For the past two years, as God transitioned me from pastoring an established church in Shelby to now starting The Grace Place, I have had the honor and privilege to serve special needs children and the work and ministry of North Shelby School as a teacher’s assistant. I speak of the efforts of NSS  as a “ministry” because of the quality, passion, and compassion of those who work there and their dedication to provide the very best education and personal care for each student enrolled.

I am truly in awe of the staff of NSS and the obvious reality of their divine calling to give their lives in service to special needs children and their families. Working with special needs children, no matter what end of the spectrum, is both highly rewarding but also potentially very, very challenging. As a parent of four children, two of which are special needs children adopted from China, the nuances and complexities of coming along side special needs children and their families is a challenging endeavor to say the least. Furthermore, a challenge that few fully understand who are not immersed in this world.

On top of that, are the intrinsic challenges of the politics, drama, and shortcomings often manifested in North Carolina public education. To say that the staff and administration of NSS are under enormous pressures is a gross understatement. To be sure, the administration has many sources of demands, pressures, expectations, legalities, and political realities they must juggle on a daily basis, many of which are not only highly distracting and counterproductive to the mission of NSS, but end up creating a culture of tension and constraint.

Yet, by my intimate, hands on observation as an employee, the administration and staff always find a way to rise above, far beyond their pay grade.  I mean seriously, how much is a person worth per year in salary who works tirelessly to give their heart, knowledge, and care to probably the most difficult learning environment within all of public education? I can tell you, first hand, as a faithful tax payer, they are worth far more than their compensation.

Obviously, no school or educational organization is perfect. North Shelby School has areas where they can improve and grow. Duh, that’s a no brainer. Doesn’t every company, organization, and individual?  Yet, I can tell you with all certainty, I could line up EVERY staff person of NSS, and I would completely trust them in the care of my deepest and most prized possessions and with the life of my children and the education thereof. These folks are the best of the best at what they do and I am honored to have worked along side these heroes of special needs education.

Special needs children have a way of blessing you far more than you can bless them. And I am deeply thankful for what I have learned through those from whom I sought to teach. If you only knew the lengths at which the staff extends themselves to give each student the very best in education and care, you would be just as humbled as I am. It is truly amazing.

If you are citizen and tax payer, rest assured, your tax dollars are doing the miraculous in the lives of special needs children through NSS. You are getting much more than what you are paying for, by far.  If you are a parent of a student at NSS, always strive to be a source of encouragement and support and know that the administration and staff of NSS truly have your child’s best interest at heart. These are good people, through and through. Commit yourself to be a part of the solution, rather than a part of the problem. If you are a staff member of NSS, you are my forever heroes and friends. I will always cherish our time serving along side one another and may God continue to bless and protect you as you dedicate your life to one of the noblest, sacred, and spiritual causes on planet earth…the education, development and care of special needs children and their families.

Never Give Up!