Religious Educator: Perspectives on the Restored Gospel


students with disabilities, seminary programs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Document Type



I remember the first time I walked into a class for students with special needs when I was a teacher at the Logan Seminary in Cache Valley, Utah. I was asked to assist Sister Wendy Parker with her second-hour class. She did not have all of her students with disabilities paired up with their traditional peer tutors, so I needed to help maintain order as she continued to organize the class. As I saw many students within that looked and sounded different than traditional students, I realized I had no idea what to do in this classroom! After a moment, I snuck in the back. In less than a minute, a student sitting in a desk a few feet in front of me turned, looked directly at me, and stood up. Standing about three inches taller than me, he was as solid as a Mack truck, and it seemed that I was in his lane. As he stepped closer, he tilted his head back slightly and stuck out his chin to size me up a bit, and I noticed his hand clenched in a fist. I was about ready to bolt for the door, or at least duck if he threw a punch, when he smiled a toothy grin, grunted, and held out his fist. Relief washed over me when I realized he wanted to give me a fist bump! I sheepishly stuck out my fist, and our knuckles touched. He laughed, reached up, put his arm on my shoulder, and, turning to a classmate, gave a louder grunt to get his attention while pointing at me. The other student came over, and he too gave me a fist bump and asked me if I was new in the class. After that moment, I never felt uncomfortable in Sister Parker’s class again. I had been included.