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Monarch Teacher To Tour Honduras
One of Monarch’s very own, Richard Klein, was selected out of a group of applicants to tour Honduras as part of Heifer International’s Study Tour for Educators program.  This opportunity was created by Heifer especially for educators and is scheduled for early to mid-July 2007.  Heifer International is an organization whose mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and to care for the earth.  They do this by “passing on the gift.”  As people share their animals’ offspring with others – along with their knowledge, resources, and skills – an expanding network of hope, dignity, and self-reliance is created that reaches around the globe.

Most of Mr. Klein’s experience over the last 22 years has been at schools that focus on student-based learning, as opposed to teacher-driven lessons.  He has found that his most successful lessons are working with students in outdoor settings, with plants and animals, water and soil, sun and fresh air. 
Mr. Klein first introduced the concept of Heifer International in his classroom a few years ago, when he recognized the need for hands-on opportunities for the students, as well as opportunities for them to work together as a team.  Through the program and curriculum, the students have learned about other countries in an innovative way, while making a difference outside the classroom.  One of the activities in which the students, in conjunction with Heifer volunteers, have participated is to staff booths at the 2006 and 2007 Bioneers conferences in Houston.  Next year, Mr. Klein hopes to get the students involved at the Houston Zoo on Educator’s Day, and have them participate in an alternative gift fair at a local church.  Recently, they set up a booth at a local farmer's market to educate the public about ending hunger, and he plans to repeat that activity monthly.

Mr. Klein hopes to bring some of his Honduras experiences into the classroom.  He plans to present a documentary of his trip to his students, and to collect data from water samples while he is there as an addition to Monarch's ongoing water sampling work.

We are proud of Mr. Klein for being selected for this honor, and wish him the best of luck on his journey!

 We're On The Air!

Our long-time goal to host our own radio show has come to fruition in “The Monarch Hour,” which first aired on April 5, from noon till one on KPFT, 90.1. And what an adventure it’s been!

Marion DeFalco, the facilitator of the Heralds, a committee of the Monarch Movers & Shapers volunteer group, did a great job making first contact, and our relationship with KPFT grew from there. We invited Ernesto Aguilar, Program Director, to visit Monarch. He graciously accepted, and brought with him Luke Jones, a 14-year-old who produces his own radio program. Together they provided Challenger students with an introduction to radio broadcasting, and gave each student the opportunity to practice speaking on the air by responding to the question, “What would you do if you were President?” The answers ranged from thoughtful and insightful (Work harder to bring world peace) to fun and silly (Free ice cream for everyone!).

Mr. Aguilar’s invitation to produce our own radio show for KPFT was music to our ears! We immediately began preparing for the show: learning about radio broadcasting, planning the hour and inviting guests.

We decided to focus on Tourette’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for our first “Monarch Hour.” We began with a great introduction to Monarch by Dr. Webb, and then welcomed three panelists for interview and call-in discussion. Providing a clinical perspective, Dr. Bryant Shaw, director of the Monarch Diagnostic Clinic, shared good information and counseled callers in a gentle and caring way. Michael Conway, who is the director of Camp du Ballon Rouge, an enriching weekend experience for youth with Tourette’s Syndrome, shared his experience of having Tourette’s and OCD as an adult, and how it has affected his friendships, work, and dating. Our third panelist was Adam Farris, currently enrolled in Monarch’s Post-graduate Program. Adam shared the struggles that he has faced as a result of Tourette’s and OCD, and was very encouraging to youth facing the same issues.

Periodic musical breaks were taken, during which listeners were treated to songs written by artists with Tourette’s and OCD, such as Nick Tatham, a recording artist from the UK, who has Tourette’s and sings about his experiences in songs such as “Different.”

In a segment focusing on Challenger’s Environmental Education program, Monarch students, Zak Vierek and Derrick Steed were interviewed by Richard Klein, Monarch teacher. Their humorous presentation included chicken clucking sound effects and a great impression of Don LaFontaine, the deep voice you hear so often narrating movie trailers. The students described the many ways that Challengers learn about and work to preserve and support the environment, including organic egg sales, tending the Butterfly garden at Houston Zoo, using a bicycle as a generator for a computer, and their work with Heifer International and Bioneers.

Monarch Parent Jonathan Etterbeek came next, with  a strong appeal for better support for military families with children who have neurological differences. The editorial stressed the importance of a permanent site for these children, and how Monarch has made a big difference in the lives of his children, two of which attend Monarch.

After the editorial, Will Maywald and Chris Humberg-Meaux, current Monarch students with  OCD and Tourette’s, fielded more questions from the studio audience. Will shared that some aspects of OCD have been positive in his life, helping him to have a neater appearance. Chris shared his appreciation of Adam Farris, Monarch graduate, who has served as a mentor for Chris and helped him learn to ignore others when they make fun of his Tourette’s.

Dr. Webb closed the hour by sharing with the audience the exciting developments in Monarch’s preparation to build a new school on property donated by Metro National, and the fall opening of the new Monarch school in Guatemala.

If you missed this broadcast, you can listen to a recording here:

What an exciting opportunity for Monarch staff, students and parents to serve the community with important information about neurological differences. Mark your calendars for our next broadcast on July 9!