Teacher Makes Difference in Troubled Student's Life in a Way She Didn't Expect


At 4 years old Howard Kitchen met his special education teacher for the first time. He had some struggles, but there was always “love.”

Kitchen would have tantrums and lash out, but his teacher at that time, Laney Rogers, shared what that experience was like in a now-viral post on Facebook, saying, “Everyone took a rotating turn in that elementary school with Howard. We would literally tap in and out of the war zone.” However, Kitchen’s teachers and other staff members at Union City Schools, in Tennessee, chose not to give up on him.

1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” and according to TODAY, Rogers said “she studied behavior management and tried technique after technique to ‘fix’ Howard. But what ultimately ‘fixed’ him wasn’t anything learned in a book or in a class, she said. It was love.”

“We just kept showing up to love him,” Rogers continued. “Eventually….it just fixed itself. Howard grew up. Howard realized that none of us were going anywhere. Howard knew his parents and his school were never going to give up expecting the best of him. There wasn’t a cure I studied, an article I read or a therapy that clicked with Howard. It was just good old basic love and kindness from a whole lot of amazing people.”

“I feel so glad to have a person who loves me and supports me,” Kitchen told TODAY Parents.

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“Last month, he started mentoring ‘little Howards’ at the elementary school where his journey began. His efforts there are already paying off” according to TODAY.

Now as a 17-year-old in high school, Kitchen is making a difference in the lives of those children, who look up to him.

“Howard is my best best best best friend,” 5-year-old Christian Scates told TODAY. “When I get mad, he teaches me how to get calm. I count to 10.”

While at the school, Rogers took a photo of Kitchen which she posted on social media with his consent. The photo was shared more than 25,000 times. “I’m so excited, I was just crying,” Kitchen said of the viral photo.

According to TODAY, “Howard said his ultimate hope, after much prayer, is that his story will somehow bring others ‘closer to Christ.’ He said he plans to attend a post-secondary school next year, and he hopes to become a preacher.”

Bringing others “closer to Christ” is what God calls all of us to do, as Christians, when He tells us to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” in Mark 16:15.

As for Rogers, she is now an administrator for the Union City school district and says “that her experience with Howard changed her life, her career and the future of so many kids who have come after him.”

Rogers told TODAY, “I now know what’s possible.”

“It’s not about trying to fix a problem but putting the right people in the right place,” she said.
“Don’t give up on the Howards in the world — they make you better people.”

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