Tualatin Valley Academy Places in NAD Educators Spark Tank

Molly De Peña, Tualatin Valley Academy teacher, was recently among the first to present at North American Division Educators’ Convention Spark Tank event in Phoenix, Arizona.

As part of the broader NAD Educators’ Convention, Spark Tank took place over two days and featured eight Seventh-day Adventist schools. These schools were given the opportunity to pitch new and creative community mission ideas, which were evaluated by a panel of judges.

TVA's idea came in the form of a new elective class based on serving their community. “It’s just a way to get our school better serving its original purpose, which is to be a light wherever it is,” said De Peña.

The idea sparked when De Peña stopped by the grocery store in front of the school. While talking to the store manager, she realized he had no recognition of the school, even though it sits right in front of where he works.

De Peña currently teaches math, science and Bible for TVA’s seventh and eighth grade as well as an elective. One challenge with many student-centered service projects is timing. “None of us have much time after school,” she shared.

“After school we’re all with our families and then we just start over again with another intense day. So, I was praying about this all summer and God gave me the idea: What if service was one of your elective classes?” said De Peña.

As the idea has grown, De Peña shared that students taking this class will have the opportunity to experience a wide range of service projects including a community block party that offers free haircuts, back to school materials, a health fair and a blood drive, as well as helping lead Bible studies, preparing Vacation Bible School materials for the summer program and volunteering at local food pantries.

TVA won second place in this year’s Spark Tank event and was awarded a $2,500 grant to help get their community projects started in the coming school year. You can read more about the event itself here.

Featured in: November/December 2023