A FEW THINGS ABOUT MARCH
A few things about March
March is…Music in Our Schools Month
March is …National Social Workers Month
March is… Read Across America Day
March is… Daylight Saving Time! March 13- Time Springs Ahead
March is… St. Patrick’s Day Celebration of all things Irish
March is… Spring begins March 20-June 20
Of course, we know there are many other very important dates and things to remember about March, but these are a few I thought I’d like to highlight, first being music in our schools. When I talk about the importance of music in our schools K-12, I often ask people, “How did you learn your ABCs?” They usually answer by singing them. And then I ask “ how did you learn your numbers? I think we all remember the song,
“One, two buckle my shoe. Three, four shut the door.
Five, six pick-up sticks. Seven, eight lay them straight.
Nine, Ten the big fat hen.”
Maybe, they don’t use that specific song any longer, but I can guarantee you that most schools teach many basic skills to students through song. Why? Because we learn through music. The more we learn about music, art, and the need for movement through exercise, dance, sports, and performing art, the more we see the need to include these essential subjects in our school curriculum.
The arts enhance and encourage the other core subjects of math, reading, and science, but for some reason, we have become so focused on testing that we’ve lost sight of the importance of teaching the whole child. Sometimes going back to the basics, our foundation, is what’s most important. It’s what we are grounded with and what helps form our minds.
Musical experiences in childhood can accelerate brain development. According to a study done by the University of South Carolina’s Brain and Creativity Institute, learning to play an instrument is linked to better mathematical skills and higher SAT scores. From a young age, music awakens all areas of child development; social, emotional, intellectual, motor skills, and language skills. Singing songs help children learn skills, sounds, and meanings of words. There are no downsides to introducing music to children. Please encourage the schools in your community to include MUSIC and the arts in their curriculum.
So, about March? What a great reminder to encourage the young people in our lives to read during this month of Read Across America. So many schools encourage special guests to come into their schools to read to the children to remind them of the importance of reading. Maybe you are a leader in your community, a leader in your church, or a parent that sees the importance of reading. Consider volunteering in a school by reading to children. It’s so very important.
Did you know that having books in your home can change the trajectory of a child’s academic pathway in a positive way? So how many books should we have at home? Studies show that literacy levels surge at 80 books. But having at least 20 or more books support literacy growth. When lots of books surround children, it helps build their vocabulary, increase awareness and comprehension, and expand horizons. This all benefits them in adulthood. But beyond literacy, studies show a correlation between a home full of books and the ability to use mathematical concepts in everyday life.
Many low-income houses have, on average, four children’s books in their homes. Researchers concluded that nearly two-thirds of the low-income families they studied owned no books for their children. These children lack essential one-on-one reading time. So much of what we read these days is on our digital devices. E-Books, Kindle, and other online books have become quite the norm. Although this is wonderful, it does mean you must be able to afford these devices and maintain them. So why is it important for all children to have access to books, to be able to read and grow in their literacy? Because children that read become adults that read. When adults read and have a higher literacy level, our community can become more advanced more educated which helps us have a healthy and strong community.
How can we help build a stronger community through literacy? What can we do to encourage all children to value reading and have books in their homes? Books may be too expensive for some people. Some ways to share books with children are donating books to schools or look for free book programs at your local library. Many public libraries hold book sales. Books can come from purged library collections or donated books from the public. You will find children’s books that are a dollar, $.50, and even $.25 at these sales and also at shops like Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Yard sales are a great place to pick up books too. And often you will see little free libraries in communities.
We all can do our part by teaching the love of reading to the young people in our lives. Give books for birthdays, holiday gifts, and congratulation gifts. Let us all do our part in promoting the need for better and higher literacy. We can help others sign up for free books through the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program. https://imaginationlibrary.com/
Lastly, in this month of March, I want to acknowledge my firstborn, Samantha, who is celebrating her 30th birthday, and my Mom, Helen, who is celebrating her 80th birthday.
Happy birthday to all our March babies, and Happy Spring, Y’all!
Love to All,
Make Me an Instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved. as to love
For it’s in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born…To eternal life. AMEN
FEATURE The Faithful Lamb
Aimeé Poché and Heather Berry
The Faithful Lamb
Louisiana natives, Aimeé Poché and Heather Berry write and illustrate books for children entering foster care. This idea of providing a child-friendly book resource for the children when they enter care was birthed in 2018. It is the product of three years of hard work turning an ideal on a dry erase board into a well-thought-out storyline and fun kid-friendly illustrations.
Their four-book series, What Is, s designed for children who enter foster care to help them more easily transition during this significant life change. Heather and Aimee’ know that when a child enters foster care in the first 72 hours, they will encounter a child welfare worker, a judge, a police officer, and a foster family. The What Is book series is geared for ages 3-14 years old and teaches the role of each of these helpers in foster care.
Their Moments with You activity book was created as a way for the child and biological parent to bond during their visits while the child is in foster care. They strategically took parenting tips and incorporated them in this workbook along with activities where the parent and child could have healthy, fun interaction and meaningful conversation. In addition, they created the pages to be perforated so that each page could go along with the child to the visit and brought back to put in the child’s life book to have some healthy fun memories even during visits in a tough season in the child’s life.
Aimee’ is a wife, mother of eight children by birth and adoption, founder of Louisiana Heart Gallery, former social worker/foster care worker with the state of Louisiana, illustrator and writer. Aimee has led the adoption foster care ministry at her church for the past 17 years. She was the recipient of the Angels in Adoption Award in 2016. A program of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute in Washington D.C.
Heather is a wife, mother of 4 by birth and adoption, Youth Placement Services Director at Empower225, illustrator, and writer. Heather is an active team participant of My Community Cares and Louisiana Heart Gallery. She has been a voice in the adoption foster care community for the past ten years.
IF YOU ARE AN ORGANIZATION THAT PROVIDES DUFFEL BAGS FOR CHILDREN ENTERING CARE, EMAIL US FOR A WHOLESALE BULK PRICE LIST firstname.lastname@example.org
To purchase book sets and activity books for children who enter foster care, please email email@example.com
LOUISIANA FIRST FOUNDATION
TEACH MAM MICROGRANTS
Teachers can apply for a micro-grant from Louisiana First Foundation. Click below and fill out the form to receive a $500.00 micro-grant to use toward your music, arts, or movement program in your school!
Note: The grant must be submitted by a teacher or administrator of a music, art, or movement program that takes place during regular school hours. After-school programs do not qualify. All applicants must be from Louisiana Public Schools.
James Samaritan, based in St. Tammany Parish, has been serving Louisiana’s children in foster care since 2015 by providing for their resource and relationship needs. With a focus on youth transitioning out of foster care, James Samaritan strive to build and strengthen support networks by partnering with members of the community and other nonprofits. According to the Department of Children and Family Services, approximately 150 youth transition out of foster care each year (1). Unfortunately, these transitional youth have no family to turn to for guidance or support. While physical resources improve these youth’s well-being and living conditions, the resource that makes the most impact is having a committed and caring adult in their lives.
ANTI HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Reaching Past Rescue: Confronting the Economic Bonds of Sex Trafficking
By Cyntoia Brown Long
In a recent podcast, successful entrepreneur and business coach Crystal Carmen speaks to the question that many survivors of sex trafficking are left to figure out on their own. In the hour-long interview, Crystal pulls a pressing issue out of the whispers of survivor circles and plops it right in the middle of the gap left by our country’s human trafficking response: What happens after rescue?
GOVERNOR'S MANSION MANSION TOURS NOW OPEN!
The Governor’s Mansion is OFFICIALLY OPEN FOR TOURS again and we can’t WAIT to see you! Check out the fun pictures of the Governor’s Mansion Docents, Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists at our “Welcome Back” meeting to go over the tour schedule! To learn more about tours of the Governor’s Mansion and/or schedule a tour, please visit the our website https://governorsmansion.org/tours.
We look forward to seeing you and your school, friends and/or family soon!
WOMEN'S HEALTH Running The Race
My favorite winter activity used to be sipping on mulled wine and wrapping myself in a fuzzy blanket while browsing Netflix. But on January 16th of this year, I wrapped myself in tin foil in Baton Rouge instead, in the finish area of the Louisiana Half Marathon, after spending two hours and four minutes in 35-degree temperatures covering its 13.1 miles. I was shivering but overwhelmed with the joy of accomplishing a goal I would have once considered impossible.
My foray into running began in July 2020, inspired by my running partner (who was the third-place finisher in his age group for the Baton Rouge race.) Since then, running has become more than a leisure activity to me. I have applied the lessons from my running journey to my professional life as a clinical researcher and, in a larger sense, have integrated them into my approach to life.
My job involves talking to cancer patients about various research programs for which they are eligible. As a part of the cancer care team, it’s my job to show my patients that I believe in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) guidelines and explain how they are supported by science. The NCI website recommends aerobic activity, such as running, to adults for reducing cancer risks. For example, the most physically active female can reduce her risk for breast cancer up to 21% compared to the least physically active group, even after menopause. In genitourinary cancer, data shows that leisure-time physical activities are linked to a more than 10% reduction in kidney cancer and bladder cancer risks. For prostate cancer survivors, the risk of death from prostate cancer can be reduced by 33% for physically active individuals.
The benefits of running go beyond the numbers. As one of my investigators often tells patients, “Cancer is a marathon, not a sprint.” I have never fought cancer, but I have run marathon distances. My marathons are filled with moments of doubt, pain, and inconsistency, challenging my will. Similarly, cancer patients often respond to treatments inconsistently and can encounter difficulties presenting even more significant challenges. My ability to empathize with them in this regard makes for a stronger bond between my patients and me.
As cliche as it sounds, life itself is also a marathon. Our female hormones, for example, can exaggerate the consequences of a mistake at work or at home. The feeling of failure can be overwhelming over the long term and make you think quitting is easier, especially amidst the kind of mental health crises brought by the pandemic. When I encounter that temptation to quit something, I go for a run. It reminds me of how I transformed myself (slowly) from a relatively sedentary person to a marathon runner. Growing pains are inevitable, but the pain dulls as you recover, then you are mentally and physically prepared to speed up again. Finding a group of people with the same goals can be extremely helpful with this process; I think this is a good kind of peer pressure.
I have learned to value the support of a group of mentors and peers in helping me succeed. I’ve sought to surround myself with those who are eager to share knowledge, are gentle but firm in pointing out mistakes, are willing to both teach and listen, and are giving when recognition is deserved. For me, The 504th Run Crew in New Orleans has filled this role. Without this welcoming community, I would have struggled to make running a routine.
And in an obviously more serious setting, cancer poses enormous challenges to patients. These challenges can best be met with the help of a group of loving, supportive family members, friends, and organizations, as well as a medical team of world-class researchers and practitioners, such as the group of people I am so fortunate to work with at Tulane Cancer Center. As the oft-repeated African proverb tells us, “If you want to go far, go together.”
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA 1. Community
2022 FEMA Region 6 Louisiana Community Preparedness Awards
Did you hear? The 2022 FEMA Region 6 Louisiana Community Preparedness Awards are now open! There are three award categories: Youth, Whole Community, and Exceptional Service During COVID and each winner will compete in the regional award competition. Nominees should demonstrate extraordinary community preparedness and creativity in addressing community preparedness challenges. How are these awards different from our Champions of Service? The FEMA Region 6 Awards recognize volunteers who help with disaster preparedness.
Learn More: https://bit.ly/3CjiCTy
Submit a nomination: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XQY5SQR
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA 2. Schools
Never Give Up
We had just settled into our leadership team meeting when I saw our secretary’s eyes peering in through the narrow window in the closed classroom door. I could tell from the strained look on her face that something was wrong. I rose from my seat and made my way out into the hallway. I looked at her. She was visibly shaken. “I am so sorry to interrupt your meeting,” she said. “But Daniel just called, and he said that you need to check your email immediately. He said it’s urgent.”
I made my way across the hall and entered my office. In addition to teaching a creative writing class, I am also the assistant principal; and since the principal was out today, it was my responsibility to address whatever crisis arose. I took a seat at my desk then clicked on my email. In my inbox was an email from Daniel. The subject line read: “Potential Student Situation – Web Activity Report”. I frowned, then hastily opened the report. My curious eyes fell on the student search. It read, “how to kill myself.”
Somewhere deep inside of me, a thought formed. This is serious, deadly serious. I turned to Angie. Go get the supervisor. She nodded, then hurried from the room. A few seconds later, I heard the sound of high heels on the hard floor, quickly moving toward my office. I looked up. Ms. Joyce, our school supervisor entered the room. She had been across the hall with the leadership team.
“What’s wrong?” I heard her ask. I turned my head and looked directly at her. Her eyes were wide, and her face was serious. I directed her attention to the email. She looked at the message. In my mind, I read along with her. When she finished reading, I heard her sigh. Then I heard her say, “My Lord.” Then, she excused herself and stepped out of the room to call Daniel. When she returned, she said that he told her that the student in question had searched the same topic several times over the last couple of weeks and that he had flagged several similar searches from other students throughout the district. All of them were researching suicide. Shock swept me. I knew this child. He was quiet and polite, and he didn’t seem to have a worry in the world. I called his parents and asked them to come to the school. After I hung up the phone, I leaned back against the softness of the chair. I was glad that we had caught this in time, but still, I wondered what it was all about. What could be so bad that this child felt that ending his life was the only way out?
Confusion made me ponder the question. Then suddenly, as if from some deep, dark, distant place, there flashed in my mind an image of a story I had read long ago. It was the story of a long-distance swimmer who was attempting to be the first woman to swim the 26 miles route from Catalina Island to the California shoreline. She had been in the water for 15 hours when a thick fog set in. Suddenly, darkness was all around her. She could not see. Then, inside her mind, doubt seeped in. Fear began to speak to her. “You can’t make it,” it said. “It’s too far.”
In the darkness, she searched her mind trying to calculate the distance. How far had she gone? How much further did she have to go? To her questions, her mind offered no answers. She could not concentrate. The water was cold, her arms were tired, her legs were weary, her lungs were burning, and she could not breathe. Suddenly, her mind told her it was time to give up. It told her she could go no farther, and in that moment of weakness, she lost sight of all hope, and she gave up on herself, and she gave up on her dreams.
Then, bowing to defeat, she turned back toward the boat and asked her mother to pull her from the water. And, as she sat in the boat, sad and dejected, sunlight broke through, and the fog cleared, and her eyes could see that which her mind could not. She had stopped swimming just one mile short of her destination. Two months later, she tried again. And as before, the same thick fog set in. But this time, she succeeded in reaching the coastline. When asked how she had made it this time when she had failed before, she said that as she swam, she kept a mental image of the shoreline in her mind with the understanding that she would find her success on the other side of darkness.
Suddenly, it occurred to me that sometimes our students get overwhelmed like that swimmer. Their mind tells them that they can’t make it. It tells them that life is too tough. It tells them that the road is too rocky. It tells them that the way is too long. It tells them that the path is too dark. But if we are going to save our children, we must teach them to take control of the mind that is trying to destroy their hope and steal their dreams. We must teach them to not only believe in themselves but also to keep hope alive. We must teach them that whenever they find themselves in the fog, that like that swimmer, they too can find success on the other side of darkness if they simply remember that fear is their enemy, courage is their friend, greatness is their destiny, if they fight on until the end. NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER GIVE UP!
Holly Ridge Elementary School
School website: https://richland.k12.la.us/hres/
Twitter: Ernest Hill @ehillbooks
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA 3. Military
Louisiana Women Veterans Health Care Symposium
Please make plans to join us for the Second Annual Louisiana Women Veterans Health Care Symposium! The event will be held on Friday, March 18, from 9 a.m. to noon at American Legion Post 38, located at 151 S. Wooddale Blvd. in Baton Rouge.
A series of speakers will discuss a myriad of topics surrounding health care and women veterans. We will highlight services offered by the VA, but also community care partners as well. The symposium will also be attended by numerous community organizations that assist women veterans. A meet and greet networking session will run concurrently with the symposium, and lunch will be provided free of charge.
In addition, American Legion Post 58 and Our Lady of the Lake partnered to sponsor an onsite blood donation drive. If you are able, please consider donating blood while at the symposium.
This event is designed for our Louisiana women veterans, but it is open to the public. Please feel free to attend this event that will focus on the health care of an extraordinary group of people. Register for the event here.
If you cannot attend in person, you can register to watch the event via Zoom.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 225.219.5006.
For more information about LDVA, visit vetaffairs.la.gov, email email@example.com, call 225.219.5000 or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
3/4 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups green onions, sliced
1/2 cup bell pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 pints half and half
2 cups grated American cheese (or more)
1 tablespoon Tony’s seasoning
2 lbs. crawfish tails
20 – 24 baked potatoes
Sauté green onions and bell pepper together in margarine.
Add flour and stir to mix into margarine. Brown for a few minutes.
Add Tony’s seasoning and half and half. Stir well until blended.
Add cheese and stir until melted.
Add crawfish tails and cook until pink. It may be thinned with a small amount of milk or additional half and half.
Note: May also be served over rotini pasta.
MEMORABLE VERSE March 2022
THE FIRST DOGS Spring Time Is Here!
MEET OUR EDITOR Delery Rice
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Delery has lived there all of her life except during undergraduate school and a brief stint in Seattle, WA. She is a mother to four boys, ranging in ages from 21 to 16, and they are the heart and soul of her life.
Delery earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and Master’s Degree from Louisiana State University. She completed a fellowship at Loyola University, New Orleans Institute of Politics, and currently attends Harvard Kennedy School of Public Policy. Her volunteer work has mostly evolved from issues that have affected her personally. Actively engaged in disability rights advocacy, Delery has testified numerous times in the Louisiana Legislature regarding issues that affect persons with developmental disabilities. She served as the chair of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council, worked for seven years directing regional advocacy efforts and is a graduate of Louisiana’s Partners In Policymaking.