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!

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