Quakerdale on Education

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By Rachel Faircloth

Wolfe_Ranch_educationEducation can be found in many shapes and forms.  From Family Services to Equine Assisted therapy, education is incorporated into all of Quakerdale’s services.  Quakerdale has three key components: Prevention, Education, and Support.  All three help improve the whole person and are dependent on each other.  Executive director, Rob Talbot explains how prevention ties into education, “If you are going to prevent yourself from having problems, if you want to prevent others from having problems, they need to have the skills and the knowledge to put that into life experience.  If you don’t know any differently, you can’t do any differently.”  Support is tied together with education and is incorporated by opportunity.  “We try to provide opportunities for people to grow,” said Rob Talbot.  Prevention, Education, and Support all work together to help provide people with opportunities to grow and learn while gaining life experience.

MCCamp_educationMobile Camp is a free camp for children that mix Bible lessons with high energy activities.  Mobile Camp director, Jason Kinney, says the main goal of Mobile camp is that all campers realize it is okay to be themselves.  “They are loved unconditionally.  They are loved for the way they are, I think that’s the biggest thing we try to promote.”  Mobile Camp incorporates education through action.  “A lot of what we teach is shown through our lives and shown through the way we interact with our kids,” explained Kinney.  The value of a Christian education and the lessons learned at Mobile Camp are both priceless.

Quakerdale offers a wide range of family services that all include educational aspects.  Beth Andrew describes how she uses education when working with clients.  “We help try and educate them on their own strengths, their own resources as well as what got them into that crisis so that we can potentially help them learn other ways to avoid that crisis in the future.”  Family services focuses on seeing how everyone contributes to something and educates people on how their actions affect others.

Child Welfare Emergency Services covers 14 Iowa counties and its goal is to teach, role model, and educate parents and children.  Peg DeArmond explains how this program is centered around education.  “Shelter facilities for the time that we have the kids, are trying to role model and teach kids to make better choices, to think before they act, to understand the bigger consequences of their behaviors, communications skills, anger management skills, aggression replacement skills…it’s all about teaching people, educating people.”  Child Welfare Emergency Services teaches new skills to parents and children so they can handle situations in a healthy manner.

One of Quakerdale’s newer programs is Hope4Healing.  Hope4Healing is “a partnership of individuals, churches, organizations, agencies, across the state of Iowa that have a desire to help people in their local communities.  It is a resource assistance network,” according to Hope4Healing administrator, Ryan Keller.  Education is the main aspect to Hope4Healing.  It educates the person on different organizations to take advantage of and it introduces them to a church.  It educates the church on the needs of their community and it educates organizations to help them strengthen their services.  “The main goal is to connect people to a community,” said Keller.

Promise_Academy_BoysEducation is everything to the Eagle Basketball program.  “Education is more important than basketball,” according to head coach Dwayne Melton.  Education is something no one can take from you and is something you earn which makes it that much more beneficial.  Education is everything to the Promise Academy as well.  The Promise Academy is made up of “learning communities that connect learning with life application or experiences,” explained Larry Ketcham.  “What that means to our students is, in reality, an opportunity, lots of opportunities to make changes, to grow, to try on things, behaviors they have not been able to try on before in a safe environment.”   The Promise Academy focuses on educating the whole student: mind, body, and spirit.

Education can be seen throughout every program and service that Quakerdale offers.  It can be through Bible stories at Mobile Camp, through an educational environment such as the Promise Academy, or by working with the horses at Wolfe Ranch.  No matter the program, big or small, education is involved and impacting the lives of all those involved.


See the full video interviews below!

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Tatum Cottage: Mentoring Students in Life and Academics

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– Excerpts from an interview with Dean Kruger, Director of Tatum Cottage
by Dan Smith on April 2nd, 2015

DAN– I’m here with Dean Kruger. Can you to give us an idea of what your role is here and its function in the Academy and with the Tatum boys?

DEAN – I’m the dorm director for Tatum Cottage. I’ve been here for almost five years. My role is to mentor the students in their growth, maturity, and their academic performance. We measure this with goals in their residential educational plan. I keep track of their pacing to make sure they’re getting enough work done as we go through the school year. And then we do other projects, we do service learning. We work on the campus. We plant trees. Historically, we clean up the front of the White Center in the spring so it’s ready; we get the old stuff out so the new stuff can grow in behind it.

DAN – So why is the service learning component of your mentoring process important? How are the boys benefiting?

Boys at Round Table (2013_01)
Discussion around the table in Broer

DEAN – The one thing we offer, that a lot of other programs don’t offer, is for them to have a chance to accomplish something and have a sense of pride and self awareness after a job well done. It gives them that sense of accomplishment, and that good feeling that goes with it. A lot of programs are very structured and everything is spoon-fed to them, they don’t really have to make a lot of choices or decisions. A lot of stuff is predetermined for them. Here, we give them the freedom to choose. If they make a mistake, they might lose something; they might lose a privilege for a while. It’s a natural consequence. If you’re not doing well in school, then you don’t get to enjoy as many things at fun time.

The service learning component connects to our bigger goal of building a community. By helping out whenever we’re needed, wherever we can, it teaches the boys a sense of community. It teaches them to be aware that there are others around us and that they have needs too. Every now and again, we have needs, and people help us. We have to pay that back, or pay it forward as it were. Maybe we have to initiate something. We see a need, we address it and down the line, somebody may see that we have a need and they may help us out.

DAN – I noticed that you’ve currently got a project that you have the boys working on. What is that project and how does it fit in with this model?

DEAN – This project is a fundraiser. Guys want to do stuff. They get an allowance, and they get an extra amount of money each month for an activity. But a couple of movies pretty much wipes it out. So if they want to do something on a bigger scale, like go to Adventureland, or the State Fair, all that stuff costs more money than they have. They really like kayaking. Once a year we go kayaking down the Iowa River for an afternoon. All special events cost about a couple hundred dollars each, with tickets, or with canoe rentals. You don’t want to go to Adventureland with just a $10 allowance. This fundraiser gives them a nice bonus so they can go down there and really enjoy Adventureland. If you have to go down there with just $10 dollars, it will last you maybe an hour, if you’re really good at what you do. It’s the same with the State Fair. There are games, and there are things they want to do that cost extra money. So they’ll go do games and stuff for an hour or two, they’ll take a break and do something that doesn’t require a lot of money. Then they’ll do something that does require some money. They’ll take another break. We’ll eat. We spend the day. We have gone to a couple Christian Concerts at the State Fair. Those things will also cost extra money.

But probably the biggest thing that we do with the funds that we raise is buy Christmas presents for their families. If they don’t have a lot of resources, these funds allow them to go home at Christmas with gifts wrapped up and ready to go. They don’t have to ask mom and dad for money. They can take care of all that on their own, and they’ve earned it. And once again, they get that sense of accomplishment; I did this, and I did this. They’re given a budget. There is a certain amount of their Christmas money that they’re required to spend on others. If they are efficient with their dollars and everything works out, sometimes they have a few extra dollars. Then they can get themselves something nice too. So that’s what we do with this program.

This fundraiser is a partnership with the city of New Providence. It’s part of our service learning. We assist them with the flowers that they put out along their street every year. They’re known for having beautiful flowers along Main Street. We have a greenhouse, so rather than putting the flowers in somebody’s garage or in several locations, they bring everything to us. We get everything planted the way they want it and we help them with the watering. By the first week in May, they can put their baskets out and they already have flowers. It’s far more cost effective for the city than to go buy them every year. We buy the supplies and build what we want, and they nurture it through the year.

DAN – Are there multiple sizes of flowers or is there just one size?

In the greenhouse
In the greenhouse

DEAN – No, we have one size of flower that we offer. We’ve done the math. If we do so many baskets, if we charge this much, we might see a net in our recreation fund of so many dollars. The number of baskets we do has grown. I think we did twenty the first year. We will do forty baskets this year; twenty-four of which are already committed to people who bought from us last year. So the guys, they do the work, they get the planters ready, they get the soil, they plant the plants, they water the plants, they do all the things that need to be done. If you went to the store, you wouldn’t buy what could be a plant in a couple of weeks, you’d buy what’s already a plant. So that’s what we do. We’re basically a turn-key hanging basket operation. When we hand it over to the person who bought it, it looks beautiful right then and there.

DAN – What is the cost of your baskets?

DEAN – We charge $30. We use a Supertunia. This year’s colors are coral and violet. Those colors complement each other very well. The plants are paired in such a way so that one won’t dominate another. You won’t end up with six pink flowers and seventy-five purple flowers. You get a really nice mix of flowers and color. And the flowers actually grow all the way up and over the side of the basket. So if it’s a hanging basket, by Mother’s Day a lot of the hanging basket will actually be covered, and by Memorial Day you can’t see the baskets. They come up and over the sides. There are hundreds of flowers on these baskets.

DAN – If the cost is $30 per basket, how much of that actually goes into the boy’s fund for their activities?

DEAN – It depends. It’s hard to say by plants. We have some people that buy in large volume and they get a little discount. We try to keep what it costs us at 40%. The first year we only made 40%. The second year we made 45%. This year we’re trying to drive a few more dollars to the students. We’ve sourced things a little differently so our costs are going down. We should be able to keep our costs at 40%. Our prices haven’t gone up since we started the project; the $30 cost is the same as it was at its inception.

DAN – It sounds to me like you are exposing the boys to a business model with this. Are the boys involved in selecting the vendors for the product?

DEAN – We tend to go with what the city does. That way it’s far less confusing. We don’t have to keep track of whose plants are whose, or who has what colors. By keeping that all consistent, it’s a much easier system, it’s simpler. The boys do have an idea of net versus gross revenue because when we go pay for all the supplies, they go along and they see how big of a check we have to write. They also go to the bank when we deposit the income checks. So they can see the net; the difference in what we spent and what we earned.

DAN – If somebody wanted one of these baskets, how would they contact you?

DEAN – We have sixteen left to sell. We’re going to be planting next week. People can contact Christine Balvanz here at our New Providence campus. They can call or email her. She is helping with this project this year. She’s going to help see it through to its finish. She’s stepping in and helping out.

DAN – To contact Christine, call (641) 497-5297 or email her at CBalvanz@Quakerdale.org. Be sure to mention that you’re interested in the Tatum Cottage Supertunia flower baskets. Thank you Dean.

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PREVENTION: How It’s Seen at the Promise Academy, Dwayne Melton

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– Excerpts from an interview with Dwayne Melton, Head Coach, Eagles Basketball (February 18, 2015)

DAN: Okay, let’s talk about Prevention. One of the main foundational fibers of the Quakerdale experience is Prevention; Prevention, Education, and Support. So, can you talk a little about Prevention; what it means? How you’ve seen its importance when you’re trying to grow these young men in the basketball program.

DWAYNE: Prevention is a very strong and broad term, when used for us in the basketball world, here at Quakerdale, and in any prep-school across the country. We’re trying to prevent kids that go on to play college basketball from not lasting. A lot of kids will be fortunate to make it to college to play basketball, but they won’t be fortunate enough to stay. Here at Quakerdale, we try to prevent them from not getting released. One way is by building their character. While they are here, they participate in community service projects. Things like picking up trash, or helping somebody shovel their driveway. That’s part of character building. Let’s say you go to college and somebody asks you, “Hey, I need help taking out this garbage.” You know that you are not above taking out the garbage because you learned in prep-school that it’s okay to help.

Another prevention skill would be not being physically able to deal with it. College basketball is a step faster and you have to be a lot stronger. If you’re not ready for it, it will pass you by. And at prep-school, how we prevent the kids from getting passed by is we prepare them physically. We put them in the weight room. We have a strong schedule where they’re getting that experience in learning. We don’t want them wasting their time and a year of eligibility at a university because they weren’t prepared physically.

Then there’s prevention as far as finances. In a year, a kid could spend as much as $40,000 in tuition at a university. Why not spend less than half of that here for that same experience and also saving a year of eligibility? Prevention is a great tool for prep-schools because of what we offer.

DAN: Can you give us some examples of how you might use some day-to-day activities or things in your practices or life at the cottage?

DWAYNE: When the kids for 2015-2016 first all get in, I’ll pull out some tape, some game film of the 2014-15 group. I will show them how this is the reason why we weren’t successful at times because we didn’t prevent this from happening. We knew it was going to happen, but we didn’t prevent it. This is how you can be better. In the basketball part to start off with, what I do is I visually show them what they’re going to go up against; people that are bigger, or people that are faster. Then I show them how they can play with them, how they can be on the same basketball court as them if you do these certain things. So the first step would be visual.

Then the next step would be practice, teaching them. Defensively, when you tell a player, “Go play defense,” you don’t tell him to just run out there and just go play defense. You teach him defense by getting him in a good defensive stance, get his feet spread wide and his weight on the balls of his feet, not on his heels. You want his arms spread out wide so his hands and arms are in the passing lane. That way he keeps his opponent in front of him and doesn’t let them go around him. That’s one way that I use prevention in basketball, just showing them, the visual part of it. This is how you can prevent losing. This is how you can prevent getting beat.

As far as in the cottage, we prevent them from going to school, to a university and getting in so much trouble because they don’t know how to clean up after themselves. I was a student athlete myself and I saw so many guys get into trouble because they just couldn’t keep their hallway clean, or they couldn’t keep their bed or their dorm room clean. So at Quakerdale, we keep the student athletes responsible for maintaining a clean environment at the cottage. I have them do chores. I have them clean up their room every week. Before we get on the road, each player’s room has to be clean. And I do room checks before we hit the road. You don’t want to come back and have critters running all around the house. So that’s a way I prevent that in the house, the cleanliness.

DAN: Thank you Dwayne. We look forward to hearing about your continued success preparing young men for college, for basketball, and for life.

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PREVENTION: How It’s Seen at Van Orman House

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android-chrome-192x192– Excerpts from an interview with Randy Edgar, Director

DAN: We’re on the phone this morning with Randy Edgar, Director of Van Orman House. We’re going to continue our conversation across Quakerdale about prevention. Quakerdale has identified three foundational fibers that we try to incorporate in all of our ministries agency wide. One is prevention, the other one’s education, and the final one is support. And so this morning we’re going to visit with Randy a little bit and talk about how prevention is an important component at Van Orman. So, Randy, welcome. Glad to have you here this morning.

RANDY: Thank you.

DAN: Randy, as you take a look at working with women who want to build a new life, what role does prevention play? What are some things that you have seen in these ladies lives that highlight how important it is to incorporate prevention at Van Orman?

RANDY: Most of the women that we’re dealing with, the biggest simple thing we found in each one of them is the lack of self esteem. I am trying to train and put self worth back in them, importance back in them, and to get them to believe they can achieve. In the different classes, in watching them progress through those courses, if they run the course, I love watching them little-by-little get faith as different accomplishments happen. Their faces say, “Yeah, I can do that. Yeah, I can do that!” So I think the loss of self esteem is a huge thing to prevent. I don’t know if you’d call it an illness or what I would call it, Dan, but most of the women have been beat down; beat down and left for nothing. They don’t think they’re worth anything.

DAN: So prevention plays a big role in making sure that they don’t have the wrong view of themselves, and don’t look at themselves too lowly, and don’t allow themselves to get into situations where they could be abused or taken advantage of because of poor self esteem?

RANDY: Right. Society’s not necessarily agreeing with what I’m trying to teach them. Society is teaching them that they’re not going to be worth anything. Choosing the right type of people to be around and have in their lives is very important. When you choose the wrong groups to run with, and that’s all you know all your life, and that’s who your family’s always running with, and maybe your family’s not the greatest group either, you don’t know any different. And that’s the type of people they just seem to cling to and hang with. They need to try to break that curse or chain, but trying to break that generational thing, They’ve been brought up this way from generation, to generation, to generation, and it’s got to take Jesus, because we cannot do it on our own. So that’s where we start; getting them to believe in Jesus, and then to believe in themselves.

DAN: So, give us a little idea of how you use prevention to help build good and healthy habits. How does that work?

RANDY: The people that we get have been interviewed. Through the interview process when they come in, and it is pretty extensive, I want to hear that they want change. I don’t want them just to think that this a shelter. I explain to them what the program’s going to be and how intensive it’s going to be so they are not surprised when they get there. The way we’re going about it is by education. I try to keep their minds off to much thinking, and to keep their minds filled with Christ-like thoughts. We have a very structured schedule of classes: Bible study, topical classes with homework, they have Bible reading classes, they have nighttime Bible study classes, they have online college courses, and we try to get them their GED if they don’t have it.

We also get them into what kind of career they want. A lot of the girls already have their GEDs, they just never got any further. Either they had children along the way and now they’re tied down to that house. Or maybe it’s an abusive husband, or maybe an addiction that’s got in the way. We encourage them and we get them hooked up with Iowa State Extension. Sometimes we get them hooked up with continued education here in town. We actually get them out to the college. There’s grant money available for them to go to college. We also do online classes right from here. You see the smiles on their faces when they start making some of those accomplishments. Because up to that time, it had just been dreams and talks that they never thought could happen.

So trying to keep them occupied and their minds occupied is very important. The longer they sit around they can fall back into that old mindset of worthlessness. And the first time something bad happens, that devil throws something bad at them, they want to give up and run and do the same reaction as they always have. Teaching them how to handle every one of life’s situations through Biblical answers is a key for us. We stay focused on that. And that’s why it’s important to have the Christian ladies there all the time that work with them, whether they be volunteers, or a resident assistant. Having somebody there that these young ladies can go to when they want to talk. And after they get to trust a little bit, they do. I think the key is to keep them loaded down with good work towards their next right steps.

DAN: Well, Randy, thank you so much. I appreciate not only you, but also the ministry of Van Orman. And we are excited to see what the Lord’s going to do to continue to help these women build great lives, not only for themselves, but also for their family and their children.


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