Lauren Newhuis was first inspired to pursue her profession by an unlikely character—King Nebuchadnezzar.
“I was doing a Bible study on the book of Daniel,” recalled Newhuis, a 2015 Calvin College graduate.
“King Nebuchadnezzar chose the strong, smart, and beautiful by the world’s standards [to work for him], and it dawned on me that that’s how our world is—we tend to choose the strong, smart, and beautiful by worldly standards.
“I then felt a huge calling to serve those who can be cast aside, or are falling behind in school, and help their families see them for who they can be.”
After graduating with her degree in special education in December 2015, Newhuis began working at Living Stones Academy (LSA), an elementary school in Grand Rapids, Mich., for kindergarteners through sixth graders that has about 100 students.
As a behavior and academic interventionist, Newhuis worked with students one-on-one and met with the educational support services coordinator and their teachers to work toward academic or behavioral improvement.
In fall 2016, Newhuis became the educational support services coordinator, overseeing all services that students receive at LSA and providing some of those services herself.
“Education is knowing your students,” Newhuis said. “You first begin [helping students] by trying to find out where they’re falling behind.”
Newhuis uses different supportive methods to help students who are struggling with everything from reading to organizational skills.
These interventions can be challenging, but they are challenges that Newhuis looks forward to.
“I love working with these kids and their families at LSA,” she said. “LSA does a very good job at being intentionally diverse racially, socioeconomically, and spiritually.”
While a student at Calvin, it was her caring community and intentional professors that helped her through hard times and empowered her for her work at LSA, she said.
“College was a difficult time for me, so being in a Christian environment with professors who actually cared and knew who I was, was hugely impactful,” she said.
“Calvin also gave me the mindset needed for the job I have now. Calvin definitely shaped my perspective on how I view people and how I view education in such a positive way.”
Newhuis hopes to achieve her applied behavior analysis degree in the future and to help students with special needs. She also wants to be working with students whose needs are sometimes overlooked or unnoticed.
“I love what I do. It’s my passion and my mission in life,” Newhuis said. “I want to find those kids who don’t necessarily have a clear disability too—those kids on the margins who look like they can follow along in class easily but are getting passed by and falling behind.”