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More than an Education

From Trying to Survive to Learning to Thrive

“If necessity is the mother of invention, discontent is the father of progress.” David Rockefeller’s words encompass the attitude, history, and future of the Show-Me Christian School (SMCS). It began in the basement of house #4 as a determined effort to give Show-Me’s kids every advantage to succeed; it has grown over the last 20 years into a school with a nearly 100% high-school-graduation rate (National statistics show a graduation rate of 30%-50% for foster care youth with similar backgrounds).

No More Falling through the Cracks

For many of the children that find their way to Show-Me, school is a struggle because of the battles in their home life. It is not uncommon for kids to be four grade levels behind where they should be. Public schools do not always have the necessary resources or time to help them catch up. Feelings of failure, depression, frustration, and anger escalate if the cycle continues and the gap widens.

In 2000, due to too many students “falling through the cracks” either academically or socially, the Show-Me Christian School (SMCS) was created to provide students a new chance to succeed. Using the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) program, each student is evaluated subject by subject to identify any learning gaps (core concepts that the child might have missed) and create an individualized academic path.

Students use PACEs—the ACE program’s bite-sized self-instructional workbooks designed for thinking skills and the mastery of a subject—to reach daily goals. Each child consumes the information at their own rate, rather than being pushed or held back by their class. This approach empowers students to have control of their education and to own their success. Many kids who were falling behind in their former schools are able to catch up and graduate high school on time. “Show-Me was the first time I felt successful,” explained Kayla. “The school allowed me to feel in control of my life and my future.  I set my pace and could still do my own thing, but with their structure, I found success.”

Beyond teaching core subjects like math, English, literature, science, and social studies, the Christian worldview of the curriculum reinforces the importance of morals and Christian values in all aspects of life. Interwoven into each PACE are Scriptures and one of 72 Biblical character traits—all designed to help develop moral character, a sense of accountability, and wisdom in their life.

A Team Dedicated to Their Success

While the ACE curriculum provides a solid foundation for academic success, the greatest strength of SMCS is found in its people and the positive environment they create. Socially, the environment lends itself to developing self-discipline, as well as providing the necessary security and fostering needed confidence. Children are surrounded by a wide range of positive adult role models.

Many of the houseparents take on extra roles serving as teachers during the day. The additional help reduces class sizes to an 8:1 student-to-teacher ratio. The collaboration between the houseparents, teachers, and counselors provides each child with a team of support all working off the same page. Problems are identified sooner and corrective actions are reinforced in all aspects of a child’s life. Whether at home or in class, there is always someone available to help each child keep moving forward.

“Children need to know they are seen, heard, and valued,” stated Robin Blake, SMCS Administrator. “If a student is struggling, SMCS’s individualized learning path means their struggle won’t get lost in the chaos of the rest of the class.”

Beyond Academic Success

Part of the Show-Me restoration process ensures each child knows they have value and God-given gifts. Academics, athletics, and the arts are places most kids 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. The school offers programs in music, arts, drama, and sports to provide avenues of discovery.

“Not all students find competence in academics,” stated Director, Chad Puckett. “They need opportunities to explore competencies in other areas. That’s why we give them space to find it in arts or athletics. This also helps them become well-rounded in all areas of life.”

Signature Programs

Always looking for ways to improve, Show-Me developed two signature programs over the last decade to better prepare our young people for the world they will face as adults. In 2011, the Path to Purpose program was created to teach life skills, technology training, and other career preparations through hands-on applications. Two years later, Leadership U was introduced to instill character, develop a strong work ethic, and give direction to the students as they learn to lead like Jesus through the training of horses and dogs.  Both programs provide real-life experiences and problem-solving opportunities.

In Leadership U, students learn to adapt their communication and leadership style to the personalities of each animal and situation just as a boss must do with their employees. “It taught me to chase my aspirations with everything I have and to prepare myself for what is to come through real-life experience, setting goals, and learning next-step skills,” remarked Emily, a SMCS alumni who will receive her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from College of the Ozarks this May.

 

Using virtual reality, headsets, students will be able to have hands-on interactive experiences such as dissecting a frog or taking a field trip to ancient Rome. 

Traveling to Ancient Israel and Saturn’s Rings

In 2020, Show-Me announced plans to expand the SMCS facilities to accommodate up to 85 students. The new 6,900 square-foot area will include a new room for the high school and a separate room for middle school students. The current 7th-12th grade learning center in the multipurpose building will be converted into a larger elementary school room. The additional space will allow teachers to work in groups without disrupting the rest of the class. Other spaces include permanent areas for classes like art and music. Part of the new addition will be a larger Path to Purpose center that includes a computer lab, virtual reality (VR) capabilities, and high-tech equipment like 3-D printers.

The added technology capabilities will provide students with hands-on opportunities to delve deeper into subjects like Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. In VR, students can dissect frogs or mix chemical compounds without the mess, smell, or danger of blowing up the classroom. They can travel to ancient Israel to hear Jesus give the Sermon on the Mount or fly to the rings of Saturn while still making it home in time for dinner.

“Our original dream goal was to have a dedicated science lab, but that required hiring a specialized teacher, buying costly equipment, and storing dangerous supplies,” said Director Chad Puckett. “VR meant our students could have even more experiences at a fraction of the cost.”

Never Stop Believing

The same spirit of innovation and refinement continues to develop new programs, opportunities, and a Show-Me family dedicated to the Show-Me Restoration Process: helping our children address the challenges of their past, prepare for a healthy future and an excellent eternity.

 

By |2022-11-04T16:57:14-05:00November 4th, 2022|Categories: Children, Teen|

A Bridge to Break the Cycle

Celebrating 10 Years of the Path to Purpose Program

Early on as Director, I wanted to address the one question that always made me uncomfortable: “What happens to a child after they graduate?” I knew that Show-Me excelled at giving children a solid, stable home life, and did the best we could after graduation, but I wanted to do better. As a housedad for 10 years, I witnessed too many Show-Me kids stumble in adulthood; they would turn to their old support systems a cycle we worked hard to get them out of or turn to government support systems a cycle we didn’t want them to get into. Houseparents, who are a vital link to these kids, didn’t always have the time and resources to help them. We needed to launch an intentional, targeted effort to resolve this weak area and improve our “restoration” results.

—  Chad Puckett, Director

 

The need for a family doesn’t end when you turn 18 years old; it’s a vital foundation for your whole life. A young person should never “age out” of their primary support system – they should “age into” healthy adults through it. In June of 2012, select Show-Me supporters rallied to set aside resources and create a program that would bridge the gap to adulthood for current and former Show-Me children.

 

A Right-Fit Education and Career

Show-Me alumna, Judi Crawford, immediately accepted the challenge to lead this program as the Path to Purpose Coordinator. “Growing up here, I always had support even after graduation,” stated Judi. “But I knew of other alumni who did not know how to ask for the help they needed. This program was my opportunity to try to change that. My hope is that the relationship we build while they are here continues even after they graduate, so they know they always have a Show-Me family that they can lean on.”

Path to Purpose (P2P) strives to prepare young people for the adult phase of their life and walk with them as they cross that bridge to become stable adults. As they work through the program, they gain the skills, knowledge and insights they need to succeed. Judi works individually with each student to find a career path that fits their personality, capabilities, and goals. Starting in elementary school through hands-on workshops and field trips, students are introduced to economics and the numerous skills each job requires. Students continually dive deeper into their interested fields through job shadows, part-time work, and other career-exploration activities as they progress through P2P.

For Journey, who will graduate in May of 2023 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design, her career path became clear after P2P gave her the opportunity to attend a week-long camp introducing her to graphic design. She discovered how her racing ADHD mind and high energy could actually be an advantage rather than a disadvantage. As a web designer and graphics artist, her restless creativity and energy can be utilized in a high-demand job that provides support for her future family.

Navigating Financial Aid

One hurdle most young people face is how to pay for the next level of training. The majority of P2P graduates are able to go to college without having to take out large loans. Due to their unique circumstances, our alumni often qualify for numerous scholarships, grants, and other financial aid if they can accurately present their case. The problem is their unique family situations do not fit into the standard categories for most forms. Before P2P, many Show-Me young people missed opportunities; now, they have a 10-year veteran to help them navigate the process.

 

“I would have gone clinically insane if wasn’t for Mrs. Judi,” Brendan, class of 2021, stated as he recounted the four weeks of patience and persistence it took to finalize his aid.  “But, thanks to her help, I was able to receive a full-ride scholarship and even have some money left over for expenses.”

 

Tools for the Journey

Knowledge isn’t the only thing they need for this journey.  From a reliable vehicle to a laptop for classes, Show-Me has committed to equip our graduates with the necessary tools they need to succeed. As a P2P graduate, they have funds available to help when needs arise: textbooks, unexpected repairs, down payments for housing, help with medications and utilities, continued counseling services, and various emergency situations.

“Nothing really prepares you for that moment when you look at your bank account, which only has $3 in it, and realize you have a lot of bills left to pay,” Dante recounted. The extra help came in especially handy for Dante, class of 2019, when his Precision Machining Technology degree program required over $3,500 of work tools or when his car broke down a week before he was supposed to start his new job.

 

Leaning on Wise Counsel

Sometimes all the young person needs is a little advice on this new adulting stuff such as taxes, car repair, or legal issues. If Judi doesn’t know the answer herself, she will lean on other members of the Show-Me family. Thomas Chaney, a Show-Me alumni and former car shop manager, inspects, repairs, and tunes up all donated vehicles. Jacob Crawford and the rest of the maintenance staff can fix almost any home problem. Lori Muhr, our Business Manager, can explain financial and tax issues. Elton Fay, a long-time attorney and Show-Me Board Member, has been there to advise on any legal matters.

 

“I expect all of our kids to work hard through the difficulties that life will continue to throw at them,” stated Director Chad Puckett. “But, just like my parents helped me along the way, when they have a need, I don’t want them turning to other sources for help. I want them to come “home.”

 

By |2022-07-05T10:48:30-05:00June 21st, 2022|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Path to Purpose|