Thursday, November 28, 2013


I was part of a wonderful lesson today, and it may just have a lasting effect on one student.  That is why I teach – to change one life.   I tell this story not to brag, but just to demonstrate that God is in the details, and express my gratitude to Him for putting me in a position to serve. 

I have no lessons in the high school on Thursdays, so I volunteer my time with the elementary/primary grades on that day.  I work with 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades, and consider my time spent as playtime, because I’m really only supporting the lead teacher in the class.  I can teach the students a song, or help them read in small groups, but I’m not planning or running the lesson, so it’s very easy for me.

One student in fourth grade is new this year, and he is finding it hard to participate, because he has a severe stuttering problem.  His name is Damil (Dah-MEEL).  It is hard for Damil to speak more than two or three words without taking 5-10 seconds to get the next word out.  So naturally, he doesn’t speak much during class.  But he is good in math and is a good writer, and understands Kazakh, Russian, and now some basic English.

When I was introduced to Damil, he had a hard time even just telling me his name.  And When I came back to class today, an idea that had occurred to me when I met him came back to my mind, very strongly.  I asked the teacher for permission to take Damil aside and work with him one-on-one.  I briefly described what I wanted to do, and she told Damil in Kazakh what we were going to try to do, and he agreed to give it a try.

Instead of speaking to each other, I sang my questions to Damil, very quietly, and he responded by singing.  We practiced the strategy for about 20 minutes, and he found himself not only reading more smoothly, but being able to converse more smoothly as well.  He could sing-read the questions in his book, and then sing to compose his own answers.  I sent him back to the rest of the class, and he read (sang) three sentences in a row, all smoothly, while his classmates sat there open-mouthed.  At the end, they even applauded for him.

The lead teacher has taken on her own shoulders the responsibility to inform all of Damil’s teachers that he can learn to speak more smoothly by singing.   I am aware that singing doesn’t always lead to long-term fluency in speaking, but it can be one success along the road.   Both Damil and I left the class much happier today. I have researched the issue, and I will continue to find ways to support Damil in his quest to speak more fluently – in all three languages. 

Jim and I often include in our morning prayers the request to have the chance to serve one person that day – to influence for the better one person’s life.  I have no doubt that the Lord answered that prayer today in a rather dramatic way.  And I am grateful to have been prepared to help meet a child’s needs.