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Education & How you can help - Reflections from Memory Mission

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“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”
– Sam Walton

On this journey there were so many outstanding leaders and each and every one of them went out of their way to support our incredible accomplishments.

As I have written before, the Dominican engineer and skilled laborers were among the best teachers with whom I have ever worked. AmFK2A1044ong their many attributes, they were patient, they used multiple forms of communication, they assessed our strengths and weaknesses, they helpedguide us to highly skilled work and they never lowered their standards. They took us (unskilled laborers) volunteers as we were, they accepted who we were and what we could do, and they turned us into skilled experts in a number of areas. Their standards of excellence never wavered, in fact they got higher as our skills and abilities increased under their direction.

Pastor Angel Moreta is the visionary leader who has set forth on the transformation of Constanza’s outskirts. He is seeing to it that the lives of the forgotten villagers will soon be better. He is the champion of education and social justice who we went to serve. He is the inspiring visionary leader who brings forth people from multiple walks of life in unity for a common good. He deserves tremendous credit for 20160126-201217-29f6o3q.jpgimproving the lives of the young people in these areas. While we were there the Cecaini school was dedicated and authorized by the government – this was the first school project that LifeTouch embarked upon in the Dominican Republic. It was powerful for us to begin with the end in mind in terms of our school project. The pastor is seeing the power of his vision and his leadership in the work of so many.

The motto of our school district is Engage, Inspire, Empower. Those strong verbs were present in multiple forms during this memory mission trip. We were truly engaged in the work, in the relationship building and in reflection. We were truly inspired in service, personal growth, and social justice. We were truly empowered to build/construct, make relationships, and to learn from others. In our district we often talk about creating environments where we want our students to run to school every day. Well, in our Dominican construction school, we did run to school/work every day. As a result of our



Dominican workers patience, trust, communication (non-verbal, reassuring, in Spanish), respect, attention, and teaching, we ran to the construction site hoping to do better than we had done yesterday. While we were building walls of the school we were breaking down walls of language and culture. While we were building walls with physical force and skill, we were tearing down walls and barriers of emotion and relationship.

I’m not the most handy guy in the world … in fact I have hardly ever done any manual labor or physical construction work in my life. After this trip

LUBELFIELD_Michaeland due to the teaching of some very patient workers and supervisors, I now know how to make concrete – I now know how to apply math in real life situations. Seriously, I knew intellectually that water, cement, rocks, and sand combine to form concrete, but I never had the opportunity to mix, make, and use concrete until this trip. I know know how to lay cinder IC3A9565blocks. The top and bottom sides and the right and left sides have significance in the engineering and physics of the building process. I may have known this in my head in the past, but now, as a direct result of project based learning with an emotional tie, I will NEVER forget how to apply my knowledge.

We had to engage in authentic learning on this trip. Our teachers had to guide us and help us and re-direct us as needed. We learned cultural and construction lessons. We were faced with real problems every day and we had to solve them. We were faced with real decisions every day and we had to use teamwork every step of the way. We developed friendships, care, concern, and trust and respect for one another each and every day. All of these 4C’s (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking) were part of each and every lesson throughout each and every day.

We learned during our home visits, community walks, play and recreation, photography experiences, picture day, we learned from the minute we landed to the minute we took off.

This was truly a memory mission – memories here, there, and everywhere. Our international crew from the USA, Canada, Brazil and the Dominican Republic made a huge impact on the lives of the people we set sail to serve in Rio Grande as well as in each and every one of us as well as all of the people with whom we interacted along the way. We were not tourists we were members of the community!

A 5 minute video of some of us sharing how the trip impacted us is shown below:

LifeTouch #MemoryMission2016 Moments (5 minute video)

Some people have asked me how can they help sustain the progress on these powerful projects … so I’m sharing information in the event you may be interested in contributing to the mission:

One way is to sponsor a child’s education at Cecaini School (Rio Grande, our school will have this option in the fall). The cost is $31/month with $25 going directly to the child’s education and $5 going to administrative costs). These dollars go to support uniform costs, school supplies, any overages would go to teacher training and medical outreach in the community.20160121_161858

In the Dominican Republic the government pays for most of the teacher salaries as well as breakfast and lunch and some appropriations go to supplies. But the government does not currently support administration, specialized teachers for the vocational education program, social work, nurse, etc. People interested in sponsoring a child or children should visit: For those of you interested in sponsoring a child I have attached the link.  http://helpinghandsunlimited.org

There will be a link on thewww.buildinglegaciesintl.org site for both the retaining wall and the basketball court. He will also be posting information about the “Friends of Cecaini” reunion trip, thta will take place December 26, 2016-January 2, 2017.

The FirstGiving site will remain open into June 2017.  If you have other questions about donations via a check or First Giving – contact Jan Haeg jhaeg@lifetouch.com

For more information contact If you have any questions about the December trip – please reach out to Tim Gibson at tgibson@buildinglegaciesintl.org


If you're interested, I have posted additional reflections at http://dps109supt.edublogs.org/

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Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D. Mike currently serves as the superintendent of schools in the Deerfield, IL Public Schools (District 109).  Mike is married and is the father of two young children. He lives and works in suburban Chicago. Mike attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, with a minor in criminal justice. He holds a Master of Arts in teaching and Educational Specialist in administration and supervision from National-Louis University. Mike earned his Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University of Chicago, where his published dissertation was on Effective Instruction in Middle School Social Studies. Mike has had a variety of experiences as an educational professional. He began his educational career as an elementary and middle school teacher, prior to assuming roles of associate principal and principal at the middle school level, and as an assistant superintendent for personnel services (PK-8). He is also on the adjunct faculty at National Louis University in the Department of Educational Leadership. He can be found on Twitter at @mikelubelfeld and he is the co-moderator of #suptchat - the superintendent educational chat on Twitter.
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Guest Tuesday, 25 October 2016