating my classroom environment was about pulling every detail and aspect of the design to support my vision of education. I believe that school should be an extension of the home and so I created a space with soft colors, cozy corners and natural lighting. I wanted to create a shared space while also giving individuals personal spaces they can take responsibility for. I believe that choice is an important aspect of education; I included a wide variety of spaces for students to choose from during work periods.

Theories of Vygotsky greatly influenced the layout of my classroom, instead of individual desks, students work at tables with groups of four. The teacher’s desk is a horseshoe shape that students can pull chairs up to for questions or small group work. I think it is important for the students to be able to easily approach peers or their teacher to get the support they need in understanding material. 

As I believe that school should be an extension of the home, I also believe that religion is an integral part of education. In my classroom, I created a worship center in the corner of the room with large windows behind it and a round rug for students to sit on. Every school day begins with worship or chapel because I believe that the “education of little children is in heaven, leading them by means of an understanding of truth and the wisdom of good into the angelic life, which is love to the Lord and mutual love, in which is innocence.” (Heaven and Hell, 344) It is extremely important as educators to protect, nourish and grow a love for the Lord in little children, which is why I start everyday with worship. 

I don’t believe in knowledge for knowledges sake; all we teach students should be done with purpose. That is why I love the Waldorf school models, because it focuses on helping develop students into contributing members of society. Moreover, Waldorf school emphasizes the importance of giving students a variety of learning opportunities through creative thinking, emotional intelligence, physical vitality and a responsibility to nature, work and society.  We are the stewards of the earth and I think this can be taught to students when we give them the space and exposure to appreciate the beauty of the world we have been given. My classroom isn’t limited to the four walls inside, it includes a large outdoor space with lots of mature trees and wooden structures to play on. 

As an educator my main purpose is to help prepare students for life, not just on this earth but for heaven. “Charity without faith is not real, nor is faith without charity real, and neither charity nor faith is real without works. But in works they become real, and a reality such as the usefulness of the works.” (Apocalypse Revealed 875) This means that as educators it is not enough to just teach students knowledge, we also must teach them how to apply that knowledge in their life and serve a use. If we teach students in a way that they choose to apply the knowledge in their life, the knowledge we share with them will stick with them. 

How Do We Prepare Ourselves For Home?

As the school year comes to a close, many students are excited about the prospect of heading home for the summer. But how should people prepare themselves to head to their eternal home? To answer this question, we must discuss both the similarities and differences between homes in heaven and on earth; uncover the components of what it means to come home both naturally and spiritually and, finally, explore the means by which a person prepares themselves for heaven and, therefore, prepares themselves for their eternal home.

By viewing the process of finding our eternal home; we will become informed on the importance of life on earth and how to make our natural life productive in preparing us for a life of use in heaven.

We have all had the experience of coming home after a long trip and feeling peace wash over us; or felt the relief of returning home after a long day of work. It is a feeling that we want to last; that sense of belonging, safety, purpose and familiarity is reassuring.

Continue reading How Do We Prepare Ourselves For Home?

How Much Should You Push Your Friends To Go To Church?

Many religions have teachings that encourage people to attend church or a service of worship; the New Church is no exception in this regard. You could ask many New Church members about the importance of church and most would agree that attending church is a good idea, and I agree. A question that is more difficult to answer is whether you should also push your friends to attend church. Does it matter if your friends attend church? Is it your responsibility to push them to attend?

In Apocalypse Explained 696, it talks about how in the measure someone knows the truths of faith and lives according to them they are worshiping the Lord. I think this suggests that you should want friends who learn more truths of faith. Moreover, attending church is an excellent way for people to acquire more truths of faith, apply them to their life and therefore worship the Lord. Therefore, if your friends attend church are they more your neighbor than if they didn’t?

I don’t think this is a straight forward question to answer, but it is nonetheless useful to consider. In the book of Luke Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan is a story in the Word about a man who takes care of someone in need without thought of recompense. I think this story is an example of how your friends are more your neighbor if they attend church. The best way to examine who your true friends are is to judge them by their actions. You know the Good Samaritan is the neighbor by his actions, he helped the man in need, not just in words. I do not believe the claims of a friend who says they love the teachings of the New Church but never practice them or seek to learn more of them. You do not worship the Lord simply by word of mouth, you must practice the truths of faith you learned; that is worshiping the Lord. Continue reading How Much Should You Push Your Friends To Go To Church?

Men and Women Are Different

Today, there is a growing trend in society to treat everyone the same or equally; on the surface, this sounds fair; even a necessary change from previously popular worldviews. Unfortunately, when society tries to apply this newfound principle of treating everyone the same we run into a much bigger problem; people are not the same. It seems like an obvious fact, everyone can easily look around and see that people are different; race, gender, culture and values and so on; yet, there is a notion that to treat people fairly we must treat them the same. Society needs to accept the differences amongst people, embrace that people are created uniquely and should find uses that they can serve best. The biggest difference that is being undermined today is between men and women. The difference between men and women is vital for them to optimize each genders usefulness.

“With respect to [men’s] employment, reason sees that it has to do with things involving the intellect, or things in which the intellect predominates, most of which are occupational and are directed towards serving the public. With respect to his behavior, reason sees that his customary habits all stem from a predominance of the intellect. Consequently, the actions of his life, meant by behavior, are directed by reason – or if they are not, he wants them to appear so. A masculine exercise of reason is also visible in his every virtue.” (Conjugial Love 90)

Continue reading Men and Women Are Different