Together we make a profound difference

Supporting public schools

Public Schools Month countdown

Your February checklist

For your Trestleboard

Find it on freemason.org

Question of the month

 

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Supporting public schools

In 2016, on the heels of a rousing Public Schools Month kickoff event and a donation for Raising A Reader, the principal of White Rock Elementary School in Rancho Cordova approached Alexander Chompff and Sidney Moore, two of the brothers she’d met at the event. She had seen, in the Masons, something her students desperately needed. She asked: Could they spend some time with a group of young men in her school who were struggling?

Chompff and Moore brought the question to three Sacramento County lodges – Natoma Lodge No. 64, American River Lodge No. 795, and Prince Hall Harmony Lodge No. 61 (where Moore was master at the time). Ten brothers raised their hands. Among them was Stuart Stackhouse, who had been a Mason for only a few months, but a long-time volunteer for his children’s Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts troops.

Stackhouse describes what happened next.

Creating the program

  • The school asked us to develop a program for at-risk boys in the third, fourth, and fifth grades. These are young men who need guidance, and positive male role models. The school selects the students. So far, the group size has varied from 11 to 17.
  • We developed a 20-week “Young Gentlemen’s Program,” which we deliver in 45-minute sessions once a week. The sessions take place at the school, during the school day. This makes it easy for the students to attend. Many wouldn’t have the transportation or parental support for after-school programs.
  • We built the curriculum around the principles of Freemasonry, with a practical eye toward positive habits for life. We pulled from personal experiences and Google for materials, and met repeatedly with school administrators and teachers.
  • The lessons are organized into three categories: body, mind, and spirit. For “body,” we work on things like eye contact, handshakes, and dressing for success. In “mind,” we cover topics such as making polite conversation, counting and giving change, and safe social networking. “Spirit” includes discussions on telling the truth, how to avoid and handle bullying, and charity.
  • We continuously emphasize three main principles: First, tell the truth. Second, show respect for yourself and others. Third, take responsibility for your actions.
  • We follow common sense safety policies used by the Boy Scouts, such as requiring that at least two adults be present at all times around youth. We also require lodge volunteers to complete a background check and take Youth Protection training (offered through the Boy Scouts, no membership required).

Community involvement

  • We reached out to the Sacramento Kings professional basketball team and told them what we were doing. The organization donated basketballs (as an icebreaker, we start every Young Gentlemen’s session with 10 minutes of shooting baskets) as well as tickets to a game, which we attended as a group.
  • We plan field trips to local high school programs, including music and theater performances, as well as the community college. We want to help these young men visualize a brighter future, set goals, and work hard to achieve them.

Results

  • It’s a challenge finding Masons who are able to give their time during the school day – but the payoff is huge for all of us involved. It is tremendously rewarding to see the changes in these young men, and know that it may stick with some of them for the rest of their lives.
  • Just a month or two into the program, one of the young men, who has struggled with anger issues, acted out toward his teacher. Without being told, he wrote a letter of apology saying "I’m sorry, I take responsibility, and I promise I won’t do that again."
  • Shortly after our lesson on introductions, the superintendent visited the school. One of the young men walked right up to her, shook her hand, introduced himself, and said, “It’s nice to meet you.”
  • These may seem like small lessons, especially for those of us who got to learn them as a normal part of growing up. But most of the young men in this program don’t have a strong family unit. For most, their mothers struggle with day-to-day life, and they don’t have positive father figures to look up to. These lessons, and the time we spend teaching them, can really impact their future.

Through the Young Gentlemen’s Program, we are telling these young men: If you work hard and pay attention to your attitude, you can do things that will change the world.

Contact: Stuart Stackhouse

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Public Schools Month countdown

April is the fraternity’s annual outpouring of support for public schools. It’s a chance for lodges to bring schools from their communities right into their halls – honoring educators, encouraging students, and providing meaningful donations to write the future for literacy in California.

As with every major event, the key to a successful Public Schools Month event is to plan, plan, plan.

ASAP, if not already completed

  • Form a Public Schools Month Committee
  • Establish an event budget
  • Agree on a date and time, and a general outline of the program
  • Assign specific event responsibilities (programming, refreshments, A/V, publicity)
  • Identify and invite one or more community speakers, such as a local educator, librarian, or student
February
  • Announce the event date and time at the stated meeting, and ask members to mark their calendars
  • Run a Trestleboard announcement with the event date, time, and known details
  • Finalize speaker(s)
  • Finalize refreshments and other program details
  • Promote the event on social media, the lodge app, calendar, website, and community pages
  • Publicize in local media, using these press release basics and samples
  • Invite neighboring lodges
  • Invite community organizations and local dignitaries

March
  • Announce the event details at the stated meeting, and encourage brothers to invite their families, friends, and neighbors
  • Arrange transportation for elder members
  • Practice audio/visual cues and any technology you’ll use
  • Prepare introductions for guest speakers, requesting they review in advance for accuracy
  • Continue running a Trestleboard event announcement
  • Run this Trestleboard ad from Grand Lodge
  • Invite community organizations and local dignitaries
  • Continue promoting the event within the lodge and community
  • One or two weeks before the event, reach out to community leaders with an event reminder

At the event

For April and every month, find meaningful ways to get involved in your local schools here.

TIP: March is Youth Orders Month! Adapt the above checklist to make sure you’re ready, and check out this article for inspiration.

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Your February checklist

Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your February checklist.

Executive Committee

Senior Warden

  • Begin preparing 2019 program plan
  • Begin preparing 2019 budget
  • Begin preparing 2019 officer appointments
  • Begin preparing 2019 installation of officers
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement

Secretary

  • Present secretary’s annual report to the lodge at stated meeting
  • Continue to collect delinquent dues from members (were due by January 1)
  • Send list of members with late dues to the master for the Retention Committee
  • Send any suspension notices
  • Charity Committee considers remissions

Treasurer

  • Present treasurer’s annual report to the lodge at stated meeting
  • Prepare financial reports for Grand Lodge, to be filed by end of March (unless your lodge uses Intacct, in which case you do not need to submit anything)

Hall Association

  • Submit semi-annual report to the lodge at stated meeting

Audit Committee

  • Begin auditing lodge books, to be completed by end of April

Questions? Contact Member Services at memberservices@freemason.org or (415) 776-7000

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For your Trestleboard

One of the fraternity’s favorite traditions is fast approaching! If you haven’t already, start rallying your lodge for Public Schools Month in April. Use this ad, plus an additional reminder.

This month:
April is Public Schools Month
Age Successfully at Acacia Creek

Share in your Trestleboard.

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Find it on freemason.org

The first few months of the year can be a blur, as you work to position your lodge for all the goals ahead.

Take a break to appreciate the immeasurable (and measurable) good you’ve achieved already: The Masons of California 2017 Annual Report. See how the fraternity’s values, vision, and generosity are writing the future.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked how often your leadership team meets specifically to set (or update) short- and long-term goals for the lodge. Of those that responded:

11% - Annually
6% - Twice a year
6% - Quarterly
17% - Monthly
44% - Never
17% - Don’t know

About 22 percent said they keep members updated on goal progress through stated meeting announcements, and another 11 percent use email updates. Here's your next question.

 

 



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