We have heard from so many of you this week as both our teachers and our students have worked hard to adjust to the challenges and blessings of our transition to online learning. We wanted to share with you some words of encouragement that we have received and also say THANK YOU to our WCCS community as we continue to lean on one another to adapt, to teach, and to love one another well. We are praying for each of our families during this season! You gave thanks for:
The Efforts of Teachers, Administration & Staff:
"Your teachers are doing an amazing job!! My child misses his teachers and classmates tremendously but the interaction provided through videos and Facebook has been wonderful. Thank you so much."
"I am absolutely amazed that within less than a week the software was in place, students picked up their needed supplies, classes had an opportunity to meet online, and everything was in place to start online school. Third graders not only have lesson plans in place but also links to a number of sites for extra help/practice when needed. Teachers have made themselves easily available to help students and families through all of this. This had to have taken MANY hours of work on the part of the administration and teachers of WCCS. Just another example of the love and dedication the folks at WCCS have for their students and families. How blessed our family is to be a part of such a wonderful organization!"
“I have been blown away by the amount of work, care, organization, and effort the teachers have put forth for my children during the transition to online learning. I have no doubt that my children are cared for and loved wholeheartedly, even in this new virtual learning environment”
"Just a quick note to commend you and your team on the great job navigating our current situation."
"Great things are happening during this difficult time. Way to go ya’ll!"
Continuing to Integrate Faith Into Online Learning:
“I can’t fully explain what it means to overhear my daughter’s zoom meetings end with prayer and “I love you guys’ from a teacher."
"Thank you for the many days and very late nights you have so tirelessly given to our children in preparation for online learning. Without hesitation, you have found ways to reach the minds and hearts of our children, your school babies, in record time. We recognize that this new situation will be a challenge for everyone. As parents, we will partner together with you in prayer and understanding. We see you! We appreciate you! We thank you!"
Maintaining a Sense of Community:
"My child was THRILLED to see Mrs. Thickens and Mrs. Ferguson on a video! He waved at them. Almost made me cry. He misses them so. He also loved hearing Mrs. Ferguson's voice on the phone."
"I’m so happy for online learning, you could hear the joy in my child's voice getting to talk to her friends! Thanks to all the teachers who have worked hard to get all of this in place."
“I’ve enjoyed connecting “virtually” with students and their families as we look to the future. Even though things are different right now, I’m so blessed to work at a school where our families are still top priority, and we have the tools to help students be successful and feel valued.”
"Thanks for checking in with us! Considering the circumstances, we are doing really well. We have been enjoying some much-needed time together and the slow down of life. The teachers have been WONDERFUL! They have posted videos, pictures, learning/fun ideas almost daily. I am excited that our teacher has also set up a Zoom meeting today for the class- I know my child will love seeing her face. We definitely miss seeing everyone at school but have definitely felt their support and love during this time away."
"So grateful for technology that lets my child stay connected and have a little more normalcy during this not so normal time. She loved chatting with her friends and teacher."
Continued Academic Excellence:
"I cannot thank God enough for this opportunity to attend school at WCCS! It’s been a blessing and it’s times like these that I see around me how WCCS stands far above the rest!"
"The resources are fantastic, and we love the videos our student's teacher has created."
"I love to sing the praises of my child's Early Childhood teachers. They are so wonderful and check in with the parents. They send ideas and songs for their students to “work” on—as much as any 1-2 year old could do—but it is wonderful all the same.
"As a SEEK teacher, I have been a bit discouraged during these past two weeks. Like most teachers, I get my energy from the students. Then, I got two emails from parents that really brightened my day. First of all, the third quarter for all our gifted students is an independent study project. They can study anything they want for nine weeks. Then, they present what they have found in a product of research for his or her classmates. I have books, papers, posters, demonstrations, and PowerPoints. Well, two days ago, I had a parent tell me that her child decided to continue her research on Iceland at home. She is working on a new PowerPoint with additional information. If that was not enough, I had another parent email me that her child was working on a PowerPoint about SEEK. It tells why lower school students should join seek. It was great to see what she has been getting out of this class. Every time I have gotten down in the last 24 hours I think about these PowerPoints. You know you have gifted students when independent study is the height of their year. I always tell them that a student who masters independent study is never bored."
To all of our parents, students, teachers, and staff....KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK! We are fully aware of both the blessings and challenges of online learning, but we are absolutely committed to seeing our community thrive in the days ahead. As an administration, we will continue to review your feedback and make adjustments as needed as we journey through this together. Thank you for your partnership in the Christian education of your children! We appreciate YOU.
“I was so fortunate at WCCS to have teachers who saw the gifts God had given me and helped me find ways to cultivate those gifts to best serve His kingdom. At that time in my life, I didn’t always believe in myself, but they never stopped encouraging and praying for me. Their investment in me and encouragement, both as my teachers and fellow believers, set such a wonderful example for me of what it means to live out ministry every day and in every interaction. They inspired me to want to use the musical abilities God had given me to serve others and help them see their potential for goodness.” -Molly Glibbery Austin, WCCS Class of 2011
For this week's blog, we have obtained permission from Converse College to repost an article they published on Molly Glibbery Austin, who is both an alumna from WCCS and Converse College. We are so proud of the way she has used the gifts God has given her to make a difference in the world as a music therapist. Read on to learn more of her story!
-Article below written by Courtney Hammett, Converse College Class of 2019; published in Converse College, Taking the Lead, Fall 2019
Molly Glibbery Austin ’15 never imagined that a few years after graduating with honors from Converse, she’d be spending a lot of time in prison. But she has found a calling within the walls of the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC), where she provides music therapy for male inmates. Before her graduation, Austin was involved in Delta Omicron, Model Arab League, academic coaching, and served as president of Musicians Helping Others. “Converse is always home,” and “I miss it every day,” she says. “The Music Therapy program has really blossomed.”
So, how did it lead to prison work in Florida? “It’s kind of a crazy story,” she says. After completing a music therapy internship in hospice, she worked for two years at an eating disorder clinic. Then, she worked towards a Master’s of Music in Music Therapy at Florida State University, which she completed in December 2018. While there, she learned that the prison system needed music therapists to volunteer their services.
The position went from volunteer to part-time to full-time, as the FDC developed one of the first holistic mental healthcare programs of its kind. Austin conducted research for her graduate thesis in the prison, and she hopes more research like this will be done in the future.
“It’s pretty innovative for prisons to have such complex mental health treatment,” says Austin. The program involves individual therapy, group therapy, classes, yoga, music and art. The idea is to help patients “in the least restrictive environment possible,” with care suited for the individual. The Residential Continuum of Care provides the appropriate amount of supervision and guidance, judging which inmates pose risks to themselves or others, which need extra help to get to appointments, and so on. Various professionals are able to weigh in on treatment plans, so Austin is part of her patients’ futures.
Austin anticipated the question before I asked: How does she work with the populations that have done awful things? Some crimes, like those involving children, are hard to overlook. “Maybe you can prevent this from happening again,” she hopes, but “it’s tough sometimes.” She used to not look at inmate records – they aren’t allowed to ask, but charges are public and accessible. “I can know as much or as little as I want,” she says. She couldn’t avoid hearing about charges though, and sometimes knowing them could help address symptoms. So, she developed a process where she gets to know the person first, then looks them up at the right time. There are plenty of tragic cases in what she calls a “convoluted legal system,” which prompts her to want a law degree sometimes. For the senseless cases, compartmentalizing to separate the person from the crime is key. Working with her patients is mostly great, as Austin likes them and has “always been drawn to help people who are underdogs.”
The hardest part is motivating patients to want treatment. That’s the genius of music therapy. “We’re therapy ninjas!” Austin explains that by using music her patients enjoy, “they don’t realize it’s work.” Sometimes, that work is practical. In one case, she led the men in discussion of the song “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC. After singing and playing the song, the lyrical content provided a chance to ask about the “highway” the inmates’ lives were on. Could they harness the confidence of the song’s subject, yet steer their lives in a new direction?
But music therapy is so much more than therapy with songs sprinkled in. For patients with low intelligence and low literacy, it’s a way to learn. In one patient who suffered from delusions, following directions and learning to play Christmas songs grounded him. Through a process called institutionalization, inmates may lose their identity and sense of self after a long time behind bars. Some may also lose cognitive ability. Music therapy helps regain their person hood. Even something as simple as choosing a song or instrument is a humanizing event. “They can be individuals today, they can have a choice,” she emphasizes. When they learn a chord, they get praise and feel validated, excited. They feel human.
From day one, Austin says, “the goal is to prepare for release” and to “prevent recidivism.” American prisons are notorious for having revolving doors, wherein petty crime leads to a snowball effect. Primarily, she says “what I’m doing is for the welfare of my patients,” but society at large also benefits. With therapy and education, many inmates are eventually able to lead fulfilling lives on the outside. In the meantime, the men are learning to cope with their situation and are less likely to harm themselves or others.
-Article written by Courtney Hammett, Converse College Class of 2019; published in Converse College, Taking the Lead, Fall 2019
We love how Molly is able to use her calling as a Music Therapist to point others towards Christ! We asked her to reflect on her time here at WCCS and how she feels it prepared her to discover and now live out the important work He has for her to further His Kingdom. Check out her response below!
“I was so fortunate at WCCS to have teachers who saw the gifts God had given me and helped me find ways to cultivate those gifts to best serve His Kingdom. At that time in my life, I didn’t always believe in myself, but they never stopped encouraging and praying for me. Their investment in me and encouragement, both as my teachers and fellow believers, set such a wonderful example for me of what it means to live out ministry every day and in every interaction. They inspired me to want to use the musical abilities God had given me to serve others and help them see their potential for goodness.” -Molly Glibbery Austin, WCCS Class of 2011
Prepared to Change the World - Update from Lane Christopher, Class of 2014 JSM Scholarship Recipient
For this week's blog, we checked in with Lane Christopher, Class of 2014, the recipient of our James Scott Morgan Scholarship last year. Read on to find out how she used the scholarship to help fund a unique educational experience abroad! She also shares more of her plans for the future, and how she feels WCCS has prepared her to fulfill Christ's calling in her life!
Hey y’all! I am Lane Christopher, an alumna of WCCS from the class of 2014, and what they call a “lifer”. I earned my undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina in Political Science with a minor in Theater. Now, I am in my first semester of my second year at University of South Carolina School of Law to earn my J.D. I have so many interests, but healthcare and policy litigation remain at the forefront. For my senior writing project, I am researching comparative healthcare law between Europe and the United States, specifically the issues of federalism associated with healthcare. If I become a healthcare law expert, I could assist in writing effective legislation to ensure the health and safety of this nation. By helping people gain coverage so they are protected when they need it most, I hope to further Christ’s mission. Christ was a warrior and a defender of those who could not help themselves, and I think as a lawyer I should use my degree to help others as often as I can.
Last spring, I had an amazing opportunity to spend a Maymester in London, studying English legal history and comparative environmental law. The course happened right in the midst of Brexit, so I was at the center of the policy changes during the transition. We met with figureheads in various fields of English legal policy, as well as political experts who lectured on how Brexit is affecting environmental policy. I learned so much from this educational experience, and WCCS helped make this possible. To help offset the costs of the program, I was awarded the J. Scott Morgan Scholarship from WCCS, named in memory of a cherished alumni parent who believed in the importance of preparing well for one’s calling in life. This $1,000 scholarship was established by his family and is awarded annually to a young alumnus to help fund an internship, travel/study program, research opportunity, or like-minded experience that helps a graduate better determine the career or calling God has for his or her life.
WCCS was such a blessing in my life, and I barely know where to start. The first time I experienced the power of this community bound together by Christ was in first grade. I had reconstructive brain surgery that year, and I was so young I barely remember being in the hospital. What I do remember is the visitors at home while I was on bedrest and my teacher, Mrs. Adkins, coming to help me stay on track in school and to help my mom get some sleep. Oddly enough, the next year I came down with a severe pneumonia that caused a fluid cyst to build up in my lung. I remember my second grade teacher, Mrs. Watts, teaching me math at my kitchen table while I had to stay home. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was a situation very unique to WCCS, and had I been at another school, I could have easily been held back. These women took time away from their families to ensure my academic and personal success, not because they were told to, but because they wanted to show Christ’s love to me and my family.
Throughout the years, I was loved by so many teachers, students, and staff, but Ms. Regier definitely impacted my life the most. She was my AP U.S. History and Government/Economics teacher and is part of the reason I am in law school today. If you know her, you know she is definitely one of the most challenging teachers at WCCS. But, she is not tough in an arbitrary and undeserving way; she is tough because she expects you to show up to class prepared and ready to analyze what you have learned. She is tough because she expects the best work out of her students. She is tough because she works to ensure the success of every single student that passes through her classroom. She is tough because she relentlessly spreads the love of Christ through teaching, motivating, and nurturing students. She prepared me for law school by showing me how to be an excellent student, but also by showing me how to love others, helping them work hard to reach their goals.
I continue to struggle with migraines throughout my life, and especially did during my junior and senior years of high school. Ms. Regier learned how to read me and paid attention to my mood, and when I started falling apart, she would always help me any way she could. She would turn the lights off in class, make sure I had medicine, let me rest my head, and help me catch up if I had to go home. Moreover, she still to this day asks me about my health and tells me that she prays for my pain to remain manageable and minimal. I have never met a more genuine Christ-like woman, who deeply cares for and speaks truth to everyone she meets. I could never thank her enough for the many recommendation letters, the words of wisdom, the prayers, and the assistance she has given me over the years. There is a special place in everyone’s heart for their favorite teacher, and I am glad Ms. Regier fills that space in mine.
Thank you, Ms. Regier and WCCS for all of the love over the years. I never realized how important it was to be surrounded by people who love Christ, until I graduated and had to choose those people for myself. I am so proud to be a “lifer”, and I will always work to make my WCCS family proud.