Monthly Archives: April 2019


Focus on Trust

At a staff retreat for The San Miguel of Providence, we were each given a quahog shell (which is truly the most Rhode Island thing ever). We were told that in this shell would be a rock that had a word on it and that we were to reflect on that word and maybe bring it into the 2018-2019 school year with us. I grabbed my shell and untied the twine around it. The shell was about the size of my palm and I held it in my hands for a moment before I was ready to open it. Inside this shell was a small white rock, much like a large pearl, and on that rock was a simple word: “Trust.”

Ever since I started my Lasallian Volunteer journey I have been trying to focus in on trust. Trusting that the program will place me at a site where I really fit in, trusting in myself that I really am making a difference, trusting in God that I am on the right path, trusting my community members to be there for me, you get the point. There’s a whole lot of trust that goes into being a volunteer, or really a person for that matter, and that can be really scary.

As a result, since I made the move to Providence, Rhode Island, back in the summer of 2017 I have been trying to be mindful of providence (as in God’s guidance). The starting half of my first service year was really rocky with adjustment and I questioned almost everything. My site director had chosen to not continue at San Miguel and so I felt like I was forced to immediately trust my instincts to try stay afloat alone in the office. During Midyear, I wrote in my journal, “God may be with me, but I do not recognize him. I may have accepted what he has given me, or I might not have. This is solely because I have been afraid to place trust in anything other than myself.” I felt in my gut, however, that I was meant to stay at San Miguel for another year and so I took that trust in myself and put that into God.

For the second half of my first year I began to place trust in my new site director, in my community, and in my students, and as a result things have come out all the better. So you can imagine how I felt at the beginning of my second year when I opened up that shell and saw “Trust.” In that moment I knew that God had a little chuckle. Through my volunteer journey, I have found one of my favorite quotes from De La Salle, which is: “Do not have anxiety about the future. Leave everything in God’s hands for he will take care of you.” While I wish I could easily turn my anxiety off, I found that by putting more of myself in the idea of providence, I felt more at peace.

Through my work at San Miguel, my heart has truly grown three sizes. Both my middle school boys and my graduates have taught me patience, compassion and of course, trust. I find myself easily getting into deep conversations with my boys and honestly there is no better feeling than knowing that they trust me. For those of you who are discerning whether or not to do a volunteer year or continue to be in the Lasallian Volunteers, my advice to you is to trust in the process. That means trusting your gut just as much as you may trust the staff. Trust that God has got your back and whatever you are doing, wherever you are, is where you are meant to be. Through my time as a Lasallian Volunteer, I have learned so much about trust and what it really means and I have grown to trust those around me, even in God’s plan (cue the song).

Maddi Larsen is a second-year volunteer serving at The San Miguel School of Providence in Rhode Island. She is a 2017 graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga.  

By |April 17th, 2019|Categories: blog, news + events|0 Comments

Building a Relationship Beyond the Classroom

How to Make a Bulletin Board (Step-by-Step)

  1. Go on Google, search keywords like “school bulletin boards” or “inspirational boards”
  2. Find an idea you like and that you can actually do <insert realistic goals here>
  3. Look at multiple sources of the same idea, make it your own (your board needs to be the OG)
  4. Gather materials needed for the board (scissors, Sharpies, hot glue gun, stapler, laptop, etc.)
  5. Begin by doing the “simple” stuff first
  6. Realize the “simple” stuff is not that simple
  7. Take a deep breathin and out of frustration
  8. Look at Pinterest again for simpler ideasRemember who you are doing this for and why
  9. Stick to your original idea and keep on going!
  10. Get students and other teachers to help
  11. Watch as slowly and painstakingly over time you get closer to being done
  12. Gather all the small pieces together and go to your board
  13. Lay down the background and border with the help of your trusty box cutter (be careful!)
    *Make sure your background is something that can be reused for the next bulletin board*
  14. Reinforce all pieces of your board with a stapler
  15. Refill stapler with more staples
  16. Put finishing touches (moving things around, make sure things are straight, etc.)
  17. Be amazed at what you can do with an imagination and lots of paper
  18. Watch as student interact with the new board
  19. Make repairs as needed because “gentle” is not always in every student’s vocabulary

*Repeat process as many times as needed throughout the course of the school year*


While bulletin board making is not rocket science, it is a task that I was commissioned to do at the beginning of my service year at De La Salle Academy in Concord, California. When given the task, I was anything but overjoyed since it would require me to be creative and handy. I kept asking myself, “Is this what I got my two college degrees for? And no one said anything about making bulletin boards in the application.” However, I agreed to take it on due to not wanting to take on the role of being the birthday fairy. I figured it would be a task that I would have to do every month and that would be the extent of it. For the first couple of boards that is the attitude I went with, making a bulletin board is boring and nothing special. However, my attitude began to change when the month of Halloween came around. I have always enjoyed Halloween for the movies, the scare, the costumes and, of course, THE CANDY! I was looking for ideas online when I came across a board someone had done where they had people guessing the shadows of familiar Halloween characters. I figured it was simple enough and began my task of creating the board. When it was done, I patted myself on the back and went on my merry way. However, I did not expect the reactions that where given by the 62 boys at De La Salle Academy the following day. Students gave comments such as “Wow! That is cool!” “Who do you think that is (pointing at a particular shadow)?” and “Why is Ms. Mach trying to scare us? I thought this was a Catholic school?” The bulletin board became a hot topic amongst the boys and led to me being asked to sit with certain groups at lunch where I was grilled about favorite horror movies, tv shows, candy, etc. Without intentionally doing it, I found a way to connect with the students at my school. From the Halloween board, I kept my enthusiasm going and tried to always come up with an interesting board that would pique the interest of the students. While it is not the most important job at the school, it allows for me to connect with students and build a relationship with them beyond the classroom.

Over the course of the year, I have learned that creating a bulletin board is much like building up a student. There are various steps a teacher needs to take to be able to help a student grow as an individual. During my service year, I have worked one-on-one with a fifth-grade student who struggles in reading comprehension and literacy causing him to fall behind greatly compared to his fellow classmates. Throughout the course of the year, I have watched him grow as he has become more confident in himself and his ability to understand those around him. Much like a bulletin board, research needed to be done first about how to best help him. Then, he and I began the task of doing the “simple” stuff. He learned sight words, phonics, word parts, etc. There were times where he would be frustrated or bored, but after some words of encouragement he would keep going with what needed to be done. Other teachers began accommodating to his needs so that he could succeed in their classroom as well. Slowly, things started coming together. He got nominated for awards like Young Spartan of the Week and Young Sportsman of the Week. While he continues to struggle and constantly needs to be refilled with enthusiasm, I can begin to see the type of young man he will become. Sometimes as teachers, we have to be able to see into the future so we can envision how our students are going to grow, how our small piece will fit into the whole image, and how we can do our best to make sure that image becomes whole much like a bulletin board.

Julia Mach is a first-year volunteer at De La Salle Academy in Concord, California. She is a 2018 graduate of Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois.



By |April 4th, 2019|Categories: blog, news + events|0 Comments

April Ministry of the Month: De Marillac Academy

In this month’s “Ministry of the Month,” the District of San Francisco New Orleans is featured. The ministry is De Marillac Academy (DMA) in San Francisco, California. The Lasallian Volunteers are first-year LVs Zach Javorsky and Rachel Aubart. Zach is a graduate of Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Allegheny College, Pennsylvania and Rachel is a graduate of DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois.


Established in 2001, De Marillac Academy provides a tuition-free education that focuses on academic excellence in a values-based environment. Co-sponsored by the Daughters of Charity and De La Salle Christian Brothers, De Marillac offers a Catholic, private school education to low-income students from all faith and cultural backgrounds in the Tenderloin and other similar neighborhoods. De Marillac’s educational model is rooted in the NativityMiguel school movement, which began in New York City over 40 years ago in response to the poor state of urban public schools, the high cost of private education, and the lack of local schools in many inner-city neighborhoods. In 2001, De Marillac opened with a class of 19 sixth graders. Today, De Marillac Academy serves 119 fourth through eighth grade students, 231 alumni, and over 230 families in the school and its unique wrap around clinical and family support program.


Both of our volunteers went to Lasallian high schools, so they were familiar with the mission prior to entering college. Zach says, “I decided to become a Lasallian Volunteer because I was looking for something that would allow me to give back while also gaining perspective and understanding of a different socioeconomic/cultural background than the one I was used to. I also liked the idea of giving back to the Lasallian network that had given me so much.” Rachel says, “I ultimately decided on Lasallian Volunteers because I love the mission of bringing education to the poor. I believe that if there is any way for people to get out of the cycle of poverty, it is through education. Students need strong supportive settings that can push them academically and allow them room to grow and figure themselves out. I also grew up around the Lasallian tradition; my whole family went to DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, and then I went to Lewis University in Illinois. I have grown a lot in these settings, and I wanted to continue being around and living out the Lasallian mission. I strongly believe that Lasallians care about the entire well-being of their students, and I am proud that I am a part of that.”


Both volunteers serve in the Academic Resource Program, which means that they are responsible for giving extra help in reading and math to students who need them throughout the school day. They “push in” or “pull out” students for this extra help depending on the needs of the teacher, as well as working with students who need additional testing accommodations. Rachel teaches sixth, seventh, and eighth grade digital literacy, sixth and seventh grade PE, moderates lunch and recess, and coaches fifth and sixth grade basketball. Zach serves in the graduate support office, helping eighth graders with their essays for their high school applications, compiling information on scholarships  and financial aid applications and assisting in making sure the alumni database has the correct information.


Both volunteers emphasize the power of creating relationships with their students and families. Zach says, “For me, touching the hearts and teaching the minds of my students means forming personal relationships so our students know they can trust us and be comfortable sharing their thought bubbles with us. It means knowing our families and doing home visits to understand each individual student’s circumstances. These steps allow DMA to create a personalized education that will allow education to become a tool to breakdown the systematic poverty in the Tenderloin District.” Rachel adds, “My coworkers and I believe that mentorship and quality time with adults is so important for development, and because they spend most of their day at school, the staff and faculty are the ones who can give them this time and attention. They also need to feel safe.”


Zach and Rachel both experienced the Brothers during their high school or university years. They have grown closer to the men in their communities through shared prayer, meals and outings. Rachel shares about her time in community, “I have loved my time with the Brothers. I have always considered myself a helpful person, but watching the Brothers do even the tiniest things without a second thought has really humbled me. I used to always want acknowledgment and to feel appreciated when I would help out or do nice things. But after seeing how selfless they are, my heart has changed and I’m slowly realizing I don’t need that. I have gotten much better at seeing what needs to be done and jumping in to do so. I may not want to all the time, but I am getting better at doing it anyway and trying to have a cheerful heart. Another way living with the Brothers has changed me is just by how accepting they are. Every year the Brothers allow random 20-year-olds into their house and accept us as we are—female, male, our traditions, race, loud, obnoxious, shy, introvert, extrovert, super religious or super not, and everything in between.” Zach says, “I think my involvement with the Brothers has taught me to be more empathetic. I have gained experiences that allow me to relate to a very different demographic than where I grew up. I also have learned to anticipate the needs of those in my community while simultaneously being able to express my needs. Overall, being more empathetic has enhanced many of the relationships I have already formed and I am certain it will positively impact me moving forward.”


Zach expresses his passion for his year at De Marillac when he says, “I would say do it! We are told there is a certain path that we should follow. I was constantly told that you go to college and then you get a job that is relevant to your major. While this is certainly the path for some, it’s not the path for everyone. My major has nothing to do with teaching or even working in a school. My future career plans have nothing to do with education but I still feel I have gotten a great benefit out of my year of service. The lessons I have learned while being an LV will help me in my future endeavors, and if I had listened to all of those who said to stay on that clear-cut path, I don’t think I would have ever learned them. I would also like to add that if you are discerning between moving straight to grad school, like I was, or doing the LV program, do the LV program. Grad school will be there in one or two years but the perspective the LV program provides cannot be replicated in a classroom. Taking a mental break is also important because being in school for six, seven, even eight straight years can be draining. I took a break, and I know it’s exactly what I needed. When I start law school in the fall, I know I will be better off because I decided to do something different between undergraduate and the start of school.” Rachel says, “A volunteer year gives you experiences in a professional setting, but also in a different part of the country. If you’re unsure of your next steps, it gives you time and space that can help you. The LV staff and communities you live in and work with offer you support and give you opportunities to grow more so than you might get during your first year in a work setting. You make a lot of connections with others that will help you network in your future as well.”









By |April 1st, 2019|Categories: blog, lv of the month, news + events, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Lasallian Volunteers Seeks Nominations for 2019 FSC Awards

We are accepting nominations for the 2019 FSC Awards for Lasallians in the District of San Francisco New Orleans who have given of their time, talent and treasure to the LV program over the years. The FSC Awards will be held at Mont La Salle in Napa, California, on Sunday, October 6, 2019. Nominations are due by May 1, 2019.

Nominate a Lasallian >


By |April 1st, 2019|Categories: news + events|0 Comments