Monday, January 24, 2011

Queen Cara

I had the absolute honor of being invited to join a former student at our professional development center this morning to speak about the amazing story of how she became the Homecoming Queen at Fletcher High School this year. I wrote about Cara last fall after she was crowned. This morning I joined Cara and her mother to speak to teachers. Both Melanie and I had the same message, just packaged in different ways. The message to teachers was simple - Keep an open mind. Don't pigeon hole kids because of some label they might carry or because of the color of their skin or their socioeconomic class or what someone else may tell you about them. Believe in the possibilities!
Melanie knew that Cara would be born with Downs Syndrome while she was carrying her. As soon as she found out she tried to read everything that she could. She quickly put down the reading material because it was just so depressing. She decided that she would simply try to give Cara every opportunity she could to become the person that she was meant to be.

I was not invited to be with Cara and her mom this morning because I was THE teacher that made a difference in Cara's life. I simply represented a long line of teachers who had touched Cara's life - some with a caring, positive influence, and I'm sure some with a challenging influence! I remember my time with Cara as having many bumps in the road! But what Cara had on her side was a family that believed in her. Melanie surely is the hero in this story because her ability to advocate for Cara in the most persevering and yet realist way, opened doors at every turn. Melanie said her hope for Cara when she entered high school was simply for her to have a single friend that she could sit with at lunch! Imagine her surprise and delight as Cara was named Homecoming Queen. There wasn't a dry eye in the stadium that night.

Cara is going on to UNF next year in a special program. She is happy. Her face shines and she is a testament to what can be done when people just believe. Melanie told me that God has been whispering in her ear that He is not finished with Cara yet, so this may just be the first chapter in the amazing journey ahead. What I have come to realize is that Cara did not change because she was in my class. The truth is that I am the one that was changed forever because her life touched my mine! I am proud and honored to have been one of Cara's teachers and I can't wait to see what the rest of her life has to hold!

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Cara's story truly is amazing and a life lesson to us all.