Warren High School (Downey, California)
Charlotte Evensen describes herself as “a wandering soul,” and it’s easy to see why. The Master of Arts in Education alumna lives in Downey, Calif., and teaches at Warren High School, but before that she spent six years teaching in Papau New Guinea. She’s also lived in Hawaii, after three years in Portland, Ore., and various stints across California before that (Inglewood, Southgate, Sacramento). Oh, and she lived the first 10 years of her life in Kenya.
As you might expect, Charlotte is the product of a large number of influences. Though a native Kenyan, Charlotte grew up with a blond-haired, blue-eyed dad who was a Lutheran school principal who had gone to Africa with the Peace Corps. Charlotte grew up speaking Luo, Swahili and English, and has experienced both joy and tragedy in the various places she’s lived.
In Papua New Guinea, the school where she taught burned down in a tribal war and a person very close to her died.
Through it all, she’s been rooted in the Lord. She is grateful for the spiritual training she received during her time at Biola. “There is a spiritual foundation that winds itself through every lecture, every assignment, and every practicum required at Biola. This foundation on Christ, on teaching as a calling and a service to God – this very passionate clarity of mission is why I chose Biola over another academic institution. Biola's M.A.Ed. program required me to connect the work, academic and social dots of my life to its spiritual source – God. What I learn and practice is not merely about me, but it is about God's call on my life. This is an ongoing and significant lesson that I am still learning.”
Now she’s in Downey, teaching English to high school students. For her, education is a mission field, no matter where you are.
Having grown up a female in Africa, Charlotte realizes the importance of education.
“It’s the only equalizer in a world that is fallen,” she said. “It opens doors for those who have no other options.”
In her classroom, Charlotte’s students know that she is a Christian, not so much by what she says as by how she acts. “I am called to love each one of those students while I am teaching them,” she said.
Relationships are important to Charlotte as a way we can model Christ in our lives. She sometimes thinks Christians forget to love people in the process of leading them to Christ.
“How many Christians have relationships with nonbelievers on a human level, not an ‘I’m going to save you’ level?” she wonders. “It’s not our job to convert people. The Holy Spirit does that work. We just have to build relationships.”
She sees that Biola’s School of Education helped her to be where she is now. Through our graduate and credential programs, she has “learned to become disciplined, detailed, and detached from the politics that can surround the day-to-day mundanity of work.” She says, “I think more deeply and seek a broader scope of possibility for my students. This is reflected in my output at work and in my attitude with my students.”