This time a year ago, Lee’s Summit resident Mike Evans was shifting out of a role that certainly defined his life – that of pastor of Discover Church – and into a new season of his life.
A season that, as it turns out, would be defined by three seasons – autumn, winter and spring – the traditional school year.
The role of teacher.
Having past experience working with youth, Evans heard about a job opening up at Summit Christian Academy teaching debate, speech and broadcast journalism. He jumped at the opportunity.
His first year in the classroom was challenging, rewarding, inspiring. He had six different class preps in seven hours.
“2016-17 was a tough year transitioning out of something and now I have started something new,” Evans said, looking relaxed and confident even after his rookie year of teaching. “I was in student ministry for 16 years before I came here. Kind of took me back to my roots. This got me back to what I love and what I am passionate about.”
Evans’ dedication to working with youth is evident. Mentoring young and energetic minds motivates the former pastor.
It’s that “former” part that Evans still thinks about. More than seven years building and growing Discover Church. Mission trips to Guatemala and Joplin, Mo. The final service on June 12, 2016. Memories he can certainly look back on fondly. And a multitude of learning experiences gained.
“I realized a few things things: I operate better not having to carry the whole weight of the organization.” Evans said. “The biggest thing, as I prayed – going back to the end of Discover – I didn’t have the emotional stability to keep it going.
“It was a painful journey where I had to get a point where I had to say, I couldn’t emotionally lead it any longer.”
The end of that ministry, though, led him to SCA, where he will return for a second year again teaching debate and speech as well as Senior Bible this fall.
Evans’ impact at SCA was realized immediately as five of his students made it nationals. Prior to this school year, only two SCA students had ever reached that pinnacle.
Seniors Corbin Healy, Courtney Price-Dukes and Perry Worden joined juniors Ryan Sparks and Connor Healy at the National Speech and Debate Association Tournament in Birmingham, Ala. June 18-23.
When he talks about the accomplishments of his students, Evans beams as if he’s been in the classroom for decades.
“I love the students and the school,” Evans said. “SCA has been very welcoming and very gracious to me. I feel like I have found a good place.
“I love this community. When the Lord led us to Kansas City, Lee’s Summit was easily the place we felt the most comfortable and most welcomed. I want to stay here and I want this to be home base for us.”
Evans also gets the dual joy of teaching and coaching debate and watching his own son, Zach, who is a debater and national qualifier at Lee’s Summit West.
“Getting to walk this journey with Zach without being in his chili and get to experience all of this with him has been pretty exceptional,” Evans said.
With the school year around the corner, Evans realizes in the midst of difficult times, great things can transpire.
He went from Pastor Mike to Mr. Evans. And it was a title change that changed his life.
Lee’s Summit resident John Beaudoin writes about city and civic issues, people and personalities around town. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org