Monthly Archives: May 2014

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Director of LVs to be Honored for Service

Jolleen-webJolleen Wagner, director of Lasallian Volunteers, will be honored on June 7, 2014, by Siena College in Loudonville, NY, for her dedication to service. Wagner, a 2004 graduate of Siena and LV alum, will receive the Franciscan Spirit Award during the President’s Brunch and Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony as part of the college’s Reunion Weekend. The Franciscan Spirit Award is given to a man and a woman who have graduated within 10 years and have demonstrated commitment to service to both Siena and their community while excelling in their careers.

“My immediate reaction to learning I was one of the Franciscan Spirit Award recipients was to sit down. That might sound funny, but I believe it highlights my surprise,” Wagner said. “The spiritualities of both St. Francis of Assisi and St. John Baptist de La Salle have had irrevocable impact on the person I am…for anyone to recognize that I am pursuing my life in a way that reflects either is a great affirmation.”

Since graduating from Siena, Wagner has continued on a path of service, including serving for three years as an LV and educator. She became associate director of the LVs in 2007 and director in 2011. In addition to her work for LVs, Wagner has been called upon to evaluate existing and develop new formation programs, lead and design immersion trips, and present and facilitate at various events focused on faith, service, and community. Also a member of the International Council of Young Lasallians and the chair of the Regional Young Lasallians Committee, Wagner leads at the International and Regional levels to illuminate and invigorate the Young Lasallian voice for the future of the mission.

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By |May 30th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|1 Comment

Debriefing Retreat Celebrates Service of Lasallian Volunteers

LV-Debriefing-Retreat-2014-group[2]The 2013 – 2014 cohort of Lasallian Volunteers (LVs) met May 22 – 25, 2014, to celebrate and reflect on their year of service. This year, the annual Debriefing Retreat had the theme: Your LV Biblical Experience. Fifty-one LVs gathered at La Salle Manor in Plano, IL, drawing parallels between their journeys and the journeys of a number of biblical characters.

First-year LV Ronald Pollak, who served at Cathedral High School in El Paso, TX, described the retreat as, “a chance to reflect on my entire experience as a Lasallian Volunteer, discern my next steps as a Young Lasallian, and say goodbye to all the wonderful people I shared this vocation with.”

Facilitated by Brother Brian Henderson, FSC, former head of St. Gabriel’s Hall in Philadelphia, PA, who is on sabbatical this year, the retreat consisted of small group breakout sessions, large group activities, segmented sessions based on transitions for exiting LVs and those continuing into a second year, as well as a commissioning ceremony honoring those who have served in the 2013 – 2014 cohort. On Saturday night, retreat participants, families, friends, Brothers, and alums of the program were invited to a social, dinner, and mass to celebrate the end of the year.

Small Group Reflection

Small Group Reflection

“I am honored and blessed to be a part of this Lasallian family,” said first-year LV Molly Allen, who served at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, MN, and will serve a second year. “This weekend was an incredible and memorable time with all of my fellow Lasallian Volunteers.”

By Megan Davison, Lasallian Volunteer/Development Assistant, Midwest District

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By |May 29th, 2014|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Debriefing Retreat Celebrates Service of Lasallian Volunteers

Former LV to Lead Vocations Promotion at Christian Brothers Conference

Chris-Swain-2014-web

Christian Brothers Conference announces Chris Swain, former Lasallian Volunteer, as the new Regional Coordinator for Lasallian Vocation Ministry. He will work closely with Christian Brothers Conference and the Regional Vocation Formation Committee (RVFC) to lead an enhanced approach to vocations promotion, including that of the LVs. Through this collaboration, they will promote and recruit vocations related to the Lasallian charism, including educators and LVs, as well as the Brothers and other vocations to the church. Swain, who currently serves at Justin-Siena High School in Napa, CA, will be the first lay person to lead Lasallian vocation efforts full time for the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN).

With nearly 15 years of involvement with the Lasallian mission, Swain brings a strong Lasallian background and commitment to vocation. A graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga, Swain served as an LV for two years at the former San Miguel School in Camden, NJ, and was a student teacher at De La Salle High School in Concord, CA. He currently serves as the Director of Community/Student Activities at Justin-Siena High School, where he has also taught religion and coached tennis. Swain is a member of the Regional Young Lasallians Committee and was a delegate to the 2014 International Symposium of Young Lasallians.

“I am delighted in the choice of Chris for this new full-time position to support the RVFC in its work of vocation promotion, to collaborate with the LVs staff in attracting young men and women to serve as volunteers, and with Christian Brothers Conference in promoting the vocation of teaching to women and men aspiring to serve in Lasallian ministries,” said Brother Robert Schieler, FSC, former RELAN General Councilor, who was elected Superior General of the Institute on May 20, 2014. “Chris’ lived experience as an LV and young Lasallian will stand him in good stead for this ministry.”

Swain will begin his role on July 1, 2014.

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By |May 27th, 2014|Categories: news + events|Comments Off on Former LV to Lead Vocations Promotion at Christian Brothers Conference

Zach Farley: Breaking the Golden State of Being

Two years ago if someone would have told me I would be helping teach at a small Catholic school in Saint Louis right now, I would have laughed in their face—I could not even have told you what state Saint Louis is in. I was a California Boy at heart, and as Katy Perry once eloquently sang, “Fine, fresh fierce, we’ve got it on lock”, and I was locked in my California State of Mind. I loved the beach, In-N-Out burger, and snow as a concept was terrifying; however, I knew that in signing up to be a Lasallian Volunteer, I would be leaving the safety bubble of my home state of California.

Zach Farley (left) with 2013-2014 Community Members & LVs, Megan McShane and Tom Iven

Zach Farley (left) with 2013-2014 Community Members & LVs, Megan McShane and Tom Iven

When told my site location was Saint Cecilia’s School and Academy in Saint Louis, I was caught off guard. Saint Louis was not even on my radar of locations; I was supposed to be in Chicago or New York living the fast paced city life I thought I wanted. However, in the truest sense of the phrase “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”, and God LAUGHED at me. And I am glad He did. This past year has been one of the most transformative of my life so far.

Besides the initial culture shock of moving from the Bay Area to Saint Louis, there was the culture shock of shifting from the college atmosphere to the education world. The staff of my school has been incredibly supportive of my transition, but there were still growing pains.

I did not have an education background; so, I had to learn through trial and error. Disciplining kindergarteners and disciplining seventh graders was not the same thing; raising your voice at a five year old will make them listen to you, and raising your voice at a thirteen year old will make them laugh at you. Asking a junior high school student to meditate in order to calm down is ineffective. Not every student who asks to use the restroom actually needs to use it, and no matter how many times you tell a kindergartener about “side hugs”, cluster hugs are common. Cluster hugs being when every student in the class hugs you at once without warning. I was, in every way, thoroughly unprepared for Saint Cecilia’s, and I LOVED it.

Zach with his students

Dress-Up as your Favorite Teacher Day

Every day has been a learning adventure—trial and error at its finest. If one sight word exercise fizzled out, reevaluate and try it a different way tomorrow. I struggled with the Junior High level Academy students with dividing fractions and helping them find books that inspire them to read. Seven months into my volunteer year, I am proud to say that I have seen academic growth in every student I have worked with, and I would like to think I played a part in that growth.

While educating students has been challenging, the most profoundly difficult and rewarding experience I have had as a volunteer, is in connecting and learning about my student’s lives. A community member once said about students, “You can never un-know something about a student”. How can one prepare for a five year old saying “I like being in your group Mr. Zach, you’re the only person who loves me”, or finding out that the reason your student is yelling and acting out, is not because he’s a hormonal teenager, but that his father has been deported. How can one prepare for learning that a student has not doing his homework because he spent the previous nights taking care of his younger siblings, while his parents were unable to do so? I was not prepared that’s for sure, but I had to be there for my students. Many students have told me they feel safe around me, and I take that responsibility very seriously. Even if I wanted to give up on my students, I couldn’t—not even when winter hit Saint Louis and my California self was the least prepared person in the city.

I’m now here in Saint Louis proudly serving my students, because they weaseled their way into my heart. I show up everyday because I am Mr. Farley, and I promised myself that if nothing else, I would be there for them everyday. Will I be prepared for their curveballs? Hopefully I will be more prepared as time goes by, but I will be no less present for them. And by the way Saint Louis is in Missouri: I had to look it up, but now I know.

Zach Farley is a 1st year LV serving at Saint Cecilia’s School and Academy in Saint Louis, Missouri. Zach is a 2013 graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California.

By |May 5th, 2014|Categories: blog, news + events|4 Comments

May 2014: Chelsea Stevenson

Chelsea Stevenson

Chelsea at LV Midyear Retreat

Service Site: John Paul II Academy in Racine, Wisconsin

College: St. Mary’s College of California.

What do you do?

Every day I  help to bring new technology into the classrooms of my school. I cart around Ipads and Chrome Books into the different grades and offer support to the teachers. When I’m not in a class I’m researching new apps, creating and editing school videos, maintaining our blog, or helping around the office. I monitor the lunch hour as well, which means opening a lot of milk cartons or Gogurts. After lunch I watch the kids on the playground, it’s my favorite part of the day when I’m not being mobbed by six kindergartners fighting over soccer balls or jump rope etiquette.

What has been your biggest disappointment in your volunteer service?  

I am extremely frustrated by my lack of experience in education. While I am not actually teaching a class myself, I am often put in an educator role explaining different concepts or proper handling of our technology at school. I am constantly mediating arguments or trying to navigate playground accidents. I think I’ve improved over time but often I feel as if I have no idea what the right, or wrong, way to approach a student is. I worry that I’m affecting my kids negatively or unconsciously encouraging the wrong kind of behavior.I know I can’t berate myself for not having the training–I didn’t exactly know what I planned to do after I graduated–but I still wish I had more experience with it all. I’m fortunate to have an entire staff to take notes from, and in the meantime I’m doing my best to serve these kids.

Chelsea helping a preschooler with her headphones

Chelsea helping a preschooler with her headphones

Give an example of a time when you knew you were making a difference.

So there are three Isabella’s in the first grade class at my school (I blame Twilight), and it took me a month or two to sort them all out. One day while I was doing playground duty one of the Isabella’s came up to me; she was upset, I could see her moping around the blacktop not playing with the other students and hanging her head. She started to cling and I asked her what was the matter. Apparently she’d tried to give a handmade card to another Isabella but this other Isabella rejected it: she walked right over to a trash can and threw it in. The current Isabella was distraught, what had she done wrong? How had Isabella offended Isabella?

The relationships of young children are the most baffling things I have encountered during my service. I used to think they were simple, but of course they’re as tangled and complicated as a telenovela. I didn’t want to upset her more, so I explained to Isabella that she needed to voice these feelings in a civil way to the other Isabella and let her know how much throwing that card away hurt her. She was very reluctant, but I told her it was the only way she’d get any answers. I cut her loose afterwards to run off and deal with a scraped knee.

The next day in the lunchroom, while I was prowling the tables, cajoling students into eating their food, and opening milks,  I came across the two Isabella’s sitting next to each other. The first Isabella jumped out of her seat and grabbed me, “You changed my life! You changed my life!” she kept saying. I had no idea what she was talking about.

“I did what you said and now we’re friends,” Isabella explained while the other Isabella giggled over her broccoli. I laughed and told her I was happy to hear it but she had to sit back down and finish lunch. “Okay,” she nodded solemnly, then she stuck her finger at me, “but never forget you changed my life.”

What would you say to a friend from home who questioned why you chose to live with the Brothers?

I’m used to living in a community, especially one that’s faith-based, and I was really eager to work at a school. I’ve never lived in a home like Casa Benedicta before, but I wasn’t going to reject it before I had enough time to judge for myself what it was like.

3Stevenson-JP2

There are the obvious benefits: paid housing and amenities, the chance to build a community in your new house and state, a possible scholarship, or the opportunity to serve others. The less obvious benefits come from the personal experience, however. The people you meet, the families you become a part of, the new culture you can immerse yourself in. I can’t say with certainty what exactly this program can bring to future volunteers, but I can say that the way it changes you is in the people you serve and the friends you make.

Why would you recommend a contribution to the LV Program from a prospective donor?

Because I can honestly say that any money we receive will be going towards making our program better. I know I can only express how much of a difference a volunteer can be, but if you could talk to the people we work with and the communities we live in, it’s obvious how much can be done and how much more we still need to do. A contribution to the LV’s is not a gift or payoff for us as much as it is an investment for our service.

How would you like to continue your involvement with the Lasallian family after your time with the Lasallian Volunteers?

I’d be happy to recruit for the LV’s, and of course I want to keep in contact with the friends I’ve made here. I really hope I can be a resource after my time here, even if I’m no longer directly involved in the program.

By |May 1st, 2014|Categories: lv of the month, news + events|Comments Off on May 2014: Chelsea Stevenson