“My calling,” said Drew Mekelburg, “is to make this world a better place.”
So, after graduating in 2016 from Union College with a degree in physical education, Drew took a job teaching P.E. at Belmont Elementary in Lincoln.
His original plan was to teach at an Adventist boarding school as an athletic director and coach. “That’s what I wanted to do, and I got a few offers to do that, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t feeling pulled toward any of them,” Drew explained. “I don’t know why. It’s what I wanted, but when I heard about LPS (Lincoln Public Schools) I started working toward that goal.”
After spending every year of his education in Adventist schools, working at a Title 1 public school was a culture shock for Drew.
“Teaching at a public school is very different,” he said. “I teach 800 students at a Title 1 school, and more than 90 percent of those students are from low-income families. A lot of my students go home to situations that no child should ever have to go through. School for them is a safe place. That’s where they get two meals a day. That’s where they have people who care for them, who will hold them accountable, who make them better.”
Drew is one of those people. He ignored those who said, “Do you want to be just a PE teacher? Drew, you can do better than that. Man, come on, you’re smarter than that; you’re more talented than that.”
Drew found purpose in the opportunity to help kids see who they were created to be. Every day he has the chance to be a positive male role model (something many kids lack). Every day he has the chance to encourage, to love, and to help kids live up to their full potential. Every day he has a chance to fulfill his calling.
“I sat a kid down because he’s having a rough day,” Drew shared. “I said, ‘tell me something you’re good at.’ He said, ‘getting in trouble.’ I said. ‘No, you’re good at this, this, and this.’ I get to show them they are more than getting in trouble. I get to show them they are a person who’s valued and who has a purpose in life. I get to show them they’re more than they think they are. Many kids think they are losers and letdowns, and they’re not. They are not!”
Drew believes he has found his calling in helping his kids understand their God-given value—making his corner of the world a better place one child at a time.
by Trena Reed, Union graduate and freelance writer