BrentM

May 052019
 

Back in March, I challenged myself, and others to be a better neighbor. After Movement Day in March, I was inspired to practice what I preach and literally love on the neighbors on my street and in my neighborhood. I undertook to share my experiences here after these first 30 days. In addition, we at LHCC challenged our volunteers, and the parents and children we serve to do the same. Love their neighbor. Yes, literally.

What I put into practice was to be more intentional than I had been before. I made excuses to be in the front of our home, not hidden away in the back yard. I was intentional to slow down and catch up with my immediate neighbors and the people in my sub-division. My “hi’s” were extended to “how are you” and “it’s good to see you” kind of sentiment. What happened was amazing. I actually felt good about not been so hurried and I took the time to show kindness and caring. I shared this with various members of my church group and they too were encouraged to persevere with strangers and acquaintances and convert them to friends.

In the past 30 days, LHCC has hosted three community events. We saw families inviting their friends. Even an opportunity presented itself for those served to serve two of our volunteers. What I believe I have seen is that it feels good to slow down and engage people in our midst or sphere of influence. For the next 30 days, I will continue to encourage others to love their neighbors and be a blessing to their communities.

Until the next time, I am Brent Morris, Executive Director of Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, proudly serving alongside our staff and volunteers on the mission field that God has called me to.

 Posted by at 10:38 pm
Apr 072019
 

I have been tutoring at LHCC for 3 school years.  I find it to be a very worthwhile and encouraging ministry.  It is a real high to see the light go on in a child’s mind and their faces beam as they begin to grasp a concept that has been befuddling them.  It is also very gratifying to build relationships with the children as well as the parents.

This school year brought me a new challenge I was unprepared to handle.  In August, I started working with Jane (not her real name) a 5th grader.  At first, I was surprised to see how weak her reading skills were.  The following weeks I realized that even though she could barely read she had somehow been passed on year after year by the school system.  Not only could she not read, her math skills were barely at a second-grade level.  I spoke with her mother on several occasions but due to the language barrier and cultural differences, I was unable to properly communicate my concern.  Each week I became more and more desperate and frustrated in how to help Jane.  She was bringing in 5th grade homework but had no comprehension as to what to do.  Honestly, I cried in the car after each session the first couple of months.  I wanted to help Jane but felt so inadequate.

Through an interpreter I asked her mother over and over if she would arrange a meeting for me with Jane’s teachers.  The mom listened politely but made no effort to arrange such a meeting.  Thankfully the school reached out to Jane’s mom via a letter that arrived the day before our tutoring session.   Mom invited me to attend and I jumped at the chance.  Sadly, the night before the meeting I came down with the flu and was quite ill.  I prayed feverently that the Lord would allow me to be well enough the next morning to attend that meeting because unless I was on my death bed I planned to be there.  I awoke the next day and was able to get dressed and get to the meeting which lasted almost 2 hours!  I was fine during the meeting but then went home and back to bed for two more days while my flu continued after that precious 2 hour break!

During the meeting it was discussed that Jane was becoming frustrated with school and made excuses every day as to why she didn’t need to go. It also became apparent that on the present course Jane would probably become totally lost in the system and eventually drop out. Her IQ is very low and her mother is ill-equipped to help her. As a result of the meeting, it was decided that Jane was not able to continue on a mainstream 5th grade level and would be moved into an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) but still remain with her classmates.  I was able to connect with her teachers and got help in how I could best help Jane.  This was such a blessing because now Jane is working at a level that she can handle.  She is happy to do her homework and her confidence level has soared as has our relationship.  This is especially important as next year Jane will go to middle school and if not for this change and new IEP probably would have drowned in the CMS system.

Thank-you for reading my volunteer story …

D.O. ~ third-year volunteer with LHCC

April 2019

I was moved at Movement Day Charlotte

 Attitude, Education, Family, Immigrants  Comments Off on I was moved at Movement Day Charlotte
Mar 192019
 

I went to Movement Day Charlotte this past weekend. The day when local church pastors, non-profit and marketplace leaders come together to get their marching orders, to quite literally keep moving. Six years ago, at the inaugural predecessor conference called The Justice Conference, I was profoundly moved to consider my movement into ministry. If you are wondering whether I got the big white phone call from God, I did… A month later, I went on my first mission trip to Haiti with my church, Forest Hill. A month later, I handed in my resignation. If you want to walk on water, you got to get out of the boat.

Joined by 1,000 pastors and ministry leaders yesterday, I was again reminded of why I quit my job to take a small role in the local mission field. It is an honor to serve our neighbors. We are a deeply divided city and the needs are ever present. The only key metric of progress since the prior Movement Day is literacy rates have improved by 1%. To 40%. That’s 4 out of 10 grade 3 students reading at grade level. The rate for our target audience is even lower, at just 24%.

Last week’s blog was about the value of persisting with reading over the long summer months. I am more convinced than ever that the benefits are more than just school reading grades. What I heard yesterday is that we have to put our words into action. Go do something…We are going to spend 30 days focusing on our literal and physical neighbors. Ask yourself the question “Do you know the names of the ten or so families occupying the households where you live?” Can we convince the families we work with to do the same? I’ll report back in 30 days. How can we fulfill the great commission to love our neighbors if we don’t even know their names?

Until then, I am

Brent Morris 

 Posted by at 7:56 am
Mar 102019
 

In 2017, an independent report comparing four CMS schools for year-round consideration, compared with the rest of the CMS schools brought unexpected results, in my opinion. Neither the shorter summer breaks nor the extra time produced measurable academic gains, after three years. I am referring to the March 3 Charlotte Observer article, entitled “Concerns over year-round school benefits led to board’s decision“, well written as always by Ann Doss Helms. I was dismayed. Actually, I was self-evaluating how these results could possibly be true, as I weigh up everything I have learned and experienced from delivering summer enrichment camps for the past six years with Learning Help Centers of Charlotte. The video below speaks to the value of bridging the gap for low-income children, who would otherwise experience limited learning, not to mention reading encouragement during the long summer months.

Summer Reading Loss simulation, comparing the have’s with the have not’s

I will not argue or refute the results of the multi-year study of the sample four schools from West Charlotte, included in this study. These schools no doubt have many challenges before students even sit down in class to learn. High levels of absenteeism in July, when other CMS schools are still out enjoying pool-time or vacation. What I will argue is that I disagree that additional summer literacy interventions and a shorter summer vacation are not beneficial for our young English Language Learning students. I have seen first-hand the extraordinary benefits of summer learning activities. I know that the parents of the children we serve expect us to be the encouragement for their children over the 11 weeks of summer. I also have it on good authority that teachers spend anywhere between three weeks and an entire fall semester reteaching their elementary school students what they have forgotten over the long, hot summer months. Case closed… At LHCC, we remain optimistic about the what we do and the potential value of year-round schools. We know that the 11-week summer vacation is highly disruptive for continuous learning. Therefore, we will continue to promote summer literacy camps, along with a fun learning experience during our summer program. We are pleased to be offering summer camps again in 2019, for our seventh year. Who’s going to support us in offering this invaluable program to our awesome children?

We appreciate your comments and support of our families

Feb 282019
 

I am scared of heights. Always have been … I used to bend my knees looking over a wall from a five-story block of flats where I grew up in South Africa. I would really rather just stay on terra-firma, feet-on-the-ground … unless I am swimming.

This past Saturday, we treated some of our community-minded LHCC families to a Rewards Day at Sky High Sports. You see, back in October, one of our community partners, Pineville Neighbors Place, organized their annual Potato Drop. Our LHCC families and children helped bag about 4,000 10 lb. bags of spuds, for donation to local food banks and low income communities. As a show of appreciation, Sky High Sports saw the opportunity to reward the children from our LHCC program for their service by inviting them to a fun morning at their awesome trampoline park, adjacent to our Pineville serve location. After the usual jumping and laser-tag activities, our energetic kids spotted the ropes course some 12 feet above their sweaty heads. They donned harnesses and then undertook some bold steps along suspended ropes and platforms. This was rather intriguing to me. Most had never undertaken this kind of adventure before. Some may have ventured out previously during our LHCC 2018 summer camp, but for most part, this was a new experience filled with trepidation. They swallowed their pride, and bravely took their first steps, guided by parents shouting encouragement from below. “Don’t let go!” they pleaded. They were dependent on a harness that seemed all too necessary all of a sudden.

We were very proud of them all. Some had tears in their eyes, as they overcame their fears and made it across the rubicon from one platform to another. Others were stage struck, unable to move a muscle. Words of encouragement were everywhere and they did the necessary with wide eyes and tensed muscles. Courage was in play, as the support from others was palpable. I knew how they felt. I had felt that way many times before as a young kid, but the life lessons were priceless. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I was just thrilled to be able to witness this experience, hold their hands as necessary, and see their delight at overcoming their fears, and accomplishing their what they thought was not in the realm of probability when they began. It is a joy to serve these families. I thank God that He made this provision for me and my family to be His hands and feet in serving our neighbors.

Until next time, I am

Brent Morris

February 24, 2019

 Posted by at 9:23 pm
Feb 162019
 

Spotting Reading Disorders in our young students

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Spotting Reading Disorders in our young students
Jan 032019
 

This week’s blog was kindly written by one of our volunteers, who received a Governor’s Award in 2018, for commitment and excellence in serving with LHCC. His comments are published here with his permission. He has chosen to remain anonymous, but we know he has a tremendous heart to serve our children! This is why we serve children who need extra help. And as you can see, our volunteers are grasping that this process of helping them is much more than just checking a box…it’s intentional, impactful and very much appreciated by the families we serve…

“I think it would be helpful to encourage our LHCC volunteers to research the signs of learning challenges, such as dyslexia and ADHD. I regret that I did not have that information earlier. There are so many resources online. Rather than providing links to specific ones, just encouraging volunteers to do research those topics would be helpful. There are probably more kids in the program with varying degrees of these. Attention deficit and hyperactive disorder are not always linked. It is possible that a child could have one and not the other. 

Once I determined that {my student} was dyslexic changed my way of tutoring her and I hope that I can do a better job with her for the rest of the school year. I confirmed my thoughts that {another student} is ADHD with {her tutor} and researching that led me to understand how similar the process of tutoring the two is, even though the problem is caused by different underlying conditions. Both benefit from multisensory learning. I am going to get some wooden alphabet tiles and some small large piece puzzles to use with them.

I am going to try to work with Jane and Sue. Since Sue is there early and Jane is usually there late, I can spend some one-on-one time with Sue at the beginning, do some reading with both of them, and then spend some one-on-one time with Jane. Not exactly a perfect solution, but until we can get a volunteer to work with the other on a consistent basis, that will at least give her some consistent attention. I will talk with Sue and find out what school she attends and if she is getting any one-on-one help at school. Then we can approach the parent and facilitate a conversation with the school to ensure we encourage and support her in the best way possible.”

Comments by a delightful retired gentleman who has been serving as a volunteer for over two years at LHCC! Names changed to protect privacy.

 Posted by at 7:11 pm

Who wouldn’t want more Wisdom in 2019?

 Attitude, Positive Encouragement, Relationships, Wisdom  Comments Off on Who wouldn’t want more Wisdom in 2019?
Dec 312018
 

When you think wisdom, do you envision an old man with grey hair sitting on a stool imparting his worldly knowledge? Perhaps someone you know who has lived a long time, gained experience and therefore acquired untold insights that have resulted in what we call wisdom?

Benjamin Franklin said: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”. It is a saying that is viewed as a commonsensical proverb. This proverb actually originated long before Franklin’s time. It was seen in print as early as 1496, in a piece called “The Treatise of Fishing with an Angle” where it is referred to as an old English proverb: Also, whoever wishes to practice the sport of angling, he must rise early, which is profitable to a man in this way. That is, to wit: most for the welfare of his soul. For it will cause him to be holy, and for the health of his body. For it will cause him to be well, also for the increase of his goods, for it will make him rich. As the old English proverb says: “Whoever will rise early shall be holy, healthy, and happy.”

My wife, Caren, gifted me this Christmas with a “Wisdom for Each Day” inspirational quote calendar. She must surely think I need it, right? Well, who would turn down a daily dose of wise counsel from a trusted theologian and man of God like Rev. Billy Graham, along with its numerous quotes from the holy scriptures?

I also recently came across an excellent read called Gospel Fluency, that contains a remarkably insightful chapter near the end on growing in love and wisdom. The book concludes with the premise that wisdom doesn’t actually come from our education after all.

From my study I have learned that wisdom isn’t just increased knowledge. As the book illuminates, knowledge without grace leads to pride, and pride leads to destruction in our lives and the lives of others. Wisdom is knowledge applied so that we do the right thing, at the right time, with the right motive, in the right way. I like that perspective a lot. Knowing what to do at the right time, and having our motives in check is an improvement on merely having the knowledge. To expand upon this truth, wisdom is gracious, loving, kind and gentle.

In the new testament, Paul instructs the church in Colossae: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:5-6. Wisdom is a gift and all who have it are a blessing.

As I reflect upon the past six years with Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, and all the relationships we have established, I contemplate the many ways to help the communities and families we serve through LHCC. There are many opportunities to collaborate with community partners, donors and volunteers. If we get it somewhat right, we will enjoy another beneficial year for everyone. We can do our tiny part to enhance the lives of all community members, who cross our paths, in the two regions of the city we call the “ends of the crescent”.

I, for one, can and will take heed of the wisdom insights gleaned from my latest read. I also eagerly anticipate the wisdom truth reminders contained in my new daily devotional calendar. One of my goals this coming year, is to gain greater perspective and also seek wisdom, by firstly praying and secondly, being present, rather than simply doing what I usually do. Might I rather seek to walk in wisdom, and show care and kindness, toward others, as I endeavor to be loving, gracious and gentle, just as Jesus modeled for all of us. This is the wisdom that I will aspire to acquire in 2019!

Wisdom perspectives and comments adapted from Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt chapter 15, Grow in Love and Wisdom, pg. 197

 Posted by at 7:05 am

LHCC 2018 Annual Review

 Annual Review, Community Service, Education, Family  Comments Off on LHCC 2018 Annual Review
Dec 282018
 

Our mission remains grounded in serving our families with grace and dignity.  We are less focused on the big production, that often does not adequately build relationships and has even less longer-term impact.

Our relational and educational goals for the coming school year are as follows:

  • Engage a greater number of families, and engage the whole family, as we seek buy-in to their children’s education and character-building interventions.
  • Target a pre-elementary school child group, where we can collectively make a significant impact in early-learning, before children even start school.

We have deliberately chosen to focus on families with young children, those parents have demonstrated an interest in learning English alongside their child

In 2018, LHCC was one of three organizations selected from over 30 to join the inaugural Cultivate cohort of non-profits in January 2018. CULTIVATE, an incubator and accelerator for emerging nonprofit organizations managed by Next Stage, a Charlotte-based strategy firm for nonprofits. Together with Next Stage, we have developed a strategic business plan as a means to sustaining and growing the mission and vision of LHCC for the next 5 to 10 years.

During 2018, we accomplished the following:

  • Introduced a new east-side program, serving over 70 students in partnership with Missionary Athletes International (MAI) and Albemarle Road United Methodist Church
  • Increased emphasis on family engagement and conversational English with parents of students, creating a very effective cross-cultural exchange
  • Three after-school programs launched in the fall 2018
  • 300 children served during five weeks of summer camp
  • Estimated 4,500 meals served during the summer and 3,000 during the school year
  • Highest percentage of children passing YMCA swim proficiency tests in three years
  • Improved ratio of participants to volunteers in after-school program (less than 2.5 to 1)
  • Three mission-based partnerships directly supported our daily VBS intervention
  • Average 2 hours of literacy or reading intervention per child/day during summer programs
  • Estimated 5,500 hours of literacy/reading intervention during camp ~ highest in 6 years
  • Significantly increased number of parents participating in year-round program since inception

MISSION: Learning Help Centers of Charlotte provides scholastic and social supports to families, mired in generational poverty.

VISION: In partnership with like-minded non-profits, community partners and residents, who live in the communities in which we serve, we advocate for, invest in and mobilize resources to benefit awesome, yet vulnerable, children and their families.

CORE PROGRAM SERVICES:

  • After-school homework and literacy support
  • Summer enrichment & literacy camps
  • Family stabilization and English Language Learning (ELL)
  • Family enrichment
  • Community engagement & community events and celebrations 
 Posted by at 6:00 am

Holiday greetings from LHCC

 Attitude, Family, Immigrants, Positive Encouragement  Comments Off on Holiday greetings from LHCC
Dec 242018
 
 Thank-you for taking a minute to read our holiday greeting…
 
During this special time of year, with family celebrations, gifts to buy and meals to prepare, we hope you will take a moment to cherish the good news of great joy given us in the birth of our Savior. Because of Jesus and the mission He began when He came into the world, we are grateful to have the opportunity to share the good news of the gospel with everyone we encounter, from young children, their families, and our volunteers! May the message of our Saviors birth have special meaning for you this holiday season, as you count your blessings and praise the One who came to give us eternal life!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

For the honor of serving Him,

Brent Morris

Executive Director 

December 24, 2018