Wednesday, August 24, 2011

 I Remember
"Self esteem comes from doing something and accomplishing something." -Shari Lewis

I can remember first starting out with Bryann Burgess, during the very first few steps that were made to communicate with the University of South Carolina's post-secondary education program for students with intellectual disabilities. This program, called CarolinaLIFE, and the concept of these programs are becoming very popular all over the United States. I am glad to be a witness, because I have been able to see first hand how the program has enhanced student  Bryann Burgess's experiences in life to better equip her for what she chooses as a vocation.

Before we began the apprenticeship, I remember sitting down at a 'round table' with her loving parents and dedicated professors as we talked about the opportunity of a partnership between CarolinaLIFE and my Kindermusik program in Columbia, which strives to provide the best musical experience to families and their children.

"What can I expect?" "How do we go about doing this?" I asked myself.

I would later learn that nothing they would say would fully prepare me for what was to come, though the support and communication of Dr. Kathleen Marshall took flight the first year of the apprenticeship. Her mentoring me  is a gift I will treasure always. If it weren't for her encouragement, the apprenticeship wouldn't have been as strong. This goes for the close communication with her parents as well.. :)

Though I knew I wouldn't know how to structure our training sessions without actually spending time with Bryann first. It would be too hard to just assume goals for Bryann to achieve without taking time to get to know her and her learning style. So, that's what we did...we spent many hours of 'prep' time/one-on-one training..

Anyone who is beginning to learn a new skill, needs necessary components specific to them to achieve.

1) Firstly, providing a safe place where she can feel free to ask questions about our sessions and to practice different skills was one of the vital elements to this apprenticeship.

2) Secondly, providing a practical training ground where she could practice what we learned together during our one-on-one training sessions, only with the children, in their classroom setting.

Some Benefits of the Apprenticeship Model:

1) Confidence: This creates a slow but steady swell of confidence, but the build of the experience is breathtaking because she comes into the classroom knowing what to expect. She comes into the experience knowing she has something to contribute to the classroom.

2) Individual Plan: Part of the power of an apprenticeship type model is the way the program plan can be tailored by the instructor to the apprentice's needs, which propels her forward to develop her skills at a gradual and approporiate pace.

3) Setting up for Success: I remember the feeling of freedom that Bryann and I both experienced once we realized that this partnership was going to be a success. I remember noticing  Bryann's confidence level just soaring, and as a result, I began feeling more confident about the experience as a whole. I could see the benefits of our time together.

I remember mentioning this song to Bryann, reminding her that she has the freedom to choose to do whatever she sets her mind to, as long as she gives her all and tries her best!

You're free to dance-
Forget about your two left feet
And you're free to sing-
Even joyful noise is music to me
and you're free to love,
Cause I've given you My love,
and it's made you free
 "Free to Dance" by Ginny Owens, a musician who is totally blind, but still chooses to sing about the greatness of her life's purpose no matter the circumstances. 

Like Ginny, Bryann continues to look at every moment in life as a gift and an incredible honor and opportunity to accomplish great and notable tasks!

Monday, August 1, 2011

What a full year we have shared teaching ABC Music & Me together! We've been BUSY reaching children in the classroom with the gift of music and movement. For our last class of the semester, we took time to celebrate the closing of another school year by taking pictures in the garden of the preschool. Bryann's professor and good friend of ours was able to join us as well. She has been one of the most important of key ingredients during our time together, has served as my mentor and friend throughout this proces. But more importantly, she has helped us so much by working to create practical experiences for Bryann through the Carolina LIFE college program at the University of South Carolina.

Thank you, K and the Carolina LIFE team! :)

Here's Bryann taking careful note of attendance one last time for Spring 2011 Semester:

Kathleen, Bryann and I-Spring Semester 2011

Onto another year.....!! :-)