Sammi Mischkot has always had a heart for kids, but she didn’t always want to be a teacher.

She came to the University of Idaho with the intent of studying biochemistry, but that didn’t seem to be the right fit, either.

“I was doing that because I ultimately wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I wanted to work with kids; I just didn’t want to be a teacher,” she said. “I was always scared I would become a teacher.”

Sammi prayed about it, and God gave her a lot of peace about switching her major to elementary education. Teaching is not a career path she thought she would take, but she has had a lot of positive role models that have helped shape what sort of teacher she wants to be.

"Growing up, I had really, really great teachers," she said. "They were really loving, and just had a really safe environment in their classrooms.”

Sammi hopes to provide a similar environment in her classroom, where her students feel loved and don't have any doubts about being secure or accepted or wanted.

“I just really want my students to all feel like they have a chance,” she said.

Sammi is a full-time student and a member of the swimming and diving team at the University of Idaho. She is also a faithful volunteer with Resonate Church, both leading a weekly small group called Village and teaching for Adventure Village, Resonate’s children’s ministry.

She has a busy schedule, but joyfully serves with Adventure Village three Sundays a month instead of the usual once a month. She goes out of her way to make the kids under her care feel special and loved, even outside of their time together in Adventure Village, by throwing holiday parties and participating in their birthdays.

Sammi knew she wanted to serve with Adventure Village three years ago when she saw a video of the kids talking about what they wanted in their teachers. When she heard a little girl say she wanted her teachers to have sprinkles and chocolate sauce on them, Sammi fell in love. She thought, “That could be me!”

Spending time around kids has taught Sammi about God’s character—mainly that He is “not a stressball.”

“Working with kids a bunch, you can't be super uptight or tense. You need to be able to breathe and be in the moment,” she said. “Usually, unless they're hungry, or tired, or it's their birthday soon, they're not looking forward to the future. They're in the moment, doing whatever is in front of them, not stressing about things.”

Sammi loves hanging out with kids and seeing their creativity, but with their incredible energy, teaching requires a lot of patience and flexibility.

“I have learned to not sweat the little things, because when you're working with kids for an extended period of time, nothing ever goes quite as planned,” she said. “You just have to roll with the punches.”

Children have taught Sammi that God wants to be an integral part of our lives, involved in every aspect of our day.

"You hear about a childlike faith, and listening to these kids talk about Jesus—it's like, there's no other option,” she said. “God isn't awkward. Talking about God is just like talking about a family member or talking about their cat. It's just natural."

The prayer Sammi prays the most for the kids in Adventure Village is that they would always know that they’re loved and that they can have a personal relationship with Jesus. She hopes to instill truth into their lives during her time with them.

“In thinking about the gospel and how that affects how I teach, I want them to know first that they are loved by each of us and they are loved by God, not necessarily that they have all these verses memorized or that they do church right,” she said. “While those things are important, I think it's most important that they know the character of God, that they know why Jesus died and why He came, rather than just a set of beliefs they believe because it logically lines up or because their parents told them.”

One of her favorite things is when the kids are passionate about what they’re discussing in Adventure Village and when they are able to articulate the gospel.

"I didn't really understand the gospel when I was younger, but I think it's so cool if kids can know the gospel at a young age and have that imprinted on their hearts," she said. “Usually it's really short and really simple, but I love when kids articulate what it means to be a follower of Jesus or when they teach each other.”

The gospel is what ultimately motivates Sammi to action.

“When I am spending the most time in the Word, that's when I feel the most loved, and it honestly just wants to come out,” she said. “The more I feel loved, the more I want to love. The more grace I feel, the more I want to serve other people.”