Teacher who was deeply impacted by three of her special needs students invited them to be in her wedding
We all have that one teacher that changed our life for the better. Teachers are special people and can impact the lives of their students in a way that changes them forever.
But sometimes it’s the students who change the teacher’s life forever – and so was the case for a Georgia teacher that was so impacted by three of her students, that she included them in her wedding.
Colleen Powell walked down the aisle on her wedding day with two very important men by her side. One was her father, Greg Costello, and the other was one of her students, 10-year-old Dominic May, Today Parents reported.
Dominic has Down syndrome and doesn’t talk, but that hasn’t stopped him from having a massive impact on Powell, his special education teacher – which is the reason why Powell knew that her wedding day wouldn’t feel complete without him and two other special guests.
“I’d always said my boys are going to be in my wedding because they’re just the biggest piece of my heart,” the 25-year-old teacher, of Milledgeville, Georgia, told TODAY Parents.
“They mean as much to me as anyone else that was there,” Powell said.
Powell has been teaching the three boys, Dominic, Jay Hurt and Korde Solomon for two years.
And even though all three don’t speak much, Powell bonded with them immediately and was able to connect with them on a deep level.
“They can all communicate their wants or needs or their feelings,” she explained. “It’s really funny because they will argue with me and it’s so hard not to laugh.”
As she was planning the wedding, she came up with unique roles for each boy.
She decided that Jay and Korde would be her ring bearers and that Dominic would help give her away. And since Jay has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, she planned to have Korde push him – it was teamwork at its best.
Powell also came up with a brilliant idea to get around the fact that the boys don’t speak much too.
Jay carried a button that when he pressed it said, “Here comes the bride.”
And Dominic carried a prerecorded message for when the officiant asked, “Who gives away the bride?” Dominic played a recording of Costello saying, “Her parents and I do.”
And boy oh boy was everyone moved when Dominic gave Powell away in front of all her special guests – there wasn’t a dry eye in the venue that day.
“It hit me very hard emotionally because I lost my father in August,” Ingreid Banks, Dominic’s mom, told TODAY Parents.
“For Colleen to share that day with Dominic it meant so much to me.”
Even though Banks loved the outcome, she did have some reservations at first.
When Powell first approached Banks about Dominic being in her wedding, she thought Powell was just trying to be kind, but once she realized the offer was genuine, she was deeply moved.
“It just rocked my world. It meant a lot,” Banks said.
And Banks wasn’t the only parent who believed Powell just trying to be nice.
“Originally, I thought she just kind of said it to be kind because I was in the classroom while she talked about planning the wedding,” Camellia Hurt, Jay’s mom told TODAY Parents. “She was serious.”
While the parents were thrilled to have their children be a part of their teacher’s special day, they also worried that three 10-year-old boys could cause some additional stress for the bride.
“At first I was on pins and needles but thank God nothing happened,” Hurt said. “He was really involved in the wedding and this was so beautiful.”
There is nothing like the feeling a proud mom gets when she watches her child blossom either.
She enjoyed watching Jay having fun and mid-reception she saw Jay out of his wheelchair being passed around on the dance floor.
“He was laughing and giggling,” she said. “It is so important for our society to see children with special needs included because … they are children, just like other children.”
Shiquana Solomon, Korde’s mom, agrees.
“We all need to open up a little (about people with disabilities),” she told TODAY Parents. “He’s labeled special needs, but he’s still a person.”
Korde has autism and his mom worried he might not listen to directions. But he did everything perfectly and added his own flair, as ten-year-olds normally do.
“Korde danced going down the aisle, he had to bust out a little dance move. They started clapping,” Korde’s mom said with a laugh. “I was happy. I was crying.”
In fact, the boys were having so much fun that Banks practically had to drag Dominic off the dance floor.
“He did not want to go home,” she said. “He enjoyed being around all the different bridesmaids.”
The moms wanted to share the story because they think Powell truly is a special teacher.
She has the reputation of always going above and beyond for her students. Just last summer, she taught Korde to swim because she wanted to help out – that’s the kind of character Powell is – genuinely kind and caring.
Hurt, who teaches third grade at Powell’s school, says Powell has her students deliver coffee to all the teachers on Fridays so the children feel included in Lakeview Academy community.
Seeing their children involved in the wedding was a Majical moment these moms won’t soon forget.
“It was wonderful. I never really thought about a family member having Dominic in a wedding,” Banks said. “It was such a wonderful occasion. I am still on cloud 9.”
And there to capture every special moment was talented photographer Eve Yarbrough of Eve Yarbrough Photography, who called Powell her “real life angel bride”.
The wedding was a huge hit and it reminded us that everyone, no matter what their circumstances, should be included in the Majic of human connection.