Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Core Value Award for Service - Mary Rollins

Mary Rollins, human resources compliance manager, received the Core Award for Service. Mary has a genuine desire to be of service to others in a professional, honest and healthy manner. Mary always has a smile on her face and practices the “open door policy” to the fullest. Mary is most often the person our employees go to for assistance due to her warm greetings and her willingness to help them above and beyond what is deemed necessary.

Judy Broadway, vice president of human resources had this to say about Mary, “She is an extremely dependable employee whose job performance is unquestionably superior. Mary’s greatest asset is her ‘service heart.’ She will stop what she is doing to help an employee, guest or applicant until all facts are understood and the person is comfortable. I have been told that when you leave Mary’s office you feel good and valued.”

Friday, December 27, 2013

End-of-Semester School Projects

MCHS students ended the semester with some inventive classroom projects.  Several teachers at the Methodist Children’s Home School challenged students to use their creativity and knowledge acquired throughout the semester as they finished out the curriculum for the semester.

“The semester went well,” said Michelle Arocha, assistant principal at MCHS.  “Teachers have been working to incorporate engaging lessons with more project and group based activities to stimulate today’s learner.” 

In Carmen Rojas’ Spanish class, students chose from a variety of projects related to Spanish countries including writing their own skits or songs, cooking food and creating cultural artisan crafts.  For example, the Spanish II class researched countries and worked together to make a piñata and a Peruvian craft.

In Environmental Systems taught by Angie Hammond, students wrote and illustrated children’s books about the weather, global warming and pollution. Each student had to research their topic and create a story and their own drawings for a 10-page book.   

Middle-school students also participated in end-of-the-year activities. Teachers Amber Foster and Dee Beatty teamed up their English and Social Studies classes for a project on the White House. The English class was in charge of putting together a factual report while the Social Studies class built models of the White House using marshmallows, icing and toothpicks.

Also wrapping up the semester, Susan Roberts’ art class created perspective drawings by sitting in the hallways and drawing their view from their own vantage point.  Steve Kruse’s Ag Sciences class also had their woodworking projects displayed in the front corridor of the school including colorful benches and a handmade rocking horse. Projects such as these continue to help students become more invested in their learning.

“We are raising the level of expectation academically for the students and they have generally responded in a positive manner by taking a more active role in looking at their grades, talking with teachers about their learning, and attending tutoring if there is a need,” Arocha said.  “I have enjoyed seeing this trend develop and look forward to seeing the success of the students as they transition into post-secondary education and the workforce.  We have a large graduating class this year, so the spring semester will be very busy for teachers as well as students as we all work towards the common goal of high school graduation for all seniors.”

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bike donation from FUMC Grapevine

For the past 30 years, First United Methodist Church of Grapevine has blessed our children and youth with new bicycles for Christmas.  Our Christmas season kicked off on Saturday, December 14 with the arrival of 89 bikes.  Forty FUMC Grapevine members bought and assembled these bikes that will be enjoyed by our youth on the Waco and Boys Ranch campuses and children in our Dallas and Tyler Family Outreach offices.   

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Carolers bring Christmas spirit to MCH administration

The MCH choir spread Christmas cheer to staff in three administrative buildings on Wednesday, Dec. 11.

The youth traveled to the Administration Building, Perkins Heritage Home and Johnson Student Center to perform Christmas carols and brighten the day for staff.  After the caroling, the students were treated to hot chocolate and refreshments in the JSC lobby.

Caroling provided the youth with some extra practice before they perform for the Carols and Candles worship service on Dec. 19. During the service, the choir also plans to perform a special Christmas carol  remix including a beat created by choir member Patrick and a rap written as a group effort by the choir members. The MCH Drum Line will assist with the performance of the remix.

The choir consists of 10 students led by recreation coordinator Kimberly Bobbitt and choir instructor Amy Toney. The youth have been singing together since September 2013 as part of an after-school recreation program. They first met informally to discuss their objectives and assess the students’ experience with singing in a choir. Toney said initially, the students greatest concern was singing in front of people, a fear they met head on during the caroling and in class.

This year Toney and Bobbitt have taught the students lessons on basic music theory, note reading, and vocal health. The choir has also participated in fun activities such as karaoke, sing-offs and music charades as well as singing challenges. The choir has taken group trips to view advanced groups such as the Baylor a cappella group Virtuoso, to help the students to see what their hard work can accomplish.

“The students have worked hard in choir,” Bobbit said. “For me one of the most rewarding aspects of choir this semester has been that even on days when it is challenging for the students to work together, once they start singing the dissonance is gone because the whole room is then working to build musical harmony. Those melodies, and the joy that singing them creates, make it all worth it.”

Next semester, the MCH choir will be preparing for the TCAL competition in April where they will compete in solo and ensemble contests. Congratulations to our choir for all their hard work!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Wishes from China Spring Intermediate

Fifth grader Hannah Crawford had the idea to get her school
involved in making Christmas cards for youth at MCH.
No matter what age, one person’s thoughtfulness can influence many. After visiting Methodist Children’s Home with her stepmother, 10-year-old Hannah Crawford felt compelled to reach out to the youth served through this ministry. Thanks to her efforts, this year MCH youth will be receiving special Christmas sentiments from China Spring Intermediate’s fifth and sixth grade classes.
“I’ve come to Methodist Children’s Home a few times for Christmas and I’ve made some friends,” Hannah said. “I know that they get presents here but I wanted to give them more cheer and thought Christmas cards would be great so that when they open their gifts, they see that there’s someone else out there who cares.”

When Hannah’s class was making Christmas cards, she told her teacher about MCH and asked if she could ask a few of the children to make cards for MCH youth. Her teacher made an announcement to the class and the students joined in. The next day, Hannah wanted to see if she could possibly get the whole school involved. She met with the school counselor who suggested she write a letter about her desire to start a Christmas card campaign. The principal of the school sent Hannah’s letter out to all the teachers and the entire fifth and sixth grade agreed to participate.

“I was so happy,” Hannah said. “It is good to know that all these kids are helping other kids. It’s great that even though the kids at school haven’t been there, they are willing to make the cards.”
Hannah’s stepmother, Allison Crawford, volunteer and special events coordinator at MCH, was very touched by Hannah’s sentiment.

“Hannah has a big heart and we’re so proud of her,” Crawford said. “It meant a lot to me that her visits to MCH had such an impact on her.”

The cards will be delivered to MCH by Tuesday so they will be ready in time for gift opening after the Carols and Candles Christmas celebration on Dec. 19. Youth will have something a little extra under the Christmas tree this year.

“I hope it will put a smile on their face to know that other kids out there think of them and that it will help put them in the holiday spirit,” Hannah said. “My intention was to make them happy and just say ‘Merry Christmas.’”

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tyler foster family adopts three brothers, continues respite care

Pictured above, left to right: LaTasha Hickman, case manager; Tyler; Karel; Patrick; Chris; Aaron.

Chris and Karel Clore have been licensed foster parents with Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) since April 2010. The Clores said they let God guide them in their decision for expanding their family and deciding to foster with MCH.

Chris and Karel accepted their first placement in August 2010. During their licensure, the Clores have accepted placement of three brothers, as they were born, each just one year apart. When the Clores began the process of becoming foster parents, they never dreamed they would adopt three children, but they always had hopes of adopting through foster care.

For the past two and a half years, the Clore family has been blessed to adopt their three sons through foster care. The family has participated in three National Adoption Day ceremonies and adopted three-year-old Tyler, two-year-old Patrick and one-year-old Aaron.

Chris and Karel said God placed these boys in their lives and they could not imagine their family in any other way. They have provided the boys with a loving home and family, and they thank MCH for all of the support they have received over the years.

The Clores plan to remain as foster parents to serve by providing respite for families. The Tyler outreach office is blessed to have such a loving and compassionate family as one of its own.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Life Books save treasured childhood memories

The Corpus Christi Outreach office held a Life Book Training Party for foster families in November. During the training, foster parents were able to make pages for their current foster children’s Life Books. Parents brought a variety of stickers and scrapbooking pages, scissors, glue and markers. The foster children were able to participate in the process and assisted with their own Life Books.

The Life Book is a collection of photos or a scrapbook that is carefully developed by foster parents and MCH staff while a child is in care. Many Life Books contain information about the child’s life and experiences while in foster care, such as samples of schoolwork, artistic creations and other important pieces. The Life Book ensures that fond memories, accomplishments and milestones are captured for every child and family. The Life Book is created to go with the child when they return home.

At the training, MCH staff discussed the importance of having a Life Book for each child. Foster parents were able to share tips on how they stay current with the Life Books, such as scheduling time and purchasing items on sale. (Foster parents also utilized pre-made pages from the following website: http://www.ifapa.org/publications/ifapa_lifebook_pages.asp.)

MCH believes in the importance of supplying Life Books for each child in care. The foster parents enjoyed this time together and were able to fellowship and exchange information in the process.

Here are some photos from the recent training in Corpus Christi:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Core Value Award for Hope - Beth Harris

Beth Harris, second from right, is pictured with
 MCH youth Justice, Chelsea and Ema.
Beth Harris, recreation director for the Waco campus, received the Core Award for Hope.  Beth has a quiet inner strength and goes about her work with a smile on her face.  As our recreation director, Beth coordinates and facilitates our summer enrichment program, and has been instrumental in establishing our after school program which now includes the drum line, choir and theater arts.  She has a keen understanding of Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) and instills these skills in the staff she supervises as well as her work with our youth.

Charlsie Whitney, campus administrator had this to share about Beth, “She has a sweet spirit and a kind nurturing nature; but also has nerves of steel and is willing to do whatever it takes to make therapeutic recreation an integral part of our program.  She always demonstrates a professional demeanor and is caring, creative and encouraging.  These attribute guide her innate ability to offer hope to our youth through therapeutic interactions in all aspects of our recreation program. We are very fortunate to have Beth as part of our MCH team.”

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

For the Record: School registrar shares her reasons for working at MCH

Shannon Valles-Moss, MCH School Registrar
Shannon Valles-Moss, a staff member for MCH on the Waco campus for 14 years, is serving currently as the school registrar. For the past two years, her role at the MCH School has been to enroll students from the Waco and Boys Ranch campuses. She keeps attendance each day, and keeps up with the activities of our students and their records to ensure that all their earned credits are not lost during transition. This enables students to stay on track for their projected graduation dates.

Shannon shared why she loves working at MCH.

“We do awesome work here and I enjoy seeing the students every day,” Shannon said. “I often am the recipient of a student’s kindness which reminds me of the importance of our relationships with them. I feel fortunate to be in a position to see the end result of our work through events like prom, student awards day and graduation. And I am blessed to be working with such a great staff. It really does make a difference.”

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Physics for the thrill seekers

MCH physics students experienced exciting twists and turns and used their creativity during the recent roller coaster project at Methodist Children’s Home School. Teacher Angie Hammond developed the hands-on project as a way to teach her students the concepts of force, motion and energy.

For the project, students were challenged to create a thrilling roller coaster that will satisfy customers of Six Flags amusement park who wish for more exciting rides.  The students worked as a group to design a roller coaster and prepare a presentation for a team of scientists serving as Six Flags’ Board of Directors.

Students created their roller coasters using pipe insulation and tested out the tracks using a marble. The marble must stay on the track throughout the ride and come to a complete stop at the end. The team calculated the speed, acceleration, potential and kinetic energy on various spots on the track. Each team came up with a creative design incorporating twists, turns and loops to complete a thrilling ride.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Testing the Power of Persuasion

Sierra (left) and Wilmaniece
Sierra and Wilmaneice, both seniors at the MCH School, are taking a dual credit course in Sociology at McLennan Community College. They developed a research project for their class on how behavior affects other people.

Michelle Arocha, MCH School vice principal, said the girls developed and carried out the study on their own.

“Sierra and Wilmaneice are doing a research project on the power of persuasion and peer pressure,” Arocha said. “They selected the students for the study, created a spreadsheet to document their information, created the materials for their study and are in charge of calling students to the class. We are providing supervision for students getting to and from the room in which the study is taking place, but the girls have organized and done everything else on their own.”

During the experimental part of the research project, the girls called 14 students individually into a classroom with the control group of students to ask them a series of questions. The control group consisted of three students, with a total group of four students during each session. The control group was instructed to give the same, intentionally incorrect answer during each session. The fourth student was asked the same questions and his or her responses were recorded.

“We are testing to see if the students in the experimental group will submit to the others’ answers or stay true to their answer,” Wilmaneice said.

After the series of questions, the researchers told the students in the experimental group the purpose of the study and asked them why they chose the answers they did. Some of the responses were as follows.

“I didn’t want to be different,” said one student who gave the same answers as the control group.

“Because it was the right answer,” said another student who answered correctly, regardless of the control group’s answers.

Sierra and Wilmaneice said they chose the control group based on who they thought would be the most cooperative, is the most well-known, and who other students may be inclined to follow. The results were varied and the project overall was a success.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Core Value Award for Responsibility - Phil and Mae Smith

Phil and Mae Smith, homeparents at the Boys Ranch, received the Core Award for Responsibility.  The Smiths are positive role models and provide leadership that is essential for the development of youth.  They do not shy away from working with “youth from hard places” and strive to create intentional, deep, nurturing relationships with all the youth that pass through their doors.
The Smiths truly recognize their responsibility to teach compassion through generosity and care for others.  Due to this belief they feel youth can work through their own pain in their lives by giving back to others, so they provide opportunities for them to be involved in many service projects in our community.   

Chuck Russell, former Ranch administrator had this to share about the Smiths, “Phil and Mae exemplify the importance of teamwork and are respected by their peers.  They encourage the boys to do their very best and take time to ensure their needs are met.  They often are contacted by former youth which attests to their relationships with our youth.”

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Family Outreach in Tyler Continues to be an Active Member of the East Texas Network for Children

Twenty-six years ago, twenty representatives of East Texas public and private agencies met to consider how to enhance communication and client services for the children and families of the area. From those meetings, the East Texas Network for Children (ETNC) was established.

The collaborative tradition continues in an annual conference where more than 300 professionals and foster parents come together each Fall to exchange ideas, share perspectives and enlarge their repertoire of resources.

MCH is a proud member of the ETNC. MCH Eastern Regional Administrator, Traci Wagner, currently serves as the ETNC Board Vice President. The 25th annual ETNC conference was held on September 16-17 at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas.

Pictured (l to r) in front of the MCH information table at the 2013 conference are staff from the MCH Family Outreach office in Tyler: Traci Wagner, eastern regional administrator; Holli Collins, outreach director; Suzy King, case manager; Jessica Johnson, case manager; Philana Hollingsworth, case manager; and Latasha Hickman, case manager.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall Festival and Senior Ring Ceremony 2013

On Sunday, November 3, youth from the Waco campus and Boys Ranch attended the 2013 Fall Festival.  The event was held in the pavilion at the Boys Ranch and hosted by the recreation and spiritual development staff.  

The morning began with a worship service and presentation of senior rings to our May graduates.  Lunch was then served by the Student Advisory Board.  The day continued with activities that included face painting, Frisbee toss, “horse rides,” pie toss and plinko to name a few.

This event is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our seniors, and for youth, their families and staff to continue building relationships.

Thank you to the staff that helped make the event a success! 

To view photos from the Fall Festival, visit our photo gallery on the MCH website

Friday, November 1, 2013

Homecoming 2013

Methodist Children’s Home Bulldogs took on the Brazos Valley Christian Home Educators Association (BVCHEA) for the Homecoming game on Friday, October 25.  Before the game, staff and youth came together to cheer on the team during a pep rally that included performances by the drum line and cheerleaders.  Students received candy and face painting of a paw print at the pep rally.  Fans also participated in a tailgate party that offered food and fellowship for all.

The homecoming court included Savannah, Dominique, Noel, Emily, Wilmaneice and Chelsea. Emily was crowned as Homecoming Queen with Savannah chosen as Homecoming Princess. 

The Bulldogs won the game 95-46 to give them an undefeated record of 8-0.  Visit our Facebook page for more pictures from Homecoming.omecomingH

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Core Value Award for Relationships – Abbie Garcia

Abbie Garcia received the Core Value Award for Relationships. Abbie is a case manager in the Lubbock Outreach office and works hard to build strong, trusting relationships with her foster parents, co-workers, birth parents and other agency representatives.  Abbie’s positive attitude and joyful spirit assist her in building and maintaining these relationships.

Dana Bearden, director of the Lubbock Outreach office, had this to say about Abbie, “Abbie is currently working with two young birth mothers. She continuously gives positive, honest and respectful feedback to these mothers, and they are motivated by her to make the necessary changes to improve their lives and the lives of their children.  She goes above and beyond to assist them in any way that she can.  Lubbock is very fortunate to have her on our team!”

Congratulations Abbie!

Friday, October 18, 2013

MCH Recreation Program Earns State Award

The MCH recreation department received Program of the Year for 2012 from the Texas Experiential Resources Association (TERA). Beth Harris, MCH recreation director for the Waco campus, said she believes MCH earned the award because of the variety and quality of activities offered to residents.

“We dabble in a lot of areas and we offer a wide range of activities to our youth,” Harris said. “We do regular evaluations with our residents to target their interests.”

Harris added that the recreation program at MCH is more than just providing activities.

“We work with our youth to achieve personal goals and we track their progress,” Harris said. “Our youth are doing all the work to accomplish their goals and we get to facilitate that growth. It’s neat to look back and see how much they’ve grown.”

The award is a commendation to all of the MCH recreation staff. Pictured below are recreation staff from the Waco campus and Boys Ranch with the TERA award.

To learn more about MCH’s recreation program, click here to read the article “Playing with Purpose” in our summer issue of Sunshine.

Pictured L to R: Ian Bracken, recreation coordinator; Anthony Mead, after-school program coordinator; Pablo Villanueva, recreation assistant; Kimberly Bobbitt, recreation coordinator; Nicole Ehler, Boys Ranch program services director; Beth Harris, Waco campus recreation director; and Robbie Matteson, recreation assistant. Geoff Nelson, recreation coordinator, is not pictured.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

MCH students take on technology

From left: Karen Cryer, Tristan, Dusty
Two Waco campus youth are getting valuable work experience in information technology this semester through student positions in the MCH technology department. Dusty and Tristan began their jobs in August when IT department staff members Michael Baxley and Karen Cryer contacted MCH’s student events coordinator to get part-time student support.

Dusty and Tristan help IT by formatting, cleaning off data and removing hard drives from old computers. They also accompany IT staff on service requests around campus.

“They are doing really well at this job,” Cryer said. “They both work fast and have a strong interest in computers and electronics.  There will be opportunities for Dusty and Tristan to get some real hands-on experience as the technology department takes on more projects."

Dusty said he had minimal computer experience when he started the job but is learning a lot and enjoys the job.

“It is laid back and they let us do our job and trust that we will get it done,” Dusty said.

Dusty and Tristan have been roommates at MCH for almost three years and said they work well together. Tristan came to the position with a basic knowledge of computers.

“It has been a good opportunity to learn,” he said. “I want to go to college for graphic design so this experience will help me.”  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo 2013

MCH had a strong performance in the 2013 Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo with 22 students from FFA showing animals and 14 students entering the Creative Arts contest. The fair was held at Extraco Events Center in Waco from October 3-12. Youth showing animals are students in the FFA program led by Steve Kruse through the Methodist Children’s Home School.

This was the first time many of the students showed animals at an event. Kruse said he was very proud of his students for their performance in the show.

“I am pleased with the results because the students all showed well,” he said. “Winning is nice, but it is the lessons our kids learn and the experiences they gain that are important.”


Lambs:  FWX - Mathew N.-9th; Southdown - Cassie-8th; Medium wool - Star-4th

 WOPB - Maleak-6th; BOPB - Diego-2nd;  DUROC - Michael D.-3rd, Jonah-5th, Tristan-6th, Enzo-9th;  HAMP - Stephen J.-6th, Dusty-8th, Michael R.-9th, Mykala-10th; also participating - Jordan P., James C.

  Eliza-12th, Patricia-13th, Thomas-16th

Chianina division - Dakota-6th, Lloyd-7th; Limousin division - Memo-10th; AOB - Brandon-12th

Creative Arts Entries:
Steven S: 3 photographs - 2 Honorable Mentions, 4th place
Noel: 2 photographs - 2 Honorable Mentions
Dustin: 2 photographs - 4th, 5th
Diego: 2 craft entries (birdhouse and Lego dragster) - 2nd, 3rd
Alfred: 1 baked good entry (fudge) - 1st
Jacob: 1 art entry (3D squares) - Honorable Mention
James R.: 1 baked good entry (nutella cookies) - 1st
Spencer: 1 craft entry (shield and sword metal) - 1st
Marvin: 1 craft entry (Duck Dynasty plaque) - 1st
Brandon: 6 photographs - 5th, 5 Honorable Mentions
Andrew: 2 photographs - 5th, Honorable Mention
Lloyd: 2 photographs - 1st, 3rd
Michael: 1 craft entry (Skittle painting) - 5th
Billy: 1 baked good entry (chocolate truffle) - 3rd

Kruse expressed his appreciation to staff stating, “I want to thank the caseworkers, home parents, administrators, employees and school personnel who came out and supported our young people. I want to give a special thanks to Pat Close for all his hard work and to the ladies in the Development Department who took pictures.”

Congratulations to all our FFA students and Creative Arts competitors!