Are Children Victims?

Children born into underprivileged and impoverished families often learn to view themselves as victims. It’s the most convenient social and cultural narrative to embrace. And once they accept themselves as victims that’s where they stay—down. But we believe every child possesses the innate ability to learn to see themselves as resilient over-comers and armed with optimism, courage, and faith, they can move forward and take action to dream world-sized dreams. Children are only victims if we fail to inspire them.


“Children are only victims if we fail to inspire them.”


Mentoring children goes far beyond spending two hours every week hanging out, doing homework, and discovering cool things to do together. Inspiring them begins with an ability to see them from a godly perspective… meaning being able to perceive their potential in a context of purpose and eternity, then shifting our priorities accordingly.


– Richard Moore, Innovative Disrupter


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No Apologies: I Am An Innovative Disrupter

People are sometimes confused about the difference between innovators and disrupters. It’s not exactly black and white, but there are real distinctions, and it’s not just splitting hairs. Think of it this way: Distrupters are innovators, but not all innovators are disrupters – in the same way that a square is a rectangle, but not all rectangles are squares. Still with me?

Innovators and disrupters are similar in that they are both makers and builders. Disrupters, however, are radical by literally uprooting and changing how we think, behave, do business, learn and go about our day-to-day business. One definition of a disrupter’s philosophy (modus operandi) is to interrupt status-quo, often only temporarily, but nonetheless to recreate a new direction or to change an organization’s priorities. Innovative Disrupters are at once both destructive and creative.

I am an Innovative Disrupter.

I remember wondering what was wrong with me; why are people intimidated or offended when I came onto the scene. My beloved wife would be quick to remind me about my strong personality, which did little to make me feel any better about myself. It took a few years before it dawned on me that my god-given leadership (character) is that of a disrupter, which had caused me to regard myself with disdain – after all, who doesn’t want to be liked?

Eventually not liking myself got tired, which caused me to consider my worth to my wife and children, who not only loved me… but they actually like me too. Imagine that! A likable disrupter. That’s when I came into a very cool understanding that what I had believed for so long was a total lie that was hiding the truth of my real clue as a leader and Innovative Disrupter.

Status quo is Latin for “existing state”. With hindsight it became clear that people were not generally afraid of me, but more so the changes I introduced to organizations. In face, they were afraid of themselves and their inability to embrace change more than they were of me. Many people are just weird like that. People are often more eager to preserve existing conditions than taking risks to improve or altogether stop doing things that no longer matter or make sense, i.e.; “status quo”. For innovative Disrupters like me, that is akin to opening the front door of a china shop and shoving a really big bull inside, then slamming the door shut behind it.

All Disruption Is Not Bad

Unfortunately, when people think about interrupting their status quo, they often think about it in negative ways. In a context of normalcy and comfort (which means the condition of being normal, the state of being usual, typical, predictable or expected: status quo) change is too risky. People push back and resist change and progress when they want to maintain their own sense of status quo.

I’m a big believer that life changes as much as you want it to. FYI… I run at change.

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Going-to-Scale Open House

Ready. Set. Jump!

Shoulder To Shoulder’s academic program is poised to make a Quantum Jump and we want to share this exciting news with you!  Please mark your calendar!

Going-to-Scale Open House
Tuesday, April 24
5:30pm – 7:30pm
First Baptist Church – 4th Floor
Sacramento 95816

Please RSVP
We’re going to jump far!
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Let’s Connect the Dots

14.8% of Sacramento county’s total student population equals 36,659 children identified as “absent”. Please, pause for a moment and consider this data.

I’ll wait.

I’m still waiting.

36,659 Absent School Children Is Staggering!

Are you back?

Great! Now ponder these facts.

• California schools received an overall C- grade and ranks 41st in the nation
• California spends approximately $11,000 a year to teach every student
• California invests nearly $78,000 each year for a single inmate

How does that make any sense?

Fact: 100% of the children served by Shoulder to Shoulder and Imagine Community Academy are a part of that 14.8%!

Diana Lambert and  Follow this link to read more about it.

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IMAGINE Community Academy Needs More Robotic Kits!

ICA students Vernon and Isay test drive a mini-robot they programmed to control using a smartphone.


Perhaps the most compelling reason for more robotics curriculum and kits at IMAGINE Community Academy is that it introduces our students to knowledge, concepts, and skills needed for understanding the intelligent information-based technology of the future:  technology that is highly interactive, multi-modal, adaptive and autonomous.

To learn how you can buy and deliver a Robotics Kits to our students, please call Veda Bautista (916) 285-5422 or email:


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What Are Facts Without Context?


With today’s technology at our fingertips, it is simply not necessary to memorize a ton of facts to be a successful student. I would argue that insisting students remember facts does not prepare them for college, career or to become functional adults. The reasoning that “learning by memorizing” is inadequate for students to become healthy and mature thinking adults.

Every day people are involved in problem-solving, analyzing, critical thinking, communicating and many more high-level thought processes. These are not skills reserved for geeks, nerds, or techno-gurus; these are the real-life skills people use every single day. So, if schools are not teaching these critical skills, how do they learn them? – Please do not suggest “the school of hard knocks.”


At Imagine Community Academy, our students need to be prepared to process questions that answer whether or not they should go to college or straight to a career. How about knowing how to navigate an intimate relationship towards marriage and family? They will need to know how to secure a loan to buy a house and how they should vote intelligently in the next election. These are all real-life scenarios that require high-level thinking, not memorization.

Shoulder To Shoulder is intentionally employing the Imagine Community Academy to empower mentees and students to know how to think and learn for themselves.



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Facts Do Not Teach Students How To Think

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Ok. That is great, but what motivated Columbus to set sail for new lands? What kinds of obstacles and unforeseen challenges did Columbus and his crew face as they set off? How did he interact with the people in the new lands he discovered? Should we regard Columbus as a hero or as a villain? Moreover, how would the Americas be different if Columbus failed his mission? – Facts do not teach students how to think.

With today’s technology, students can pick up their mobile device and say “Hey, Siri! On what date did World War One end?” and their phone instantly replies, “November 11, 1918.” So, what is the practical point if they do not understand what the war was about or the people or events that ended it? – Facts do not teach students how to think.

From the moment our students began taking the Summit Learning Assessments (tests), they complained, “Mrs. Moore, you never taught us how to answer questions like these.” She responds, “If you studied everything available in your online platform, you would already know that you have access to all the resources you need to answer these questions. Marcia, we are not interested in the facts you can memorize; our focus is helping you discover how to think and discover learning for yourself.”

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When Students Are Traumatized, Teachers Are Too

Trauma in students’ lives takes a toll on the emotional and physical wellbeing of the teachers.

Alysia Ferguson Garcia remembers the day two years ago that ended in her making a call to Child Protective Services. One of her students walked into drama class with what Garcia thought of as a “bad attitude” and refused to participate in a script reading.

“I don’t care if you’ve had a bad day,” Garcia remembers saying in frustration. “You still have to do some work.”

In the middle of class, the student offered an explanation for her behavior: Her mom’s boyfriend had been sexually abusing her. After the shock passed, the incident provided an opportunity for the class—and Garcia—to provide the student with comfort, and to cry.

When Garcia first started teaching, she wasn’t expecting the stories her students would share of physical and sexual abuse, hunger, violence, and suicide. The stories seemed to haunt her all the way home, she says, recalling nightmares and sleepless nights spent worrying about her students. They also dredged up deep-seated memories of her own experiences with abuse.“When you’re learning to be a teacher, you think it’s just about lesson plans, curriculum, and seating charts,” said Garcia. “I was blindsided by the emotional aspect of teaching—I didn’t know how to handle it. I was hurt by my students’ pain, and it was hard for me to leave that behind when I went home.”


35% of children have experienced more than one adverse childhood experience.

Data shows that more than half of all U.S. children have experienced some kind of trauma in the form of abuse, neglect, violence, or challenging household circumstances—and 35 percent of children have experienced more than one type of traumatic event, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can have impacts that extend far beyond childhood, including higher risks for alcoholism, liver disease, suicide, and other health problems later in life.

Trauma in children often manifests outwardly, affecting kids’ relationships and interactions. In schools, the signs of trauma may be seen in a student acting out in class, or they could be more subtle—like failure to make eye contact or repeatedly tapping a foot. (To learn more about how trauma impacts students, read “Brains in Pain Cannot Learn!”)

For teachers, who are directly exposed to a large number of young people with trauma in their work, a secondary type of trauma, known as vicarious trauma, is a big risk. Sometimes called the “cost of caring,” vicarious trauma can result from “hearing [people’s] trauma stories and becom[ing] witnesses to the pain, fear, and terror that trauma survivors have endured,” according to the American Counseling Association.

“Being a teacher is a stressful enough job, but teachers are now responsible for a lot more things than just providing education,” says LeAnn Keck, a manager at Trauma Smart, an organization that partners with schools and early childhood programs to help children and the adults in their lives navigate trauma.

“It seems like teachers have in some ways become case workers. They get to know about their students’ lives and the needs of their families, and with that can come secondary trauma.”

When you’re learning to be a teacher, you think it’s just about lesson plans, curriculum, and seating charts. I was blindsided by the emotional aspect of teaching—I didn’t know how to handle it.

Vicarious trauma affects teachers’ brains in much the same way that it affects their students’: The brain emits a fear response, releasing excessive cortisol and adrenaline that can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration, and release a flood of emotions. This biological response can manifest in mental and physical symptoms such as anger and headaches, or workplace behaviors like missing meetings, lateness, or avoiding certain students, say experts.

Yet many teachers are never explicitly taught how to help students who have experienced trauma, let alone address the toll it takes on their own health and personal lives. We reached out to trauma-informed experts and educators around the country to get their recommendations for in-the-moment coping strategies and preventative measures to help teachers process vicarious trauma.

To learn about the tips they recommend, click here to read the original article.


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Helping Students Think for Themselves

With simple and clear learning prompts, students were cut loose to discover through news and internet sources details and facts about Hurricane Harvey that organically stimulated their curiosities about aspects of the natural disaster of most interest to them.

19 Trillion Gallons of Water

For example; three of our students (in photo above) became intrigued to know what 19 trillion gallons of water could be compared to and discovered in their search that 19 trillion gallons of water would fill:

  1. 235 Million Swimming Pools
  2. 460 Billion Bath Tubs
  3. 260 Million households would need 1 year to use up 19 trillion gallons of water

According to Huffington Post “Schools should teach kids to think, not memorize.” Read more.

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Why Add An Academic Component To STS?

Learning Gaps are the reason we are doing IMAGINE Community Academy

Learning gap refers to the relative performance of individual students—i.e., the disparity between what a student has actually learned and what he or she was expected to learn at a particular age or grade level.

One of the more consequential outcomes of learning gaps is their tendency, if left unaddressed, to compound over time and become more severe and pronounced, which can increase the chances that a student will struggle academically and socially or drop out of school. In addition, if foundational academic skills—such as reading, writing, and math, as well as social and interpersonal skills—are not acquired by students early on in their education, it may be more difficult for them to learn these foundational skills later on.

Avoiding the Academic Brick Wall

Even as middle-schoolers, the youth we serve are already on perilous trajectories toward gangs, drugs, prison, prostitution, teen pregnancy, and unemployment, because they were continually promoted without adequate reading comprehension and basic math skills. The closer they get to high school the wider become their learning gaps and the more likely they will hit an Academic Brick Wall if we do not nudge their trajectories towards paths of personal growth and learning.

This is why our efforts are aimed at closing the learning gaps for fatherless and high risk youth. Together with your tangible support these children will avoid a life of government entitlement by enjoying a life of academic empowerment.

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