Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Teacher Tuesday: Ready for Life

My son, Mike, is going to graduate from college in May.

He visited this past weekend, and we talked about life after college. Will he try to find a job in Green Bay or move back home? When will he propose to his girlfriend? Does he have plans for managing car payments, rent and student loan repayments? 

I then asked questions I hoped were restrained so I didn’t sound like a worried, prying mom, but I’m sure ended up sounding as subtle as a car wreck. “You lost weight. Are you eating sufficiently? Do you know how to cook well enough to sustain your life once you’re off of the college meal plan?”   “How is your spiritual life? Are you going to go back to that cute, little church we found your freshman year?”   “Did you already update your resume to include all that valuable internship experience? Do you have a list of businesses you’re going to aggressively pursue for a high-salaried position?”   “Why did you bring back your vacuum cleaner? You have carpet all over your apartment. Did I forget to teach you about rudimentary housekeeping before you left? Are you not planning to vacuum between now and graduation?”

Basically, what I want to know is, “Are you ready for life?” Real life, not Mom-and-Dad-gotcha-covered life, not everything-I-need-is-on-campus college life, but new home, new job, new relationships, new church, new bills, new challenges, time to buy an alarm clock, “Ugh, I have to make my own dinner again?” kind of life.

At Shepherds College, we have a lot of “mom” in us too. We want to know that all of our students with intellectual disabilities are prepared to face both the glittery confetti and the messy garbage the world is going to throw at them. We know the best way to do that is to reaffirm their strengths, to remind them of all they’ve learned and to steer them toward God for any and all issues.

To this end, Shepherds College offers “Ready for Life,” a class for the third-year students taught by Miss Piatt, one of our phenomenal Academic Advisors. 

Miss Piatt covers issues in Ready for Life such as participating in a Bible study, church etiquette, service opportunities, applying faith to life, knowing and doing what is right, dealing with a crisis, and many other important topics.


Her teaching methods involve role playing and assigning classroom responsibilities based on spiritual gifts.

This week, I sat in on her Ready for Life class as they studied Church Social Etiquette. Students learned and practiced appropriate interactions with church members including etiquette for church social situations (keep your bodily noises to yourself!), proper ways to contact members outside of church (please do not text someone 52 times if they don’t get back to you right away), and acceptable subjects and actions for church conversations (Is it ever okay to describe vomiting in detail? No.).

Many of the students in Ready for Life share the spiritual gift of service. Miss Piatt asked these students to serve their classmates in a variety of ways.

Miranda and Donovan hold open the doors at the beginning of each class and greet the students as they enter the classroom.

Brian and Christi serve as opening custodians, making sure the room is neat, orderly and prepared for the learning to follow.

Dallas, with the gift of leadership, and Katy, with the gift of faith, lead prayer time.

Joe uses his gifts of faith and discernment to read the day’s Scripture at the beginning of class.

Nicole and Bethany, with their respective gifts of hospitality and service, are called Snack Caretakers. They make sure the paper products are set out and that everyone receives a snack. They also clean up after class is over.

Everyone takes a turn to provide the snack for the week. On Friday, Katy made a frosted red velvet cake to share with the other students.

Lindsay and Christian, also gifted with servant’s hearts, serve as Closing Greeters. They hold open the doors, say goodbye to each student and ask them a closing question pertaining to the lesson.

As Closing Custodians, Daniela and Sean, both with the gift of hospitality, neaten the room to prepare it for the next class.

As I watched and listened to the students interact with the teacher and with their classmates, I couldn’t help but note how kind and patient they were with each other. They encouraged each other often, participated in each segment of the lesson, and were respectful at all times.

I realized that, while vacuuming and eating are important for a successful life after college, the positive attitudes and behaviors the students are learning and refining will be what makes them truly “ready” for all the life God offers them.

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

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thinking Big

On Sunday, our three Special Olympic basketball teams competed in a tournament at Burlington High School.

On Monday, I received an email from an Academic Advisor who is working with a first-year student, Micah, on wise ways to fill his time and use his gifts. The Residential Life Staff asked him if he’d like to write a blog rather than sit in front of the TV, and Micah jumped at the chance. He wrote about his thoughts on Sunday’s basketball tournament and about all the games going forward.

Here is the first of what I hope are many blogs from Micah Thomas Muma:

The very first game of the Special Olympics for our Basketball team was tough and a great challenge for the team. Even though we may have been a little rusty at spots around the court we never failed to play as a team. We know what we want, and we are going to play hard and play with the mind of champions. 

This week, as we head to play our second tournament, we know what we have to do. We know we are great, and we know God’s with us no matter the cost. 

On the 5th of March, we have the privilege to play at the Milwaukee Bucks Stadium, at the half time of their game. The Soaring Eagles are going to play against the Torches whom the Soaring Eagles played against in the States. We know who we have to play, and we very well know we have to get better as a team. 

But we are never going to stop and let anything get in our way towards the Championship Game. For with God all things are possible, and we believe in our Father, the son and the Holy Spirit. 

For our families and our College, Shepherds College, we are going to play hard. As I’d tell my team, “WE OWN THEM … if we play hard and think big we will achieve big things.” 

GO SOARIN' EAGLES!  It’s the same for the Eagles and the Falcons - play hard , think big, and you will … I promise you … you will achieve big things in life as well as a basketball game!

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