30 August 2015

Unbreakable Family Week 1

6:59 AM
Last week we started a new sermon series at my church called Unbreakable Family.  I can't tell you personally all the reasons the timing of this series are perfect for me and my family but it is.
I hadn't intended to write about the series but several friends in my social spaces have asked for me to share the notes.  So I'm glad to have a reason to review my own notes and dig a little deeper.
The first week was about values and Pastor Galen asked us what kind of values do you live by in your home?  One of the things I valued so much about this message is that it aligned so well with what I teach parents on a weekly basis.  The idea that we are the temperature gauge in our homes. We as the parents set the tone. We are the ones who direct the way our family goes.  So many times I meet parents who want us to "fix" their kids and what I always hear is "help me grow up."  The question "what kind of values do you live by in your home" is one we all need to ask ourselves.  If we can't definitively answer that question, how can we expect our kids to know what values to live by?

We as parents must be engaged in our children's lives now more than every.  We must be active.  We must be full force parents.    The scripture reference was from Deuteronomy 6.  The Lord says "you and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God."  We are talking about generational legacies here.

So here are the key points of last week's sermon:

1. Parents must learn to live right.  You can't lead where you've never been.

We as parents are the leaders of our homes.  We have practice what we preach.  This is what I tell parents in my parenting class who just want us to fix their children.  I ask them what their child's behavior is asking them about themselves?  We can't lead where we've never been. We can't preach what we don't practice. We can't resolve what is unresolved in us.

2.  Parents must learn to love right (Deut 6:4-5).

The House of God must be a value in your life.  We are molded by the Word of God. We must show our children how much we love God and foster their love of God.

3. Parents must learn right (Deut 6:6-9).

The Word of God set us free.  The Word of God and the values that come from it lead our children to success.  Do your children know what you stand for?  Deuteronomy instructs us to talk with our children about the Word and the values in the Word, day and night. 

We have the greatest opportunities to invest in our kids now, while they are in our homes.  Let's not let it pass us by. 

Pastor Galen closed by asking "do your kids look at you and say mom and dad are who they say they are?"  That is a poignant question that should challenge each of us.

I loved this message because it was confirmation for me as a mother to be better and also a confirmation of what I know and believe and the role I step into weekly to teach other parents how to lovingly raise and connect with their children.   We must "see" our children. We need to set down our iphones, turn the tv off, and be present in the room with our kids.  It is when we see our children that they felt seen.  This is how our children know they are incredibly valued in our sight.  It starts small but has a huge impact.

I hope you have a beautiful week building your unbreakable family.

Watch week 1 here and I hope to see you at service today!

Happy Sunday!

27 August 2015

An open letter to the Albuquerque Public School Board

7:21 PM

As the mother of a child in the Albuquerque Public School system, I'm appalled and infuriated that someone facing four counts of child sexual abuse would be hired by our school district, let alone be placed in one of the highest positions in the district, and allowed to begin work and collect on his handsome salary without a background check. 

It's frightening really.  It makes me ask the question who else could have possibly passed through the APS background check loophole and could potentially be working in my son's school?  How do I have confidence that every employee and volunteer in the APS has a cleared background check when one of its highest officials was out on pretrial release for very serious child sexual abuse allegations?  Do you see how that would lend to us parents having zero confidence in you?

The start of the school year is one of the most exciting times for our children and for us as parents.  The day before school we arrived at the school only to learn my son's assigned teacher would be on maternity leave until January and that a long-term substitute would be in the class until then.  A bummer for sure but we rolled with it because we support our school.  The next day, on the first day of 2nd grade, complete chaos ensued once the bell rang.  All the new teachers were lining up all the eager new students into lines with their classes.  My son's class had no teacher.  The parents all walked our children down the hall into the classroom to meet a man with a "guest" pass on standing in the room.  I introduced myself and asked if he had a plan for the day.  He told me "not really, I was just called in this morning."  I was devastated.  My son's first day of 2nd grade was going to be spent with someone who had no plans for the day or any clue what he was expected to be doing.  I spoke with several parents in the hall and we all agreed we would speak with the administration about our concern.  By the end of the day, the principal called me and informed me the long-term substitute that we had been told would be in the room would start the next day.

Meanwhile, APS was paying $160,000 to a man facing child sexual abuse charges and neglected to conduct a background check before his official hire. We don't have licensed teachers in our kid's classrooms.  APS could use such substantial resources to pay for 4 additional teachers with that salary.  Imagine that.

Now we are being asked to blindly support a Superintendent and board that has done absolutely nothing to gain our trust.  When I send my son to school everyday, I am trusting you.  I'm trusting you and every person you hire with my kid and his wellbeing.

I have heard the argument in the media that Valentino should not be fired because he did not know about the pending charges Jason Martinez was facing.  I disagree.

As the leader of an organization, I have made it clear to my Board that they need to regularly have the staff's voice represented in their evaluation about me.  The wellbeing of our organization is not about me it is about all of the sum parts that make up the organization.  I can believe I am the greatest director but if staff morale is low and people are fleeing our organization because the policies and practices in place under my leadership have made them lose confidence, the Board should consider the whole of the organization.  After all, it is the staff that makes our organization what it is. Not me.

I have heard from numerous teachers they feel so low in their jobs now.  They have no trust or confidence in Valentino or the school board.  They don't trust you.  This is not about Valentino.  This is about the greater good of our school system.  If we don't have teachers we don't have a school system.  It is your time to consider the whole of the school district that you have been elected to represent.

An editorial today suggested we all need to just calm down because once again the board has gotten themselves into a position where contractually they may not be able to afford terminating another Superintendent.   That should not be on us as parents, our kids, or the teachers.  That is on you.

The teachers who educate our children in our classrooms and the constituents you are supposed to represent have zero confidence in Valentino's ability to lead our schools.  Your lack of his swift removal  makes us question our confidence in you as well.

15 August 2015

First day of school jitters

5:05 PM
"Hi, I am David's mother.  What's your name?  Do you have a plan?"
That was my introduction to the teacher standing in my son's 2nd grade classroom on the first day of school.  The teacher with the guest badge hanging around his neck who was obviously confused as to what the day was going to hold.  Who didn't know he was supposed to meet the class on the playground because no one knew the drill yet.  Not the most exciting way to leave your eager 7 year old on the first day.

Regardless of my mommy panic, Munchkin was still very excited.  I bottled up the concern I'm certain was written all over my face in order to send him off in good spirits and spoke to several parents outside the classroom. We all agreed we were going to speak with the administration because they owed us an explanation.

I called and left the principal a voicemail on my drive to work.  I learned later in the day that his assigned teacher had been on maternity leave since April.  So why on August 13th did we not have this figured out?  Why on the first day of school was a substitute guest teacher who had just been called in that morning there to greet my son?  I don't send my second grader to daycare and for a warm body to man the room. I send him there to learn.
Albuquerque Public Schools is facing a teacher shortage.  The state of New Mexico is facing a teacher shortage.  Many of my teacher friends assert it is because of the failed policies of the current administration.  When does policy take precedent over learning? How could our schools have reached such a crisis state that our kids are being greeted in the classroom on one of the most important days of their lives by an unprepared substitute? A warm body.
The principal called me around 5:45 and informed me the long-term substitute would be there tomorrow and reassured me they had a plan.  I met the substitute the next day and she told me the administration had given her a start date that was still two weeks away.  I made sure she knew I'm here to offer support in any way she needs it.
Public school advocacy is not an area of my expertise but I'm ready to rally around whatever needs to be done to improve our schools. I'm a believer in public education. I'm also a single mom who doesn't believe I should have to pay property taxes and private school tuition.  This is Albuquerque for goodness sake. If I wanted to do that I would move back to Baltimore (no shade).
So what is the answer? I need someone to lead me.  The voices I hear on one end seem to be filled with so much opposition to the current administration that their message doesn't get heard. The school board that tried to take a stand ended up caving.  Who is leading the conversation?  Who is offering solutions?    Who can teach me?
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