Rachel Hand (’08): Teen Challenge Kansas City Girls’ Home project manager
September 1, 2011
As a student at Evangel University, Rachel Hand (’08) held a heavy burden that she would not use her elementary/middle school education degree in its traditional sense. Despite feelings of aggravation and intimidation, Hand chose to look beyond her doubts and fears to pursue her degree in education, even though she did not know how she would use it.
“Thankfully, I had caring, invested professors who would listen to my feelings and fears in pursuing God’s burden for me, even though I pressed forward with no clarity for the future,” Hand says.
As lead teacher for two years and current program manager at the Teen Challenge Kansas City Girls’ Home, Hand now understands how God prepared her for her current influence in the lives of hurting girls. “I believe that God has perfectly intertwined my educational background and experience with my ability to effectively communicate with others,” Hand says.
The mission of this 15-month residential discipleship program is to provide teenage girls between the ages of 12 and 18 who struggle with life-controlling issues an opportunity to experience freedom through Christ. This organization works to provide a structured environment conducive to emotional and spiritual recovery. As part of its services, Teen Challenge in Kansas City provides counseling (individual, group and family), education, discipleship curriculum, daily responsibilities and life-skills training. Their hope is to supply the tools necessary for these girls to live successful, God-honoring lives by the time they complete the program.
For two years, Hand worked as the lead teacher in their on-campus school, teaching English and History and overseeing each student’s academic plan. “A significant portion of my teaching time focused on making sure each girl had the tools she needed to change every area of her life,” Hand says.
During Hand’s time as lead teacher, she worked with a young girl who continually struggled with her assignments. Her grades were falling, and Hand had exhausted all options. Hand then remembered learning about different types of learning styles in her undergraduate coursework. After testing the girl to discover her learning style, she found that the girl was an auditory learner. At that point, it seemed like everything clicked for her. She went from D’s to straight B’s almost immediately and began growing in other areas of her life.
“While there were obviously other factors of the Teen Challenge program playing into this,” Hand says, “discovering how she learned best was what finally gave this student the ability to start reading her Bible with confidence, and she started that path toward a deep and thriving relationship with God.”
Hand is currently the program manager for Teen Challenge and works to organize the three components of the program: school, residential living and counseling. “I love working with the bigger-picture aspect of the students’ program and figuring out how all three core focuses develop them into a whole person,” Hand says.
Hand is thankful that she was able to grow relationally and spiritually, as well as intellectually, during her time at Evangel. Her degree in education has proven beneficial both in the classroom and in her new role in upper management.
Even though many girls she has taught are in high school, many of them do not have a strong educational background. “My elementary education background allows me the ability to recognize the gaps in their education and to lay a foundation in those areas of weakness for each girl,” Hand says.
As program manager, Hand is also responsible for developing the discipleship curriculum for the program. “My training in developing engaging educational curriculum and my Bible course load from Evangel is invaluable to me in the pursuit of making the Bible come alive for my students,” Hand says.
Overall, Hand is thankful that God provided guidance throughout her time at Evangel through her professors, classes and friends. “Evangel will have a lasting impact that you can draw from well past graduation,” Hand says.