Blog – June 2022
Celebrating Our Fathers
Today, I stop and think about my father, who died in April 2021 from lymphoma. He had a stroke in April 2020, right at the beginning of the lockdown from Covid-19. I think of what my dad, my mom, and all of us went through during that time. I remember watching my dad’s “I can do it” attitude. He re-learned to walk, throw a ball, and write letters. He and I would play math games on an iPad. We would talk through the math problems as I encouraged him. Some days he needed my help more than others. Each day he would try a little harder. He never gave up.
Growing up, I knew my Daddy and Mom were my biggest cheerleaders. They always encouraged me in school, out-of-school activities, and in my faith and personal goals. Because of their influence, guidance, and love in my life, I am firm in my beliefs and determined when I set my mind on something. Our society encourages men to be the providers. It encourages them to be strong and to be tough. But, as daughters and children, we should urge our men also to be the guiding lights in our lives. Our men should step up to the plate and show our children to be light in the lives of others. Men should teach our children how to shine a light on the truth – the whole truth and not opinions; shine a light on peace – not stirring up strife and hate in the world; shine a light on forgiveness of others – how to forgive people that have hurt us and shunned us. We need men to step up and protect our children in all ways. To choose peace, not chaos, desire love and not hate, to choose to build up, not tear down.
Not everyone is blessed to have parents or a parent that are encouraging. Not everyone grows up knowing and believing they can be and become anything to which they set their mind. So be thankful for those in your life who have encouraged you. Remember that some have no one to encourage them, but because of inner strength, they believe and know they can achieve their goals and dreams if they set their minds and hearts to it.
Having that person or people in our lives who make up our support system renders our life’s journey easier. Let us all choose to be people who encourage one another. Let us all strive to be a light to others. Today, make a special effort to shine a light on the fathers and father figures in our lives, the men that make a difference. Encourage them, lift them up with words of affirmation and love. Thank them for being good men, fathers, leaders, and providers.
And lastly, let us all try to raise our boys to be those good men we need in our world. It’s not just the Marines looking for a “FEW GOOD MEN”; it is the world we live in that needs GOOD MEN.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to the Good Men in our lives. May you continue to live as good examples for us all.
Love to all,
As we celebrate Father’s Day,
let us remember to give thanks and praise to you, our heavenly Father.
Let us be thankful for the many gifts in our lives,
the gift of life, love, and joy.
Lord, send your encourager to shed your light
and your gifts upon us so that we too
will go forth being good to those around us. Amen
The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:
a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord.
FEATURE “Summer Safety”
With summer here and our kids out of school, the higher temperatures bring unique opportunities for fun and enrichment! Cooling off at a local water space, be it a pool or natural water source, is one of the best ways to beat the heat! However, ensuring families and children are prepared to be safe around water is paramount. Unfortunately, according to the Louisiana Department of Health, child drowning rates have increased.
The department has cited that inability to swim, lack of supervision, and un-fenced pools are the top causes of drownings for children less than 15 years old. Additionally, drownings are still the leading cause of death for toddlers nationally. The department’s most recent child death review shows that 96% of them could not swim, 72% were unsupervised, and 54% died in water that hadn’t been fenced off.
Learning how to swim is still the best way to decrease drowning rates drastically. Unfortunately, lessons are not always accessible due to various factors, including geography, race, and household income. On average, drowning rates for black children are 250% higher than for white children. In addition, drowning rates affect children from low-income backgrounds the most, with 79% not knowing how to swim.
Providing a solution to a stereotype takes time and focus. Tankproof is a nonprofit organization that gives swimming lessons and food security to kids who need it most. Tankproof has served children in Baton Rouge, Ascension, West Monroe, Alexandria, and Tensas Parishes. Over the past eleven years, Tankproof has given zero-cost swimming lessons to children all across the state of Louisiana and nationally. Tankproof’s work has been featured on CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, and the Kelly Clarkson show.
Founded by Louisiana-raised musicians and artists, THEBROSFRESH (Thurman and Torrence Thomas), Tankproof now serves over eight markets nationally. This year, the city of Gonzales, Louisiana, will be hosting a Tankproof session to serve over 100 kids. “We intend to service even more communities in this state. The need is present and apparent. We are willing to create meaningful partnerships to make our children even safer, ” says co-founder Torrence Thomas.
If you are interested in gaining more information about Tankproof and how to serve youth in your city, please visit: www.tankproof.org or email email@example.com.
LOUISIANA FIRST FOUNDATION
Louisiana Teacher among 207 Quarterfinalists Announced for 2023 Music Educator Award™ Presented by the Recording Academy® and GRAMMY Museum®
The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum recently announced its quarterfinalists for the 2023 Music Educator Award. The Music Educator Award™ was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. A joint partnership and presentation of the Recording Academy® and GRAMMY Museum®, the recipient will be recognized during GRAMMY® Week 2023.
Louisiana Elite Advocacy Force
LEAF, an acronym for Louisiana Elite Advocacy Force, was formed in 2019 as a re-designed version of LYLAC (The Louisiana Youth Leadership Advisory Council) and is the official Louisiana State Youth Advisory Board. Although the name is new, LEAF provokes memories from many child welfare veterans of LYLAC and how it brought together many former foster youths from around the state to develop a long-term supportive network of extraordinary young leaders over the years. The Department of Children and Family Services supports the work of LEAF, and several of the DCFS state office staff and consultants have hands-on roles in advancing the goals and advocacy work of the LEAF Board.
ANTI HUMAN TRAFFICKING
The Santa Marta Group
Addressing Human Trafficking Worldwide
First Lady Donna Edwards was honored to speak virtually to the Santa Marta Group at their international conference on March 18th, held in the Vatican City State. The conference aimed to bring together decision-makers to re-focus and re-energize their activities in light of a worsening global situation caused by the pandemic and continuing conflict and instability in many regions.
GOVERNOR'S MANSION ROSE LONG ROSE GARDEN
The Rose Long Rose Garden is a popular and beautiful attraction at the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion. The garden is dedicated to and named after former First Lady Rose Long due to her love of roses. The Rose Long Rose Garden contains 64 bushes to represent all 64 parishes throughout the state.
Opportunities are available to place a placard to designate your parish’s rose bush. If you are interested in highlighting your parish in the garden, please fill out this Google Form. Each rose bush is $100.
Presently, the following parishes are available for sponsorship:
- East Baton Rouge
- East Carroll
- East Feliciana
- Jefferson Davis
- Pointe Coupee
- West Baton Rouge
- West Carroll
- West Feliciana
WOMEN'S HEALTH Inspiration For Women from A Mother and A Nurse
Written by Jaysa Leger
If you had asked me 20 years ago what I wanted to do in life, my answer would have been “anything that involves children.” I remember being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. My answer was always the same, “a pediatric nurse.” It wasn’t until I became a pediatric nurse that I knew it was where I belonged. Being a nurse is challenging but can be rewarding in many ways. The same goes for being a mother. Being a pediatric nurse and mother requires some serious balance. Let’s face it; life is not always easy. We try our best to leave our home worries at the door before walking into work. This practice allows us to put our best foot forward and give our sweet little patients all our attention.
As a working mom and nurse, I understand how difficult it is to care for patients, care for your husband and children, and then care for yourself (if you can find time). In my 13.5 years of nursing, I have worked 12-hour shifts, 8-hour shifts, night shifts, and day shifts. I worked full-time while attending school to further my nursing career while planning my wedding and growing our family. Managing motherhood and nursing was something I had to learn to do, but it didn’t necessarily mean separating the two roles. Sometimes I leaned on one role to navigate the other.
I have often come home to my children and held them tighter and a little longer. Additionally, I have looked at patients and questioned how I would comfort them if they were my child. I sat on the floor with an eleven-year-old child and held her face in my hands when she was at her lowest point of sadness. It was at these times that I felt the patient needed genuine compassion. Just because these children aren’t the ones we have raised and cared for at home, we care for them as if they are our own. As nurses, we give our patients unconditional care and attention for the hours we spend with them.
Leaving everything at work when I head home every day is hard sometimes. There are tiresome days when I want to come home, take a bath, and go straight to bed. There are times when the kids I care for at work come in so sick that I worry about it until I can check on them again. However, I keep everything in perspective and acknowledge that I have a husband and kids who need my care and compassion at home. I have a moderate commute to and from work every day. I open my sunroof on my commute and say a prayer before hitting the road. Listening to my Christian music helps me settle and regroup on the way home. As a Christian girl at heart with strong faith, I realize that my faith is what gets me through most days. I firmly believe to be effective in your job, you must be focused and in the right state of mind. For me, that means leaning on my faith and my family.
Ultimately, there is no right way to be a nurse or a mom. However, finding the right path that works for you and your family is essential. No matter how you make it all work, you need to know that you are doing two of the most challenging jobs, rocking both.
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA 1. Community
Disaster Volunteer Training
East Baton Rouge CERT Training
Join us for a two-day training in basic CERT and emergency preparedness on Saturdays, June 25 and July 16 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The training will take place at the EBR Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness located at 3773 Harding Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70807. All refreshments, lunch, and training materials will be provided.
You can view the agenda here, and sign-up to attend here. Registration is required.
St. George Fire CERT Training
Join us for a two-day training in basic CERT and emergency preparedness on Saturdays, July 9 and July 23, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This training will take place at the St. George Volunteer Fire Department located at 14100 Airline Hwy., Baton Rouge, LA, 70817. All refreshments, lunch, and training materials will be provided.
You can view the agenda here, and sign-up to attend here. Registration is required.
West Monroe CERT Training
Join us for a two-day training in basic CERT and emergency preparedness on Saturdays, July 23 and August 6, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This training will take place at the West Ouachita Senior Center located at 1800 N. 7th Street, West Monroe, LA 71291. All refreshments, lunch, and training materials will be provided.
You can view the agenda here, and sign-up to attend here. Registration is required.
FEMA Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
Join a local CERT team and help out in your community! Future CERT Trainings to be announced
– To learn more about how to start a CERT team or for questions about CERT training sessions, contact Amanda Smith firstname.lastname@example.org.
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA 2. Schools
by Danielle Troullier
If your yearly wrap-up is anything like mine, you probably haven’t had a moment to exhale after completing another unprecedented school term. Before clearing the last bulletin board, our inboxes are typically flooded with information, dates, and tasks for the upcoming school year. As urgent as preparing for next year can feel, I hope you pause and pat yourself on the back for a well-done job. You. Are. Amazing.
What is Self-Care, and Why does it Matter?
Self-care is what we do to promote and protect our well-being. Now that you’ve reminded yourself that you are genuinely an excellent educator, I encourage you to maintain those good feelings by prioritizing multiple forms of self-care this summer like:
I’m speaking from experience when I say this assignment is necessary for you and everyone who depends on you.
Before I honored my self-care, I functioned on caffeine and adrenaline. I worked tirelessly in my classroom, on several committees, doing multiple side gigs, and in graduate school. And the list goes on. And on. I didn’t make time for sleep, exercise, friends, or emotional check-ins. I thought my ability to move like the Roadrunner was my superpower. My focus was productivity, not people.
Until I began to feel sick.
And I mean really, really sick and exhausted and anxious. My throat was always sore. I began to have headaches every day. I had very little energy to come home and help my daughters with homework and extracurricular activities. I was also irritable and easily distracted. My failure to promote and protect my well-being reduced my ability to show up for myself, my family, and my students. At this point, I realized the cliche “you can’t pour from an empty cup” was true because I was the empty cup; I had nothing left to pour.
It turns out that many people are feeling what I felt (and sometimes still feel). Maybe you are one of them? According to several recent surveys, over half of educators report feeling stressed and burnt out. So I believe this unknown author may have been talking to us when they wrote: “Self-care is a priority and necessity–not a luxury–in the work that we do.”
Different types of self-care
When I thought of self-care, I envisioned hours and hours of meditation and expensive luxury spas, activities reserved for people with lots of extra time (not me) and lots of extra money (also, not me). But, I’ve had the privilege to learn more about Self-Care and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) as a member of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Professional Development Design Team. Research in these areas has taught me that Self-Care doesn’t always look the same for everyone,
1) Physical Self-Care includes movement and physical health. Relating to this category means you may feel renewed and refreshed after exercise, dance, yoga, etc. If this is something you’d like to explore, I encourage you to find ways to incorporate movement and physical health into your summer schedule!
2) Psychological Self-Care relates to activities that allow you to clear your mind and process new ideas. Exploring this may look like listening to a cool podcast over the summer. Or diving into journaling!
3) Emotional Self-Care attends to our feelings and emotions. Exploring this wellness area may look like sharing what makes you proud of yourself or spending time doing fun and exciting things for you.
4) Social Self-Care over the summer may mean building relationships. Maybe it’s time to add more conversations and group activities with friends to our schedules.
5) Professional Self-Care is building a network of support through professional development, attendance, and relationships with mentors, which can improve productivity and balance in our work life.
Self-Care Ideas for Students
I became a more responsive teacher, mom, wife, and friend when prioritizing my well-being. In addition, I noticed that honoring my own needs helped me honor my students’ needs.
Minute of Movement
I recently got to enjoy wellness moments while I covered a 3rd-grade class. Every hour the students quickly got up, exercised for 60 seconds, and then returned to work as soon as the minute ended. It was part of the classroom culture, and they even invited me to participate! Doing high-knees and jumping jacks with 3rd graders was a hilarious experience for me, and it was fantastic to see how refreshed and refocused these kiddos were after their 60-second reboot. In addition, their teacher built physical self-care into their classroom procedures, allowing her students to practice self-regulation by attending to their well-being.
Super Corny Jokes
Emotional self-care was an area I struggled to prioritize until my colleagues convinced me to attend a comedy show. For two hours, we laughed until we cried. Afterward, I couldn’t believe how renewed I felt! I never forgot my comedy show experience, and I began to try to create similar moments for my students. When Covid forced us to meet virtually, I decided to start each online meeting by telling a corny joke. Even though my 7th graders told me I was no comedian, they couldn’t hold back their giggles and “lol’s” in the chat box, and it wasn’t long before they shared their corny jokes with the class! Beginning class this way created a humorous, virtual community!
Fill up your cup
There are tons of self-care ideas that you can explore, and I hope you find the time to enjoy prioritizing your well-being. Know that when you do, all of the incredible benefits you receive are benefits you will be able to extend to those around you, including your students. So in many ways, our self-care summer plans are the best personal and professional development activities! Remember, YOU. ARE. AMAZING; you deserve to promote and protect your well-being..this summer and beyond!
Have some fantastic self-care ideas for educators and students? Please share them with me on Facebook! Happy Self-Care Summer!
Check this link to learn more information about Self-care!
2022 Louisiana Exemplary Educator
St. Tammany Parish
Carolyn Park Middle and Mayfield Elementary Instructional Coach
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA 3. Military
21st Judicial District Court
Veterans Treatment Court
The 21st Judicial District Court Veterans Treatment Court is looking for veteran mentors for this program.
If you’re interested, complete an application at https://www.21stjdc.org/veterans-treatment-court or email email@example.com.
RESTAURANT HIGHLIGHT Louisiana Culinary Institute
Louisiana Culinary Institute Open House
You’re invited! Join LCI for an Open House Event on June 22nd. You’ll have the opportunity to tour their facilities, meet the chefs, and ask questions.
RSVP today: https://buff.ly/3NL0FBT
MEMORABLE VERSE June 2022
THE FIRST DOGS Basking in the Sun! Enjoy your summer!
MEET OUR EDITORS Delery Rice & Katie McElveen
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.
A native of Kentwood, Louisiana, Katie is a wife of over 10 years and mother to three children ages 8, 6 , 2, whom she homeschools. She earned her BA in Organizational Communication from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2010, and her M.Ed. in Mental Health from Southeastern in 2013. She was a school counselor for five years and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She completed training in trust-based relational interventions (TBRI) as a practitioner in 2016. She joined Louisiana First Foundation as the Louisiana Fosters Director in 2019 and in 2022 became the Program Director.