Chris Ulmer spends his days in the company of angels. Not heavenly angels, but earth angels full of goodness and virtue. Ulmer is no ordinary teacher because he spends the first 10 minutes of every class by individually complimenting each of the students with mental disabilities in his care.
Ulmer relays to his students the traits he loves about them, how much he appreciates them and gratitude to them for being exactly who they are. By seeing his students through eyes of love and compassion, Ulmer has helped them gain more confidence in themselves and in their abilities. They have developed social skills, compassion for others and more love for themselves.
What Ulmer has learned from this experience is nothing short of miraculous as his students took his compliments and began complimenting each other. Ulmer found that his simple actions of goodness not only spread to the students but also made each day a joyful one.
Encouraged by his results, Ulmer created a website and Facebook page to help raise awareness of the difficulties students like Ulmer's face and to share the importance of showing acceptance and compassion to all people.
In a recent video post, Ulmer states, "In order to form a deep and meaningful relationship with someone who is a little bit different, you have to accept them just how they are."
Ulmer's example teaches us unabashedly how to treat all people: We love them, we compliment them and we give them permission to be exactly who they are without any judgment on our part.
Ulmer began this journey by posting a single video of him complimenting his students in the classroom. This video had a remarkable effect on all those who watched it. It taught the world the power of a compliment and positive words.
It is through his journey associating with these earthly angels that Ulmer continues to make a difference. Merriam-Webster's dictionary's defines angel as "a person (such as a child) who is very good, kind, beautiful, etc.
Because Ulmer's students are innocent, pure and children, they definitely seem to fit the definition of angel. But it is Ulmer's actions and the actions of all those who serve and love them, that have truly shaped them into the earthly angels they are.
Through Ulmer's kindness, they too have learned to be kind; and because he is good to them, they are good to others. The children are mirrors that reflect the goodness their teacher spreads. Through his goodness, they spread goodness; and through his love, they show love.
When we learn to love and serve others from where they are, rather than expecting them to measure up to our view of the world, we learn valuable life-lessons. Seeing the world through the eyes of another can bring us to a greater understanding and view of ourselves.
In an open letter on Facebook, Ulmer said, "These children deserve to be heard, loved and appreciated. The world needs to understand that in many ways, the children have it right. We need to learn from them. ... Our desire is to spread love, empathy and acceptance (yes acceptance, awareness is not good enough) for individuals with special needs."