Jan 082021
 

Happy New Year to all our blog readers and friends. Let’s be praying that we, as a nation, will start the process of uniting and showing respect for everyone we come in contact with, without bias or discrimination. Starting with those under our roof would be my recommendation, and I speak from real-world experience … Education and respect surely start in the home…

So we have a “Big Idea” for this New Year. LHCC has seen over the past 8 years that the zest for school seems to dissipate with our graduating fifth graders, as they move on from elementary school. Too often, it’s a downward slope of discouragement and disengagement.

A Gallop poll undertaken some years prior to the pandemic, found a disturbing slope in the wrong direction for fifth- to twelve-grade students in the US. Only 6 in 10 middle school students reported being engaged in school. That number goes further south, 4 in 10, for high schoolers. That metric started out at almost 8 in 10 for elementary school students. Gallop defines engaged as students who feel involved in the learning process and who have positive connections with teachers and the school. Feedback included the view that disengaged students felt they did not get the chance to do the things they are best at doing. Students will stay engaged if the encounter frequent successes, are given chances and have more positive interactions with adults.

LHCC is looking for practical ideas to help our secondary school students in 2021. By this I mean helping middle and high school students find their voice, show them that they matter, and can be trusted. As in-person school attendance has been very limited, or frankly non-existent for most secondary level students this school year, we are looking for ways to motivate them, to help them discover their passion for what they enjoy. We are therefore introducing a different perspectives on academics.

Creating a culture of Leadership

I love this quote by Sir Ken Robinson, from The Element. “The fact that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed. It needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions”

Learning is surely more that going to school and getting an education. Other vital dimensions of growing up include cross cultural exposure and learning life skills. Non scholae sed vitae discimus. We learn, not for school, but for life  ~ a sign in a high school entrance declares.

We are dreaming about a LHCC Leadership Academy for secondary school students

Ways to give our students a chance to be leaders. We believe that giving them responsibility can surely change their maturity. Make a concerted effort to ask their opinions and focus on listening and giving them a voice, and teaching them to use it

Pair our younger students with our older student leaders. Ask them to read to their younger siblings or play board games. Let them practice the language they will be graduating from American school, usually different from their home language

We are planning to develop a curriculum that is not just academic, but rather focused on skills like problem solving, public speaking and debating (kindly)

In closing, let me provide two more quotes by folks who are much more versed than I in weighing in on this topic of academics.

What students need to succeed in the 21st century is an education that is both academically rigorous and “real world” relevant. This objective of rigor and relevance is not just for some students, it is for all students  ~ Dr. Willard Doggett

The research is abundantly clear: nothing motivates a child more than when learning is valued by schools and families/communities working together in partnership … these forms of involvement do not happen by accident or even by invitation. They happen by explicit strategic intervention ~ Michael Fullan

At LHCC, we desire to inspire and motivate greatness in all our children … one child at a time … After all, the woods would surely be silent if no bird sang but the best. We’d love to have you join us in a united chorus of encouragement and hope as we bring in a new year.

Brent Morris

ED of LHCC

January 2021

 Posted by at 6:53 pm
Nov 242020
 

This has been a tough year. A once-in-a-lifetime year of uncertainty and perhaps even loss, of someone or something. I lost my dad, as did my ministry partner, and my close friend. Three fathers all elevated to a higher status, all in the last 4 months. 2020 has been like a centennial flood that can be devastating. I was recently reminded of that with a slogan about storms, associated with Tropical storm Eta, “Not all storms come to disrupt our life, some come to clear our path.” Is a rainbow not a sign of hope, as promised by God?

Our pastor at Life Church Charlotte, mentioned this recently, in reference to the Platte River, 310 miles long but mostly shallow. Miles wide and inches deep is the expression.

At LHCC, it has never been about how many people we help. Instead, it’s about the hope we provide and the love and kindness we share to those we call the LHCC family. We would prefer, instead, to be miles deep and inches wide.

We have recently started down an exciting path in planning a new initiative around kinship. My last blogpost outlined a perspective on this topic.

Jesus has high hopes that we will move from separation and division to unity and kinship. Our quest for mutuality is fueled by the engine of hope. If there is no hope, there is nothing to give others living on the margins of society. No kinship means no peace. No peace, no justice, no kinship, no equality. Quoting my latest read by author Father Greg Boyle, we ought to seek first the kinship and watch what happens. My thinking at this present time and given my experience with the LHCC family is this: we ought to see those we serve for the contribution they make in the relationships we share. There is much to receive and learn from those classified as being on the margins.

I was hungry, and you gave me to something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was hopeless and you gave me some. Adapted from Matthew 25:34-40

Thank you, Life Church, for joining LHCC in rolling out hope to our LHCC family this week with food hampers. We are grateful for your kindness and generosity.

Happy New Year from our LHCC family to yours.

Brent M, ED of LHCC, December 30, 2020

 Posted by at 3:15 pm
Oct 232020
 

Think of it as a safe place to do school work, play, enjoy a meal and connect with your friends …

LHCC launched our Connect Hub learning program in September. This coming week, we are adding a second school day to Thursdays-at-the-church -for -school. Connect-Hub now takes place Monday’s and Wednesday’s for students while their parents are at work. We have adequate outdoor and indoor space at St Andrews UMC and have upgraded our connectivity and welcomed our families with open arms. We are providing learning for students from five Title 1 CMS schools off South Blvd, along with child meals for our low-income neighbors. Connect Hub is our term for a safe, group environment for students to sit at a desk and connect to the school learning platform with adult supervision. Students complete learning modules, have recess, and receive meals and snacks. Parents participating in the Hub are paid for their time. 2020 has been such a challenging year for so many. It’s been really hard on our kids for sure. I cannot imagine the hardships for exceptional students, those with special needs or who are living with homelessness.

We covet your continued prayers for continued interventions, inspiration and motivation as we come alongside our LHCC families, and certainly many others like them. We are grateful for this ministry and for the opportunity to build trust and provide hope in these relationships. We certainly do not take this responsibility lightly. For the glory of the One we serve.

Thank you for reading and your support of our local communities

Brent M

October 25, 2020

 Posted by at 11:00 pm
Oct 072020
 

Thank-you for reading our latest ministry blogpost. You will need to read to the bottom to find out about our latest award.

On the ministry frontlines, we have been walking alongside a young mother, Elizabeth, and her family for a couple of years. We have learned first-hand of the home-front struggles, firstly with COVID-19, and then of remote leaning over the past six long months, without any in-person help. Along with its technology challenges and the many language barriers trying to help her four children, three in elementary school and one middle-school student, we have witnessed the struggles of staying connected with the daily grind of being on constant Zoom calls. Peer socialization has all but disappeared and emotional support evaporated by being home.

LHCC has intervened to engage both teachers and school counselors to provide much needed encouragement and hope. We launched our Connect Hub learning program in September. This has been such a challenging year for so many. I cannot imagine the hardships for those with special needs or living with homelessness. Has the school system done these children a disservice, with delayed returned to class, especially now that the governor has opened up schools to return? How will we ever measure the impact on the COVID-slide?

Your prayers for continued wisdom, guidance and open conversations are appreciated, as we come alongside this young family, and certainly many others like them. Grateful for this ministry and opportunity to build trust and provide hope in these relationships.

Quoting one of my favorite bible teachers Chip Ingram, and one who I have listened to for years, “the big answer to our worlds chaos is not political philosophical or religious, its spiritual” Let’s keep our leaders. nation, schools and neighbors in our daily prayers. Chip goes on to say The greatest need in America and the world right now is for us to love our neighbor. Only radical Christlike love will heal racism, political division and reveal the love of the savior to fractured and hurting people. 

On a different note, LHCC is also pleased to have been awarded the 2020 Great Non-Profits award this month. Thank-you to everyone who wrote a review. If you still would like to add your voice to our work, kindly text 455097492 to 888-432-6659 and in 3 easy steps, you too can help make LHCC a great non-profit by sharing your feedback.

Appreciate what the Lord is doing through our ministry

Brent Morris

October 7, 2020

 Posted by at 12:16 pm

CMS discusses return to school … here’s what LHCC is doing while we wait

 COVID-19, Education, Our Mission  Comments Off on CMS discusses return to school … here’s what LHCC is doing while we wait
Sep 162020
 

Tomorrow, LHCC pivots once again to what we call a Connect-Hub, where we will receive our students for a remote school day. A Connect-Hub is our term for a safe, group environment for students to sit at a desk and connect to the school learning platform, under adult supervision. Students complete learning modules, have recess, and receive meals and snacks. We are there to help and get our students feeling hopeful and encouraged after a rough start to the school year

This is LHCC’s response to the highest and most pressing needs of our families, based on our observations from our work over the past ten days, including home visits, conferring with parents, and meeting in-person with students for the past two weeks

  • Meet the Gomez family. Four school kids, none with their own room, two sleep in the lounge, no desks and no chairs, other than the small kitchen table. Mom is unable to cope and is increasingly frustrated that she can’t help her own kids in the new-normal home learning environment
  • Meet Josh, grade 5, whose internet connection at home precludes him from hearing his teacher audibly, let alone complete learning modules. Mom had no idea, but tomorrow all that changes. He will be flying on high speed internet.
  • Then there is Rebeca, who can now access her daughters progress on-line and ensure she completes her homework, and asks for help from her LHCC volunteer or teacher, when needed
  • Meet Lily, grade 6, who has yet to receive proper instruction on using a different tool to meet remotely with her ELA teacher. It’s week 5. She was in tears, sharing how frustrating she is with the lack of answers from the school.
  • Two of our youngest grades 1 students are hopelessly lost navigating an iPad, let alone understanding their remote teacher instructions
  • Lastly, kindly meet our new volunteer, Ms Reid, who identified that answers submitted in Canvas by her young student, are not properly read, due to a different syntax, rendering the answer incorrect, when in fact the student nailed it!

I could continue, but I think you get the point …

That’s why we need to get our students safely into classrooms. More importantly, the younger the student, the greater the need for guidance and supervision with technology, connectivity, lesson assignments and completing homework. Our Connect Hub is our response to meet these immediate needs that have parents in a tailspin, trying to manage kids at home and wondering when they can get back to work and help pay the bills.

Listening to the CMS Facebook live update on returning to schools indicates a pending, yet cautious return, starting with youngest students. That means a phased return, staggered entry for schools that pass readiness audits. Sounds like red tape and more delays for many. Students are resilient, but can’t afford to regress any further without the needed face-to-face classroom instruction.

Incidentally, LHCC is the only entity in the area providing both caterer-to-home meals and a remote learning program from a convenient central location. With the start-up of our in-person and remote learning program in August, we are now serving 50 percent more children and their families than pre-COVID.

Working while it is day

I am Brent Morris, Executive Director

Wednesday September 16, 2020

(Names and grades may have been changed to protect the identity of our families, and volunteers)

 Posted by at 6:31 pm
Aug 272020
 

Dear Friends of the LHCC blog,

The information presented below, and published weekly on the Mecklenburg Country Public Health Department website is hardly a case for keeping public schools virtual…

I have been supportive of the transition to Plan B from the get go (remember that was the original proposal, as in “if you want to return to school great, otherwise stay home”) …. as long as it is safe. The map tells me it’s safe. The families that LHCC serves are advocates for in-person schooling and tuition, and we expect them all to return as soon as they get the green light. We were also fortunate to have been able to prove that congregating can be safe as evidenced by our recently completed summer programs, provide we adhere to the 3 W’s. Incidentally we added a forth W for water, because we did most of the congregating outdoors under a big ‘ol oak tree in 90 degree temperatures. 100% of our kids, staff and interns are still healthy, and have lived to tell the tale of it’s possible to venture out and learn and play.

The near- and long-term effects of the lack of food insecurity, emotional teacher support, and supervision will be devastating for many years to come, unless we get this segment of the population back safely into the classroom. Grades Kindergarten to 2, in particular, are already struggling with technology at home, and potentially losing hope in only week 2 of virtual learning.

The folks at the Meck Co Public Health and the two large hospital systems apparently need to be more vocal with the CMS Superintendent and the CMS Board.

Please pray that students can start going back to school, perhaps as soon as mid-September, into a Plan B, as previously voted upon, highly anticipated and much needed, for the greater good of our youngest and often under-represented neighbors.

I appreciate your comments and perspectives

Blessings

Brent Morris

August 27, 2020

 Posted by at 3:50 pm

The new COVID slide, as if Summer slide was not difficult enough …

 COVID-19, Education, Reading is important, Relationships, Summer Camp, Summer Slide  Comments Off on The new COVID slide, as if Summer slide was not difficult enough …
Jun 262020
 

As summer 2020 gets underway for my three teenage girls, thoughts for me drift towards what students and children are supposed to do for the next nine weeks. Under normal circumstances, summer would be a stay-at-home break from school, but who needs yet another stay-at-home day of what has been the norm for the past 100 days? How will kids stay positive about learning and be ready to face the start of the next school year mid-August?

Summer slide is the term used to refer to children sliding backwards (from reading and learning) when out of school for the summer break. COVID slide is an inevitable extended super-slide, that began mid-March, that will set many of our young learners back, as they have not all been able to maintain steady reading and virtual class time.

How have the past three months been for you and your household? Have your kids kept up the good fight to complete projects, homework assignments and kept up with the Zoom calls with teachers? Our girls fared well to begin with, but as the weeks clicked over, there interest seemed to wane… a lot.

The ELL students we serve have honestly not fared too well overall. Despite their best efforts and intentions, parents just could not sustain connections to teachers and keep their kids occupied. Many obstacles lay in the way.

We also surveyed our persistent volunteers to find out how much contact they had managed to maintain with their student. It’s been hard to provide help and encouragement from the awkward distance, week after week.

This summer, we conduct some literacy and enrichment activities. Not virtually but at a distance, if you know what I mean. Some of the same as in the prior years, but also another new adventure of an away overnight camp to the mountains for kids, to be joined later by their parents and younger siblings.

If a normal summer of learning loss is upon us, this year is going to be more challenging, and not so normal. Social distancing and PPE will dictate some added guidelines and fun activities. This summer, we are also recruiting out-of-work parents to help with crafts, cleaning and cooking.

If you’d like to volunteer as an intern, or volunteer your high school or college student, please connect with us through our website link or email us at info@lhcclt.org. Make the best of the new normal and cheer on a student near you. Let’s reverse the COVID slide and get kids ready for another year, together.

I am,

Brent Morris

Executive Director

June 27 2020

 Posted by at 12:44 pm

What’s not to Love

 Attitude, Education, Encouragement, Social Capital, Wisdom  Comments Off on What’s not to Love
Jan 262020
 

Take a moment to reflect on the myriad of influences and messages we receive in a given day. How do these forces shape you and those you love?

A recent study indicated that busy parents who believed that they spend 15 minutes with their children each day were actually spending a lot less than that in terms of interacting with and influencing their hearts and minds. This was closer to 37 seconds than 15 minutes. This ought to be a warning to all of us about what we allow to enter our homes, schools and media devices.

There are many belief systems that are influencing us as a society, as well as families and most certainly our children. TV shows, movies, music, teachers, friends, the media. Each of these carry assumptions. Some are obvious while others are perhaps a little under the radar. We can’t unwatch something we saw on TV. Children are exposed to things in this generation of media that is way and above greater than past generations. On the topic of faith, some are clear and concise. Others are exerting a subtle positive or negative influence. Just think of the many distractions alluring us away from what we know to be acceptable and true.

At LHCC, we conduct scholastic interventions. All our family interactions are intended to be social and ones that uplift, encourage and provide hope. We also exert a spiritual influence through prayers, bible lessons by doing and saying what we believe Jesus would have us emulate.

We are indeed grateful for the joy and privilege of gracefully nurturing children’s hearts towards God. In addition, any opportunities to instill similar behaviors in our own lives is worth noting, as we encourage others to do the same. Let us remain vigilant in doing good, so that the evil one not get a foothold.

“Continue in what you have learned … how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures” 2 Timothy 3:14-15.

 Posted by at 8:40 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