By Sarah Jennings
From four years old until senior high school graduation, Daniella Daou (Partner Relations Officer at LSESD) walked through the doors of Beirut Baptist School every school day. BBS wasn’t the only ministry that filled her childhood memories. Every summer, BCYM organized a camp for all church children and youth, which she always looked forward to attending after the school year ended. The ABTS guesthouse was also a place where she often came for church retreats, and when the sermons were too difficult for her to understand at a young age, she and her friends would escape to the playground on campus.
Similarly, Habib Atwi (Creative Officer at LSESD) reminisced with us recently, sharing about his childhood on the LSESD campus. He attended BBS from KG2 through grade 12, and he often came after school to play around the ABTS building and throughout the campus gardens with his friends. International students at the seminary often lived in the family building behind the olive grove, and many of their kids became his constant playmates. Even at home, he remembers DMAH books on the shelves.
Usually when we talk about our family of ministries being integrated and holistic, we are referring to the work itself. Yet in the case of Daniella and Habib, it was surprising to hear just how integrated the ministries are in their different memories of growing up at BBS. We’re grateful for the ways this childhood – as well as the influence of their families and churches – helped to shape who they are today. They also shared some stories of BBS teachers who encouraged them.
“In grade 10, it was surprising that my English teacher, even though she personally didn’t enjoy a certain fantasy novel , she encouraged me to read regardless,” said Habib. “Different things she said influenced me. But from then on, I felt I wanted to be a writer. She had a good influence and encouraged me after a writing exam. At the end, she praised me for reading and said she thought it helped me improve my writing.”
Habib was noticed for his creativity early in his time at BBS, submitting his work in the SMAT (Science, Math, Art, Technology) fair and for his drawings in art classes. Videography was something he began exploring on his own, but later he also used this skill to earn extra credit on school projects. This skill, which he now uses daily at LSESD, was also used when he worked with other graduating seniors to produce a video of the whole year.
Another artistic BBS graduate, Rebecca Massouh now serves at LSESD as Communications Coordinator. She most enjoyed the organized library at BBS, saying it was a place that sparked her love of reading. All four of her high school years were spent at the school, where she encountered some of her favorite teachers in English and Bible.
“What I liked about English classes with Mr. Ryan is that it involved poetry, critical thinking, imagination, literature analysis, and creative writing. He even would put music in class. It just changed the way we learned English.” — Rebecca Massouh
Similarly, Daniella had several caring teachers that went above and beyond to help their students. Her philosophy teacher in high school found creative incentives to inspire students, even bringing her a magazine every time she earned the highest grade on an exam.
“When you are a student, nothing about school is pleasant, especially with tons of homework. But looking back, I appreciate how much BBS works on the academic success of its students,” stated Daniella. “In grades nine and 12, we had extra sessions every Saturday to make sure we do well in our official exams.”
Always a high performer, Daniella is now continuing her masters at the same time as full-time work, and we depend on her often to help explain Lebanon’s complicated crisis.
One thing that sets many of these teachers apart is their faith. For example, Daniella’s middle school biology teacher used to weave in God and his majestic creations in every detail he explained. For Habib and Rebecca, they both have fond memories of Bible teachers who were gentle and friendly in the way they taught.
“I used to like the Bible classes because I love discussions, especially that the students in my class weren’t all Christians. Many came from either Muslim or Druze backgrounds. So, the discussions were passionate, as there were so many different points of views,” explained Rebecca. “These were discussions that would lead others to think and have questions.”
Amid Lebanon’s economic crisis, we feel the weight of our responsibility to share the hope and truth of the gospel with students more than ever. We are grateful for the many administrators and teachers who continue to teach out of their deep love and commitment for their students. Our hope is that these students grow up not just to be lifelong learners, but sources of strength for their communities too.
We may not always see the potential in the moment, but often these small seeds of truth and knowledge bear fruit long after the students graduate.
Daniella, Habib, and Rebecca are just three examples of graduates who have decided to pursue careers at LSESD. There are many others like them: Layal at MERATH, Jane at SKILD, and the list goes on. We are grateful that they are sharing their God-given talents with us, contributing both to their teams and to the wider mission of strengthening the witness of the Church in the Arab World.
Sustain BBS in this Education Crisis
Due to the devaluation of the Lebanese pound, tuition income this year dropped to just 8% of its value when compared to the same time in 2018. The continuation of the school now depends on financial aid, operational needs assistance, and so much more..