They're Baaack!

The first day of school for Allendale County is on Tuesday, August 16. We took this week off from our after school programming, but will start up on the first day of school. We're expecting that not only will we get back many of the members that we had last spring, but that we'll keep most of the new kids that we picked up this summer. This ministry is growing!

On the last day of the school year program, a child asked me, "Will you be here in the fall?" I said that I sure was planning to. Now, I'm glad that my promise to that boy will hold true. We are so excited to be a part of these kids' lives. Even more, we are looking forward to being with these children for an entire school year, instead of coming in half-way through. We get to walk through their school year with them.

Many of these kids are used to people coming in and out of their lives, whether parents, parents' significant others, and teachers. Allendale County has the highest teacher turnover rate in SC (data from 2009-10). At 28.8%, it was only one of two districts over 20%; for comparison, Greenville County was at 6.5%.

Joanna and I have already talked about what the fall looks like for our family. Our family won't stay until closing time every day, but Joanna really wants to be there for homework time. She will schedule our own kids' schoolwork to leave some of their independent assignments to be done at the Club.

Here are some other things that we're excited about in the after school program:
  1. Joanna being there a lot, just like she was for the last month of the school year. The kids see us talk and work together. Early on, one of the best things Joanna thought to do was walk across the room to intentionally sit next to me during a talent show. You could tell that other kids noticed what she did; many of them don't have any kind of model of what a healthy marriage looks like.
  2. Our kids being there a lot. They have made friends and enjoyed the activities. But even more, other kids get to see Joanna and I talk to and interact with our own kids -- from correction, to encouragement, to direction, to joking. The kids in the program will be treated with the same care and leadership as our own kids get.
  3. Conversations. As you can read from the first two points, talking is so important. Conversation, especially for young children, significantly helps develop vocabularies and gives them a sense of connection. Good deeds lead to chances to communicate the Good News (see the first bullet point in this post).

Outside or my work, we're also looking forward to getting more connected here, with friends, with church, with the community.

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