Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cultural Thought Provoker

Dayna Rowe, our foundation's communications specialist (major tech guru) as well as coordinator of the Fund for Teachers forwarded this from Carrie Pillsbury, the manager of marketing and communications for Fund for Teachers. 

Last week, national Fund for Teachers brought together representatives of its different partners. Damian Hoskins is from Cincinnati's STRIVE Partnership, an organization focused on "every child, every step of the way, from cradle to career." While explaining STRIVE's mission, he shared some information about a traditional greeting in the Masai tribe.

How Are the Children

Adapted by Pat Hoertdoerfer from an excerpt of a speech by Rev. Dr. Patrick T. O'Neill

Among the most accomplished and fabled tribes of Africa, no tribe was considered to have warriors more fearsome or more intelligent than the mighty Masai. It is perhaps surprising, then, to learn the traditional greeting that passed between Masai warriors:"Kasserian Ingera," one would always say to another. It means, "And how are the children?"

It is still the traditional greeting among the Masai, acknowledging the high value that the Masai always place on their children's well-being. Even warriors with no children of their own would always give the traditional answer, "All the children are well." Meaning, of course, that peace and safety prevail, that the priorities of protecting the young, the powerless, are in place. That Masai society has not forgotten its reason for being, its proper functions and responsibilities. "All the children are well" means that life is good. It means that the daily struggles for existence do not preclude proper caring for their young.

I wonder how it might affect our consciousness of our own children's welfare if in our culture we took to greeting each other with this daily question: "And how are the children?" I wonder if we heard that question and passed it along to each other a dozen times a day, if it would begin to make a difference in the reality of how children are thought of or cared about in our own country.

I wonder if every adult among us, parent and non-parent alike, felt an equal weight for the daily care and protection of all the children in our community, in our town, in our state, in our country. . . . I wonder if we could truly say without any hesitation, "The children are well, yes, all the children are well."
What would it be like . . . if the minister began every worship service by answering the question, "And how are the children?" If every town leader had to answer the question at the beginning of every meeting: "And how are the children? Are they all well?" Wouldn't it be interesting to hear their answers? What would it be like? I wonder . . .

From REACH February 1999  Retrieved 8-15-12

Masai photos from Lushpix,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Oklahoma's Big Sister of the Year

"Sisters, sisters: Big Brothers Big Sisters honors a special volunteer"

Article on August 6, 2012 By World Staff Writer Mike Averill

The title above the newspaper photo sums up mentoring well--

Caption from photo:  "Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer Martha Jennings is pictured with her "little sister" of nine years Brittany Stucker, 15, in Utica Square. Jennings was recently named Oklahoma's Big Sister of the Year. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World"

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Model Program in Tulsa, OK

This school-based program speaks for itself.

Adult volunteers in the Congregation B'nai Emunah/McClure Elementary School Mentoring Program are matched in a one-on-one relationship with kindergarten through sixth grade students at McClure Elementary School in Tulsa.

Volunteers work as "literacy mentors" because they primarily focus on building reading skills to help their students close the literacy gap and read at or above their grade level.

A unique hallmark of the program is that literacy mentors are able to track their students' reading growth throughout the year, a strategy that helps the program problem-solve around best practices for supporting students.

Volunteers commit to weekly hour-long sessions which take place during the school year and summer school.

Volunteers are also able to participate in the Reading Club where they work with 1st and 2nd students in small groups to significantly increase their reading levels.

Last year, many of our students grew over a year in their reading skills and kids in the Reading Club doubled their expected growth. As the program enters its ninth year in the 2012-2013 school calendar, we are aiming for 150 volunteers to join our ranks as literacy mentors and are hoping to set new records in reading growth for struggling students. 

Literacy mentoring takes place in a portable classroom which has been designated as the "mentoring center." The program is self-contained, with a leveled library, reading games, phonics activities, math resources, and other enrichment material.

Updated program information provided Jay Pendrak, Director of Community Development