About Emilee Parton

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So far Emilee Parton has created 2 blog entries.

Overcoming Obstacles in the Arena and in Life

“She’s a stubborn, bad horse!” a new Leadership U student muttered as he sat anxiously on his horse with tears in his eyes. “She won’t listen. I quit!”

Riding up, fifteen-year-old James,* encourages the new rider saying, “Don’t give up, you can do this. Yelling isn’t going to do anything. Show her how. You have to be the leader. You have to make a believer out of her!”

James knows. When he first got on a horse just like when he first came to Show-Me, he felt just as lost and hopeless. The unfamiliar setting left him feeling anxious, scared, and wanting to give up. Luckily, his Show-Me family helped encourage and guide him. Using many of the same techniques he is learning in the Leadership U program, James has been able to face and overcome obstacles of his past and prepare for the challenges of his future.

Achieving the Impossible

God provides the ultimate example of leadership in his son, Jesus. The best way to equip a young person to live as a successful, independent adult: teach them to lead like Jesus. To lead like Jesus, a leader must develop the heart and character to serve. Only then can trust be built that compels change, not demands it, and inspires other to follow.

Modeling this kind of leadership is at the heart of every aspect of Show-Me. “Leadership U is a practical, “incubator” where our young people can put to the test everything they learn in school, church, and counseling to develop confidence, leadership, and healthy relationship skills,” explains Director Chad Puckett. “It gets our kids out of their comfort zones and gives them opportunities to do things they never believed possible.”

The program teaches that the first objective to accomplish the “impossible” is to break it down into a series of smaller, achievable steps using the core principles of Leadership U. Service is the root of Christ-like leadership. Through actions, the leader signifies to the follower that “I am here for you, not me.” Next, the leader must equip themselves with the knowledge – basic information and skills – needed to complete the task. Persistently refining that knowledge day-by-day develops the work ethic, attitude, and character required to build confidence to lead through future challenges. Displaying that wisdom inspires the follower to believe in the leader’s ability.

New Insight Through New Roles

“Working with the animals opened the kids’ hearts to receive instruction,” stated Nathan Smith, the program’s creator and coordinator. “When they see how your advice makes the horse do things they never thought possible, they begin to trust and are willing to listen to what you have to say about horses, life, and even God.”

Leadership U’s hands-on model of training horses and dogs has been especially effective in helping at-risk children like James. Utilizing the emotional connection with animals provides a healing environment that lowers defensive barriers. The class’ physical activity gives a way to work out some energy. Seeing how the animals reflect his own emotions has made him more aware of his need to control his own. “I know that if I want my horse to be calm, I have to be calm,” James explained.

Being responsible for the animals, kids experience from the caregiver’s perspective the importance of obedience and discipline. These concepts take on a new understanding. When applied in their own life, rules and routines seem restrictive and controlling. Now, they understand them as necessary to reach one’s fullest potential.

Teenagers Have Horse Brains!?!

When you ask a teenager why they did something, they will likely say, “I don’t know…because I felt like it.” A teenager is a lot like a horse: impulsive, defiant, and emotional. Many times, they “feel” more than they “think.” Part of the reason stems from the make-up of their brains.

A human’s brain will not fully develop until they are 25-years-old. The prefrontal cortex is immature in a teenager; horses have none at all. This is the “thinking” part of the brain that performs reasoning, judgment, and impulse control functions. Until the brain fully matures, the teenage mind relies on the amygdala to make decisions and solve problems. This is the “emotional” part of the brain responsible for immediate “gut” reactions including fear and aggressive behavior. Horses have an extra-large amygdala to alert them and react to threats. When the amygdala is triggered, the brain shuts down its thinking side and immediately goes into “fight” or “flight” mode.

For children who have experienced trauma, this reflex is magnified. This is why direct approaches with teenagers rarely work and usually end in confrontation. The emotional bombardment either causes them to shut down or fight back verbally. They react emotionally, and do not think rationally.

This unconscious defense mechanism, combined with unresolved trauma from his past, created trouble at home and school for James. “If you challenged him, he would get defensive,” stated Jeff Eades, James’s housedad of five years. “He would always have an answer and it was never his fault.” Both parent and teen were left frustrated and nowhere closer to solving the problem. Using the  understanding of the mind’s wiring, Leadership U uses a five-step process to learn how to overcome obstacles (see chart on left).

The Problem with Pages

James’s obstacle was his struggle with reading. School frustrations spilled over to anger and outbursts at home. In his head, he read over words so quickly that by the time he got to the end of the page, he had no clue what he was reading. If he didn’t know a word, he would come to halt. Both issues led him to act out to avoid feeling like a failure.

To help James, the Eades applied many of the steps of the Leadership U process. First, they made reading a positive thing, not just a school task. They had him read for fun in subjects that interested him. Second, they worked to reprogram his negative reaction to avoid reading by redirecting him. When he became restless and frustrated, they did not fight or argue. They had him get up and do something physical like walk the dog or go running. Getting that energy out helped him to focus. Third, they had him read out loud. Saying each word helped slow him down enough to hear and comprehend the story. Jeff remembers how the results could be seen by the size of James’s smile when he saw his reading test score. “100%! How is that possible!?!” James said proudly.

 

Trust Built on a History of Victories

James’s victory with reading has led to improvement in school and a reduction of fights at home. Yet, like all of us, he will face challenges in his future. Whether on a horse or in the classroom, or eventually in a job or a relationship, each obstacle he overcomes grows his confidence and makes the next obstacle seem less daunting. By “Learning to lead like Jesus,” James is learning to believe – in himself, his future, and God.

 

By |2021-11-26T10:15:59-06:00November 26th, 2021|Categories: Child's Story, Houseparent|

Character Above Championships

Developing the Foundation for Lifelong Victories

Winning will never be the goal of the Show-Me Christian School Athletic program. Angel teams have reached the heights of state championships and the lows of finishing a season without a single win. Yet, every year, players achieve priceless victories.

Sports provide many benefits to any child; for a child growing up at Show-Me, it can be the catalyst to victory over issues they struggle with in school, at home, or in their adult life.

An Ideal Training Ground for Life

Athletic participation breeds success where traditional methods fall short: motivating a child, understanding abstract concepts, and seeing the results of perseverance. As one housedad explained, “My teenage daughter gets frustrated because she can’t always see the gradual growth she is making in her life. Sports gives her a measurable way to see the progress. When she first arrived, she couldn’t dribble a basketball. Now, she is a starting player on the varsity team.”

The structure of team practice and coaching mimics Show-Me’s family model of restoration. At home, the child may still unconsciously revert to emotional barriers to protect themselves. On the court, the player is more open to listen to the coach’s instruction because there is no negative past to overcome.

Sports directly addresses many of the root problems caused by their previous environment. Exercise is a natural way to reduce anxiety and depression. Working out daily, kids eat and sleep better. This leads to better memory and improved concentration. Physical activity provides a child a safe outlet to let out their anger or energy.

Being part of a team gives young people an edge over their peers in areas beyond physical health. Through the discipline of practice, they develop lifelong skills of self-control, responsibility, goal-setting, and time-management. Working with teammates forces them to communicate, trust others, and learn to control their emotions. Each player brings a different value to the team. But, for the team to reach its full potential, each individual must know and do his or her part. Following the guidance of coaches, all players must move in the same direction, toward the same goal.

Games provide a snapshot of the unfair, competitive adult world they will face. Referees will miss a call, people will foul, and they will sometimes miss a shot or fail. Sports is another opportunity for Show-Me to coach and walk our young people through the numerous kinds of challenges all adults must navigate. By experiencing them now, they can safely fail and learn how to overcome them, rather than have them derail their life as they face them alone as an adult.

The Spark To Ignite a Life of Success

Academics, athletics, and the arts are the places most kids first discover they have talents. Once they realize success in one area of their life, it flows into all areas. That first discovery is critical in developing self-confidence and the courage to try new things.

“Before coming to Show-Me, the only place that most of our kids can find these opportunities is at home or in school,” stated Director Chad Puckett. “Unfortunately, there is little chance finding it at home because of the dysfunction. If a child does not find it in academics, they can feel they have no value.”

Part of the restoration process is ensuring each child knows they have value and God-given gifts. The school offers programs in music, arts, drama, and sports to  provide avenues of discovery.

For many, Show-Me is the only chance they have to be part of a sports team. Most kids arrive at Show-Me never having played on a team and without basic skills. Although not mandatory, every child is encouraged to participate in sports and join a team starting in 5th grade.

The sports program has evolved over the decades from pick-up games on the front lawn to informally arranged matches with other small schools. Uniforms consisted of whatever resources could be found. Names and numbers were ironed on to donated jerseys. Games were held at other local schools’ fields or at the Show-Me multi on a hard linoleum floor marked with tape.

In 2015, Show-Me joined the Missouri Christian School Athletic Association (MCSAA). The Angels now compete in a 16-game schedule against six other Christian schools in the MOKAN conference. A state tournament is held at the end of each season in Joplin, MO, to determine the state champion and give out awards.

Transforming Losers Into Champions

Championships once only seemed a dream in 2016. Across every sport, each team has finished their inaugural season with a losing record. The girls volleyball team did not win a single game their first season. Yet, as one player encouraged her coach at the end of season, “winning does not matter compared to the things we have been through in life.”

In fact, losing may be the best thing that could have happened. “You learn a lot more from losing than winning,” stated Director Chad Puckett. “You find out who you are and what you value.”

The experience united and motivated the girls. Many of the older players took on leadership roles and began mentoring their younger teammates. The players used any extra moment they could to practice including during their school breaks. Their determination was rewarded as each season they won more and more games. In 2019, the girls team saw their dream become a reality when they won the state championship in volleyball.

The secret to their success didn’t lie in their individual skills, but in the bond of their team. The more the team played as one, the better the results on the scoreboard. The attitude of one player could build or break that bond.

“Our coaches taught us that we have to be intentional in our encouragement,” stated Sadie, a senior on the team. “This experience has the potential to shape and mold us in either a positive or negative way. We determine if we are going to waste it or use it to turn us into something beautiful. We are going to work hard either way.”

Having an attitude of encouragement has been a hallmark of Show-Me sports. Numerous times since joining the MCSAA, Show-Me has won the MOKAN Conference Sportsmanship award, given to the team whose players have most reflected Christ-like attitude and character both on and off the court.

Angel Pride

The growth of the sports programs not only has impacted the players, but it has become a focal point of pride and motivation for the bigger Show-Me community. “Kids do not always take pride in academics, but they do in sports and for their team,” stated R.J. Bachtold, a teacher at the school and Show-Me Athletic Director. “You can see that sense of pride in the students as they walk past the Angels logo going from their locker to their classroom.”

The benefits of their athletic experience will remain long after they have taken off their Angels jersey for the last time. The challenges they face as adults will not be so daunting as they remember that with hard work, practice, coaching, and a team of support surrounding them, that victory is possible!

 

By |2021-01-31T13:00:04-06:00January 31st, 2021|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Sports, Teen|