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.
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.