I’m not sure the exact time, place, or person that sparked Rachel’s passion for individuals with special needs. Perhaps it was noticing kids at school. Or maybe getting to know her friend, Chandler. More importantly, that spark continued to grow.
During junior-high, Rachel served as a peer tutor in special education classes. It was also at this time, she and I worked to develop a “Parent’s Night Out” ministry at our church for families of children with special needs. She also began volunteering in weekly Sunday classes and summer camps for individuals with special needs.
Rachel chose service-learning as one of her high school classes. This program allows students to spend time working in an area they are interested in for their career. She spent time each day working in the special education classrooms.
Even during these early experiences, I was amazed at Rachel’s ability to truly be a friend to all who crossed her path. No matter their ability to communicate, she spoke to them as she would to anyone else. She even reminded me on a few occasions that certain individuals were not little kids and should not be spoken to in that manner. 😉
When it came time for college, there was no doubt about her course of study. She would get a degree in special education. She even talked about how her dream job would be to come back to her own school and teach. Teach in those classes where she spent so many hours as a student mentor.
Her college years flew by. And now she is in her first year of teaching. And where is she working? The high school where she graduated. Those same rooms she spent hours in as a student.
Last week I was finally able to see her in action. She is right where she planned to be. Right where she is supposed to be. Teaching young adults who are often overlooked and ignored. Treating them with respect and dignity. Pouring into their lives daily.
Watching my daughter as the teacher? There are not enough words. It is like a beautiful full circle. No beginning or ending. No limits on where she can go or what she will do.