Welcome to the CATALYST, a Courage & Renewal newsletter for you, our supporters, with true stories of how your gifts make a difference. Read this newsletter in PDF format. Also read the previous issue.
Your Gift Created Better Schools for Thousands of Kids!
Melican Middle School was a good school. But teachers were overwhelmed with their increasing responsibilities and job demands. They had little time to reach out for peer support. Standardized testing for students increased – and with that came more stress.
Then principal Pat Montimurro discovered Leading Together, a Courage & Renewal program that strengthens relational trust in school communities. What she brought back to the school transformed it from the inside out – a direct result of your support.
Thanks to you, the community at Melican changed in big and small ways, creating a healthier environment for kids to learn.
So much changed after Leading Together came to Melican, Pat notes. “Leading Together has improved school culture, that elusive component that we know is the foundation for all growth and success. Education is really about building connections with kids and with each other.”
Pat reflects, “I think this work translates into a better feeling among the adults, and the kids pick up on that. When kids feel that we like and respect each other, it helps them feel respected, and they know we’re a team. We’re all in it together.”
The smallest changes added up to big ones. Pat made more time each morning to greet each of her teachers, as well as the kids. “Because we knew more about each other, about our lives and struggles, staff were always happy to pitch in. Many would volunteer their services without being asked.”
As staff noticed positive differences in Pat’s demeanor, they were encouraged to try some of the Leading Together activities for themselves. “It also helped them talk with me about needs they had. While I always tried to be very approachable, they found it easier to ask for help, or share concerns.”
One Melican teacher, inspired by Leading Together practices, launched a student meditation group that met before school. “The kids would get there on Wednesday morning and meet in her classroom at 7:15. They’d do a half hour of different kinds of meditations.” Pat adds, “You think in a middle school, ‘How is this ever going to work?’ But the kids are so open to this.”
One of Pat’s favorite moments was sharing Tai Chi practices, learned from Leading Together, for interested students and staff before standardized testing. The cafeteria was filled. “We offered it because it’s stressful to take standardized tests, and I was there doing Tai Chi with the kids and their teachers and they loved it. They take it seriously.”
Not only are the teachers at Melican supporting and strengthening each other, the kids are learning more – with more joy and excitement!
At the end of the day, your gift helped Pat and the Melican teachers and students (and future Melican students!) live and learn together. What an incredible gift!