I was delighted when President Obama said in his 2013 State of the Union address that one of his top priorities is Universal Pre-K. The day after he made this wonderful proposal and what it means for America's children, I began to look at it through the eyes of a possible skeptical public.
"According to the plan, Obama is proposing a cost partnership with all fifty states for all four-year olds from families at or below 200 percent of poverty,"
Does this new program for children have any chance of passing at this time given the current gridlock in Congress and the possibility of a government shutdown?
The public may ask how Universal Pre-K differs from the 50-year-old Headstart program. I am baffled by some recently publicized research which shows that gains made by children in Headstart programs dissipate by the time the children are in third grade.
Who did the research and what did they actually study? If Headstart isn't getting high marks, will Congress come together to fund Universal Pre-K?
What will Universal Pre-K cost? The exact cost will be detailed in Obama's budget to be released soon.
The White House released data on how sequestration would impact educational programs in each state. In Massachusetts, where I live, the Boston Globe reported that sequestration would eliminate Headstart and Early Headstart services for approximately 1,100 children statewide. I’d be interested in the total costs nationwide. What would sequestration do to a Universal Pre-K program?
There are many questions that need to be asked and answered about Universal
Pre-K. There is now a plethora of information. I will have facts and figures for you in my April blog. In the meantime I hope you will post your comments and questions as we move through this process. We will monitor Universal Pre-K legislation, ensuring that its final version will be best for improving the lives of children and families.
Wheelock President Jackie Jenkins-Scott wrote in her recent blog in the Huffington Post: "I encourage elected officials to join President Obama in calling for high quality early childhood education for all children. I call on advocates to join forces to support this renewed interest in young children and join educators and parents so that together we can demand the funding for such a promise. Let's put our words into action and fully fund quality early learning spaces for all children."
Lois Barnett Mirsky '54
If you’ve been to the Wheelock College campus or website recently, you may have noticed promotions for Recyclemania. What is Recyclemania? A nonprofit organization founded by two recycling coordinators in January 2001, Recyclemania sponsors a benchmark competition between colleges and universities around the US to see who can recycle the most.
Why is Wheelock participating in this competition? We are a small school, but we believe we can make a big impact. We have such a passion when it comes to the community and those around us that it is logical to extend this passion to the environment.
Wheelock has already increased its recycling efforts by 49.5% in the last 3 years. This happened with help from everyone on campus and without a competition— just think what the College will be able to do with a little friendly call to action.
Our reasoning for entering the competition is not to win—although that would be really great. Our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint, and to see our commitment to recycling and the environment reach its fullest potential. This competition will be the kickoff for an even bigger increase in our recycling efforts, and we would like to see our sustainability efforts continue to grow going forward.
Our goal is to increase our recycling numbers by 10% over the eight-week period of the Recyclemania competition, which runs through April 5, 2013.
Below are a few things you might not know about recycling.
1. While there is no way to get an exact figure, it is estimated that 77% of people in the United States recycle (Maeve Rich).
2. Every year nearly 900,000,000 trees are cut down to provide raw materials for American paper and pulp mills.
3. Every year we generate around 14 million tons of food waste, which is 106 pounds of food waste per person.
4. Americans throw away about 28 billion bottles and jars every year.
5. Americans make more than 200 million tons of garbage each year, enough to fill Bush Stadium from top to bottom twice a day!
6. Each year Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups. Even 500 years from now, the foam coffee cup you used this morning will be sitting in a landfill.
So why recycle? Recycling helps maintain the environment we live in now, and the one future generations will live in. It might not seem important right now, but if we keep using all of the resources available to us at the current rate without replenishing them, someday they will be depleted.
It’s not only resources we have to worry about, but we also have to think about the carbon footprint created by our actions. Global warming and ozone depletion are two large threats the world is facing that can be slowed with just a little effort. A few examples: it takes less energy to remake a can or bottle than to make one from scratch; recycling paper saves trees from being cut down to make new paper. Trees not only provide paper, but they provide oxygen, shade and shelter for hundreds of animals.
You can begin to see a common theme; it is a domino effect, everything we do affects the future of someone or something. So step up! Not just for the competition of Recyclemania, but for maintaining the world in which you live. Take that extra step to put your can in the recycling bin instead of the trash. If there isn’t a bin in site, take a walk and try to find one or, if it’s something you can fit in your bag, bring it home to recycle. Bring your reusable mug when you head to Longfellow café, grab your water bottle and fill it up at a fountain!
Every bit helps, no matter how small, and if we work together we can be an integral part in bettering our lives and the lives of others. Live our mission and “improve the lives of children and families” by recycling!
Keep up with Wheelock’s Recyclemania effort and get daily recycling tips by liking our Recyclemania Facebook page or by following us on Twitter.
Check out our Sustainability website for any questions you might have about recycling at Wheelock www.wheelock.edu/sustainability.
Hello Wheelock Alumni,
My name is Lois Barnett Mirsky. I graduated from Wheelock in 1954 (a very long time ago). Over these many years I have stayed active at the college as Alumni Director, Director of the Annual Fund, Trustee and currently as a Member of the Corporation.
There have been dazzling and spectacular changes at Wheelock since I was a student. The college has grown in the number of students enrolled. It added a graduate school, a school of Social Work and a plethora of programs that make me long to return to school. I would have loved to have helped children and families in Haiti, studied in Singapore, and welcomed foreign students to our campus.
Beautiful new buildings on the Riverway make a strong statement to passersby that Wheelock has presence and stature in the neighborhood and beyond,
When I was a student at Wheelock, we barely knew about the war in Korea and world affairs did not seem to impact our lives. We had curfews on Wednesdays (8:00 p.m.) and on the weekends (1:00 a.m.). Young men were not allowed past the first floor
We studied, smoked in a large room aptly named the Smoker, and knitted argyle socks for our boyfriends. Believe it or not, we had to wear stockings, not socks, to dinner every night. And, we waited our turn to talk on the only telephone located in a booth on the first floor.
We made our way to our student teaching assignments by subway or with luck with a junior or a senior who had a car. Working in settlement houses was also part of our learning experiences. On Fridays we had tea in the living room of our dorm with our house mother and talked about our week.
As I now curtail writing about my days as a student, I invite you to read my monthly blogs. I'll be writing about what's going on at the college, about students who now travel to foreign countries, about alumni professionals who work with children and families in a variety of settings.
I will also be writing about advocacy and social policy and how we can influence legislation that positively affects children and families. I believe that Wheelock alumni can be the best advocates for children. I would love to hear from alums who are advocates today.
As we celebrate Wheelock's 125th, I will remember that Lucy Wheelock's mission of improving the quality of life for children and families is the very heart and soul of Wheelock today.
You will be hearing from me again and I hope I will be hearing from you.
College access and career readiness are important in the discourse regarding social mobility and at the center of discussions about the future of American competitiveness in a global economy that has significantly become knowledge and innovation-based. The Council of Economic Advisors stated in their report Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow (July 2009),”Well-trained and highly skilled workers will be in the best positions to secure high wage jobs, thereby fueling American prosperity.” There are labor and economic experts and thought leaders who posit that approximately 60% of the future jobs and careers that await our current third graders have not even been created yet. These may be jobs and careers with titles such as sustainable urban planner, augmented reality architect, social education specialist, mass energy storage developer, nano medic and smart dust programmer.
We have seen significant federal and state education reform initiatives over the past several years all geared at improving academic outcomes for learners spanning the educational spectrum. President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s educational imperative calls for our country to ascend to the top of global higher education ranks- restoring our leadership after having lost ground, within one generation, of being the country with the highest proportion of students graduating from college. The U.S. currently ranks 14th among the 37 membership countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and G20. Korea, Japan, Canada, Russian Federation, and Ireland hold the top five slots. But many of our country’s reform initiatives have focused almost exclusively on an in-school reform agenda. This by no means is an issue to argue. Education in the United States is in need of drastic reform measures. But, are there other initiatives that can support the types of education reform, transformation and innovation to improve learning outcomes that can lead to positive gains in college and career readiness outcomes?
I say “yes” and I would suggest that we look at high quality afterschool programming.
One may ask “afterschool programs?” Many hear the term “afterschool programs” and think of safe, supervised places to keep young children after the school day ends and until a caring adult arrives to take them home. Many hear the term “afterschool programs” and they think of fun and games geared towards keeping those very children engaged and happy. Others may hear “afterschool” and just think of it as the opposite of “in school.” These may all be true to some degree, but what is to preclude afterschool programming from promoting those rigorous outcomes that correlate with college and career preparation- even at the early ages? Are those in the afterschool sector even convinced that high quality programming will have an effect on our children and youth?
We have to believe that high-quality afterschool programming can significantly influence the skills our students need to be successful in a 21st global economy. More focus in the discourse regarding practice, policy and research in afterschool should emphasize educational outcomes with the presumed intent of this emphasis on promoting achievement. Achievement in this context can be defined as high school success, college access and career-readiness particularly for those students who are from low-income backgrounds or are first in their families to potentially attend college. More effort should be made to uniquely join the interests of two very large fields- afterschool and college access and career readiness- to think about how to build an educational pipeline that intends to yield strong results.
There are three questions that might guide our efforts in facilitating a relationship between afterschool and college access and career readiness:
- What is unique and discernible about the afterschool and college access and career readiness professions?
- What is the relationship between afterschool programming and college access and career readiness programming?
- What can afterschool not do (or not do effectively) to promote college access and career readiness?
I have had tremendous opportunities throughout my professional life to create bridges in purposeful ways. I have spent 18 years in higher education, five years in the afterschool education and two years in college access and success. In February 2006, I spoke before congressional staff at a briefing on Capitol Hill to the U.S. Senate Afterschool Caucus. During that presentation, I advanced the notion that high-quality afterschool programming could:
- positively affect academic and student achievement;
- provide a platform for a deeper focus in STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math);
- influence outcomes for older youth in middle and high school;
- promote stronger public and private partnerships;
- postsecondary access and success; and
- career awareness and workforce preparation.
So for nearly seven years, I have spoken and presented widely on this theme suggests the need for a tighter alignment between afterschool, college access and career readiness. As I made my way back into higher education, I have been able to develop and implement institutional and community-based programming that bridges afterschool, college access and career-readiness.
Researchers and practitioners in the college access and career readiness fields have suggested five major influencers in the college-going decision making process. These include:
- Academic Preparation: students’ level of academic preparation and readiness to attend a college or university.
- Expectations: students’ expectations about attending college (or not) as well as their parents’, family and teachers’ expectations.
- Culture and Support: peer culture and the presence (or absence) of parental, familial and school support.
- Information and Awareness: information and awareness of planning for a postsecondary experience and admissions and applications processes.
- Perception of Affordability: perspective of the cost of a post-secondary experience.
So how can afterschool address the primary influencers through programming? I will share examples in my subsequent writings. I will share more about what we can do in afterschool to ensure college readiness and success for those we are serving as well ideas for specific types of curricular, co-curricular programming and partnerships that support our efforts. I will also share some musings about the role higher education institutions can play as strong partners in the process. It is time for us to reimagine afterschool.
Dr. Adrian K. Haugabrook is Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success and Chief Diversity Officer at Wheelock College in Boston, MA. He currently serves as Immediate Past Chair after having served as the Chair, Board of Directors of the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) based in McLean, VA from 2008-2012. NAA serves over 5,000 members and 32 state affiliates and is the leading voice of the afterschool profession. Follow him on Twitter at @AKHaugabrook.
How do colleges and universities respond to the seismic demographic shift that is occurring in the U.S.? Colleges and universities must better define themselves as social institutions and clearly articulate their institutional mission. They must rethink who they are serving and how they are serving. Institutions need to ask themselves the questions about who are they not serving and why. These are not simple questions and should not be treated as such. The focus of diversity has at times been redirected to discourse about “those people” or “those ideas.” Diversity is broader than that. Diversity has been a value of American life but it has not always been valued in American life. Higher education does and should continue to play a significant role in advancing the ideas, the people and the pedagogy. It is not merely reform in higher education that diversity warrants, it is transformation. Higher education should be about inquiry, increasing the base of knowledge in all subjects and disciplines, providing a new brand of leadership, and educating new minds to exist and compete in a diverse and global community.
Colleges and universities can use the following strategies as tools to redefine and restructure—using diversity as a theme. Many of these assertions have implications for institutional leadership—for leadership that proposes to be transactional and transformational. Leadership that is transactional addresses the internal needs of an organic and dynamic organization. Leadership is transformational in the sense that leading for diversity stands to change the culture and traditions, values, symbols, language and systems of how an institution lives.
- Define (redefine) institutional commitment to diversity. Because of the dynamic nature of diversity, institutions need to clearly articulate what influence diversity has on the institution and in what ways diversity should be reflected through the institution.
- Promote access, quality and diversity as a package. All three qualities should be viewed as interrelated and not mutually exclusive.
- Evaluate institutional and departmental missions with regard to diversity. Institutions should set new standards and expectations through institutional mission, policies and procedures and organizational culture.
- Institutionally speak a common language; define diversity through consensus. Leaders must realize that even though there may be a common set of goals, there may be a plethora of voices espousing ideas and methods that may be different. Leaders should qualify these varying views as strengths and not as weaknesses.
- Understand the historical and philosophical context of access and diversity. Diversity is complex in nature and historical, legal and philosophical perspectives provide a firm foundation in which to build understanding and hopefully consensus.
- Realize that diversity is inclusive not exclusive. An institution must refuse to “ghettoize” diversity by proclaiming that it only serves the interests of people of color. The benefits of diversity should serve the entire institutional community.
- Realize that divergent views contribute significantly to a growing body of knowledge. Difference is not necessarily disagreement. Instead, it should be seen as an attempt explicating what is perceived as reality by others.
- Continually provide information and resources for the community. The institutional community expands when diversity is fixed as an active part of the institutional mission.
Diversity is a true measure of quality and excellence and until our language, organizational structure, leadership practices, and institutional constituencies reflect these new measures, higher education will struggle behind a society that continues to grow exceedingly diverse- in all the ways diversity is defined.
Dr. Adrian K. Haugabrook is Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success and Chief Diversity Officer at Wheelock College in Boston, MA. Follow him on Twitter @AKHaugabrook.
How did Wheelock College join the ranks of colleges with high diversity? On March 7, 2010, The Boston Sunday Globe lauded Wheelock College in an editorial (Vol. 277; No. 66) for its institutional diversity, “One College Gains True Diversity.” The editorial commented favorably on the racial and ethnic composition and representation of our faculty, staff and students. We were also recognized as an institution providing access to students who were first in their families to attend college with nearly 50% of our entering classes being first-generation college going students. The editorial commented, “Wheelock proves that neither rocket science nor an undiscovered Dead Sea scroll is necessary to find the formula to achieve diversity.” In June 2012, NBCLatino, the “new voice for American Hispanics” recognized Wheelock for having increased its Hispanic students by 10% in about six years. Though it was not rocket science, nor did anyone traverse to the northwest shores of the Dead Sea to find our answer, the College was able to leverage these gains through an intentional and focused vision, leadership and strategy.
Wheelock College is a private institution celebrating the 125th anniversary of its founding. We have a public mission of improving the lives of children and families. Because of our mission, we sought to strategically address issues of college readiness, access and success for students of color. How can we have such a clear and compelling mission if we are not recruiting, retaining and graduating diverse students to be stewards of that mission? With our mission, how could we as an institution not only prepare students for a more diverse world but also be producers of and influencers in the world’s diversity?
Diversity was both an input and an outcome of our vision and strategy. As an input, we wanted to leverage our institutional mission, history and growing diversity within our faculty, staff and administrative ranks. As an outcome, we wanted our student diversity to increase to at least 25% of our undergraduate student population. But we also wanted that student diversity to challenge and deepen our pedagogy and campus life experience. We went to the research literature and found critical factors that promote student success as illustrated by George Kuh et al in “What Matters to Student Success: A Literature Review” (2006). Kuh posits that student success is a complex arrangement influenced by social, economic, cultural and educational dynamics. These factors include a student’s background and pre-collegiate experiences, post-secondary institutional conditions that foster student success; as well as academic achievement, satisfaction and post-college performance, to name a few.
The College implemented a robust continuum of programs and services spanning early awareness and pre-collegiate programs, admissions recruitment strategies and college student success and retention efforts resulting in a substantial increase in the number of students of color ready, enrolling and graduating from the institution. Before doing so, we placed guiding questions before the College community that would be imperative to student and institutional success. These questions included:
- What are our expectations of students?
- What are our expectations of faculty, staff, administrators and others?
- How does our campus support student success?
- How can we enrich our students’ educational experiences?
- How can we engage students in active and collaborative learning and development?
- What data do we have to inform our efforts?
- What is Wheelock’s value-added for students in general and students of color more specifically, to attend the College?
These questions lead to Wheelock’s vision for student success is to build an exemplary educational community characterized by: (1) a culture of accomplishment that is created and sustained at every level of the institution; (2) expectations that are communicated to students and clearly emphasize that they can and must succeed at Wheelock; and (3) an array of coordinated and institutionalized supports that sustain our expectations. Our paradigm called for us to affect our approach through pre-collegiate programs, undergraduate recruitment and retention and progression strategies. The results were impressive. Between 2006 and 2011:
- Nearly 255% increase in applications from students of color.
- Students of color increased from 18% to 30% of the total undergraduate student population.
- African American student enrollment increase of 106%.
- Latino student enrollment increase of 141%.
- Students designating multiracial increased by 233%.
- Asian American and Native American enrollment remained relatively constant.
- Retention for first-year students of color moved to within 4% points of the overall first year student retention, 84% to 89%.
We have learned quite a bit in the nearly five years of this committed strategy.
Committed leadership: this is not an approach that can be driven by a single individual. In order to organize an institutional strategy, you will need committed, engaged, sustained and vocal leadership at all levels of the institution particularly from the President.
Organizational structure and capacity: senior leadership matters in ushering change. The appointment of a chief diversity officer was integral in developing and implementing a leveraged approach to change.
Data access and utilization: data helped to articulate a compelling story for the institution and its varied constituencies. Data was also instrumental in tracking progress. Students of color are not a monolithic group so ensure that systems are in place that allow for disaggregated data to be collected, analyzed and reported.
Financial aid leveraging: use data to better understand how to use our financial aid as a tool to address student need and better promote student retention.
Communication strategy: develop appropriate mechanisms to effectively communicate diversity goals, challenges and successes for both internal and external audiences.
Continuum of programs, supports and services: develop program, supports and services that are not ad hoc and disparate but that align in a developmental and progressive manner; pay attention to those periods throughout the student experience that are points of transition such as between high school graduation and matriculation, first semester to second semester, and first-year to second year.
Value-added collaborations and partnerships: establish authentic partnerships and collaborations with schools, community-based organizations and other organizations that are focused on youth development or college and career-readiness. You become a trusted partner and students, parents and families served by these organizations have a better familiarity of the college even before the formal college admissions process begins.
Leverage strategy to achieve multiple goals: institutional diversity can be a strategy unto itself but should also be seen as a way to bolster other macro or micro institutional goals. For example, increasing student diversity can obviously increase overall enrollment goals but can also support goals towards increasing academic excellence and rigor.
Rocket scientists and Dead Sea Scroll excavators we may not be. But determined leaders and strategists we are. We do not discount the challenges of implementing institutional diversity strategies. But we are mindful that doing so is a process and a journey, not an event.
Dr. Adrian K. Haugabrook is Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success and Chief Diversity Officer at Wheelock College. Follow him on Twitter at @AKHaugabrook.
It's over. The election is long past and the "post mortem" is practically finished, too. The high stakes and intense feelings around this last presidential campaign led to lots of discussion in our social work degree program classes and among our social work faculty. Those discussions forced yet another: how do we keep politics out of the classroom or, rather, should we even try to keep politics out of the classroom. What is our responsibility towards our students; do we keep our political thoughts to ourselves, or do we share them in hopes of promoting discussion?
Social Work faculty teaching in BSW and MSW programs do not face this issue every four years; we face it every class. After all, our task is the development of professional social workers whose practice is based on the principles of human rights and social justice and our Mission at Wheelock is "to improve the lives of children and families." Can we do that without a life-long commitment to following and trying to shape the emerging policies that will profoundly impact the everyday lives of our co-workers and, especially, our clients? Don't we have to use any background we have in economics, political science, history, and ethical values to inform our thinking about Social Welfare Policy, not just as a course in the curriculum, but as a standard for judging our support for the people who create and implement that policy?
The social worker's clientele—individuals and families, groups, organizations and communities—are facing issues that demonstrate our inability as a society to meet everyone's basic human needs. We encourage our students to see that clientele not beset by problems, but as victims of our society's willingness to underserve its most vulnerable members. Who and what can challenge that societal neglect, if not the political system and the political process. Logic, therefore, suggests that we look there for the means that might rectify the situation. We approach politics and the political process with a certain bias, then. We expect positive action that will support our work. That bias has implications as we consider which candidates for whom we will vote and which party platforms we will support.
We know that local, state, and nation legislators and members of the executive branch at all levels formulate and implement social welfare policy. We know that those two branches of government are responsible for choosing and approving the judiciary that so often determines the fair and equitable execution of the law. We tend to be liberal, obviously, and we tend to be outspoken about it. Indeed, some of us wonder if it is possible to be be a conservative social worker and we've looked, in vain to this point, for a rightwing trending social work textbook. None of this is to say that we restrict discussion or action on the part of our students. Indeed, we need to encourage students to push back and to celebrate the right of students and colleagues to disagree with us and debate us.
Yes, the election is over and the "post mortem" is coming to an end, but the discussion they prompt needs to continue. How do we best turn our commitment to human rights and social justice into action? On whom can we rely for support?
Last February, I traveled to South Africa to begin planning Wheelock’s first South African service-learning program. I was very fortunate to be traveling with Mary Tiseo, Executive Director of South Africa Partners, a Boston-based organization that fosters partnerships between the US and South Africa in the areas of health and education. Mary has been traveling to South Africa for many years and was an excellent guide for my first visit to this beautiful and resilient country. My journey began in Cape Town and ended in Johannesburg. Throughout, I was privileged to meet many South Africans, to hear their stories, and learn about their work, particularly in striving to overcome the lingering effects of their country’s apartheid past. I visited sites as sobering and inspiring as Robben Island and the Apartheid Museum, as well as squalid townships crowded with shanties that house too many of South Africa’s poorest citizens.
For the last part of the journey, Mary and I traveled north to the bush country, to visit Wheelock Alumna Toby Milner (’70) and her husband, Charlie, and their Lillydale Literacy Project. As the sun set over the green hills, we drove past small herds of Impala gathering for the night, and arrived at Toby and Charlie’s South African home, a chalet crowned by a thatched roof and overlooking the edge of a deep, tangled jungle.
Toby and Charlie warmly welcomed us and introduced their friend and colleague, Mavis Maseko, who had traveled from Johannesburg to co-lead the week’s training with Toby. Over dinner, Mary and I learned about the Lillydale Literacy Project that Toby and Charlie co-founded in 2000. The Milners first came to the bush country for a safari after visiting their daughter, who was studying at the University of Cape Town. During the trip, Toby and Charlie saw the poverty and lack of education in the surrounding area, as well as the spirit and resourcefulness of the people who live there. In conversation with some local educators, Toby learned of the enormous need to teach English (South Africa’s official language) as a second language in schools and community programs. Back in the states, Toby worked with other educators who had experience in South Africa, to adapt a program for training English-language teachers.
The Milners, who live in Connecticut, return to Lillydale three to four times a year, to provide training to local teachers and school administrators. Mary and I arrived on the first day of a week-long leadership training that Toby and Mavis were conducting for local school administrators. The next morning, we rode for several miles along dusty, pitted roads, past local women carrying large plastic containers to hold the day’s supply of water. Some of the women simply carried the jugs on their heads; some had babies and toddlers swaddled to their backs or riding along in a wheelbarrow.
On the way to the Literacy Project, we stopped at the Bhubezi Health Clinic, where Charlie introduced us to its director, Jerry Marobyane. On the day we visited, adults of all ages waited patiently in lines that extended out onto the clinic’s grounds, in order to be seen for testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Mary and I were impressed with the range of health care services provided at Bhubezi, as well as with its dedicated staff.
In addition to providing us with a tour, Charlie had come to Bhubezi to meet with Jerry to discuss a new project that he and Toby were spearheading. Though their association with Wheelock, the Milners had learned about Persona Dolls that are used by Ububele Educational and Psychotherapy Trust in Johannesburg, to work with traumatized and grieving young children. Many of the children served by Ububele have witnessed extreme violence and/or experienced the loss of one or both parents, often due to HIV/AIDS. Ububele staff members use Persona Dolls, cloth dolls made by local women, to help young children express their feelings and heal from the trauma they’ve experienced. Wheelock President, Jackie Jenkins-Scott, introduced the Milners to Ububele CEO, Getti Mercorio, and to Mary Tiseo. With a grant provided through South Africa Partners, Toby and Charlie were purchasing 60 dolls from Ububele, along with training for educators and health care workers, in order to make therapeutic services available to traumatized, young children in the Lillydale area. Upon learning about this project from Charlie, Jerry enthusiastically agreed to send some of Bhubezi’s staff members to participate in the training.
We next drove to the Lillydale Environmental Educational Center at which the Literacy Project is based, and met its young co-directors, David and Excellent. The center’s headquarters are modest, consisting of two cement-block buildings with concrete floors and large windows without glass or screens. Since becoming involved, the Milners have worked with David and Excellent to bring a computer learning lab and library to the center. The Literacy Project’s leadership-training class was underway. Mary and I were impressed with Toby’s and Mavis’ teamwork in facilitating powerful discussion among the dozens of school administrators participating in the course. Later that morning, Mary left to conduct other business in South Africa while I stayed on with the Milners for a few more days.
Extending my visit enabled me to get to know Toby, Charlie and Mavis and develop a deeper understanding of their work. In the forty years since she graduated from Wheelock, Toby has worked as an educator, academic therapist and a consultant. Charlie had a long career in the financial sector prior to retiring a few years ago. They raised a son and a daughter and are proud grandparents of two young children. Mavis and her husband both grew up in the Johannesburg township of Soweto, where she counted Bishop Tutu’s children among her childhood playmates. Mavis’ description of growing up in the birthplace of Bishop Tutu’s and Nelson Mandela’s movement against apartheid was fascinating. I was delighted when she offered herself and her husband to provide a guided tour of Soweto when I return with Wheelock students in January, 2013.
Toby and Mavis are a dynamic team; their collaboration, deep affection and shared commitment evident as they prepared for each day’s training. Charlie’s role in the Lillydale Literacy Project can best be described as Director of Logistics. I observed Charlie’s remarkable dedication and well-honed business skills, as he promoted the Persona Doll training to school and health care administrators. I also accompanied Charlie to the grocery store, where he bought enormous bags of frozen chicken, rice and cornmeal, and giant jugs of water. After loading them into the car, we delivered those provisions to a pair of local women who, with little more than two outdoor fire pits, turned them into a delicious and hearty lunch for training participants.
My last day in Lillydale coincided with the final session of the training program. I listened as Toby and Mavis facilitated a discussion on the critical importance of school leaders working together to challenge and overcome the corruption and inefficiency that too often hinders public education in South Africa. Although the conversation was a difficult one, the mutual respect and solidarity of participants and leaders was evident. Afterwards, Toby and Mavis presented each participant with a certificate while Charlie served as photographer, capturing the joy and spirit that filled the proceedings. After the last certificate was awarded, one of the participants led the group in singing a traditional South African hymn, which floated out of the large windows, cooling the dusty, afternoon heat. The beauty of the men’s and women’s voices in sweet, powerful harmony brought a lump to my throat. It still lingers in my ears, as I look forward to bringing Wheelock students to this inspiring and vital oasis.
Dr. Lenette Azzi-Lessing, Associate Professor of Social Work, will be leading the South Africa Service-Learning Trip in January, 2013. For additional information, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wheelock Assistant Professor Joeritta De Almeida Teaches Body Awareness
Moving the body affects the mind in ways that just thinking doesn’t. Making yourself aware of your body through moving and breathing helps not only to revitalize your body, but it helps to relax you – raising your consciousness and making you more present.
Over the past 36 years, I have developed and conducted workshops that encompass many components of self-development work of the Open River System/Rio Abierto System from Buenos Aires Argentina. This approach is designed to give experience and exposure to body techniques that enhance awareness of the body in its multi-dimensions. Through movement and music, you can change who and how you are.
I conducted movement workshops over the summer of 2012, first in Arembepe, Bahia in northern Brazil, and then in Miguel Pereira of Rio de Janeiro and finally in Buenos Aires, Argentina. All the workshops were well attended for each location and the work was stimulating and well received.
In my workshops, the movements progress from resting by leaning on other students’ backs to lying down to doing yoga poses that stretch the spine. The workshops also include various body techniques using expressive movement, massage, voice liberation, and discussion of the principles of the work as well as meditation with massage and a break with a special Argentinian tea.
I will be offering an introduction to this Embodied Pedagogy approach with a FREE dance/yoga class at Wheelock College this fall. Classes will be every Tuesday and Thursday from 5-6 PM, beginning Oct. 2 and ending Dec. 20. They will be held in Wheelock’s Pilgrim Student Center at 37 Pilgrim Rd., Boston. Classes are free and open to everyone—no experience is necessary. Wear casual clothes. No need to pre-register—just show up and reap the benefits!
For more information about my approach, please check-out my website.
As the coordinator of the Down Syndrome Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, Alumna Angela Lombardo '91 displays leadership while working closely with children, parents, medical specialists, community physicians, and educators to offer specialized services for all children with Down syndrome (DS). She starts early, meeting with families of newborns with DS, connecting them to resources they may need, and then continuing to follow and support them as the children grow.
Angela also works with nurses, physical therapists, teachers, and parents, teaching them the skills needed to advocate for children with developmental disabilities. And she coordinates the hospital’s Linking Hands program, sending residents and fellows into the homes of children with special health care needs so they can learn about their family life outside the clinical setting. “I teach family-centered care and make sure family voices are always represented,” she says, one of many reasons why, in 2008, the cutting-edge advocacy organization Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress awarded her the prestigious Allen C. Crocker Award of Excellence for her work advancing the DS movement in Massachusetts.
Angela’s work supporting, educating, and caring for families of newborns to young adults with Down syndrome is invaluable to those she serves. She credits her experience with her own son, who has Down syndrome, and her Wheelock education for inspiring her to improve the lives of children and families by working with the strengths she finds in them.“My education at Wheelock was priceless as it guided me in raising my son with Down syndrome. I was shocked at his diagnosis after his birth, but through my experiences at Wheelock, I knew my son could grow to be a learner and important community member. It is in this spirit that I work as the program coordinator at the Down Syndrome Program.