A Tribute to a Good and Faithful Servant

By Ray Hendriks  |  March 7th

I first got to know Tena in the way most school personnel get to know Tena—she was the competent, professional, understanding, and thoughtful person on the other end of the phone call or email exchange, providing the right answer, document, policy, or survey, or simply pointing you to the right person. You know what I mean; for pretty much anything you needed to know, you could call Tena. She was the key contact point for many in the former Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) and then Edvance.

Tena, and her husband Theo, are passionate supporters of Christian education. As a young parent in Lindsay, Ontario, Tena learned that to best understand a Christian school, you need to get involved. Her volunteer work at Heritage piqued her interest in administrative support and eventually led her to the OACS. She began in “reception” and eventually became the executive assistant to four consecutive executive directors. She then became the Office Administrator for Edvance Christian Schools Association, a role from which she will retire at the end of this month. Through all these different roles, Tena’s passion for Christian education has been unwavering and her respect for both the organization and its schools has never diminished.

Tena holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Toronto, as well as a designation as an Early Childhood Educator. Her evident gifts and talents and a drive to learn allowed her to embrace new technologies and dig deeply into the assignments and responsibilities that came her way. As the organizations encountered challenges or needed to research an issue more deeply, behind the scenes was Tena: researching, studying, fact-checking, editing, and producing.

Several behind the scenes examples come to my mind:

  • When the obvious discrimination regarding lack of funding for health care for students became a Supreme Court case, Tena worked behind the scenes to ensure the schools were surveyed, data was accurate, and the reports were clear and concise.
  • When other political battles arose (funding, discriminatory behaviour, private school policy, just to name a few), Tena ensured that those fighting in the public arena were equipped and ready with the materials required.
  • When conferences needed planning, Tena orchestrated all the logistics and rolled up her sleeves to make sure everything was in order.
  • When school surveys and collection of data went out, Tena helped make the process as easy as possible and ensured the reports were accurate and insightful.
  • When it came to ensuring proper record keeping, consistency in decision making, adherence to policy, etc, through many years of Board meetings, committee meetings and even through the dissolution of the OACS and the formation of Edvance, the person you could count on was once again: Tena.

That list of examples could go on and on, but suffice it to say that there was not much that went on where Tena was not involved.

But even all of that does not fully describe her work. School personnel will often say in jest that the person who really runs the place is the person in the front office, whatever their title. I said the same about Tena. If I went on holidays, little mention was made as things continued to run smoothly. But if Tena took part of a day off, the place felt just a little more unstable and you would definitely hear someone ask, “Where’s Tena?”.

Tena, you were a foundational person in the movement of Christian education for many years, starting as a parent volunteer in Lindsay, and joining the OACS in 1998, and then Edvance in 2018. You worked diligently and faithfully behind the scenes, never desiring the spotlight or credit, but were instrumental in so many of the successful endeavors of the organizations. You never lost sight of the importance of the schools or the individual needs of the people who worked in them. Your competent work was vitally important and recognized, and your courage to be challenged, learn, and explore was a model to us. But at the end of the day, these things take a second place to the faithfulness of your character. You were a model of Christ-like service in your work, and for that you will be remembered and always thanked.

Well done, thou good and faithful servant of our Heavenly Father. May His grace always be present in your life as you enjoy this next well-deserved stage of life. We love and appreciate you always.

Ray Hendriks is a former Senior Advisor at Edvance, and former Executive Director of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS).