Little Lights Urban Ministries

2011 Fall Newsletter

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2  Little lights urban ministries  FALL 2011 CONNECTING WITH SCHOOLS BETH DEWHURSt / ACADEMIC and program DIRECTOR connect the Tyler staff with parents of our common students. Often, this was the only school contact the parents had all year. Mr. Bender was great in going out to find parents to come to the Family Center office hours and in just building relationships with residents in general. Mr. Bender, Tyler Elementary Assistant Principal. We are breaking new ground on behalf of our students this year in a concerted effort to connect with each of our students' principals and teachers. We paved the way with a special Little Lights cup filled with chocolate, print materials, and a letter sharing how we are eager to engage with teachers as a way of supporting our students' academic progress this year. We targeted the schools at which we have the most students and will continue until we have visited each school where our students attend. We are being intentional with our Program Coordinators in these meetings, and emphasizing that here are the key people teachers can call or email to ensure homework is completed and to address any behavior or other student needs. This was our second year of connecting with the Tyler Elementary School leadership and staff; last year, I visited them during a faculty meeting and their Assistant Principal, Mr. Bender and key student-support staff held regular "office hours" in our Family Center in Potomac Gardens. This was the first time DCPS educators came to the Gardens in this capacity. We worked together to FALL PROGRAM UPDATE cooperate with us this year. They are also considering how to best utilize our Family Center in an effort to connect with the parents of truant students. As of early November, we have met with Ms. Young, Principal of Eliot -Hine Middle School and have setup This year, we have 19 elementary communication with each of our students attending Tyler, and Mr. students' teachers there. Our next Bender and his staff are back in school will be Ceaser Chavez PCS. the Family center every other week meeting with parents. It's also been We welcome your prayer support helpful to ensure our efforts align as we seek to build relationships with those of the school staff on with staff and teachers who have behalf of our students who struggle very tight schedules and much to the most. We will also work with the do; pray that they see the value of Tyler staff to support parents during connecting on behalf of our the DCPS open enrollment season in students in common. January, working side-by-side with parents to use our computer labs to enroll their children in Tyler We targeted the schools or other schools. at which we have the most A new relationship this fall is with our other neighborhood students and will continue school, Friendship Chamberlain Elementary and Middle School, until we have visited a public charter school where 15 of our students attend. Dr. each school where our Stephenson, principal, and his office manager, Ms. Williamson, gave us a students attend. warm welcome and are on board to BETH DEWHURSt / ACADEMIC and program DIRECTOR Our top students in homework completion will also be taking monthly trips again this year as part of Ms. Debbie with Lashawn. memory. That said, we can always our incentives effort. find a spot for volunteers willing to Middle School boys captured in discussion over the bible during Boys' Night. "Are programs staring tomorrow? When can I come?" We heard these questions over and over again in August as staff canvased Potomac Gardens with student applications for our fall programs. Getting out to talk with kids and parents early resulted in our programs filling up in record time this fall, with students in Kindergarten through 8th grade enrolled and wait lists for elementary and middle school Homework Clubs, Reading Heroes, and Math Heroes. Also in August, we began our literacy testing for our Reading Heroes students to get a jump on recording this important data on a spreadsheet so tutors can see student needs and progress, but also to get ahead in creating 44 individualized reading plans for our students to use with their tutors this fall. We also saw our volunteer recruiting grow steadily each week and are now fully equipped – sooner than we have ever been in recent help students from 3:30-6:00 pm in Homework Club, Tuesdays - Fridays, or to be a substitute tutor! Another big step forward for this fall was the roll out of our web-based data management system, SalesForce. Our Program and Development teams collaborated with consultant, Charise Van Liew, who has helped us move from several isolated databases to an integrated, customized information system.

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