May 102021
 

The CMS Board of Education recently viewed the CMS student proficiency scores report for the Fall of 2020, including the number of completed tests as compared to the prior school year. The results are not good, especially for black and hispanic students, whose math scores, for example, show a non-proficient percent of between 75% and 78% . These recent scores were at least 25% worse than the year prior. Yikes!

LHCC launched Connect Hub learning program this past September to address lackluster school attendance and the potential for sliding school grades and resultant proficiency scores. Connect Hub is our term for a safe, learning environment for students who sat at a desk, connected to the school learning platform under adult supervision and received two meals each school day. Our students completed learning modules, enjoyed outdoor time, and received healthy meals and snacks. Last week, our Connect Hub came to an end as schools finally return for five days of in-person tuition this week, just in time to wrap-up the school year at the end of the month. The past 15 months have been a challenge for so many. It’s been really hard on our younger kids for sure.

Summer is going to be very busy for our LHCC students. We have promoted Camp CMS to our parents to encourage participation, while they are away at work. About 75% of parents registered their kids for the six-week, school-side, four-days-a-week program, from June 14 to July 30. In addition, LHCC is providing Summer Enrichment Camps , with additional learning and extra-curricular fun for students from many of the Title 1 CMS schools close to South Blvd.

LHCC will once again be offering day-camps for seven Fridays, from Friday June 18 to July 30, as well as two five-day weeks of enrichment camp in August. Join us for the weeks of August 2 and 9 as we need volunteers and summer interns to help our students with daily enrichment.

As noted above, CMS has reported that school grades are down on prior year and while sustaining students through a combination of remote and in-person learning, with very mixed results, there is much to do over the summer, so that our students do not slide back even further, as compared to their English-speaking peers.

This summer, LHCC plans to add many fun activities liking swimming and outdoor adventures to the much needed summer learning curriculum. Come join us if you are able and experience the kind of kinship we have come to enjoy, as friendships develop between volunteers and families, one child at a time.

For more information, kindly email us and let’s make this summer special for all our students. Thank-you for reading to the bottom and for your support of our families

I am,

Brent Morris

Executive Director of Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

May 10, 2021

 Posted by at 8:02 pm

Día de César Chávez ~ 31 de marzo

 Hope, Immigrants, Kinship, Mexico, Racism, Relationships, Upward Mobility  Comments Off on Día de César Chávez ~ 31 de marzo
Mar 202021
 
César Chávez se ha convertido en un símbolo de esperanza para los pobres y los indefensos. Sigue siendo una inspiración para los latinos en todas partes y un defensor fuerte pero pacífico en la lucha contra el racismo en Estados Unidos. César demostró que las personas que se unen y hablan con una sola voz pueden ser mucho más fuertes cuando están unidas que cuando están solas.

Nació en Arizona en una familia de aparceros donde trabajaban como trabajadores agrícolas migrantes. Comenzó a recolectar cultivos a la temprana edad de doce años. En 1962 cofundó la Asociación Nacional de Trabajadores Agrícolas. Se convirtió en el activista latinoamericano de derechos civiles más famoso. Fue más que el comienzo de una unión; fue el comienzo de un movimiento: un grupo de personas con ideas afines que trabajan juntas para compartir una idea y lograr un cambio. Su lema era Viva La Causa - Larga vida a la causa. Abogó por mejores salarios de las organizaciones que empleaban a trabajadores agrícolas para que pudieran ganar un salario decente y mantener a sus familias.

Chávez se inspiró en un sacerdote católico que le inculcó la necesidad de que todas las personas sean tratadas con justicia y respeto. Estos aprendizajes incluyeron la vida de un líder político llamado Mahatma Gandhi, un líder político en la India que creía en la paz y la no violencia. Gandhi se interesó en la lucha por los derechos civiles mientras trabajaba como abogado en Sudáfrica.

Era tímido y no era un buen orador, pero era un hombre decidido y trabajador. Creía en sacrificar tiempo y dinero para ayudar a los demás. Creía en la protesta, pero siempre de forma pacífica.

El día de César Chávez fue declarado por el presidente Barack Obama, el 31 de marzo que también es su cumpleaños. Hizo un llamado a todos los estadounidenses a celebrar los logros de César Chávez en todo Estados Unidos, ayudando en sus comunidades. Qué gran legado y mensaje para inspirarnos a todos a amar a nuestro prójimo, ganar perspectiva y reavivar lo que uniría a todos. Hablar con una sola voz ... unidos, como se esforzó por hacer Chávez.

Dios lo bendiga

Brent M
LHCC
Marzo 2021
 Posted by at 2:16 pm
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
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
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

Oct 072018
 


El sábado pasado, 6 de octubre de 2018, los Centros de Ayuda para el Aprendizaje de Charlotte se asociaron con los vecinos de Pineville y otras organizaciones “buenas” e iglesias locales para llevar aproximadamente 2,200 bolsas de papas para los necesitados en nuestra comunidad local. Lo que hizo que el evento fuera tan especial fue que los voluntarios eran de tantas organizaciones diferentes. Jóvenes y viejos, de diversas etnias y culturas, personas con guantes azules parados hombro con hombro envuelven miles de bolsas de 10 libras de papas donadas, para alimentar a las personas sin hogar y organizaciones de alimentación de área, incluida Feeding America.
LHCC tuvo una gran participación de nuestra comunidad local de South Blvd. Teníamos nueve familias representadas. Mamás, papás y 14 hijos. Todos los niños en nuestro programa que asistieron vinieron con un padre. Esa fue la diferencia que hizo. ¡También fue la primera vez para nosotros! Familias sirviendo juntas. Fue una hermosa imagen de todos los que contribuyeron y hicieron del evento un gran éxito. Muchas manos hicieron un trabajo ligero … Seis paletas grandes de 4,000 libras de papas fueron clasificadas y embolsadas en bolsas de 10 libras para ser entregadas por voluntarios ansiosos.
Gracias a Pineville Neighbors por asociarse con las iglesias locales y los Centros de Ayuda para el Aprendizaje de Charlotte, y por ayudar a demostrar que la unidad y la colaboración van de la mano para organizaciones sin fines de lucro, que realmente lo hacen mucho mejor, trabajando juntos y orando juntos.
¡Vea a todos el año que viene, así que otro evento memorable de servicio comunitario!

 Posted by at 8:28 pm
Sep 032018
 

It’s the beginning of September already. Where did the summer go? All CMS students have already returned to school after 11 long hot weeks of summer vacation… I was talking to a friend this week about the summer camps and the progress our students made during the five weeks of camps. We debated what the solution might be to helping children avoid the summer slide.

First, a recap of our camps. We welcomed children from 14 different nations, representing a beautiful tapestry of unity. Our daily morning worship and bible study programs focused on the book of Genesis and God’s creation. Our estimated 50 young campers each week read many chapter books and completed literacy and vocabulary building exercises. Afternoon excursions included arts & crafts, soccer, and swimming and visit to the Mint Museum and Big Air & Sky Sports trampoline parks. We have compiled a fun short video of our children during summer camp, thanks to Isabella, one of our awesome college interns, who is attending NC Chapel Hill as a junior this year.

OK, let’s get back to a possible solution to avoiding the summer slide, where teachers spend between three weeks and one quarter reteaching children what they learned before the summer. In my opinion, there is a simple answer with a complicated solution: eliminate the long summer vacation with year-round schools. This is the precedent in Wake county in our state capital, Raleigh, so why not in the largest school system, Mecklenburg county? The greatest push-back will likely be faculty and teachers who have come to enjoy the long summer vacations.

For children who get plenty of summer intervention, reducing long summer vacations could also be seen an encroachment. For under-served families, summer is the worst time of year, likely sitting at home taking care of younger siblings for their working parents, who might take advantage of “making hay while the sun shines”. Speaking of a harvest, when last did the whole family spend the summer months, planting and partaking in crop harvesting? I’m thinking way back in the pilgrim era. If we cared enough for all children struggling in public schools, and considered all children to be our children, we might see a pathway to year-round intervention and avoid the summer slide.

We were able to accommodate every request to attend summer camp! Hundreds avoided the summer slide and were not subjected to child care at home, watching TV and playing video games. We appreciate your support. If you would like to make a donation, please kindly visit our homepage. We could not do this important work with children, without supporters like you!

Learn more about our summer camps here

The next blog is titled Game Face, and will include an overview of our LHCC program services. 

Until next time,

Brent Morris

Executive Director

Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

September 1, 2018

 Posted by at 11:42 am
Jun 172018
 

So begins the long hot summer. Summer holidays for most children, the world over, are a time to relax, enjoy themselves, and catch up on studies, or to spend time with family and friends. Many families travel together on school holidays. Not so for most impoverished families whose children are growing up in challenging circumstances, or close to it. We know this first hand, having offered year-round programs to predominantly immigrant and refugee families since 2012.

The US has the auspicious distinction of having one the longest summer vacations of any developed country. According to Organization for Economic and Community Development, the US doesn’t have a uniform school year and summer vacation schedule. It’s therefore hard to tell where American schools stack up in comparison with the rest of the world. But the largest districts in the US have a summer break of 11 to 12 weeks, or about two and a half months, according to data from the National Council on Teacher Quality. That’s more time off than kids get in France, Germany, and Poland, and a bit longer than Finland and Norway. This information is also supported by Pew Research

Summer is not a good time for underperforming children in our local public schools. Of the estimated 48,000 kindergarten to third grade students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), approximately 31,000 will not have access to summer enrichment programs. That’s a long 11 weeks to be without some level of enrichment while they often spend the summer cooped up at home, often taking care of younger siblings, and confined to the indoors.

Having provided programs for underserved communities and their children, we have seen the impacts of what is commonly called the summer slide. This is a well-publicized phenomenon whereby children from low-income families lose ground to their more affluent peers every year, on account of not having the needed encouragement at home, access to books, and access to similar literacy enrichment programs.

We, at Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, are grateful to be able to address the summer slide for our children for the sixth consecutive year. We want each and every child to return to school more confident, hopeful and encouraged that they can be what they want to be, because they read great books that we provided for them, and spent some of the long summer reading and learning with cool and caring volunteers!

Most of our children join our program two- to three- reading grade levels behind their peers who speak English at home and whose parents most likely attended college. Our goal is to encourage reading and math intervention during the summer so that our students, ages 5 to 11 years, can start the new school year in September no worse than they ended the prior school year. If children stay at grade level that’s a huge win. If they work hard, and stay engaged through learning during the summer, hallelujah! We are doing our bit to encourage children to use their summer wisely. Most importantly, we are also educating parents that summer should not be a time to take a break. We provide various interventions for children and parents alike, so that the summer can be an opportunity to stay on track or make advancements, rather than slide back. Who wants any child of ours to get way behind, and then run the risk of dropping out of school in later years.  A good education should be within reach of every child, even those who could not afford to attend fun educational camps, like their more fortunate peers.

With an average 6 out of 10 (only 39% can read at grade level) to be exact) third grade students not reading at grade level, wouldn’t we be better off with a shorter summer and the opportunity to avoid the summer slide? We will continue to do what we do, one child and family at a time, as we treat all children as our children!