Partners in Purpose – Part II by Kristin Hemingway

In addition to partnering with the school, I am also a partner with parents in the development of their most precious gifts. I may have the background and experience in education that they don’t possess, but that doesn’t mean that I know what is best for their kids. I encourage parent participation by explaining that we are in this together. I let them know that I can and will meet them where they are to help them get to where they need to go. I encourage and uplift their roles as parents and advocates for their children, and I let them know that I am here to assist them, not takeover for them. I consistently remind them that it is where we work together that we will see the greatest gains for their children and this approach has never failed me. In recognizing that regardless of socio-economic status or educational attainment the vast majority of parents want the absolute best for their children and are doing the best with what they have, I have been able to break down barriers that have previously seemed impenetrable.

And these small things have created the opportunity for even deeper partnership to take place. Not only do I get to provide after school care for these sweet babies, I get to visit them in their classes and learn how best to help them right alongside of them. I am able to reinforce that I care about them beyond what they do for the few hours a week that we are together. I can eat lunch with them and support them in classroom projects, as well as visit them in their homes and support them in their outside of school activities. I can ask teachers for the extra help that their parents may not be able to recognize that they need. I can help equip their parents to help them in ways that their teachers just may not have time to do as they do the 50 other things that they are responsible for.

I have the privilege of being the presence that every student desires, but not all students are able to have. I can stand in the gap for the parents that want to do more, but for whatever reason can’t. I can be the liaison for the teacher that can’t get the parent on the phone, but I get to see face to face. Through purposeful partnership I can be the extra set of hands that most teachers and parents yearn for as we are developing these little loves into the amazing people that they are becoming with our guidance and care. I can play both sides of the fence with great enthusiasm and even better results because I am partnering with both educators and parents to create the absolute best outcomes for the kids that we all love.

Recognizing that no one faction of a students’ community of care has all of the answers necessary to improve overall student outcomes makes becoming a partner in purpose one of the greatest gifts that we can give to our kids and community.

Here’s to an amazing year of partnership opportunities and improved outcomes for our communities’ most precious gifts – our children!

“It takes a village to raise a child.” – African Proverb

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Partners in Purpose – Part I by Kristin Hemingway

 

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Since I’ve been back with Star-C, I have rediscovered one of my greatest joys as a nonprofit professional. The ability to partner with schools and parents as true allies for making the most of education for the students that we care so deeply about. It has been and always will be a highlight of the roles that I have possessed to become a part of a child’s village.

In both of my most recent previous jobs I was able to build deep and meaningful relationships with school administrators and staff to make sure that we were surrounding the students that I was privileged to serve with the care and support necessary for them to achieve success both in and out of the classroom. My current opportunity to do this in partnership with Cleveland Avenue Elementary School is honestly one of the highlights of my current position. Three times in my career, I have had administrators completely open to the vision and the work that I was being tasked with as I sought to increase student achievement and social and emotional development. However, there has been something uniquely special about this opportunity with Cleveland Avenue Elementary. They have not just invited me into their school to partner with them, they have willingly and excitedly come to our property to be a part of what we are doing outside of their campus.

Under the leadership of Dr. Anyee Payne, the staff has welcomed me into their meetings as well as their classrooms. They have allowed me to assist in small ways and become a part of the Cleveland Avenue family because they understand that in working together we can create environments that promote the thriving of these tiny humans that have been placed in our care in this season. They help me to remind others that partnership is not only about what you can get, but more importantly about what you can give in the process. So yes, I have been able to share the Star-C vision with the staff so that they are informed about the services that we will be providing to the tiniest of residents in our apartment community, but this introduction also fostered a warm and welcoming environment that has received me with open arms any and every time that I have made my way through the doors of this sacred institution.

 

 

Making Magic Happen!

On August 20, 2018 we officially opened the doors of the Star-C After School Program at Summerdale/Springview and the magic officially began! After a lot of hard work, a little bit of shopping, and a few conversations with Dr. Payne at Cleveland Avenue Elementary, we opened our doors and welcomed 16 eager participants into what we are sure to be an amazing year of learning, enrichment, and fun!

As the Program Director, I started the day by breathing a little bit of life into our temporary home and adding some much-needed pizzazz to our after-school program room in the back of the leasing office. I am a person that ABSOLUTELY LOVES color and a great quote, so I made sure to add a few good ones in vibrant colors to our walls for daily inspiration. I know that these wonderful young people that I have the privilege of working with face many challenges as they push to gain academic success and having the daily inspiration right in front of their faces will serve as a reminder to keep pushing forward when giving up seems like a viable option.

I wasn’t the only one excited about the first day either! We had the pleasure of being visited by our wonderful founder, Marjy, who came baring gifts in the form of arts and crafts supplies, our phenomenal Executive Director, Audrea, who also came baring gifts in the form of books, our security team, our Property Manager, and a few parents! Everyone was very encouraging and super excited that we had finally gotten started and wished us well as we got underway with priority one, which for us is homework! We sailed through homework and into celebrating our first day by taking fun first day pictures. It was truly an amazing time!

Now that I’ve shared all these fun first day updates with you, let me share how this was a first day that almost wasn’t. You see, I am a recovering perfectionist, and there was a huge part of me that thought we should delay the start of the program until we had everything exactly the way that we wanted it. As I mentioned earlier, the space we are currently occupying is our temporary space. It’s a small room in the back of our leasing office, and I knew that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to serve all our tiny residents, so I thought that maybe we shouldn’t do it. Then, we normally have at least two people that work for our programs on top of our volunteers. Well, at this time, I am the only employee and we haven’t gotten our volunteer strategy up and running yet, so I was going to be solo with all these tiny folks vying for my time and attention and that scared me. I didn’t know if I could do it, and instead of choosing to walk in courage and risking potential failure, I just said that we should wait until we had at least the Assistant Program Director in place.

While I was sitting in Starbucks trying to formulate my case for why we should wait, this quote came to mind. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Hearing it in my head made something flip in my heart. Instead of focusing on the reasons why we should wait, I begin thinking of the reasons why we should start and how I could use what I already had to make it happen! And when I tell you that magic happened, MAGIC HAPPENED!

It didn’t matter that the room was small, we could just start without tables and use chairs and clipboards to make the most out the space. It didn’t matter if we didn’t have an assistant director, I managed classrooms full of high school students by myself when I was a high school student, I could surely handle less than 20 elementary school students. It didn’t matter if we couldn’t make permanent changes to the space because it was a temporary space, I could use all of the posters and supplies that I had accumulated over the years to make my mark on the room. And this is exactly what I did!

I am so thankful that I didn’t let the initial fears get in the way of the magic that we’ve been able to make happen for these 16 students and their families thus far and I am excited about being able to expand that magic to more kids in our community in the days, weeks, and months to come!

So. when you’re working on community transformation the odds are you will NEVER have everything that you want and need when you’re getting started, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get started! Just remember to start where you are, by using what you have, to do what you can, and I assure you that even if it is not perfect, it can and will indeed be MAGICAL! Here’s to making it a great year!

 

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Throw Back Thursday.. To The Peace Playground!

As we approach the ending of the first week of school, it’s only right to re-visit one of our most influential activities during Star-C Programs summer camp.  Throughout the summer, Star-C participated every Wednesday evening in an activity called “Peace Playground.” Coordinated by Paul Reeser and the Northlake Church of Christ, the children learned seven principles of peace advocated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Each week, they focused on one of the principles, which included:

  • Brave people live in peace
  • A loving community makes a peaceful world
  • Fight bad things, not bad people
  • Be peaceful when others are not, because that is the peaceful world we want
  • Avoid violence on the inside and outside, and
  • The whole world is on the side of good

 

The objective of this activity was to enlighten our children on the core values of peace, as well as the skills needed to deal with conflict. They were taught that even though we may face conflict in some stages of our everyday lives, we must always find a peaceful way to handle it. The children demonstrated their understanding of each principle with creative expressions in the forms of art, dance, singing.

 

In every activity planned for Star-C Programs, we strive to give our kids the skills and support they need to thrive at every level of life. We hope our children implement this in their personal perspectives as well as academics.

 

Welcome Back!

We are proud to announce the return of a familiar face! Kristin Hemingway our new after-school director for Summerdale Commons after-school on-site program. Check out what she had to say!

On July 18, 2018, I officially began my second go-round of running community programs for Star-C, and I could not be more excited to be back on the team! Well, it’s my first opportunity to work for Star-C, as it didn’t yet exist when I ran the community programs at the Madison Hills Apartment Complex back in the early 2010s.  As I asked and answered questions and completed new hire paperwork, hearing a heartfelt “Welcome Back!” from our executive team and HR representative brought a huge smile to my face. It was exciting to know that my presence had been missed and that my return brought joy. I walked in the door more than ready to hit the ground running, as I initially thought I would be recreating the magic from the first go-round. Then something clicked in me. I realized that I was not here to recreate the magic of days gone by, but to create brand new magic in the days to come.

While the work that I did starting almost a decade ago was significant and phenomenal work, I recognize that it is not work that can be redone.  We have new challenges to face as we partner with different schools and a whole new community. In many instances, the general needs may be similar, but the solutions will differ. It’s a moment where I recognize that while many things are the same, many things have drastically changed, including me, the woman tasked with creating these solutions that help my new community to thrive.

I am coming to Star-C with the same determination and drive to see kids grow into the best versions of themselves and confident in their ability to create the future that they want. I still believe that great things can come from places where greatness isn’t the first thing that is expected. I am still dedicated to seeing families thrive as they are provided with the necessary support to do so. But I know that I cannot accomplish any of this if I am stuck in the past. The past was beautiful and will serve as a foundation for what we are building today, but it does not hold all of the answers for what we need to do moving forward.

I’m excited about the role that I get to play in creating the future of Star-C! I can’t wait to partner with our local schools and other community organizations on the south side of Atlanta to create a thriving community for our residents and their families! I am thankful for the past and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of what’s to come! Here’s to an amazing future for Summerdale and Springview Apartment communities!

 

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Back to School Tips!

 

Back-to-School

Can you hear those school bells ringing? We sure can! With all the summertime fun coming to an end, Star-C Programs thought it would be fun to share some helpful tips to get the children, and their parents in school mode.

  1. Have the proper school supplies– during the first week of class teachers give out lists of specific school supplies/items that are required for class. If you can’t get specific items, try to get as close as possible. The proper school supplies for their courses will allow them to stay organized and focused throughout the school year.
  2. Get an agenda– if your school doesn’t already provide one, you can purchase an inexpensive agenda, or make one from home. Having an agenda allows you to manage your time, while keeping track of homework, test, extra circular actives etc in an organized manner.
  3. Do don’t Procrastinate– make sure you take the needed time for each course to complete assignments, study for quizzes and test, and complete projects. Procrastination can enable you from retaining the necessary information to succeed in your studies.
  4. Know what is expected of you– everyone wants you to succeed including your parents, your peers and especially your teachers. Your teachers will explain what each course consist of, the workload and what the expect you to get from the class. Knowing what they expect from you will help you throughout the school year, and if at any time you are unclear keep an open line of communication with your teacher so that the both of you can come up with a conclusion.
  5. Get Involved– of course the traditional school work is most important, however dedicate your time to getting involved in other school activities such as joining a sports team, an academic club, or play an instrument. This is a great way to stay active in school, while pursuing your interest, and meeting peers who share your same interest.
  6. List your academic goal– write down what you plan on achieving this school year. A list will help you pursue your goals and stay focused on accomplishing them. Having this list will spark motivation and determination within yourself to achieve these goals.

Every new school year is an opportunity for a fresh start, new friends, and new academic goals. You have the potential to make this year one of the best ones yet! Stay smart, have fun, and make this school year count!

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Summer ending, school beginning

This summer is flying by! It’s hard to believe school will be starting in just a few weeks. To ensure that the kids at Willow Branch are prepared for this upcoming school year, Star-C Programs and Oakhurst Medical Center at Northlake teamed up again to host our annual “School Ready with Oakhurst” event. This event ensures the children at Willow Branch are “school ready” by setting appointment where they had dental, hearing and vision screenings. Isn’t this a great way to start off a healthy school year?! This year, we used the new Oakhurst location in the Northlake area, which will help our residents get efficient and effective care. With the mention of summer ending, and school starting we imagined the kids to be sad. However, they were excited and well-engaged in this event, and can’t wait to start their new school year!smile

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