Our Children Are Everyday Miracles
The parents of Jake Barnett, an autistic college sophomore at the age of 13, can claim that their son is a miracle. He converses. He succeeds. He understands math and advances what every one else understands about math. His story was one of three on 60 Minutes, January 15, 2012.
Jordan Somner’s parents must be just as proud of their miracle daughter, a pageant competitor and Special Olympics volunteer. In 2006, Jordan decided that physically and mentally challenged women, young and older, could and should have their own pageant to prove to themselves and others that they too are truly beautiful. Her story came to the attention of Nickelodeon. Jordan then became a Halo Award honoree, and with the grant money, she intends to spread Miss Amazing pageants across the nation.
My own daughter proved miraculous more than once. One feat that made the local headlines was her performance as goalie against the cross-town rival. She demonstrated grace, talent, and courage during a shoot-out; she even beat the keeper odds, stopping every shot and winning the game for her team. But when a local reporter asked her about her success, she gave the credit to her teammates who had kicked true, landing the ball in the net behind the opposing keeper. My daughter pointed out that had her teammates not made their shots, her achievements in goal would have had little impact. My daughter could have taken credit and strutted like a Rhode Island Red rooster, but she did not, proving her real, abiding character.
I could continue citing examples, plucking names from headlines. Plenty of other Jake Barnetts and Jordan Somners exist across this globe, and each parent of these exceptional children could offer an example of something extraordinary, unique, rare, and wonderful just as I did. They could report a news story that never have made it into print, a human-interest story of unexpected generosity, challenges overcome, smiles brighter than suns, and loyalty beyond measure.
And that, dear readers, is what I want. I want teachers and parents everywhere to tell the stories of our good, decent youth. I want teachers and parents to expect and believe in the miracles within those they guide and love. They must believe that children, like tiny seeds, will struggle toward the light, persevere through the dark, and grow in the warmth of high expectations. Children will flourish and blossom fully when we all believe in miracles, and that, I think, is critically important in any definition of good teaching or good parenting.