Westmont Magazine First-Year Footprints
When he chose to work with special-education students in elementary schools, Joshua Amstone ’00 knew he was embarking on an emotionally wearing, challenge-rich career. But, as he explains simply, “I love kids, and I saw such a need in that area. The sad truth is that children with learning disabilities have been rejected most of their lives and have very few people to support them.”
Recruited by basketball Coach John Moore, Josh played with the Warriors for a year. His interest in helping children grew, and he decided to major in liberal studies and become a teacher to work with underprivileged children.
After graduating in 2000, Josh enrolled in a teaching credential program in special education at Azusa Pacific University. While studying, he worked as a substitute teacher in special education classes at local elementary schools. Not only did this job give him valuable experience, but it solidified his desire to teach special education.
As a fourth- and fifth-grade special day class teacher at Wescove School in West Covina, Calif., Josh works with students who have a range of disabilities, including ADD, autism and health impairments. While he acknowledges the challenges and frustrations he faces daily, he is quick to mention the rewards of his work, which far outweigh status or a paycheck.
For example, Josh tells the story of Daniel, a boy who had been a consistent behavior problem in class. One day, in a most sincere voice, he said, “Mr. Amstone, I wish I was your son.”
The best part of the job, Josh admits, came shortly after he was hired. He learned that his principal also had a huge heart for Jesus. They were able to share their faith with one another and have made a commitment to pray together at the beginning of every week for the children, school and staff.
“I had never experienced God’s work before in the way that I did through my year of teaching,” Josh comments. “I learned what it was to be a real vessel of God’s love and work and am continually learning more about His ways. Amazing things happened and challenges were overcome — I could never have done this on my own power, and especially as a first-year teacher.”
Josh credits his experiences at Westmont with preparing him for the ministry of teaching. When he came to Westmont, he did not know Jesus, but through talking with friends and professors and by watching their lives, he became a Christian.
When he’s not teaching, Josh spends time working on a ministry called Guernica that he co-founded with fellow alumnus and roommate Jason Farman ’00. Still in its beginning stages, the ministry is named after the famous Picasso painting.
At first glance, the work seems to be a collage of many different scenes. The focus of the ministry is gathering different people with a variety of talents to reach out to non-believers by creating a place to share music, poetry, art and writing. Josh believes that people will congregate to a place where they can share their passion. He also hopes this kind of outreach can break negative stereotypes of Christians.
For more information, see www.GuernicaArts.com