Nature Greets the Naturalist


On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:15-2:10 pm, fifteen of our high school teenagers enter the art room for their chosen elective; Intro To Digital Photography. It’s been a year of firsts in this art room for both me and the students, as this is my first year instructing art for our CCA high school. Across the curriculum each age group presents a unique challenge for a specialist teacher, in terms of connecting the lesson and the work to their lives and abilities, all the while hoping to enrich their minds, inspire their hearts, instill in them a desire to work hard, discover their passions and interests, cultivate their talents, and encourage them to pursue after righteousness with integrity and Christian character… It’s not easy. But as the saying goes ‘nothing good comes easy’ … and here, we strive for greatness!



Preparing for this course, I had scheduled for a good friend of my family’s, who is a native New Englander, a true naturalist at heart with a passion for photographing wildlife, to visit our class. For his arrival, we planned to view his pictures, ask questions, eat our Kanes donuts (if you’re going to eat a donut it should be a Kanes), and lastly, take a walk down to the pond on Lake Street, where he would demonstrate how to set up his equipment, with the hopes of seeing some form of wildlife. Before each class we begin with prayer, giving the hour up to God, to lead, guide and direct my teaching and the minds and hearts of the students. We specifically asked God this day “to be personal to us and show us something cool in nature”.

As planned, our visitor, Wayne Wetherbee arrived. He showed us his wildlife pictures of osprey, fox, black bear and snowy owls. He shared his knowledge on the best times of day to get a great photo, his stories of getting close to his subjects, and the safari he went on in Botswana, where he took pictures of leopards, lions, and wild dogs. Next on the schedule was our walk to the pond, but it looked dark and dismal outside, and getting caught in the rain was not a risk I wanted to take with our visitor and his expensive equipment. I let the question and answer time go a little longer as I thought about what I should do. I asked God for guidance and hoped he would hold back the rain. We were going to the pond. I asked the students to line up to go outside for our walk when something unexpected happened.

Proverbs 16:9 reads, “A man’s mind plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps”, and I had this day planned, every minute of our time together was mapped out, and my plan did not include a rainy day. But God is always working on me, getting my attention in ways that reveal to me He sees me, and he hears me. And as I learn to lean on and rely on Him for knowledge and wisdom, the more He seems to impart. This was just one of those times. We waited in the hall to exit, while the elementary kids came in from the playground, each excitedly whispering “there’s a hawk on the flagpole, there’s a hawk on the flagpole!”.

You hear of those ‘ah ha’ moments in a teacher’s career, those miracle moments you get in the classroom that you simply cannot plan for, well, this was one of them. We walked onto the playground and there it was, a magnificent red-tailed hawk, perched upon the top of the pole, with our American flag swaying in the air under it. It was a sight to see, and photograph. The arrival and placement of this bird was anything but coincidental, rather providential in nature. After photographing the bird for a good 30 minutes, we thanked Wayne as a class, and as he packed up his car to leave CCA, it began to rain. It was a memorable moment and I felt blessed to be able to share it with my class.

For my students from me,

 “Skoooo Wooo”…

Wayne Wetherbee is the name of our visiting photographer. Many of his photos have won “photo of the week” in the Your Shot community of National Geographic. A few days after his visit to our class on December 17th, his blind leopard photo won recognition as photo of the year for National Geographic. Here is the link to his photo-