I am pleased to report that we had yet another fabulous Academy event yesterday, December 2nd, 8:30 – 4:00 at the Mott Community Center. We were overjoyed with the Quantum Learning training we received from Ms. Jessica Smith on the Eight Keys of Excellence: Integrity, Failure Leads to Success, Speak with Good Purpose, This is It!, Commitment, Ownership, Flexibility and Balance. The session was filled with games, exercises, reading, writing, thinking, sharing and presenting experiences that engaged the students the entire day. Ms. Jess is an extraordinary teacher who any student would be lucky to have. She kept the students up and moving around, laughing, sharing, communicating with special signals and acronyms and overall learning, learning, learning! The students learned concepts such as:
- “Don’t Count Time – Make Time Count!”
- How to move out of our Comfort Zone and into our Learning Zone
- Open the Front Door (for better relationships and communication) using the OTFD framework – Observation, Thought, Feeling and Desire
- The 4-part Apology (acknowledge, apologize, make it right, recommit)
- The Affinity Activity – to build positive relationships and growth in self-esteem and self-confidence
- Living Above the Line or Below the Line- We own our choices and the consequences of those choices- We are each in charge of how we choose to live our lives
- DO IT goal-setting – to set into action things we want to achieve starting NOW
- The way people play the game is often how people behave in the game of life. (Do we stand and watch, judge and refrain from taking on the game, cheat, bend the rules, marginally participate or quit – OR – Do we jump into the game fully engaged and ready to give it our best attempt?)
The students were met with fresh warm bagels, orange juice and bananas as they arrived. All of us missed some of our DC students who were not able to attend. They had a chance to socialize and then the session began with great excitement. Ms. Jess knew with supreme expertise who to engage and when to keep the momentum going at all times. Her transition timing from table work to game work to role plays to break time, etc. was impeccable. We were all so proud of the students as they participated fully in all the activities. We saw a lot of genuine improvement in behavior, with many more acts of kindness, courtesy, self-regulation and safe risk-taking in sharing and presenting in small groups and in front of the large group.
The students enjoyed fresh croissant sandwiches and juice for lunch and we had a huge birthday cake to celebrate 5 students. We sang happy birthday to each student over and over again with a lot of laughter as the students stood in the front of the class to receive the warm affection of their cohort friends. One young lady made me laugh with the look on her face when she quietly and humbly asked if I was going to celebrate any birthdays in April and I surprised her by responding with her exact birthdate in April with a big grin on my face. She seemed so overcome that we will always celebrate the days when each of our dear wonderful students entered the world.
We were able to enjoy the earlier day’s nice weather by taking fresh air breaks outside. Pastor Young who holds religious services in the room down the hall from our area came up to me at one of the breaks and said that his congregation was so impressed by our youth that they would like to start providing the drinks for our Academy each month that we are at the Mott Center! The parishioners are lovely and we enjoy listening quietly outside the room as they sing such beautiful songs in Korean.
The students ended their day with circle time, completing their feedback forms for Ms. Jess, writing in their journals and helping to clean up the facility and returning it to its original state. Everyone was so helpful.
As they left, each student received a holiday card and a goody bag to help them start the holiday season with happiness and personalized notes about why we think each one is so special. The bags contained a snow globe that may help them remember the day along with some candy that undoubtedly will not last long.
With the thought of yummy chocolate melting in our mouths, we end this session and look forward with excitement when we dress up in our best fancy-schmancy clothes and join in love and friendship with our Academy cohort, family members, CASA workers and DFS/CFSA social workers to attend the glorious Nutcracker Ballet at the Hylton Performing Arts Center at GMU Manassas Campus on December 15th!