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

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
Jul 232020
 

Since our new normal began in March with a stay-at-home order including school closings, our LHCC programs have taken on a new course of serving our neighbors. There have been blessings setbacks and disruptions.

As schools reopen on August 17, whatever that really means, in our “new normal”, the future of our after-school program remains uncertain…

What lies before us are a few options for helping our kids similar, to how we used to do, way back before time began, in mid-March…

  1. Virtual homework help by phone or video
  2. Live evening homework help at the church as we used to go, but no groups, just one on one help
  3. Weekly daytime check-in at the church for scheduled help. Parents bring kids by appointment and receive help from a volunteer for an hour or so
  4. Do nothing for kids directly, due to safer at home protocols, and support parents instead with how to help their kids at home

There are surely other choices. Our mission at Learning Help Centers is to provide scholastic, spiritual and social supports to our under-resourced families. The degree to which we can accomplish our goals varies for each of the options outlined above. Perhaps there are a combination of choices to best meet the needs of:

  • Our families, as well as
  • The varying schedules of our volunteers and staff.

We covet your feedback. Perhaps you know of other organizations similar to ours that have had more time than we have to think this through, while we’re been busy delivery over 25,000 kids meals and planning for summer enrichment camps. We value your opinion and hope that you will join us. Thank you in advance for praying for the safety and protection of our families and for helping LHCC determine how best to serve their ongoing needs during the pandemic.

Working while it is day

Brent Morris

July 23, 2020

 Posted by at 6:35 am

Why we dropped 140 meals in one week, literally

 COVID-19, Our Mission, Reading is important, Relationships, Summer Camp  Comments Off on Why we dropped 140 meals in one week, literally
Jun 142020
 

This week, LHCC Mobile Meals enters its 13th week of delivering kids meals to our families in the South Blvd corridor. Volunteers have been fantastic about showing up at our catering kitchen to pack and deliver meals each weekday. Thank you for continuing to be a big part of LHCC Mobile Meals and for your loyalty to our program.

Chuck Coonradt once said, in his best-selling book Game of Work, that to people who don’t matter, you merely tell them what is going down. For people you really value, you tell them the “why”. We have made a few changes that we want to share with you.

  • We have reduced our kids’ deliveries from over 160 to 90 kids, or 180 meals per day
  • We have reduced our driver routes from three to one, so that only one driver and delivery crew can deliver more meals to about the same number of addresses
  • The delivery should take about 60 to 75 minutes

We plan to deliver meals to the families who are both directly a part of our program and really couldn’t receive meals any other way. Here’s the why…

  • Many of our families have only one vehicle that leaves for dad’s work early each morning, leaving mom at home without transportation for the day.
  • We have always been big on not providing hand-outs, choosing instead to serve others only when they can’t reasonably do it for themselves.
  • We also made sure that we did not leave any family high and dry. We have directed families to local feeding sites, including CMS schools to collect daily meals. We assure you none of the families we have served will go hungry.

LHCC continues to provide:

  • Weekly bulk food deliveries to our family, thanks to donations by the community.
  • Volunteer help for our caterer, at Nations Ford, Charities Kitchen
  • Support a single mother of two who prepares adult meals for our families without employment.

Thank you to each and every volunteer who has supported our families since mid-March. We look forward to seeing all our kids together for our annual summer program in late July and early August to prepare our kids for their return to school after five long hot summer months.

If you would like to volunteer, or volunteer your high school or college student, please have them connect with us and sign-up for a small role during our summer camp through our website link

Until next time, have a blessed week and stay safe.

Brent Morris

Executive Director, Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

June 15, 2020

 Posted by at 8:06 pm

How North Carolina ranks in the Hunger Charts

 COVID-19, Family, Our Mission, Relationships  Comments Off on How North Carolina ranks in the Hunger Charts
May 252020
 

I had no idea that North Carolina had the 10th highest hunger rate in the US. Among senior citizen’s it’s even worse, where we are ranked 4th! Food hardships particularly for children have risen to unprecedented levels.

Based on a recent study from UNC at Chapel Hill, one in seven of our neighbors can’t get enough to eat. 23 percent of NC households currently lack the money to obtain enough food. Families with kids obviously have a tougher time keeping food on the table, where 35 percent don’t have enough to eat. Pause and let that sink in … that’s one in three families are struggling to feed themselves.

When LHCC started delivering kids meals ten weeks ago, in mid-March, I was pretty sure the kids meals program would soon fizzle as kids became tired of the catered food. Not so fast. I soon realized that demand was increasing each day during those early weeks and has not dissipated since. Parents were adamant that the food was needed and have assured us “Please don’t stop, we can’t get enough”. Parents have made it clear that they do still need daily deliveries. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, I guess.

Every kids meal we supply means more money for the family to make their third pandemic era rent payment, due in a few short days. In case you were wondering kids meals are complemented by adult meals as well as weekly grocery deliveries, provided by LHCC.

Times like this surely bring out the best in people. New LHCC volunteers have helped for the past 50 weekdays, with food bagging, packing, driving and delivery. Families are also sharing food and distributing meals with their neighbors.

We are contemplating a reverse pivot back to our normal summer focus. Should we discontinue food delivery, in order focus on our usual summer camps, kids education and readying everyone for the next school year? After reflecting upon these state-wide hunger statistics and associated hunger challenges and feedback from the families we serve, we’ll just keeping driving forward with our LHCC Mobile Meals Program. We’ll ensure that food insecurity, like poverty and unemployment does not become yet another uncertainty and cause for further pandemic anxiety.

Volunteers are needed and certainly most welcome. Please sign up here or view our homepage for ways to get involved

Happy New Year

 Encouragement, Family, Our Mission, Reading is important  Comments Off on Happy New Year
Jan 012020
 

Firstly, may I wish all our blog readers a very happy and blessed 2020.

Over the holidays, I received a wonderful Christmas greeting card from one of our families that bears repeating here. It was written by one of our 7th grade students on behalf of the family, to me and my family. At the start of the new year, this message is inspiring and encouraging to me, my family and our LHCC staff. I dedicate it to all our partners and supporters for the privilege of being able to serve on the mission-field in this powerful and fulfilling way. It is also no doubt intended for each and every one of our volunteers and staff members.

“Dear Mr Brent, thank you for making LHCC, a really good thing in our community. You help a lot of children’s education become more successful. Thank you for encouraging us students to read. I really appreciate it. Thank you for helping us with our work and making us be better at school work, it does really help us, and we all appreciate that.

Education is very important, and you make a child’s education better. I know every child of the LHCC group appreciates it, and their parents. We all love that you gave your opportunity to help us and care about us in LHCC.

Love Karina P “

Truly humbled, and grateful for what we get to do, together, through scholastic, spiritual and social supports for families who appreciate what we do.

Brent Morris Executive Director LHCC January 1, 2020

 Posted by at 4:08 pm