Conducting and Participating in Effective Meetings

lots of ducks gathering by the water with Conducting and Participating in Effective Meetings overlay and watermark at the bottom

I typically don’t like meetings, do you? Meetings can be the Great Time-Suckers; the zone where productivity goes to die. The place where you’re thinking of a thousand things you’d rather or need to be doing. But I promise you this: meetings do not have to be this way. They can be productive, energizing, an effective use of valuable time, and, dare I say, even enjoyable. Enjoyable? Well, you and I are obviously not the same person, but I find attending a meeting enjoyable when something … [Read more...]

Living in a Smart Home

Kate at the Enabling Tech House

When my Council colleague, Mildred Sparkman, and I quietly walked up to the back door of the Harrington House on Stewarts Ferry Pike, the house already knew we were there. In a gentle and courteous voice, the house spoke to us and invited us inside. Mildred and I entered, a little cautiously – was this a prank, or a perilous scene in a horror movie? Neither, fortunately. It was just Kate Adams, Enabling Tech Champion for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), … [Read more...]

Who is Really “High-Functioning”?

Who is Really High Functioning

The Disability Community has done an excellent job spreading awareness, and advocating to eradicate The “R” Word. We may never be totally done with it, but its usage, particularly in books, movies and television, seems to be greatly reduced, thanks to public outrage through social media and boycotting campaigns. Personally, I think it’s time to do away with another problematic label: “high-functioning”. This will likely be a taller task, because unlike The “R” Word, “high-functioning” is used, … [Read more...]

Hand in Hand: Preparing for a life well lived

Will McMillian, a graduate of the Hand-in-Hand program at Pope John Paul II High School, has a job at the Green Hill Y in Nashville, TN on Wednesday, 23 January 2019.

In 2004, John Paul II High School embarked on an experiment: could students with intellectual disabilities attend school with typically-developing peers in a rigorous, Catholic scholastic environment, and not only co-exist on the same campus, but become fully immersed and accepted members of the school community? The answer must have been a resounding “yes”, because the program is still going strong and boasts a full roster of graduates, and a second Hand in Hand initiative is under way at … [Read more...]

Communicating with a Child That Does Not Speak, through Photography

Aidan in a swimming pool

Fifteen years ago, new mom Jen Vogus – now a parishioner at Holy Family Church in Brentwood – became concerned about her five-week-old son. “Aidan was a full-term baby,” said Vogus. “I had a normal birth. But shortly after he was born – Mother’s Day, 2002 – I was breastfeeding him and he started doing this eye twitch and lip pucker thing. It was odd, and I had never seen it before.” The family’s pediatrician confirmed that Aidan was having seizures. “It was devastating,” recalled Vogus. “And … [Read more...]

Cooking Up Helpings of Multi-cultural Cuisine and Community

Father Ryan Cooking Club and Pedestal Foods prep for Room in the Inn guests, coming Christmas Eve.

When you think about eating sushi in Nashville, Father Ryan High School may not be the first place that comes to mind. But on a day in early January, the school cafeteria was brimming with at least 20 cooks, hundreds of seaweed squares, an imposing pile of scooped fresh avocado and assorted other ingredients. Welcome to the Father Ryan Cooking Club. Last August, Father Gervan – or Father G, as his adoring students call him - was approached by seniors Olivia Scruggs and Elliott Gild and … [Read more...]

Teaching is a Family Affair at Holy Rosary Academy

twins jumping

Courtney Schletzer and Kristin Schletzer Burnett have a lot in common, even for twin sisters. Besides growing up under the same roof, they attended Christ the King School, Father Ryan High School and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville together, frequently as students in the same classes. They’ve even been roommates most of their adult lives. Now they teach directly across the hall from each other at Holy Rosary Academy. “We are each other’s best friends and worst enemies,” laughed … [Read more...]

Catholic Charities Jobs Program Creates Sewing Training Academy

The Sewing Training Academy (STA) is where people in Nashville learn commercial sewing as a trade for the purpose of employment.

From all appearances, Nashville is the latest boom town. People of all ages are moving here, and rents and home prices reflect that. New businesses are opening up; in fact whole industries are blooming, seemingly overnight. All of this positive commotion has had an impact on Catholic Charities too, specifically its four-year old jobs training initiative for refugees, the unemployed, underemployed and underserved. To meet the needs of a burgeoning clothing industry, Catholic Charities has … [Read more...]

Memorable Memoirs: Monica Wood’s “When We Were the Kennedys”

When We Were the Kennedys at Pike's Place

  A while back I devoted almost two years to reading nothing but memoirs. For this period I had become disenchanted with fiction, and felt like the only truly compelling story was a lived one. These were not “celebrity” memoirs, they were captured moments in time by ordinary people who had, typically, faced some kind of adversity, and, in most cases, had come out the other side enlightened, empowered and able to articulate that challenging journey. I discovered some of my now favorite … [Read more...]

At 82, St. Bernard Alumna Releases 36th Book

Goulash, Garage Sales, & God

While at St. Bernard Academy, Bernadette McCarver Snyder was in an oratorical contest and competed with an original speech. She won at the school and city levels, but then fell just short in the state finals. In her senior year, her reputation for being an excellent communicator landed her a co-editor position on the school newspaper. “We worked hard on that newspaper that year and we won this award from the State of Tennessee for being the best high school newspaper from a school our size,” … [Read more...]