The year was 1986 when Galen Wagner began his Maranatha career. Since then, more than 900 students have passed through the doors of his classroom, all of them impacted by his passion for the Gospel. As Mr. Wagner completes his final year at MCA and prepares to retire, we celebrate his commitment to our community and dedication to our students.
“I love teaching,” Mr. Wagner says. “In the 31 years I’ve spent here at Maranatha, I’ve never had a bad day.” Mr. Wagner is chairman of the Bible Department, and has taught in the Bible Department for 20 years after teaching fifth and sixth grades for his first decade at Maranatha.
“What I’ve always loved most is teaching the Scriptures to the students,” he smiles — and that’s always been the core of his focus as an educator. “We begin every class with prayer and we invite God into our classroom. If we saturate our students with God’s word, that sets the foundation for how they perceive life and how they approach life.”
Mr. Wagner has taught more than 31,000 hours of classes taught at MCA, reports Mark Schultze, Maranatha Superintendent. “He has certainly modeled for our students a life of dedication and service to Jesus,” he says. Mr. Schultze points to Mr. Wagner’s nearly 20 mission trips to Russia and Italy to train pastors, as well as his faithful continuation of teaching as a cancer survivor.
In 2012, Mr. Wagner was awarded the MCA Apple Award for Teacher Excellence, and this year, he received the Career Service and Achievement Award from ACSI (the Association of Christian Schools International). But the defining moments of his career have always been moments when he is mentoring students, Mr. Wagner says.
“I’ve enjoyed the personal relationships I’ve gotten to build with students over the years, and I’ve been blessed in that respect,” Mr. Wagner says. “One particular year, there was a group of eight young men, and we met once a week after school to pray and share a relationship. Those young men have really stepped up and grown in their faith.” The group graduated nearly 10 years ago, but Mr. Wagner still stays in touch as their mentor. “They are all doing great, and it’s just been a joy to have been part of their lives.” Mr. Wagner has many similar stories, and he reflects with much gratitude on all the students he’s gotten to teach.
Mr. Wagner may be departing the classroom, but he plans to remain as engaged as ever in learning. “I’m going to retire to a life of learning,” he shares. Mr. Wagner plans to continue working on writing his own translation of the New Testament, from Greek to English. He looks forward to reading and playing music as well.
Teaching runs in the Wagner family: Mr. Wagner’s wife is also in education, and she will retire this spring too. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Wagner look forward to spending time together, as well as with their grandchildren.
“It has been a blessing to do what I love to do: to teach the Scriptures to students who love the Lord, alongside teachers who are also called to this mission, and with all of the parents headed in the same direction,” he smiles.
Maranatha Christian Academy exists to educate, nurture and train students for Godliness and excellence, so they’re equipped to transform their world for Jesus Christ — and part of that training happens through our athletics program. “For us, faith is the core of our athletic program,” says Dave Keener, Athletic Director and Dean of Students. “We look not only at the results on the scoreboard, but the results of how we exhibit Christ in our athletic competitions. It’s so much more than our efforts: it’s our attitude, our actions and our reactions.”
Maranatha’s Athletic Department offers the most athletic options of any school in its class (2A) in the state of Kansas, Mr. Keener says. “This allows more chances for student participation in athletics, and opportunities for students to practice their sportsmanship,” he says.
Athletics are the “classroom of competition,” Mr. Keener explains. “Our students get to practice the integrity they’re learning in the classroom. For example, how do you handle it when the umpire makes a bad call? The coaches really tie our athletics into real life situations. Something may be unfair, but do we respond by complaining, or working harder to overcome? This is the core of who we are as athletes, because it’s the core of who we are as Christians.”
Highlights from Maranatha’s Spring Season
Girls Soccer Team Highlights: The Junior High girls celebrated a big win at home on April 18 against rival Summit Christian Academy. “They’ve really worked hard and improved over the course of the season,” Mr. Keener says. The High School team is enjoying a strong season as well, with a key win against Van Horn, 4-1. One Senior student is celebrating 73 goals scored, setting an MCA record for goals in a career. The girls are playing in the regional championship game as well.
Boys Baseball Highlights: The young team, led by mostly freshmen and sophomore students, celebrated three shutouts this year. “The pitching in particular has been really outstanding,” Mr. Keener shares. “It’s been great to watch these guys, as young as they are, competing and playing really well.” A big win this season was a 10-0 defeat over Barstow. The team advanced to the regional championship falling to a very experienced Troy team.
Boys Tennis Highlights: The 2017 season is the team’s best in 10 years, Mr. Keener shares. “They’ve been playing against some tough competition and showcased some great individual efforts,” he says. A key victory this year was an early-season win against Kansas City Christian. ‘We’re very excited about the tennis post-season,” Mr. Keener says. The team finished third in state this year.
Boys Track Highlights: The team celebrates a senior sprinter who has won every meet so far. This student has qualified for state finals every year of his high school career, and is expected to do so this year too. “MCA always competes against schools much larger than ours in track, and it’s always good experience,” Mr. Keener says. “Our coaches are looking forward to the upcoming Regionals.”
Girls Track Highlights: The Girls Track team is also celebrating a senior sprinter’s accomplishments, having won every meet. While the team is typically led by distance runners, sprinters have led the 2017 team. The team is doing well, and preparing for Regionals.
This season, students had the opportunity to grow in both athleticism and in their faith. “Athletics is an important part of our school, and yet, athletics does not define who we are,” Mr. Keener says. “The successes we’ve had this season demonstrate that even a small school like ours provides the opportunity not only for participation, but for excellence.”