Words John Newton, Melody "Unknown" Aug 19, 2008 16:40:30 GMT -5
Post by Blu on Aug 19, 2008 16:40:30 GMT -5
Amazing Grace: Just The Black Notes
This link was sent to me by Roz who knows a real jewel when she hears one! I hope you will click on the above link and learn something about our collective past. I promise you when you hear this rendition of Amazing Grace you will be deeply touched. Thank you Roz!
Wintley Phipps Dream academy
Founded by singer and pastor Wintley Phipps, the U.S. Dream Academy provides at-risk children with values-based tutoring, mentoring and stability.
Wintley Phipps, the widely admired singer of gospel and other religious music, sang at President George W. Bush's National Day of Prayer earlier this year. He also sang at several presidential prayer breakfasts during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, as well as at the Vatican and for Billy Graham Crusades.
A Seventh-day Adventist preacher, Phipps also is founder and president of US. Dream Academy, a nonprofit organization that provides online, values-based tutorial and remedial education for at-risk children and youth. The first U.S. Dream Academy opened in Southeast Washington in early 2000. Now a second has been started, also in Washington, and plans are in the works to establish others in such cities as New York. Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston and Baltimore.
As many as 250 young people come by the two Washington centers each week. Often they're kids falling behind in their classes who need some help or young people interested in computers who make use of the center's computers and staff. But often, too, they're kids with a parent in prison and who are very much in need of mentoring and stability in their lives. More centers may be in store for the nation's capital city: "I'd like to have one in every ward," Phipps says.
Insight: The young people at the computers in your first U.S. Dream Academy this morning seem to be very enthusiastic about being here.
Wintley A. Phipps: It's amazing but, when we started, the behavior of these kids was very, very different. At first, they were very unpredictable, rambunctious. But there's something that happens when they have adults who care about them in their lives. It's a huge difference. Their grades are up; their attendance is up; suspensions are down.
The principal [at the nearby school] one day called one of his teachers and said, "I'm looking for this kid. Where is he? Has he not been coming to school?" The teacher answered, "Oh yes, he's been coming." And the principal said, "But he's always in trouble and in my office, and I haven't seen him lately." The teacher reported that young person had been attending the Dream Academy and was in the process of straightening himself out.
Insight: You're dealing with youngsters who aren't doing well in school, who come from one-parent homes, who may have a parent in prison. In short, your students face a variety of problems in which a lack of stability and continuity is the single biggest factor.
WAP: We found that 80 percent of the children in this community live in one-parent homes. Forty percent or so are being raised by a grandparent or an aunt or some other person. Many also have a family member who is incarcerated. Now what you have to realize is that we also found that 70 percent of all children in America who become involved in the criminal-justice system come from families where a parent is incarcerated. Just the other day, when you walked out of the center, POW! POW! POW! [imitates gunfire]. What many of them do is run back here because this is an ark of safety for them.
No one really has developed a comprehensive program focused on the strategic group of children who are at-risk because of an incarcerated parent. When we studied that situation to try to find out what is most effective in keeping those kids from going down the same road as that parent, two things kept surfacing. Just as with any at-risk child you first have to increase the density of caring, loving adults in their life orbit. There simply is no substitute for that.
Next, what we found was a need for interactive academics, which is essentially what you hope to provide for a child when you provide a tutor. In the interactive environment, learning increases exponentially.
Insight: And interactive in the case of the U.S. Dream Academy means a combination of online work plus adult teachers?
WAP: What happens when a kid's working on an algebra problem and makes a mistake? He just keeps going, and he may reinforce the error. But in the interactive environment there's a tap on the shoulder. Wait a minute! Go back. Take another look at this.
We try to use computer technology to supply that tap on the shoulder. So when a young person is working a problem on the computer in an academic-interactive environment, the moment he makes a mistake there's a BING! It's like a red line under the misspelled word in the word processor--there's this immediacy of the feedback.
If I could point to the one most profound thing that we've learned, however, it is that the people who run the program are vitally important. As critical as the technology is to get kids acclimated to the information age and what their futures are going to look like, what makes the biggest difference is the people who care for the kids and provide the mentoring.
If they have the heart for the program, and if they have the passion for it, then mentors will be able to see the lives of these kids changed. The transformation in the children does not take place because of what comes out of a pretty box -- not at all. The transformation takes place because of the exchange and interaction between people, between the kids and their mentors. As we deploy around the country and establish new centers, it's the quality of the people to mentor the kids about whom we shall be the most diligent.
Insight: The children with a parent in prison are a very important part of your effort. How did you decide to take up that problem?
WAP: I was on the board of directors of Prison Fellowship Ministries with Chuck Colson. But concern about how to help these kids had been germinating in my heart for a long time.
Look at the figures and you will find that 25 years ago there were 300,000 people in prison all across the United States. At the end of February 2000, the number was more than 2 million, and 80 percent of those were high-school dropouts.
Put another way: If someone came to you with a computer printout and said, "Okay, here are the names of all the kids failing in school in America and here are the names of the children of prisoners," wouldn't you be concerned that there is an 80 percent duplication of the two lists?
When you realize that there are 1.5 million children in America with a parent behind bars, you realize the size of the problem. And I am very glad President Bush has made it clear that the mentoring of the children of prisoners is something very important to him.
Insight: Are you comfortable with President Bush's advocacy of faith-based programs to help those in need?
WAP: I think that there are significant issues that must be worked through.
Insight: The issue of government interference in religious matters bothers you?
WAP: Yes. But I think there is no doubt about its main premise being true. There is no doubt that nothing can compete with a life transformed by faith. There is no program void of faith that can compete with a program that has this component.
One of the things we've done with U.S. Dream Academy is to position our group as a values-based organization. But then we partner with faith-based organizations such as churches and para-church ministries to provide the faith component.
Insight: Values are one of the things these kids don't acquire in their unstable lives?
WAP: I'll tell you what really, really scares me. Storms always take up the trees with the weakest roots first, and in this environment it is those without values who have the weakest roots.
Not just in the inner city. The storm is coming after the kids in the suburbs, too. Without strong values, they are losing their rootages. We're raising a generation into which parents are doing their best to make deposits of values and character, virtue and common sense. But the degenerate culture around them is making withdrawals from their children faster than the parents are making deposits. What's happening is that the kids, even from good homes, are being bankrupted.
Insight: Are there other things to be done to address these problems?
WAP: I'm pushing for our organization to begin a family-mentoring program so that these kids actually can see and sense what an intact family looks and feels like. Most of these kids have never seen an intact nuclear family. This is especially concerning because a strong nuclear family is the best antidote to the poisoning that results from the problems of these communities. But they've never seen such a thing, and how can we expect people to reproduce what they've never seen?
At the beginning you asked why I am doing this. Let me share with you an experience I'll never forget. One day I was singing in Longview, Texas, and when I finished, the preacher said, "Let me pray with you in front of the congregation." He prayed a beautiful prayer and he ended it with, "Lord, fill up his eyes with the eyes of the children." Oh man, I will never forget that.
Wintley Augustus Phipps: Performing for the National Day of Prayer at the White House on May 3.
Currently: President and founder, U.S. Dream Academy. Board of directors, Citizens' Scholarship Foundation of America. Pulpit pastor, Seabrook Seventh-day Adventist Church, Potomac Conference.
Personal: Born Jan. 7, 1955, Trinidad, West Indies. Reared in Montreal. Wife, Linda Diane; three sons, Wintley Augustus II, Winston Adriel and Wade Alexander.
Education: Oakwood College, Huntsville, Ala., bachelor of science in religion. Master of Divinity from Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Mich.
Publications: Author of Power of a Dream, 1996. Founder of Songs of Freedom Publishing Co. and Coral Records Recording Co. He has been twice nominated for a Grammy Award (1988 and 1989).
Career: Has served on boards of the Council for Religious Freedom and Prison Fellowship Ministries. Lectures on gospel music in Europe, Australia, Africa and the United States.
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