Morning Coffee With Amanda

Morgan Thomas

From April 2011:

At some point in time, society became too busy to appreciate the multitude of little things that once brought joy to everyday life.
The smell of coffee in the morning, the soothing sound of a gentle rainstorm, or even the laughter of children at play- those simple moments of happiness and bliss have somehow unfortunately become normal, mundane.
Amanda Ching, however, sees no moment or act as so. In fact, she reminds one of how special the small things truly are.
Caesar Burgess, boys basketball coach and physical education teacher, would wholeheartedly agree. Though he has forever had a special love, and more importantly respect, for youth with disabilities, he saw something unique within Ching.
“Amanda has such a wonderful personality that sets her apart, you just feel good to be around her,” said Burgess. “She is so unique, smart, and determined. Her skills are as great as any student’s.”
For years now, the two have met every morning to enjoy each other’s company as they sip on coffee, their beverage of choice, and Ching’s undeniable favorite. Burgess often provides the coffee (sometimes letting her steal his own cup after she finishes hers!) While Ching always provides her happiness and contagious smile.
Ching and Burgess have grown so close that he even entrusts her with the keys to his office, letting her unlock his door many a morning, a routine act that she loves taking part in.
“Once Amanda accepts you, you’re in her world forever,” said Susan Katz, a special education teacher who has been with Ching for four years. “She takes to people so well and she has such care and love for them. Truly, she’s the dearest human being in the whole world.”
When Ching is back in the classroom and no longer drinking her beloved coffee (though she would probably prefer to drink coffee all day), she is hard at work, accomplishing each of her daily assignments swiftly and accurately.
“She may have disabilities in some areas, but she certainly excels in others,” said Burgess. “She’ll have a pile of puzzle pieces in front of her one moment and the next moment the puzzle will be finished. It’s amazing to see.”
Ching whizzes through puzzles, matching activities, etc, so quickly that one might consider taking up coffee drinking, too. Her swiftness though is not a result of caffeine, but rather a result of her intelligence, drive, and skill.
“She’s sharp as a tack,” said Katz. “And so acutely aware of every little thing, the things we don’t pay attention to and we take for granted, she notices right away.”
On one occasion, Katz recalls, the classroom was out of paper towels, an event that rarely occurs. As if it happened every day, Ching walked out of the classroom, down the hallway to the art office, grabbed a new stock of paper towels, and brought them back to her teachers.
“Amanda is simply irreplaceable,” said Burgess. “And I’ll tell you, of all the time that I’ve spent with Amanda, I’ve learned more from her, than she ever will learn from me.”