Saturday, August 06, 2011

Getting Ready for new School Year and the Rest of My Life

Summer 2011
Usually, only children or families with school age children think of end of summer as an event and transitional time of the year. Retired folks like myself, well each day and season seems to move effortlessly along. Well not for me; My enjoyment of being with parents and helping them through the rough journey of getting their children educated makes life quite eventful.

This summer was the 2nd year of the Math Camp. The Village has adopted Fear No Number Math Academy as our focus on elevating math literacy for especially African American children and their parents. The "and their parents" is key to the success we are seeing for so many kids.

We think of the arts and sports when speaking of performances, well a performance component has been added to Fear No Number Math Academy. On Thursday at the Boys and Girls Club located at Rainier Vista in Seattle, elementary age students performed for a room full of their peers and adults a complex algebraic equation. Just as we sit and wait for our kids to hit that homerun, or complete their dance routine, we sat and watched with awe as the team filled up two white boards, talking us through the mathematical process and turned around and received their applause when they got to the end with the correct answer.

These are children representative of the children being denied by too many school districts of the joy of learning and knowing math as something familiar and fun. We are so grateful to Norman Alston for stepping in and up to this wonderful contribution to the Village.

We need grant writers to help get funding so we can compensate teachers, buy more materials, and supply the experiential activities to students that expands their use of math. If anyone wants to join the team, make a donation or be a guest teacher. Let me know.

Rainier Beach Back to School Bash
For the past few years, this event at Baer Sheva Park on Rainier Beach, organized by RB Empowerment Organizing and convened by Gregory Davis attracts hundreds of families. Please think of what you do and how it can add to the outreach to parents and join in being a resource.

Education and Support for Special Needs children
God sent to me three additional children and their mother. As with much of what I do, I look at the gifts I receive from God as puzzles. What am I to get from this gift, what am I to learn, how am I to share the learning. What I have been learning is that every agency with a sign up is not necessarily in business to help families. I learned that there are agencies and providers who get held up in high esteem and when you scratch the surface, they are not all they propose to be. I found that the old stand bys such as Salvation Army and St. Vincent De Paul continue to know their mission and hire people who seem actually happy to be helping.

I have been introduced to ARC of King County, they care about children and adults with disabilities, they were so very responsive. Even sent someone to our home to interview the mom. This was not a mom being too lazy to go to an office, it is an agency that understands the daily pull on a parent of a special need child, and then add a new born to the mix. I have a special place in my heart for First Place. I invested time, talent and funds to this wonderful agency for families in transition never knowing I would one day need to seek out their support. They helped this family in ways that made a drastic difference. They made sure that they were able to get that key to their newly leased home. Again, came out of their office and accompanied the mom to negotiate with the landlord; such things as deposits, etc before the lease was signed. First Place is ending homelessness one family at a time. They ended it for this family that I referred.

This year's Mason Family Fish Fry was a grand event, with collards cooked by guest chef Jason Vickers, fish fried by the team of Deacon Joseph Mason and Chris Bennet of KRIZ/KZIZ Radio and Medium News. We were honored to have again for the 3rd year straight King County Executive Dow Constantine. Also Randy Dorn, Supt of Public Instruction and Erin Jones and another of his Admin. Staff were a welcomed addition and MLKing Co. Councilmember Larry Gossett as well as Pete Holmes, Seattle City Attorney,Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Sen. Adam Kline (37th Dist) were in attendance. A host of candidates got a chance to shake hands of 200 people who consumed close to 80 lbs of fried fish, gallons of macaroni salad, corn bread baked beans and collards. We were serenaded by Josephine Howell and inspired by the spoken word of Melody Ivory. Also Mwansa Luchembe recited his 9 times table to 1,000 (I stopped him at about 400) At the end of the evening our guests made new friends, left not a scrap of food, brought the sunshine we were looking for in Seattle and it has been with us since. There is a truism "It never rains on Fish Fry Wednesday"

I will be working on development of Parent Involvement materials for the next few weeks. Will share the information when I am done.