Friday, July 12, 2019

Freshmen Fish Camp 2019

Incoming freshmen at the charter school on the campus of Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) learned what to expect as they enter high school during Fish Camp, a freshman orientation, on July 10. Sixteen students will begin their first year at the charter school operated in partnership with The University of Texas-University Charter School system.

Michelle Arocha, executive principal, gave the students an overview of the school, went over expectations and explained transcripts and grade point averages. Additionally, she informed them of changes this upcoming school year including new teachers, schedules and school policies.

After Arocha’s presentation, students were introduced to members of the MCH Transition Services (TS) staff. TS coordinators begin meeting with MCH students their junior year to help them prepare and develop post-graduation plans, including how to apply for college and scholarships, admissions testing, taking college visits, finding a place to live, and learning independent living skills.

TS staff explained to students about life after high school and gave examples regarding cost of living expenses such as rent and phone. They also provided information on additional MCH resources available to students and stressed the importance of doing well in school in order to increase their chance of success in advanced education or the workplace.

Freshmen were given information on dual credit and career development programs available to them as upperclassmen through partnerships with Waco ISD and local colleges. Through the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy (GWAMA), students can choose a curriculum to learn welding, construction, electronics and robotics, or architecture. By taking classes with the Greater Waco Advanced Healthcare Academy (GWAHCA), students can earn certificates as a certified nurse assistant, pharmacy technician or EKG technician.

For the final activity of Fish Camp, the group participated in team building exercises with MCH recreation staff. They closed out the day discussing what they learned during the orientation.

“I learned that you need good grades and to be on your best behavior in order to earn scholarships,” said Devion, one of the students attending Fish Camp.

Charter school students will begin the 2019-2020 school year on Aug. 19.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

MCH students excel during district fine arts competition


The hard work of students from Methodist Children’s Home charter school paid off during the recent Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship (TCAF) Fine Arts Competition and One Act Play competition, with two MCH students bringing home state honors.

Students prepared their fine arts projects during afterschool programs led by the MCH recreation department. Projects were submitted in instrumental, dance, photography, and theatre. Kellie Bennet, recreation coordinator, helped the students prepare dance routines this semester. She said her dance students worked for three months perfecting their routine for competition and received an “Excellent” rating for their efforts.

“I am so proud that I hung up their award in my office so I can look at it every day,” Bennett said.

She said her solo and duet dancers also impressed her, with one soloist, Camray, awarded second place in state for the second year in a row.

“As a coach, I could not be more proud of the group of kiddos I was blessed with this season, and I can’t wait to see what next season has in store for us,” Bennett said.

Faith, a photography student, also received state honors, placing first for her photograph of the Harrell Memorial Chapel on the MCH Waco campus.

Theatre students performed “Finders Keepers” during the One Act Play competition, a drama about a couple who finds a large sum of money that they later find out belongs to a neighbor. The couple grapples with the decision on whether to return or keep the money. The play earned the theatre group a B ranking. Two individuals also received honors with Shane earning All Star First Cast and Faith earning an Honorable Mention.

“I was really proud and impressed by them during the competition because they were really nervous and it was their first time perform in in large crowd,” said Gabe Garcez, theatre instructor. “But they really excelled in their performances, and I felt it was the best they’ve done all semester.”

Ashley Kendrick, student events coordinator, said competitions such as these are a great learning experience for the students.

“Our students have worked hard this semester to either surpass last year’s accomplishments, grow their talents, or challenge themselves to try something new,” Kendrick said. “The extracurricular activities our students participated in challenge them to step out of their comfort zone at times, teaches how to be a team player, builds their self-confidence, and shows them how to reach for a goal. We are so proud of them and all that they accomplished!”

Below is a list of results:

Instrumental:
Faith C. – Excellent

Dance Solo:
Camray – Superior and 2nd in state
Natavia – Excellent
Andy – good
Natalie – Good

Dance Duet:
Nikkie and Christina – Good

Dance Team:
Team (Natavia, Aniya, Camray, Nikkie, Andy, Christina, Lacey, Natalie) – Excellent

Photography:
Lauren – Excellent
Faith W. – Superior and 1st in state
Alexis – Good
Kiyona – Good
Victoria – Good

Monologue:
Lacey – Excellent
Abigial – Good

One Act Play:
B ranking overall
Faith – Honorable Mention
Shane – All Star First Cast

Congratulations to all our fine arts and one act play students!





Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Central Texas nonprofits seeking donations for tornado relief efforts in Franklin

Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) locations in Waco and Bryan, Texas, are collaborating to collect donations from the public to support children and families of Robertson County affected by the devastating storms and tornadic activity of April 13.

According to Moe Dozier, vice president for programs at MCH, “More than 55 homes were destroyed by the storms on April 13. In times of crisis such as this, we have a unique opportunity to come alongside affected families and children and offer compassion and assistance.”

Anjuli Renold, executive director of CASA of Brazos Valley, said donations of new toys, gift cards and diapers can be dropped off this week through Friday, May 3, at CASA in Bryan and MCH locations in Waco and Bryan.

Franklin United Methodist Church will facilitate distribution to families in the Robertson County community.

“We are so grateful to these two awesome organizations that are coming together to bring joy to some of Franklin’s most vulnerable victims of the tornado,” said Rev. Polly Standing, senior pastor of Franklin United Methodist Church. “These gifts are a light in an otherwise sorrowful and dark time. With each toy, hope is being restored.”

Donations can be made at the following locations:

In Waco:
MCH Family Outreach Center
524 W. Waco Dr.
Waco, TX  76701
(M-F, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat. 1-4 p.m.)

In Bryan:
CASA of Brazos Valley
115 N. Main St.
Bryan, TX  77803
(M-F, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.)

MCH Family Outreach
4001 E. 29th St., Suite 108
Bryan, TX  77802
(M-F, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Methodist Children’s Home receives 2019 Guidestar Gold Seal


Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) again received the Gold Seal of Transparency designation from Guidestar, the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.

More than 10 million visitors visit Guidestar.com each year to find information on nonprofit organizations for the purpose of research, community collaboration and charitable giving. Less than 1 percent of nonprofits listed on Guidestar have achieved the Gold level, noted MCH President/CEO Tim Brown.

“Receiving the Gold Seal designation from Guidestar shows that Methodist Children’s Home is committed to integrity and transparency as a top-rated nonprofit organization through the way we share our goals, strategies, capabilities, and vision,” Brown said.

“As we carry out our important work of offering hope to children, youth and families across Texas and New Mexico, this designation is another assurance to our supporters, benefactors and the public that MCH is worthy of their support and trust,” he said.

MCH is also rated as a four-star charity by Charity Navigator, the highest rating available from the nation’s largest charity evaluator. MCH is accredited through the Council on Accreditation (COA), an independent, nonprofit accreditor of the full continuum of community-based behavioral health care and social service organizations in the United States and Canada.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

MCH youth soar during recent field trip


Students from the Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) charter school in Waco flew through the air and faced their fears during a field trip they will never forget. Juniors and seniors from Leisa Patterson’s financial math class learned lessons in velocity and engineering during their visit on April 3 to iFly, an indoor flying experience in Austin. The charter school is operated in partnership with The University of Texas-University Charter School system and is located on the Waco campus of MCH.

Patterson planned the field trip with the help of her student Roger who initially suggested the trip. Patterson said Roger and his classmates were very excited for the opportunity to “fly.”

At the iFly center, students first attended a class to learn about the science and math behind being able to float, having to calculate the area of their body and then use that, as well as other scientific measurements, to estimate the amount of wind speed necessary to keep them afloat. After the lesson, they learned hand signals they would use to communicate during their flight. Finally, each student suited up in a flight suit, helmet and goggles to take their turn with a flight instructor in the wind tunnel.

“Most of the students did very well and all the students at least tried it,” Patterson said. “This was very big for them because many were hesitant and scared to try, but they all did. Overcoming their fear was a huge milestone for many.”

At the conclusion of the trip, the students received a goodie bag with a shirt and other items to remember their experience.
   
“I am very thankful for being allowed to take my financial math classes on this field trip,” Patterson said. “It not only gave each student a new experience to remember, but it helped them face and conquer their fears. More importantly though, they were also able to see how the math and science are applied in the real world which is something we are always striving to impress on the kids.”



Thursday, April 11, 2019

School registrar named Staff of the Year


Congratulations to Shannon Fleming, school registrar with The University of Texas-University Charter School System (UT-UCS) district, for receiving the Staff of the Year Award! Fleming is in charge of two campuses in the district including the Methodist Children’s Home charter school where her office is located. The MCH charter school is on the Waco campus and operated in partnership with UT-UCS.

Fleming was chosen out of all staff members from 23 schools in the district which serves over 3,000 students. Recipients are chosen after nominations are received through a district-wide survey. Although several people were nominated this year, Fleming received numerous nominations from staff.

She was surprised in her office on March 25 by district superintendent Dr. Melissa Chavez and Fleming’s supervisor and PEIMS Coordinator Audrea Carmack with a certificate and bouquet of orange flowers.

“I was in complete shock to receive the staff of the year award for the district,” Fleming said. “It had me completely in tears. I work with so many amazing people and they are all deserving of this honor.  It just never crossed my mind that I would be nominated. It’s heartwarming to hear the things that my peers have said about me and how they feel about me as a co-worker and a person.”

Fleming has worked on the MCH campus for almost 21 years, first as an employee of MCH and then as a UT-UCS employee for the last seven years. In her current position as campus registrar, she is in charge of student records and transcripts. Michelle Arocha, executive principal at the charter school, said Fleming’s duties are crucial for the students and the school, and she does a great job at making sure they are all taken care of.
“Shannon really is the go-to person in getting student’s records,” Arocha said. “There are times when students have been in multiple schools before arriving at MCH.  Shannon tracks down those records from all schools so that we can make sure kids have accurate records. She is very precise and works hard to make sure that her schools are run accurately.”

Carmack said she appreciates Fleming’s dedication in doing her work.

“As her supervisor I just want to say Shannon is a great registrar and we love her here at UT-UCS,” Carmack said. “I’m so happy she received this award. She is always serving students and staff. She cares about the quality of her work and it shows in everything she does. I love calling Shannon because keeps a great attitude and her sense of humor always has me giggling!”
“I love what I do and honestly I just come to work and try to do my job the best I can every day and just take care of what needs to be done,” Fleming said. “That’s what we do. But with the great teams that I work with at UT-UCS and my campuses MCH and UHS each and every day, it’s not hard. We all work together to do what’s best for these kiddos and their education. That’s what it’s all about. I am so appreciative and thankful to be awarded 2018-2019 District Staff of the Year for UT-UCS.”


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Youth utilize life skills during Escape Room challenge


Methodist Children’s Home residents are enjoying a new “escape room” activity challenge at the MCH Boys Ranch designed with clues that reinforce MCH Life Skills in an entertaining way.

Maegan Molnar, home life manager at the Boys Ranch, and Sarah Pitman, social work graduate intern from Baylor University, have been working since January to convert the Fern Cone building at the Ranch into the intricate escape room game consisting of Western props, activities and riddles that youth must work together to solve.

Escape rooms are popular team-building venues offering problem-solving challenges built around a story or a theme. Participants test their wits against challenging clues, puzzles and mysteries embedded in the room or series of rooms. Solving a challenge allows the participants to “escape” to the next challenge that progresses through the room. Molnar said she came up with the idea and wanted to put it together to give residents an experience where they could work on life skills as well as team building and problem solving.
 
“The kids we serve have such a wide range of interests; I really wanted to include a little something for everyone,” Molnar said. “There is an area where they have to be very observant and use critical thinking skills, an area where they go ‘fishing,’ an activity where they must use their hands and dig for a clue, and several opportunities to decode cheesy puns!”

MCH’s 10 Life Skills are: Use good words to communicate; be gentle and kind; show respect; listen and learn; understand who is in charge; accept decisions of authority; make good choices; focus and finish your work; negotiate and compromise; and build trusting relationships. Molnar said teams end up using these life skills during the challenge without even realizing it.

“The kids bounce ideas off of each other, root each other on, take turns reading clues aloud, build off each other’s notions, and essentially teach each other things,” Molnar said. “The kids are also inadvertently having a calming sensory experience so that they are not overstimulated while trying to solve puzzles. In each room there is ambient lighting, a cool fan, low background noise, and many opportunities to touch different textures through the clues and tasks they must complete.”

Participants are timed as they work to complete the escape room and discover the treasure. Molnar said it is open to Boys Ranch residents as well as MCH youth from the Waco campus. The teams from each campus with the fastest time are awarded a gift card to Sonic.

“We have set up a backdrop with props at the end of the game where participants can take their photo and add their time to the leaderboard,” she said. “We also invite any staff members from every team to participate! So far the adults have had just as much fun as the kids.”


Maegan Molnar (left) came up with the idea for the Escape Room challenge. She, along with
Sarah Pitman (right), graduate intern, created the escape room at the Boys Ranch.