My multitasking skills have become rusty since I retired 12 years ago.  That’s a good thing in that I no longer have the stress of trying to juggle 10 projects at the same time.  It is frustrating because ever day there are so many fun, creative, challenging things I want to get, like a daily blog post.  🙂 

I plan to get to my weekly Bible study tomorrow afternoon, which will be from the Book of  Colossians, the only book in the Bible I have not posted about. 

Compared to my father and grandfather, who spent their “golden” years sitting on a porch, watching the world go by, I feel lucky to have such a fulfilling life. 

How would you compare your life to your grandfathers when he was your age? 

I found the following encouraging story, about the Urban Prep Charter School, in Chicago, in the Christian Science Monitor. 

Urban Prep charter school's first graduating class

Urban Prep charter school's first graduating class

In Chicago the high school graduation rate African-American boys is about 40%, but in one of the toughest neighborhoods, Englewood, all 107 young men for the Urban Prep charter school graduated.  All are going on to college.  As freshman only 4% were reading at grade level. 

You take 100 children from anyone where in the world, give them encouragement, support and direction, and they will perform as well as any other 100 kids from anywhere else in the world. 

From the story: 

“I say we give [the students] shields and swords,” Mr. King says. “The swords are hopefully this great education. They know how to read and write and add…. Equally important, and perhaps more important, are these shields: resiliency, self-confidence, self-awareness…. Hopefully we have instilled these things, really woven them throughout the curriculum.” 

Even small things help, says King: For instance, the students are addressed formally, using their last name, and they wear coats and ties. (The young men swap their red ties for red-and-gold-striped ones when they’re accepted to college.) 

The school of about 450 students is in a neighborhood where violence is pervasive, and many students have to cross gang territory every day. It’s thus crucial for the school to offer an oasis of relative calm. 

“For us, it’s not just about teaching new vocabulary words. We really do have to understand what is going on with this student outside school,” King says. That means faculty members develop close relationships with students and are available by phone on evenings and weekends. Often, they provide help on issues that seem to have nothing to do with school: homelessness, family tensions, or money problems.” 

“The most notable aspect of Urban Prep’s culture is its focus on college, an emphasis that infuses every aspect of the school – from an achievement-oriented creed that students recite daily to the framed acceptance letters that decorate the walls. 

‘Every single adult in the building – from the director of finance that handles payroll to the CEO to all the teachers – has a very clear understanding that our mission is to get students to college,” says Kenneth Hutchinson, the school’s director of college counseling. 

‘We start in the freshman year,’ adds Mr. Hutchinson, who grew up in Englewood. ‘It’s not about helping them fill out applications; it’s about building strong applicants.”