Sunday, February 15, 2015

Our Building

So the journey is officially beginning.  Today I met with the pastor who has agreed to rent space to me.  When I first approached the church, I was trying to only rent space in their education wing, but instead the pastor offered me an entire house the church had recently purchased.  They bought the property in order to expand their property line and it came with a nice sized house.  They were not sure what to do with it.  And then I came along.  Talk about timing!  Now we just pray that everything passes zoning.  I am so nervous, but my God is truly able.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Scary Journey

Every morning I get up at 4 am.  Not because I want to.  That's the time God has been literally nudging me up to pray.  There's a lot to pray about.  I am in the process of starting a school.  It is a scary journey.  So many doubts and fears arise each day.  I am learning to lay them at the feet of Jesus.  He is all powerful and all knowing.  He is able to make this happen.  He is the source of my wisdom for making it happen.  I believe that this is a call God has placed on me since I was very young.  My life has always been focused on being an educator, ever since I was very little.  So much has happened in my life to prepare me for this moment, but the opportunity did not arise until now...until it was time for me to choose a good school for my own kids.  My prayer is that many children will be blessed by my journey into providing the best education for my own children. Shouldn't that give a parent comfort? To know that the head of the school is motivated by making sure her own children receive the best education?  This school comes from a place of deep passion...a deep calling.  Years of teaching so many different kids and watching how public schools consistently fail our youth, has made me so on fire for this. I know the business of school.  20 years of teaching, leading, mentoring, etc. in schools has made me so clear on what makes a school be successful at graduating true scholars that fear God.  This knowledge has affected my process into finding the best school for my kids so much so that after much prayer and fasting God told me to just open one.  May many be blessed by my huge step of faith into this journey.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Don't Rush Them to Grow up!

Please let your child enjoy the stage they are in.  No matter what anyone tells you, please let them go through the developmental stages and grades that are appropriate for their age, at least until they are older. Even if down the road you believe they are too advanced for their grade level, make sure that they have every academic, emotional, spiritual, etc. skill in the proper place. My mom listened to someone and skipped me from k4 to k5.  For all of my school years until 11th grade, I struggled socially.  As a result I also struggled academically. I have seen this scenario play out over and over with other children throughout my educational experience and the result has always been a student who struggles in some way in school. I also feel encouraged by the renowned Christian psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman in these thoughts.  To learn more about him and his over 50 books on parenting and raising kids, please check out!

Loving Discipline

The scripture says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)  These young years between birth and 6 are so critical. Children can learn so well how to respect authority and how to obey.  One thing that saddens me sometimes is when parents struggle with understanding that any lack of discipline during these very fragile years, can greatly affect their educational experience.  If a child is not disciplined at home, then it is very difficult for a teacher to educate them.  I do not want to give any specific strategies to be used, but I do want to beg you to be sure to let your “no” always stand.  Set the boundaries and stick to them.  Set the consequences and stick to them.  If you don’t then your child will think that they do not have to really respect authority.  Even if they cry….even if they think you are the most evil person in the universe…even when your heart aches (I know this pain….)…stick to your guns.  You will not regret it. 

I’d like to share my personal story about my oldest son Dillon.  He has a very strong will, but he had me wrapped all around his finger.  My parents, my husband, my sister in law, everyone was telling me that I needed to do a better job of setting boundaries/disciplining.  But I couldn’t!  He was just so cute, my first born, his little cry melted me.  One day I was sleeping and God woke me with a horrible fear of losing him.  I went to his room to pray over him and God’s gentle voice asked me one question, “Anika, if Dillon were playing in the yard and started to run out to the street and you were too far to get to him,  and you saw a big truck coming down the street…if you called him, would he stop?  Would he come back to you?  Or would he keep running to the street?”  I shuddered as I realized that my son would probably run out into the street and into that truck!  At that moment I prayed and asked God to help me do better. Obedience can save my child’s life!  He must learn to respect my authority, to respond to my voice.  He’s “still under construction”, but I am thankful for his progress.

My grandfather used to say to my mom (before he punished her).  “I love you DeLoris, but I want everyone else to love you too!”  You want your child to be a blessing to his teacher and classroom.

Teaching Reading

I am currently in the process of completing a PhD in English/literacy education from the University of Maryland, College Park.  This being my background has caused me to have an intense passion for developing strong readers.  I am pretty “old school” when it comes to this and my views on literacy education come from time I spent with a lady by the name of Sylvia Brown.  It was a very long time ago and I was just out of college.  You may not have heard of her, but she has a company called Simply Phonics.  She travels the country teaching educators that the best way to develop strong readers is to simply teach phonics.  That being said, I do not push sight reading. It is necessary, but I do not make it the emphasis.  Of course it may take a little longer for you to see the fruit, but if a child has a strong grasp of phonics, they will be able to attack most words…no matter how long the word is!  I have seen it happen with my current class.  Most are in early readers, but I often will present them with a longer word or more challenging literature.  At first they will frown up and feel insecure, but I just simply say, “You know each letter in that word.  Sound it out.  Use what you’ve learned.”  And before long they are working on it and figure it out!  I love the look of pride on their faces when they do it! 

There are two main ways that I teach sight words.  One way is by using the word wall.  As we are reading our books throughout the day, if we see a word that fits the phonics rules but still is difficult for the kids to remember, I will place it on the word wall.  The second way is I have created The Word Jail!  All throughout the day, when students and I find words in our everyday reading that do not fit any rule, then we write it on index cards and throw it in a crate.  About two times a day, I pull the cards out of the crate and we read them off.  Then I have the kids tell me why it is a “criminal word” (criminal words are words that break the phonics rules). 

In the months to come, I will share more ways that I teach reading, but hopefully this gives you a nice snap shot…

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