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Education is what people do to you and learning is what you do to yourself.

April 18, 2022
By Tara Lee

According to the latest TED Talk clip, the CHESS Christian School's core values of Contagious Learning and Community are essential to successful innovation in the next generation.


“[Traditional educational models] feel like they’re trying to make you memorize the whole encyclopedia before they let you go out and play, and to me, I’ve got Wikipedia on my cell phone, and it feels like they assume you’re going to be on top of some mountain, all by yourself with a number 2 pencil trying to figure out what to do when in fact you’re always going to be connected, you’re always going to have friends,and you can pull Wikipedia up whenever you need it, and what you need to learn is how to learn.”

Posted in Tara Talks

A New Perspective on Ugliest Christmas Sweaters

December 23, 2021
By Tara Lee

Christmas has come to CHESS! Sitting in my office surrounded by gifts, cards, hedgehogs, chocolate candy, and Starbucks gift cards, my heart feels like it could burst. If it weren’t such a busy day, I could sit on the floor and weep. The outpouring of love and encouragement from students, parents, teachers, and administration is overwhelming.

In addition to celebrating Christ’s birth through gifts and encouragement, to me, Christmas is also about…Ugly Christmas Sweaters! A few years ago, my family and I were invited to an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. Only hours before the party was to begin, Jeff and I were frantically scouring every local Goodwill, thrift store, and discount store to find the prized ugly Christmas sweater that would secure for us the WIN. Running out of time and options, I surrendered to the fact that my family would not win the ugliest sweater contest! I returned home empty-handed, disillusioned, and running late! Entering my closet, I pulled off the hangars anything that remotely resembled Christmas and threw it over the heads of my children.

Arriving slightly late to the party, we were greeted with roars of laughter as we walked single file into the house. “Ha Ha Ha Ha! Those are the ugliest sweaters I have ever seen! Where did you get those?” At that moment I wanted desperately to say we found the ugliest sweaters at the local Goodwill. Or the thrift store. Or some discount store. Longing to crawl into the entryway corner, it took all of my emotional strength to respond, “Oh these old things?” Immediately I shot a look to my family that was universally understood to say, “Do. Not. Utter. A. Single. Word.”

That night, the award for the Ugliest Sweater was given to my son, Caleb.   Like a faithful friend, that sweater accompanied me to various Christmas gatherings for many years. It was festive. It was comfortable. It screamed that Christmas was here! However, that night, I felt betrayed by the “old faithful”. Through the eyes of others, my old Christmas sweater was actually ugly! The veil was lifted, and I was able to see the sweater from the eyes of others! It was true. It was ugly. In fact, it was the ugliest Christmas sweater at the party!

Driving home from the party, my emotions were mixed with thankfulness that our family WON the award, and humiliation that the sweater was still in my closet. Like me, perhaps you see something from a new perspective and the veil is lifted.

I pray that this Christmas, you enjoy times of rest while centering your thoughts on the amazing incarnation of Christ from a fresh, unveiled perspective. I look forward to seeing you in 2022!

Love & blessings,


Posted in Tara Talks

You want me to Start what?

December 22, 2021
By Tara Lee

Happy New Year!

Once the calendar flips to January 2nd and my world crashes to a screeching halt, I feel a strong sense to gain control of my world. The trash cans overflow with wrapping and boxes. Pine needles are still lodged in the carpet. There is always one hidden Christmas decoration that doesn’t make it back into the boxes already packed away until next Christmas. No more baking. No more gifts to buy. No more parties, or canned food drives, or serving. Life seems to stop.


For a task-driven person, the feeling of STOP makes me crazy. I want to DO something. I want to feel productive and experience the joy of making an impact. But how can I make an impact on January 2nd? The gray, cold days discourage me. I have no need or money to shop. Rather than making food, I am negotiating a way to lose some of the extra weight gained over the holidays.


The one thing that makes me feel productive after New Year’s day is to set goals for the upcoming year. Each member of my family establishes a Mental/Educational Goal, a Physical Goal, a Spiritual Goal, and a Financial Goal. While we never accomplish all of our goals in a given year, I am always encouraged that we did accomplish a few of our goals.


Except this past year. As I wrote my goals for 2014, I never set out to establish a school. It wasn’t on my radar. There was no hint of a major change in my 2014 goals.  But God knew there was a change coming.  So this year, as I scratched a few goals down on paper, I wrote with a frailty and humility unlike I have ever experienced. Reflecting on the changes of this past year reminded me that God has HUGE plans for those of us who are willing to follow Him into radical obedience. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Join me this year of 2015 as a CHESS community who desires to radically follow the leading of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have individual and corporate plans and goals, but the Lord will establish our steps. I am looking forward to another great year as the Lord reveals the future and hope He has purposed for our lives. Happy New Year!

Posted in Tara Talks