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Let's get something out of the way here at the start. I, Scott Habeeb, am a proud parent. My 4 children keep me in a state of constant amazement, and I don't mind occasionally letting people know about who they are and what they do. This will be one of those occasions, as I plan to use this blog to boast with a purpose about my oldest child, Kaitlin Ashley.
I use the term "boast with a purpose" because the point of this post isn't really to let folks know how proud I am of Kaitlin or even to brag on her. The real point of this post is to inspire my fellow educators by painting a picture of what it looks like when we point the young people we encounter toward meaningful lives.
My daughter is a senior in high school and is applying to colleges. The University of Mary Washington asks applicants to write an essay about a person who inspired them. Kaitlin decided to write about author Donald Miller and the ideas found in his bestseller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better...
In my opinion, Million Miles is a must read for all educators. Just like we seek out great curriculum resources for teaching Reading or Algebra or History, we must also be on the lookout for resources that help us go beyond the curriculum. Just as we must be intentional about providing young people with a road map to academic success, we must also provide them with a road map to a meaningful and purposeful life. I have yet to come across a better such resource than Million Miles
After reading Million Miles, I knew that I had to share it with Kaitlin - who at the time was nearing the end of her sophomore year in high school. One chapter, in particular, stood out. Miller tells a story about his friend, Jason, who realized that his daughter was living a bad story. This bad story was leading down a road with potentially dangerous consequences. Jason decided to help his daughter live a better story. He intentionally set out to give her life a greater purpose and succeeded in leading her away from her bad story and into a meaningful one.
Shortly after reading Jason's story, I got a phone call from my friend, Stafford. Stafford works for Young Life and heads up a Capernaum ministry which reaches out to young people with special needs. He mentioned that he needed some "buddies" for the upcoming summer camp trip to one of Young Life's amazing properties. While my Kaitlin wasn't in anyway living a bad story at the point in time, I immediately saw an opportunity for her to live an even better one - she could be a Capernaum buddy.
As I mentioned earlier, Kaitlin chose to write her college essay about what she learned from reading Million Miles. She focused on the idea of living a great story and how her involvement with Capernaum has been part of that story. That essay can be found at the end of this blog post. As you read it, think about your role as an educator in the lives of students. Can you, like Jason with his daughter or me with Kaitlin, help your students find opportunities to live great and meaningful stories? I can think of no greater accomplishment to which an educator could aspire.
Here is Kaitlin's essay:
All of the meaningful and inspirational movies I have ever seen include a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. Throughout the story, the character builds relationships that culminate into an ending of significance. In Donald Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, he says these concepts are what create good stories. He goes on to say people were created to live stories that are meaningful and also end in significance. This book has inspired me to live a good story that will one day be worth watching.
Two summers ago, I was asked to go to Young Life’s Capernaum camp as a buddy. Each summer, Capernaum takes a group of people with special needs to camp, and they need a buddy for each camper. I was paired with a young lady named, Kaitlin. She is fairly high functioning; however, she needs assistance with most everyday activities and tasks. I had been to camps before but never a camp like this. We all subconsciously only worry about ourselves throughout every day. I had never been put in a situation before where another person’s wants and needs had to come before mine. The entire week was about serving my friend Kaitlin and meeting her needs and wants. By the end of the week, I realized I had become selfless and I should be selfless every day of my life in order to properly love other people.
After my experience with Capernaum camp, I started brainstorming ways I could serve people in my school. I heard about schools around the country that had clubs for special needs students. I then decided to start a club at my school called the “Be a Buddy” club. The club gives our special needs students the opportunity to participate in a school club as well as build relationships with peers whom they would not know otherwise. Our club started off with about 10 members meeting in a classroom, and we have now grown to about 40 members meeting in a gym.
I am passionate about loving children with special needs. I want them all to grow to their full potential and have the equal opportunities to live the significant stories they were created to live. My goal for my future is to become a pediatric occupational therapist, so I can help children with special needs and their families know how to cope with their disabilities and overcome setbacks in life. My little brother has sensory processing disorder and had an occupational therapist for the first couple years of his life. She helped him be able to live his life outside of our home, and I am inspired to have the same impact on other children’s lives.
Capernaum camp, “Be a Buddy” club, and becoming a pediatric occupational therapist will all be climaxes in the story I am living; however, my story does not end at any of these points. It is a work in progress that is “to be continued…”
So... See why I'm a proud father?
I would challenge you to consider how you might share with your students the idea of living a great story. Let's get beyond just content. Let's impact lives and point kids toward their purpose.
My advice... Order a copy of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years today. Read it with your students in mind.
Next... Consider attending Donald Miller's Storyline Conference. Last year two teachers from my school and I attended this conference when it was held in Nashville. It was life-changing and inspirational and filled with ideas that could be used in the classroom. If fact, it has such application for the classroom that I have been encouraging Donald Miller to consider doing a special Storyline Conference just for educators. (We'll see what happens...)
Most importantly, though, intentionally plan to point kids toward meaning. Let Kaitlin's story be an example. When we give students opportunities to live out stories that involve serving others, we can help them realize there is more to life than themselves - and that is the start of living a great life story!