Students and staff members at the Brook Hill School’s Lower Campus recently were able to hear from the new leader on campus during a chapel service event.
Jonathan Kegler, previously the principal at Peete Elementary School in the Tyler Independent School District, was announced by the school in April as the school’s new principal, filling the role after the retirement of former principal Sandra Fritcher.
During the school’s chapel time on Wednesday, Aug. 22, Kegler had the opportunity to speak to students and teachers, offering words of encouragement through the Bible as the new school year began.
Kegler’s main text during his address came from Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“In life and in school, there are things that are going to come against you that may be tough or difficult,” said Kegler. “Take for instance, math or science may not be your favorite subject. However, if you will hide this scripture and God’s word in your heart, it will help you through some of the most difficult times you will ever face.”
In a parable, Kegler equated the scripture to the life lesson of riding a bike at a young age, saying that God allows His children to grow and learn.
“Your mom and dad usually are with you when you’re starting to learn how to ride a bike, and they hold on to the bike for a little bit,” said Kegler. “Eventually, they let go of the bike and you learn how to ride on your own. God is the same way with His children: He leads us and guides us to certain destinations, and sooner or later, He sees if we can do a few things on our own. Even though He allows you to try things by yourself, you have to remember that God is always within you.”
Kegler also shared his thoughts on a popular children’s tale – The Little Engine That Could – saying that the young students have lessons they could learn from the attitude of the story’s protagonist.
“He kept telling himself ‘I think I can! I think I can!,’” said Kegler. “Before he knew it, he had climbed all the way to the top of the hill and was able to say, “I know I can!” When things get difficult, you need to think that you can, and before long, you’ll know that you can.”
Afterwards, Kegler, along with students, teachers, and parents recited a chant the principal said was one he often used in times of difficulty: “I CAN! I WILL! I MUST!”
Also during the chapel, students were led by Kevin Pierce, elementary school music teacher, in a number of worship songs, such as “My God is So Big,” “Big House,” and “This Train is Bound for Glory.”
In an interview with Tri County Leader’s former sister paper, Bullard Banner News, Kegler said his hope for the first year on the job at the Brook Hill Lower School is to be able to impact the lives of his students.
“I want to be able to inspire the students like never before – to challenge them to go to a higher level than they’ve ever been to,” said Kegler. “I want to use the gifts God has given me to inspire these students to own their learning environment and challenge them like never before. A lot of times, we get complacent where we are, but in actuality, we can go higher that we’re at now, and there’s so much more we can do.”
When asked about an opportunity that excited him in the new role as principal, Kegler pointed to the chance to not only reach students through education, but also impacting the lives of students spiritually.
“I’m used to having to talk in parables at a non-Christian public school,” said Kegler. “Here at Brook Hill, I’m able to use scripture as a reference, which is an aspect I love. I’m able to truly dig deep and mentor a kid. Being able to come here and impact students on a spiritual level is something I’m excited about.”
According to Kegler, interest in Christian education has increased so much that The Brook Hill Lower School will increase all grade levels (Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade) to three classes each this school year.
“Christian education is definitely trending upwards,” said Kegler. “I believe the reason behind that is the environment that’s been created around all of our campuses that’s been established by fidelity – our teachers and administrators do a fantastic job being invested and pouring into their students. They feel that this is not just a job, but also a calling.”
Kegler graduated from Lufkin High School with the Class of 2001. Afterwards, he attended Stephen F. Austin State University, where he played cornerback for the Lumberjack football team. He holds an undergraduate degree from SFA in kinesiology, as well as a Master’s Degree in science and educational leadership. Currently, Kegler is also working towards his Doctoral degree.