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Local mothers are sponsored by the North Idaho College Center for New Directions

COEUR d'ALENE – Amanda Harris wears many hats: child care provider, student with plans to become a teacher, single mother of two amazing children.

People often ask how she manages all of this.

“I don’t actually know how to do it,” she said. “I give all the glory to God.”

When Harris began her educational journey, she had recently completed a rehab program and knew her life had to change. She wanted to grow as a person and be a better example for her children, 11-year-old Elwood and 2-year-old Hannah.

“I had the moment where I came to Jesus and said, 'I'm going to school to become a teacher – can you help me on that path?'” she said. “I think he helps me every semester.”

Harris, 35, has since graduated from North Idaho College and is now studying at Lewis-Clark State College. She looks forward to becoming a teacher and helping children develop into successful young people.

“This is something I’m passionate about,” she said. “The best place for me would be working with kids and being that supportive adult. Some kids don’t have that at home.”

There were challenges along the way, but she overcame them and continued to move forward.

“I have a lot of support and positive role models in life,” she said.

Part of that support came from the Center for New Directions at North Idaho College, which aims to help single parents and displaced homemakers achieve their educational and career goals.

“These women are so impressive,” said director Louisa Rogers. “You have overcome such difficulties. They were often mistreated. They didn't give up. They show their children what resilience is and what hard work looks like.”

Many of the women Rogers meets through the Center for New Directions are single parents, working full-time and studying for a degree or certification that will allow them to support their families.

Each woman's life story is unique, but Rogers observed that they all had similarities and many felt isolated as single parents. Rogers helped bond them together and see strong friendships emerge.

“There’s a really cool community of women who really lean on each other,” she said.

Rogers sees it firsthand. The Center for New Directions hosts family events where she meets the children of the women the program supports.

“Their children admire and love their mothers because they see how hard they work,” Rogers said. “(These mothers) will do great things with their lives and they are raising children who understand the value of hard work and sacrifice.”

When a mother is persistent and successful, she also gives courage to her children.

Harris spoke proudly about her children. Elwood is growing up quickly and she is excited to see him start middle school.

“He’s a really good boy,” she said.

Hannah is an outgoing toddler who enjoys going to the park with her mother during homework breaks.

“She’s a little social butterfly,” she said.

Above all, Harris said she wants to be a supportive influence in her children's lives and set a good example for them.

“I hope my children learn that they can follow their hearts and their dreams at any point in their lives,” she said. “If they fall, they can get back up.”

Anna Harden

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