Monday, January 25, 2016

Making a MARC

Today I left the MARC for the last time. I will be retiring at the end of the week.  The MARC was the dream of a small group of educators to do something about a large neighborhood in our attendance area. We simply wanted to make a difference in the lives of the children in that under served geographic area.  We met with the administration of the community and worked out an agreement so that they would let us use a room in their Community Center and we would provide some volunteer tutoring.  Their hope was that the tutoring would hold families in a community that could be somewhat transient. As we got into the community of majority second language families, we realized that the needs were much greater than  mere tutoring.

At about the same time in 2010 a family in our larger community lost their precious daughter to a sudden illness, a beautiful blonde teenager with the heart of an angel.  It was devastating for the family but instead of drowning in their sorrow, they decided to create a living memorial to their faithful, spirited and talented daughter, establishing the McKenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation. Their mission was to honor McKenzie by inspiring and helping  young people find their purpose in a world of challenges.  Through church connections some of the teachers who had been volunteering at the MARC were put in touch with the Wilsons (Divine intervention?) Today the Foundation funds many diverse projects that all build on McKenzie's passion and honor her life by helping young people realize their full potential. The MARC (McKenzie Academic Resource Center), which now takes up the entire Community Center in our under served area is only one of the many projects that carries McKenzie's name and is proud to represent her faith and spirit. Because of the Foundation and Chets Creek's involvement,  the MARC today is involved in family life in a variety of ways - a preschool program, middle school and high school tutoring, a  weekly Saturday Sunday School-type program, Blessings in a Backpack and a multitude of other social service-type programs.  The Foundation pays for a full time school-to-Center Liaison.  The model has now been replicated in another school community in another part of town.

This year I have been tutoring on the day 4th-5th graders come. As I walked through the Center today, this is what I observed.
Small group Math turoing

A second language student who speaks no English working on
 a new language-based computer program, Imagine Learning,
also being piloted at the school. 

A computer lab where students can get extra practice in  iReady and Achieve 3000,
programs being offered at the school and for homework for extra practice.

Small reading strategy group

Individual tutoring
This is place that once was hardened soil but today nourishes a rich green garden of possibilities.  Seeds were planted that today have begun to bloom and the beautiful colors of McKenzie's butterflies swoop down to brighten every day.  Dreams have become reality.. and the best is yet to come...

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