Athens Parent February 2018

Page 1


A Re s o u rc e f o r F a m i l i e s i n A t h e n s, O c o n e e C o u n t y a n d t h e S u r ro u n d i n g A re a


February 2018

education issue

Building Families... Building Businesses


Public Art Strong Girls Hard Truths Family Engagement Centers


AthFest Educates AND: Don’t Let Your Schooling Interfere with Your Education What INSECTS Can Teach Us


on stage

“My Favorite Teacher”

“Building Families...Building Businesses” January/February 2018 • Vol. 20 No. 2 LOCALLY OWNED AND OPERATED


A.W. Blalock


Sarah Danis



Chris Parsons FOUNDER


Rachel Allen, Liz Conroy, Sarah Danis, Soraia Santos Felgenhauer,Amy Lasseter, Jessica Leistikow, Jean Mangan, Chris Parsons, Dr. Jon Robinson, LauraWhitaker Athens-Oconee Parent Magazine is published six times a year. Reader correspondence and editorial submission welcome.We reserve the right to edit, reject or comment editorially on all material contributed. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without express written consent of the publisher. Athens-Oconee Parent Magazine reserves the right to refuse any advertising for any reason. The opinions expressed by contributors or writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this magazine. Distribution of this product does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services herein. Athens-Oconee Parent Magazine P.O. Box 465,Watkinsville, GA 30677 Advertising: Editorial: Office & Production: Calendar: Website: PUBLISHED BY

on the cover

Hannah Baird on the red carpet at ESP’s 2017 Big Hearts PHOTO BY MELISSA PEPIN 3

first words...


appy 2018! I hope you are excited about this new year! 2017 was a very busy year with good times and some challenging ones, so it’s always a breath of fresh air to start out a new year fresh. If you have article ideas or are interested in contributing to Athens-Oconee Parent Magazine sometime this year, I would love to hear from you.You can contact me at the email address below. At the beginning of each year we have an issue of the magazine that focuses on education. Whether you have kids that attend public school or private schools, are home schooled – or even if you subscribe to more of an unschooling method – I think we all agree that it’s important for our kids to learn. As a teacher and parent, I know we have to help our kids to have enriching encounters that can fulfill them and that they can learn from. In the Athens, Oconee and surrounding areas, we are very lucky to have the extent of learning experiences that are available to us. In this issue, we have several articles to sharelocal educational opportunities. Liz Conroy has ways that we can teach our kids to appreciate insects. Amy Lasseter reminds us to take things more simply than we normally tend to do.We learn about awesome educational activities with Jean Mangan. Rachel Allen fills us in on how AthFest Educates benefits our students and teachers on a local level. ESP’s Big Hearts event is coming up soon and Laura Whitaker tells us all about it. Nishat Sial shares with us how the Athens-Clarke County Library has revitalized its afterschool Teen Programming. Strong Girls can change the world and Jessica Leistikow tells us how. As always, Dr, Jonathan C. Robinson has helpful advice for us. We also have contributions from some of our readers about teachers that were important in their lives. Have an amazing 2018!

Sarah Danis

contents 8 19 FEATURES

8 Teaching Kids to Appreciate Insects 10 Don’t Let Your Schooling Interfere With Your Education 12 So Glad You Were My Teacher 18 AthFest Educates 19 Watkinsville’s Public Art 20 Oconee County Elementary’s Family Engagement Center 22 Hard Truths: The Re-Education of Simple vs Easy 24 Strong Girls Serve 26 Big Hearts: Taking the Stage 28 Athens-Clarke County Library’s Teen Programming


Michael,Trey, Sarah, and Oliver enjoying Silver Oaks at DGD Farms. IMAGE COURTESY BRITTANY WITH ZOOMIN’ ILLUSIONS PHOTOGRAPHY

Like us on Facebook!



6 14 16 30


Show & Tell On Your Mind: Hang In There Calendar ’Til We Meet Again

read us online!

Read Athens-Oconee Parent Magazine anywhere, any time ... online! Visit and click “read online.” Also, check out our online calendar for up-to-date, family-friendly events.

Athens-Oconee Parent Magazine 5



tell T

fruit cubes eat this!

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice or fresh orange juice (if you don’t like sour go with orange, but many people prefer the lemon) 2/3 cup frozen or fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, and/or strawberries) 1-2 Tbs honey 5 Tbs gelatin (you can use regular storebought gelatin, or gelatin produced from grass-fed cows, available online and in some health stores)

Compiled by Sarah Danis

get out!

he State Botanical Garden of Georgia is helping us to learn more about Chinese culture and Lunar New Year traditions found throughout Asia. Enjoy the garden’s Lunar New Year Celebration Family Fun Festival on February 17 from 10am-2pm. Celebrate with music, food, literature, and art-making. Make origami friends, learn to use chop sticks, and explore new vegetables and snacks that we might not see in our regular grocery stores. This Year of the Dog party is not to be missed! Along with performances and book giveaways throughout the festival day, Dragon Making Workshop participants will show off their creativity. $2 general admission and ages 2 & under free. It may be the year of the dog, but no pets are allowed on garden property, with the exception of service animals. botgarden.

read this! Success Skills: For High School, College, and Career By Cary J. Green, PhD This book provides step-by-step guidelines and hands-on exercises to enable students to enhance their academic performance and prepare for future career success. Students construct realistic expectations for achieving success, develop selfawareness, build a future-oriented attitude, and improve their academic success skills, leadership skills, and soft skills.


our juice and berries into a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until berries become tender and begin to soften. Add honey and stir until completely incorporated.You will want the fruit to dissolve quite a bit until you have a compote.Turn the heat off, and quickly whisk in gelatin one tablespoon at a time. Whisk vigorously until completely incorporated, mixing the gelatin in very gradually to avoid lumps.Puree mixture using an immersion blender or small blender (you might allow it to cool slightly if you’re pouring it into a blender). Pour into an 8x8 or 9x9 glass dish. Refrigerate until set – 30 minutes to an hour. Cut in small squares.You could also use some cute molds or small cookie cutters and create awesome shapes. These are best stored in the fridge, but can be served at room temperature. Thanks to for this fun snack idea!

6 Athens-Oconee Parent

make a dragon puppet Celebrate the Chinese New Year by making this fun dragon puppet!

You’ll need: • Chinese Dragon Puppet Printable (Can be found at chinese-dragon-puppet-2/) • Crepe Paper/Streamers (Red, Orange, Yellow) • Two straws • Markers or crayons for coloring • Scissors, tape and a ruler

Start by coloring the dragon head and tail and then cutting it out. Cut all of the crepe paper colors into 12 inch strips to connect the head and body. Secure with tape to each end.You can add strips of crepe paper to the bottom of each side as decoration as well. Attach a straw to each part of the body to be able to be able to control the dragon’s movement.

Thanks to our friends at madewith and for this colorful project.

Send your ideas & photos to P.O. Box 465, Watkinsville, GA 30677 or e-mail


Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” George Washington Carver

educational gifts

Troy Tastes... Restaurant: Your Pie Troy’s Score: 4 napkins


rom newborn to age 16+, KiwiCo is a monthly subscription box service specially curated and designed to give kids of all ages the hands-on learning experience they need to build creative confidence.These research-based projects are gifts that give parents and their children something to look forward to every month of the year. Each corrugated box is filled with unique and interactive projects to fit its respective age group. As the child grows, so do KiwiCo boxes. Kids cannot wait to see their colorful box land on their door step and unwrap the fun. From fiber optic constellations to a DIY arcade claw, KiwiCo’s boxes hold hundreds of projects kids can build and reuse over and over again. Check out the KiwiCo YouTube page (search kiwico youtube) for fun, easy, and delightful projects for families to spend time building, exploring and creating together.

try this! It’s never too early to learn how to manage money for spending now, saving for

later – maybe for college – and sharing with others. For children, fun decorated jars are a simple way to start. For teens, Athens-Clarke County Library Teen Programming offers a financial planning course. Read more about the library’s programs on page 28 of this issue.

Your Pie is a create-your-own pizza restaurant started here in Athens,Ga. It is a one-person pizza where you get to choose your sauce and toppings. This is one place that I order from the kid’s menu because I get fun dough (the scraps of the pizza dough when they cut it to make a kid’s size pizza) that I can play with and make shapes like snakes and donuts to entertain me while we wait. The last time I went I had a Hawaiian pizza that was very good. It had cheese, pineapple, Canadian bacon and real bacon. Gelato (Italian ice cream) comes with the kid’s meal – I had the Butterfinger flavor! One of my favorite things to do is to run over to the Coca- Cola “Freestyle” machine and create my own Powerade concoction. This is a tough one to rate. I give it 4 napkins because the kids’s pizza is just a little too small for my taste, BUT you get the gelato. TIP: There are kids’ deals on Mondays at most Your Pie Athens and Oconee locations, but check with the Your Pie location you want to eat at to see what deal they offer. Troy Aldrich is a local 9-year-old who enjoys food and is over the kids menu at most restaurants – but not everywhere. His Athens-Oconee Parent Magazine reviews appear here in each issue and will guide parents on great places to take their kids to eat – from a kid’s point of view. Each restaurant is given a rating on a scale of 5 napkins. For more kid’s reviews go to 7

nature school

By Liz Conroy


Teaching Kids to Appreciate


With nets in hand, kids collect insects at Sandy Creek Nature Center. PHOTO COURTESY SCNC



t Sandy Creek Nature Center (SCNC), naturalist Kate Mowbray notes that learning about insects is part of many of their programs such as Babies & Beasties, Knee High Naturalists and their camps and mini-camps. She adds,“Parents can use our resources to help their children learn about insects. For example, our Insect Discovery Box can be rented for two weeks.We also have a backpack for any hike that is insect-themed, and many books in our Sky Center reading area discuss insects.” SCNC also offers insect-themed programs for Brownie Girl Scouts. In an autumn public event, insects are part of Scary Oozy Slimy Day each October. (www.athensclarkecounty. com/2774/ Sandy-Creek-Nature-Center). River Rendezvous is the Upper Oconee Watershed Network’s spring event, and participating families can learn more about small insects and other creatures living in water. ( At the State Botanical Garden of Georgia (SBG), families enjoy the large and lively Insect-ival each September. ( SBG and UGA’s Entomology Department host this event. UGA supplies the insects, as well as knowledgeable students and staff who can answer visitors’ questions. Mark your 2018 calendars for Saturday, September 15 from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. for the next Insectival! The UGA Entomology Department offers UGA Bug Day Camps in July. ( also offer an Insect Zoo which, upon request, will travel to different locations within 30 miles of the campus. It’s free, but donations are appreciated to help with travel costs and maintaining the zoo itself. ( For additional information contact UGA entomologist Marianne Shockley, contact As Harvard professor and physicist Lisa Randall wrote:“When it comes to the world, we have no choice but to explore.” Finding insects with children and learning to appreciate them is a wonderful way to explore the world.

8 Athens-Oconee Parent

Joyful moments often occur while children spend time with insects. My husband and I once traveled to Buffalo, NewYork with our 7- and 10-year-old children.We marveled at the spectacular Niagara Falls, of course. But, oh ... the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory was a special joy. Inside the warm, plant-filled spaces, we walked among hundreds of colorful, fluttering insects. Sometimes the butterflies even landed on visitors. Suddenly, Laura, our younger daughter, began to cry. When asked why, she tearfully replied,“Everyone had butterflies on them. But none came to me.” Right then, we noticed a movement on her shirt.“Look down, Laura,” I whispered.“There’s one on you right now.” She was thrilled and also immediately hooked on insects! Robert W. Matthews, UGA professor emeritus of entomology, recalls how his boyhood days included playing by a small pond in his backyard where aquatic insects lived. On his way to school he observed butterflies appearing

each year in a vacant lot. He urges parents to spend time with their children going on “critter hunts” in the backyard, the woods, or nearby parks, to see what they can find.“Insects are universally accessible,” he says.“You can easily find these little animals, learn what they are, and how they live. It’s a wonderful way to help kids develop a wider appreciation for the world.” He notes that “bug” is actually one particular type of insect but “not to get hung up on the terms.” Young children’s eyes are close to the ground, he adds.“They notice little things a lot quicker. Looking around at other forms of life also helps kids become less self-oriented.” Matthews offers several tips to adults helping children learn about insects: Try not to pass your fears onto kids. They need to be safe but not afraid of insects and other small creatures. Keeping safe means observing where everyone is stepping. For example, avoid standing on a fire ant mound. In summer, yellow jackets may have nests under leaves. Stay on paths. Be careful about sticking hands under logs because an animal living there may feel threatened. In early spring, solitary carpenter bees often appear around buildings. Unlike bumble bees they are not social. While the female is busy with her nest, the male patrols back and forth.You can observe males Sandy Creek Nature Center’s Babies and Beasties program make kids curious about insects. PHOTO COURTESY SCNC

Sophia Long enjoys insects and keeps a bee hive. PHOTO BY DAN LONG

closely – identified by a yellow spot between the eye – and they don’t sting.Watch the males spar with each other as they create territories. It’s entertaining! Later in spring,moths and fireflies appear. Kids enjoy catching them in jars. Put a clean, large plastic jar over the insect and gently slide an index card under its feet.Turn the jar


upright with the card over the top. A lid can be put on later. Practice look and release. Look at the insect closely, take a photo, or draw a picture of it.Then release it quickly to teach children to respect the lives of other creatures. Before releasing the insect, kids will want to know

its name.To identify insects, Matthews recommends Peterson First Guide to Butterflies and Moths, Peterson First Guide to Caterpillars, and Peterson First Guide to Insects. Other helpful books include NationalWildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders and National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders. Backyard Bugs by Jaret C. Daniels, however, is a new identification guide to common insects and spiders and other “creepy crawly” animals that is geared for beginners.This small, beautiful paperback is ideal for anyone wanting to learn the basics about insects.The colorful sections are organized into “locations.” For example,“At Lights” is the yellowmarked section with the lovely Imperial Moth. Many moths hang out near porch lights at night. Look at the nocturnal insect and take a photo, but be sure to turn the light off to release the moth back into the wild. n Liz Conroy is an Athens-based freelance journalist who enjoys discovering new insects. 9

field notes

Story and photos by Jean Mangan

g n i l o o h c s ur Don’t let yo your h interfere wit



For many, education means studying school subjects like math, science, history, and language arts. Education also includes social and emotional education. Getting along in groups, waiting your turn, sharing, reading social cues, using appropriate reactions in public, and finding words to express needs are all valuable soft skills that people need to both learn and practice, particularly in a world where so much interaction occurs through a screen. There is also environmental education: conservation of resources, respect for animals, and knowledge of how our decisions to play fit into a larger world and the effects of those decisions. In fact, education does not mean just systematic instruction, but also means an enlightening experience.There are many different places in Athens and Oconee County that are both enlightening experiences and also contain elements of traditional schooling.

10 Athens-Oconee Parent

Bear Hollow Zoo

293 Gran Ellen Dr., Athens, Ga. 30606 Bear Hollow is home to a variety of animals native to the Southeast who, for various reasons, cannot be released back into the wild. When you enter the zoo, there are signs that tell you the background behind the animals that reside there. Children can learn about animals, wildlife conservation, and the importance of respecting our environment.The zoo is part of Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services, and admission is free.They also host seasonal events requiring a small entry fee that goes towards maintenance of the grounds and care for the animals.

State Botanical Garden of Georgia

2450 S. Milledge Ave., Athens, Ga. 30605 The Botanical Garden has walking trails, curated gardens, a greenhouse and nature areas, all of which are carefully maintained by the staff.There are signs throughout the exhibits that let you know names and facts about the plants.The garden also has a robust event calendar with a variety of activities year-round. The garden is currently in the process of creating the Alice H. Richards’ Children’s Garden, a twoand- a-half-acre tract that will house educational and interactive types of landscapes and will also serve to educate children on nature, healthy foods, and healthy bodies. My family is definitely looking forward to this project being completed!

Clockwise from top: Bear Hollow Zoo has a reptile house, where kids can get close to frogs, snakes, and more. Georgia Museum of Art Family Fun Day (SPECIAL PHOTO) includes a lesson and an art project. Informational plaques make a visit to the State Botanical Garden an educational experience.

Georgia Museum of Art

90 Carlton St., Athens, Ga. 30602 The museum is, according to its website, both an academic museum and the official art museum of the state of Georgia. In an effort to connect with all ages of Georgia residents, the museum hosts Family Days on one Saturday a month and Toddler Tuesday on one Tuesday a month.There is a different theme for each event, often coinciding with a special exhibit at the museum or a particular holiday, or showcasing pieces in the permanent collection. There is an art activity included that complements the event’s theme.This is also a great

time to begin practicing using indoor voices, looking with eyes, keeping hands to ourselves, and other behaviors that are appropriate for art galleries and other exhibitions that are not fully interactive.


Several locations around Athens & Oconee County We all know that one of the best things we can do for our children is to read to them. In addition to reading to children at home, there are plenty of story times in and around our area at local libraries, Avid Bookshop, and reBlossom Mama and Baby Center. ReBlossom’s story times are every Friday at 10:30 a.m., and then one Saturday a month. Avid Bookshop has story times Thursdays at 10:30 am (Prince Avenue shop) and Saturdays at 10:00 am (Five Points shop). For those with older children, Avid also hosts a Young Readers Book Club that meets once a month on Sundays. The Athens Regional Library System consists of eleven locations in Athens, Oconee and surrounding counties.The Athens-Clarke Library on Baxter Street has story times Mondays,Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. They also have a weekly Saturday event at 11:00 a.m. for children. The Bogart Library sponsors weekly story times onWednesday at 10:15 a.m. that are targeted to 3 to 5 year olds. They occasionally offer Read to Rover, a program that allows children to practice their reading skills to therapy dogs who are excellent, patient listeners.Visit for more information on events at other locations and for updates on the above story times.


hese represent a small fraction of the plethora of offerings that Athens and Oconee County provide that can sneak in education while still enjoying time together as a family. Throughout the year there are Touch-a-Trucks, the Vulture Festival, the Insect-ival, and all other kinds of activities that are within our vibrant community. Gaining knowledge from the places we see every day broadens our understanding of how different and seemingly disparate pieces of our days function together to create the world around us. Everywhere we go, there is something that can provide additional insight, education, or enlightenment, if only we are willing to learn. n

Jean Mangan is a 30-something attorney living in Athens who strongly values education in all forms, and whose children haven’t complained (yet) about learning. 11

thank you!

Compiled by Sarah Danis

So glad you were B my teacher!


e will always cherish Mrs. Heather Rutherford from Rocky Branch Elementary in 4th grade math. She gave my daughter, Georgia Schuff, the love of math. My favorite comment from my daughter about Mrs.Rutherford was,“Mom, I love her because she always says there is no dumb question. I feel like if I don’t understand she never makes me feel bad – she always says ‘good question!’ I love that about her!”We will always remember Mrs. Rutherford! - Caprice Schuff

Georgia Schuff with Mrs. Rutherford at Rocky Branch Elementary.


rs. Barbara Almond, my 3rd grade teacher at Oconee Elementary School, is truly one-of-a-kind! Not only was she an excellent teacher and mentor, she’s been a good friend and encourager since then. Mrs. Almond’s smile and “glow” can brighten anyone’s day. She always made me feel special and loved, and although I may not remember everything she taught me in class, I do remember how she made me feel and appreciate how she still encourages me. My wife and I have a son in 3rd grade at Oconee Elementary School, and I hope one day he’ll have a special teacher who will always have a special place in his heart like Mrs.Almond has in mine. - Greg Meeler


or first grade, I had the privilege of having Mrs.MikeYoung at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary. She was a fabulous teacher that I felt like “got me,” even at 6 years old.The biggest thing she did for me, though, was to empower my mom. She told my mom that she would always be my biggest advocate and to not back down in pursuing what was best for me. My mom took those words to heart, and she was a bulldog about me getting the best education I could. I am appreciative of Mrs.Young for igniting that fire in my mom and ensuring my success long beyond her classroom. - Betsy Thurmond Sinclair


adame Nan Brightwell ... when I say her name in my head, I automatically start trying to say everything with a French accent. I was so very lucky to have MANY awesome teachers growing up. Madame Brightwell was special though. She just lit up our classroom for our French 1 and 2 courses. She made learning so much fun for us. - Sarah Danis

12 Athens-Oconee Parent

lack Girl Magic. It is a common phrase now, but when I was little no one was celebrating our unique sparkle. More often we were being told to sit down and be quiet. At this stage in my life memories of my youth can be elusive but I clearly remember being in kindergarten at Barnett Shoals Elementary for one reason – my teacher, Mrs. Sheila Neely. She was the first person outside of my female relatives who made me believe that in me was something special that I didn’t have to hide. From the moment I started preschool I loved everything about school. My favorite thing was reading. My mom taught me to read when I was three and I haven’t missed a day of reading since.Then, after I left Montessori and went to public school, I found myself in Mrs. Neely’s class. Now that I’m a parent I have come to suspect my own parents maneuvered me into her class. I should have been at another school (where I transferred the next year) but Mrs. Neely was my mom’s soror and she and my dad knew each other because he was also a public school teacher. I am so glad they got that hook-up. Mrs. Neely not only encouraged me to be smart but to let my intellect shine for others to see. She would let me read stories to my classmates before naptime. Back then I hated to nap. (I have since come to learn how insane that was.) Rather than fight me, Mrs. Neely would let me sit by her desk and read if I promised to lie still on my mat for 10 minutes. Mrs. Neely always told me how smart I was and encouraged me to work hard and learn as much as I could. I loved her. In my five-year-old eyes she was the most amazing woman I knew besides my mother. She was so pretty. Her pecan colored skin and laughing brown eyes made me love my own chocolate hue.

She loved to laugh and wasn’t afraid to be silly with us. She was always dressed nicely and smelled good. She was a strict disciplinarian but her love for us was evident every time she touched our head as she walked by or held us in her lap. At the time both of my parents were busy establishing their careers.With two young children, full time jobs, and living in a new town with no family things sometimes fell through the cracks. One of our standard family stories was about the time I was left at school. Normally my father would pick me up, but on that day my mom was picking me up because my dad had a meeting after school. My mom got caught up at work and forgot she was supposed to get me. I sat out front with all the other car riders waiting and no one showed. I was five and had books so I didn’t care or notice how long I was waiting. Eventually I was the last kid and it was finally dawning on me that someone should have picked me up by now. Just as worry was starting to creep up I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder. It was Mrs. Neely. “Come on, baby,” she said.“I’m going to take you home.” I followed her to the parking lot and she took me to her car. It was a candy apple red Corvette. I had no idea a teacher would drive anything so fancy. I especially didn’t expect a woman to be driving a sports car. I had never seen a black woman in anything this fabulous. I can remember asking with disbelief how she got a car like that. She told me,“Mariel, you can have anything you want in this world if you work for it.” I’d like to say that it was that moment that my tremendous work ethic was born, but that was not what I took away from the encounter. I was in that car only 15 minutes, but it was 15

Mariel Blake at 5 years old

minutes of pure awe.This was the 70s so I was sitting up front with only a waist seatbelt and I could see and touch everything. It was like riding in a spaceship. My parents said I would not shut up about that car ride for months. What I took from her comment was don’t let anyone tell you something is not for you. If you want it and you are willing to put in the work to get it then you can have it.You don’t need permission.You don’t need to wonder if people will like it or think it’s appropriate. If you want to live a certain way and others don’t approve, don’t let that block your happiness. Mrs. Neely always encouraged me to not only do my best but to be myself in everything. I heard this from my mother all the time, but to hear it from a teacher and to see her living it made a deep impact on me.Over the years of growing up and becoming a woman, life has been really good about trying to put me in a box. Thanks to Mrs. Neely I have always had at my core an unshakable belief in myself and my ability to do or be whatever I want. Public school teachers get a bad rap and are often the scapegoat for all that’s wrong with our children. I was a public school kid

for K through 12 and in that time I was blessed with many great teachers. As the daughter, wife and sister of public school teachers I know the struggles they face. I know how hard they work for so little recognition or compensation. I also know that all the pain and frustration and fatigue and stress is worth it when you see your students doing well. I still see Mrs. Neely regularly. I never hesitate even now after all these years to tell her how much I loved and appreciated having her as my teacher and role model. She could have easily suppressed my sassy attitude and blossoming intellect with admonitions for me to be quieter, to not show off, to dumb it down so others wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. Instead she took every chance to nurture and encourage my little baby sparkle. She always told me to let my light shine. At a time when everything in her world was probably telling her to be quiet, to be humble, to know her place, Mrs. Neely was riding around in her Corvette and showing other little brown girls like me that we can be who we are and share our gifts with the world. Back then that was not only radical, it was magical. - Mariel Blake n 13

on your mind


By Dr. Jon Robinson

“Hang In There”

Dear Dr. Robinson,

So, I got my kids through the holidays.We saw extended family.They loved playing with their cousins. Had lots of fun. Now, school has started back.We all deal with getting back to routine reality, but why do the kids buck up every year when holidays are over? - Signed, Call Me Confused Dear Confused, Welcome to the club.You’re right.Almost all kids experience a recoil from fun holidays. It’s human nature. Unless you have the most fun job ever, I bet you don’t look forward to returning to the routine of your work. So, rather than focus on their words, use your active listening skills to focus on their feelings. After you see their emotional fever lessen, offer some tidbits with the leading question,“I have some thoughts about what’s going on. Do you want to hear them?” Remember, kids of all ages really like it when parents ask their permission to continue. It’s novel to them. What your kids are basically experiencing is a grieving process.They don’t want the fun holiday stuff to stop.They miss it and are comparing it to what they are seeing as notso- fun school stuff. So, start with a chronological review of holiday activities, who they got to play with, what a blast they had. This review will lift their spirits as they re-live the holiday revelry. Next, instead of buying into their dread about returning to school work, reframe their dread to encourage their curiosity.“I wonder” statements generate curiosity. Encourage talk about how the holidays went for friends they didn’t see. Be curious about how their teacher spent his/her holiday. Help them look forward to scheduled school events, like the next “fun Friday” or class field trip, or topical study that 14 Athens-Oconee Parent

they love, like dinosaurs or bugs or science.This kind of directed conversation with your kids will help them both recapture their holiday fun and get in a better mood for return to school, looking forward to it rather than dreading it. Good luck!

Dear Dr. Robinson,

My middle schooler is completely “plugged in.” He Snapchats, texts, posts selfies, Instagrams, and games almost 24/7. I almost never get eye contact with him, unless he wants something. We’ve fussed at him about this and he just calls us ancient. Every one of his teachers has a parent portal online to keep us informed of class activities, homework, and assignments. They also have their students use their iPads to look up material for class, write reports, and do assigned reading. It’s all so overwhelming to me. I don’t know whether he’s wasting time or tasking efficiently. How can I be encouraging but not overbearing? - Signed,Trying To Get It Right Dear Trying, To quote one of our former presidents,“I feel your pain.” I am one of the most cyber-techno illiterate geezers I know, but, like you, I’m trying. Here are some thoughts: First, make use of what you have. Keep the routine that works for you and your son. Use a family calendar in a common area to write down coming events in all of your lives. Get your son used to writing his events down as well. Check your parent portal daily to be informed of class direction, projects, assignments, upcoming tests and reports.Touch base with your son daily as you review calendar listings and portal entries. Second, let your son know how you are

feeling. Left out? Confused? Overwhelmed? A lot of kids don’t realize that their parents are real people with feelings and concerns of their own.When you bump up against technology, do the role reversal thing and ask your son for help teaching you new things. He’ll get a kick out of that. Third, a wise person once said,“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” For school work, grades are the currency. If your son is maintaining A’s and B’s in all his subjects, then his computer time gaming and the like is not affecting him adversely. If his grades are not up to par, then consequent by restricting electronics, especially gaming, gradually returning them as his grades improve. Catch him being good. Reinforce every good grade he gets and appreciate him. That said, current research confirms that most kids have way too much screen time.A good rule of thumb is that screen gaming is limited to an hour/day and only after homework is complete.Also, if grades are not the issue, but relationships are, then consider such things as screen-free zones, like at the dinner table, where you can actually talk to each other. Or, ask to join him in competitive gaming, where you have two sets of controls. Technology is neither good nor bad.Advances will continue to be made. It’s what we do with them that counts. Hang in there. n Dr. Robinson is a licensed, clinical psychologist. His specialty is in school-clinical, child psychology, with emphasis on child development, parenting and family counseling. He is also author of Teachable Moments: Building Blocks of Christian Parenting, now available nationwide in bookstores and on-line as an e-book. 15

calendar Ongoing n Athens Academy Visit Athens Academy, a college-preparatory independent school for grades K3-12, and discover why students learn and thrive with programs that include school-day orchestra instruction beginning in grade 2. For more info, please contact 433-2599, 1281 Spartan Lane n Athens on Ice: Public Ice Skating

Ice skating begins at the Akins Arena at The Classic Center and later moves to the 440 Foundry Pavilion.Tickets are $13 for admission and $10 per person with groups of 10 or more. Be sure to visit 272/Athens-on-Ice for full details.

n Fantastic Friday Drop-in gymnastics program for ages 10 months to 4 years. An instructor supervises the fun while a parent and/or caregiver lead their little ones through amazing obstacle courses. A parent or caregiver must remain with the child at all times. Fridays Jan. 12- Apr. 20 (No program 3/16 or 3/30), 10-11:30am, Bishop Park Gym, $5-$7.50 per child per visit. Parents are encouraged to register online at prior to coming to the program. You may also register the day of the program.

Compiled by Chris Parsons

Come for stories, songs, movement, crafts, and fun! Free and open to the public.Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am and 11am, 769-3950, oconee n Chess Club at the OC Library Wednesdays at 5pm on March 7, 14, 21, 28 at the Oconee County Library. All experience levels (including beginners) welcome. Ages 7 and up. 769-3950, Open Chess Play at the ACC Library All skill levels, come out for chess! Led by volunteer members of our local Chess and Community Conference who assist players and build skill levels. Open to ages 7-18 years. Athens-Clarke County Library, Mondays, 4-6pm, 613-3650, n Finances for Teens In this five-week series, teens will learn basic economic and financial concepts through interactive activities and guest speakers.This series will take placeWednesdays beginning Jan. 31.This program is only available for teens in grades 6-12. Athens-Clarke County Library, 4:30-5:30pm, 613-3650

n Oconee County Library Storytime

Storytime is for preschool-aged children and their caregivers. 16 Athens-Oconee Parent

n ACCLS Spring Registration Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services spring program registration begins Feb. 10 at 9am for Athens-Clarke County residents and Feb. 12 at noon for non-residents. leisure n Babies and Beasties Series Interact with nature through hands-on activities, crafts and outdoor adventures. Ages 18 months to 2 years with adult, Saturdays Feb. 3, 10, 17, 24 from 10-10:45am, Sandy Creek Nature Center, $12-$18, 613-3615

January 2018 27 Emmanuel Episcopal Day School Registration Begins for 2017-2018 School Year

We are a comprehensive, creative morning program for children 20 months to 4 years. Emmanuel Episcopal Day School, 498 Prince Avenue, 543-1294

February 2018 1 Boy and Penguin: Best Friends Forever!

Lemme tell ya ‘bout my best friend! Come enjoy stories and songs about friendship and make friendship bracelets for your besties! For children ages 4-8 and their caregiver.Athens- Clarke County Library, 3:30pm, 6133650

2-4 Advanced Student Show at Canopy Studio

n Athens-Clarke County Library Storytime

Story program for children ages 18 months to 5 years old and their caregiver. Lively time of sharing books, songs, puppets and nursery rhymes, plus early literacy and preschool activities. Tuesdays andWednesdays at 9:30am and 10:30am, 613-3650,

Some events, dates and times are subject to change. Please call individual event organizers to confirm schedules. All area codes are 706 unless otherwise noted.

Students get a chance to shine through aerial performances. Canopy Studio, 160-6 Tracy St, 2/2 8pm; 2/3 4pm; 2/4 2pm; n OCPRD Spring Registration Oconee County Parks and Recreation Spring Programs registration begins Jan. 29 for the following programs:Youth Soccer Leagues,Volleyball, Sticks for Kids Golf, Intramural Soccer and Adult Softball Leagues,Yoga and Tennis.

3 Frog Went A-Courtin’: A Vintage Valentine Storytime

Frog went a-courtin’ and he did ride um-hmm, um-hmm. Find out what happens to Frog and all of his animal friends when he courts Miss Mousey in this ageold folktale of love.We’ll share books, songs and a short film, then make vintage valentines to take home!

For children ages 3- 11 and their caregiver.Athens- Clarke County Library, 11am, 613-3650

10 Love Is In the Air

Let’s have some Valentine’s Day fun by celebrating all the people we love.We’ll make hot air balloon valentines for our family and friends and share stories all about love. For children ages 3-9 and their caregiver.Athens- Clarke County Library, 11am, 613-3650

10 GMOA Family Day: Lunar New Year

Celebrate the Lunar NewYear by exploring selected works of art, then making your own Asianinspired lantern or practice writing Mandarin. Other activities include storytime and Mandarinlanguage games (players get a copy of Grace Lin’s book Year of the Dog). Georgia Museum of Art, 10am-noon, 542-4662 10 ESP’s Big Hearts 2018 Be BOLD with Extra Special People (ESP) at Big Hearts 2018, the most magical and heartwarming night of the year. Cheer on individuals as they leave their disabilities in the wings and shine on stage. This moving show has music, dancing, and a chance to support the kids of ESP.Tickets are $18.The Silent Auction opens at 3pm.The Pageant begins at 4pm. A banquet follows for those interested in purchasing a table.The Classic Center Theatre, ESP: 769-9333

10 Journey through the Stars for Families

What kinds of wonder can we find in the sky? Come see galaxies, planets and stars and learn what makes up outer space. Families (children 5 years and up only!). Sandy Creek Nature Center, 10-11am, $2/$3, 613- 3615

11 Westminster Christian Academy “Preview Day”

Join us at 10am for tours and information. Also on 3/21 at 9am. 706-769-9372,

13 Mardi Gras Party

Laissez le bon temps roulez! Let’s celebrate with music, crafts, and extra-special snacks and prizes! Oconee County Library, 4pm, 769-3950

23 Pagemasters: Kids’ Book & Movie Club

15 Celebritrees: Arbor Day Celebration

Help us celebrate Arbor Day with crafts and stories as we explore some of the world’s most historic and famous trees, including The Tree that Owns Itself in Athens!Watch Dr. Seuss’ original animated film,“The Lorax,” and take home a sapling to plant in your own back yard. For children ages 4-11 and their caregiver. Athens-Clarke County Library, 3:30pm, 613-3650

Which was better, the book or the movie? Read the book and come to our end-of-the-month Friday book club!We’ll talk about what we think and watch the movie, too! January’s book is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.We’ll have copies of the book available at the Circulation desk for check-out all month long. For elementaryschoo ages. Oconee County Library, 4pm, 769-3950 (also on 3/30)

March 2018 1 You Don’t Want a Unicorn!

Unicorns think they’re pretty great ... because they are! If you agree, join us for stories, games and crafts all about these awe

some, magical creatures! For children ages 4-8 and their caregiver. Athens-Clarke County Library, 3:30pm, 613-3650

1-3 Kindermarket Consignment Sale

Sale open to the public Mar. 1at 5pm for a $4 entry fee; Mar. 2 the sale is from 9am to 6pm with no entry fee; Mar. 3 the sale is from 8am to 12pm with most items HALF OFF. Consigners and volunteers get to shop early on Thursday. Athens YMCA, 915 Hawthorne Avenue

3 Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing

There once was a boy named Keith who liked to draw. So he drew, and drew ... until one day he was one of the most famous artists in NewYork City. Join us for this fun and creative storytime/ artist workshop, as we explore the life and art of Keith Haring. Help us make murals and art based on Haring’s distinctive

10 Baby Animals on the Move

Spring is almost here and time for baby animals. Join us for a special infant and toddler story and craft program all about baby animals. For children ages birth to 3 and their caregiver. Athens- Clarke County Library, 11am, 613-3650

17 “Moana” Movie Sing- Along

Get ready to sing along and act out your favorite songs and characters, then make your own magical necklace! Costumes encouraged. Popcorn provided! All ages. Oconee County Library, 2pm, 769-3950 www.

22 Prince Avenue Christian School “Prince Preview”

Information and campus tours for pre-K through 12th grades begin at 9am at the school. Located at 2201 Ruth Jackson Rd., at Hwy 78, Bogart. RSVP at

17 Slime-ology Workshop

Join Mr.Will as we see how creative you can be in writing. We’ll have writing prompts and journals! (Grades 6-12 only.) Athens- Clarke County Library, 4:30- 5:30pm, 613-3650 (also on 3/23)

Discover the wonderful works from UGA’s studio craft history since the 1920s in the exhibition “Crafting History:Textiles, Metals and Ceramics at the University of Georgia,” then craft your own masterpiece. Georgia Museum of Art, 10am-noon, 542-4662

Join us at 9am for tours and information. 706-769-9372,

Teens, do you think traditional college is not for you? Come learn about different options for you after high school! Grades 6- 12 only, please. Athens-Clarke County Library, 4:30-5:30pm, 613-3650

23 Creative Writing for Teens

10 GMOA Family Day: The Materials of Craft

21 Westminster Christian Academy “Preview Day”

15 Non-Traditional Post-High School Ideas for Teens

Do you love slime? Come and learn how to make multiple types of slime from slime-creation experts! Everyone will get to keep and take home their slimes. Ages 7 and up. Please call or ask at the desk to register so we have enough materials for everyone. Oconee County Library, 2pm, 769-3950

style. For children ages 4-11 and their caregiver. Athens-Clarke County Library, 11am, 613-3650


This 27th annual benefit for Prevent Child Abuse Athens features silent and live auctions, dinner, cash bar and games, and will be held at The Athens Cotton Press, 149 Oneta St.,Athens. $125 per person ($75 tax deductible), Black Tie optional. Order tickets before Feb. 9, 2018 by calling Prevent Child Abuse Athens at 546-9713, or visit and click “Buy Now.” ARTWORK BY HEIDI HENSLEY

28 Cooking with Jayln

Teens in grades 6-12, it’s time to join Mr. Jayln and learn how to cook! Athens-Clarke County Library, 1-2pm, 613-3650 n 17


arts & music

By Rachel Allen


AthFest Educates announced its grant recipients recently, with $28,802 in total grants going to educators and youth development specialists to provide high-quality music and arts education for Athens area youth in grades K-8. $19,231 was awarded for music and arts programs and experiences for young people and $9,571 for instruments and equipment, bringing the total to date that AthFest Educates has donated to local teachers and educators to over $321,000. The largest grant went to the UGA Performing Arts Center for 4,450 Clarke County School District (CCSD) students to attend live school-day performances at the center. Winterville Elementary got a grant for 274 students to create their own stopmotion films. Lyndon House Arts Center got funding for 56 6th-8th grade students to participate in a program called “Wear It” with Community, where students learn to create their own fabric design, cut patterns, and sew their own “wearable art.” Because of AthFest Educates grants, over 1,000 local third-grade students will participate in Experience UGA’s programming with the UGA Fine Arts Theatre programs, and 35 3rd-grade girls will participate in a Puppetry Arts Program through the YWCO.The Bill Collins Memorial Grant went to Barnett Shoals Elementary where 78 5thgrade students will work with local professional artist Jamie Calkin creating watercolor portraits. In addition to the art- and music-based educational experiences students will partake in with AthFest Educates grants, over $5,500 for instruments was donated to four CCSD schools. Burney-Harris-Lyons got funding for Yamaha guitars,Timothy Road Elementary received funds for Orff instruments, Whitehead Road Elementary was awarded a grant to purchase Tubano Drums to enable more than 800 K-5 students to learn hand drumming techniques. Cleveland Road Elementary will get 16 ukuleles and 15 Snark tuners, so that, thanks to AthFest Educates, they’ll have a full class set. AthFest Educates is a Athens-Clarke County students non-profit that depends enjoy music, theater, art and more on donations, grants and with over $28,000 in grants from its two annual fundraising AthFest Educates. events – the AthFest Music PHOTO COURTESY ATHFEST EDUCATES and Arts Festival and the AthHalf Half Marathon – to fund grants for local music and arts educational programming in public schools and community organizations. During this grant period AthFest Educates was able to fund 36% of applications submitted. n Rachel Allen is a media relations professional and owner of Rachel Allen Media Services, as well as director of marketing for Nabo Realty in Athens. She is the publicist for AthFest Educates and mother of Grace, a first year student at University of North Carolina Asheville, and Luke, a Junior at Athens Academy.

18 Athens-Oconee Parent

Story and photos by Jean Mangan





public art



A Public Art Exhibition is going on right now in Watkinsville. Nine art installations that anyone can visit at any time can be found throughout the town.The pieces are all created by Georgia artists Kemp Mooney,Andy Cherewick, Peter Loose, Lisa Freeman, Claire Clements, Nack (Nick Morris), and Cameron Hampton.The two pieces located at Rocket Field were created by a class under the direction of Stacy Koffman with University of North Georgia and by Oconee County High School students. How inspirational it would be to show your child art made by people that are currently living in our community and to let them know that anything is possible. 1 Oconee County High School Students,“Leaving the Nest” Location: Rocket Field 2 Lisa Freeman,“Little Big Girl” Location: Entrance to Harris Shoals Park 3 Andy Cherewick,“The Drawing Room for Us and Everything All the Time” Location: Entrance to OCAF and Board of Education 4 UNG Painting I Class,“The Beginning of Life” Location: Rocket Field 5 Claire Clements,“Moon Glow” Location: Barnett Shoals Road 6 Peter Loose,“The Mother of All Armadillos” Location: LADTruck Lines 7 Kemp Mooney,“House of Celebration 2.2017” Location: Oconee County Public Library 8 Cameron Hampton,“Endangered Menagerie / Flatwoods Salamander” Location: Colham Ferry Elementary 9 Nack (Nick Morris),“Simple Fields of Confusion” Location: Ameripride




9 19

helping families


By Soraia Santos Felgenhauer, OCES Assistant Principal


Oconee County Elementary School has started a new concept for their school that we thought would be beneficial to share with other schools in our community. If you’re interested, maybe you can work with your child’s school to start one too! - Sarah Danis, Editor

THE OCONEE COUNTY ELEMENTARY School (OCES) Family Engagement Center is a place that was created to welcome families and provide a place where collaboration and partnership can be fostered to support the success of each student. Parents can access the Family Engagement Center’s website ( where they can be connected with information, resources, and ways to get involved to support the school’s mission to meet the needs of every child that comes to OCES. It is our belief that the OCES Family Engagement Center will support an environment that will allow parents, guardians, and families to further support their child’s ability to succeed in school.The vision of the Family Engagement Center is to be sweet as pie and here are the slices that would describe our goal.

20 Athens-Oconee Parent

Family Engagement Center Five Slices of Parental Involvement Slice 1:VOLUNTEERING GOAL: Recruit and organize parent help and support. Slice 2: PARENTING GOAL: Help all families establish home environments to support children as students. Slice 3: COMMUNICATING GOAL: Design more effective forms of schoolto-home and home-to-school communications with all families each year about school programs and their children’s progress. Slice 4: LEARNING AT HOME GOAL: Provide information and ideas to families about how to help students at home with homework and other curricular-related activities, decisions, and planning. Slice 5: COLLABORATING WITH COMMUNITY GOAL: Identify and integrate resources and services from the community to strengthen school programs, family practices, and student learning and development. We thus far have created a lending library to support Title I students and also a lending library to support non-Title I students.We have built partnerships with community businesses which have made a great difference in supporting student success. An example of this partnership would be Publix Supermarket


t of Watkinsville which has been a great partner in supporting some of the needs that we have had so far. We also have a wealth of information that can be shared with parents through a newsletter, family support materials, and website links that can direct parents to outside resources. In addition, we have embraced fundraising to benefit the schools in Texas that were affected by the hurricane. There are many other projects like workshops, expansion of the lending library, strengthening the partnership with PTO, and school based projects that we will continue to work to bring to fruition. As we grow, we want to make sure that everyone at OCES matters and, without our partnership, we would be handicapped to do so little when we can do so much more together. To conclude, I will share with you the story of a starfish. A father and son went for a walk on the beach the day after a storm to survey the damage. They saw that thousands of starfish had washed ashore and were sure to die in the midday sun.The son began running up and down the beach, throwing as many as he could back into the water.The father saw this and said, “Son, look how many there are... what does it matter?”The son picked one up and threw it into the ocean stating “It mattered to that one.” Because everyone matters! n 21

hard truths

By Amy Lasseter

The Re-Education of Simple vs Easy

You’ve Got This!

w “Why can’t you just do it already?!” is a statement, a blend of grumbling and shouting, I’ve said to loved ones before. “Why can’t I just get it done for the love of all things holy?What’s my problem?!” is most certainly a sentence I’ve muttered to myself with a serious dash of snide, irritation in my head. I bet you have too. Being a mother, a business owner, and a woman in leadership is not for the faint of heart. No one ever prepared me for 24hour, on-call role modeling.Yet, this is the very definition of each of these roles. It’s an incredible amount of weight to carry and it’s caused me heartache, pain, joy, love, regret, confusion and complete clarity. One thing that I made a point of doing during the last two and a half months of 2017 was reflect, rest and rejuvenate. As I created space in my life for these things (which is very difficult for this over-achiever by the way) I realized how life sought to re-educate me on values, alignment and redefinition of my work ... and for someone who is 22 Athens-Oconee Parent

passionate about helping people, I can’t redefine my work without redefining myself and how I want to show up in the world.

Your Re-education Sponsored by Life The life theme that kept creeping to the surface for me in 2017 was looking hard, and being painfully honest, at: Simple vs Easy. Have you ever really taken the time to understand the true definition of these words? No? That’s okay because we are going to talk about it now… • Simple (adj.): easily understood or done, presenting no difficulty. Composed of a single element, not compound. • Easy (adj.): achieved without great effort, presenting few difficulties. Now, sit with these definitions from dictionary. com for a moment.Think about the two internal statements you and I both acknowledged at the beginning of this conversation: •Why can’t you just do it already?! •Why can’t I just get it done

for the love of all things holy? What’s my problem? These two statements immediately imply to you something needs to be done and clearly anyone can do them. It must be child’s play, right? The underlying message I’m sending to myself in these two statements are: “If it’s child’s play, and I’m about to turn 40, I must be the oldest idiot I know…” because anyone can understand the task at hand and can see what needs to be done ... now, just do it already.There is so much more tied to than just “doing it.” There is stepping into fear and a change in perspective that must take place first.

Fear in Life & Business: A Change of Perspective Making this shift in perspective is no easy task because it forces you to deal with old storylines that are often painful. It also means you must be willing to slow down enough to step out of the cycle you’re stuck in.The cycle is what I mentioned above

and typically plays out like the following: This is easy, I can do [enter action/project here] ...Why aren’t I getting [insert action/project here] done, it’s simple and easy ... I must be the oldest idiot anywhere, this is child’s play ...This is easy, I can do [enter action/ project here]... . It just keeps going and going. This cycle only leaves you feeling drained, irritated, guilty, ashamed and annoyed. Truly, sit and think about this for a minute: How much energy and time do you use up shaming yourself and piling on the guilt of not being able to [insert action] on [insert project here]? What if I told you the re-education, the answer, is painfully obvious and insanely empowering to women? What would you say that you will gain more confidence, balance and ease if you are willing to re-educate and break the cycle? Two Hard Truths to Step Out of the Cycle.You’ve been looking for more confidence, balance

and ease for a while now. I know I was and life had to throw a whole lot at me to get my attention. (I can be very stubborn and hyper-focused sometimes – just ask my husband and kids.) If you’re ready to step out of this circular cycle you must re-define and re-educate and accept this first hard truth bomb:

Hard Truth #1:

• Something that looks simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. The very definition of “easy” is “achieved without great effort.” You didn’t notice it, and it took me almost 40 years to get it: simple and easy don’t always correlate.They don’t always go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can see the answer, you can see the solution and see the task at hand, yet, it remains out of reach because it’s not easy to get there. The reason things seem simple and not easy is because you have bias, internal thoughts and emotional weight that you can’t simply move past until you change perspectives. Additionally, nothing, and I mean nothing, will bring up your internal and emotional struggles like motherhood, being a woman in leadership and owning your own business. Which leads me to ...

Hard Truth #2:

• Stay-at-home moms ARE CEO’s, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and women in leadership. These women manage: schedules, appointments, budgets, projects, transportation, goods and receivables, act as hostage negotiators ... err, manage unreasonable people (seriously, I dare you to get between a 3-year-old and Daniel Tiger),

supplies, and paperwork. Sounds a lot like a CEO, a small business owner and woman in leadership, right? Additionally, can you think of a team more important to lead than your own family? Me neither. I was talking with someone about my reniching recently and who I was having the most fun supporting: CEO’s of companies/ owners and women in business. They responded with,“I don’t want to serve CEO’s ...” and made an off-hand comment that implied they were somehow less deserving of support. I didn’t say anything at the time because I was really caught off guard by the statement – they clearly have a different perspective than I have and that’s okay.

The Two Toughest Careers It’s okay for people to have a different perspective or to serve in a different way.The world needs all kinds of support. Me? I will serve traditional CEO’s, small business owners, entrepreneurs, women in leadership, and stay-at-home CEO’s all-day long. These are the people I LOVE to support because they have the toughest careers I know of: parenting and running a business (and usually it’s both). Listen to me ... if you’ve been on the struggle bus; if you’ve been stuck in your life; if you’ve been stuck in your business and work ... you are going to have to get honest and reeducate yourself about simple vs. easy. You have to work on redefining these two words and how you want them to play out in your life if you want more confidence, balance and ease. You’ve got this! n Amy Lasseter is a Psychotherapist + Growth Mindset & Business Strategist. You can learn more about her at 23

making leaders

By Jessica Leistikow

The 2016-17 Strong Girls Serve group, along with Mayor Nancy Denson and local art therapist Meg Abbott, celebrate their donation of a hand-painted mural. PHOTO COURTESY OF STRONG GIRLS


Strong Girls Serve, a local community service group, is empowering middle school girls to be leaders by serving their community.The group was launched last year by Strong Girls co-founders, Rachel Greb and KimTurner. Greb and Turner established Strong Girls in 2014 to provide a positive community for elementary and middle school girls. Greb, a licensed yoga instructor with a background in education, and Turner, a Licensed Professional Counselor and former school counselor, work together to instill a sense of inner and outer strength in all of their strong girls through after-school groups, summer camps, and workshops. One of the sayings around Strong Girls is,“Strong girls lift each other up,” and Strong Girls Serve was created to carry out this mission in the Athens community. 24 Athens-Oconee Parent

STRONG GIRLS Changing theWorld

Each year, Strong Girls Serve partners with a local non-profit agency, where its members volunteer once a month. Athens Area Emergency Food Bank was the agency where Strong Girls Serve got its start.This local food bank provides non-perishable food to families and individuals in urgent need. Clients can come twice in a six-month period to receive an emergency food supply that will get them through the next few weeks. Strong Girls Serve supported the food bank by collecting canned food and helping with projects at their facility, such as sorting and bagging food.The girls in the service group also raised over $800 for the food bank. In April 2017, Strong Girls Serve concluded their year-long partnership with Athens Area Emergency Food Bank, but they left

their mark on the agency. Strong Girls Serve painted a mural inside the facility with the help of local art therapist Meg Abbott.The group also donated a Little Free Pantry which has been installed outside the food bank.The Little Free Pantry, built by Sons of Sawdust, is like a kitchen cupboard to all. Non-perishable food donations can be placed in the Little Free Pantry and community members can take food as needed. The girls in Strong Girls Serve have big hearts for service.One of the members of Strong Girls Serve, Izzy Morgan, said that she loves everything about being a part of the group ...“from getting to hang out with amazing girls to volunteering and going different places ... service is all about doing your part in the community.”

The 2016-17 Strong Girls Serve group stands in front of their Little Free Pantry community service project outside of Athens Area Emergency Food Bank. PHOTO BY KIM TURNER

At the kick-off for Strong Girls Serve in 2016, the girls and their UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences ambassadors proudly shared their mission statement for the year. PHOTO BY KIM TURNER

Many middle school members of Strong Girls Serve have received awards and recognition at school for the fundraising and volunteer work they have done. In this way, members of the service group have set a positive example for their peers, which is one of the goals of Strong Girls Serve. Greb and Turner strive to incorporate elements of leadership into the group, while also teaching their strong girls how to work as a team. This year, Strong Girls Serve is teaming up with Project Safe, a local non-profit agency that is working to end domestic violence by providing support to victims and prevention programs to the community.The girls are volunteering at the Project Safe Thrift Store, and they will be giving presentations on healthy relationships to their peers. Maya Clement and Delaney June Brewer, two members of Strong Girls Serve, will also be participating in Project Safe’s annual event, Dancing with the Athens Stars.At this event, teams of dancers perform and compete to raise the most money for Project Safe.This will be the agency’s first year hosting a youth edition. Clement said,“I’m really excited. I’ve never done anything like this before, and this is the first time any kid has done this.” In all of their volunteer work for Project Safe and the Athens Area Emergency Food Bank, the members of Strong Girls Serve reflect a true passion for serving the Athens community.Through this service group, girls are learning how to give without expecting anything in return. Each month, they give their time to volunteer, while also putting their

energy into fundraising and other projects. “It’s important to reach out to those who are in bad situations and support them. Service means helping other people in your community without asking for anything in return because it’s the right thing to do,” Natalie Schliekelman, a Strong Girls Serve member, said. Currently, Strong Girls Serve is only open to middle school girls who apply to be a part of the group. However, Greb and Turner are looking forward to expanding the service group to elementary school girls in the future. They are enthusiastic about teaching girls of all school ages about how to kindheartedly serve their community. Strong Girls Serve is a fantastic example of how small acts of service can make a large difference in the community. Even at a young age, members of Strong Girls Serve are bringing about positive change.As they continue to devote their time and energy to lifting other people up, these girls are sure to leave their mark on local non-profit agencies and the Athens community as a whole. n Jessica Leistikow has been volunteering and interning with Strong Girls since May 2016. She is a senior majoring in Psychology with a Human Development and Family Science minor at the University of Georgia. Strong Girls’ mission to empower girls to be confident and courageous in how they love themselves and others is absolutely inspiring to her. As an aspiring professional counselor, she loves that Strong Girls not only equips girls with physical strength, but also emotional strength. She believes that the Strong Girls community is powerful because strong girls truly can change the world. 25

big hearts


By Laura Whitaker


Two things happened to me recently – my son was cast in a play and my daughter entered into her first ballet class. It’s those moments that make your heart swell as a parent. They seem like such simple moments, but they are our moments – opportunities for my children to perform, grow in their confidence and refine the little people they are now who turn into the big people they will become. Then it hit me. While I’m experiencing these proud parent moments, parents of kids of all abilities will be having their moment. Because of ESP 360, no child is turned away from after-school activities: dance, theater, art, swimming, cheerleading, karate, volunteering, crafting and sports. Just six years ago, our after-school program became a reality. Since then, hundreds of children and their parents have had their proud moments, many for the very first time. While I loved Extra Special People’s (ESP) mission when I started volunteering as a college student 14 years ago, I have fallen in love with our mission many times over since becoming a parent. As a UGA student studying special education, I learned how to create programming specifically for children of all abilities. But what we’ve created at ESP is the chance for every child to experience the thrill of after-school activities that are catered to their interests, not just their needs.

26 Athens-Oconee Parent

They deserve the learning, experiences and memories that every child has, and ESP has made that possible. On February 10, children and adults of all abilities will take the stage. They have practiced, rehearsed, planned and dreamed. Like others who have stepped out from behind the curtain to show off their talents, ESP participants will do the same. This night,“Big Hearts” is their opportunity to shine. And it’s our community’s chance to shine a spotlight on the abilities of some of our most big-hearted individuals as they leave their disabilities in the wings. The work ESP does and the support we raise from the community creates moments

At left: Our cover girl, Hannah Baird, poses on the red carpet at the 2017 Big Hearts.

where participants of all abilities have the chance to put on ballet slippers and star in a performance. While I work as Executive Director of ESP, I’m also just a mom cherishing my own kids’ childhood moments. I’m so thankful to live alongside the many heroic ESP moms and dads who have the chance to cherish these moments, too. To learn more about Extra Special People, ESP 360 and “Big Hearts,” visit www.extra specialpeople. com/big-hearts. n LauraWhitaker began as a volunteer at Extra Special People in 2003.With her passion for enhancing the lives of children with developmental disabilities and her specialized education in this field, Laura was selected as the executive director after founder Martha Wyllie’s sudden passing in 2004. Her favorite part of the job is getting to hug the many people, and especially the children, who walk through the ESP doors.

Clockwise from above: UGA cheerleaders volunteer their time and enjoy teaching ESP’s 360 after-school cheer class. ESP’s 360 fitness class members practice their frisbee toss at Harris Shoals Park. Extra Special People’s “Big Hearts” performers and contestants take a final bow and celebrate the end of the pageant. The annual event raises money for all ESP 360 after-school programs that are provided year-round. PHOTO COURTESY ESP 27

teens only

By Nishat Sial



This year, the Athens-Clarke County Library continues its revitalized after-school Teen Programming. Lead by the new Teen Services supervisor, Devera Chandler, the library now offers free programs after school Monday through Friday. Teens ages 11 to 18 can attend a wide range of cool events, from chess club to anime and from technology-based activities to crafts. All of these programs are free! As the library’s newVISTA/ AmeriCorps staffer, Nishat Sial has helped forge new partnerships with community organizations to offer education, diversity and personal development programming, and other unique activities.This collaboration helps broaden the experiences of Clarke County teens.The programs have been popular. In fact, for the month of October 2017, over 650 teens attended programs at Athens-Clarke County Library. Some of the recent collaborative programs at the library include a performance led

The Athens-Clarke County Library’s teen programming takes place Monday through Friday from 4:30-5:30. For any questions about after-school teen programming or tutoring, please contact Devera Chandler at 706-613-3650 or by email at and The Athens-Clarke County Library is located at 2025 Baxter Street,Athens, GA 30606. Please visit our website at www.athenslibrary. org/athens, like us on Facebook at 28 Athens-Oconee Parent

G AT ACC LIBRARY The Athens-Clarke County Library offers tutoring and programs just for fun and just for teens at its after-school Teen Programming.

by Canopy Studio, a UGA Law School “Goal Setting” and “Mock Trial” workshop, a “Reptile Zoo” from the UGA Herpetological Society, and a monthly series with UGA Eco-reach. In addition to traditional programs, a group of UGA student and community members volunteers to tutor middle and high school students on a weekly basis for free at the Athens-Clarke County Library. Subjects covered include English/Language Arts, Writing, Math, Social Studies, Science, and even SAT/ACT prep. In 2018, teens can look forward to new programs with new partner organizations. Look for events to help teens plan for successful futures including a financial planning course led by UGA Cooperative Extension, and a resume building workshop by Athens Career Academy. n Nishat Sial is a recent graduate from the University of Georgia and is serving her first term as an AmeriCorps VISTA. She loves being a part of the Athens-Clarke County Community and is passionate about creating positive community change. 29

’til we meet again

Kids love to see their picture, and you’ll love the keepsake! Send your photos and info to facebook at Athens-Oconee Parent Magazine

Lileigh, 7 months

Tyler, 8, and Kylie, 5

Parks, 20 months

Maggie, 20 months

Niala, 4, and Jamari, 1

Brooklyn, 14 months

Campbell, 2

Ripley 3, Colt 2, Trey 10, and Jacob 11

Colt, 2

Vann, 4

Please support our advertisers who make this FREE family resource possible! Alice DePass Studio of Dance 3

Heather McElroy/Berkshire Hathaway 3

Oconee Health Department 9

St. Mary’s Health Care System 2

Athens Academy 13

Jennings Mill Drug Company 18

Play Wisely 23

Starry, Starry Night 31

Athens Dentistry for Children 3

Linder & Linder Family Dentistry 25

Prince Avenue Christian School 15

Waugh & Allen 20

Athens Family Vision/Dr. Springer 13

Manning Brothers 23

Pump It Up 4

Westminster Christian Academy 29

Clarke County School District 26

Mars Hill Preschool Academy 28

Rush Trampoline Park 32

Women’s Center of Athens 11

First Presbyterian Weekday School 15

Newell Orthodontics 28

Southern Spa 11

Women’s Healthcare Associates 18

Harmony In Motion 25

Oconee County Parks & Recreation 27

St. Joseph Catholic Parish School 21

WoW Boot Camp 21

30 Athens-Oconee Parent

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.