Many Ways To Grow

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I am so excited! I have had a request! Someone from asked me: how can the youth show such significant growth in the standardized test I give them? The answer is multifaceted. First I need to explain the testing we do, and the circumstances with which I work with.

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The group home teachers are instructed to give each youth a standardized test, called a WRAT (Writing, Reading, Aptitude Test) when they first arrive and when they leave, in order to show their growth or lack of growth.  A 4 part test in spelling, math, word reading and sentence comprehension.  It  helps to give us a basic sense of where their brain is academically. This is also a good time to talk a little and get a sense of the child’s personality and attitude. I try to wait to give this test with in the first month of their arrival. This gives the youth time to adjust to the group home. They go through a few days to a week of almost denial that they are there. Some seem angry, some accept the situation. So, I give them time.

You Are only confined by walls you make

When the youth arrive, they come in from all sorts of situations. Some arrive with families. Others arrive in handcuffs and shackles from detention centers. This may be the first time they have seen their family in a month or more.  Some of the youth that arrive come with academic information such as report cards and a few we are able to get their IEP.  Two or three times a year we get youth that have very low IQ levels of <70. In the 5 + years I have worked here, I have observed that if a child has an IQ less than 65 they won’t get much from our program.  However, with the tests, we have seen growth even with these low IQ youth. The fact of the matter is, even with all the stress these youth go through, about 85% of them leave showing huge growth.  I will give you a few examples.

sign, believe

Most of these children come from single parent or grandparent homes.  I remember 8th grader who’s home was not good. His mother never came to see him. She would make promises right up to Friday morning when he earned his visit home and would call and say she couldn’t come and he couldn’t come home…..It broke our hearts. I gave him his first WRAT test 3 weeks after he arrived and he scored very low. 1.7 wr, 1.0 sc, 2.1 sp., 3.5 math. These are grade equivalency numbers.  3 months later he scored 2.4, 1.7, 2.0 and 3.8. Not bad for just 3 months. We found him a foster home and I had the privilege to go with him when the FSS at the time took him. I think he felt much better when I gave it all my blessing.

Another young man who was in 7th grade, seemed to always need to be near me. Every morning when I was trying to get things ready, or at break, there he was…..and I heard he always was ready for church, when he went home but his mom could not get him there. That didn’t discourage him. He kept reading his bible and keeping the faith. He increased his grade levels on those tests incredibly. Wr., 5.4 to 10.3, Sc. 9.9 to 12.9, Sp, 12.7 to 12.9 and math 5.1 to 5.9

God has plans for U

We have had some older youth who have come in with psychological and neurological disorders. I expect the same hard work from all youth. I teach them not to use their abilities as disabilities or excuses. One 9th grade female youth suffered from Axiety and it seemed everything triggered it. Other kids laughing or seemed like they were laughing at her, not doing a chore right, getting corrected by staff in firm tones, and she never volunteered to give answers in class or speak in front of the group.  “WRATwise” she increased her math from 8.7 to a 12.9, she was a 12.9 in the other areas. She raised her hand to answer questions in my class. She did her project for health and presented it in front of the class. At our annual graduation, the youth are asked if anyone wants to speak and she raised her hand first. I thought her Court counselor was going to fall over. I was proud of her.

One last example is a youth who probably should have never come but I’m glad she did. We were not told of her disability, but when talking to her you could tell, something was not right. After begging with the school for her information we found out that she had an IQ of 63. By the time I found out she was half way through the program. Here’s her results from the test:                     word reading:         3.5    to           7.4                       Sentence comprehension  : 6.5    to    8.2         spelling:  5.1 to   6.8                  and    Math         Kindergarten (k.0)     to        10.1                      Pretty cool!!!!! yet, her mother still worked at night and they lived in a motel.  Her perception of the world was quite ……different.  

Im still working on you-God

These are just a few examples of the growth. Some did not show growth at all and others only grew in one area.  But for all of these youth, growth happens on many different levels and you can’t test all that.  The only way to know if they grew as people is to find out how successful they are in life.  Every spring there is always a visit or a call from some former youth.  The girl with the Anxiety is finishing her GED and has a job that doesn’t cause too much anxiety.  The young man who was at my hip, he called and said he is finishing middle school and doing fine.  I even had a visit from a youth from my first group, back in 2010, letting us know he’s getting married and is doing well.

I may only have them for 4-6 months now, and maybe, others just think I’m a “glorified babysitter” or just a mild mannered teacher, 20151213_153053

but I know that I am a certified NC teacher who chose to work for God and teach the children that others find challenging.  I create the transcripts and the IEP’s (in a single bound) . I teach 5 subjects, created a working/growing curriculum,   plug in several skills into the lessons, and teach 6 core values everyday to children who don’t want to be there or who view all adults as the “enemy”.  (It’s a bird, no it’s super-teacher)Super_Teacher2

If anything,  Methodist Home For Children’s group homes show that with a smaller class size, hard work, structure, and a lot of patience and love,  most adjudicated youth can be taught and become successful in life.

Keep the requests coming and God bless you all!!!

Connections

It feels like my whole life I have been “the connector”, “the hinge”, or the “bridge” between everyone. When I was little it was between my grandfather and my br…

Source: Connections

Connections

bridge kids

It feels like my whole life I have been “the connector”, “the hinge”, or the “bridge” between everyone. When I was little it was between my grandfather and my brothers or my paternal family and my maternal family.  I have been a “link” as long as I can remember. There was a time I didn’t want to do it. I was tired and scared to be the one to keep people talking to each other.  At one point my brothers were at odds with each other but a wise person told me, “remember, it said in the bible, a child shall lead them.” So, I started to accept my position as the “bridge” to bring people together.  Part of me still wanted to fight it. After all I’m not that special.  Yet, last summer I was still trying to make re connections with my cousins and Aunt on the paternal side of my family and I succeeded.    20151128_120606

I found my cousin, Vicki, living in Idaho, married and happy. Her brother, Scott, successful and married in NJ. My Aunt was suffering from dementia. I gave information and connected my brothers to our cousins again. My  cousin decided that since she was retired she had more time to take care of my Aunt in Idaho. My aunt loved the re-connection. She wrote to me and they even had a chocolate cake in my honor on my birthday. Pretty cool that 2000 miles away I could make her smile.  Sadly,  right after this Easter, Aunt Carolyn had a stroke and a week later she died. I was very upset. I tried calling but the connection was very bad. We are texting and emailing as much as we can.  God must have thought that since I did such a good job connecting my family, he would give me a larger challenge. Connecting strangers.

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Even though the original orphanage in Raleigh, NC was started by the United Methodist Church, time and community needs have changed that part of the relationship. Now we are separated from the church itself because we work with state programs. However, it is the kindness of the members of the churches that keeps us going.

April 3rd,  I was invited by our volunteer who teaches art at my group home, to come to her church because the members had bought bibles for my youth! She wanted me there for the blessing and to thank the church for their involvement with MHFC. It was a very touching and fun service at Camden United Methodist Church.

See, I believe that God put me into these different positions to make more or deeper connections between the people and MHFC. I am a teacher for MHFC, a member of the Ahoskie United Methodist Church, and the United Methodist Women’s District officer for Membership and Nurturing.umw

The more people I talk to the more people find out about MHFC and all the different programs there are. We do serve 1500+ youth and their families. We are also adding new programs such as private adoption, an assessment center in Butner, NC, and one in Winston-Salem.

One kind act or word will change a life

It’s time for the people to make connections. Take a chance.  We need people to give their time, their hearts, their talents,  and their gifts. I work for God and am blessed enough to  get paid, monetarily and spiritually. I am even more blessed to work with people who  go through the volunteer paperwork and  come to our group home to work with our youth for no pay at all.  Our art teaching volunteer says that having the chance to do her favorite hobby with the youth and watching the growth of some youth is her paycheck.  The “paycheck” that God has is one that pays on Earth as it does in heaven. It is priceless and not bound by this world. Take a chance on something that will pay you the rest of your life. Make the connection and find out what you can do for MHFC.

(Click on the “Being Proactive” menu at top of page)