‘PLANTING SEEDS OF LIGHT AND HOPE & TENDING THE GARDEN ONE DAY & ONE CHILD AT A TIME’

I felt the call on my life to work with people I will identify as the “underdogs”, when I was in college. These are individuals who struggle with physical and/or mental challenges on a consistent basis. I double majored in Psychology and Recreation Therapy in response to that call. I worked in psychiatric hospitals providing therapy and support to those who faced mental and psychological struggles after graduation. After twelve years, I began to feel the call to use my knowledge and gifts in a different direction, the field of education. I returned to school and earned my teaching certificate in Special Education. I had worked primarily with adults in my career as a therapist but felt I could have a greater impact if I intervened earlier. I could do this by working with children and their families. God prepared me for my current mission. I taught for five years in a traditional public school and worked with children who had a variety of learning needs along with some environmental factors that negatively affected their school experience. Then, I was given the opportunity to transition to teaching exceptional children at a new alternative school with a day treatment component that serves students who have mental health diagnoses. It became clear to me at that time that God’s plan for my career had come full circle. God had prepared me not only to work with students with special needs but also those with mental health challenges. This is my tenth year teaching in this capacity.

trust-1288018_1280Students that attend our school have a difficult time navigating life. They carry the baggage of sickness, hunger, homelessness, poverty, foster care, incarceration of a parent, physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse or neglect, and inappropriate role models in the home environment. Most of them enter the doors of our school with little hope. It is no wonder these students have been unable to fully access and embrace the academic instruction provided to them throughout their school experience. Few of our students get excited about getting school vacations because it is difficult for them to face life outside the care and consistency of the typical school schedule.

I have the blessing of being in the bi-vocational role as both educator and missionary. The bible tells us in Matthew 5: 13-14 to be salt and light to those around us. I offer light by helping students feel safe, loved, and cared for while they are at school. I instill hope in them as they experience growth and success with academics as well as overcome personal challenges. The goal of my colleagues and I is to help our students recognize they have value and worth and deserve respect. lightbulb-rainbow_podcast
We challenge them to think beyond their current situation of which they have little to no control. Our school adopted a “Growth Mindset” culture this year. It emphasizes the importance of students giving their best effort, demonstrating perseverance, recognizing failure as the first step to success and simply saying, “I can’t do that, yet.” We instill the importance of striving toward a goal and accepting assistance when needed from others without giving up.

We have a gifted staff with a heart for each student. I see evidence of this every day. In addition to the traditional academic disciplines, we provide therapeutic gardening, Yoga instruction, social skills lessons, as well as individual and group therapy in order to meet the needs of our student population. We have no more than eight students per class so each student receives the individualized attention they need and deserve. We utilize a school wide behavior plan that requires students to reflect on his/her behavior with an instructor throughout the school day. This teaches the importance of personal goal setting, acceptance of rules and limits, consistency, and accountability in striving for success. We provide field trips to broaden our students’ experiences of life beyond their neighborhood. This school year we have partnered with two churches and a fraternity at UNCW. To encourage students and staff they provide mentoring and tutoring as well as other needed resources. Every day is a challenge for our staff and students. I believe the Lord has placed me in this mission field for this season of my life. I will continue to plant the seeds of light and hope and tend the garden one day and one life at a time.

Blog By: Lisa Everette

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KOG2ILM UPDATE: Week 6

It would be a natural thing to believe that six weeks into any project would cause you to lose a little interest and enthusiasm. For some folks perhaps that’s what you are feeling as we complete the sixth week in our Education emphasis of KOG2ILM. For others however, this sixth week has been God’s perfect timing as you have found your place to serve through meeting the needs of a teacher with a simple request, perhaps you answered the call to give a teacher support through being their prayer partner this week. There are others who heard God’s voice so loudly this week and are stepping out in faith to commit to build a relationship with a young child through the TORO program. Just this week these two requests were made from our Alderman partners:

“We would like a basketball and football for our recess time. Also I am doing a concession stand as a part of my token economy and would greatly appreciate some help providing the treats. It can be any kinds of chips, crackers, or snack items that are individually packaged as well as drinks (just no sodas). I am so grateful that we have you guys available to us!”

“We have 2 school secretaries that missed the prayer partner sign ups if anyone can help they’d love to be prayed for!!!”

Within fifteen minutes each of these requests were filled with generous folks willing and ready to answer God’s call. So how about you? Have you wanted to plug-in but not sure if you’ve missed the boat? Don’t ever doubt God’s timing – there’s always room for you and there’s always a need that needs to be met.

To God be all the glory- great things He has done!

250+ people have given school supplies and snacks

18+ people helped provide an inspirational lunch for the Alderman staff

16 people have committed to be paired with a teacher as their prayer partner for the year

28+ people provided backpacks filled with all the necessaties to being school prepared

46 people have committed to be a TORO partner-building realtionships with a child while helping them learn to read and succeed

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“SHE TOLD HIM SHE HADN’T BEEN SENDING HER SON TO SCHOOL BECAUSE HE HAD NO SHOES…”

David Kopperud was acting principal at a West Sacramento, Calif., elementary school when one of his first-graders stopped showing up. The child was so chronically absent that Kopperud went to see the child’s mother. What he learned has stayed with him since. She told him that she hadn’t been sending her son to school because he had no shoes…
READ MORE

The Poverty Gap

Schools grapple with a growing population of poor children

by JON MARCUS

Harvard Graduate School of Education

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