Tomorrow I’m driving to Lancaster and then Leesburg to speak at two different ACSI preschool conferences. I am actually keynoting some of the preschool conferences this year. And last Saturday I had the awesome privilege of speaking at LCA’s preschool, where my son and daughter attend. :) I love to do these speaking engagements. What is crazy - I used to have a pretty serious fear of public speaking (another one to share on another day). But it is so amazing to see how God has chosen to use me... funny actually... for anyone who has known me for a long time.
So, I’ve talked about the ability to teach and speak with the opportunity to reach children. But I’ve not talked about the message that I’ve felt both burdened and blessed to share. I’m not sure if it is even possible to do it in one blog. Once I get going on this one, it is hard to shut me up. So, let's see how short I can make it... :)
After my K-12 and bachelor’s degree education all in Christian schools, I somehow (another story) found my first place of employment at a private day school for students with emotional and behavior disabilities. From that point forward I saw and was exposed to a different world. God began preparing me for the message. I saw a world that exists in our own backyards, towns, cities... but a world that has not been fully accepted by our churches and Christian schools... the least of these... the broken... the outcasted.
I know it may be harsh to say that these children have not been accepted in our Christian circles, but my entire life has been spent in the Christian community, churches, and cultural, I had never seen this world... I’d never been exposed to this level of brokenness and pain. And as I fell in love with these children and their families, and started “preaching” (at times self-righteously...more to come on that too) to all my friends that we need to help them... I started hearing from Christian friends “this is not my calling. That is your calling.” I started hearing from families who have been kicked out of churches because of their child’s behavior at church. I learned that many Christian schools don’t even employ special education teachers. And it wasn’t that long ago that I had a few different teacher candidates in my office in tears because their parents wouldn’t pay for a degree in special education. After paying for mission trips and supporting missions, these parents wanted to “protect” their children from majoring and obtaining a BS in special education.
BUT times are changing... The message is becoming mainstreamed... I am being asked (and even paid...so funny that anyone would pay me to speak) to come to schools, Christian schools and Christian conferences to speak about differentiated instruction and the struggling and/or difficult student. There are movies like Blind Side that show how it is time for social justice and special education to become part of American Christian culture...
and so the message... stay tuned... more to come... :)