Making local connections for meaningful community service and engagement. Inspiration for the Get Involved website for students Getinvolvedpa.com.
(San Francisco Bay Area, AKA: Silicon Valley)
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
My daughter Grace and I had a little meeting with her U.S. Government teacher, Mr. Blackburn, today. I expected to go into his classroom after school and possibly be reprimanded for not micromanaging my daughter enough, for not checking the teacher's website on a daily basis, and for overall lack of disciplining my sophomore student. It's not that Mr. Blackburn's teaching style is such, but the community where I live tends to promote helicopter parenting. We baby boomers are good at that. Luckily for Grace, and for me, I was dealt a few more challenges than I could handle as a single parent so there's no time for tracing the very steps of my four children. All I can do is encourage them to do their best work.
Mr. Blackburn must have been a motivational speaker in his former life. As I prefaced our conference with the challenges of this past month in our home and their effect on Grace, he looked right at my spunky teenager and gave her exactly the connection she needed. He let her know that he genuinely believed in her. There was no shame or deposition, merely a candid discussion of choices and how one's best performance in school can open doors later in life. This teacher is beyond generous with his time, and not shy about sharing his own story of under-performance in high school. He even promises to pique the students' curiosity by including in the course curriculum his real-life example of brushing with the law.
Teaching well can be learned in a credential program, but truly influencing a young person's life requires the ability to understand the nature of the individual. As Mr. Blackburn confided to us today, he would not be a very good teacher if he did not care deeply about each student in his five classes. He told Grace how happy he was for the choices he made, even for the mistakes, that led him to the abundant life he now has. No teacher could say this without sincere dedication to the work of educating minds and hearts. I'm still a little concerned with the grade my youngest child will earn in U.S. Government, but merely sitting in that classroom this year is bound to be full of "life lessons," priceless morsels from a teacher who cares.
The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back, by Kevin Salwen and Hannah Salwen. 2010, Houghton Mifflen Harcourt.
"Do Something: A Handbook for Young Activists," by Nancy Lublin. 2010, Workman Publishing.
"How to Make a Difference: Over 1,000 ways to serve at home, in your community, and in the world," by Catherine E. Poelman. 2002, Shadow Mountain.
160 Ways to Help the World: Community Service Projects for Young People," by Linda Leeb Duper. 1996.
"Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul," by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. 2002, Health Communications, Inc.
"Giving is Living: 101 Ways to Practice Effortless Generosity," by Marnie & Tisha Howard. 2009, Hatherleigh.
"Make a Difference: America's Guide to Volunteering and Community Service," by Arthur I. Blaustein. 2003, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
"Take Action! A Guide to Active Citizenship," by Marc Kielburger, Craig Kielburger. 2002, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
"The Idealist.org Handbook to Building a Better World," Idealist.org with Stephanie Land. 2009, Action Without Borders.
"Volunteering: The Ultimate Teen Guide," by Kathleen Gay. 2004, Scarecrow Press.
Words that Work
Mercy, n. 1. kindness in excess of what may be expected or demanded by fairness; forbearance and compassion 2.) the power to forgive or be kind. Syn.tolerance, favor, compassion.
"All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough." ~Anna Quindlen, A Short Guide to a Happy Life.
"I know not what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve." ~Albert Schweitzer, quoted in The 8th Habit by Steven Covey.
Slog, vi. 1. to make one's way with great effort; plod 2. to work hard at something; toil. ~New World Dictionary
Make a Difference...
Use the Good Works Blog as a resource to inspire everyday acts of good will, or to explore volunteering and community service in your world.
1.) In the World: Write letters to anyone(!) serving in the military, organize or participate in a blood drive, write letters and emails to elected officials to vote for specific environmental initiatives.
2.) In the Community: Gather new socks and underwear for a nearby homeless shelter or resource center, gather non-perishable food (especially during summer months) for a food bank, offer to sing and/or play an instrument at a convalescent home.
3.) In the Neighborhood: Offer to rake your neighbor's leaves, collect trash at nearby park, bake a special cake for a friend when it's not their birthday!