Above: Joanne Moran applies music in her Bible lessons.
MUSKOGEE—In 2015, Joanne Moran was featured in the Muskogee Phoenix in the paper’s “Okie from Muskogee” section. The paper highlighted how Moran taught kindergarten Sunday School for 47 years.
Currently in her 55th year, Moran remains a favorite Sunday School teacher at Muskogee, First who is now teaching grandchildren of her former students.
“I didn’t know you could quit,” Moran said jokingly about faithfully teaching Bible lessons to kindergarteners. “I thought you taught until you died or Jesus came back, and neither of those things have happened yet.”
Moran wrote kindergarten literature for Lifeway Christian Resources for 15 years, and she was a regular conference leader, helping other teachers prepare for Sunday School.
“I love conference leading because I love to train teachers,” she said, and Moran is convinced the more training a teacher experiences the more likely the teacher will continue teaching Sunday School.
“Trained teachers stay,” she said. “If they are trained, they will stay because they see the importance of teaching. I don’t want to just entertain children. It’s important, especially today, for them to learn the Bible. You only have one hour a week, but I believe you can make a difference in a person’s life in one hour.”
Moran will spend several hours a week getting ready to teach her class. Her husband would say to her, “I wonder what it would be like if all teachers did this,” and her response would be, “There would be a lot of happy children if they did.”
For Moran, it’s all about the relationships she has made with her students, as well as with the parents.
James Swain, Oklahoma Baptists’ associate executive director-church relations group, recently served as transitional pastor at Muskogee, First, and mentioned a young family recently started attending the church. He said Moran had a little girl from this family in her class.
“I think that connection (Moran) made was key, not only to connecting with that family but helping them recover from a difficult situation,” Swain said. “Joanne is faithful. Every Sunday she is prepared whether she will have two kids or 20 kids. One of the things that impressed me most is I would go by her room and visit, and there would be people coming by—children and adults. Obviously she’s influenced a lot of lives.”
Bill Pierce, president of Baptist Village Communities, has known Moran for the majority of his life, since Muskogee, First is his home church. Pierce claims Moran “is the real deal.”
“(She is) the best example of using your spiritual gifts in the church throughout your life that I know,” Pierce said about Moran. “She is totally committed to the call.”
Moran is willing to try new ways to communicate with her students and their parents. A kindergarten student once showed Moran how to use the camera on her phone. She now has a Facebook group page where she posts pictures and sends messages to families of her students.
“I really believe in outreach,” she said. “Parents will respond quicker to Facebook than to any other way. I’ve been doing this a long time, but you still have to find new methods to try along the way.”
Moran is an Okie from Muskogee who is also a faithful servant, advancing the Gospel for 55 years.