Plugge, a Gretna resident who helped start a successful Youth for Christ chapter in the Gretna Public Schools, has chosen to leave his teaching job in Millard to go to work for the organization full time later this summer.
Youth for Christ offers several faith-based programs for children, the most notable being the Campus Life program run either before or after school.
Plugge is going to be the ministry director for the Omaha chapter.
“My role will be to assist the campus directors like Brian Pruch to help him be even more successful and effective in what he’s doing,” Plugge said. “And help find new campuses to establish a Campus Life program at different schools throughout the community.”
Plugge helped establish the Gretna Youth for Christ chapter five years ago and hopes to take that approach to expand into other communities. He said the best way is to use a three-tiered approach.
“The first part is a partnership and trust with the schools that we could use their facility either before school or after school,” he said. “Then, rallying the local churches to jump on board. Help them understand that Campus Life is not a threat to taking away young people from their youth groups. It’s actually an asset. Sometimes, young people aren’t interested in going to a church, but they’d be interested in hearing about church stuff in a school. What we found in Gretna is the youth groups actually increased.
“Thirdly, rallying parent support. Make them aware of what Campus Life is all about and how their sons and daughters can benefit from being involved with it.”
Plugge has been teaching health at Kiewit Middle School for the last four years, a job he said will be hard to leave.
“It’s an area of education where we can encourage kids about decisions,” he said. “Helping them realize the decisions they make today have consequences and will affect what their life looks like in the future.
“As a public school teacher, I’m well aware of what I can and can’t say as far as what I believe in as my faith. My goal as a public school teacher is to get students to develop their own faith, whatever that is. That might not be on the forefront of their mind, but if it would be on the forefront of their mind, it might influence them to make better choices.
“I get as close as I can to that edge as a public school teacher to encourage kids to think about that.”
With his new position, Plugge won’t have to worry about crossing that line anymore.
“I don’t have to get up to that edge any more,” he said. “I can get up to it, then go ahead and share the hope that I have in Christ.”
Plugge starts in his new role Aug. 1, which means he has one more summer to enjoy before starting a year-round job.
“That was one of the parts of the negotiation,” he joked. “Youth For Christ has been very flexible with me. One more teacher summer and then I’ll be stepping in full time with them. People who know me know it’s going to be a great fit for me and are excited about what’s ahead for Youth For Christ.”