These are some of the amazing stories our teachers and volunteers have shared with us.
Alex has been very attentive and cooperative during his SRT & SLANT Classes. He was or appeared to be somewhat reserved in the first few classes but he is sharing openly and is very focused during class time. He is the middle child and very family oriented. He recalls his mother and father teaching him English at a very young age. He is of Hispanic background and only knew Spanish when he started Pre-K. By the time he started first grade he was fluent in both languages. Alexis has a great personality and tunnel vision when given an assignment to complete. He is family oriented and shares the largest part of the chores in his household, even though there are 3 other siblings. He is very clear what SRT & SLANT means and their purposes. It is a pleasure to have Alexis’ presence during his assigned class times.
I had one student by the name of Briana who could not understand her math homework. I approached her because I noticed that she was looking sad and frustrated, so I asked her what was wrong, she stated “I don’t like math because it’s too hard”. I began working with her and showing Briana different ways, she could work out the math problems so that she could understand. When we finished the math worksheet I could tell that she was a lot more confident and happier to have had the help she needed. Now when I see Brittany doing her homework she uses the same techniques that I taught her. Now I know that I helped improve a child’s knowledge, which is a great feeling.
Two years ago Daisy was one of the inaugural participants in the Literacy, Character, Connections
Afterschool Program. She was a fourth grade student with a troubled home life and an even more troubled
academic profile. Her mother has just given birth to a new baby girl and the “baby’s daddy” (as Daisy called
him) was transitioning into a permanent live-in boyfriend whom Daisy despised. Daisy’s daily mantra to
friends, teachers, and LCC Interns was, “I hate the way I look” “Nobody likes me” “I’m ugly, I wish I was
someone else”. She was also reading and writing two years below grade level.
Danny was a major discipline problem at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. He was in fourth grade.
His mother was a professional exotic dancer who frequently dressed in revealing attire when she picked
her son up from school. In September, Danny underwent surgery to remove a tumor in his head, and the
operation left his left eye noticeably disfigured. When he returned to school almost two months later, a few of
the children made fun of him and Danny became angry and defensive. He seemed to decide that acting out
in class would make him less of a target for teasing by his peers. In addition as a result of the absences and
his refusal to wear his new glasses, Danny had become completely lost in his core content classes at Birdie
Alexander. His teachers selected him for participation in the LCC Afterschool Program.
That fall, LCC interns specifically employed Social Responsibility Training (SRT) lessons on topics such
as “How You Treat Others” and “People Awareness” to deal with helping other fourth graders accept
Danny’s physical appearance. Danny listened to these lessons intently. He was naturally talkative and soon
became an “expert” in pointing out misdeeds of his classmates that violated what they were learning in
SRT classes. “Someone is not being kind to me”, he would tell the LCC coordinator if another student made
fun of his appearance. Interestingly, the language and concepts of these character building lessons had a
gradual but noticeable effect on the fourth grade students. Soon nobody made fun of Danny in the afterschool
program. Eventually this courtesy and respect spread to the regular schooldays classes as well, seeded by the
Meanwhile, afterschool in LCC Danny was receiving a lot of praise for his efforts in tutoring and SRT. In
addition, his family was selected to receive backpacks, food and tennis shoes because of their financial
situation. It is amazing what a little positive support can do. “Hostile Danny” became “Happy Danny”.
His discipline problems virtually disappeared, and he could be seen proudly wearing his new glasses in
class everyday. Whenever possible Danny sat right in front of the teachers and raised his hand to answer
almost every question. “What happened to him?” asked one of the non-LCC teachers who had witnessed his
misbehavior earlier in the school year. “He seems to think he’s smart now”, she remarked incredulously. Just
another Literacy, Character, Connections success story about a child’s life being changed for the better.
Postscript: In May, Danny was vision was re-tested and he was found to be legally blind in his left eye. He
will qualify for special services as a fifth grade student next school year. Danny was also projected to have
additional surgery on his eye in the summer of 2010.
Archie was by all accounts a truly gifted track and field athlete but a not quite-so-gifted fifth grade student
at Birdie Alexander Elementary. Archie consistently attended the after-school program, and was shocked to
find himself in the TAKS reading failure group after the first administration of the test in early March 2010.
Archie’s dad had become a key volunteer with elementary track and field events, first at Birdie, and now
across the city. Mr. Davis confided to a teacher that he was torn between pride for his son’s accomplishments
at the weekend track meets and embarrassment about his son’s apparent inability to pass the TAKS reading
test. “What do you think…should I pull him off the team?” he asked. “His education has to come first.” The
solution suggested by the LCC coordinator was for Archie’s father to stop by every day during tutoring to
spend a few moments observing. He had been coming to the school every afternoon to help with track practice
As a result Archie was already proud and confident about his Dad’s support for his sprinting skills. However,
when Mr. Davis transferred some of his attention to the tutoring segment of Archie’s day, his son realized that
that reading success would also impress his father. The subsequent increase in Archie’s academic focus was
phenomenal. When the fifth grade TAKS reading re-test was given at the end of April, Archie Davis moved
from “failed” to “passed”. The motivation of his desire to excel in track and his daily participation made the
During the 2009 school year, several Birdie Alexander students participated in Odyssey of the Mind, a
national problem solving competition. That year, two Birdie staff members served as the sponsors for the
student teams. During the 2010 school term, the mother of one of the LCC Afterschool program participants
volunteered to work with this event while her daughter, Mindy, attended tutoring and character sessions.
The hour or two a day soon stretched to three or more hours and the parent enlisted the aid of her adult
daughter to work with the team. Eventually the parent, Mrs. Carter, assumed full sponsorship of the Birdie
Alexander Odyssey of the Mind teams. She accompanied the group to state competition in Houston where
several students including Mindy won competition awards. Mrs. Carter later said that her connection to
the afterschool program motivated her to volunteer with the Odyssey of the Mind. “I was up here everyday
afterschool anyway to pick up my daughter so I figured I might as well go ahead and get involved,” she stated.