My Life for Yours Forwards
By Erin Holder
Research produced from the University of California, Irvine, discovered that 66.2% of students believe ‘trying hard’ should result in a good grade, 40.7% believe completing most of the reading should result in a B, 23.5% believe a professor should respond to an email the same day it was sent, and 16.5% believe students should be allowed to take calls during class (Holdcroft).
When walking through the halls of CCS, you are bound to be greeted by Mrs. Drexler. You can tell you are nearing her when you see students pulling up their masks and girls inching down their skirts. This is the Dean Drexler that most students know, the disciplinarian. However, there are some wonderful sides to her that are often left unseen by students. While some feel the need to alter their clothes before coming into her presence fearing her affinity for the rules, others feel the need to curtsey and salute her out of respect for the love she radiates.
Everything Mrs. Drexler presents on the outside is made to or made by instilling love. From the bright pastel shirt to the “love and hope” mask, she has crafted herself in order to make students feel invited and welcomed. But it doesn’t stop there, because after her many years of giving love it has physically become a part of her. I know this because she has a face well lived. The laugh lines she has are ones that tell a story of the many years she has had spreading joy and isn't something she can remove at the end of the day. Neither is her laugh, which can only be made that smooth from the decades she has spent using it for the better.
High School Dean of Students Sara Drexler believes student leadership is the antithesis to entitlement. "My life for yours forwards. This is how Jesus expressed his love to us the most deeply and sweetly. . . . That is so contrary to entitlement. It’s absolutely the opposite."
This is the side of her that isn’t known as well. This is the side made for helping us students become the best we can be in this world. And one of the main ways she is working to fix this is through fixing our entitlement. As she said, “Because guess what, we are self-centered people who serve ourselves, and that’s what entitlement is--when we say, ‘Huh I’m entitled to…’” She has seen “when students own a situation they develop pride, they develop self-sufficiency, and they develop problem-solving techniques.” But how are students supposed to accomplish this? Mrs. Drexler believes that student council and class office are key. “Those two combined set the stage for the best way to be. Because they rid you from entitlement by changing ‘I want entitlements’ to ‘I want to entitle you.’” And after 35 years working on student leadership and development, she knows what she is talking about.
“The Dean Drex,” the disciplinarian that most students know, might stem from her earlier years working at a prison fellowship ministry in Washington D.C. That time she spent with convicts might be where her powerful, awe-inspiring toughness comes from. While she sees the importance of disciplining students, she loves that she also gets to show kids the positive things that they can do at school. By the same token she loves being able to build close relationships with students, so when she has to discipline them they know it comes from a place of love. “If I didn’t have relationships with kids, I could not talk about important things,” she says.
When her son was a little baby, he had issues learning how to go down the stairs. He was too young to simply walk down the stairs, so instead, he would fall. Obviously, this wasn’t a solution to the problem and actually was what created the problem. Mrs. Drexler didn’t want to carry her son down the stairs because then he would be reliant upon her, and she wanted him to be able to help himself. So she turned him around, and he slid soundly down the stairs by himself. “I equipped him to figure it out so he didn’t get hurt, but also did not get carried. Because no, I am not going to stand there and watch you continue to get hurt, or fall, or have something that is too hard for you. But I am also not gonna carry you.”
This is the mentality she uses to help us, students. She is going to set us up to succeed in the best way possible without forcing us to rely on her. One way she goes about this is forcing the school to communicate solid options with students so the students can “own the ideas, own the solutions, and own everything they could possibly own.” Because there is a difference between student ownership and student entitlement.
“Jesus says, ‘You are not entitled to do anything but serve me,” Mrs. Drexler explains. She strongly believes that Jesus thinks we serve him through us serving others. We do so by doing what Mrs. Drexler calls the three O’s: Owning Opportunities for Others. This is putting ourselves in the position (such as StuCo) to own the opportunity so that we can serve others. This is why she is in charge of StuCo, so that she can “set before students the opportunity to love people.”
However, you do not need to be involved in StuCo in order to make a difference. She has a beautiful saying: “My life for yours forwards. This is how Jesus expressed his love to us the most deeply and sweetly.” My life for yours will be me giving up the next three seconds of my life to hold the door for you. “That is so contrary to entitlement. It’s absolutely the opposite. And it’s wonderful… because you could do that all day long. And no one is gonna go around going ‘Oh my goshhh she is suchhh a giving personnn’...because she held the door. But you are! Because you gave up three seconds.”
Mrs. Drexler doesn’t just say these things though and expects us, students, to act on it without her doing the same. In her free time, she works on costumes for the musicals, using skills she learned from her own grandmother. She spends a lot of her time with her “very cute grandkids” (and yes I was required to include them at some point in this). She is also a deacon at a church dedicated to fixing racism and poverty. And after church, she invites 25+ people to her house (outside of Covid times) to build relationships. Mrs. Drexler insists on “building relationships at every turn because you are gonna need it.” You can see hospitality being a big thing for her as she also normally has an international student living with her, which she insists is a “bigger blessing for me than it is for them.” You can see her need for hospitality even in her office at CCS. She is one to always leave the door open and have candy at the ready for anyone who wants it.
Her hospitality and love are not left unnoticed as her office has a few mementos from students, such as a clock that a student made her in shop class, a hanged letter a student wrote her, and a cookie jar another student (Ryan Alan) bought for her that says “the boss.” (I think this has started to confuse her because when asked about her official title, she responded with “Boss, Queen, Tyrannosaurus Drex, Dean of Students.”)
She tries to prepare us because she knows entitlement surrounds us so much that we are drowning in it. It starts all the way from when you first played sports and everyone got a trophy. Not just the team trophy for the team that won. But a trophy for every single kid that participated. And it only gets worse, as you get older. In college, you have to be overly careful of every word you say, out of fear of the possibility that one person will find a way to be offended by what you say. “Entitlement has led us to where no one feels they can move anymore because they feel like they might hurt others feelings,” Mrs. Drexler adds. But more importantly, “Entitlement makes us live in fear of damaging anyone else’s space so much so that we never get into it and love a person.”