In early February, our Program Director at our preschool, the Joshua Early Childhood Center (JECC), Brooke Lestikow, said her goodbyes to TJS. We wanted to share her story with all of you. Thank you, Brooke for all you've done!
In my senior year of college, I nannied for an amazing young man named Grant Vitalie. I did not have any experience working with people with disabilities, but the Vitalie family took a chance on me, and changed my life forever! My experience with Grant made me want to learn more strategies to support his development and happiness. Grant soon began attending The Joshua School, which they introduced me to. I toured with [founder], Jason Gruhl and knew I had to work there. After interviewing a few different times (this is a long-standing joke of many within the school), I was offered a position as an instructional assistant, and 10 years later, here I am!
It's funny how some of my favorite memories are from some of the most difficult times. When our preschool building flooded in 2019, we had to find a new place to serve our students as quickly as possible. I was so amazed at the comradery that occurred to find a new building, move everything from our current school into the church, and most importantly, get our students back to learning within a week. There was a lot of sweat, MANY laughs, and perhaps a few tears, but an experience I'll forever be proud of. One of my past co-workers and friends said "The Joshua School is the best place to be on your happiest day and your worst day," and I couldn't agree more.
I will continue to carry out and live by the philosophies the founders created. They apply to every person and situation, and they have truly changed how I view the world. Some of my favorites include:
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. I believe I’ve become a more patient and thoughtful leader, friend, and person when I keep this reminder at the forefront
Start small, move slowly. This is how I plan to move forward personally after a decade of work at The Joshua School. I’m not quite sure what’s next, but everything will work out!
Find meaning in everything you do. If it doesn’t spark joy and have a purpose, re-evaluate!
Leave your ego at the door. My most meaningful and special relationships have stemmed from the most vulnerable, honest, and humble conversations.
The Joshua School and JECC have changed my life, and I will forever be grateful to have gotten the opportunity to be a part of this organization.