MCH School Welcomes New Initiatives and Programs This School Year
The charter school on the Waco campus of Methodist Children’s Home, operating in partnership with the University of Texas – University Charter School system, started its 14th year on August 15. In May 2017, the school graduated its 300th student and is continuing to implement a new initiative and new programs in hopes of hitting more milestones.
This year the charter school is focusing on Restorative Discipline. According to Michelle Arocha, executive principal, “Restorative Discipline is a whole school approach to building school climate and addressing student behavior.”
Every day teachers are allotted an extra 15 minutes in their class period for a proactive circle program.
“This is a place for teachers to check in with students, to see what they have learned in class during the week and to see if they have questions about course content,” Arocha said. “Every student in the circle has the opportunity to have their voice heard and know that their opinion is valued.”
When it comes to conflict, restorative discipline also uses the circle program to foster accountability rather than punishment.
In the event of conflict, “parties have to meet in a restorative circle and discuss what happened,” Arocha explained. “All parties then come to an agreement for how they need to treat each other and what needs to happen moving forward. There is some kind of agreed upon restitution to the party that was harmed and then the facilitator of the circles check in on the parties in the following weeks to make sure the agreement is being kept.”
Echoing the restorative discipline initiative of fostering a healthy school climate, the charter school has been given the theme of Super HEROES (Helping Everyone Reach their Own Educational Success) to use this school year.
Further, the school was tasked to come up with their own campus super heroes. The charter school decided on two heroes, Diamond Diggers, as they are always looking for ‘diamonds’ in their faculty, students and staff, and Data Divas, who makes sure that the school helps everyone become successful.
Additionally, the school has introduced another program to foster a positive environment for the students called “Write Your Principal.” This is a way for students to directly and anonymously contact the principals and administration by writing questions and comments on a piece of paper and dropping them off in a locked mailbox that is read daily, Arocha explained.
The final program taking place this year focuses on teachers and staff. All charter school leadership is participating in a book study on The Fundamental 5 which presents the best teaching practices.
As the charter school implements and embraces new initiatives this year, Arocha said it is their goal that 100 percent of teachers daily utilize proactive circles, empowering and correcting techniques and the practices learned from The Fundamental 5.
“I am most excited for our new faculty and staff to embrace our initiatives this year,” said Arocha. “I think that utilizing all of these programs will increase student achievement, create a positive climate and will support our entire community.”
MCH wishes the students and teachers much success as they journey through this school year. Go Bulldogs!
Independent Living Residents Get Tips on Money Management
Young adults in the Methodist Children’s Home Independent Living program (ILP) got valuable advice from representatives of Wells Fargo during six-week money management courses. Personal bankers came to Clay Commons apartment complex to lead the groups in lessons such as earning money, spending smart, saving money, and building credit.
The course was offered at different times on two days of the week, repeating curriculum for the week so that all residents interested were able to attend. ILP residents Tameka and Chrislynn, who recently graduated from MCH charter school in May, attended the courses and felt they were getting great advice from the Wells Fargo representatives.
“It helps me with learning how to budget my money,” Chrislynn said.
Tameka added, “It is teaching us a lot of things we need to know in life and how to better prepare.”
Wells Fargo branch manager Julie Cowser, who helped teach the classes along with personal bankers Tabatha Turner, Larry Maxwell and Annamarie Eckenrode, said this opportunity came about after she reached out to MCH in an effort to give back to the community.
“Our branch stays involved with the community and I was searching nonprofits in our area,” Cowser said. “When I saw MCH I was excited about the opportunities to help students.”
Cowser worked with Jonathan Olivarez, Independent Living coordinator for MCH, to schedule the classes. The students follow a course curriculum from Wells Fargo that gives real-world advice geared toward young adults on topics such as saving money on their grocery bill, determining what rent they can afford and purchasing a vehicle.
“These financial education sessions are important to our residents because they help them better understand what will be expected to successfully transition to independence, and it outlines various steps they can take to ensure success,” Olivarez said. “By partnering with Wells Fargo, it helps residents build relationships outside of MCH, which is crucial to long-term success, and it lends credibility to the things they hear from our staff because they are hearing many of the same things from an outside agency.”
The Independent Living program serves MCH graduates as they transition into adulthood. Young adults first live at homes located at the back of the Waco campus before moving to the Clay Commons apartments located off campus. They receive guidance from MCH staff as they work and/or attend advanced education while taking steps toward becoming independent.
U.M. Army 2017
Seven youth from Methodist Children’s Home had an experience they will always remember during the United Methodist Action Reach-Out Mission by Youth (U.M. ARMY) trip July 16-22. MCH representatives work alongside volunteers from Kingwood United Methodist Church for this annual mission trip.
According to its website, U.M. ARMY “provides an opportunity for youth and adults to experience Christian growth through service to others.” Volunteers provide home repairs and maintenance for low income, elderly and/or disabled homeowners who are unable to make the repairs themselves. This year, the group traveled to Port Arthur, Texas, to assist families who were referred by social workers from a home health agency.
Kingwood representatives work with MCH staff to determine groups for the mission trip. The young people from MCH are spread out into different groups to work alongside adult team leaders and youth from Kingwood and other church youth groups. Ron Britton, spiritual development minister, accompanied the residents this year. It was his 15th mission trip with MCH, and Britton said every trip he looks forward to watching the youth transform and grow through their experience in helping others.
“It is a tangible way to change someone’s life,” Britton said about the mission trips. “I love getting to see our students experience that [because it also] creates a situation where we explore their faith.”
MCH youth built wheelchair ramps, painted houses, reinforced porches, and helped out in the church kitchen throughout the week. Gail, a resident at MCH, attended U.M. ARMY for the first time this year.
“You feel a sense of joy to come help people who need it and don’t have the resources,” she said. “It is a beautiful thing to see them get that freedom. It is all about the people we are impacting through these missions.”
MCH’s connection with Kingwood UMC began through their senior pastor who developed a love for the ministry, and the relationship has continued to grow. Kingwood sponsors MCH residents each year so that they can attend mission trips.
“For Kingwood, they love the opportunity to give our kids a chance to do something they’ve never done and be there with them,” Britton said. “For our kids, it is surprising to them how other people are willing to do things for them that they don’t know. During the trip, they are able to step into that environment of openness and comradery and by the end of the week, they’ve accepted it and enjoy it.”
Throughout the week, the friendships between the volunteers grow as they work hard during the day, worship in the evenings, and celebrate God’s love as they give back to others.
“With our kids, I’m hoping they grow in their faith, and understand and appreciate that they are not the only ones who hurt or have problems,” Britton said. “They come to realize that and it leads to growth in their faith and in the way they view people and humanity in general.”
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