Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) is a member of The Coalition for Residential Education (CORE), a nonprofit association that supports and strengthens residential education programs and schools for children and youth whose families and communities cannot meet their needs. CORE serves as the national voice of residential education, advocating on behalf of its members.
Student of the Year: Aman Meerza
Aman, a recent high school graduate and resident of MCH, was one of two recipients of the Student of the Year Award presented by CORE. The Catherine Hershey Award for Student of the Year is given to a graduating student “who shows outstanding leadership and dedication. This student demonstrates a commitment to making the most of his/her talents and abilities, to helping fellow students in the program, and personifies the ideals and values of his/her program.”
Aman’s accomplishments are described in excerpts from his nomination below:
Aman came to Methodist Children’s Home in October 2010. He was born in the United States, moved to India and Germany, but came back to the U.S. for safety and educational opportunities. Aman was raised by his mom but after being homeless and moving through several abuse centers, he decided to seek placement at Methodist Children’s Home. Aman attended A.J. Moore Academy his 9th grade year and experienced another upsetting transition when A.J. Moore Academy announced in 2012 that they would be closing and he would have to relocate to University High for his 10th through 12th grade years. He entered the engineering program his 9th grade year at A.J. Moore Academy and would continue this educational track at University High through is 12th grade year. Aman has been in advanced placement classes and has maintained all A’s and B’s from 9th grade to present. Since coming to MCH he has been active in numerous clubs, trips and activities while not letting his past transitions affect his behavior choices or educational abilities.
Aman has participated and done well in UIL competitions from 8th grade to present in dictionary skills, science, and number sense. In the 8th grade Aman tutored other 8th grade students for the TAAKS test. Aman was in the Science Olympiad club in 9th grade. Aman attended camp ARCH at Texas A&M University for architecture in July of 2012. He participates in volunteer work in the community with his home unit at Ridgecrest Retirement and Health Care Center and on his own, such as waiting tables at the Mother and Daughter Christmas extravaganza, writing letters to soldiers in Iraq, and donating money to Salvation Army. Aman has worked for the Spiritual Development Department on the MCH campus since August 2012, where he controls the sound board for church and other activities.
While at MCH, Aman has maintained a leadership role in his home and has strived to be involved by joining clubs, academic activities, and volunteer work to improve his knowledge and prepare for his college career. He has successfully achieved the highest step in our program, Off Step since August 2012. Aman was also a member of the Student Leadership council for MCH.
Aman will be in the 12th grade this school year and has been recognized as an Outstanding Academic Achiever for the past 2 years at University High. He has been a member of the Robotics club and participated in a competition and placed 4th out of 22 other schools from Central Texas. He is a member of the National Honor Society and has been an active participant in the Upward Bound Math and Science program for the past two years and was chosen to go to Washington, D.C., this summer. He has taken both the SAT (1680) and ACT (28), he did very well on both exams. Aman is taking dual credit classes at McLennan Community College this summer and in the fall. Aman is currently ranked 5th in his class out of 376 students at University High. He is committed to school and his education and desires to become a Civil Engineer. Aman has accomplished a lot and plans to continue accomplishing his goal of going to college despite barriers that may arise. Aman has been accepted to Baylor University, Texas A&M University, University of Houston, and The University of Texas. He currently plans on attending college at The University of Texas.
Residential Educator of the Year: Steve and Debbie Callison
Steve and Debbie Callison, homeparents on the Waco campus, received the Catherine Hershey Award for Residential Educator of the Year from CORE. Recipients of this award are residential educators who show “a high level of dedication to the students in their care. This educator goes beyond the call of duty in order to ensure the physical, emotional and general well-being of their students.
Steve and Debbie Callison have been valued members of the MCH staff since 2005, working as homeparents in the Prothro Home since 2007. Their service is described in excerpts from the nomination:
Steve and Debbie are “natural nurturers” and embody the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) philosophy of care. They are responsible, accountable and take pride and ownership in their home, the youth and in our Methodist Children’s Home community. Their position of home parent is not just a job for the Callisons, but it is their passion. They focus on building healthy and trusting connections with each youth so that they may have hope for the future. The Callisons are intentional and work to create a “home” atmosphere for their youth and encourage the youth to be a family.
Steve and Debbie’s contributions are vast in regards to their efforts to improve the lives of youth in their care and support the staff they work with. Their dedication to the MCH community and the MCH mission is immeasurable. They are respected by their peers and youth for their ability to be kind, fair and firm. They set high expectations for themselves and they have high expectations for the youth they work with and strive to hold them accountable and help them to grow. Steve and Debbie lead by example. They role model TBRI and support, mentor and encourage other home parents.
The Callisons have an authentic approach in connecting with youth and staff. They bring a sense of acceptance and security to those around them. They treat others with dignity and respect and are passionate in their care and concern for the others. Steve and Debbie are quick to point out that working with youth has helped them to grow as individuals and as parents. I hope they realize the impact they have made on lives of the youth and staff they have served is immeasurable.