Editor’s Note: Mary Kelly is the Executive Director of the Association of Florida Teaching Artists (AFTA) — an association of fine arts, literary arts, and performing arts professionals who also teach. She has over 30 years of experience instructing students at pre-k through college levels, consulting and facilitating for private and nonprofit organizations, providing customized instructional materials and implementing arts-integrated related programs.
In May of 2016, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading held a Mind in the Making (MITM) Facilitator Institute for 27 individuals from 13 different agencies in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Since then, these facilitators have been presenting Mind in the Making’s Seven Essential Skills Training Modules to over 375 people throughout the Suncoast region. Due to demand, a second Mind in the Making Facilitator Institute was held in February of 2017, raising the number of local facilitators to 50.
Brentwood Elementary School teachers, students, parents, and staff display “Community of Caring Characteristics.” These characteristics — caring, respect, responsibility, trust, and family — exemplify the school theme. Team Umber consists of 20 CARING educators and parents which gathered in the Media Center at Brentwood Elementary, home of the “SUPERSTARS.” Participants gathered for four hours once a week for four weeks to attend the Mind in the Making workshops. They embarked on a journey to understand how the brain matures and functions from birth into adulthood. The teachers expressed the need to help ALL of their students overcome obstacles and become successful. Participants shared stories and sought strategies to empower their students, and their children, to become self-directed, engaged learners.
Team Umber recognized that students come from diverse backgrounds and there is not a ‘one size fits all’ educational method that supports all students’ capacity to learn. Families are partners in this caring community, helping parents build the skills needed to prepare their children to become successful in school. Students share the responsibility to have self-control, respect what others feel, and to connect and form a trusting relationship within their school community. These principles coincide with the Mind in the Making concepts in the workshop.
Principal John Weida’s commitment to their “Community of Caring Characteristics” was evident by his participation in the workshops. He said he would like for all of his teachers to read Mind in the Making and would find the resources to purchase the books.
We thank Principal Weida and Team Umber members for their participation in the Mind in the Making workshop.