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Help Your Community For Free

Help Your Community For Free Joseph Purpura.png

When I mention the phrase “help your community”, what do you picture? Maybe you think about going door to door, asking for donations. Or, you might think of a school-funded car wash. Whatever you’re imagining, chances are it centers around money. Although providing money to those in need is helpful, there are other ways we can help those in need, even when our budget is tight. These are just a few of the easiest, free ways you can help your community.

Cleaning Homes

Although most of us have our Spring cleaning done, you might notice your home could use another good scrub. Do you know who else noticed their home’s dust build-up? The elderly person living down the street. Most of us know a few people who struggle to get their homes clean, so try offering a hand. Not everyone will be receptive of this help, but those who are will be thankful that you stopped by.

Offer Your Car

We all know someone who relies on public transportation, walking, or riding a bicycle everywhere. This can be difficult on people who need to travel far distances, or who need to go shopping. Rather than letting these people lug their bags everywhere and risk getting robbed, offer to take them where they need to go. Although this may take you a bit out of the way, it will also be a huge relief to those you are helping.

Help A Sick Neighbor

Have you ever had a neighbor who tried to do everything they normally do right after surgery? Some people are stubborn, but will accept help if it is offered. If you know someone is sick or in recovery, you could offer to do their yard work, cook for them, or even take them to appointments. Older people in particular need help, as many times they are alone and don’t have the resources to help them out. No matter what the case, offering your services will help your neighbor heal much faster.

Helping your community does not have to be difficult or expensive. In most cases, helping is as simple as offering help where help is needed. Before committing to a lazy Saturday or an evening in, see if you can spend that time helping someone in your community.

From JosephPurpura.net

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Being An Impactful Teacher

Being An Impactful Teacher Joseph Purpura.png

One of the best things about being an educator is making a difference in my students’ lives. Every educator goes into the field for some reason, but most of us just want to make a difference. Whether you’re a preschool teacher or a college professor, these are a few ways teachers can make a difference in their students’ education and lives.

Tutoring

Telling students to see a tutor is not successful in many cases. Their parents may not be able to afford a private tutor, and free tutoring services are not available everywhere. Rather than relying on someone else to tutor your students, offer to tutor the students who really need it. You can speak with the principal and see if there can be an after-school tutoring session where kids who need a little extra help can get it. You may also want to enlist your peers to help, especially if you are teaching the same subjects. Small group sessions can allow for more one-on-one time, as well as a more inclusive environment, helping students feel comfortable and open to learning.

Emotional Support

Particularly for teens and young adults, having authority figures who understand their emotions is crucial for success in school. If you notice a student is struggling when they normally excel, or if you witness troubling behavior, reach out to the student and see if there is anything you can do. Make sure to report any interaction to your supervisor, as a situation may escalate beyond your control, and having a record will help moving forward. If you think the student will not open up to you, refer them to a counselor and, if possible, offer to introduce them. Students will not be able to learn unless they feel safe and secure, and that includes emotionally.

Abuse Signs

It’s an unfortunately part of the job, but many teachers all over the country come in contact with signs of abuse at some point. While physical signs are often easy to detect, keep an eye out for unusual behavior from your students. For elementary and middle school teachers, watch for detached children. Likewise, overly-attached children should be watched carefully. Teens in high school may be abused at home or in a relationship, and college-aged students are more likely to be involved in domestic abuse as well. If you notice something, you must say something (it’s the law), but make sure to stay alert to behavior that could tip you off to abuse. Helping someone get out of an abusive situation is one of the best things you can do for them.

Being a teacher is more than spouting off facts to a class. Being a teacher means looking out for the best interests of your students, and that often means going above and beyond your daily duties. Rather than being a teacher who only teacher, be a teacher who makes a difference in your students’ lives.

From JosephPurpura.org

Spring Cleaning For Charity

Spring Cleaning For Charity Joseph Purpura.png

Spring is finally underway, and that means one thing: it’s time to clean! People all over the world take spring as an opportunity to get rid of their old clothes, repair broken keepsakes, and clean their house from top to bottom. However, did you know that there are ways you can help charity while spring cleaning? Some of these options are quite common, while others are often forgotten. Still, these are a few of my favorite ways to help charity, especially in the spring.

Donate Old Clothes

Donating old clothes is not a new concept. Many families pass clothes between children as hand-me-downs, and others will donate to charity organizations. Most people hoard their clothes without thinking about it, so take the time this spring to go through your entire wardrobe. Realistically consider how often you wear that sweater or those shorts. Some people find that turning their clothing hangers the opposite way when you wear something gives an idea of which clothes you neglect. No matter how you go about your cleaning, make sure your unused items end up in someone else’s hands.

Yard Sale

Yard sales are common across the country, and this is a perfect opportunity to donate to charity. Many families find themselves with a random assortment of old objects, from furniture to DVDs and beyond. If you live in a busy, yard saling area, you may find that all of your items are sold after a weekend. So, after you’ve made back some money, how does this help charity? You can give your proceeds to an organization that needs them. Think about it: the point of a yard sale is usually to make a few bucks off of unwanted items, not to earn a substantial income. Unless you really need the cash, consider making the generous choice and donating whatever you make to a charity.

Offload Your Pantry

Many people spring clean because they are looking to move this year. This gives you a great reason to go through your pantries and get rid of any moldy or expired food. However, if you are moving sooner rather than later, you may also want to get rid of some extra non-expired cans of food or other non-perishable food items. Food pantries are always looking for supplies, and they would be more than happy to take the burden off of you while you move. Plus, this may be the only time you give to a food pantry without having to run to the grocery store.

If you plan to spring clean this season, consider whether there is some way you could donate in the process. These are just a few quick and easy ways to make a difference, but there are many other options you could choose to pursue. Although spring is a lively time of the year, keep in mind that people still need your help. Why not give back with your spring cleaning?

From JosephPurpura.net

A Teacher’s Plan For Struggling Students

A Teacher's Plan For Struggling Students Joseph Purpura.png

As an educator, it is unfortunate that not every child receives a high standard of education. Upon leaving high school, students around the country are a mixed bag, and professors are often the ones in charge of finding a solution. Although we cannot get through to every student that passes through our doors, we can try. These are the steps I suggest every educator take to give their students the best chance at succeeding in a failing system.

Respect

Many students did not achieve to their greatest potential in high school, because they did not feel respected. Often, a lack of respect comes from family or peers, but it can also come from teachers themselves. If you give respect to all of your students, no matter their situation, you will get through, even to a small extent. Keep in mind that giving respect does not mean giving everyone an A, but rather, it’s speaking to someone as though they are your peer, not your inferior.

Identify

Once your students open up, either through discussion or assignments, you should easily identify where each student struggles. Some weak points may be more pronounced than others, but I suggest taking some notes, so you have an idea of what should be covered. Tracking trends in students over time can also identify potential disabilities that could prevent a student from succeeding.

Connect

It is unfortunate that some students, when offered help, will not accept it. Still, many students are open to help, but are apprehensive to ask for it. Provide a private, non-confrontational way for students to reach out for help. Doing so will allow students to feel safe and comfortable, rather than weak or stupid. You also can reach out to students if you have a good rapport with them, and they may appreciate the sentiment.

Plan

Once you have a student who is ready for help, come up with a plan to tackle the issues you identified. Ask for their point of view and see what part of the process was difficult for them. Then, come up with some exercises, or an alternate explanation of the material. You could suggest pairing them up with a student who excels, but many will not take to this. It does not matter what you do, as long as your student is able to improve.

While professors teaching remedial or general education courses can most utilize this strategy to undo prior improper education, any professor can follow these steps to help tutor a student in new material. It is important to remember that you will not get through to everyone, but helping even one student makes a difference in the future. As an educator, this is what I strive to do, and I believe most educators want the same.

From JosephPurpura.org

Pass Along Your Blessings

Pass Along Your Blessings Joseph Purpura.png

Each of us has experienced a time where a stranger has gone out of their way to help us in a time of need. We are never prepared to receive such kindness, but it serves as a reminder that blessings do exist. Many people wish they had a way to repay these acts, but they cannot think of an appropriate solution. It is my belief, however, that the best way to repay kindness is to pass it along. The next time you receive help from someone you do not know, try one of these acts to pass along the blessings.

Pay For The Next Customer

This one is as simple as it is popular. A great way to make someone’s day is by paying for their coffee order. There have been stories of hundreds of people paying for the next person’s order at drive thrus. You could, with some help from the cashier, do this in a store, as well. In fact, there are few places you could not do this. It may not cost a ton, but it will surely make someone happy.

Have Dinner With The Homeless

How many times have you seen homeless people begging for food? Yes, there are people panhandling when they have no need, but some people genuinely could use a burger and fries. Next time you see a homeless person, ask them if they would like to have dinner with you. You don’t have to go somewhere expensive; there is probably a cheap fast food place somewhere in the vicinity. Sit down, talk with them, and help them feel cared for. Make sure they eat and let them choose what they would like. Some people are down on their luck for reasons beyond their control, and they will always remember this act of compassion.

Offer Help To Those In Need

Have you ever seen a person with a flat tire, looking around hopelessly? How about someone stranded on the side of the road with a broken-down car? These are the people who could use an extra hand, even if you aren’t handy. Ask if the person would like some help, and if you have experience with the problem, let them know. Many people will deny help, but the act of offering your assistance will stick with them. However, plan to follow through until the end if you do offer. Not only is it the noble thing to do, it will also mean a lot to the person you helped.

Receiving blessings reminds us that God is watching out for us. Passing along our blessings is a great way to bring God’s love into our daily lives. Next time you have the opportunity, pass along your blessings to someone else who could use them.

From JosephPurpura.org

Differences Between Teaching Adults, Teens, and Children

Differences Between Teaching Adults, Teens, and Children Joseph Purpura.png

Teaching is a difficult profession that requires patience and adaptability. Each class presents their own quirks and challenges, but these often vary by age. Any new teacher must decide which age range they prefer teaching, and this can be difficult without experience. Today, I will reflect on the differences between teaching adults, teens, and children so you are able to make an informed decision before pursuing higher education.

Children

Let’s begin with the youngest of our groups. Children in school are typically between the ages of 4-12. There is significant development during this time, and encounters with unprofessional teachers can leave an impact on them when venturing into middle school and beyond. Teaching elementary-aged students requires an incomprehensible amount of patience, for numerous reasons. The first is the lack of maturity. Children often pick up habits from their caretakers, and repeat them without considering the consequences. If you teach a child whose parent bullies them, you may see a bully in the classroom. A spoiled child may expect the same behavior from you. We cannot control how parents raise their children, so teachers of this age must expect the absolute worst, and realize that getting through to these kids may be more difficult than they anticipated. The second reason is a concentration of energy; when have you ever seen a group of kids that could all sit still? The third is the severity of consequences placed on teachers who discipline their class. Teachers may find more success reforming children’s behavior, rather than punishing them for it.

Teens

Teens, on the other hand, require patience for other reasons. Teens can act unusual, as they are discovering their identity and must try to find what works. You may also encounter more intense behavioral problems, clique formation, and a lack of respect for authority. However, teens also have a better ability to reason, so there is a good chance you can talk through problems with your students, rather than resorting to time-outs or other punishments.

Adults

Where you see a huge departure is with adults. Unless you are teaching a general education requirement, most of the students in your classes will be there because they enjoy the subject. You have a great opportunity here — you can either make the class engaging, or you can make it boring. Your students will react appropriately. While you don’t have to pretend to be their age, it can also help to relate to them in some way. The biggest problem when teaching adults is the lack of motivation. Without strict boundaries, like those in high school, students can care more about their social life than their classes. However, there will always be a few good students each semester who make the position worthwhile.

Children, teens, and adults are significantly different in terms of maturity and habits, so it is no wonder that teaching them varies just as much. While each offers many positives, there are also negatives to keep in mind. No matter what you decide, be sure to thoroughly think about what every day may look like for you, and whether you have decided to teach the right age group.

From JosephPurpura.org

Teen SOYO and the Pennsylvania Special Olympics

Teen SOYO SOAD

For many years, I have served Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, which includes overseeing Teen SOYO, an organization of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America that aims to teach teens how to live a spiritually fulfilling life with God. One of our biggest commitments is to show teens how to serve others in the name of Jesus Christ. In the late 1970s, Teen SOYO formed a partnership with the Pennsylvania Special Olympics, through the good work Dr. Anthony Bashir’s relationship to Eunice Kennedy Shriver (the founder of the Special Olympics). Today, I would like to highlight some facts about this partnership, as well as the work our teens have done, all in the name of Christ and the Church.

In 1979, teen leaders in our Youth Movement felt a strong urge to reach out and support the community. The teens themselves recommended providing a week of camp to the Special Olympic Athletes of the state of Pennsylvania. Through the desire of the teens to serve and gift this opportunity to the Special Olympic Athletes and the good work of Dr. Basir and the openness of the Shriver family a relationship that has last all these years was born, and we quickly established the partnership that has lasted nearly 40 years.

The SOYO youth movement, along with leaders of Special Olympics, decided we would host a week-long training camp that would cater to participants of the various events. Our teens would provide all of the financial costs of the one week camp, and most importantly, our teens would serve as counselors and other staff members, collaborating with the camp staff already in place. Although our teens were all eager to begin this camp, we had to wait until 1980 to officially begin hosting.

Throughout the years, we have worked hard and overcame struggles with hosting. There were times where our fundraising efforts (necessary for the camp to continue) were not producing the results we needed. At first, our church planned to fundraise as Teen SOYO without mention of Special Olympics. However, after we made our partnership clear, we quickly began to raise enough money to operate. For Special Olympics Awareness Day, our teens created a video asking for help, which was shared with several parishes. Our organized efforts worked much better than they had before.

This past summer, Teen SOYO hosted its 36th Special Olympics training camp, and in October we held our 37th Special Olympics Awareness Day. Every year, we are blessed to have a group of volunteers who eagerly anticipate to reaching out to others and sharing the love of Christ through their acts. We look forward to continuing this tradition this year, and for many years to come.

Please check out https://teensoyo.org/special-olympics/ for more information.

From JosephPurpura.net