Thursday, December 27, 2007

Year-End Congratulatory Message from Chairman Fox

As 2007 is about to end, all of us Movers and Shapers can take great pride in our accomplishments for The Monarch School during this past year!

We became more finely organized, enthusiastic, and committed to helping out Monarch on various projects requested of us, as well as inspired on our own. Much of our work was made possible by the superb effort of our 4 M&S committee facilitators, namely Miranda Bennett, Marion Defalco, Penny Weiss, and Julie Meaux.

Of course, our facilitators would be the first to add that we also should highly compliment those M&S members who worked so well on their respective committees, among them Stephanie Wheatley, Carrie Logan, John Hardesty, and Susan Meek.

And, we surely must compliment our Monarch staff who advised us along the way, particularly John Barone, Marty Webb, and Stephanie Kirkpatrick.

Some of our noteworthy M&S projects for 2007 included: assisting on the Monarch Miracle Makers Morning breakfast fund raiser; helping out on the Monarch symposium; maintaining and sprucing up the Apprentice Campus and Zoo's Discovery Garden; helping out on the Challenger campus/Life Academy needs, including its garage sale; assisting Monarch Development Office matters, including the new campus capital campaign; helping out on Monarch's recycling, vehicle fleet maintenance, website proofing, music therapy, KPFT Radio's new "Monarch Hour;" improving our M&S communication through M&S pamphlet, M&S blog refinements, and Houston Chronicle's "News from You" website; M&S September retreat, graciously hosted by Penny Weiss: and our M&S holiday party in December, graciously hosted by Carrie Logan. You did an outstanding job in 2007, and you had great camaraderie in performing your tasks! So y'all now are entitled to take a well-deserved bow!

The upcoming year of 2008 holds great promise for us, especially with the infusion of some new members to complement our present wonderful M&S members. So, we look forward to it.

Happy New Year!

Justin Fox, M&S Chairman

More photos from M&S Work Day at Houston Zoo's Discovery Garden

Pictured above in the first photo are the hard-working trio from the M&S Builders Committee: Stephanie, Penny and Carrie, glamorously posing in front of their newly-painted tool shed on December 8th at The Monarch School's Discovery Garden in The Houston Zoo.

In the second photo, standing from left to right in front of The Monarch bus after the work day on December 8th, are Richard, Stephanie, Justin, Penny, and Miranda.

Monday, December 17, 2007

We Heart the Discovery Garden!

On Saturday, December 8, several Movers and Shapers volunteers--including two first-time participants--spruced up Monarch's Discovery Garden at the Houston Zoo. Monarch students have been doing an excellent job of taking care of the garden, but we still found things to do, including laying out this heart-shaped plot of flowers. The Discovery Garden is one of the many "faces" Monarch shows the Houston community, and it's a great way to introduce new people to the school and its mission!

Friday, December 14, 2007

VSA Arts of Texas

Yesterday KUHF did a story about a program put on by VSA Arts of Texas, a "nonprofit organization that strives to create a society where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts." Monarch folks might already be aware of this organization, but if not, it would be worth finding out more about it. The news story was about their efforts to support disabled artists who want to market their work, and it reminded me of Kate Matthiesen's Life Academy project. Kate would be an amazing role model and mentor for other artists in this group!

Minutes from Core Team meeting on 12/6/2007

Monarch Movers & Shapers
Core Team
Meeting Minutes: December 6, 2007
12:30 PM, Monarch Learning Center

Core Team/Faculty Members:
Present: Justin Fox, Dr. Marty Webb, Carrie Logan, Miranda Bennett, Julie Meaux, Stephanie Wheatley, Susan Meek, Marion Defalco, Penny Weiss, John Hardesty, Jan McCartney, Dr. Debrah Hall, John Barone, Tessa Sandlin, Linda Caruso, Kyle Nguyen, Stephanie Kirkpatrick

Meeting called to order at 12:30 by Chairman Fox.
Lunch and holiday crackers (courtesy of Stephanie Wheatley) enjoyed by all.
Current projects lists, agendas, and committee activity reports distributed.

Opening greetings by Chairman Fox
Welcomed all members, including the newest M&S recruit, Jan McCartney.
Chairman Fox shared some of the results of his MMM Breakfast follow-up calls, and noted that several people had expressed an interest in joining M&S. Justin, John Barone, and Dr. Webb have decided that the Tuesday Tour is orientation enough and that new members will no longer be required to attend an additional M&S Orientation.
Justin, John B., and Dr. Webb have also discussed revising the M&S mission statement in light of recent discussion and Miranda Bennett’s recent recommendations.

General remarks by Dr. Marty Webb, Head of School
Dr. Webb gave us an updated report on the success of the MMM Breakfast – over 700 people were in attendance, and approximately $230,000 was raised for Monarch, making 2007’s the most successful breakfast yet!
In capital campaign news, about $3.5 million has now been raised. There are several multi-million dollar proposals under review now.
The Capital Campaign committee has decided not to break ground on the new campus until we have raised enough money for all of Phase I (over $5 million in gifts and/or pledges). Builders and Developers committees will be notified as soon as we have a date set, so they can begin planning for invitations/refreshments/etc.
Monarch has yet another new vehicle – a Toyota Sequoia, donated by a Monarch family. This is a timely gift as we have also recently received a new science and environmental education trailer. The Sequoia will become its designated towing vehicle.

Remarks by Tessa Sandlin, on behalf of the Monarch Life Academy
Tessa invited everyone to the Life Academy holiday open house and sale on Tuesday, December 11th from 8:00 – 4:30. There will be over 10 tables featuring different Life Academy products and services. This is a great way to support Monarch and the hard work of the students!

Remarks by Dr. Debrah Hall, Apprentice Program Director
Dr. Hall shared a PowerPoint presentation which gave a thorough overview of the goals and structure of the Apprentice Program.
Ms. Hall is now Dr. Hall – the Ph.D. is complete! M&S members celebrated Dr. Hall’s achievement.

Remarks by John Barone, Director of the Monarch Learning Center
John shared some wonderful news – the “A Place for All” book is complete! Hooray! Now the long editing process begins.
The MLC has been in touch with John Elder Robison, author of the book Look Me In the Eye, about the possibility of him speaking at a symposium event in March. We have also offered to field some of the inquiries he and his agent receive from people and families who are affected by Asperger’s.
John asked the Builders committee to revisit some of the requests made earlier in the year for “touch-up” work in the MLC. He will meet with the Builders to coordinate these efforts.
John also thanked all the M&S Core Committee members for their efforts in improving organization and recruitment!

Heralds Committee update by Marion Defalco
Marion introduced Jan McCartney, the newest member of M&S! Jan shared with us a little about herself, and her experience should make her a great asset to M&S! Welcome, Jan – we’re glad to have you on board!
Marion told us about some of the success she has had with MMM follow-up calls. She has spoken to several people who have expressed an interest in serving as a table captain at next year’s breakfast.
Marion has been looking into new sources of funding for Monarch, especially for educational and outreach-type events such as the symposium. She has done some research on Koch Industries, and that information has been passed on to Dr. Webb and Shannon Woodruff, Director of Development.
The Doctor’s Orchestra Concert was a success for Monarch; Marion and her husband hosted a pre-party for some couples and introduced them to Monarch. It was a great way for people who had never been exposed to Monarch before to learn about what we do.

Educators Committee update by Miranda Bennett and John Hardesty
In outreach and recruitment news, one of the UST recruits is working on designing the M&S banner. Miranda has also notified the college recruits about the upcoming recurring volunteer opportunity at the zoo.
Miranda shared her progress on editing the Monarch website; proofreading hard copies of website pages has been the most successful strategy thus far. All the pages Dr. Webb identified as “priority” have been completed. Miranda suggested this might be an easy project to get recruits involved in as a “no attendance necessary” sort of project they could do from home.
John Hardesty told us some more about the music therapy project he is developing with Kay Kahl, Monarch’s music therapist. Their goal is to find a way to incorporate the spontaneous creation of music into music therapy and DIR®-based sessions, and to allow the kids to tap into it. John had an opportunity to observe some of her classes last week, and they will begin plans in earnest in the new year.

Developers Committee update by Julie Meaux
Julie thanked everyone who made MMM follow-up calls. It’s been a big help to the Developers committee and to the school as a whole.
Julie has spoken to Shannon Woodruff, Director of Development, who said she might have a lot of work the Developers could help with coming up, including sorting and dismantling packets, shredding, filing, etc. She will probably need help after the first of the year.
Julie wants to pick up a project that was discussed in the past that involves getting Monarch involved with physicians’ organizations, and other professional groups. She asked Susan Meek to coordinate with her and brainstorm on this effort. Dr. Webb suggested they contact Dr. Bryant Shaw of the Monarch psychology staff, since he is involved in groups like these.

Builders Committee update by Penny Weiss and Stephanie Wheatley
Penny thanked Stephanie for her superb handling of the Builders’ committee leadership duties while she was gone. Penny officially announced Stephanie as her Builders Committee co-facilitator.
A fleet manager has been found: Neil Kirkpatrick, Stephanie Kirkpatrick’s father, will be assuming fleet duties.
The Builders had another AP campus mini-spruce-up day, which was a great success. Debrah thanked them for all the hard work they’ve done to keep the campus looking good.
Work at the zoo continues in earnest. Painting the shed is almost complete. A parent volunteer group will be going to the zoo bi-weekly or monthly for maintenance of the garden.

Remarks by other M&S members and Monarch staff
Carrie Logan reminded everyone about the upcoming M&S and Board member holiday party on Sunday, December 9th, which she is hosting.
Linda Caruso thanked everyone who helped with the Life Academy garage sale. Their organization skills were instrumental to its success! Linda also reminded us about the Life Academy holiday open house on Tuesday December 11th. John Barone suggested that this would be a great opportunity for M&S members to bring their recruitment “buddies” to attend the sale and the Tuesday Tour!

Meeting adjourned at 1:30 PM – right on time!
The next M&S Core Committee meeting will be Thursday, January 10th at 12:30 PM.
Minutes prepared by Stephanie Kirkpatrick.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Publicity idea

The Houston Chronicle website now has a "News from you" feature that allows readers to post local news and a hometown photo gallery to which people can add pictures. I don't think it would be too hard to set up a Monarch account and use it to get the word out about events at the school. (It may also be a good way to get or stay on Chronicle reporters' radar screen.) What do you think?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Life Academy Holiday Open House

The Monarch Life Academy invites you to an open house and holiday gift market on Tuesday, December 11, from 8:00 to 4:30. The Life Academy students will be offering a variety of wonderful items for sale, including notecards, gift baskets, soaps, and jewelry. The Monarch Tuesday tour will be given at noon, as usual, so bring a friend!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Work Day Houston Zoo Discovery Garden - Saturday, December 8

Richard Klein has requested help to get the Discovery Garden in 'tip-top' shape, in readiness for the Zoo's accreditation. The Committee will be coming on December 9, 10, 11 and 12.

He would like to organize a work day for Saturday, December 8. Weeding, pruning, painting and general tidying of the flower beds will be the order of the day.

Please contact me if you are able to help

Look forward to hearing from you

ps. Maybe we could kick off the Christmas Season early with hot apple cider and mince pies!!!!!...while working hard of course!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Minutes from Core Committee Meeting on Thursday 11/1

Monarch Movers & Shapers
Core Committee
Meeting Minutes: November 1, 2007
12:30 PM, Monarch Learning Center

Core Committee/Faculty Members:
Present: Justin Fox, Dr. Marty Webb, Carrie Logan, Miranda Bennett, Julie Meaux, Stephanie Wheatley, Susan Meek, Marion Defalco, Dr. Neal Sarahan, John Barone, Kyle Nguyen, Caitlin Davis, Stephanie Kirkpatrick

Meeting called to order at 12:30 by Chairman Fox.
Agenda, member directories, and email group instructions distributed to members.

Opening greetings by Chairman Fox
Welcomed all members to second meeting of the 2007-08 school year; lunch commenced.

General remarks by Dr. Marty Webb, Head of School
Dr. Webb updated us on the current progress of the Capital Campaign, and some exciting news: Rose Cullen and Kathy Cullen McCord have been named as the honorary chairs of the campaign. We have also been in talks with several banks regarding bridge loans.
Dr. Webb also requested that someone purchase wheel covers for one of the vans, which has 2 covers missing. This was determined to be a project for the Builders Committee, and Carrie Logan volunteered to take care of it.
Dr. Webb reminded everyone that the Miracle Makers Morning Breakfast is fast approaching – it is Thursday, November 8th. Members were asked to continue inviting people to the breakfast. M&S members will also be involved in making follow-up phone calls to breakfast attendees to thank them for coming to the breakfast and to get their comments. This will be a project for the Developers and Heralds, specifically.
Dr. Webb announced that planning has begun for the groundbreaking for the new campus. This will largely be a ceremonial event, and we are hoping to receive some media attention. Dr. Webb requested help from the core committee with designing and mailing the invitations, making phone calls to follow up after the invitations have been sent, and setting up for the event, providing refreshments, etc. These will be projects for the Developers and Builders, respectively.

Remarks by Chairman Fox
Justin thanked everyone again for their attendance.
Justin then reviewed some of the goals that the Core Committee had set for the year during their October retreat, which included better group communications, request forms for faculty to use when asking for M&S help on projects, and possible changes to the Movers & Shapers orientation. Some of these changes are already in effect, and some are still in progress. Specifically, Justin Fox and John Barone will coordinate possible changes to the orientation, and they asked for other Core Committee members’ input on this subject.

Remarks by John Barone, Director of Monarch Learning Center
John recounted the tale of his encounter with the evil soap dispenser. A notable quote regarding his thoughts on whether the nozzle would function like whipped cream or traditional soap: “And I applied my knowledge of soap because it wasn’t a treat, it was a cleanser!” Marion Defalco presented John with gifts of antibacterial gel and gloves.
John updated us on the progress of his book, which will now be titled “A Place for All.” He has only one chapter to go! When the book is finished, the next step will be reshaping the content so that it can be applied to other religious traditions. (It is currently written for a Catholic audience). John requested that Core Committee members start thinking about and researching ways they can help with this endeavor, including researching publishers from various faith traditions. Dr. Webb applauded John for stepping outside the box and thinking of new and creative ways to generate revenue for Monarch through the MLC.

Developers Committee update by Julie Meaux
Miranda Bennett asked Julie whether there would be a formal M&S recruitment effort at the MMM Breakfast. Julie said that one was not planned. Members began discussing the ways we go about recruiting and keeping M&S volunteers. John Barone suggested we adopt a “buddy system” approach, rather than focus on mass recruiting efforts. With this approach, each Core Committee member would invite one person to join them on all volunteer projects, because cultivating relationships is a strength of the M&S Core Committee. Julie Meaux and Stephanie Wheatley expressed concerns as to how this would relate to the parent volunteers, and members agreed that parents were a different case and that as many of them should be involved in Monarch as possible. Julie and Stephanie also expressed concern that it was hard to get outside people involved because many M&S projects are rather last-minute.
Members agreed on several steps in regard to this discussion. An invitation to join the Movers & Shapers will be a part of the follow-up calls made after the MMM Breakfast. The M&S pamphlet Miranda created will also be included in the packets handed out at the breakfast. The new faculty request system and increased efforts at communication should alleviate some of the “last-minute” feel of M&S projects and permit others to be involved.
The Developers’ next project will be volunteering with registration and set-up at the upcoming MMM Breakfast. Other Core Committee members will be in attendance, and are welcome to help if they can.

Heralds Committee update by Marion Defalco
Marion told the Core Committee a bit about another group she is involved in, called Heroes with Handicaps. This non-profit charity was founded by Jonathan and Laurilee Etterbeck in order to provide financial support for U.S. Army special needs children. Marion asked Dr. Webb if Heroes with Handicaps might be able to link with Monarch online, and Dr. Webb gave her approval. Marty advised that Monarch recently has applied for a TRIAD grant. If Monarch gets this grant, then Heroes with Handicaps will work closely to coordinate future Monarch online information to reach U.S. military families with special needs kids to alert them to the posibility that financial assistance may be available to them at Monarch.
Marion passed out flyers for the upcoming Doctors Orchestra of Houston concert for Core Committee members to hand out or post. Monarch has been chosen as the beneficiary of the concert’s revenue. Members discussed having a Monarch booth or kiosk in the lobby during the concert, and Caitlin Davis offered the use of her portable Monarch banner.
Speaking of banners, Stephanie Kirkpatrick took this time to let the Core Committee know about the plans for an M&S wall in the MLC. She asked for help designing an M&S banner to be displayed on the wall and used at volunteer recruitment events. Miranda Bennett suggested that one of the recruits from the UST event might be able to do this, as she has a background in graphic design.
Marion asked about the egg project going on at Challenger, because group members had received an email about it. Dr. Neal Sarahan explained the project: Challenger students purchase eggs from a local farmers market, and resell them. They need help purchasing and transporting the eggs. John and Justin took this time to re-emphasize one of the suggestions from the M&S retreat, which was that each project be assigned to a specific committee in order to increase accountability and reinforce the purpose of each committee. Since this project involves direct student support, the Educators Committee will be responsible for finding a suitable volunteer for this project.

Educators Committee update by Miranda Bennett
Miranda shared her reflections about her experiences at the UST and Rice volunteer fairs. In light of some of this year’s ongoing M&S recruitment discussion, she has been thinking about the way we approach potential volunteers, as well as about our role as a Core Committee to serve both the Monarch school itself and our M&S volunteers. She passed out a summary of some of her reflections, which included a pledge of service both to the school and to the volunteers. John Barone suggested that these may be incorporated into the M&S vision statement.
John Barone informed Miranda of an ongoing student service project. He, Kay Kahl, and John Hardesty recently met to discuss a plan to provide a sort of descriptive “soundtrack” during DIR and music therapy sessions. This will be used to both describe and evoke student emotions and the themes of the session. Dr. Webb heartily applauded this very innoviative effort, adding that Monarch was fortunate to have such a talented and committed musician as John Hardesty to aid Kay in this endeavor.

Builders Committee update by Stephanie Wheatley
Stephanie shared an update about the success of the Monarch garage sale that the Builders helped organize and execute.
Stephanie also updated us on the progress made so far on the Discovery Garden project at the zoo. She said that the committee is unsure how they will proceed with this project, how often they will go, etc. Stephanie also said that we could use some extra volunteers for this project, as it is ongoing and there is a lot of work do to. Dr. Webb suggested including a call for volunteers in the next issue of the Monarch e-newsletter.
John Barone asked about the status of the search for a Fleet Manager, which Dr. Webb had requested at the previous meeting. Stephanie said that Penny Weiss had been looking into that, and she wasn’t sure what the status was. Members were asked to think about possible volunteers for this position.

Remarks from Monarch staff members
Caitlin Davis let us know that 510 people have committed to the breakfast so far!
Kyle Nguyen has recently updated the Monarch website with the latest Capital Campaign information. Miranda Bennett asked Kyle about a project she has been working on to proofread the website. She said since the website is so vast, it was becoming an overwhelming project. She asked that we choose a few key pages, perhaps some that get updated frequently, for her to review. Dr. Webb agreed to this and said she would help choose ten or so pages for Miranda to review.
Stephanie Kirkpatrick created an M&S member directory, as well as instructions for creating email groups, which were handed out at the meeting but which we did not have a chance to discuss. These were created so that all M&S Core Committee members can create a “Core Committee” email group in their mail system of choice that they can use in lieu of adding email addresses individually to each group email. Please let her know if these directions are unclear, or if you need help with this process.

Meeting adjourned at 2:00 PM.
Members will hopefully see each other at the MMM Breakfast on November 8th! They will officially reconvene for the next Core Committee meeting on December 6th.
Minutes prepared by Stephanie Kirkpatrick.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Capital Campaign Up to the Minute Update!

From Dr. Marty Webb:

I thought you might like to see the latest reports and happenings on the cap campaign which are posted to our website. Enjoy! Contact me with any suggestions, questions or comments, please.

Click here for the update:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Monarch's 1st Garage Sale is a big success!

The Monarch School held its first garage sale on Friday, October 26. We had such a positive response, that we decided to hold the sale again on the following Friday, November 2. The total amount raised was approximately $550.
Thanks to all the volunteers who worked so hard to ensure the garage sale was a success; Penny Weiss, Julie Meaux, Laurilee Etterbeek, Donna Selke, Kandace Shyer, Brenna Schwartz, Gaelle Rosseneu and Choo Saik Leong. Thanks to all the Monarch parents who generously donated items. Thanks to Sara Ranger for her awesome organization and a special thanks to the students for their excellent sales techniques and muscle power!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Eggs in our Baskets!

This information is from Aleta:

The Monarch math/science department is starting up its egg sales again and to be successful they are in need of some help. Every Wednesday afternoon/early evening I need someone to go to the Bayou City Farmers Market off Richmond to pick up Eggs in our cooler and drop them off for Thur so students can sale them. Is there anyone who would be available to do the chicken run?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Good Works Volunteer Fair

Marion, Julie, Debrah, and I attended the Rice University Community Involvement Center's Good Works Fair on Tuesday. We talked to a number of prospective volunteers, as well as to a few people just interested in learning more about Monarch. The possibility of helping out with the Discovery Garden was especially appealing to Rice students without cars (the campus is across the street from Herman Park, so the zoo is easy walking or biking distance away). We also enjoyed meeting representatives from other community organizations and comparing posters, brochures, and giveaways. Thanks to the efforts of Stephanie, Penny, and others, our booth could more than hold its own!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Discovery Garden at the Zoo

Several Movers and Shapers spent Saturday morning at the Monarch Discovery Garden at the Houston Zoo, where we spent a few hours weeding, pruning, and planting. The garden is a joint project between Monarch and the zoo, and Monarch students contribute to its upkeep a couple of times a week. By taking care of some of the more time-consuming tasks, we hope we made it easier for the kids to enjoy their work caring for this lovely spot.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

UST Helping Hands Volunteer Fair

Stephanie, Julie, Justin, Penny, and I hosted a very successful table at today's Helping Hands Volunteer Fair at the University of St. Thomas. We handed out lots of brochures and invitations to the Miracle Makers Morning--as well as cookies, magnets, bookmarks, balloons, and other goodies. We left with a nearly full sign-up sheet (fifteen names and email addresses!), and I'll send follow-up messages soon. I hope this will result in some enthusiastic new Movers and Shapers!

Sorry you missed all the fun--and those cookies? Join us at Rice for a similar event next month (see previous post for details). It should be even better--it's indoors!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rice University Good Works Fair

Monarch will have a table at the Rice University Good Works Fair, a volunteer and non-profit career fair sponsored by the university's Community Involvement Center. The fair will take place on Tuesday, October 9, 1:00-5:00, in the Rice Memorial Center. Please let me know if you're interested in participating for some or all of the afternoon.


PS Rice students mostly live on campus--easy walking distance to Monarch's Houston Zoo garden!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Minutes from Core Committee Meeting 8/30

Monarch Movers & Shapers
Core Committee

Meeting Minutes: August 30, 2007
12:30 PM, Monarch Learning Center

Core Committee Members:
Present: Justin Fox, Dr. Marty Webb, Carrie Logan, Miranda Bennett, John Hardesty, Penny Weiss, Julie Meaux, Stephanie Wheatley, Marion Defalco, Dr. Neal Sarahan, Debrah Hall, John Barone, Shannon Woodruff, Caitlin Davis, Linda Caruso, Stephanie Kirkpatrick

Meeting called to order at 12:30 by Chairman Fox.
Agenda and wish lists distributed to members.

Opening greetings and introductions by Chairman Fox, John Barone, and Shannon Woodruff.
Welcomed newest core member, John Hardesty, and new Monarch staff who will participate in M&S, Caitlin Davis and Stephanie Kirkpatrick. Carrie Logan presented Chairman Fox with a gift – a personalized mug.

General remarks by Dr. Marty Webb, Head of School, and Shannon Woodruff, Development Director
Dr. Webb shared about her visit to Monarch Guatemala, and noted that the opening of their school was largely successful, with 14 families enrolled so far and more community support than expected.
Update on the progress of the Capital Campaign: $3 million raised so far toward our goal of $8 million. We are in the process of looking for large individual donors who can give 6-7 figure amounts. Ellen Conikos has been hired as our new development consultant.
Shannon discussed the different functions of the Ft. Bend breakfast and the traditional Miracle Makers Morning. She asked for members’ help and input recruiting table captains and finding sponsors/ underwriters for the events.
Dr. Webb requested that members work on finding a Vehicle Fleet Manager to coordinate maintenance of all Monarch vehicles.
Dr. Webb also requested a Recycling Chief to be in charge of taking recycling to the recycling center weekly. John Hardesty volunteered to take it there; Penny Weiss also offered to take it home and deposit it in her neighborhood’s recycling program. Dr. Webb thanked them for their offers and also encouraged members to find new recruits or other M&S members to whom they could delegate some of the tasks we discussed during our meeting.

Remarks by John Barone, Director of Monarch Learning Center
John Barone let members know that everyone was free on Saturday, September 22 for our first annual M&S Core Committee retreat. Penny Weiss has volunteered to host this event at her home. John requested that everyone keep this date free on their calendars.
John reviewed a list of MLC “Honey-do” tasks, including: touch up painting in the MLC, tightening the furniture handles, and installing our projector in the ceiling. Penny Weiss offered to have her committee (Builders) take care of these projects.
John also reminded members that we are continuing to seek support from religious foundation boards for the Open Arms project, and we requested continued help promoting individualized MLC workshops at schools, churches, etc.
John proposed that committee heads submit a written report of the status of their current projects to Chairman Fox and him before the meeting, to be reviewed by each member before the meeting and posted on the M&S blog. The committee agreed, and reports are to be submitted via email the Monday of the week of each M&S Core Committee meeting.

Requests by Debrah Hall, Apprentice Program Director
Debrah requested that the core committee help with a couple of Apprentice projects, including regular pond maintenance and set-up and take-down of Room 5 on the weekends.
Penny Weiss offered to have her committee (Builders) help with these projects as well. Dr. Webb again suggested that we try to recruit people outside the core committee to help with projects when possible, and the members agreed.

Requests by Dr. Neal Sarahan, Challenger Program Director
Dr. Neal let the group know that several Monarch students are attempting to organize their Eagle Scout projects, and would appreciate any input or suggestions from the committee about possible projects.

Requests by Linda Caruso, Life Academy Coordinator
Linda let the group know about the Monarch Travel student business, and suggested that committee members inform businesses about the company so that they can use it to plan business or personal travel. The committee members took flyers with more information.

Requests by Shannon Woodruff, Director of Development
Shannon distributed Save the Date cards and table captain information for the fundraising breakfasts. She also let the committee know about the fundraising opportunity through the Houston Chevron Marathon.

Volunteer recruitment projects and plans update
by Chairman Fox and Miranda Bennett
Chairman Fox has contacted 23 people who had expressed interest in joining M&S and has received 7 responses. We will have new recruits joining us later in the fall and in the beginning of next year, as their schedules permit.
Miranda Bennett updated the group regarding Monarch’s booth at the University of St. Thomas Helping Hands Job & Volunteer Fair. The fair will be on Tuesday, September 18, and several members will be in attendance. They agreed to bring decorations for the booth, as well as M&S brochures, Save the Date cards, and Monarch Travel flyers.

Educators committee update by Miranda Bennett
Miranda s looking for new recruits to assist her this year in working on various committee projects, especially since former committee member Sara Ranger is now on the Monarch staff.

Builders committee update and questions by Penny Weiss and Stephanie Wheatley
Penny and Stephanie are currently working on the Monarch scrapbooks, and have the goal of completing them by the end of the calendar year.
The group offered their assistance with the move to the new campus, and asked if this was something they could suggest at the parent volunteer meeting. Linda and Dr. Neal noted that they would need some help in sorting through the in-kind donations Monarch receives, transporting them to and from storage, and holding a garage sale to sell what Monarch cannot use. The group agreed to help with this and to enlist parents as well.

Heralds committee update by Marion Defalco
Marion updated us on her recent projects, which include making contact with charitable foundations and researching possible donors.
Marion also shared a prototype Movers & Shapers business card she had created in order to see if members might be interested in ordering the cards. Shannon Woodruff and Caitlin Davis offered to contact our new “green” printing company to produce the cards. All non-Monarch staff core committee members agreed to have the cards printed in their names.

Development committee update by Julie Meaux
Julie updated the group on her current projects, which include researching possible donors and “advertising” Monarch in the community.
Julie shared that she had helped to organize the development office at the Apprentice campus over the summer. Shannon Woodruff commented that this had been very helpful. Julie requested that staff help keep her group informed about possible projects they could undertake, especially as related to the move to the new campus.

Meeting adjourned at 2:00 PM.
Members will reconvene for the committee retreat on September 22nd.
Minutes prepared by Stephanie Kirkpatrick.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Congratulations to Justin Fox!

Our Grand Poobah is once again being recognized for his contribution. This time he has been selected as a Halliburton Hometown Hero, a feature done live at the Texans' games.

They have asked to come to Monarch to film a short feature, to be shown on the big screen at this season's opening home game on Sept. 9. In addition, Halliburton will be giving $1000 to Justin's favorite charity.

Hooray for Justin! Hooray for Monarch!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Donations for Marathon Runners

I think I've figured out how to find Houston Marathon participants who have selected Monarch as their charity for the Run for a Reason program.
  1. Go to the Houston Marathon website.
  2. Click on "Charities" on the left-side menu.
  3. Scroll down to the Monarch logo and click on it.
  4. You can donate directly from this page or pick an individual runner from the drop-down menu at the top. (Your browser will need to accept pop-ups for this to work.)

Shortcut: Go directly to


PS Caitlin's page is a great example of personalization--a picture and everything!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tim Page interview on NPR

Yesterday I heard an interesting interview on "All Things Considered" with Tim Page, a Pulitzer-prize-winning music critic who has Asperger's. He is also profiled in this week's "New Yorker," but the article isn't available on the magazine's website, and our print edition always seems to show up late, so I haven't read it yet. The interview is worth a listen, and I think Mr. Page would make a wonderful guest on "The Monarch Hour," perhaps for a conversation by phone.

Monday, August 13, 2007

UST volunteer fair on September 18

I hope everyone is looking forward to another great year of moving and shaping!

I've signed up for a table at the University of St. Thomas nonprofit job and volunteer fair on Tuesday, September 18, 12:30-2:00. If anyone would like to come hang out there with me and help recruit some new M&S-ers, please let me know. I'm also in the market for suggestions for eye-catching ways to decorate the table. I'll be at the meeting on the 30th, so we can talk about it then.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Greetings from M&S Chairman Fox!

Hello, Movers and Shapers!

We've had a lull for the Summer break, except f0r a few notable activities, including the M&S Summer Bash at The Foxes in June, another "Monarch Hour"KPFT radio show in July, and some valuable assistance being rendered by Julie Meaux and others to the ongoing Monarch School New Campus capital campaign.

Now, as the start of the 2007-2008 school year draws near, we are gearing up for another productive M&S round of activities, starting with these four:

1. M&S Core Committee luncheon meeting on Thursday, August 30th, 12:30 p.m., at The Monarch Learning Center.

2. Proposed M&S Core Committee retreat in September 2007.

3. M&S Orientation Sessions, starting this Fall, to welcome and orientate our new members and to help fill our ranks. To this end, on August 10th Chairman Fox sent an email questionnaire to 23 prospective individuals, inviting them to formally become "active" or "auxiliary" members of our M&S group, as well as to ascertain exactly what time(s) would best suit their schedules to attend a requisite M&S orientation session.

4. Within the next month or so, our four M&S committees again will begin to convene their monthly meetings. These four committees and their able, respective facilitators are: (1) Builders Committee - Penny Weiss; (2) Developers Committee - Julie Meaux; (3) Educators Committee - Miranda Bennett; (4) Heralds Committee - Marion Defalco.

We all look forward to continue serving The Monarch School in a variety of very beneficial and exciting ways in our volunteer group. Onward and upward!

Have a nice remainder of the Summer!

-- Justin

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Hello Friends,
I am passing on to you a letter from Penny Weiss, one of the facilitators for the Builders Committee of the Monarch Movers and Shapers volunteer group. Along with the letter, I’d like to extend my own personal thanks for the many contributions to the Apprentice Campus Clean Up Project. It was good, hard work that resulted in a beautiful campus, ready for our Summer Program! Thank you all very much. And if we inadvertently left your name out of the thank you below, please let us know so we can properly acknowledge your contribution.

And to Penny, thank you so much for your tireless work to see this project through to its completion. (What Penny doesn’t tell you below was that she was back all day Sunday and much of Monday finishing up) You are wonderful!



Now on to Penny’s Message:

The Movers and Shapers Builder's Committee would like to express their heart-felt thanks to all who lent their valuable time and much needed expertise to the Apprentice Campus Spruce-Up Project on Monday, May 14. Of special note are, of course, all the the wonderful Monarch kids and teachers who helped -- what a great sense of community!! Also, we feel very privileged to have had some of the top dogs of the faculty out there in the trenches with us, namely Dr. Webb, Dr. Neal and Mr. Barone -- what troopers! And the greatest gift of all was our wonderful volunteer staff: Stephanie Wheatley, Carrie Logan, Julie Meaux, Laurilee and Jonathan Etterbeek, Michelle and Joe Naccarato, Marion DeFalco, Dick Bartell, Sara Ranger, Miranda Bennett, Rene Daigre, Toby Henry and Glenda Dole!

What a GREAT team -- we had a great time and you all did a great job!! Thank you so much.

And, if all that was not enough, we had an incredible back up team who came and worked really, really hard on Saturday, May 19, to finish the job! Again, John Barone (aka Paul Bunyan) headed up the team which included the Grand Poobah of the Movers and Shapers, Justin Fox, and his darling daughter Jessica, who in spite of just graduating from U. T. last weekend (Congratulation, Jessica!) and getting married in two weeks(Best Wishes, Jessica!), still took time to come and help spruce us up; Challenger campus student J. J. Smith who brought his Mom and Dad, Jerry and Mary Jane, and even little brother Brandon to help; Doug Zimmerer (known now and forever as "Slayer of Mulch Mountain") and his son, Michael from the Challenger Program, whom dad was teaching the fine skill of wheelbarrowing; "Mistress Mulch" Michelle Naccarato and her son, Josh, from the Apprentice program; and Scott Dole who not only provided labor, but brought props (saws) to further Mr. Barone's portrayal of Paul Bunyan and Scott also bought LUNCH!!! Dr. Neal completed this fine group of sprucer-uppers and we were able to complete the Apprentice Campus Project.

The Summer Program at the Apprentice Campus will never have looked so good -- thank you, thank you, thank you to one and all.


Penny Weiss Co-Facilitator Movers and Shapers Building Committee

Thursday, May 17, 2007


There is still an opportunity to participate in the Apprentice Campus Spruce Up Project -- and even better news ALL THE HARD WORK IS COMPLETE!!

If you have a couple of hours you do not know what to do with this Saturday, May 19th, then we would love to have you come on over to the Apprentice campus and help finish the mulch hauling, weed pulling and shrub trimming!

We will begin at 9:00 AM and should be finished by around 12:00 Noon, but would appreciate any time you might have available!

Water, soft drinks and snacks will be provided. Just bring a wheelbarrow (with tires full of air), shovels, rakes, or clippers if you have them -- and if not, just come as you are!! The Movers and Shapers Building Committee, The Staff and Faculty, and the Children of the Monarch School are truly grateful for any time you have to donate!

See you this Saturday morning!

Thanks so much!

-- Penny Harmening-Weiss

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Apprentice Campus Cleanup

Hooray for all the M&S Heroes who spent hours and hours yesterday sprucing up the Apprentice Campus! The track, the pond, the front beds, the deck, the butterfly garden and the circle drive all look WONDERFUL!

Joining us were M&S Volunteers Marion DeFalco, Dick Bartell, Julie Meaux, Stephanie Wheatley, Penny Weiss, Carrie Logan, Sara Ranger and Miranda Bennett! Others included Monarch Board Member and Monarch parent, Glenda Dole, Monarch parents Laurilee Etterbeek and Michelle and Joe Naccarato, as well as Monarch graduates, Andy Biba and Ray Simmons.

Special thanks also to Dr. Webb, Dr. Neal, and the Apprentice and Challenger Staff who jumped in and helped, as well as all the Challenger students who worked so hard in the hot sun!

Kudos to the Builders Committee for great organization, publicity and leadership during the event. Great job, Penny and Stephanie!
Missed the event and still want to help? There's plenty of work still to be done. Please contact Penny for more info:

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Minutes of M&S Core Comm. meeting on 5/10/2007

Our newly formed Movers and Shapers (M&S) Core Committee convened on May 10th at the Monarch Learning Center for a luncheon meeting. The Core Committee consists of the M&S chairman, all committee facilitators and 3 members-at-large.

John Barone opened the meeting by presenting chairman Justin Fox with a congratulatory card and framed photo of Justin with Mayor Bill White, taken on May 8th at the Volunteer Houston awards ceremony. On behalf of all the M&S members, John thanked Justin for his work with our M&S group. Justin graciously accepted the gift and thanks.

Stephanie Wheatley reported on behalf of the Builders Committee that work is steadily progressing on The Monarch School (TMS) scrapbook, as well as with plans for an herb garden on the new campus. There also was much discussion on the upcoming TMS Apprentice Campus "spruce up" day on May 14th.

Marion Defalco advised that her recent Heralds Committee work includes: meeting with John and Peg Dubar, parents of U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling; planning to procure business cards for M&S members; and securing Kenny Cummins' offer to assist with the new TMS campus herb garden. Marion will continue working for M&S over the summer.

Julie Meaux stated that the Developers Committee is continuing its efforts to get the word out about TMS to the Houston chapters of the American Pediatric Society (through Julie, with the help of Susan Meek) and the American Psychiatric Association. Julie also is coordinating Developers Committee plans to assist Shannon Woodruff in the organization of foundation files, as well as helping research foundations and identifying contacts for foundation board members.

Linda Caruso requested the help of M&S members to move donated items from a local building to a Houston warehouse at a date to be announced before the end of June 2007, as well as help in finding warehouse space for these items to be donated to TMS.

Marty Webb and John Barone discussed plans to hold a retreat for M&S Core Committee members shortly after the commencement of TMS fall 2007 session.

While some of the work of the individaul four M&S committees may continue throughout the summer of 2007, the next M&S Core Committee meeting will take place in August 2007.

It was duly noted that Neal Saranan, Director of TMS Challenger Campus, graced us with his presence and wit during our meeting, while simultaneously feasting upon a gluttonous amount of dill pickles and cookies purloined from others' boxes of Jason Deli lunches!

Congratulations to all our M&S members for a 2006-07 school year full of wonderful accomplishments!

-- Justin Fox, M&S Chairman

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Apprentice Campus Outdoor Spruce-Up Day

In case you have not received Marty's original email regarding the Apprentice Campus Spruce-up, please find below a list of chores that need to be carried out.

Thanks and hope to see you there.


Monday, May 14, 2007
2:00 pm – 7:30 pm


Pull up grass that has already been edged all around the walking trail
Apply a thick layer of mulch
Add extra mulch in low areas at back (from bench to far left chalkboard)

No need to empty!
Pull out half of the tall ruellia: the FRONT half
Pull all ruellia from north side. Pull one stalk at a time so the roots come up.
Pull St. Augustine that has gone past the river rock bordering the pond

Pick up branches
Pull ruellia from variegated ginger “bed”

Plant new wilkweed in pots
Sweep roofs of all three buildings
Scrub tops of tupperware boxes containing sand for when deck is slick
Replace one wooden board on deck (needs a 10’ treated 2 x 4)

1. Plant 8 milkweed inside each “wing” (milkweed already purchased)

Cut back pencil cactus to 2’
Trim lower limbs off big center tree
Trim wax myrtle hanging over deck
Trim river birch where it is hanging over roof of admin building

Treat antbeds by fire hydrant, by rock in front of building and in front quarter bed
Move tile birdbath from under window to front section of quarter bed
Cut back live milkweed to 6”
Trim up holly tree (lower 4 branches)
Cut back celosia to 2’ tall
Cut Turks cap back, 2’ off the front
Trim two large plants in key lime bed
Divide and replant rudbeckia
Mulch front beds
Trim witch hazel to 6” below window; same height under window next to it
Trim hamillia (needs lopping shears)
Deadhead salvia
Level birdbath in quarter bed
Weed area by chalkboard: watch for poison ivy and poison oak
Pull aphidistra in same bed

Cut back volunteer “tree” growing over first and second parking places
Cut back hedge all along that driveaway

· Shovels
· Garden rakes
· plastic garden bags
· pruning shears
· lopping shears
· hedge clippers
· one gas powered extension chain saw
· brooms

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Online discussion about autism, 5/10 at 11:00

The Chronicle of Higher Education website will host an online conversation with anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker, author of Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism, on Thursday, May 10, at 11:00 CDT. You can submit questions ahead of time, follow the discussion in real time, and read a transcript later.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Medical certification for family leave in TX?

Jessica sent this request to the group:

"I have a mom from Alabama who is bringing her daughter here for the summer program. She has filed A State of AL Medical Certification form Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 packet to get help from being off work. I would love someone to explore this for us to see if we have the option here in TX and could share that with out parents. Can you research this for me?"

I'll look into this when I have some time, but if anyone else wants to work on it in the meantime, that would be great. Thanks!


Apprentice Campus Cleanup!

Dear Movers and Shapers,

The Builder's Committee cordially invites you to join us in an afternoon/early evening of fresh air & fun with just an itty-bitty bit of work attached!

WHERE: Monarch Apprentice Campus
WHEN: Monday, May 14, 4-8 PM (or dark)
WHY: Apprentice Campus Clean-Up Day
WHAT: Clean the trails, spread mulch, clean the pond, freshen the circle and front gardens

Water, soft drinks and snacks to satisfy your epicurean desires will be provided by the Builder's Committee.

Come whenever you can and stay for only as long as you can. If you happen to have a wheelbarrow, shovel, hedge clippers, a husband or significant other, children, friends, or neighbors that you could bring along -- all are more than welcome. Also, what a great way, to introduce them to Monarch!

Thanks so very much for your help and we look forward to seeing you on campus!!!

Penny Weiss
Builder's Committee

Friday, April 13, 2007

Summary of Movers and Shapers meeting on April 12th:

At the start of the meeting John Barone gave us his first-hand account of the highly-successful, first KPFT radio program hosted by The Monarch School on April 5th; the next Monarch radio show is expected to be in June or July, 2007.

Dr. Marty Webb next provided us with her encouraging overview of the new campus capital campaign and her exciting vision for the new buildings and layout of the campus, which is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2008!

Justin and John then briefed everyone in attendance on the newly-adopted modifications to the M&S structure. Basically, there are 3 changes, as follows:
(1) M&S membership is now defined as either "active," i.e., being able and willing to attend almost all of the meetings and related activites, and "auxiliary," i.e., being in good standing, but not having the requisite time to fully function as an active member.
(2) M&S Core Committee now consists of the following members: chairman; all committee facilitators; three at-large, or non-facilitator, members. The Core Committee's primary responsibility is to guide and advise our group on all important matters and issues, and to meet periodically (ideally on a monthly basis during the school year) in order to accomplish this.
(3) M&S's four committees' primary responsibilities defined as follows:
(a) Builders Committee: will do these 3 tasks on a monthly basis: 1. clear The Monarch School (TMS) trails; 2. work in the Houston Zoo's butterfly exhibit; 3. maintain flower beds of Apprentice campus. Also it will compile a TMS scrapbook and assist the new campus, as needed and requested.
(b) Developers Committee: will work, as requested by TMS, on capital campaign and on other fundraisers; will develop new friends of TMS through monthly recruits for Tuesday tours, making influential contacts, and bringing in new M&S members.
(c) Educators Committee: will provide volunteers for Challenger campus reading program, proof read new sections of TMS website, and maintain the M&S blog.
(d) Heralds Committee: will spread the word about TMS through various mediums (electronic, radio, mail, literature), make presentations about TMS to influential persons, and gather new email addresses for etap.

There was also a discussion of how best to convey TMS faculty's "wish list," or "things-to-do" projects to our M&S group. This will be accomplished through TMS website, with oversight by the Head of School.

Finally, each facilitator of the 4 committees listed their respective recent activities and projects, and those contemplated in the near future. There was considerable input (too lenghty to detail in this brief M&S blog!) by the following faciltiators:
1. Penny Weiss, Builders Committee
2. Julie Meaux, Developers Committee
3. Miranda Bennett, Educators Committee
4. Marion Defalco, Heralds Committee

Thanks to all who attended this very informative and productive meeting!

The next M&S Core Committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 10th, 12:30 -2 p.m. at The Monarch Learning Center.

-- Justin Fox, M&S Chairman

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Builder's Minutes - Thursday, April 5, 2007

Present; Carrie Logan, Sarah Ranger, Penny Weiss, Stephanie Wheatley

  • Herb Garden - Penny Weiss gave a report on her visit to an herb garden in Fredericksburg. Marion DeFalco made the initial contact with Bill and Sylvia Varney, the herb gardeners and accompanied Penny on her visit. It was hoped that Bill Varney would be able to donate his time and expertise in developing an herb garden at the new campus. Penny and Marion quickly established that he would be unable to do this. He was however, extremely helpful with providing information on herbs, providing garden plans and expressed a willingness to provide any information we may need in the future.
  • Scrapbook - Penny Weiss and Stephanie Wheatley have begun work on the Monarch Scrapbooks. The intention is to devote one scrapbook to each year of Monarch's existence, chronicling its growth and development. Scrapbooks and materials have been purchased, and photographs and articles have been organized.Stephanie has contacted about 20 parents to ask them for their 'Monarch' story. Only a handful have replied so far. Stephanie said she would contact the parents again and be more specific about the deadline date. Carrie Logan suggested the idea of having an online version of the scrapbook. Marty has expressed a desire to have the stories online, but to organize the pictures would require effort from a staff member. We agreed that to have the first 10 years in a hard copy format would be the best option, though there maybe a continuity issue with scrapbooking future years.
  • AV System - Carrie Logan informed the group that her husband Jimmy was helping with the selection of AV equipent and systems.
  • Monarch residential homes - The Builder group has offered its help to refurbish and decorate the residential homes. This project is mainly under the ownership of the Monarch students. Debra Hall had mentioned that there maybe some work days scheduled in either June or July. Penny said she would follow up on this.
  • Mulching Project, Apprentice Campus - Fresh mulch is needed at the Apprentice campus.
  • Power Wash Awning - Penny stated that she would powerwash the awning at the Apprentice campus.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Educators Activity

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to work with several Monarch parents and students at the monthly parent education meeting. We focused on finding information online, using familiar tools like Google and Wikipedia but also lesser-known resources available through the Houston Public Library, HISD, and other providers. The students participated enthusiastically in our discussion of internet search engines, social networking programs (like MySpace), and subscription databases. I was very impressed and pleased by their thoughtful contributions to the conversation, and I hope the Educators will have more opportunities like this soon! (Don't you all want to join us now?)

By the way, one of the most interesting things the students mentioned was the Monarch Wikipedia page. I hope they'll work on improving the page and share their expert knowledge of Monarch with the world!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Tisket, a Tasket...

...a Monarch Life Academy basket--on sale!

We are excited to announce our Spring Sale. The Monarch Life Academy students have worked hard to create a huge variety of wonderful baskets and gifts this spring. Please take some time to come by a browse for those gifts on your list.

Posted on behalf of Tessa Sandlin.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pr/Marketing News

DRUM ROLL, PLEASE! SHANNON WOODRUFF is Monarch's new PR/Marketing Team Leader! Shannon's BA is in business administration with a major in marketing. She also holds an MA degree in general business. Shannon loves wearing multiple hats as Monarch's Director of Development, and admits that she "thrives on having lots on my plate". She will take our team to new heights as our school continues to thrive!

Our internal PR/Marketing Team was formed two years ago, as we grew larger and had the need for better coordination of all publicity and marketing. The team members are:

John Barone, Learning Center Director
Linda Caruso, Life Academy
Jenny Ferguson, Capital Campaign Assistant
Debrah Hall, Apprentice Program Director
Kyle Nguyen, Technology Director
Emily Reiter, Learning Center/Summer Program Assistant
Neal Sarahan, Challenger Program Director
Bryant Shaw, Diagnostic Clinic
Jessica Stoner, Events Coordinator
Jennalee Taylor, Admissions Director
Marty Webb, Head of School
Shannon Woodruff, Development Director

Having Shannon as the PR/Marketing Team Leader will also give Movers and Shapers who have projects involving publicity or marketing a "go to" person for help and advice!

Thanks, Shannon! We are SO glad you are on board!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Search by Category and Other Blog News

I'm happy to announce the debut of a new blog feature: categories! As you can see, all posts now include one or more descriptive labels, and a menu on the right side of the page allows you to select a category to view. Please start using labels when you add new posts (you can apply as many labels as you'd like to a post, and you are welcome to create new labels if needed).

Other blog news....

If you have been asked to upgrade your Blogger account to a Google account when logging in, please go ahead and do it. Let me know if this causes any problems.

Upgrading the blog caused the email alert functions to disappear. I put Blogarithm back (at the very bottom of the page), but since Blog Alert wasn't working well, anyway, I'm going to leave it off. IMPORTANT: If you use the email option and are not receiving new posts that way, please use the Blogarithm box to sign up (again).

One cool thing about sorting all the posts into categories is that it makes very clear what exciting things our group has done and is doing!


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Builders Minutes - Thursday, March 8, 2007

Builders Minutes: Thursday, March 8, 2007

Present: John Barone, Marty Webb, Penny Weiss, StephanieWheatley

Ideas for the Builders were discussed and planned;

Landscaping – Marty Webb reported that Janet Roberts from Home and Habitat has generously donated her landscaping expertise. She will provide the design and planting for the new campus.

Monarch Scrapbook – It was agreed that compiling a Monarch Scrapbook in readiness for the opening of the new campus, should be started without delay. Retrospective albums as well as current ones will be compiled. The scrapbooks will include photographs and stories from students, staff and parents. Penny Weiss and Stephanie Wheatley will begin working on the current album. Stephanie will contact Monarch parents for their stories. Marty will provide photographs from past years. Marty also suggested the possibility of having a simultaneous, online version of the scrapbook (specifically focusing on the stories.)

Citrus Trees – Marty reported that Richard Klein plans to incorporate citrus trees in the Monarch garden at the new campus. An herb garden is also planned.

Stepping Stones – The idea of each Monarch student making their own stepping stone to be placed in the Monarch garden was discussed. Marty suggested that this project be put on hold until we know how much space is available.

Inscribed Bricks – Marty reported that this project is ‘in the works!’ Donors will have the opportunity to have their name inscribed on a brick that will be featured at the new campus.

Bird Houses/Feeders – The possibility of students designing, building and painting bird houses/feeders during the Monarch Summer Program was discussed. The finished items would be used at the new campus. Marty asked Stephanie to contact Debrah Hall to see if this project could be incorporated into the Summer Program.

School Supplies/Library Books/Teacher Wish-Lists – The importance of compiling a master wish-list for items needed at the new campus was discussed. It was decided that staff would work from the current wish-list posted on the Monarch website and continue adding to it. Marty requested that Penny Weiss remind her to email staff regarding wish-lists. The four Movers and Shapers committee groups will work together to solicit items from the wish-list.

Interior Paint Colors – Marty requested that a Builder’s sub committee be involved in the consultation with architects regarding color choices at the new campus. Marty will inform those involved, when the next meeting with the architects will be held.

Audio-Visual System – John Barone has asked the Builders to help research the best audio-visual system for the new Monarch Learning Center auditorium. Information on projectors, surround sound systems, screens, etc. is required.

Potential Life Academy Project – Stephanie Wheatley suggested a potential LA project. The company, TerraCycle invites organizations to donate empty soda bottles, in order to package their plant food. There are no shipping charges and the company donates 5c per bottle to a charity/non-profit organization of your choice ie. Monarch! Marty suggested that this would be a great business project for a Monarch student next year in addition to involving the whole Monarch community. For more information go to

Friday, March 09, 2007

"The Monarch Hour" on KPFT Radio, FM 90.1

On Thursday, April 5th, from 12 noon to 1 p.m., KPFT Radio, FM 90.1, will host its first program entitled "The Monarch Hour." The first program will feature Monarch staff, parents, volunteers and students informing the public about The Monarch School in a unique format.

This radio program, featuring The Monarch School, was facilitated through the superb initiative of our very own Marion Defalco, Movers and Shapers Facilitator of The Heralds Committee. Thanks so much, Marion! Please stay tuned for more information!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Congratulations to Justin Fox,
Chairman of the Monarch Movers & Shapers!

Justin was recently chosen to be one of 9 people out of many nominated to receive the 2007 Mayor’s Volunteer Houston Award! Now everyone in the city will know what we’ve known all along: Justin Fox has gone above and beyond in his support of the Monarch School since day one! City of Houston Mayor Bill White will personally present the award to Justin during a ceremony at the Houston Intercontinental Hotel.

This is the second time a Monarch volunteer has won this award. Justin shares the honor with another great Mover and Shaper, Ms. Penny Weiss, who received this award in 2005! Hooray!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Monarch parent on the news tonight!

Monarch parent Jonathan Etterbeek's interview with Fox News will air tonight at 9:30pm! Jonathan is a fabulous advocate for Monarch, and he's working with Marion DeFalco on a project to help many military families who have children with special needs.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

We're in the News!

Monarch parent Jonathan Etterbeek was interviewed regarding special education in Texas. The interview will air this Thursday at 9:30pm on Channel 9 (Fox News). Jonathan is an articulate spokesperson and advocate for families whose children's needs cannot be met by the public schools.

We appreciate you, Jonathan!


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Special Friends Day

You are special to us…

All Movers & Shapers are cordially invited to
The Monarch School’s 6th annual

Grandparents & Special Friends Day!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
You may join us for all or any portion of the day. Programs will be held at
Apprentice and Challenger Campuses.

Apprentice Campus Challenger Campus
10:00am – 12:00pm 12:00pm -2:30pm
1231 Wirt Road 2:30pm – 3:30pm
Houston, TX 77055 1014 Wirt Road, Suite 210
Houston, TX 77055

Please RSVP to Jessica Stoner, Events Coordinator, at 713.479.0800 or by Feb. 10.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Opportunity to Help with Symposium

I have an opportunity for anyone who would like to help make our symposium with Dr. Ross Greene a success. We are in need of approximately 1000 bottles of water to be served to our guests at the symposium and we would like to try to get them donated. Is anyone interested in helping to solicit local businesses in their area for donations of bottled water? Some businesses like Sam's Club and HEB are pretty good about giving $25 - $35 gift cards which can be used to purchase bottled water. Let me know if you are willing to help and I will provide you with a copy of the schools tax exempt letter which you will need. You can email me at if you are willing to help.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hey Heralds!

I have a project idea/request for you. I'm working on recruiting new volunteers from local universities, and it would be really helpful to have a simple, one-page brochure or flyer about Movers & Shapers (who we are, what we do, etc.). We have the Monarch packets, of course, which are great, but I think a piece of introductory literature about our group would be very handy for situations like this. Any chance one or more of you could work on this soon? It certainly doesn't have to be anything fancy, just short and sweet.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Minutes from the Herald's Committee Meeting on 1/25/07

Present: Cathy Graham, Kyle Nguyen, Dennis Woods, and Emily Reiter

- The marketing of the Monarch Learning Center’s upcoming symposium entitled “The Explosive Child” was discussed at great length. Cathy Graham was able to give Monarch Learning Canter Assistant Emily Reiter some names of media contacts and suggestions of how to best promote this event. Some ideas discussed were: the importance of promoting the event before it occurs, promoting the event while it’s occurring (a television station interviewing Dr. Greene during the day of the event) and promoting the event after it is over, Ms. Graham also suggested emailing an article submission to all editors in Houston as well as a media alert.
- The Monarch Web site was also discussed. Monarch Director of Technology spoke about his recent project of posting previous news clippings about Monarch on the Web site for visitors to access. The group spoke about the electronic newsletter and the importance of making sure it’s not sent out before it’s completely ready.
- John Barone visited the group and brought up the idea of sending out monographs as a way of promoting Monarch.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Developer's Minutes

Attendees: Marion Defalco, Justin Fox, Sharlene Fox, Judith Garnil, John Hardesty, Susan Meek, Julie Meaux, Jessica Stoner, Carolyn Trozzo, Stephanie Wheatley, Shannon Woodruff

  • New members: Judith Garnil, John Hardesty

  • Realtor involvement: Marion Defalco reported that she had contacted Myra Jolvit, Managing Editor of the Houston Realtor and Communications Chief. She is extremely interested and receptive to the idea of distributing information about Monarch to her clients.

  • Success of follow-up phone calls to breakfast attendees: Jessica Stoner stated that she had received mainly positive responses. Julie Meaux remarked that she had to leave voicemails and nobody returned her calls. Effective ways to thank breakfast attendees were discussed. Follow-up thank you notes/letters could be one method.

  • 'The Gifts' movie Feb. 13: Group reiterated that the movie would be an excellent opportunity to educate others about Monarch. The '12 gifts' are closely alligned with Monarch's philosophy. When inviting others we need to make sure that people are aware that the venue is St. Thomas University.

  • Contact with PBS: Marion Defalco contacted PBS due to Dr. Eric Braverman's upcoming appearance on March 29. He is a neuro surgeon and heads up a research foundation specializing in learning disorders in children. She suggested that it would be a good idea to have Monarch staff or parents be in the audience when he gives his presentation. Marion left Monarch packets at PBS.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Educators Minutes

Like Ranger, I was a committee of one yesterday, but here are a few items I discussed with others at the meeting:
  • We've been having trouble recruiting "mentors" to come to Monarch and speak to students about topics of shared interest. Since I suspect part of the problem is that "mentor" implies a greater time commitment than many people are able to make, we are going to continue this recruitment effort but look for "guest speakers," instead. Neal provided the list of course offerings for 2006-07, which I will try to turn into a "wish list" for guest speakers. This will be a wonderful opportunity to use your connections in the community for Monarch's benefit!
  • Ranger had very good idea about working with local college student volunteer programs to recruit new M&S members. I'll follow up with this at UH and possibly at Rice, St. Thomas, and/or other Houston-area schools.
  • Neal told us about plans for a student talent show in May. The Educators' co-facilitator, Kay Kahl, is already involved with this project, and it may present us with new volunteer opportunities. If nothing else, maybe we can all get invitations to attend!
  • Neal and I discussed another volunteer organization, Houston Heifers, a local group supporting the work of Heifer Project International. Monarch students use Heifer-related materials in some of their classes, and I look forward to learning more about this program.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Builders Minutes 1/25/07

Just back from another Movers and Shapers meeting. I was the only Builder present so the discussions I had were with various Monarch administrators and other Movers and Shapers members.

*I asked John and Marty for a conduit. Monarch staff have begun discussing projects for the new buildings and grounds but they aren't reaching our group.

*John, Miranda and I discussed having the Heralds recruit members for both the Builders and Educators groups.

*Miranda and I met with new Movers and Shapers members John and Judith to fill them in on what the Educators and Builders are all about.

*Neil told us about some fabulous developments. Landscaping for the new campus will be donated, we will have fruit trees, and two private residences near the new campus have been donated for residence and life skills development.

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Today's Man" on April 8

As part of its "Margaret Mead Festival," the Rice Media Center will show the documentary "Today's Man" on Sunday, April 8 (yes, Easter Sunday) at 9:00 pm.

Description from the Rice Media Center website:

"Filmmaker Lizzie Gottlieb looks at her brother Nicky, a young man struggling to leave the comfort and safety of his parents' home and find his place in the world. While he can calculate the square root of any number in the blink of an eye, he has trouble reading the simplest of facial expressions, making social interaction difficult. At the age of 21, he is diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism."

The film is the second half of a double feature, but the first movie, "A Map With Gaps," is only 26 minutes long, and "Today's Man" is 55 minutes, so even the 9:00 start time won't make for too late a night.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Calling all Movers & Shapers!
On March 3, 2007, Monarch will welcome Dr. Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child, as presenter for our symposium. This topic is relevant for all parents, teachers, and anyone who works with children. To save a bundle, sign up for EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION!

We also need your help in spreading the word about Monarch's Symposium. At our next meeting we will have cards that you can present as gifts to friends, family, colleagues, etc. They can also be left for people to pick up at pediatrician's offices, schools, and any other place frequented by parents, teachers, or others who work with young people.

Thanks for helping make our first annual symposium a SOLD OUT SUCCESS!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

College Living Experience

I came across an interesting article in the "Chronicle of Higher Education" about College Living Experience, a support program for special needs students pursuing college education. It looks like something that might interest Monarch students, so I thought I'd pass along the link to the CLE website, which provides access to the article.

Monday, January 08, 2007

"The Ultimate Gift" on February 13

News from Linda Caruso:

The Monarch School will host the Houston premiere of the film "The Ultimate Gift" on Tuesday, February 13, with proceeds to benefit the school. For more information or to purchase tickets, check out the event announcement on the Monarch website. Spread the word and treat yourself and your family and friends to an early Valentine's Day present!

what is this?

Tell me when this blog is updated. . .