Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Jackie Markowski: Challenge: ACCEPTED!!

Jackie Markowski, 12-14, De La Salle Blessed Sacrament, Memphis, TN

Jackie Markowski, 12-14, De La Salle Blessed Sacrament, Memphis, TN

While pursuing my undergraduate degree in Education, I was taught that challenges from students are a show of disrespect and should not be tolerated in the classroom.  There are many times when students present academic challenges that are often overlooked as these disrespectful comments, but have we thought of what could happen if we accept them as an honest means of communication?

Early last week while teaching my 8th grade computer class, a student decided to challenge me. I had assigned a project in which the students had to think of 20 questions to ask someone (not knowing who) in the class; another student would answer the questions. This student asked me why I do not complete the projects along with them. He proceeded to asked me to answer his questions and told me that, if I created questions for him, he would have to answer them. While I could have overlooked this challenge as disrespect or a distraction, I decided to take him up on this challenge! I went home that night and thought of the most off the wall, out of the box questions. The next time I saw the 8th grade, I presented him with his questions. Naturally, he complained that the questions were too hard and he did not know how to answer them.  When class was over, I read his responses to the questions and was surprised by how creative and thoughtful his responses were. I then went to his questions for me and was surprised at how much thought he put into his questions. I showed him the document, and he was surprised by how honest I was when answering the questions.  I later overheard him talking to classmates about some of my responses. He thought it was the coolest thing ever that the teacher actually participated in a class project and that HE of all the students gets to “introduce” me to his class.

By accepting this challenge, I was able to build a better academic relationship with this student, and there is a new level of respect between us because of this challenge. This helped me see the student as a curious child, who simply asked a question, hoping an adult would see the sincerity of his curiosity.  Curiosity is a trait I would like to continue to cultivate in students throughout my career.  I look forward to continuing to accept the challenges of my students.

Jackie Markowski is a 2nd year LV serving at De La Salle Blessed Sacrament in Memphis, Tennessee and a 2012 graduate of Lewis University.

By |February 26th, 2014|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Jackie Markowski: Challenge: ACCEPTED!!

Samantha Herbst: Loving Unconditionally

Samantha Herbst, 13-14, De La Salle Blessed Sacrament, Memphis, TN

Samantha Herbst, 13-14, De La Salle Blessed Sacrament, Memphis, TN

“It’s no trick loving somebody at their best. Love is loving them at their worst.”   Tom Stoppard

This quote sticks out to me after my experiences the last couple of weeks. Things have been very difficult with a few of my students, one in particular. She has been having difficulties following our school rules and procedures and has been incredibly defiant and resistant to help or support of any kind. I have been working closely with her for a couple months and have been appointed as her check-in person for her behavior plan. Some days she will listen and say a few words and others she will turn up her nose, roll her eyes, and walk away from me as I try to talk to her.

This hurts. It hurts because I am a nurturer, a fixer; I truly care for this student and do everything I can to motivate her, stick up for her, and fight for her. Her attitude towards me changes from one moment to the next. I get frustrated at times and feel helpless. Her class is difficult as a whole and her behavior heightens the tone of defiance. As administration and teachers, we are having to carefully track her behavior and will have to let her go from our school if consistent effort isn’t made toward improvement. She has been spending more time out of the classroom than in it, getting sent home, and returning the following day with an unchanged attitude. No one can seem to get through to her; on her bad days she doesn’t care what anyone says or tells her to do.

I always pray for patience and strive to love her and see her as God does. I collaborate with her classroom teacher, the counselor and the principal to try and support her to the very best of my ability and make sure that I am always doing what is in her very best interest. We are all at a loss of how to help her and confused by the inconsistency of what we see from her. In my efforts to help her, I try to be “warm-strict.” I do my best to notice every little positive thing she does, point it out, and celebrate it with her. On the other hand, I don’t let her get away with being completely off task or disrespectful because I know that this is not good for or beneficial to her. I try to explain the why behind my corrections and requests of her. I try to ask at the end of each day what she thinks went well and what she can improve about her behavior for the following day. I try to be encouraging and supportive. I try to keep her motivated with small rewards and positive words.

As difficult as working with this student is, I never doubt the importance of what I am doing. I may be excited to go home after a long day and pray for snow or ice  so that school might be cancelled the next day but, in all sincerity, I know that there is a reason God has called me to this work and to be at this specific school. He has given me a patient, caring heart that, for some crazy reason, wants to support and give back to middle school students the way that my teachers did for me.

As last week wrapped up, I reflected on my students “stats.” I was able to look past the countless defiant acts and rude comments, the five times she was sent out of the classroom, the three days she was sent home and the hundreds of lines of quotations she was supposed to write to reflect on her behavior. I looked past these things and took solace in Thursday and Friday. On Thursday she asked to talk to me when she was very upset. I was able to calm her down and prompt her to talk to me. She shared more with me than she ever had before and came up with a few ways that we could make small changes to help her succeed. Friday was a good day for her. Even though she still put on a bit of a show for me, one of my community members told me that at lunch she said, “I really like Ms. Herbst; but don’t tell her I said that!”

It is about holding on to those small victories and pressing on. God calls us to love as he does, not just when it is easy or convenient. We are called to love unconditionally and if we make a conscious effort, He will provide the grace and strength to do so.

Samantha Herbst is a 1st year LV serving at De La Salle Blessed Sacrament in Memphis, Tennessee and is a 2013 graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

By |February 18th, 2014|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Samantha Herbst: Loving Unconditionally

Clare O’Connell: Rookie of the Year

Clare O'Connell, 13-14, DeLaSalle High School, Minneapolis, MN

Clare O’Connell, 13-14, DeLaSalle High School, Minneapolis, MN

The only student on the boy’s basketball team that I really know is a freshman that I work with almost every day. He is 6 feet 5 inches tall and is probably the most promising athlete in the freshman class. In September, I heard much buzz about what an incredible athlete this boy was and how he excelled at basketball. Months later, as I stood at his game, and had gotten to know him quite well, I was excited to see what the buzz was all about.

I was sitting court-side and was watching how our team cut down the other team. Only the upperclassmen were in the game at this time; it fascinated me how perfectly they worked together.  They each knew all of their teammates’ strategies and idiosyncrasies and could easily predict each other’s next movements. Perhaps it shouldn’t have amazed me, because after all, they were the older kids who had been playing together for the past four years.

When my student finally got a chance on the court, my expectations did not match reality.  While I was expecting my mind to be blown away, as it had been with the upperclassmen previously on the court, I was instead disillusioned. It was evident that he had the gifts and the talents of an incredible athlete, yet at the same time, it was clear that he was not yet used to playing with this team. He passed the ball when he thought he should pass, was open when he thought necessary, but his movements were uncertain and hasty.

I couldn’t help but relate what I was seeing to my experience as a first year Lasallian Volunteer.

I came into an environment that adores Lasallian Volunteers. The faculty and staff at DeLaSalle High School could not make me feel any more welcome and capable of making a difference.  It is such a gift to have this kind of support and affirmation on a daily basis, yet sometimes I can’t quite believe it all myself.

Despite having been told that I’m making some sort of difference, the results of my work are not always apparent right away. Sometimes I find myself questioning whether what I am doing will actually change anything, or whether should have been called to a given task. I occasionally will find myself silently admitting, “I have no idea what I am doing right now.” I sometimes look around at people who have been working at the school for years—they just look like they know they’re great at what they do—and I feel less competent, and frankly, very much out of place.

What I have to remind myself is that I am young and a new addition to this “team.” I haven’t been here for long, and I don’t have the experience to fit in as well as I would like to right now. I remind myself to keep faith in the fact that one day, I might look like these older “teammates.” I just need to have patience. I have to remind myself that like my student who isn’t quite in sync with the rest of his team, I do have the gifts and talents to make a difference. It will just take some time before we’re both naturals.

Clare O’Connell is a 1st year LV serving at DeLaSalle in Minneapolis, Minnesota and a 2013 graduate of Manhattan College.

By |February 11th, 2014|Categories: blog, news + events|Comments Off on Clare O’Connell: Rookie of the Year

Emma Flowers: Ms. Roboto

Emma Flowers, 13-14, Operation Breakthrough, Kansas City, MO

Emma Flowers, 13-14, Operation Breakthrough, Kansas City, MO

On January 4, 2014, I attended my first Robotics meeting with Archbishop O’Hara High School’s Cel-Techs.

What? How? Why? I know nothing about robotics. I vaguely remember a show called Battlebots and playing with my brothers Rumble Robot back in the day, but helping with a robotics team would be like helping a doctor in surgery when my only experience was with playing Operation. I got up early to meet the group of students, a few teachers, and parent mentors.  Mr. McGory is a teacher at O’Hara who asked me to help with the team right when I moved to Kansas City. I do not serve at the high school, so I looked forward to the opportunity to get more involved and get to know a few of the students. We traveled to another high school to join other teams from the area for the official FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Kickoff. It was here that the high school teams learned what their challenge was for the year.

The 2014 game is Aerial Assist, which is similar to basketball. There will be three teams on an “Alliance” and two alliances will play against each other. Teams can score points by getting their ball into the designated goals and by getting assists. The Cel-Tech’s will be one of three teams on the Alliance and will work with their robot to throw, catch, kick, and pass the ball into the other Alliance’s goal. The teams will compete at regionals with the hope of winning and moving on to the championship.

Right away, you could hear all of the students getting excited about the challenge. Then they started brainstorming how to construct this robot. I was amazed.  I would not even know where to begin if I was going to build a robot. I was excited, getting to watch these students, freshmen to seniors, design and put together a functioning robot! With about six weeks until the competition, these students will work every day after school to build. I may not have any experience with robotics, but being at the kickoff I realized it is so much more than just building a robot. Like any other extracurricular activity, it builds character, leadership, and essential teamwork skills. There are scholarship opportunities as well as wonderful connections to colleges and other programs after high school. One important lesson of FRC is “gracious professionalism.” A quote in the FRC manual that was from one of the co-founders describes robotics as “a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.” I felt like this is something that can be applied to everyone’s daily life; a valuable lesson for anyone to learn. I am happy to be a part of the robotics team, and I am looking forward to all of the things I will learn while helping during the build season.

Being a part of the Lasallian Volunteers program is so much more than the job you do every day. The people you meet and the opportunities you take can really make the year great. When I started, one of my goals was to give everything a chance and take whatever opportunities came my way; so far, I can confidently say I have done just that. This year has gone beyond what I could have imagined and for that, I am so grateful.

Emma Flowers is a current 1st year LV serving at Operation Breakthrough in Kansas City, Missouri. Emma is a 2013 graduate of Truman State and Helias High School in Jefferson City, Missouri.

By |February 4th, 2014|Categories: blog, news + events|1 Comment

Lasallian Volunteers Highlighted by FAITH3 as a Service Program that Changes the World

Faith3

Lasallian Volunteers has been highlighted as a Service Program from FAITH3 that Changes the World. 

Princeton, NJ – The Center for Faith and Service and Faith3 have launched Service Programs that Change the World, a new initiative that recognizes exemplary faith-based service organizations that offer year-long service opportunities for young adults. As part of this effort, a website (service.faith3.org) has been launched to help interested individuals discover these organizations, learn about their service opportunities and navigate the application process.

Twenty faith-based service programs (listed below) have been selected for this honor. They include programs that are varied in their program design and affiliations. They share a common commitment to change the world by integrating faith with service. Some are run out of the national offices of denominations, while others are standalone non-profits that have affiliations. Some of these programs are connected to Catholic orders like the Lasallians and the Jesuits, while others are linked to historic peace churches like the Quakers, Brethren and the Mennonites. Each program has its own unique way of operating and distinct ways of connecting faith and service.

Service Programs that Change the World is part of a movement to reclaim the important historic role that faith communities have played in promoting community and justice while offering meaningful opportunities to engage in the world. Each program offers participants the opportunity to work with agencies and organizations on the front line of building community and fighting poverty.

Rev. Wayne Meisel selected the programs based on a decade of work with these kinds of organizations.  In his view, organizations on the 2014 list of Service Programs that Change the World have demonstrated a common commitment to invite, welcome, support, train and launch individuals into the world as community leaders. The organizations were selected in large part because of:

  • A connection to a denomination, order or religious expression with a mission and vision to prophetically and lovingly engage in the world
  • The quality of the local community partners where members are placed and where they are supported to both contribute and grow
  • The depth of programming provided for members for spiritual exploration, faith formation and vocational discernment

Meisel, an ordained Presbyterian Minister, has a long and distinguished career in the world of community service, service learning and civic engagement.  He was appointed to serve on the President’s Commission on National and Community Service, where he is credited for being one of the architects of the AmeriCorps Program.  He also served as a founding board member for Teach for America and is the Founding President of the Bonner Foundation.  Currently, he directs the Center for Faith and Service, which develops innovative programming for churches and denominations and seeks renewal of theological education through the reintegration of faith and service.

Service Programs that Change the World is by no means an exhaustive or exclusive list. It represents a collection of institutions that Meisel and his team believe are prepared to welcome idealistic and committed individuals who have demonstrated their engagement in the world or who seek to gain experience in justice work. As readers encounter the website, they are encouraged to identify other faith-based programs that provide opportunities for a year of service and to nominate those groups to be added to the list.

Besides honoring these organizations with well-deserved accolades, the website offers easy access to comprehensive information that includes specific details to broad vision statements. In fact, we’ve provided a link to the application for the programs.  In addition to the programs explored, current seminarians who are deeply committed and involved in their communities are profiled on the website, and common myths about theological education are addressed. The website also offers other information and logistical details like requirements, deadlines and costs. It also provides a chance to learn more about the mission and vision of each program.

The 2014 list of Service Programs that Change the World includes:

Appalachia Service Project

Brethren Volunteer Service

Christian Appalachian Project

DOOR – Discovering Opportunities for Outreach & Reflection

Episcopal Service Corps

Generation Transformation

Good Shepherd Volunteers

Jesuit Volunteer Corps

Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest

L’Arche USA

Lasallian Volunteers

Lutheran Volunteer Corps

Mennonite Mission Network

Mission Year

Notre Dame Mission Volunteers

Quaker Voluntary Service

Sojourners

Urban Promise

Young Adult Service Communities

Young Adult Volunteers

Wayne Meisel

By |February 4th, 2014|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Lasallian Volunteers Highlighted by FAITH3 as a Service Program that Changes the World