Comfort Food

Comfort Food

 “A kid that is not worried about whether he will have dinner tonight is a kid who is more ready and able to learn.  He is one that sleeps more soundly, knowing that there will be breakfast in the morning.  Though he may have several other issues that require complex answers, this one can be answered simply.  He just needs food.”


The Power of Thanks

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 “Thank you”

Powerful words.  Powerful enough that their presence soothes and strengthens.  Powerful enough that their absence bring disillusionment and bitterness.

We at Shine have witnessed the power of these words this May, during Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week.  Some Shine partners have hosted luncheons, others have created small gifts, others have given gift cards.  None of these activities have been earth-shattering events that made the news; but they have all been done in the spirit of genuine gratitude.

Why are our APS Title I teachers so deserving of our thanks?

In the 2017-2018 school year, 64,000 New Mexico kids whose families qualify for APS food services sat in their classrooms.  That’s 64,000 kids from homes where their caregivers struggle to make ends meet.  Many are in foster care.  Many are being raised by their grandparents.  Many are homeless.

Our teachers, while trying to make academic strides with their students, are also concerned for their safety and health…physical, mental, and emotional.  

And they are given the tasks of teaching our young ones to dream…to believe in themselves…to work hard…to succeed.

A great percentage of our future sits in our public schools that are under-staffed.  Many teachers will have 28 to 35 children in their class, and they will not likely have an educational assistant unless they teach kindergarten or kids with special needs.  They often will do this without support from their students’ caregivers.  It is a lonely job.

Though trained talented enough to teach anywhere, our teachers have chosen to stay here…to invest in New Mexico’s future.

We are so grateful for their patience, for their personal sacrifices, for their willingness to step into the overwhelm of their classroom.  And they need to know.

 X Factor Church hosts a staff appreciation lunch for Bel Air Elementary

X Factor Church hosts a staff appreciation lunch for Bel Air Elementary

  Shine volunteers from Mosaic Church host a staff appreciation luncheon for Mary Ann Binford Elementary

 Shine volunteers from Mosaic Church host a staff appreciation luncheon for Mary Ann Binford Elementary

They need to know that they are seen.  They need to know someone is in their corner.  They need to know that even though their grade book may not reflect the blood, sweat, and tears that they poured out this year, they have made a lasting impact on their community.

And do you know what happens when we express these things to them in the form of luncheons and cards and treats?  Would you think that they see these offerings as a  pittance compared to what they deserve?

If so, you couldn’t be more wrong.

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The outpouring of gratitude in return is astonishing.  Here are a few quotes from APS Title I teachers that we received last week in response to our small demonstration of gratitude:

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  It’s so lovely to feel so supported and appreciated.  Thank you for believing in us!”

“It’s these tokens of appreciation that keep me here and happy!”

“Words cannot express how grateful we are”

“We absolutely could not do what we do without community support.”

“The solution to many of the world’s problems is showing up and sharing your talents to make a direct impact on a child’s life.  The way Shine supports our school makes a

difference.”

APS teachers, especially those of you invested in Title I schools, if you don’t know it yet…

We’re with you

We’re for you

We’re grateful for you.

Thank you.

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Our teachers, while trying to make academic strides with their students, are also concerned for their safety and health…physical, mental, and emotional.  

And they are given the tasks of teaching our young ones to dream…to believe in themselves…to work hard…to succeed.

A great percentage of our future sits in our public schools that are under-staffed.  Many teachers will have 28 to 35 children in their class, and they will not likely have an educational assistant unless they teach kindergarten or kids with special needs.  They often will do this without support from their students’ caregivers.  It is a lonely job.

Though trained talented enough to teach anywhere, our teachers have chosen to stay here…to invest in New Mexico’s future.

We are so grateful for their patience, for their personal sacrifices, for their willingness to step into the overwhelm of their classroom.  And they need to know.

The "Easy" Answer To School Transformation

We know the statistics.  We hear the bad news.  

“73% of APS students qualify for free or reduced lunch.” - www.aps.edu

“Albuquerque currently has more than 2,000 homeless children under the age of 6.” - www.clnkids.org

“There are 2,316 children in foster care in New Mexico.” - www.adoptuskids.org

“New Mexico has the 2nd highest teacher turnover rate in the nation.” - www.abqjournal.com

It’s overwhelming.

Things are SO bad…for our families, for our teachers, for our entire community.  How can we hope for change?

I was mulling this over yesterday as I drove to Mission Avenue Elementary School, one of 105 Title 1 APS schools.  I was discouraged.

However, my thoughts drifted to the time I’d spent volunteering in a classroom that morning.  The teacher that I help had experienced a very difficult morning, as had her educational assistant.  I had helped to keep the kids going for about 3 hours while they dealt with various things… attempting to do damage control and breathe for a bit.  The thanks they poured out on me, I felt, was disproportionate to the actual tasks I’d done.  I hadn’t really felt like I’d done much at all, but just be there with them in the midst of the mess.

As it turns out, that’s what mattered most.

“I’m just so glad you were here to feel our pain,” the hardworking EA said.  “Thank you, thank you, thank you for just showing up today.”

Just showing up.  Really, that’s essentially all I’d done.  

“Ok”, I thought, “that’s what we do, then.  We don’t need to have all the answers.  We just need to show up.”

I turned down Mission Avenue and headed toward the school.  As I pulled into the parking lot, this is what I saw.

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I promise I’m not making this up.

As a church, as a community, as a city-wide family, we have to show up.  Though the numbers are daunting, though the situation looks bleak, though the ideal seems out of reach….

Show Up

Showing up looks different depending on who you are, but each of us is needed and has a role to fill.  For you, showing up may look like playing basketball with some kids at your local public school during recess once a week.  It may look like leading your business to purchase classroom supplies for a teacher.  It may look like your group of friends hosting a lunch for your local public school’s staff.  It may look like making a special presentation in a classroom to inspire little minds to dream.  It may look like interviewing kids at the science fair, and telling them how creative and brilliant they are.  It may look like starting an after-school club. It may look like helping a child who’s struggling with math to finally break through and find that he can do it.  Whatever your passion, whatever your stage of life, there is a hole in our public schools that you can fill.

What our public school community needs is transformation and hope; and Church, we profess to be people of transformation and hope.  We cannot change the public school system overnight; but we can change the trajectory of a teacher’s day, of a child’s week, of a school’s year.  We can invest our time, our money, our energy, and our talents to bring hope to the next generation.  We can bring relief to the suffering, and show them that they are valuable, that they are seen, that they are not forgotten.

I know…showing up…it’s not always easy.  In fact, it’s rarely easy. It demands sacrifice.  It requires much from us that we’d rather spend on ourselves.  It’s uncomfortable.

But it changes everything for the one who is suffering.

If you’ve never considered your role, or your church’s role, in our public school system, please think and pray over it.  You are needed.  And you don’t have to have it all figured out.

Just show up.

 

 

Shine Volunteer Conference 2018

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The Right Time- Shine Volunteer Conference

What happens when God places us in the right place at the right time? When we invest our resources where God is working, he does amazing things. 

Learn more about your role in the change that is happening in our city's schools. Join us for a time of encouragement and celebrating all that God has done through Shine partnerships in Albuquerque. Hear encouraging words from APS and learn about Shine’s impact throughout the district. 

This conference is for everyone- volunteers, potential volunteers, supporters, coordinators, and pastors from each church with a Shine partnership. Churches interested in starting a Shine partnership are also welcome to attend. 

 

What:    Shine Volunteer Conference

When:    April 28, 2018 9:30-12:00

Where:    North Church     4700 San Mateo NE, ABQ