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by Cindy VanKampen

“You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”

“Thank goodness!” said Bilbo laughing.

-The Hobbit

One of Mr. Hank VanderNaald’s favorite books is The Hobbit. The first time he read it, the final line resonated with him. “This was just such a good reminder that thank goodness it’s not up to me,” Hank chuckles. “It’s all God and His plan.”

After graduating from Timothy Christian High School in 1973, VanderNaald wasn’t sure what he wanted to do post-high school. “Teaching was a last minute back up plan,” VanderNaald admits. “I figured I’d give it a year or two until something else turned up. Well, over thirty years later, I realized that this was the plan.”

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After student teaching at Timothy, he landed a job in Lafayette, Indiana, teaching middle school for four years. During his time there, he taught almost everything but science.

VanderNaald took a year off teaching to live with his dad after his mom passed away. During that time, he also subbed and earned his Master’s Degree. The next two years found him in Florida, teaching in middle school again. He taught everything but science.

He heard about an opening at Timothy and decided to apply. He got the job and strangely enough, it was the science position—something he’d never taught before— that was open in 5th grade. “I figured science was something I’d never teach,” VanderNaald admits. “But you know what? It was okay and turned out kind of nice.”

He engaged students with experiments and scientific theories, but always connected everything back to the Creator.

While working at Timothy, he also met and married colleague Becky (Kroll) VanderNaald and, became a father to Jonah, who just graduated from Timothy this past May.

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This coffee-loving teacher also coached middle school soccer, led chapel and wing sings with his trusty guitar, and will be remembered for his epic chess tournaments. If the students could beat him in a game three times in a year, they won a McDonald’s sundae. “The kids are getting better and better,” VanderNaald says. “This year there were seven of them!”

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One of his favorite thing about working at Timothy has been his amazing colleagues. “My last team of Abby Okuley and Kim Lee have been some of the best people I’ve ever worked with,” he says.

He also has fond memories of chats with Mr. Engbers, Mr. Tamminga, and Mr. Bosman. “We would often talk after parent-teacher conferences about our students and life,” he says. “It was just a special time of fellowship.”

He has no retirement plans and says the rest of his life had been unplanned he and is confident it will work out. “God has a plan,” he says assuredly. “Something will come up.”

Thank you for your 29 years of service to Timothy Christian Schools, Mr VanderNaald. May God bless you on your next adventure.

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