Christian Teacher of the Year: Science teacher Diane Carter uses ‘Creature Feature’ to help students look through creation to see the Creator

Imagine walking out of a building and finding a crowd of people looking up at something. What do you do?

You join them, of course.

“You always look at what somebody else is looking at,”…

Imagine walking out of a building and finding a crowd of people looking up at something. What do you do?

You join them, of course.

“You always look at what somebody else is looking at,” notes Diane Carter, science and Bible teacher at Annapolis Christian Academy in Corpus Christi, Texas.

That basic principle of human nature informs everything Carter does in her middle- and high-school classes. She sees her job as teaching students what to look at and what to see in it – which, in most cases, is the Lord and Creator.

“I’m teaching them how to see the Creator as the warp and woof of everything that we talk about. He is the wisdom, he is the knowledge. I want them to see the Lord.”

That – and her unique teaching methods that include a student-led “Creature Feature” most Fridays – is why Carter is one of 12 instructors nationwide to be named 2023 Christian Teachers of the Year by the Herzog Foundation, which publishes The Lion.

Her 11th grade Creature Feature biology project alone is highly innovative in both its teaching of science and its tying all of creation to the Creator. Students pick an animal or other organism to give a short PowerPoint presentation on. They tell the other students about such things as the creature’s taxonomy, habits, unusual features and lifespan. 

But then they have to do a “wisdom application,” a la Solomon explaining the divine depth of the hyssop on a wall. 

“I want them, like Solomon, to use the world as a sermon,” Carter says. “So, looking at this creature what can we learn about how to live wisely in God’s world?” 

That’s just the first semester. In the second semester, the Creature Feature takes on a life of its own, as Carter talks about Romans 1 and how “the danger of living in a beautiful world is the temptation to worship it. (In doing so) we have exchanged the glory of the living God for creatures of the Earth. 

“The goal for that creature feature semester is to talk about some creature and to awaken awe in the Creator. So, you look at the creature, but you don’t stop there. You look through it to the glorious God and what he reveals about himself in the thing that he has made. … 

“I tell them more than ‘the heavens are declaring the glory of God’; the cellular level, the genetics, all of this stuff that we’ve been studying, speaks of the glory of God.” 

But it doesn’t even stop there. The students then write individual Psalms. “Our tongue is like a pen of a ready writer, and we’re going to sing our praises through Psalms,” she says. 

Afterward, all the students sit in a circle and read their Psalms to the class over coffee and cake. Carter says they sit there and bask in “the sense of the pleasure of God that we have offered him something of our heart through having looked at all of his creation. I think he’s really happy with that. 

“And the kids are just astounded, because we all just sit there looking at each other like, ‘We know he’s here.’ They’re delighted to have their hearts trained to really see the creation, because they’re seeing the Creator.” 

It’s a dubious proposition, Carter acknowledges, that creation can be understood without mention of the Creator, as happens in public education. 

“They wouldn’t even call it a ‘creation,’ because that indicates there is a Creator,” she says. 

This is why the current renaissance in Christian education is so vital to the future of America, Carter says. 

“Jesus said if you build the house on a foundation of the rock, which is his Word, the house will stand no matter what the storms bring. And I think that’s true for a family’s house, a person’s house or a nation’s house. 

“As the people of God are coming back to an understanding of their role as Christian educators and Christian parents, and they’re coming under the lordship of Jesus and being taught everything under his rule, then we’re going to see ever-increasing advances in education.” 

At least that’s how Diane Carter looks at it. 

And increasing numbers of her students. 

The Christian Teachers of the Year honor is part of the Herzog Foundation’s Excellence in Christian Education award series. Each of the 12 winners will attend a special awards event in Washington, D.C., where they will also receive a monetary gift.