Eighteen years ago I left my second grade classroom behind. The dream of being a teacher was always in my heart, and for twenty-five fine years I held the hearts and hands of my second graders like they were my own. Every day in the classroom was an opportunity to sow seeds of love into their lives. The day I walked out of my classroom for the last time, I was crushed. I walked out into the world, not knowing that the best was yet to come. God had a plan, but I didn’t. I just knew it was time for something more.
The following September as the school doors opened, I sat alone, depressed in my home office. My office was in the basement, where I had a phone, a bulletin board, and a photo of my smiling second graders on my desk. The only phone call I received in months was from my daughter Jennifer, who was calling me from our upstairs phone! She encouraged me to keep my chin up; she said the best was yet to come.
Soon I began teaching Dale Carnegie to adults and teens, and went into a ministry program in Detroit. I was determined that I could change the world! I began to meditate for two hours a day, stepping into the unknown for comfort. Slowly and subtly I felt that I was to write something. Sure that God was making a huge mistake, I began to see that we were missing a key aspect of helping our children in schools. We were so focused on how “smart” our kids are, that we had forgotten about their hearts and souls.
I ventured off to upstate New York to the woods to spend time with my meditation teacher. It was there on the beach that God gave me direction. “Higher + Reaching Higher= Bring My Love to the Children.” Wow! 17 years later I still find myself on my knees, every day, witnessing the miracles that unfold in the classroom. Instructors and mentors, all caring and giving of their time, have made this dream a reality.
At our Reaching Higher graduation ceremonies, children and parents share their life stories, their voices, and their lost passion for living life. We often hear stories of kids that had contemplated suicide because they felt invisible and unseen, like no one cares. Instead, our students gain hope! They gain confidence! They gain belief in themselves! They turn in their school work, improve their relationships, and start living their dreams!
The Reaching Higher journey the past 17 years has been the most difficult mission I have ever been given. On this journey, God asked me to give up the sweet faces of my second graders and the financial security of teaching. I found myself in a cold office alone with no money and no one to call. My partner quit because we had no money. My daughter the love of my life passed away with cancer. Everywhere I turned I met yet another hurtle to overcome. Yet every day, God brought a messenger to keep me going, whether it be a friend, my husband, a phone call, or another person with new hope of helping. I say they are “Gods angels along the way.” His grace and unexplained blessings surrounded my life daily. I praise the gift Reaching Higher has been in my life! It has touched my life in ways I never could have anticipated, and also the lives of every child that has been touched by the power of love in our classroom. It’s simple, and that’s what makes it great!
Forever Blessed Susie