My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God namely Christ. Colossians 2:2, NIV
Rachel was placed in Miss Mendoza’s special needs classroom in the third grade because of severe dyslexia. At the time, Rachel’s reading skills were two grade levels below her grade placement. On the first day of school, during her reading period, she came up to her teacher after class and said with downcast eyes, “I can’t read, Miss Mendoza. I can’t read.”
There was no hope in her eyes, no joy. At age eight, her spirit was defeated and she seemingly had no courage left to try.
In response, Miss Mendoza knelt down to Rachel’s level, looked into her eyes, and replied, “If you do what I ask you to do and if you try, I promise you will learn to read.”
Rachel knew it was going to require discipline and hard work, but the words of her teacher provided the encouragement that she needed to begin trying again. From that day on, Rachel began to move forward one step at a time. Miss Mendoza made a point to listen to Rachel read individually for five to ten minutes every day—praising and encouraging her for her progress and gently correcting her mistakes. In addition, Miss Mendoza privately prayed for Rachel and asked the school staff prayer group to pray for her.
At year’s end, Rachel had made two years of growth in her reading skills, four times more than her annual average. She passed the state third-grade level reading exam. The following year, Rachel was placed back into a regular classroom for reading with support from the special education inclusion team.
No matter what you are facing professionally or personally in your classroom or in your life right now, be encouraged! Let God lead you. When we are faithful and disciplined, we will see victory after victory through God’s power and provision. To God be the glory!
Lord, fill us to overflowing with encouragement for ourselves, our students and their parents, and our colleagues. Amen.
Copyright Don Clark.
Don is a member and a retired elementary special education teacher. He recently retired from his role as the Houston area director for Christian Educators.