Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Office: The Old Becomes New

We have a new guy in the office!

Well, not new new. He’s more like an old employee in a new position. Only he’s not really old old. He’s a young guy who’s been around Shepherds College for a while, then he left, and now he’s back – in a new position!  Did you get all that?

I hope so because I want you to join me in welcoming back Brian Canright.

Brian started with Shepherds College back in 2009 as the Residential Life Manager. He loved his job, but it was a position that required unfortunate hours for a young father. With his oldest child starting kindergarten, Brian realized that, working 2nd shift, he wouldn’t see his son until the weekends. He and his wife decided to move to Texas to be near family and to take a 1st shift position at another organization. While Brian and his family really enjoyed their time in Texas, Brian missed the sense of purpose and fulfillment he experienced while working at Shepherds College. When a new, 1st shift position opened up here – one with a description that matched his strengths – he and his wife decided to pursue the opportunity.

Brian’s new title is a long one – Lead Recruiter and Transition Coordinator – and carries a long list of responsibilities to match.  As the Lead Recruiter, Brian will be:

  • Attending conferences
  • Visiting schools
  • Networking with professionals
  • Coordinating aspects of Preview Days
  • Hosting visitors
  • And guiding students and their families through the application process.

As the Transition Coordinator, Brian will serve as a resource to graduates and their families as they transition to life after Shepherds College. His responsibilities will include:

  • Developing relationships with agencies, programs and organizations that can provide appropriate supports for our graduating students
  • Providing information to parents and graduates regarding supports available in their communities
  • Maintaining records and curating stories about Shepherds College alumni with respect to Appropriate Independence, employment, support services and community life
  • Informing our curriculum development process as he learns from the graduates’ experiences following graduation
  • Facilitating referrals for our graduates to other agencies
  • Maintaining ongoing contact with graduates and their families
  • And establishing an Alumni Association so that our graduates can carry on an ongoing sense of identity and pride in their accomplishments as Shepherds College graduates.

Whew! That’s quite an intimidating list! 

But we know Brian from past experience, and we know he's up to the challenge. He’s strategic, well-spoken and engaging. He’s compassionate, outgoing and energetic. He’s also very passionate about the mission of Shepherds College - to educate and train students with intellectual disabilities by equipping them to reach Appropriate Independence and inspiring a lasting awareness of God's plan for their lives.

Brian always has been, and will continue to be, an asset to our program. Whether you’re reading this blog as a parent, student, Shepherds College alumnus or professional in the disability field, Brian can be an asset to you as well.

Please call him at 262-878-6365 with any questions about our program, or to get assistance in the transitioning process.

Welcome back Brian!

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teacher Tuesday: Still Making Memories

Remember the 80’s? 

Big hair, leg warmers worn with pixie boots, breakdancing, Space Invaders, Duran Duran, clothes in shades of hot pink, electric blue and neon yellow, “Gag me with a spoon!”
The good ole days…

When I think back to these days, my memory inserts images of one of our newer classroom assistants, Mrs. Kim Harry. 

She is a warm reminder of the days of girly giggles, stirrup pants, dancing to A-ha, drives in a Jeep and hair held high off the head by mushroom-cloud blasts of Aqua Net.

Kim,  my brother, and big hair.
As my little sister’s best friend, Kim was a regular visitor to our house. Out of my sister’s odd assortment of peers, she was my absolute favorite. She wasn’t the girl who screamed every time Bon Jovi’s name was mentioned, she wasn’t the girl who was always mad at everyone, she wasn’t the gossip, she wasn’t the whisperer, she wasn’t the hypochondriac.  Kim was the girl who walked in the house with a big smile and a laugh and made everyone, from my baby brother to my mom, feel as if they were included in her close circle of friends.

She exuded happiness and joy in life. And even though it didn’t register to my teenaged self – I realize now that she truly radiated the love of God.

Every character trait that made me love Kim back then is still present in the Kim that works for Shepherds College today. The years haven’t stripped one ounce of her kindness, gentleness, sense of humor or positivity. The staff she supports at school gives testimony to this fact:

“Kim is great! She always has a smile on her face and is willing to jump in and go with the flow!” ~ Mrs. Kolkman

“Kim is calm and positive and treats difficult behaviors with diplomacy and love.” ~ Mrs. Harvey

“Kim is so kind and gentle. She steps right in with whatever is needed and is actively involved. I love working with her! She is fun and flexible and up for anything in class!” ~ Mrs. Konopasek

“Kim is such a kind person, and she is always attentive to the students. She is really interested in their lives as well.” ~ Miss Spence

“I’ve seen Kim encourage, support and guide students throughout the day. She has a gentle and fun personality. She is also very dedicated and even came to support the students at a Special Olympics Basketball tournament!” ~ Miss Pechous

“Kim is fantastic! I really enjoy having Kim in my classroom because she takes initiative to help where needed with whoever needs it. She sees a need and she fills it.” ~ Mrs. Luchterhand

“Kim is great! She is kind, compassionate, tender-hearted and a hard worker. She is also patient with the students. As a class para, she is tops! Some of her tasks include tracking student behaviors, grading papers, finding students after breaks, helping students in class, running errands, and getting Band-Aids and other minor triage. She helps me as a teacher stay focused on teaching.” ~ Miss Houk

“KIM HARRY IS AMAZING!!!!!  She is compassionate, warm and SO VERY kind to the students!! She is such an asset to my class because she is willing to help out in whatever area needed. She does it all with such patience and joy!  Her compassion, patience, encouragement and motherly instincts make her more than equipped to work with our students, and I am SO thankful God brought her to Shepherds College!”  ~ Miss Pollard

Mrs. Harry is also thankful that God brought her to Shepherds College. At Christmas time, just a couple of months after starting her job at Shepherds, she opened a piece of Dove chocolate. The message on the wrapper said “Love what you do.” She thought, “Wow, my job at Shepherds is truly something that I love. I look forward to every day that I serve, and I feel that God has placed me in this special place to help me grow and mold me into the person He wants me to be. I started this job as a para thinking that I’d be helping students with intellectual disabilities, but most of the days, they are teaching me.”

The big hair may have changed over time, but the big heart never will. 

We are blessed to have Mrs. Harry as part of the Shepherds College family, still making warm memories for a whole new generation of young people.

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Friday, February 22, 2013

Chocolate and a Rose

I’ve already told you that I’m not big on flowers. They’re beautiful and I love looking at all the lovely colors and varieties, but my husband knows he doesn’t need to spend money on them.

I do have a favorite Rose however – Rose Laketa from Country Rose Bakery and Café.

I’ve known and liked Rose from back in my son’s high school days. She and her sister, Rita, hired Nic to work in their restaurant, and he loved every moment he was there.  They encouraged him, complimented him and fed him – a lot. It was the perfect job for a teenage boy.

My liking for Rose has grown into love, admiration and a deep respect over the years as I’ve watched her give of her time and resources to support Shepherds College.

She and her sister have:

  • Accepted and trained several Culinary Arts interns
  • Hired one of our graduates
  • Agreed to interviews and visits from photographers during their busy workdays
  • Attended each graduation
  • Opened up their café during off hours so our students could be trained in social skills

And now, for our 2013 Winter Retreat, they’ve once again opened their restaurant in the evening just for our students. 

Last night, all of our students and select staff filled Country Rose for a night of games, drinks and desserts.

They played Connect 4, Uno, Apples to Apples and other board games.

They drank coffees, sodas and hot chocolate.

They ate brownies, cinnamon rolls, pies, pastries and chocolate cake slices bigger than their heads!

They talked and laughed and built up relationships.

And they learned, by perfect example, what it means to be part of a supportive community. Thank you Rose & Rita!

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Office: The Getaway Plan

I asked Mrs. Harvey a really silly question today. I knew it was silly as soon as the words started coming out of my mouth.

“Is there anything going on in your office today?”

Mrs. Harvey was gracious. She didn’t raise her brows, roll her eyes, or act incredulous that someone who works out of another Shepherds College office could possibly ask such an absurd thing. She didn’t make me feel like a goober by responding, “Well, of course there’s something going on in my office today! I’m not sitting around praying the phone rings so I have something to do!” 

Instead, the lovely lady laughed with excitement and said, “We’re planning the retreat for the students!!”

She then went on to tell me of all the preparation going on in offices around the campus to make sure this year’s retreat is the best one ever!

Here’s a run-down of what’s in the works today:

The theme for the two-day retreat is T.E.A.M., an acrostic for Together, Engaged, Authority and Mission. Each teacher was assigned a letter of T.E.A.M. and is currently focused on creating, finding, gathering and printing materials to help the students understand their aspect of teamwork.

The students are going off campus for the second day of the retreat so the college staff is working with the nursing staff to make sure the correct meds are packed.

An odd assortment of supplies is accumulating in the offices: peanut butter, blindfolds, parking cones, 25 feet of rope, puzzles, flower vases, checkered flags, signs that say “Fueling Station…”

Retreat t-shirts have arrived and are ready to pass out.

Front of the t-shirt
Back of the t-shirt. It's a Wordle!

Staff is making paper mache balls. 

People are grocery shopping for the fueling stations.

Seating charts are being filled out for a fancy dinner.

I’m hearing whispers about Academic Advisors wearing black, Italian dinners, desserts at Country Rose, Belgian horses, pizza, board games, Camp Timber-Lee, trail rides, animal encounters, and towing Mr. Andrus on a Snow Beast?? Hmmm…

What could it all mean?

I’m not really sure at this point. 

I do know that it’s going to be fascinating, it involves a lot of planning, and Mrs. Harvey is definitely not sitting around praying for the phone to ring.

Watch this blog, as well as Facebook and Twitter for more news and pictures on the retreat.

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at