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.

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