Teacher Credits a Surprise Blessing for First-Place Prize in Russia

The victory at a music competition puts the spotlight on Adventist education.

Teacher Credits a Surprise Blessing for First-Place Prize in Russia

, news editor, Adventist Review

A Seventh-day Adventist teacher said a surprise blessing from God led to a first-place award in a prestigious competition in Russia, bringing welcome attention to Adventist education in a part of the world where Adventist schools are only beginning to take off.

Natalia Lozovskaya, a music teacher at the Zaoksky Adventist elementary and high school, located two hours by car from Moscow, was awarded first place in the category “Open music lessons in a public school” at the third annual Teacher of Music in Contemporary Culture, a competition of music educators in St. Petersburg.

Lozovskaya received praise from the judges and audience for her live demonstration of how to teach children to play the bells, and she went on to win in the category even though her school is not public but privately owned by the Adventist Church.

Natalia Lozovskaya, a music teacher at the Zaoksky Adventist elementary and high school, holding her first-place statue and certificate from the competition of music educators in St. Petersburg. (Euro-Asia Division)

Lozovskaya praised God for the victory, saying He gave her an unexpected opportunity to shine in the final second round of the contest in late April.

“I am grateful to God for His help,” she told the Adventist Review. “I felt His support and blessing when I was in St. Petersburg.”

An Unexpected Blessing

Lozovskaya, one of 70 teachers from Russia, Belarus, and China who reached the four-day final round, found out shortly before it started that she would need to demonstrate a lesson on stage with a group of St. Petersburg sixth-graders whom she had never met.

Lozovskaya immediately contacted the sixth-grade teacher and asked whether she could observe the children in their classroom and spend 15 minutes explaining her technique of teaching bells. The technique combines Lozovskaya’s own musical experience with a color-coded system used in the United States and other developed countries in which the teacher holds up pieces of paper showing what color of bells the children should ring.

The St. Petersburg teacher told Lozovskaya that she would take a look at her schedule.

“Then suddenly she called back and asked, ‘Would you mind substitute teaching two lessons with this class while I take a group of children to the competition?’” Lozovskaya said. “Of course, I accepted gladly.”

Lozovskaya used the time to not only become acquainted with the children but to explain to them how to ring the bells.

“It was such a blessing. Thank God!” she said.

In the contest hall, Lozovskaya taught the sixth-graders to play a collection of songs by Russian composers such as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Modest Mussorgsky, and Alexander Borodin, and an original composition, “Spring Chimes,” that she wrote for the competition.

Lozovskaya then challenged the children to think about whether the music of their own lives would be heard and appreciated by others.

For the lesson finale, the children learned a Russian Adventist hymn, “Nyne Den Blagopriyatny.”

The audience responded with enthusiastic applause.

A Showcase for Adventist Education

Guillermo E. Biaggi, president of the Adventist Church’s Euro-Asia Division, which covers much of the former Soviet Union, praised God for the opportunity to showcase Adventist education.

“It is an honor for us at the Euro-Asia Division and our education department, which is promoting Adventist schools throughout this vast territory, that one of our Adventist music teachers has won the first-place prize,” Biaggi said.

He underscored that the ultimate goal of true education is redemption, noting that Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White wrote, “It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come” (Education, p. 13).

“God’s plan is to save human beings, and Adventist elementary schools can teach children about God’s love through music classes, just as Sister Natalia teaches music and leads a bell choir with a group of kids,” Biaggi said.

He noted that the Adventist Church only had four or five elementary schools in the Euro-Asia Division just a few years ago. Today, the division has 26 Adventist schools, an achievement that he credited to the work of Vladimir I. Tkachuk, a division vice president and director of its education department, together with local union and conference leaders.

“May the Lord bless our dedicated leaders and teachers so many children will know about the love and sacrifice of our Savior and be prepared for heaven,” Biaggi said.

Lozovskaya said God’s blessing through the contest has motivated her to work even harder to share His love.

“The first-place prize is inspiring me to further connect the children in my classes with the beautiful, divine truth,” she said.

Natalia Lozovskaya, an Adventist teacher at the Zaoksky elementary and high school, leading children in a performance of the Russian Adventist hymn, “Nyne Den Blagopriyatny.”