hannah makes plans

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Last fall, Hannah set up a college visit to Ivy Tech in Fort Wayne. She let me tag along. 

She wants to be a teacher — a secondary English teacher.

Just as sure as she is about her future career, she is also determined to pay for much of her own college and earn her degree without debt. She’s spent a lot of time researching options and talking with Papa (my dad). She’s mapped out many options and has decided to complete her first two years through Ivy Tech’s Transfer-as-a-Junior program. In addition, she’s signed up for dual-credit courses and expects to have completed at least one semester of college credit before her high school graduation.

She became even more excited when she found out about the Indiana Future Teacher Scholarship. “Mom, it’s like they’re going to pay me to become a teacher!” She was chatty, getting excited about her future. She started tallying courses and envisioning summer courses. “I could be finished in less than three years! Not only would I have college paid for, but I’d start making money even sooner.”

There is nothing idealistic about her plan.

When we adopted Hannah, she had long, unkempt hair. Within the first couple of weeks, we took her for a haircut. She wanted a cut just like mine. It didn’t take long to realize many of Hannah’s decisions were based on being just like me.

So when it comes to becoming a teacher, we’ve poked around, to make sure it is what Hannah wants, not something based on being like me.

Hannah’s responses are always firm. She doesn’t say much, but what she does say is rooted in her heart. If you ask Hannah about becoming an English teacher, you’ll get an answer along these lines:

“I want to be an English teacher because I want people to understand the way reading can change your life for the better. There’s a lot of hard stuff for kids to figure out and sometimes a story makes it safer to understand things. I want to help people learn to think for themselves and know they matter in the world.”

We’ve talked about going away to school, to have the full-fledged college experience. Hannah thinks before she answers.

“It’s not that I’m giving it up, I’m just postponing it a little. I want to stay home and be around you guys while I transition to college. It might be a little hard and I know you’ll help me without making me feel like I’m needy. Plus, I was 6 when you became my parents. I’m not quite ready to move out yet.”

Hannah is very different from the 17 year old version of me. I was the definition of idealistic. All I had were big dreams and my head in the clouds. The world held endless possibilities and money was never a factor in my future plans.

Hannah spent her early years in a hard place, and because of that there have been many dark legs of her journey. I keep reminding myself that her hard early years can influence her future in positive ways. It doesn’t always have to be a battle. Hannah is determined to take care of herself. She wants to pay for her own education and have a career that allows her to live fully as the person she was created to be.

Perhaps in the next year we will see her become a more typical American high school student and be a little more wishy-washy with her future plans. However, the more Hannah takes off her mask and we get to know the real person, the less surprised I am of her sureness of her future career. She thinks deeply and has wisdom beyond her years. She is firmly rooted with a faith that God loves her and she wants to help others make sense of hard stories.

I’m so glad she’s letting me tag along.


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  1. What an extraordinary girl you are raising! Being like Ruth (or mom) is a pretty great role. I understand why Hannah wants to hang around as long as possible. I have that same feeling when I’m around the Ayres.

  2. It’s nice to hear more about Hannah’s plans. I’ve been wondering since she is a senior. My grandson has been taking dual credit classes, too. What a gift to those who want to learn more and make it count. Hannah wanting to be like you is special and her words feel very wise, Ruth, as yours do, too. Congratulations for her future plans, sound great.

  3. I remember seeing Hannah at a couple of presentations at All Write this summer and how she soaked in every word. She filled the role of a teacher fabulously! And I will tell you, there is such pride in having a daughter who is a teacher…although the first year is a little tough for mommas!