Thursday, December 28, 2006

Monarch Movers & Shapers

Monarch Movers & Shapers

A few words from your M&S Chairman Fox:

Well, as 2006 comes to a close, we can all look back and take great satisfaction in the fact that our Movers and Shapers group has made some wonderful strides in our formation and development! We already have accomplished some very good projects and have a number more planned for the future through our four standing committees.

A special thanks is in order for the extra efforts put forth by John Barone and Marty Webb, whose brainchild our M&S group is! Also thanks to Emily Reiter and to various other Monarch School staff and advisors for their continuing support for the M&S.

Kudos also to our M&S committee facilitators: Miranda Bennett and Kay Kahl of The Educators Committee; Julie Meaux of The Developers Committee; Penny Weiss and Sara Ranger of The Builders Committee; and least, but not least, FNU LNU (that's FBI lingo for "First Name Unknown, Last Name Unknown") of The Heralds Committee, since we still don't have an official facilitator for The Heralds, despite our persistent efforts to cajole Kathy Graham into that position!

Special accolades also go to Mirianda Bennett for setting up our great M&S blog.

And a special thank you to Penny Weiss for hosting our fabulous M&S Christmas party in her lovely home.

And, of course, a final word of praise for all our M&S members, whose contributions thus far are greatly appreciated by everyone, especially the students at The Monarch School. We have the good fortune to have enrolled some enthusiastic new members, who will help develop some significant projects to aid The Monarch School in 2007 and thereafter.

Here are a couple of important future dates for us all:

On Thursday, January 25, 2007, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at The Monarch School's Learning Center (TLC) an Orientation will be held for any new M&S members who have not yet attended this session. We hope to recruit some new M&S members from our ongoing telephone calls to attendees of the Miracle Makers Morning breakfast last November. An invitation will be sent out after the first of the year to these recruits.

On Thursday, January 25, 2007, from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at TLC a regular M&S luncheon meeting for all M&S members will be held, at which we'll have our 4 committee break-out meetings. A separate invitation will be sent to all for this event in another week or two.

Here's wishing you and your families and loved ones a very joyous and prosperous 2007. Happy New Year!!!!!!!!

-- Justin Fox, M&S Chairman

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Developers Meeting Minutes - December 7, 2006

Present: Julie Meaux, Justin Fox, Jessica Stoner, Jenny Ferguson, Marion Defalco and Kim Hollard

  • We welcomed 2 new members - Marion Defalco and Kim Hollard
  • Jessica asked for volunteers to contact individuals in the Monarch data base to touch base with them and ask if they would be willing to provide us with an email address so that The Monarch School can stay in touch with them electronically via 2 news letters each year as well as other upcoming events and news
  • Jessica suggested that next year volunteers contact the individuals that attend the breakfast, but do not make a donation, to thank them for attending the breakfast and ask if we can get an email address and add them to the school's data base
  • Marion suggested we contact real estate agencies to educate them about Monarch, provide them with Monarch literature they can share with clients and possibly try to get one of the agencies to host an event with the proceeds going to The Monarch School
  • Kim spoke in length to Jenny regarding the capital campaign and suggested several possible contacts to help with the campaign

Friday, December 08, 2006

High School High Tech

Has anyone ever heard of High School High Tech? It's a Houston-area program that bills itself as "an enrichment program for high school students with disabilities that encourages the exploration of science, engineering, and technology-related careers." I just stumbled across the website, so I don't know much about it, but it looks very interesting.

Educators Committee minutes from 12/7

The Educators were a committee of one yesterday, but I had interesting and productive conversations with John Barone, Neal Sarahan, and Debrah Hall, in which we focused on possible projects for our committee. Since we're small, we'll need lots of help, so please read on and find something you'd be interested in doing!

  • Reading companions for students. Neal clarified that this activity can be scheduled at the convenience of individual volunteers. If you are interested, you will commit to coming to Monarch on a regular basis (can be weekly or less frequently) sometime during school hours (8:30-3:15) to listen to students read aloud. You will work with a given student for about 30 minutes, but you can meet with multiple students during a visit. Penny has done this in the past and says it's great fun! Interested? Please contact me at, and Neal will help you set up a schedule.
  • The "Ultimate Gift" project will involve a major event on February 13. Along with other organizations, Monarch will sponsor special screenings of this film, with an event to follow. Volunteers are needed in various capacities, including planning and organization. Details are being worked out, but let me know if you'd like to be kept informed about this.
  • Recruiting mentors and finding internships. We're hoping to get a better sense of specific areas of interest among Monarch students, so you can volunteer yourself and your friends and families to share relevant expertise. Senior students are in the process of choosing topics for their final projects, and after these are selected, we'll put out a call for mentors to support their work, as well.
  • Volunteers for the Monarch garden at the Houston Zoo. The Builders have been working on this one, too, but a recent donation of materials will enable new developments in this project and opportunities for more workers. Note especially: volunteers may be able to work in the garden on weekends, as well as during the week.
We're also hoping to improve communication between our committee and Monarch teachers and administrators, so that we can find out about upcoming activities in time to call for volunteers. Watch this space!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Monarch Movers & Shapers

Monarch Movers & Shapers
On December 7th, the Movers and Shapers held an Orientation session in which we added three dynamic new members, namely Marion Defalco, Kim Hollard and Malik Mott. Welcome aboard, Marion, Kim and Malik! Immediately after the Orientation we held a regular M&S luncheon meeting and came up with some good ideas. Although we may not have had quantity in the numbers of attendees, we certainly had quality!

Just another reminder of our M&S holiday party this coming Sunday, December 10th, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the home of Penny Weiss, 8411 Burkhart, Houoston, 713-545-8732. Thanks again, Penny, for graciously hosting this grand event!

-- Justin Fox, M&S Chairman

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This Week's Movers and Shapers Events

I just wanted to post a friendly reminder for everyone about this Thursday's Movers and Shapers committee lunch meeting. It will start with a tasty catered lunch at 12:30 and end around 2. Also, don't forget about the Movers and Shapers Christmas Party this coming Sunday at 1 p.m. at the home of Penny and Richard Weiss. If you need directions or have any questions, please feel free to give me a call - 713.933.0568. From what I hear it's shaping up to be a great time so I hope all of you can make it!

A Volunteer Opportunity from Kay Kahl

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunity!
Monarch Movers & ShapersThe Educators Committee is seeking volunteers who are interested and available to partake in Monarch's Challenger Campus holiday celebration on Friday, December 15th from 9am-noon. Volunteers are needed to share information and insight to students about holiday celebrations from different traditions (Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, traditions from countries and cultures around the world). The students will be traveling to different stations during this time, and each presenter will offer knowledge to a small group in a fun, fascinating way such as speaking and showing items specific to their culture (menorahs, Christmas pickles, etc.). Speakers may want to present a brief project, recipe, or share stories. Creativity is welcome! Please e-mail Kay ( as soon as possible if you are interested or know of someone who may be interested in volunteering. Even if you are only available for an hour or 2, we'd love to have you! Thanks!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Monarch Movers & Shapers

Monarch Movers & Shapers -- UPCOMING M&S EVENTS!

Thursday, December 7th, 11 am-12:30 pm: New member Orientation at The Learning Center (TLC);

Thursday, December 7th, 12:30-2 pm: Luncheon meeting at TLC for all M&S members, with breakout meetings of all 4 committees.

Date to be determined: Christmas party for all M&S members! Let's choose a nearby restaurant (or even M&S home, if anyone wants to graciously host it).

Please make every effort to attend. Also, if you have any brilliant ideas for the time and place of our proposed Christmas party, call or email your fearless M&S Chairman, Justin Fox, at 281-367-9680 (home), email:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Movers and Shapers Christmas Party??

Would any of you be interested in a Christmas get together? One of our M & S members (John Barone) suggested that we ask our chairman (Justin Fox) to host!!! Other members (myself, Julie Meaux and Emily Reiter) thought this was an excellent idea!!! (Justin, I would start making and freezing the 'petits fours' now!!!!
Any interest, comments, suggestions as to how we could pull this off?

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Email Alerts Change

The Blog Alert system appears to be having some problems accepting new email addresses (as far as I can tell, if you've already signed up, you should still be getting alerts). If you are not receiving email notification of new blog entries and you would like to, please use the "blogarithm" (really, who comes up with these names?) box on the right sidebar. (I'm leaving the Blog Alert box there because I don't want to risk affecting those of you who have signed up through that system.)

Questions? Please let me know ( Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

New York Times article

The New York Times recently ran an article about students with Asperger's Syndrome attending college. "Students on the Spectrum" describes the academic and social experiences of several college students and reports on efforts many schools are making to accommodate their special needs. [I'm not sure how long the article will be available for free on the Times website. If the link doesn't work, please let me know (, and I'll be happy to help you get access to it another way.]

Also, if you haven't already, be sure to check out the story about Kate Matthiesen and Adam Farris, two Monarch graduates who are continuing their education at Houston Community College.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Another Volunteer Opportunity Nov. 10th

If anyone is interested in helping stuff about 700 information packets for the Miracle Makers Morning Breakfast I could use a couple of volunteers. We will be meeting the morning of Friday, November 10th at my house (not far from Monarch). If you are interested in helping please contact me at

Friday, November 03, 2006

History, Vision, and Organization

Posted on behalf of Justin Fox.



The Movers and Shapers (M&S) was founded in 2005 as a special kind of support group for The Monarch School (TMS).

An M&S “Core Team,” originally consisting of eleven members, met several times in 2005-2006 with Dr. Marty Webb, Head of School and John Barone, Director of the Monarch Learning Center, in order to establish the goals, structure and direction of the M&S. The M&S Core Team continues to guide the execution of the goals of the M&S, to work actively in the recruitment of new M&S members, and to oversee the M&S committees to ensure that they are functioning in ways that reflect the group’s vision and guidelines.

There are currently 26 individual M&S members. It is anticipated that this number will increase as the M&S further develops. Each new M&S recruit is first invited to a tour of TMS, then completes an application form and interest inventory, and then is approved by TMS staff. Thereafter, the M&S recruit attends a M&S orientation meeting. Then the new M&S member chooses to join and participate in one of the four M&S committees (described below), or to be available for “work groups” for specific projects.

The present M&S Chairperson is Justin Fox.

The primary purpose of the M&S group is to support the mission of TMS and assist the school in a number of creative and innovative ways.

More specifically, the M&S group is divided into four separate committees, namely: (1) The Builders; (2) The Developers; (3) The Educators; (4) The Heralds.

Each of these four committees is headed by one or two facilitators, whose main job is to convene and oversee periodic committee meetings, preferably every month. These meetings may be held at a time and place convenient to its members, such as at a restaurant, residence, office, or TMS. After each committee meeting, a brief summary of will be posted on the M&S Blog:

THE BUILDERS COMMITTEE: Includes any project that involves construction, demolition, remodeling, redecorating, maintenance, etc.

Co-Facilitators: Penny Weiss and Sara Ranger

Members: Penny Weiss, Sara Ranger

Pilot projects:

  • Apprentice: Grounds, pond and trails maintenance (faculty contact: Debrah Hall);
  • Challenger: Zoo butterfly garden support (faculty contact: Richard Klein);
  • MLC: Painting (faculty contact: Emily Reiter).

Items discussed in the most recent meeting of the Builders Committee on 9/11/2006:

An on-going project that the group will be organizing is the weeding and watering of the Butterfly Garden at the Houston Zoo by selected TMS students, who go there on Thursdays. Volunteers now will be organized to go to the zoo for that purpose at another time on an on-going basis.
Doing some projects at TMS involving renovation and refurbishing. For instance, some shelving will be made for one of TMS work rooms, and weeding of TMS trails will be undertaken.
Postponing of most of the ideas for projects, which were discussed at the last meeting, until much closer to TMS’ move to its new campus in less than two years.

THE DEVELOPERS COMMITTEE: Includes foundation relationships, grant writing, support for fundraising and friend-raising events, recruitment of new members, support of school outreach, etc.

Facilitator: Julie Meaux

Members: Julie Meaux, Stephanie Wheatley, Carolyn Trozzo, Susan Meek, Justin Fox, Scharlene Fox

Pilot projects:

  • MLC: Solicitation of off-campus workshops (faculty contact: John Barone);
  • Development: Tour recruitment (faculty contact: Jessica Stoner);
  • Events: Training in raising more money (faculty contact: Shannon Woodruff).

Items discussed at the most recent meeting of the Developers meeting on 9/11/2006:

Confirmation that the Developers Committee would serve these two purposes: (1) development of external contacts; (2) development of TMS parent community.
The following six (6) methods of developing external contacts were discussed:

  1. Established that networking is the most effective method to publicize TMS.
  2. Contacting school districts, particularly special services personnel.
  3. Personal contact will be made by Development Committee members with friends and acquaintances in the education community.
  4. Agreed that health professionals need to be contacted. One suggested method would be for TMS to donate books to doctors’ offices, with these books having details of TMS placed inside them.
  5. Car decals with TMS logo and email address were discussed, and estimates from printers of these decals will be obtained.
  6. It was suggested that these decals would make an excellent gift for the upcoming TMS fundraising breakfast on 11/14/2006.

It was suggested that an electronic “TMS Parent Newsletter” would be an effective method of building community spirit and school support among the Monarch parent community.

THE EDUCATORS COMMITTEE: Includes all direct service with students and faculty, including academic support, mentorship, internships, guest speakers, special events for students and/or staff, faculty support, off-campus practice opportunities, etc.

Co-facilitators: Miranda Bennett and Kay Kahl

Members: Miranda Bennett, Kay Kahl, Ami Felker, Chassidy Andrew.

Pilot projects:

  • Challenger: Reading room (faculty contact: Neal Sarahan);
  • Apprentice: Summer program support for out-or-town parents (faculty contact: Debrah Hall);
  • MLC: AV/DVD mentorship (faculty contact: John Barone).

Items discussed at the most recent Educators Committee meeting on 9/11/2006:

Upcoming opportunities for volunteers to work with TMS students, to include internships for the students to learn new skills and to increase their confidence.
Mentorships: Speakers are needed to give presentations or mini-workshops to TMS students. These mentors could address students’ interests and/or discuss their life experiences, with an emphasis on making decisions and overcoming challenges. Lectures, demonstrations and hands-on instruction are encouraged.
“The Ultimate Gift”: TMS students are using this curriculum to reflect on their gifts and the legacy of their family heritage. Later in the fall of 2006 volunteers can assist students with the writing and recording of their reflections.

THE HERALDS COMMITTEE: Includes Informational Technology (IT), multi-media advertising, brochure design, photography, public relations, videography, DVD production, web-site design and maintenance, email design, Monarch Learning Center (MLC) promotion, etc.

Co-Facilitator(s): None at present.

Members: Dennis Woods, Dwight Wolf, Cathy Graham, Gala Edwardsen, Chris Edwardsen

Pilot projects:

  • IT: network infrastructure design (faculty contact: Kyle Nguyen)
  • IT: website proofreading (faculty contact: Marty Webb)
  • MLC: email newsletter design (Faculty contact: Emily Reiter)
Items discussed in previous two Heralds Committee meetings on 5/3/06 and 9/11/06:

Website ands email content issues, including perhaps adding a calendar section to help TMS parents, committee members and others to keep up with various events at school;
Distribution of email newsletter to interested parents and committee members;
Development of speakers bureau for TMS;
Ideas for spreading the word about MLS upcoming symposium, such as making connections with leaders of local professional groups, using TMS website to promote the event, and focusing on target audiences when sending out the material, especially when contacting individuals within an ISD.

The foregoing “M&S History, Vision and Organization” was compiled on October 30, 2006 by Justin Fox, M&S Chairperson.

Interested in joining M&S? Please contact Justin Fox at

        Tuesday, October 31, 2006

        Volunteers Needed for Reading Program!

        Dr. Neal is looking for volunteers to listen to students read. If you'd like to help out and are available during school hours (specific days/times not yet available), please let me ( know.

        FYI: This is also a great opportunity to interest new recruits in Movers & Shapers. However, because this activity involves direct contact with students, new folks will need to go through the initial orientation before participating. If you find someone who would like to get involved, just send his/her contact info to Justin, and he will start the initiation process.

        For projects not involving direct student contact, non-M&S people are welcome to take part before getting oriented. (All this policy stuff comes from John Barone; I'm not just making it up as I go along!)

        By the way, thanks for making such great use of the blog! (I knew I'd hook you sooner or later....)


        Developers Meeting Minutes - October 30, 2006

        Present: Julie Meaux, Justin Fox, Stephanie Wheatley, Carolyn Trozzo, Susan Meek, Shannon Woodruff, Jessica Stoner

        • Stephanie Wheatly updated everyone on the progress of a parent newsletter. It was decided that creating a parent Blog would be a good place to start for Monarch parents to interact and share information.
        • Discussed the possibility of having a book drive to collect books to be donated to doctor's offices (especially pediatricians) with details of the school inside the front cover. This could possibly be a service project for the kids.
        • Suggested that some type of thank-you event would be nice for all of those that make pledges at the breakfast on November 14th. Possibly a dinner or party.
        • It was suggested that Monarch might benefit from offering an annual open house in the evening.
        • Discussed reaching out to preschools, especially through the different churches, to help educate the community about Monarch.

        Thanks to Our Awesome Volunteers

        A huge thanks to all who helped yesterday at the Learning Center by sticking labels on about 7,000 news letters that will be going out this week. We had several parent volunteers, Monarch staff and Movers and Shapers members who showed up to tackle this task. The work that we thought would take 1 1/2 days was completed in only 4 1/2 hours. Way to go volunteers!!!!

        Monday, October 30, 2006

        Builders Committee Project

        Members of the Builders Committee recently rolled up their sleeves and with hammers in hand, responded to a need in the Monarch Life Academy for more shelf space. Penny Weiss and I spent two afternoons hanging shelves along two of the walls in the Life Academy. As you can see from the picture, the shelves look great, and are being put to good use! The Building Committee is incredibly appreciative to Penny for driving this project. Life Academy- how are the new shelves working out for you?

        Thursday, October 26, 2006

        Volunteer Opportunity October 30th and 31st

        If anyone has some free time on Monday, October 30th between 8:30am and 3:00pm and/or on Tuesday, October 31st between 8:30am and 11:30am we will be stuffing and labeling approximately 10,000 envelopes in the Learning Center for a mass mailing and could use your help. If you are interested in helping with this task please contact me. If you find you have some time to spare at the last minute feel free to just show up - I'm sure there will be plenty of work to go around.

        Monday, October 23, 2006

        Computers and Laptops

        If you have not already heard, I wanted to share the great news with all of you. The Monarch School is a member of a program called Gifts In Kind. This program allows non-profits like us to "Shop" (we don't actually pay anything) for items that we need. These items are typically donated by large corporations. These items can be anything from furniture or computers, or even office supplies. Upon hearing that ExxonMobil had donated over 400 desktops and laptops to the program, I immediately asked for 32 desktops and 10 laptops. And guess what?!?! We got ALL of them. This is great news because these computers can replace all the student computers on both campuses.

        Also, we recently received a generation donation from the Viereck's (Monarch parents) to pay for a defibrillator and cabinet for each campus, and for pediatric pads for the Apprentice campus. We are thrilled that they did this for us, especially with all the news going around about schools that do/do not have them. All staff will be trained at the beginning of November on how to use them.

        Wednesday, October 18, 2006

        Studio Saturday: cARTography

        The Blaffer Gallery at the University of Houston is offering a free program this Saturday, October 21, which may be of interest to some Monarch students and teachers. The schedule includes guided tours of the exhibit "A Fiction of Authenticity: Contemporary Africa Abroad" at 1:00; an art-making activity, in which participants will create maps of their personal histories, at 2:00; and an opportunity to share these maps and discuss the exhibit and project with Leamon Green, a fine arts professor from Texas Southern University, at 3:30. According to the flyer advertising the program, "All art-making materials provided and refreshments are served--just bring your imagination."

        Interested? Please RSVP to Katherine Veneman, curator of education (what a cool title!), at 713-743-9526 or

        Tuesday, October 17, 2006

        Our Resident Artist

        Hello all you Movers & Shapers,

        If you missed it, check out this terrific Channel 2 News Report on the success of Kate, one our Monarch students!



        Monday, October 09, 2006

        Blaffer Gallery programs for students

        Ranger has been talking to a friend of hers at UH's Blaffer Gallery, exploring possibilities for Monarch students to visit and enjoy some of the gallery's educational programming. Please take a look at the Education section of their website and let Ranger or me know if you'd like more details. (In addition to being an interesting place to visit, the Blaffer has the advantage of being on the UH campus, and a session there could be combined with a stop at another site, such as the KUHF studio, mentioned in an earlier blog post.)

        Thursday, October 05, 2006

        Don't Miss This Great Show!

        Greetings all Movers & Shapers,

        Susie and I went to the Hobby Center last night to see our very own Kay Kahl in Masquerade Theatre's performance of "Sweeney Todd." Kay was awesome, as was the entire cast.

        The delightful show, although three hours long, captivated us the entire time, and the singing and acting were brilliant! The Houston Press had this to say in their review: "The entire cast is definitive, as is director Phillip Duggins's minimal production, which moves this classic with a relentless, chilling drive."

        It's not too late to catch this masterpiece performance! There are two shows left before the show closes on Sunday.



        Wednesday, October 04, 2006

        Spreading the Word

        The Learning Center is looking to expand its list of contacts for this year's workshops. Because it is our first year to offer continuing education units to professionals, we're hoping to increase our contacts with special education professionals in the schools. If any movers and shapers have contacts in public or private special education or any mailing lists of professionals that they would be willing to share, please either email Emily Reiter at or call 713.933.0568, thanks!

        Coaching from Cathy

        I just wanted to thank Cathy Graham for agreeing to lend her time and skills in public relations to mentor me in the promotion of the Learning Center. We recently met to discuss the best possible route for promoting the Learning Center's upcoming symposium. Cathy gave great suggestions for focusing on building relationships with other organizations in the community. She also suggested different ideas of how to effectively reach the Learning Center's target audience. I had a great time brainstorming with Cathy, and look forward to more meetings in the future!

        Tuesday, October 03, 2006

        Calling All Heralds!

        Monarch is hosting a free workshop on hair pulling and skin picking on Oct. 19. Any help in getting the word out would be greatly appreciated!



        Possible field trip idea?

        I was just looking at the KUHF website and came across an article about tours of the studio. This sounds like a great opportunity for Monarch students to learn more about radio (and TV--the PBS station operates out of the same building and is included in the tour) broadcasting. According to the article, the free tours can be scheduled on Tuesday or Thursday at 9 am (weekend and evening times are also available, but I assume these wouldn't work). If this seems like a good idea, I'd be happy to find out more.

        Field trips (I know that's not the term Monarch prefers, but I can't remember the right one) fall within the scope of the Educators' work, and we'd be delighted to get additional suggestions!


        Thursday, September 28, 2006

        Volunteer opportunity on October 3!

        Linda Caruso invites volunteers to join Monarch students at the Italian Cultural and Community Center on October 3. For more information, please contact her:

        Wednesday, September 27, 2006

        Yay Developers!

        One item on the Developers' to-do list has already been checked off! At our recent meeting, this group discussed ordering car decals featuring the Monarch logo. Here's the latest from Julie Meaux:

        We had 1000 4x4 decals printed and we are planning to give them out at the breakfast to each guest. We should have plenty leftover for anyone who would like to have one for their car.


        Tuesday, September 26, 2006

        Books on the Bayou

        From September 8 to October 28, Houston Public Library is sponsoring Books on the Bayou, a city-wide reading club. This year's selections, four books for different reading levels, tell stories about people with special needs. In the words of HPL Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson:

        This year’s Books on the Bayou theme is families with special needs and the challenges they confront. Often we encounter families and/or individuals with special needs and have no idea what issues they have to deal with. Our hope is this year’s reading will broaden understanding about and stimulate discussions with our friends and neighbors with special needs.

        Stop by your favorite HPL branch or check the HPL website for details about the program and how you can get involved.

        Update (9/27)--John asked which books have been selected. Here they are:
        • For adults, Riding the Bus with my Sister, by Rachel Simon
        • For teens, Tangerine, by Edward Bloor
        • For middle schoolers, So B. It, by Sarah Weeks
        • For pre-schoolers, Leo the Late Bloomer, by Robert Kraus

        Monday, September 25, 2006

        Festa Italiana

        Monarch students have been volunteering to prepare for the Italian Cultural and Community Center's annual Festa Italiana, which will be held on October 14 and 15 at Houston Farm and Ranch Club. The event includes entertainment, educational presentations, and lots and lots of food.

        Thursday, September 21, 2006

        Monarch's Garden at the Houston Zoo

        This is just one of the six photos I took while I was at the garden this morning. To see the rest (and, incidentally, a bunch of other work and personal photos, so you are fairly warned), go to my Flickr page:

        For now, we need a group of 2-3 folks to commit to going to the zoo every week or every two weeks to do some basic weeding. This will allow the kids to spend less time weeding and more time doing fun jobs and activities. The zoo would prefer that we go A. during the day and B. early in the week, when they are not so busy. Monday mornings are especially good for me. If you know you want to weed, please leave a comment here or let any of the usual suspects know--me, Penny, or Emily so she can let us know.

        Wednesday, September 20, 2006

        New Feature: Email Alerts!

        Want to find out whenever a new post appears on the blog? Sign up for email alerts!

        Just look for the "Subscribe" box on the right side of this page. Enter your email address, check your inbox for a message about Blog Alert, click on the confirmation link, and you're all set.

        You don't even have to be a member of the blog to use this feature, so if you're an interested visitor, aspiring Movers & Shapers volunteer, Monarch supporter, or non-blogging M&S-er, you can still get alerts.

        Questions and comments should be sent to Miranda (

        Tuesday, September 19, 2006

        Movers & Shapers Orientation

        There's a whole lot of movin' and shapin' goin' on! Thanks all for your continuing dedication and hard work!

        If you didn't attend last year's exciting orientation, sign up for the next one scheduled for Sept. 25! And please let us know of any new recruits so we can get them signed up as well!



        Gratuitous Wedding Photo

        To prove just how easy it is to post pictures to the blog, here's a photo of me and my handsome husband, exactly one month ago.

        If you want to post photos from Monarch events, just use the little picture button (between the ABC [spellcheck] and eraser [remove formatting] buttons on the editing toolbar). You can then browse for pictures stored in your computer or on a disk. Alternatively, you can always send me your pictures, and I'll put them up for you.

        It's much simpler than planning a wedding!

        Friday, September 15, 2006

        Minutes from Heralds Committee Meeting on 9/11/06

        The Heralds
        Present: Dwight Wolf, Emily Reiter and Kyle Nguyen
        Ideas for spreading the word about the Learning Center's upcoming symposium were discussed: 1. Make connections with leaders of local groups of professionals 2. use the Monarch Web site to promote the event 3. focus on target audience when sending out material, especially when contacting individuals in a school district.
        Mr. Wolf suggested a few contacts who might be helpful for marketing Monarch as a whole and will pass on the information to Emily Reiter. Members of the committee also discussed the importance of integrating the Monarch Web site as a public relations tool for all Monarch events. It was decided to later expand upon this at the next meeting, when more members could contribute to the discussion

        Wednesday, September 13, 2006

        Developers Meeting--September 11, 2006

        Developers Meeting - September 11, 2006


        Present: Julie Meaux, Carolyn Trozzo, Stephanie Wheatley

        John Barone, Emily Reiter, Jessica Stoner, Marty Webb, Shannon Woodruff

        Absent: Meg Moore

        • Confirmed that the Development Group would serve two purposes:

        1. Development of external contacts

        2. Development of the Monarch parent community

        • Methods of developing external contacts were discussed:

        1. Established that networking is the most effective method to publicize Monarch

        2. Contacting school districts, particularly special services personnel

        3. Development committee members will personally contact

        friends/acquaintances in the education community

        4. Agreed that health professionals need to be targeted. Carolyn Trozzo suggested a program of donating books to doctor’s offices. These would be from Monarch with details of the school inside

        5. Car decals with the Monarch logo and email address were discussed. Julie Meaux and Emily Reiter will obtain estimates from printers

        6. Suggestion was made that decals would make an excellent gift for those attending Monarch’s Fundraising Breakfast in November

        7. It was suggested that an electronic, parent newsletter would be an effective method of building community spirit and school support amongst the parents. Stephanie Wheatley will meet with Shannon Miller (a Monarch parent) to discuss format and ideas

        Builders Minutes

        Since Penny is out of town for a few days, I will do my best to recall what we discussed.

        Primarily, we decided that most of the ideas we had come up with at our last meeting were projects we would wait to start until much closer to the move.

        In the meantime, we will be doing projects that can either be moved or involve renovation or refurbishing. For instance, we will be making some shelving for one of the work rooms and weeding the trails.

        An on-going project we will be organizing will be the weeding and watering of the Butterfly Garden at the Houston Zoo. A group of students goes there on Thursdays and we will gather volunteers to go at another time on an on-going basis. Stay tuned for the call to volunteer for weeding!

        If I have forgotten anything, please comment or let me know so I can fix this post.

        Tuesday, September 12, 2006

        Message from Chairman Fox (not to be confused with Chairman Mao!)

        Is this Movers and Shapers Group, and our new blog, great or what???!!!

        Masterful job in bringing all of us M&Sers into the 21st century, Miranda. Just goes to show that you indeed can teach an old dog (or Fox) new tricks! I don't think that Bill Gates has to worry about me taking over his computer software empire anytime soon, though!

        We soon should have all four of our M&S committees (Educators, Builders, Developers, Heralds) posting to this blog the minutes of their respective meetings on 9/11. Of course, Miranda, being the SAPB (Supreme and All-Powerful Bloggerette) already has contributed her succinct and informative minutes of the Educators Committee meeting.

        I'm sure that after everyone has taken the time to read all four M&S committees' minutes, once they're all posted, that it will be evident that we are on the right course in organizing and developing some innovative and most helpful projects in assisting The Monarch School to go onto to even greater heights!

        Keep up the good work, y'all!

        -- Justin Fox, Movers and Shapers Chairperson

        Can't wait for others to see your work!

        Wow! The synergy here already is fabulous! I had no idea you'd undertaken a water quality study on our pond at the Apprentice Campus. It's a perfect start to our year of water quality study in our Challenger Environmental Science classes! Ranger, would you be interested in seeing the three canoes our students built last year and will use this year for the water study? If so, please contact Richard Klein ( or Neal Sarahan ( I think both of them are also going to be invited to be a "blogger" here too!

        Marty Webb

        Wow, what a great group!

        Dear Movers and Shapers,

        Thank you all for sharing in this important mission with us!

        Special thanks to Justin for his great leadership, and hooray for Miranda for setting up this terrific blog.


        John Barone

        New Member Orientation

        Reminder: Movers & Shapers New Member Orientation will be held on Monday, September 25, at 12:00. Please direct questions to Justin Fox or John Barone.

        Opportunities from the Educators

        At the Movers & Shapers meeting on September 11, we discussed upcoming opportunities for volunteers to work with Monarch students. These include:

        • Internships: Monarch students are looking for real-world work experience. If you or someone you know could use on-the-job help with basic office tasks or other entry-level assignments, please consider offering internships to Monarch students to help them learn new skills and increase their confidence.
        • Mentorships: Speakers are needed to give presentations or mini-workshops to Monarch students. Mentors, who need only commit to a one-time session at the school, can address students' interests (possible topics include various computer applications, cooking, arts and crafts of all sorts, first aid skills, animal rescue, and video game design) and/or discuss their life experiences, with an emphasis on making decisions and overcoming challenges. Lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on instruction are all encouraged.
        • The Ultimate Gift: Monarch students are using this curriculum to reflect on their gifts and the legacy of their family heritage. Later in the fall (October/November), volunteers can assist individual students with the writing and recording of their reflections. This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know Monarch students on a personal level!

        Movers & Shapers, please start thinking about how you might like to participate in these projects--and use them to recruit new volunteers, too!

        Thursday, August 17, 2006

        possible grant for builders

        See this website:
        for details.

        It could be a good way to get money to plant a garden or for a similar project.


        Tuesday, June 06, 2006

        Water Report

        This just in: our pond wasn't all that dirty, at least in terms of contaminants. Here's the report from the City of Houston:

        "Your pond is pretty clean. You have the normal coliform bacteria that is found in all surface water. There is a small amount of E.Coli, 17 per 100mls. This is a very low count compared to the City Bayous. E.Coli is a measue of the fecal contamination in the pond. There must not be very many warm blooded animals around. Ducks can give a high count along with farm animals."

        Tuesday, May 23, 2006

        Testing the Waters

        I'll be at the Apprentice Campus tomorrow morning collecting water from the pond. We'll have it tested by the county. Before summer programs start we'll be cleaning out the pond and refilling it. After the water (and the fish!) has had a chance to settle the kids can draw a second sample to compare to the first. Should be an interesting experiment!

        Wednesday, May 17, 2006

        Summer Program Support

        The Educators Committee is working on a project to provide support to the families of five students joining the Monarch community from out of town for the summer program, June 12-July 13. We are seeking ways to welcome these families to Houston and make their stay comfortable and enjoyable. Your thoughts are needed! Please post a comment here and/or email Miranda ( with your ideas. Thanks!

        Wednesday, May 10, 2006


        Welcome to the Monarch Movers & Shapers blog! This blog will facilitate communication within the Movers & Shapers volunteer group, as well as publicize the work we do in support of the Monarch School, a school in Houston, Texas, dedicated to providing an innovative, therapeutic education for children with neurological differences.

        If you are already involved in Movers & Shapers and would like to be added to this blog as an author (so you can post entries like this one), please contact Miranda Henry at Even without author privileges, you can always post comments to an existing entry. To stay current with posts to this blog, just add the address to an account at Bloglines or another subscription service.

        Questions or comments about the blog should be directed to Miranda.

        what is this?

        Tell me when this blog is updated. . .