Heroines in Education
By Donald Clark
A long time ago you spoke in a vision, you spoke to your faithful beloved: “I’ve crowned a hero [heroine], I chose the best I could find….” (Psalm 89:19-20 MSG)
A “heroine” is a woman who faces adversity and fear with courage, perseverance, and faith. With the help of God and others, she overcomes the obstacles before her.
Throughout my 40-year journey in education, I have met many educators who have been my heroines. They have inspired me and other educators to keep going through our own trials and tribulations. They have been used by God as lights to keep other educators from becoming lost in discouragement and self-pity.
As we face the current pandemic and its fallout in education, it is critical we take our eyes and hearts off all the news media feeds which discourage, depress, and plant in us seeds of anxiety. We must feed on what is good, right, holy, just and pure.
To encourage you I want to share with you some of my heroines that have helped keep me serving God and His children in education for decades. Their names have been changed for confidentiality.
Melinda was in a car accident as a young adult and had a traumatic brain injury which left her unable to speak and walk. With the help of God, therapists and family members, she relearned to walk, talk, and regained the majority of her lost skills. This experience inspired her to become a teacher of youth with severe multiple disabilities. Melinda’s tragic accident helped her see into her students’ lives from the inside out and has given her an amazing empathy and understanding of them and their needs. She thanks God for the accident and believes it was one of the greatest gifts He has ever given her.
Crystal, a public-school counselor, was being eaten up by shame, insecurity, fear, and abandonment as she kept secret the fact that her husband was having an affair. As she walked down the school hallway one day, she handed a slip of paper to a Christian co-worker that simply said, “Please pray for me.” The teacher immediately followed her to her office and prayed for her. Even though Crystal had said nothing about the affair, the co-worker began to pray for Crystal’s marriage as the Holy Spirit led her.
The co-worker invited Crystal to attend the weekly faculty share, care, and prayer group that met after school. Crystal came and courageously shared her hidden pain and story for the first time. Several of the educators there had gone through the same experience and comforted her. Crystal knew she was not alone and that both God and her co-workers were with her. The teachers laid hands on Crystal and prayed for her. Needed healing began to flow.
God has used this crisis and the tragic death of her father when she was a young adult, to give Crystal great understanding, empathy and unconditional love—not just for the youth she serves, but for all those in her spheres of influence. Her suffering has helped her to help others deal with their own brokenness as she now serves as a counselor to teen unwed mothers and homeless students.
At age six, Rosa and her mother were penniless and helpless. With the help of God and many others, they escaped the life-threatening guerilla warfare in El Salvador and fled to the United States. While helping her mother clean houses at age eight, Rosa met the founder of a private school who was distraught that Rosa was missing her childhood while cleaning houses. This educator befriended and mentored Rosa. After getting her college degree in education, Rosa opted not to work in the public schools for much higher pay, but to work at the private school her mentor founded.
Rosa is now providing quality education to special needs students between the ages of three months and three years, no matter the severity of the disability. Parents often feel lost, discouraged and depressed after birthing severely handicapped children. They find hope, help, love and guidance in Rosa’s classroom and the work of her school. As God used others in Rosa’s life to deliver her from hopelessness and helplessness, He is now using her to do the same.
It is my hope and prayer that God will use you to inspire students, parents and coworkers this year by your example of faith, courage and perseverance through the pandemic. Won’t you join me in prayer?
Lord, grant us faith, courage, perseverance and leading throughout the adversity which lies ahead in education. You are our peace, not our circumstances. Neither great success, failure, wealth, poverty, health, sickness or even death can separate us from You.
Donald Clark is a thirty-three-year public educator of special needs students. He is the founder of the CEAI Houston Area Network and has been its Director for over twenty years. He has received the Texas Lifetime Achievement Award from the HEB Excellence in Education program and has received a state congressional commendation for his work with youth and educators. He has written numerous collections of educator devotionals such as Teacher Take Courage!, The Carpenter’s Classroom and Get Off the Bus. He has been published in the Teachers of Vision magazine and his work featured in Around the Word in 180 Days. He recently launched a new book, Peemail–Pet’s Healing Power, which is available on Amazon.