Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: Efficiency Comes to Shepherds College!

Thank you to Jennifer Eakley, Instructor, for writing today's blog.


What started with the Gilbreth’s popularized Time-Motion Study to improve business efficiency has now evolved and made its way to Shepherds College! As our students chop and plant their way to Appropriate Independence™ (Ai), we ask ourselves, “What else can we do to help students become the best employees that they can be?”  With the help of the Specialty Major Instructors, Chef Cassandra Comerford and Mr. Owen Lackey, the students will begin to practice strategies to improve efficiency during their 1st year Study Skills class! 

What is efficiency? According to Dictionary.com, efficiency is the ability to accomplish something with the least waste of time and effort. In short, we will learn to work smarter, not harder. The 1st year students will be completing tasks that simulate skills that they may perform in a job. We will monitor our skills to see how we grow and improve! 

How will they do it?

To start, students will complete a task three times. We will average these into a baseline data score. Next, students will set goals to improve their speed and accuracy, thus improving efficiency. Finally, students will chart their progress each time they complete the task to see how much faster and more proficient they can become. The goal is that this process can be replicated with any task or skill to help students improve job efficiency. Tasks include bagging rice (used to practice pan-flipping skills in Culinary Arts), distributing items into plug trays (from the SC Greenhouse), disassembling Lego structures and sorting them into categories, sectioning paper into even pieces, and sorting major-specific flashcards into categories.    

As students complete tasks, they will self-assess and problem-solve ways to improve their efficiency. This is a new level of self-advocacy that will allow students to select, implement, and evaluate strategies that can be used in any job! They will be assessed on their effort, growth, and reflections as they learn this imperative new skill recently added to the Study Skills curriculum. 

What’s the point?

Horticulture students will improve the speed in which they transplant plugs into pots while minimizing air pockets that could harm the delicate roots. Culinary Arts students will more quickly chop ingredients while maintaining industry standards. These skills will help prepare students our students for jobs in their specialty majors making them more competitive with other workers. The students learn so many new skills with us at Shepherds College; now it is time to take it to the next level! 

Appropriate Independence™ (Ai) is defined as supported self-sufficiency aligned with the strengths of each individual and guided by Christian values.  The four principles of Ai are:  we are designed on and for a purpose; we are created as individuals for community; SC trains individuals for life after college; and the goal is to empower students to serve.  To fulfill the aspect of training for life, students are given the training and the opportunities to practice their skills. When students have the opportunity to practice efficiency growth in class, they are more prepared for their 3rd year Field Experience (FE) where they are placed with local businesses. At their FE sites, they will have the opportunity to exercise the skills they have learned which will ultimately earn them a certification in either Culinary Arts or Horticulture. 

As our students grow, so do we; and it is hard to contain our excitement when the students continue to amaze us with their growth of Ai in all aspects of their lives. All of the courses offered at Shepherds College are specifically designed to support students in various areas to provide them with the skills and strategies necessary to live as individuals created on and for a purpose, empowered to serve their community, and trained for life! All of the staff at Shepherds College feel honored to be a part of such an amazing organization!

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at www.shepherdscollege.edu.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Serving Like Jesus

Thank you to Alyson Piatt, Academic Advisor, for writing today's blog.

Several Saturdays each semester I have the privilege of traveling with a small group of Shepherds College students to Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois.  Here students serve in the Special Friends’ Respite Care program.  Parents of children with disabilities have the opportunity to attend support groups, while their children are supervised by volunteers.

            Mark 10: 45 tells us, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Each visit, I am blessed as I watch students discover new ways to serve like Jesus.  

            Serving requires us to get out of our comfort zones.  Jesus, though fully God, left Heaven to become the form of a man and serve us.  During each visit to Willow Creek, our students also must get out of their comfort zones.  Serving means hour long car rides just to reach the church and giving up other fun weekend activities.  It involves leading loud, silly songs with exaggerated motions!!  Before each session, the students giggle as I teach the new song for the day.  They are often hesitant at first to follow suit.  It is a joy to see each of them eventually stand in front of the group and lead the song for the children at the Respite with enthusiasm.  Serving like Jesus calls us out of our comfort zone!

            Serving calls us to put others interests’ before our own.  Jesus humbled himself to die for our sins, putting our interests before his own.  Serving at Willow Creek may mean playing the same game over and over again!  It could mean running around with a child from one activity to the next.  It might involve learning to communicate through motions with children who can’t speak.  Serving is being willing to pick up the toys that were thrown all over the floor.  Serving means helping others complete the crafts rather than doing them ourselves.  Serving like Jesus puts others first!

                I’m so thankful for these Shepherds College Student Servants.  We can all learn a lot from them as we serve like Jesus! 

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at www.shepherdscollege.edu.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The 2015 Alumni Weekend Event

Thank you to Angela Houk and Brian Canright for writing today's blog.

What an exciting weekend to have alumni from the classes of 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 on campus!  The weekend started off on Friday with an alumni welcome and weekend overview.  Students and alumni ate pizza, connected with old friends, and made new friends. 

Next, staff, alumni, and alumni parents enjoyed time to chat and laugh at Comedy Sportz.  

Saturday began with brunch prepared and served by the culinary arts students and enjoyed by alumni, students, and staff.  Several alumni parents and students participated in a time of video Q&A sharing about challenges and successes.  The afternoon was filled with games, snacks, and some R&R to watch a movie.  Dinner was enjoyed by alumni, staff, and alumni parents at Country Rose.  The staff at Country Rose did a fabulous job preparing and serving the food.  It was a great time watching the alumni and parents reconnecting, visiting, and sharing memories. 

Saturday evening was filled with excitement and fun as alumni parents gathered at the Racine home of Guy and Faythe Ladd, parents of Christian Ladd, a 2014 graduate.  Meanwhile the alumni played games and participated in a solving a campus mystery.  The campus nurse went missing and students traveled throughout the campus searching for clues only to find out the nurse had taken a vacation.  The evening ended with the return of the nurse to campus from her vacation – the mystery of the missing nurse was solved.  

One highlight from the alumni weekend was celebrating the accomplishments of Brett Fisher who received the distinguished alumni award.  Brett graduated in 2012 with a certificate of completion in Culinary Arts.  Brett has demonstrated the philosophy of Appropriate Independence™ as he lives independently and works in the deli at Walmart in Grand Rapids, MN.  His wages are higher than some of his peers without intellectual disabilities because he completed the culinary arts vocational training program.  Brett works around 32 hours a week and earns vacation time.  He uses public transit and has a network of family and friends to meet his transportation needs.  Brett serves his neighbors by preparing food and snacks once a week and helps his aging grandparents with chores such as shoveling snow.  He faithfully attends and volunteers in his church and financially supports missions and causes close to his heart.  We are proud of Brett and his accomplishments!  Congratulations for being the 2015 Distinguished Alumni! 

Thank you parents for entrusting your students to us and for being part of the exciting journey of Appropriate Independence™ that is unique to each student.  We are truly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of each student’s journey! 

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at www.shepherdscollege.edu.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Faith & Flexibility

Thank you to Laura Pollard, Elyse Cyr & Lori Konopasek, missions team leaders, for writing today's blog.

You may have heard the chants in the hallway:  “SB MIE 2015!  SB MIE 2015!”

This Spring Break, eight students and four staff will be embarking on the first ever Shepherds College Spring Break Mission Immersion Experience – specifically christened SB MIE 2015! 

At the crack of dawn on March 31st, eight brave students and their fully caffeinated instructors will leave from O’Hare Airport and travel to St. Mary’s, Jamaica for an eight day missions experience.  We will be partnering with Kenneth and Eileen Terroade of Uphill Ministries and experiencing life on the mission field in another country.  Students will be leading Vacation Bible School, participating in service projects, and sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  

As students and staff prepare for this trip, two words continually come up in our meetings and conversations:  faith and flexibility!  Faith has been woven into this trip from the beginning.   During the genesis of this trip,  Elyse, Lori and I continually looked at one another and exclaimed, “Are we really doing this?!  Are we crazy?! Is God going to provide?!?!”  The answers to all of these questions we tossed around were a big “YES”!!!!  Yes, we feel that God has given us a burden and a desire to expose our students to mission experiences, yes, God has proven over and over again that HE is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides, and yes we probably are crazy, but as we’ve said from the beginning,  “Go big or go home!”  
When we asked what these two words mean to our students, these were our students’ responses: 

Crystal Nystrand said: “Flexibility means to go with the flow and do whatever needs to be done.  Faith is to believe that God will provide and let Him take over you.”

Olya Porth said: “To me, faith means that I have to trust in God in everything I am doing to get ready to go to Jamaica.  Flexibility is to do something that you don’t want to do, but you do it anyway.”

Willetta McVicker described faith and flexibility as:  “Faith means to trust and believe without seeing and to know that God will make a way in His will.  Flexibility means to do or go where you are told without arguing and to get out of your comfort zone.” 

When asked about faith and flexibility, Wade Phillips said, “Faith means to have a relationship with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  Flexibility means to go with the flow to wherever the journey to Jamaica takes us!”

Micah Muma defined faith and flexibility as:  “Faith means that I don’t need to worry- I just need to have faith that God has it all under control.  Flexibility means that I just need to go with the flow with changes or anything on a trip or in life.” 

Jonathan Ingram said: “Having faith is trusting God that He will provide for you.  When you realize that you can’t do anything on your own.  Flexibility means to go with the flow- you may be set on something to happen, but then God throws you somewhere else.”

Andrew Gummow said that “Faith is believing in God and flexibility means to do whatever is asked with joy!”

Nikki Monroe described faith and flexibility as: “Faith means how much you believe in God.  Flexibility means being able to switch gears quickly without getting mad or anxious.”

We could not be more grateful for this opportunity that God has provided and this team that He put together!

Hmmm…Faith and flexibility may not only apply to a Spring Break missions trip to Jamaica…

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at www.shepherdscollege.edu.