For a relatively small school, Oneida offers many programs to our young people. There is something for most every young person in our program. One of our most unique programs is Career Placement.
Our upperclassmen are given the opportunity to spend a class period or two per day getting some real hands-on experience. Our students work in maintenance, donations, construction, food service, clerical offices, etc.
A little less than a year ago, I shared with you about one of our special needs staff children and about how she brings such joy to our campus. Hayley is now beyond school age, so we arranged for some of our Career Placement students to work with Hayley during our school day. The young people who work with her had the following to say about that experience:
“Hayley has impacted me in many ways, but one in particular stands out. Working with Haley helped me learn patience. Hayley always makes me laugh. I love Hayley with all my heart and I am thankful to have her in my life. I am blessed to have this opportunity to work with Hayley and I can’t wait to learn many great things from her. I am so excited to see what else she has in store for me.”
“When I was first asked to work with Hayley, I was a little skeptical. I never thought of working in the special education field at all, but after a lot of thought and prayer I was led to take the position. On my first few days working with Hayley my thoughts were always, ‘What can I teach Hayley today?’ Now I approach each day with Hayley wondering what she will teach me.”
Working with Hayley has not only given me joy, but it also has given me the opportunity to gain a whole different perspective on life, and that’s life through Hayley’s eyes. Something I will always carry with me is Hayley’s love for every single person she encounters. I no longer doubt how unconditional God’s love is for all of us. This experience has been more than a blessing, and it has been an amazing opportunity that I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
“Working with Hayley has taught me about compassion and love. Every day I see Hayley happy and it warms my heart, because in my heart I know God gave her the strength to find joy in her life. I love spending time with her, and I love to talk to her because she shows me what true happiness is.”
I would venture to say that these young ladies who have worked with Hayley have gained some valuable life lessons that will serve them well in to their adult lives, and that is a large part of what Oneida is all about.
Larry Gritton is the president of Oneida Baptist Institute.