TLS Success Story – Gretchen Snethen Hammond, Class of 1996

How has your education at Topeka Lutheran School prepared you for your life?

Screenshot 2019-02-09 at 11.50.14 PM.png

While many schools focus on standardized testing, TLS provided an unparalleled academic foundation, where creativity and critical thinking skills were fostered. Learning that there isn't just one way to solve a problem at a young age gave me the tools to be bold in my academic and professional career. With this foundation, I felt confident to look at situations from different perspectives and take risks that have ultimately been rewarding. Through traditional academic courses, arts, and extracurricular activities, I was able to explore different skills and interests, ultimately building my own confidence and learning how I could best use my strengths.

What is one thing you would want people to know about Topeka Lutheran School that they might not think about?

When I was at TLS, it felt more like an extension of family than it did a separate school. Students from different grades knew each other, especially if you or your friends had siblings in other grades. Teachers and students genuinely cared about each other, which now seems rare in the rush of day-today life. While many of the students I grew up with at TLS have moved from Topeka, I find ways to stay connected with many of them and value the life-long friendships that came from my time there.

How has the teaching and modeling of Jesus' salvation received at Topeka Lutheran School impacted your trust in the Lord?

At TLS, faith was integrated into each day. This not only happened in the overt ways, like chapel and prayer, but also in ways that were more subtle. Faith was integral in how teachers interacted with each other and with students. I find myself guided by these more subtle expressions of faith, particularly in my relationships and in how I approach challenging situations.

Please list some accomplishments that you have achieved since leaving TLS.

I am a tenured, associate professor at Temple University and work as the associate director for the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities. This center receives funding from the National Institutes on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research. I'm proud that the work I am involved with provides me with the opportunity to develop evidence-based strategies to support individuals with mental illnesses to participate in meaningful roles and activities, just like everyone else. As a faculty member, I also have the opportunity to teach students in the recreational therapy program. I love working with students who have a passion for using recreation to support individuals with disabilities to improve their lives.