Bedasse, an associate professor of education, presented the third lecture in the 2019-20 Series on the Christian University on Tuesday. The series deepens understanding of what it means to be a Christian liberal arts university and inspires interdisciplinary conversations, said Dr. Nathan Lane, associate provost.
Bedasse, a 1998 PBA graduate, has served as a classroom teacher, literacy coach, school administrator and instructional specialist. She is a champion for meeting the needs of the underserved.
“It is what I do for a living, but it is also what I feel God has called me to do,” Bedasse said. “My own children do not fall into this category, but should I not care?”
She based her perspective on Micah 6:8, the scripture with which she was armed when she graduated from PBA: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
For Bedasse, acting justly means doing what is morally right while recognizing that the systems are not fair.
The majority of children in poor schools are children of color — those who are black or Hispanic, Bedasse said. A disproportionate number of them are suspended or expelled, and many interact with the juvenile justice system.
Eighty-five percent of young people who enter the juvenile justice system end up in jail, which interferes with their ability to graduate from high school. They are more likely to be incarcerated in the future, Bedasse said. An individual’s time spent in jail affects the whole family, she said.
“As believers, the family is foundational to who we are and what God intended for us,” Bedasse said.
When she was a teacher at Egret Lake Elementary School in West Palm Beach, Bedasse noticed that boys were fighting when they got off the bus, before they even entered the school. She started a breakfast club, where she fed them and brought in guest speakers. By the time she left, there were zero suspensions among the students in the breakfast club, she said.
“I had to learn to listen and understand the difference between what I knew and where those children were,” Bedasse said.
One of Bedasse’s students, Deon, never did any homework. He decided football was his ticket to success. At drop-off one morning, Bedasse confronted the boy’s mother, who said she didn’t care.
The mother returned that afternoon and apologized. She was a tired single mom of four boys, and she worked three jobs. She had to choose between buying groceries and paying the electric bill. Bedasse told the mom to bring Deon to school early every day to work on his homework with her.
Mercy is “a love that responds to a human need in an unexpected or unmerited way,” Bedasse said.
In another case, Bedasse’s assistant principal asked her to take on a promising student who could no longer remain in his classroom. He had threatened to kill his teacher and threw rocks at her while she was pregnant.
At one point, Bedasse discovered that the student, Calvin, stole her wallet. He was amazed when, on another occasion after that, she trusted him to lock her purse in a closet without being supervised.
Then Calvin’s mother called Bedasse and asked that she accompany her to pick up Calvin from the juvenile detention center. He had a brush with the law. After hours of waiting, he was released to them.
“Calvin taught me what it means to show mercy,” Bedasse said. “I’ll never forget the look on his face when he saw me sitting there.”
Years later, Bedasse watched as both young men graduated from high school and headed off to college.
The last part of Micah 6:8 — walking humbly with God — is what helped Bedasse serve faithfully as an educator for all those years, she said. An “astronomical amount” of people leave the profession early.
“It really was a lot of prayer and steeping myself in the Word,” she said.
Photo 1: Dr. Marcia Bedasse, associate professor of education, shares what it means to her to be a Christian educator during the third lecture in the series on the Christian University. Bedasse worked in the public school system for 25 years.
Photo 2: Inspired by Micah 6:8, Dr. Marcia Bedasse speaks about acting justly, showing mercy and walking humbly with God as an educator. Her lecture was part of the series on the Christian University.