Monday, July 29, 2013

Breaking the Ice

Here we are at the end of July.

Just yesterday I was saying goodbye to the students after the commencement ceremony. After I finished wiping the tears from my eyes, I looked up and summer break was over.

With school starting again this week, parents of the new students are mailing boxes of supplies to campus, and students are messaging me on Facebook about roommate assignments and countdowns to opening day. Teachers are meeting and planning and praying. Res Life staff are cleaning and shopping. The copy machines and laminators are gasping and smoking from exhaustion. So much is going on to prepare for the return of our students!

After witnessing the preparations, talking to the staff, and watching all the commotion, I’ve decided the theme for the 2013/14 academic year must be “New”:

·         New dorms
·         New furniture
·         New workout area
·         New students – 25 of them!
·         New internship sites
·         New program – Ai Academy
·         New 1st year class –  On and 4 Purpose (O4P)
·         New 3rd year class – Christian Principles
·         New Instructors
·         New Residential Life staff
·         New Paras

Isn’t that exciting?! I want to tell you about them all, but today I’m going to focus on the new classroom assistants – the Paras.

Last week, Miss Houk held a Para meeting and training for the new team:

·         Kim A – 1st Year Orange Team Para
·         Kathi – 1st Year Blue Team Para
·         Lily – 2nd Year Green Team Para
·         Kim H – 2nd Year Yellow Team Para
·         Ashley – 3rd Year Para
·         Julie – One-on-one Para
·         Elizabeth – Culinary Arts Para

Some of these women you’ll recognize from past blogs, but three of them are brand, spanking NEW. To get all the Paras comfortable with each other, Miss Houk planned an ice breaker during the training. They were to interview each other, and then share what they learned with the whole team. 

 The interview questions were as follows:

1.       What is your favorite food?
2.       If money is no issue, where would you like to travel?
3.       What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
4.       Why do you want to work at Shepherds College?
5.       What are two of your strengths?
6.       Share an interesting fact about yourself.

Kathi is a woman after my own heart. Chocolate is her favorite food. She would travel to South Africa to see her friends who are missionaries. When Kathi has a bit of free time, she enjoys visiting her friends in America too.  Kathi was exposed to Shepherds in various ways over the last ten years – a couple at her church worked here, our Handbell Choir played at her church, she visited campus on a high school tour, she found our website – and eventually, in God’s timing, she became part of the Shepherds College team. Her kindness and even temper will be a blessing to her students, and her “executioner” style of getting things done will be a blessing to the rest of the staff.  Something interesting about Kathi? She learned to waterski in her dating years and quickly became an avid water-skier.

Ashley loves a good Chicken Alfredo and would fly to London if her budget allowed. When Ashley isn’t working, she enjoys hanging out with her furry friends – dogs and horses. Ashley wanted to work at Shepherds College because she loves working with people, and who better to work with than our Shepherds College students! She’s bringing two important strengths to our college team – organization and communication, both so valuable in her role as classroom assistant. Her interesting fact? Ashley is a professional horse trainer!

Julie can’t decide if she wants Mongolian Beef or Chicken Enchiladas for dinner tonight. It’s tough to choose when your favorite food is either Chinese or Mexican. At some point in life, Julie would like to visit China for some real Dim Sum, but she’d also be happy if her travels took her to the Scandinavian countries, Finland or Russia. Like Ashley, Julie loves to work with animals when she has time off, but you can also find her exercising or reading. Julie knew when she toured Shepherds that God wanted her to be here. She knows that the college is a place where her strengths of organization and being a cheerleader for the underdog will be put to good use. You’ll be interested to know that Julie spent a year living in Mexico City during a mission trip.

The interviews not only served as an ice-breaker for the meeting, they also helped all the women get to know each other, and now, hopefully, helped you get to know a little about them as well.

Watch this blog in the coming days for more information on all the new and exciting things happening at Shepherds College!

Students, only four more days to go!

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

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What More Can We Do?

Many of you have heard the question that started the ministry – “Could our class possibly do something to help children with intellectual disabilities?”

In this same spirit, the leadership of Shepherds Ministries, and now Shepherds College, constantly asks the question, “What more can we do to help people with intellectual disabilities?”

Picture this – a young man sits with his parents in front of your desk. He’s bouncing with energy and excitement. There is hope in the parent’s eyes and tight lines of tension visible across their cheekbones and jawline. They want their son in your post-secondary program. There are so few options available to him, and your program offers such promise for their son’s future. 

After testing and interviews, you realize that he doesn’t qualify for the program. Maybe he can’t read or do basic addition, or maybe his social skills won’t allow him to interact with teachers or his classmates.  You have to tell this family, “I’m sorry, but your son can’t attend Shepherds College.”
Yuck. I don’t know how you’d feel about it, but we hate saying that.

As strong believers in finding purpose in life, in training for life and empowering to serve, continuous education is a passion of ours. We don’t want to say no to people who desire to keep learning.

So what happens when our program isn’t a good fit for many people with intellectual disabilities? 

We say to ourselves, “There’s obviously a gap in our services, so what can we do to help the people who don’t meet the Shepherds College requirements?”

We create Ai Academy.

Ai Academy is our new two-year life skills training program tailored to meet the needs of young adults in their personal pursuit of Appropriate Independence. The program eliminates the academic and vocational training of the college program while focusing on daily living skills, social development, spiritual growth and community involvement and service. Ai Academy participants would reside in the Shepherds College dorms and participate in almost every facet of the SC residential life program.

The training component of Ai Academy would involve a great deal of repetition and experiential learning, all developed around the principles of Appropriate Independence and incorporating R.E.A.L. instructional methods. 

Erin Luchterhand, an instructor and Academic Advisor from Shepherds College, will be the primary lead instructor for Ai Academy. Her strengths are wonderfully suited for this new role, and we know she’ll be a blessing to each participant that goes through the program.

Please pray for Shepherds College and Mrs. Luchterhand as the Ai Academy program kicks off this August. Watch Facebook, Twitter and Time to Fly for more news on this exciting new development in our effort to inspire a lasting awareness of God’s plan in the lives of young people with intellectual disabilities.

Contact Brian Canright at 262-878-6365 if you’re interested in learning more about Ai Academy.

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