Headteacher of Promiseland Academy Shirley Coote shares with us how she came to faith and what inspired her to start a Christian School for the next generation.
Continue to listen to the interview below.
How did you come to faith?
I was around 19 years of age when I decided that I would escort my mother to church and keep her company because it was late in the evening. I felt that I was going to become a nun because I was going to church in the morning and in the evening.
Whilst attending I just felt that there was something different in the people and the way the Bible was taught and explained. I felt such a peace and a joy that I didn’t really feel anywhere else.
I found the elders and the people were able to answer my questions and as I was convinced by watching the way they lived and desired to please the God of the bible. This in part led me to come to the Lord and give my life through baptism.
Who inspired you to become who you are today?
I’d say the person who inspired me was pastor Nicholas of the church in St. Marks where I was going. He was an amazing man! Full of wisdom and yet humble and willing to listen. He took everything into consideration even though he was Revic Carnac which is a significant status. These things were not his priority. He focused upon daily sharing the word and standing for truth, opposing the things that were not good in a courteous and polite way.
Whilst this man had so much wisdom, he took his time to address situations and circumstances in a calm way. He said to me that he trusted in God and left the things that he did not understand to the Lord and worked on those things he could do.
This really inspired me and gave me the mindset that I have today. The things I do not yet understand I leave those in the Lord's hands and work with the things I do understand.
What convicted you to start PromisedLand Academy?
Well, As I became a mother there were things which caused me to question the world around me. I was very concerned about my young daughter at the time. I have three children my daughter is the eldest she was two and a half. As I walking in the streets, I saw 10-year-old girls and was struck by how they were behaving and how they were dressed and I just said to the Lord I am sure that these young girls are precious in His sight and thinking of my own daughter that she is precious.
From there I began asking the Lord in prayer. At that time my double glazing man came in to fix my back door and said that there was a real peace in my house I thought he was crazy but we started talking and it was him and his wife who introduced us to Christian Education.
Having come from a corporate environment I realized that young people had aspirations but were not really prepared for the world I worked within. I felt there was a false hope being given to young children with nothing backing it up. There was no real foundation on which they could build on.
And so when I found Christian Education I thought yes! This has everything in it to help these children achieve what God has called them to. At Promiseland we study the three characters of Joseph, Esther, and Daniel. Although with different backgrounds, they heard God's call and purpose for their people. My conviction is that our children as Christians should have a purpose beyond getting a job and a qualification. It's more about who they are rather than what they do. They have a larger role to play by positively contributing to the society they have grown up in.
Have there been any ups and downs?
Yes, Life throws them at you now and then. When you have a family, you have to manage the views of younger people with different influences and mindsets. There are challenges as a parent, challenges as a wife and there are challenges as a principal of a Christian school. You are dealing with people from different backgrounds, different theologies, and children who have various types of issues.
In what way do you think citizenship plays a part in the education debate?
I think it plays a massive part. They are citizens, so it should be normal that students are engaging in the community and engaging in politics. They must be taught and trained how to be able to eloquently put themselves across by understanding laws and regulations. It’s clear that we should not be ignorant we are to be learned and the fear of God gives us that wisdom in which we can interact with society. Our children should be educated on how the country is run and ruled. How nations come together, how they work together and how they are meant to support one another. This will enable them to have a positive influence on their society.
In what way can fellow citizens get involved?
Not to be ignorant. Start with the small things working within your community and within your borough. Get involved with things which are happening in your borough. Attend meetings and ask questions. I would like to know how many believers actually go and attend local meetings and are part of the decision making process about what is going to happen in the community which impacts its members.
Questions such as how your children are going to be educated? what is and isn't going to be used within the school? What is compulsory and what is not compulsory? There are many avenues in which Christians can actually get involved, bringing the citizenship of heaven here on earth.
It is important that we do not sit back and complain about what is happening around us. It's important that we start with what we can do. I was not happy about the quality of education around me so I started a school. If you're not happy about cleanliness start cleaning up. Politeness, be courteous and polite. There are a lot of things we can do. Just start from where you are and whilst hearing the Lord get involved. The key thing in moving forward is taking one step at a time.
For further information
Promised Land Academy
St Cedd's Hall, Webb Gardens, Plaistow
London, E13 8SR,