Best of Me
The Best of Me Story
I come from a clan of 7 children. My mother gave birth to 4 gorgeous girls all different and unique in their own way. There’s a boy amongst all of the strong, independent, opinionated girls. As a single mother she was often occupied with the ways of the world; finding and keeping work, cooking healthy dinners, and making sure our grades were up to par along with balancing life and all its mishaps. Out of the bunch, my father, was solely my father. He helped create me when my mother was in high school and then he went off to college. Parenting me, a feisty, bossy, stubborn young girl from afar was no easy challenge. As a military man, he spent what felt like as a teen, countless years overseas serving in the United States Air Force, later marrying and fathering 2 more children whom I love dearly.
I say all this to say that often times my parents were occupied and as the oldest child I quickly learned how to navigate the world, but often times felt like, “who is going to teach me?” or “what should I do now?” I had to learn to be resilient. It is only by God’s grace that I’ve learned to be such and have made it thus far. Yes I know that all family structures are different. But it’s no secret that in America, families are busy even if you’re a happily married parent or a stay at home mom who taxis around your children and those in the community carpool…you’re busy! Even the perfect parent may miss out on cues from his or her children that they need attention.
As a teacher, I find that building resilient children is my most pressing concern. “Who is going to teach our babies to be resilient in a constant changing society?” “Who is consistently taking the precious time to show them what to do or how to act when unexpected circumstances or situations arise?” “They learn that at home,” some may answer. Some haphazardly reply, “It’s the teachers job, we pay them our tax dollars?” Most teachers who are in the classroom work endlessly to do so because we have a heart for the youth. But with the overload of content we’re suppose to teach and the pressure of high stakes testing, the 6 hours of the 180 days we spend with these children, some soon to be adults, is not enough time!
Having children participate in a program such as Best of Me is crucial. Best of Me was created by myself, a teacher who noticed the lack of time in the school day to train our children up in the way they should go. There is a lack of emphasis on character education and Best of Me focuses on building our youth by teaching them how to reflect strong and healthy character traits. We all want to produce happy, healthy, functioning adults and Best of Me seeks to plant little seeds in our youth to do just that. The environment established each time the children convene is one that becomes conducive to sharing, reflecting, and building upon the academic, social and emotional skills they already possess.
As the children meet, the environment becomes a safe haven for self expression, personal and academic growth thus healing past hurts thus propelling them forward towards their life’s purpose. Best of Me is truly for the hearts of our youth, I only wish there was such a program for my mother to sign me up for an hour a week simply to be heard and to grow.
Best of Me, Y.E.S. Services Provided:
*8 week Character Education Program
*Large Group Assemblies
*On-site Learning Experiences (summer months only)
Objectives for Character Development Program (Best of Me)
“For the hearts of our Youth”
Best of Me focuses on enrichment of personal lives and experiences, academic, social and emotional development. For this program to be successful it is required for participants to meet at least once a week for six weeks.
To create a safe haven that encourages self expression; an environment where children and adolescents feel comfortable to be who they have been created to be then become receptive to implementing victorious strategies to cope with life’s stressors or situations that may arise throughout their walk in life with an emphasis on becoming resilient and equipped to be who God ordained them to be.
Best of Me participants will be able to:
- use journal writing as a way to reflect on daily life to stimulate positive change
- use journal writing as a creative outlet of expression
- use journal writing to increase conventions (grammar, spelling, vocabulary) by at least 20% before the end of the sessions
- intuitively problem solve using critical thinking skills
- create a self portrait using adjectives to describe his or her self image
- use two new strategies to communicate feelings effectively
- set a short-term goal then achieve before the end of the sessions
- work cooperatively with peers on a cumulative group project
- identify a gift or talent to hone and develop
- support and encourage peers to stimulate positive change
Whole Group Activities:
Through use of poetry, role play, respectful debates, art, writing, lectures, children’s literature and many more aspects dependent upon the participants interest I, the teacher/mentor will work with the youth to introduce, demonstrate and scaffold them in the following areas (see objectives for refined information):
- Communication Skills
- Effective strategies to approach setting and attaining goals
- Appropriate methods to share ones gift and talent
- Healthy self-reflection
- Journal writing
- Appropriate self-expression
- Composing the expressing thoughts
- Cooperative learning
- Reading using expression and correct intonation
- Character Development and Ethics
- Writing (Proofreading, punctuation, handwriting, vocabulary, etc.)
- Critical Thinking
- Issues, conflict or problems specific to the youth enrolled in the session
Assessment and Feedback:
The participants of Best of Me will be given the opportunity to express themselves daily. We will share ideas, goals, and strategies to maintain commitments we have set as a team and individually. The youth enrolled in the session will be given verbal positive reinforcement and incentives for maintaining commitments, reaching the objectives set, and for achieving individual goals. As the youth mentor, I will have the participants work cooperatively on activities (skits, team building exercises, cumulative project, etc.) which will allow me to circulate and assist with new strategies to appropriately interact and communicate with their peers. To assess the progression towards the objectives, each participant will keep a journal for personal growth and self reflection. The personal journals will allow each person the opportunity to receive personalized and immediate feedback because I will respond to each participant’s journal entry upon request (some may choose to keep entries private). Upon beginning and completion of the program each participant will be given a short quiz to provide synopsis of their growth with regards to literacy conventions. The environment will be one that allows each participant to feel comfortable expressing feelings, sharing life stories or lessons which create a safe haven conducive to learning new strategies to remain resilient in today’s society.