Monday, November 22, 2010

Avid Readers

This has to be the greatest picture ever!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

TWU College Trip

We believe allowing young people to touch, feel, and experience things creates opportunities. It creates vision. It creates hope and belief. So, this past Saturday, we all rolled out of bed early in order to visit the TWU College Preview Day.

Once there, Ms. Danielle (an alumni and our Americorps member who runs our Teen U program) gave us a personal tour of the campus. We saw how many computers are available to the students, saw the inside of a dorm room, and learned about financial aid.

Shannon is planning to attend TWU because it offers family housing and opportunities for students who are also moms. Since she will be having a baby in February, she is working to plan for all of the foreseeable obstacles. She is determined to finish her senior year and continue right on through college.

Thanks to all of the Mid-Teen U and Teen U students who woke up early, stuck with us as we trekked all over campus, and were able to pass the "pop quiz" I gave them at the end of the trip. :)

We have an awesome group of teens with so many possibilities ahead of them!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Moments in the CitySquare Education Department

Some days my job is really hard. It's emotionally stressful. I haven't yet figured out the best way to tell people the amazing things I see each day. Dealing with a very minimal staff that turns over every summer and end of school year because we depend on Americorps members who can only serve a limited number of terms makes consistency and knowledge of expectations almost impossible some days. This week has been one of my worst in a while in some ways...and then today came...and I end on a completely high note. I wanted to share those moments. Here are some of the happenings from today:

1) The elementary school principal called and said Hunger Busters will be delivering the school 300 meals each week, M-Th. They can't use all of them and wanted to know if we can use them. She may ask Hunger Busters to deliver to the Ed Programs their own 300/week as a separate site. Solves our problem of never having food for our teens who stay from 4:00-8:00.

2) Richardson East Church of Christ wants to get more involved in Roseland. I suggested they do an annual drive that would supply our Ed programs with supplies (like construction paper, binders...everything expendable) since the kids in our community already have a back-to-school day. The minister said he thinks he can make that happen.

3) I had a brilliant idea of how to grow our numbers and maximize the number of staff we have...without adding any more. During Christmas break we will probably switch our two entire buildings so that Teen U and Mid Teen U will move in to the ASA space and vice versa. Because of the space, we can potentially expand the ASA numbers to 50 and maybe even 60 eventually...without adding any more Americorps or staff than we already have. (If any of you are interested in volunteering over Christmas break, email me!!)

4) I worked late tonight planning for Monday's staff retreat to help us figure out the education department's plan for the next 6 months. I had invited staff, one parent, and a couple of teens. I was extremely excited when one of my staff called saying that the middle schoolers were upset they weren't represented. She wanted to know if some could come, too. Of course they can!! How exciting! About 7:30 this evening, the 2 chosen ones saw my office light on and came to my office to ask if they could come be a part of Monday's meeting. They were so excited..and so cute! When I mentioned we would be planning curriculum, Antonio (who was in the ASA about 2 years ago) asked if we were going to do check books like we did when he was in the ASA. He was so excited about potentially doing more with balancing checkbooks like we did when he was younger. Then he asked if they still had the weekend backpacks like we used to have. He explained that he learned how to play chess that way. (I was thinking he learned from Mr. Carmen, our former chess teacher). Antonio said all the younger kids knew how to play and he wanted to learn so bad. I remember finding a How to Play Chess book that I gave him. I had no idea that he actually read it and learned to play chess from that book!!! When I told them about some of the curriculum possibilities, they were so excited and were already brainstorming possibilities.

5) There was a fight on Tuesday at Teen U. I was emotionally sick when I heard. We (our Americorps members who witnessed, me, Dallas Housing Authority (DHA), the parents, and the 2 girls) met on Wednesday. Though the parents were about to fight on Tuesday, my staff and DHA had handled it beautifully. When the two families came back together on Wednesday, everyone was much calmer. I suspended both girls for a week. One girl apologized completely unprompted. The other had no desire to so I told her not to come back until she was ready to accept responsibility. Ends up, she went back to Danielle that evening, gave her a hug, and apologized for her behavior. Expectations. Love 'em!

6) Tomorrow is a college trip to TWU and UNT. The staff only had 1 person on Wednesday because the kids found out they had to leave at 7:00 a.m. and decided they weren't going. I was very discouraged. I don't know what she did, but she text'd me this evening saying we have a full van of 12 kids, plus the three of us adults. Though the staff hadn't thought to do parent visits to talk to parents themselves, after I told them they needed to, she and Veronica hit the streets and talked to each parent. I am very hopeful (crossing my fingers) that we'll have 12 kids tomorrow morning.

Anyway, it's been a good day. :)