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 112020
 

An aboriginal woman from Australia said to some earnest, well intentional missionaries: “If you’re coming to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.” I am quoting from a book I’m reading called Barking at the Choir, subtitled Radical Kinship, by Father Greg Boyle. The title, itself, is a another thought provoking conundrum of opposites that causes one to ponder …what on earth is he referring to. Allow me to continue …

In the same chapter, called Exquisite Mutuality, Boyle writes about a volunteer, determined to join the efforts at his missional organization, told Boyle that she just had to volunteer with his organization. When asked why, she replied, “Because I believe I have a message these young folks need to hear”. The minute you lose that message, come back and see us” was his response.

At LHCC we are embarking on a new initiative. Something very exciting, even extraordinary, that we see as synergistic with our existing program service offerings. In short, it is our belief that volunteers generally want to make an impact and build relationships in our cross-cultural ministry. What we desire to prove, or test out during an pilot phase of an multi-year project, is whether the feelings and results might be considered mutual. We know the families we serve are positively impacted, but could those who serve alongside us, as volunteers, feel increasingly connected? Might volunteers invited to serve opportunities at non-profits across the city come away from their experiences with a greater sense of happiness at having made a difference in the life of a student? 

Stated differently, might volunteers arrive at a mountain top where the feeling of satisfaction is matched by the smiles and joy of those whose lives we walk alongside, so that both are liberated? This is what we are calling mutuality. This is what has been referred to as kinship. Arriving at a place of exquisite mutuality, as fascinating and radical as that may sound.

Over the next year, with the support of a generous philanthropist, LHCC is going to strengthen its operations through increased engagement and involvement of prospective churches, congregants and non-profits, to focus on this so-called mutuality journey.

Let the learning begin. If we can learn to love our neighbors and fill our love tanks by what we learn and gain from our own liberation, could we change the rhythm and trajectory of a deeply divided city? If you have read this far, thank you for reading this first of many blogs on the topic of mutuality. We hope you will join us on this exciting journey. May our love tanks be full to overflowing. Email us at info@lhcclt.org with your comments and questions.

In am,

Brent Morris

Executive Director, LHCC

November 11, 2020

PS – More blogposts coming, stay tuned and share your new-found love

 Posted by at 8:45 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

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
Nov 032019
 

This past Tuesday, the LHCC family came together to honor me with a post-program dinner celebration of my birthday. I am very grateful for their kindness and generosity in providing a meal to feed 5,000 … literally. The Hispanic culture dictates that all family meals are a pot luck. Everyone contributes something tasty and the volunteers are always the guests of honor for their generous time commitments. Our families are grateful for the help they get as well as their children. Reflecting upon this joyous occasion, I wondered what it would be like to be grateful like that every day, birthdays or no birthdays…

Brennan Manning in his book Ruthless Trust posed the question of whether the primal sin of the first couple mentioned in the bible was ingratitude. Even before they were deceived and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree.

I believe that people who have known tough life and death situations, suffering and know what it is like to need something so bad they will do anything to get it, have had to draw upon trust or something like it, to find joy in their lives. They have literally had to swim upstream against the odds. The poor give larger proportions of their income to charity than the rich, because they know what it is like to have needs seemingly beyond their means.

If you are reading this then surely you have much more to be grateful for. Living in a first world country with plenty of clothes, a warm home and one maybe two cars. I have much to be grateful if I consider how much better off we are than many struggling for survival each and every day. Let me use this reminder to count my blessings every day and to praise God for blessing me abundantly and most assuredly more than I deserve.

Until next time

Brent Morris Executive Director

October 20, 2019

 Posted by at 7:53 pm
Sep 222019
 

Are you crazy busy? More to do than hours in a day to get it all done? Might we take a time out? Read on for a simple challenge this week …

A recent LHCC summer blog post called out neighboring as an art. We shared this concept with our LHCC families this past summer and the results are in. Summer camper families grew closer. Volunteers got to build deeper relationships with families and children. Parents invited other parents to our program and we got to enjoy an end of summer celebration together. It was awesome.

When serving our neighbors, are we trying to look good or do good? Inviting others to our program or opening our homes to others is a great way to show hospitality. Weary people may join us to share a meal and conversation and hopefully leave feeling refueled and refreshed. It can be stressful and awkward for both hosts and guests. We get worked up, tidying up and fed up, focusing perhaps on appearance rather than good ol’ southern hospitality.

In Luke 10, Jesus pointed this out to Martha when her sister Mary was feasting more on the friendship than faffing about the food. Christian hospitality has more to do with good fellowship than good food. In the book Crazy Busy, the author points out that there is a fine line between care and cumber. Less ado would serve better. “Feed people, not your pride.”

How about a little challenge for the coming week:

  • Slow down your hurried life. Go out of your way to greet and chat to a neighbor.
  • Be present with our family ( aka put down the phone?), and
  • Make time for daily meditation and devotion. 15 to 20 minutes, tops. This might just be the one thing strong enough to pull you away from your busyness, so you can be intentional about becoming a good neighbor.

Peace to you, take it easy and have a Mary-like week

Brent M

 Posted by at 8:49 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