Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Honoring the voices of children

Friends, it is my pleasure to open up this space and introduce you to Kelly Giudice. Kelly is the director of operations at Expressive Beginnings at Toddler’s Workshop in Webster, and she has some very insightful words to share with us today. – Marisa Geitner, president and C.E.O., Heritage Christian Services

Kelly Giudice
One of the things that matters most to me, and to many of my colleagues, is the need for children to fully experience their right to empowerment and engagement in the educational process.

We have been working very hard through our classroom work, documentation, newsletters and more to show our families examples of honoring the children's innate approach to knowledge acquisition. We are striving every day to create a culture that values the self-directed learning of children.

Our belief in their ability to create and construct their own knowledge and to formulate and express their ideas in new and creative ways is the cornerstone of our program.

Their world is so often dominated by the voices of others, let us focus together on their voices. Through our listening, observing, and trusting we are demonstrating our belief in their value, their capabilities and potentials, and supporting the idea that each of them is a unique and amazing gift to the world! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Extending the welcome

By: Marisa Geitner, President and C.E.O.

Belonging is such a significant part of our natural fiber.  Not specifically belonging as a possession, we are all autonomous, but connected as a naturally part of something bigger.  We all need to feel relevant within our relationships with others.  It is well established that this sense of connectedness is important to our overall health, happiness and ability to adjust within this ever-changing world.

If you have strong and broad relationships perhaps that sense of belonging is something you might take for granted and only appreciating it when you find yourself in a moment of disconnect.  You know the feeling, perhaps you're the first to meet friends at a local restaurant and find yourself standing alone amidst strangers awkwardly while you wait. It's silly how fast you can become uncomfortable when you find yourself not connected to those around you.

If you aren't as fortunate to have relationships and experiences that consistently feed your sense of belonging, the sting of disconnect can be much more pervasive and destructive than a few awkward moments waiting alone.   The right to belong, a recognized basic human need, is the cornerstone of the drive for inclusion for those who might otherwise be excluded, perhaps due to age, race, intellectual ability, religion or other reasons.  Supporting inclusive communities isn't just essential for promoting diversity, it is essential for supporting belonging.  Affording all the opportunity to feel value and respect through the give and take of relationships with others.  

Belonging can be fed in many ways, often times more through meaningful daily exchanges than through grand gestures or events. Perhaps just a thoughtful message from a friend that lets you know they're thinking about you or a call from a family member you haven't seen in a while. Perhaps you are reaching out to connect to others, offering a kind greeting to someone passing by or offering to take the grocery cart back to the store after someone else has just loaded his groceries into his car.  Maybe you feel a sense of belonging with a faith community, or common group of sports fans.  The librarian at your neighborhood library, or the attendant where you most often fill up your car.  Whether others are reaching out to us or whether we are reaching out to others, these exchanges feed our sense of belonging.  

In our work at Heritage Christian we often find ourselves centering on one very specific question for each and every one of us.  Where is the one place that if you weren't there you would be missed? And how can we extend the welcome so that all those who choose our services find places to belong as well?