Friday, March 29, 2013

Plans, Parties and Prayers: The Teachers' Spring Break

Students, what do you imagine the college staff does without you on campus?

While you’re vacationing in the Bahamas, or visiting relatives in the mountains of Colorado, or eating dark chocolate at Chocolate World, are you picturing your favorite teachers hunched over their desks in offices down dark and deserted hallways, click-clacking away at their keyboards, churning out page after page of assignments to torment you with upon your return?

Or are you thinking just the opposite?  Maybe you’re envisioning the staff in full-blown revelry, eating steak and lobster kabobs and laughing while forming a conga line heading out the doors of the school.

Usually, truth lies somewhere in the middle, and the actual goings-on of the staff during Easter break is no exception. There’s some serious work happening in those offices, but there’s been some fun too!

Mr. Terrill and Miss Houk are discussing hiring needs for the fall, and Miss Houk is also finalizing the staff schedule for your return.

Teachers are organizing class materials, working on grades, filing, behavior support plans and academic accommodation plans. They’re also, along with Mrs. Harvey, putting together your report cards!

Mrs. Kolkman is doing a little spring cleaning so everything is bright and sparkly for your return to class.

And Mrs. Leith is coming up with a plan to keep all the plants and animals alive since you guys are not here to care for them!!

Now, here is where it all starts to get fun – Mrs. Konopasek and Mrs. Luchterhand are planning your finals!!  Woohoo!!     Um… you don’t think that’s fun?  How about planning for your social etiquette workshop?  No?

Well, the advisors did some strategic planning while driving to Starbucks. Am I getting warmer?


Miss Luchterhand and Mrs. Luchterhand drove up to De Pere to visit a school for young students with intellectual disabilities. The school is called Syble Hopp. Your teachers thought it was AMAZING, and they came back so excited and filled with ideas!

Mrs. Kolkman will be driving to Michigan to see her family and celebrate Easter.

Miss Spence is planning her wedding while you’re away! She’s going wedding dress shopping with her mom and sisters.

And Mrs. Cyr had a birthday! The faculty and staff all celebrated at Josés Blue Sombrero. Olé! Now that’s fun.

But the most important thing they’re doing on this break has nothing to do with school or relaxation or fun, and everything to do with deepening their relationship with their Father. They are attending Good Friday services and experiencing that odd/disturbing/humbling combination of grief and gratitude as the story of our Savior’s crucifixion and death is told with painful, bloody Truth. 

They are celebrating with their brothers- and sisters-in-Christ on Sunday morning as shouts of “He is risen!” echo in their homes and churches. Death has been defeated! Eternity is secured for those who believe!

And they are lifting you up in prayer. Your teachers and Res Life staff are praying that you get rest and have fun on your break and, more importantly, that this Easter you would know - not just with your head, but with your heart - the true Power of the Resurrection.

Have a blessed and Happy Easter!

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Office: An Easter Break

Thank you to Cathy Harvey, Administrative Assistant to Shepherds College, for writing today's blog.

It is not often that I attend the Wednesday chapel services for the residents of Shepherds Ministries, the parent organization to Shepherds College. But today Gloria Dahlberg, the Day Services Center Supervisor, announced an Easter production they had practiced and prepared.  Even though it is the week we process the students' report cards, I decided to pause for 30 minutes, attend this chapel, and support the residents in their efforts.
It continues to amaze me, the amount of care and intentional planning the Program and Day Services staff members take in planning special events for our residents.  All the Day Service residents were given parts, costumes, and props: 
a burst of sunshine, 

flowers covered in sparkle dust, 

butterfly masks, 

bumble bee cut-outs, 

a cross, 

a tree with a full green canopy, 

large pink hearts, 

and bunny ear headbands. 

The loving staff and faithful volunteers who helped are so copious in their care of these special folks who have made their home here for many years.
There were parts for narrating, numerous solos, holding up of props, and group songs that all focused on the Easter story. 

I was surprised that the residents knew so many songs by heart - precious hymns and choruses popular before contemporary Christian radio!   
Here are all the songs they used to sing their way through the Easter story:
Heavenly Sunshine
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Thank you Lord
Jesus Loves Me
His Name Is Wonderful
Oh How He Loves You and Me
For God So Loved the World (chorus)
My God Is So Big
He Is Able
Isn’t the Love of Jesus Something Wonderful
He Arose
Every Promise in the Book is Mine
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
The Old Rugged Cross
Praise Ye The Lord
He Lives
Happy Easter (sang to tune of Happy Birthday)


Toward the end of the program, my heart was touched by the beauty, simplicity, and sincerity of their efforts and heart message.  It brought tears to my eyes to imagine what the Lord thought as He viewed the love given and received in the making of this little production in Union Grove, Wisconsin.  I imagined their voices reaching heaven, and the Lord stopping all activity so the angels could listen to His special children singing His praises.

After the final prayer by a volunteer, the residents on stage all shouted “Happy Easter!” to the audience. 

Happy Easter indeed!

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Teacher Tuesday: Safety Classes

Will my child be safe on her own?

Will my child recognize when a situation is dangerous?

Does my child know how to respond if a situation becomes unsafe?

All parents have these thoughts, whether their child has an intellectual disability or not, but parents of a child with an intellectual disability have an additional concern: 

Will my child be able to learn to be safe, to recognize a dangerous situation, to respond appropriately?

At Shepherds College, our goal is Appropriate Independence for every student that goes through our program. The students’ safety in the classroom as they’re learning to be independent, and safety following their graduation from our program, is of utmost concern. Teachers cover topics like weather safety, kitchen safety, medical safety, and safety while using tools during home maintenance projects.

Teaching methods vary too, from lecture and pictures to demonstrations and role play, so each student is offered the most effective opportunity to absorb the material in the way he or she learns best.

Last week in Daily Living Skills, the first year students learned about fire safety, an important issue to cover, especially as the students will be cooking with less supervision in the homes and apartments in the coming years. 

Firefighter Dave, a retired Oak Creek firefighter (and Kim Pechous’ dad!) came in to talk with the students and give them some tips on how to be safe when cooking. 

They also practiced a fire escape plan, and Firefighter Dave showed them a fun and easy way to remember what to do in case of a fire - the fire safety aerobics! 

Fire Safety Aerobics

  1. Climb down the ladder to get out of a two-story building  
  1. Test your detector once a month
  1. Roll out of bed
  1. Crawl to your door quickly
  1. Feel the door with the back of your hand (low, middle, high)
  1. Open the door slowly
  1. Crawl down the hall
  1. Know two ways out
  1. Run to neighbor’s house
  1. Call 911
  1. Go to the meeting place

Megan and Sarah even got the chance to dress up like firefighters!

This week, the students discussed emergencies and non-emergencies, and when to make 911 calls. Our student Alex was able to demonstrate how to call for help in an emergency, but warned the rest of the class, "never call 911 as a prank, a joke, or for a cold, cough or sick pet."

There's a saying that goes, "Know safety, no injury. No safety, know injury." At Shepherds College, we stress the former. We pray our students take their safety classes with them wherever they go.

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

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Fun: The Green Party

I’m an ethnic mutt - Austrian, Bohemian, German, French and Irish. But is there anyone out there who doesn’t include Irish in their bloodline this time of year?

We had a school full of Irish students yesterday, as well as an O’Pollard, an O'Harry, a McKonopasek, a McKolkman, an O’Cyr and a couple of McLuchterhands, during an afternoon party to celebrate the upcoming wearing of the green.

The students started preparing for the celebration by learning about the man the day is named after – Saint Patrick - who, I was surprised to find out, was not actually an Irishman. He was born in England, or Scotland. I haven’t figured that out yet, but it became quite the controversy during the party. Anyway, the students learned from Mr. Gaschke that Saint Patrick became a slave in Ireland at the age of 16, escaped, then later returned to Ireland to convert the people from paganism to Christianity.

The Academic Advisors worked with their students to plan and execute the party. Some students decorated…

Some prepared and served the food…

Some planned the activities…

And some organized the craft.

And because Shepherds College is a school first and foremost – there had to be a quiz.

These students knew every answer on the quiz and can now, legitimately, be called “wee folk.”

Whether you celebrate March 17th by wearing green to church, or eating a grilled Reuben sandwich for lunch, or waiting in the McDonalds drive-through for a Shamrock Shake, remember the real reason we honor this man on this day – he put aside his fears and anger to obediently answer the call of God to bring the Gospel to his enemies.

Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday!

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