East Allen University Language Arts Teacher Shannon Eichenauer teaches her students that hardships don’t have to define them. She lives by the phrase ‘Love Wins’, but stresses it doesn’t magically happen. It’s a mindset you have to choose. Eichenauer says she always tries to find the positive in every situation even when the situation isn’t good. “I just feel like I have the traditional hard luck story. My family didn’t have a lot of money when I grew up, but everything I’ve ever done in my life if I followed what I loved to do, it turned out absolutely amazing for me.”
Following a traumatic car crash last August, the ‘Love Wins’ motto went into overdrive. At her first checkup, Eichenauer asked her doctors when she could go back to work. When told it would be a while, she said “but, I want it to be soon.” One month after the accident, she was back in her classroom. “I felt it was important for me to come back in a wheelchair and maneuver through this so they could see that you can overcome it.”
She kept her students up to date on her progress, good and bad. “I was very honest with them. I would say hey, I’m having a rough day and they have been amazing about it.” EAU student Ney Tha Blay Htoo says when she was having a bad day, everyone would do their best to help her. “When it was hard for her to move around, she would come to me and say ‘hey Nate, can you help pass out papers.’ Any little thing I could do to help her, I would.”
EAU Junior Baileigh Ott says it was important that she shared her experiences first hand with students. “To me, that showed if you work hard through something, you can get to where you need to be. She went through that process so quickly and efficiently it was amazing. It really inspired me.”
Principal Doug Hicks has been with Eichenauer for all ten of her years at East Allen University. “She’s the glue of the staff,” he says, “I know she talks about love a lot, but that’s her core. She really loves her kids.” That bond is especially tight with a student who was also in a serious car accident about a year before Eichenauer’s. Hailey Hoover-Pelphrey wrote a letter that brought tears to her teacher’s eyes. “I just remember when we first saw each other, I immediately said it’s okay, we can cry, and we did. We cried and bonded over that.” Hoover-Pelphrey says she was thankful she could help. “I felt like that’s just what I was there for. Not everybody understands, but I knew what it was like. I’m going to be there for her because she was there for me.”
A group of students got together and sold “Love Wins” t-shirts to raise money to help make Eichenauer’s home more wheel chair friendly after she was released from the hospital. It was the epitome of what her motto is all about. “It’s every facet of my life, not just the professional side of me,” Eichenauer says with a smile, “I’m just a hard luck story that gets better and love makes it get better because I choose it. Yeah, that’s my saying, love wins, but you have to get out of the way.”
It’s why Shannon Eichenauer is POSITIVELY FORT WAYNE!