Archive for March, 2009

Yesterday we took the 3rd and 4th graders to Chuck E. Cheese as a reward for winning the contest of raising the most money for Malawi. It was a lot of fun!

There is a kid in the middle (who is frowning) that is NOT with our group. I think he got trapped. His facial expression makes me laugh a lot.

I love that their personalities come out in how they choose to pose for pictures.


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Math Team 2009!

Last Friday we had a Math Dare competition against other after school programs in Camden and our Eastside team won! Grades 1st – 8th competed in math problems and “physical challenges” that were super messy and fun.

I’m so proud of our team and I discovered that um…Ms. Jenn is kind of competitive! ūüôā

We won!

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Happy Birthday Craig!

I am horrible at remembering birthdays, but my friend Craig is really good at it and celebrating people. And since I have no money for a gift, I’m going to gush about him on the internet as my present. All Praises to Craig!

Today is Craig’s birthday! When we met while working in NYC in 2005 we quickly became friends. He married a super star named Abby last year and then several months later moved back to his home country of Northern Ireland.

Craig is someone that I put on a pedestal. I know he’s not perfect, but he’s such an exceptional person. EVERYBODY loves him. He’s super smart and he’s one of the few guys I know that acts like a man! He takes initiative, leadership and responsibility. And he’s a faithful friend – supportive, encouraging and loyal.

He’s in a new season of his life and I can’t wait to see where God leads him and Abby!

Since he is a good friend and TOTAL EXTROVERT we have made several videos together:

An Evening with Craig and Abby

When Craig and I made our staff beg for money in Manhattan

Craig’s ministry profile video

Craig reminds me I’m looking for an educated, white man

Craig and Abby’s engagement session
Craig and Abby’s wedding

Happy Birthday Craig! Hope you have a great day!

(Craig and his bride on their honeymoon in Italy!)

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Our Spring Break trip to coming up in 3 weeks! We’ve raised about 40% of the funds, but still need more $$$ to be able to go. If you are interested in donating, leave a comment and I’ll be in touch!

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I’m an information junkie, so I found this really fascinating.

Link via Already Been Chewed

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New game – Pile Up


You cram as many people on the slide as you can and try to push the last person off the slide. It was pretty fun.

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I’ve noticed something interesting regarding the behavior of the kids who attend my after school program. ¬†Over all, I would say our kids are well behaved. ¬†Obviously, they are not perfect and some are more fiesty than others, but in general, almost all of the kids listen and follow directions.

Recently, I was looking at report cards and noticed a couple of our best leaders had low grades in Conduct.  Apparently they are not well behaved in school.  In another case, a parent mentioned that while his child was getting at trouble at school he was being rewarded for good behavior at our program and that confused the parent.

It made me wonder – what is making the difference in behavior?

Granted, our program is 3 hours and not a whole school day. ¬†That makes a big difference. ¬†But, why are these kids considered “trouble makers” at school, but sweethearts at our program?

There are no easy, clear cut answers, but I believe the main reasons are – relationship and expectation.

We work hard to make our program a “safe place” and have high standards of what behavior is acceptable or unacceptable. Our rules are simple – participate, respect each other, respect the staff and have fun. ¬†We consistently enforce the rules. ¬†And no matter how sweet or apologetic a child is, if they go too far, I will suspend them. ¬†The kids know if I say something, I mean it. ¬†I repeatedly teach about the values of our program – we want this to be a good place where kids don’t have to be afraid of being made fun of or have to fight and be on guard. ¬†And also, if you give me attitude or don’t follow directions, why would I let you go to this program? ¬†It’s about decisions and consequences.

We also invest a lot of time into building relationships with the kids. ¬†We shut down the program a few days each month for “Special Days” in which we go on trips and have quality time together. ¬†Every Friday afternoon we have “relational time” where we hang out and get to know the kids without the stress of rules and schedules.

It’s great the kids are well behaved at our program (less stress for the staff!), but we want that good behavior to also be transferred to other areas of their life. ¬†I’ve started to coach some of the kids – letting them know what I expect of them at school as well. ¬†Since then, whenever they first see me at 3pm, they’re eager to tell me how they are improving in school and feedback from their teacher. ¬†Because they have a relationship with me, I can have this influence in their life.

For those of you who work with urban kids, have you experience this Jekyll and Hyde behavior thing?

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