Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Teaching Moments – unplanned opportunities to teach values

Teaching Moments – unplanned opportunities to teach values

Russell C. Baskett, Co-Founder and Executive Director

“I’m not comfortable with this.” “You don’t belong here.” “We’ve got Donald Trump; we’re building a wall; you need to leave.”

These—or similar words—came from one of our 6th graders at our 2017 Summer Enrichment Program. She was confronting an SML Good Neighbors teacher who looks different from most people in this area. She is Asian; a international student from China; an outstanding teacher carefully recruited by the Good Neighbors staff.

When I heard this story from other teachers and volunteers I was disappointed and angry. This is the antithesis of the values we teach and model. I wanted the student disciplined—the family contacted. We needed to take action! How could we tolerate one of our teachers being humiliated by a student? Then I listened to the rest of the story; the response of the teacher to the student. It went something like this…

“I don’t see any Native Americans here today.” “If you’re not a Native American, you are not from here either. Your ancestors came from somewhere else. Almost everyone in this country came from somewhere else.”

Of course the student didn’t much like this response but did get the point. This was a “teaching moment” and the teacher got it just right.



The yard sign above expresses the culture and environment of SML Good Neighbors. “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” The week after this incident our daily enrichment theme focused on “Cultural Diversity and Global Education.”  

It is our goal to help students appreciate the differences in people; people from other cultures, people who have different languages and practice different religions, people who look different from us and like different things than we do. They are not strangers and not people to fear. They are simply part of the human family to be embraced, valued and loved. 

That’s the message we try to convey by our words, actions and deeds. The incident with the student who disrespected our teacher was a teaching moment—a time when we could practice what we preach. Our teacher was a master teacher that day.

The symbols of today enable the reality of tomorrow. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away, and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

Excerpt from “On Tyranny”, pg. 32, by professor Timothy Snyder, 2017

Saturday, July 1, 2017

First Week of Franklin County SML Good Neighbors Camp and Middle School Academy


Just a note about the first day of the Franklin Summer enrichment Program. It got off to a wonderful start. 140 kids were at Rocky Mount Elementary School and the day was seamless. About 160 kids are expected tomorrow. It was very organized and professional. The blending of the Franklin County teachers with the Good Neighbors teachers is a wonderful model. They work as colleagues, as teams. I am so proud of this new chapter in the Good Neighbors program and our close partnership with Franklin County Schools. 

I am especially grateful for the detailed planning and professional management Lisa provides. She has put in long hours and managed hundreds, maybe thousands, of details to make this complicated program work smoothly. Many Franklin County staff have also worked long and hard to make this a successful program. 

The children we serve (from 12 elementary schools) are receiving a great educational enrichment, out-of-school program through these efforts. It’s great to be part of such a special program and to work with so many talented and gifted people who have a heart for this kind of work.

Blessings and Peace,

This week was Peace week at SML Good Neighbors Day Camp & Academy 

Daily Students focused on different aspects of Peace. 

  • Identifying and dealing with negative emotions
  • Listening, Compassion and "I statements"
  • Positive practices for Relaxation
  • Reflection and Pause

Students also enjoyed their First field trip to The Phoebe Needles Center in Callaway, Virginia 
Friday RCT (Roanoke Children's Theatre visited Campus for a portion of the day to work with students.

Enjoy a few photos from the First Week of Franklin County SML GN Campus 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

SML Good Neighbors Website Updates !

   SMLGN has been working diligently on updating the their website. The updates are not complete but Good Neighbors is extremely excited about the donation page update!

   Here is a sneak peek of the New and Improved Good Neighbors donation page.

  To see all SMLGN donation page updates CLICK HERE


 Good Neighbors announces today that they are now accepting car donations through a great organization called Donate for Charity INC. 
  Buying a new car? 
  Getting rid of an old one? Selling isn’t your only option. We’ve teamed up with Donate for Charity to make donating your vehicle easy.  
  It’s a win for all:  you get a minimum $500 tax deduction (or higher, depending on what your car sells for), and SML Good Neighbors receives the net proceeds to support our program.
  By donating your car, you’ll avoid the headache of selling a used vehicle. Whether the vehicle is running or not, Donate For Charity can help process the donation. 
  We certainly appreciate our donors considering this option to help support our cause.  You can either click on the link provided Vehicle Donation Form, or call Donate For Charity directly at (866) 392-4483. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

SML Good Neighbors Inc, and the National Summer Learning Association

SML Good Neighbors, Inc. is honored to announce that it is one of the top sixteen semi-finalists from a pool of 103 for the National Summer Learning Association's New York Life Foundation Excellence in Summer Learning Award and Founder's Award. 

"Both the New York Life Foundation Excellence in Summer Learning Award and Founder’s Award recognize outstanding summer programs or models that demonstrate excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for young people between pre-kindergarten and twelfth grade.
The awards are given annually based on an application process that elicits information on a program’s history, mission, goals, operations, management, staff development, partnerships, outcomes/results and sustainability.
Programs are measured against the Summer Learning Program Quality Assessment (SLPQA), developed in partnership with the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) and the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality.
Applicants are reviewed by NSLA staff in addition to experts in the field. Interviews are conducted with a small group of semi-finalists followed by site visits to a select group of finalists to observe program activities before announcing the awards."

About the New York Life Foundation Excellence in Summer Learning Award or Founder’s Award

The winner would revive 

  •  A monetary award of up to $10,000, generously provided by the New York Life Foundation.
  • Visibility at the Summer Changes Everything™ national conference and in a NSLA Summer Times e-newsletter.
  • Invitations to participate in panel discussions, funder summits, or conference presentations with or on behalf of NSLA.
  • National exposure through a NSLA press release during the busy summer learning media season, along with a template press release and talking points to promote your program.
  • Professional development opportunities with peer organizations through NSLA’s new affinity group structure.
  • Possible future case studies or features in NSLA presentations, publications, or reports widely distributed throughout the education field and staged on summerlearning.org.
Information for this post was provided by the National Summer Learning Association website. 

Visit the NSLA website to learn more 

Monday, February 20, 2017

SML Good Neighbors Quilt Raffle

SML Good Neighbors is honored to receive the donation of this beautiful quilt from the Lake Quilters Guild to auction off to one lucky winner.

The quilt measures close to 88 x 88 inches.

Purchase a chance to win for $15, or

3 chances to win for $25.

Tickets are available online this year through our SML Good Neighbor website>



We will pull a winner March 3, 2017

More about the Lake Quilter Guild of Smith Mountain Lake, Inc. 
"Lake Quilters Guild at Smith Mountain Lake, Inc. was established in January of 1990 to serve the communities surrounding Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. We are a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing good fellowship and the interchange of ideas to those interested in the art and craft of quilting. It is also our goal to interact with the community and to create an understanding of all aspects of quilting through education, sharing, enjoying and appreciation each other's work. As a special service to the community, we make items for donation to charitable organizations."
Thank you Lake Quilter Guild of Smith Mountain Lake, Inc.andThank you SML Good Neighbor Supporters!

SML Middle School Academy Rocky Mount

February 2017 - SML Middle School Academy

During the month of February the scholars, mentors and site director began working on mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. 

This month the scholars are also working on mini math lessons. Our focus has been on Geometry, learning how to find the area and perimeter of rectangles, irregular rectangles, triangles and circles.  

Our research and presentations this month has been on Presidents and their pets.  We found out some very interesting facts about the pets that have lived at the White House. Did you know that in 1926, Calvin Coolidge was sent a raccoon from Mississippi to be part of the White House Thanksgiving dinner, but the Coolidge family found the raccoon to be friendly and docile so decided to keep her as a pet instead. They named her Rebecca and she loved to get in the bathtub with a little water and a bar of soap.

In the garden this month, we planted potatoes, basil, rosemary and parsley.

SMLGN would like to also note they are seeking Classroom Volunteers for the 
Middle School Academy at the Leonard A. Gereau Center in Rocky Mount Tuesdays and Thursdays, between the hours of 4:30pm and 5:30pm

1. ​Position Description

SML Good Neighbors is looking for classroom volunteers to serve as coaches to help our scholars (6th and 7th graders) with their homework.

Volunteers are required to complete a background check. If you already have a current background check completed by SML Good Neighbors or the Franklin County Schools, no additional screening is required.

Contact : SMLGN Program Direction Lisa Lietz at llietz@smlgoodneighbors.org if you would like to help our middle school students.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

SML Good Neighbors hosts Family Night at Moneta Elementary

SML Good Neighbors hosted one of their family nights yesterday evening at Moneta Elementary School. 

Family Night focuses on learning games, educational craft projects, dinner and family.

Students stay after school and start with learning games. Shearer Rumsey who is one of our summer camp site directors is seen here below playing a word rhyming game. 

Students learned more about Presidents' Day and celebrated by creating Abraham Lincoln and George Washington finger puppets. 

Parents and siblings are welcome to join during any portion of family night. Last night SMLGN served families and students pizza, cookies and a drink. 

"Family is not an important thing, it's everything."
 - Michael J. Fox

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

SMLGN and FC United Way

Today SMLGN President Russell Baskett met up with FC United Ways' Executive Director Pamela Chitwood to pick up the monies raised from the Dancing for a Cause charity event. 

"We can make a great impact when we work together."

 - Pamela Chitwood

On January 28th, ten local non-profit charities danced for your votes (donations) at the Dancing for a Cause charity even hosted by The United Way of Franklin County, Virginia.

Thank you United Way of Franklin County for being a Good Neighbor and inviting SML Good Neighbors
to be apart of this special event!

SML Good Neighbors' Program Director Lisa Lietz and her husband Barrett Lietz performed the Salsa for this unique charity fundrasing event. 

Thank you to CJs Coffee and Sandwich Shop & HOT SHOTS for allowing SMLGN to display the donation ballot boxes.

Thank you to all the SML Good Neighbor supporters for the donations and encouragement.
Many many others to thank for such a successful charity event! 

With your help we raised a grand total of $1,160.79 for our Good Neighbors programs.