Hope is a funny thing, it turns up when least expected and yet most needed.
I’ve been in and out of special education facilities over the last three weeks, for my class on the Exceptional Child in the Regular Classroom, and I was surprised by hope.
I’m learning about different ways to teach all my students, especially those kids who struggle with various types of disabilities.
I had a powerful learning experience at The Joshua School, which was founded by several Denver Public School teachers to help educate kids with autism. Visiting the school was emotionally draining, but also uplifting at the same time.
Typically I feel very comfortable in a classroom, but when I toured the school I felt pushed, uncomfortable. At one point a young boy started screaming and I didn’t know what to do. The incredible staff didn’t lose a beat, they helped him, as they do all of their students, and soon everyone was back to learning. Most of the kids were learning one on one with a teacher, using iPads and other cool gadgets. It’s the goal of the school to find out what motivates each student, so that all of the kids, with their varying difficulties due to autism, are able to learn.
One of the school’s main goals is to help the kids learn how to socialize. It is a struggle for most of the families to take their kids out to movies or dinner, but The Joshua School believes that learning is almost useless if the kid cannot enjoy life with his or her parents. The kids struggled with the simplest of tasks, but they also all were so human, so like me, with wants and needs.
Hope is when you see someone hurting and you stop at nothing to help.
Havern, a private school for kids with learning disabilities, and the next school I visited, made me realize how broken we all are. None of the kids looked different from the students I taught in Guatemala, as they looked like normal kids, but the students at Havern find it difficult to verbalize their needs. They need extra help learning how to read and write due to learning disabilities, but because of this school many are able to reenter regular schools by the start of high school.
This got me thinking (a miracle, I know). We are all broken, aren’t we? We all have our struggles, just like the kids at Havern or The Joshua School, some of us might not have the best social skills or know know how to spell (just read most of my past blogs). Yes I know, not everyone has difficulty learning, or needs a special school, but we’ve all had our problems in life. We’re all broken or have been broken in some way or another.
Hope helps you see the spectacular in the normal, the beauty in the broken.
On Tuesday January 22 I drove to the Children’s Hospital to hear about brokenness. The Kempe Children Center used to house a day care for physically, emotionally, and sexually abused children. The stories the presenters told were extremely difficult to listen to. The two speakers told stories of how these kids had been broken.
At the end of my time at the Kempe Children Center I was asked to do more than listen. I was asked to give my students hope.
Hope allows someone who has been broken to stop being helpless and realize he or she can survive, but more than that, thrive.
Giving hope to my students wasn’t a new idea, but it seemed strange to come in such an unexpected place. The people who work at the Kempe Children Center hear so many horrible stories, I would assume they would feel a little hopeless, but they told me that they have to live with hope or they could not go to work each day. They deal with such heavy burdens, but they also have the hope that they can help that broken child learn to live again and maybe even thrive.
Where can hope be found?
I find my hope for each day in Christ. This is a cruel world we live in. We seem to love to hurt each other. We’re born with imperfections, in need of someone to come along side us and show us how to live and love. We are a failed people who need fixed. Yet, when we were our most broken, Christ loved us. Like the teachers I observed at the schools I visited, He will go to great lengths to meet our needs. Even death. That is because He sees the humanity in us all, and loves us still.