Sunday, February 28, 2010

How We Became Flat

Prior to Miss Janet leaving to Guatemala, the students in Ms. Katrina's and Ms. Tameshia's classes read "Flat Stanley". After the reading, the kids were challenged to write their own stories of how they became flat and create their very on "Flat Friend". The snow days trumped our flat friend creations, so Ms. Katrina and I created two flat friends in the images of two our students (Lamarcus and Tytiana) to travel to Guatemala with Ms. Janet.

Enjoy some of their stories below....

"I was fighting with my brother and he sat on me to make me flat."--Lamarcus

According to Niesha, our class has become flat on many occasions....

"Once we were at the NBA Jam Session playing basketball against Dirk and the Mavs. He fell on our entire team while trying to dunk and smashed us all flat."

"Another time... we were walking to the After School Academy after school when a very STRONG wind blew us into the side of a building and smashed us. In order to get normal, we rode through the wind on a giant leaf to the nearest gas station. At the gas station, we used the tire air pump to get back to normal."
Soon, we will be sending out the rest of our "Flat Friends" to other places around the world. If you're interested, in hosting our "Flat Friends", please email: (Please include "Flat Friends" in the subject line)

Iesha's thinking moment

Iesha is our thinker. Every time it takes her a minute to remember something, she puts her finger up to her temple. Somehow, I guess that finger has magical powers because she soon remembers. I love it! :)

You can see her thinking in progress in this video below:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Dr." Iesha taking care of Lamarcus

Lamarcus was complaining about his knee hurting, so our very own "Dr." Iesha took a moment to share some of what she learned at physical therapy with Miss Janet. She gave his knee a massage and shortly after he exclaimed "My knee is better now!"

What's school like in Guatemala?

Ever wonder what schools in other countries look like? Ever want to know if children in other countries do the same things as we do here?

Here are two schools I was able to visit. The first one is a school where Esteban, Natalia, and Laura go:

The next one is a school in Guatemala Antigua that was celebrating it's 114th birthday:

Financial Literacy: shopping for snacks on a budget

In March, both Digital Connectors and Teen University, will be engaging in a series of financia literacy activities. Their first assignment was to purchase enough snacks for 25 people with a budget of $125 for our trip to Huston-Tillotson and University of Texas. It was not an easy task to accommodate the taste buds of some many people but Shannon, Chisa, and Alexcia did a wonderful job working together and staying in budget. Their bill was $124.88!

"Shine" on them for staying after the program hours to make a brown bag of snacks for each person and for accepting the challenge.

Shannon taking a moment on the big comfy couch.
Alexcia and Chisa

Kids Workshop at Home Depot

Lamarcus, Joshua, and Hakim attended the "Kids Workshop" series at Home Depot with Mr. Phillip and Mr. Casey. For the first workshop the boys made a car display rack. Check out the pictures below. Next month, they will be creating rain gauges.

Hakim showing off his rack......
"The Too Cool Brothers" Lamarcus and Joshua
(Photos Courtesy of Mr. Philip)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Visiting Tikal

Who's seen the movie 2012?

I haven't seen it, but when I took the tour, they talked about the Mayan calendar and how 2012 was what the Mayans have always said would be the end of a cycle. The movie is based on the Mayans' theory.

Visiting Tikal taught me a lot about the sophistication of the Mayan people. They made temples with exact precision...had elaborate structure and jobs/responsibilities for each person...and created an amazing calendar system.

Below is my video diary of the trip.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Becoming flat in Guatemala

On my last night in Guatemala, Natalia, Laura, and Esteban asked if they could make their own Flat Stanley's. is the result.

Natalia is a doctor and was crossing the street while attending Harvard University and a car ran over her...making her flat.

Esteban is a Saints football player. He was walking through Price Smart (the Guatemalan Sam's Club) when, all of a sudden, one of the large boxes on the very top fell and flattened him.

Laura is a princess. There are many volcanoes around Guatemala City. The volcano erupted and a piece of volcanic rock fell on her and made her flat.

Janet (me) had just come back from the beach. We were all relaxing on the bed when Laura and Juan Luis dogpiled me. I was completely flattened.

Being flat has it's advantages. The flat people have gotten to explore a whole new world...and make new friends. Here are our new friends from Guatemala:

If you'd like to be a flat friend with us, here is a way to get started:

Let us know how you became flat and send your photo of your flat person to so we can post it along with your story. We'd love to be your friend, too!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Look what we grew......


Joshua and David Show

So here is the thing, last week I attended an event that the Dallas Social Venture Partners hosted. The event was “Storytelling” by Andy Goodman. I left the event inspired. My thought was that I was going create a series of videos that explained our story. Videos that really capture our mission statement, “Equipping youth to dream and envision what they can and one day will become”. Well, you see where I am going with this…

My starting point was to interview the youth that attend the ASA, get their thoughts and so on. So I decided to start with two kindergarteners, Joshua and David. Well, of course these two decided to take my idea in whole new direction.

Actually they made it even better.

I now present to you, the season premiere of: The Joshua and David Show

How was gum made?

Chewed any gum lately? Do you know how it was first made??

The Mayan Indians figured out how to make gum and were hired to climb trees and get the sap from the chiclet tree (have you heard of the gum, Chiclets?). The gum company, Wrigley's, use to pay people in the jungle to collect the sap from the trees so they could make the gum. Below is a video from the jungle. The guide explains how the people collected the sap to make the gum.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

kids say/do the darnedest things....

Trinity's Life Advice

The After School Academy at the Roseland Library/Bookstore sharing a song that was stuck in their head. (Lamarcus and Niemen mocking the girls)

Shamaria and David: Play Doh Creations

Shamaria and David share their play-doh creations.

Roasting marshmallows on lava from a volcano!

Climbing a volcano and roasting a marshmallow on the lava from the volcano had to be the absolute BEST experience ever! And it cost under $10!

There's really no need for further explanation. Just watch the video.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Flat LaMarcus and Flat Tytiana go to the beach in Guatemala

Who knew that the beaches in Guatemala were so fabulous???

Early in the morning, we took off for the Juan Gaviota beach. It's a private beach with a lot of really beautiful homes. The sand is black...not like the light brown colored sand we're used to seeing.

Watch the video to see what the small towns look like on the way to the beach, see a crab run across the sand, and watch Flat LaMarcus and Flat Tytiana go swimming.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fast food in Guatemala

McDonald's...Burger King...Subway...and even Taco Bell...

All of those fast food restaurants also exist in Guatemala. But are they the same? Watch this video to find out some things you might not know about fast food in other countries...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Flat LaMarcus and Flat Tytiana visit a school in Guatemala

While Miss Janet went to a museum with her friend, Cecilia, Flat LaMarcus and Flat Tytiana went to school with Laura.

After a full day of meeting new friends and experiencing school in Spanish (and sometimes in English), Flat LaMarcus and Tytiana went to the KidVenture after school program. After the day was all over, Laura, Flat LaMarcus, and Flat Tytiana gave Miss Janet a tour of the school and showed her all the things they do during a day at school:

Meet Crystal: Digital Connector

Hi, my name is Crystal. I was born and raised in Dallas, TX. I am 17 years old, in the 11 grade, and I attend Hillcrest High School.

My favorite sport is track. I love being around my friends and family. I also like leaning new things. In my spare time... I love texting, talking on the phone, and EATING!! That's me...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Breakfast in Guatemala

I believe Miss Tameshia said a lot of you are asking what people in Guatemala eat. A lot of times, they eat the same things as we do! But, sometimes they have food that is the same as ours, but prepared a little different than we do it.

Below is a video on my first morning in Guatemala. Laura ate bread and honey (something I think we might eat) and Cecilia made me huevo estrellada (egg stars) and then taught me how to make them. So here is the video:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Meet Rocio: Digital Connector

My name is Rocio. I was born here in Dallas TX, and have been living her all of my life. I am 16 years old, and was born on January 14, 1994! Right now I am a student at Skyline High School and in the 10th Grade. I am also in the photography cluster at my school, and am in love with it. Literally! I am passionate about photography, I am not the best photographer, Yet! But i am working hard to as were I have some good photographs!

THE infamous funny moment in Digital Connectors

This is a funny moment in Digital Connectors when Crystal falls out of her chair. I guess she thought she could fly like a bird or she was that excited about all of the technology she's learning.A lot of people don't think we have fun in Digital Connectors because we work so hard. We have a great time together. I love you guys.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!

This was our first attempt at "Mass Stand-Up" and sadly it was a failure. This attempt did not go to waste though, it served as a learning experience to help us accomplish our task. As you will see in the next video, things will go differently.

Visiting Guatemala Antigua

Laura gave Flat Lamarcus and Flat Tytiana a tour around the houses where she lives and let them play on the playground before we took a trip to Guatemala Antigua. Guatemala Antigua means "old Guatemala" so all of the buildings look old. Look for the picture of the Subway. Even Subway looks very old!

While we were walking in Antigua, we could see the volcano in the background. We also watched some ladies make tortillas in the little tienda (that means "store"). Check out the pictures to see all of the places Lamarcus and Tytiana visited today.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Flat LaMarcus and Flat Tytiana leave for Guatemala

Miss Janet was planning to take a trip to Guatemala. Knowing this, the kids in the Roseland Library/Bookstore and the 1st and 2nd graders in the After-School Academy started on a new mission. They read Flat Stanley (if you haven't read it, you might want to!) and started studying about Guatemala. They were creating their own Flat People when the snow storm got in the way.

So, Miss Tameshia finished making their flat people. Miss Tameshia and Miss Janet decided that Flat LaMarcus and Flat Tytiana would be traveling to Guatemala with Miss Janet:

Stay tuned to hear about more of Flat LaMarcus and Flat Tytiana's trip to Guatemala!

Friday, February 12, 2010


I don't pay much attention to the weather reports in Dallas. The "Arctic Blasts" that they dramatically present usually mean something like 40 degree weather and possibly some rain. So, when I heard the prediction of snow, I was under impressed. Yet, when I woke up and opened the blinds, there was already a blanket of snow covering the ground!

It was the best snow ever! It snowed all day, every single minute of the day--9.4 inches by 9:00 p.m....and it is still coming down!

Around 3:30, I ran over to the After-School Academy to watch the kids enjoy the snow. I knew it would be the perfect photo op...and it did not disappoint.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Teens donate their shoes

The shoe donation came right after the Haiti earthquake. Terrence’s Teen U youth had been studying about Haiti—looking things up on the internet, having discussions, and seeking to gain an understanding of the tragic event that happened. As the rest of the world, they became very enmeshed in what was happening. Around this time, I received an email from our development department letting me know tennis shoes had been donated for the youth at Roseland. When I let Terrence know, he took the information to the teens and asked them if they wanted to keep the shoes or send them to Haiti. One of the students said they would rather send the shoes to Haiti. All of the students agreed. They then began to seek out places who were coordinating trips to Haiti.

The pictures are of them sorting and packing the shoes. They took it upon themselves to go through the shoes and sort them according to size. In watching them sort the shoes, they seemed to really like the shoes and the different designs. A younger kid came upstairs and said something about wanting a pair of shoes. The other students immediately reprimanded him explaining, “No! These shoes are going to Haiti!”

Their research led them to Prestonwood Baptist church. The shoes have now been taken and, I assume, have already been sent to Haiti. It was a great service project opportunity. It always amazes me how willing the youth are to give and share what they have to help others.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Tale of a Mouse, Part 2

I enjoyed Tale of a Mouse at the South Dallas Cultural Center so much last week that I couldn't help but take kids again.

This time we took Iesha (sister of Niesha and Tatiana, both of whom attended last time), Shamaria, and Xavier. Iesha and Shamaria seemed to thoroughly enjoy the play and sat, enthralled, the entire time. Iesha quoted most of the play to Ms. Tameshia...thanks to her sisters re-playing it for her when they got home last week. (Iesha obviously hasn't learned the meaning of "spoiler alert." :) )

Shamaria and Iesha volunteered to participate in the tug of war:

Though the play was great, some of the best moments were when Mr. Harold (the director) allowed everyone to interact with the cast members and the props at the end of the play. Awesome job, South Dallas Cultural Center. Thanks for being in the community and allowing us to be a part of what you do!

Scared of the talking skull

Sad mouse

Mouse bargains with elephant

Shamaria being Arumbaroo

Shamaria posing with Bird

Iesha thinking like Arumbaroo

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Each one teach one

As I walked through the After-School Academy I saw several things going on. One group was building with legos. One group was working on homework. A few were at the computers playing educational computer games. It's been my dream that the kids in the After-School Academy become independent learners. Walking through, I couldn't help but think that is quickly becoming a reality.

As I walked out the door to the elevator I saw the scene in the picture above.

Ladaysha (3rd grade) was quizzing Hakim and Jaden (both 1st grade) on their spelling words while they casually molded play-doh. I loved it! They weren't stressed. They weren't sitting uncomfortably in wooden chairs hating homework. Instead, they nonchalantly took turns spelling. If they mis-spelled a word, Ladaysha kindly pointed out their mistake, reminded them how to spell it correctly, asked them to re-spell it, and moved on to a new word. It couldn't have been a more beautiful scene!

Independent learners.

Painless and stress-free learning opportunities.

Older students helping younger ones.

Everyone plays a role in progress.

Thanks, Danielle, for making the After-School Academy where this can happen!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Niesha--Actress and Play Director

Niesha (9) and Tatiana (6) were chosen to go see Tales of a Mouse at the South Dallas Cultural Center this past weekend.

At the beginning of the play, Mr. Harold (the director) informed the audience there would be audience participation and everyone needed to help. He then immediately asked for volunteers. Niesha raised her hand on the very first opportunity and was able to lead the audience in a call and response exchange. Toward the end of the play, they asked for volunteers again. Niesha quickly raised her hand again and Tatiana went out as well. They got to be a part of the Elephant and Hippopotamus tug-of-war!

After the curtain call, actors allowed the audience to take pictures and hold some of the props (like the spear and mask). As Niesha held the spear and after the picture was snapped, she transformed into the role. She began creeping along the side of the stage...just as they did in the play. She started repeating the lines verbatim. A few other kids joined in, including Niesha's sister and some of the actors from the play. Niesha began directing people (including the actors!) to, "Stand here," "You're supposed to move like this," "You say this when you walk," "You're supposed to run that direction!" Niesha had already memorized lines in the play and was now becoming the director!

It was a great event. The play continues through this weekend. I'm hoping to take some more kids and teenagers this Friday. Hopefully we'll see you there as well!