Our daughter, Grace Kathleen Underwood, was born January 2, 1989.

After 25 years of living up to her name, she has gracefully moved into the sweetness that any parent would hope for their daughter. Grace’s charm and appeal are two of her strongest attributes as she teaches in Indianapolis. She is in her second year in special education, teaching life skills to students with moderate to severe disabilities at Emma Donnan Middle School. The school was taken over by the state of Indiana last year because of its consistent inspection failures. Grace was hired in 2012 to teach at Emma Donnan, known now as a “turnaround” school, after being selected to the national teaching corps, Teach For America (TFA). Grace established her special education life skills program the first year of the turnaround process. This past year, she was promoted as the school’s Special Education Department Head.

(And now for some father bragging time…) After her first year, she was selected as Teacher of the Year within her school. This year, received the Sue Lehmann Award for Excellence in Teaching, Indianapolis Region and has automatically become a nominee for the national Sue Lehmann Award for TFA. Grace is a 2007 graduate of Marysville High School, a 2012 graduate of The Ohio State University and has just received a master’s degree in education from Marian University in Indianapolis.

As she creatively developed on her own, Grace’s frequent reinforcement she uses in class as her students succeed and progress is a “kiss your brain!” concept. Upon being encouraged to kiss their brain following a successful task, her students kiss the palm of their hand and then pat that hand to their forehead. As I’ve watched her give the “kiss your brain” positive reinforcement, her students seem to thrive on the self reward with smiles and proud giggles. That simple little self kiss and pat is something that I wish I would have used to reinforce our children as they grew. What a wonderful idea to promote learning and healing.

Our brain controls every single function of our body, mind and spirit. And therefore our brains need to be nurtured. Even though sheathed in a rigid casing of bone, our brains are fragile. Sometimes congenital, brain dysfunction or trauma can also occur in an instant through accident and injury or something known as a cerebral vascular accident (CVA), commonly referred to as stroke. Early in my career as an occupational therapist, I became well acquainted with strokes and stroke victims. I helped many patients with all levels of residual effects of strokes. CVAs can produce devastating brain dysfunction and manifest as physically paralyzing. They can also show permanent minimal effects – even to full recovery.

The minimal effects and full recovery are what I hope and pray for as a young funeral director colleague and friend convalesces from a devastating brain injury- possibly from a stroke.

As my daughter Grace has so encouraged with her student’s whole learning, I pray that God will kiss my colleague’s brain for whole healing. I also ask God to kiss the brains of the numerous doctors, nurses and therapists so they may use the best and most effective techniques to help him heal to normal. I also pray that all those who know and love him and his adorable family will “kiss their brains” while offering support, encouragement and guidance in the days ahead.

Kiss your brain, my friend and get well soon.