Three years ago, my father passed away as I held his hand and told him how much it meant to me to have had a father like him. It seems like yesterday as my husband Jim, and his exceptionally compassionate physician, Dr. Hawthorne, who to date, proudly speaks of the reciprocal role Papa played as a mentor to him, rendered their support.
I feel compelled to mark this day with the brief letter below to the man of few but effective and wise words that I call “Papa”:
Three years ago, you took your last breath as I held your hand and seized the moment to send you off with a tear-filled tribute only deserving of the likes of you. Your legacy will forever live on if I have anything to do with it. I thank you for showing by example that it is indeed possible for one to successfully interact with people of differing points of view and orientations to achieve a common goal that speaks to the preservation of humanity.
Thank you, “Mr. Activity Cole”, for giving me something to think about with regards to your resolve to uphold the true spirit of Fourah Bay College’s motto: Non Sibi Sed Allis (“Not for themselves, but for others”)— through your service to others. You know it is not easy, but if you did it, so can I.
It is a wonderful thing to daily recall moments of your caring and engaging fatherly spirit. I thank God for the gift of a father such as you.
Rest in Perfect Peace, Papa.
It is only fitting that I share my take-away from a wear-your art silk scarf-designing workshop I facilitated at the East Meadow Public Library a few days ago, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
I want to start by commiserating with fellow artists around the world who prepare for and facilitate workshops with the mindset that they are as a ‘task’ that they must accomplish… otherwise characterized as a Job. While it makes sense that something that we do for a living should be regarded as such and expected accordingly, the
The following is an account I wrote and presented in print to the Executive Director at the Uniondale Early Childhood Center’s first annual awards gala. As UECC prepares for its 25th anniversary dinner, I find the contents appropriate enough to share today, in this format, as an introduction to what this Early Childhood Center stands for. Needless to say, that you are invited to participate in this celebration with us. Please find the invitation and journal ad opportunity below this post.
– Madona Cole-Lacy –
I Just Can’t Keep it to Myself: The Components of a Successful Pre-K Graduation Ceremony
The Uniondale Early Childhood Center conducted their graduation and moving up ceremony today. What a joy it was to see the bright, well-groomed, and talented graduates march in on cue! It was also obvious to me that this group of children had been taught so that it would not be necessary to teach them the basics when they reach adulthood.
These children had been prepared for a lot more than reading and writing. They were way up there in the social graces department. Dr. Mary Cameron and her staff had prepared these leaders of tomorrow, in a manner that is driven by a passion that is second to none. Kudos to them for a job indeed well done! Now what was it about this ceremony that grabbed my attention? Aside from the impressive comportment of the children, the hearty rendition of the song “I believe I can fly”, there were elements present that made the occasion truly meaningful. The guest speaker, Monique Euell, an aspiring Elementary Education teacher, who will be starting her 3rd year at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, was most impressive in her delivery which comprised of a specially crafted message for each group present. As she addressed the graduates, I was excited to learn that she had actually spent time with them as a group at the center and that she was able to characterize each one of them by name. That was meaningful and what’s more? The children listened attentively! Another display of leadership was characterized by the poise, stamina and confidence of the Guest Soloist, Christina Phillips. Christina, a young lady on visit from St. Vincent. It was wonderful to see Christina so comfortable in her skin even though she was in ‘strange’ surroundings. Sydni Baker, a 9th grade student at Half Hollow High School was featured as the UECC representative on the New York Child Care coalition. Sydni visited Albany to lobby for improvements in child care and included an essay of her experience in the graduation program. Yet another leader to be reckoned with! Of note was the fact that Eric Musonza a past graduate of the Uniondale Child Care Center, received a full scholarship to Yale University.
The involvement of local public officials was also a good thing. The certificates of recognition served as a testimony that the executive director thought of her students and their accomplishments as newsworthy and important enough to invite these officials who have shown interest in the center over the years.
There were of course, many other activities that made the ceremony a grand one.
In summary, I would say that the components of this successful pre-school graduation ceremony, are as follows:
1. The involvement of young people in the program.
2. A guest speaker who knew the graduates well, due to interactions with them in the past.
3. The involvement of local public officials.
4. The overall empowerment of young people who already see themselves as leaders and role models to the graduates.
5. The dedication and passion for teaching and learning as demonstrated by the Executive Director and staff.
Madona Cole-Lacy, M.A.Ed., Program Director/Facilitator
James A. Lacy, LCSW, Mental Health Director
Madona Cole-Lacy is a registered Nassau and Eastern Suffolk BOCES Teaching Artist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
My Time Has Come Program Provides art-related workshops for Schools * Libraries * Faith and Community-Based Organizations.
Promotes and Supports Equality * Inclusion * Diversity.
Fosters a sense of belonging, accomplishment and pride gained from the creation of well executed culturally-inspired works of art.
Develops skills and techniques in the execution of handcrafted contemporary and multicultural textile designs and visual arts.
It is only fitting that I share my take-away from a wearable art silk scarf-designing workshop I recently facilitated at the East Meadow Public Library through my social and cultural enrichment program, My Time Has Come . The sources of inspiration for this workshop were many, with Valentine’s day and Passover on most minds, and not to speak of themes that some participants had already given thought to before they arrived!
I want to start by ‘commiserating’ with fellow artists around the world who prepare for, and facilitate workshops with the mindset that they have a ‘task’ that they must accomplish… otherwise known as a Job. This was not a job for me. It was yet another “this is why I do what I do” opportunity for me. Thanks, to the participants. For what is of utmost importance and most gratifying to me, as a facilitating artist, is the enthusiasm and willingness of participants of all age groups to try new things, the camaraderie shared by ‘strangers’ in some cases, and last but not least, the desire for excellence in creativity that results in exceptionally crafted pieces they can take home with them. This was present in great measure!
I must say, I really expected nothing less from participants who did not use the pouring rain as an excuse to stay away. Suffice it say that it was that same spirit of determination that filled the room. Determination to try something new, to make the most of it and, as far as I am concerned, succeed at it. You, the reader of this post, can register your opinion on the accompanying visuals.
As my heartfelt gratitude goes out to this outstanding group, I must share that for the first time as a workshop facilitator, I was asked on more than one occasion to stop for a moment to hydrate as a result of what must have struck someone as me “on overdrive”, as I passionately executed my task. I thought that was so sweet and nurturing! (I had no idea I was perspiring at all…as the pictures would reveal later!) I also want to thank those who privately shared with me their observations about what they observed as my commitment to what I do. I intend to use those kind sentiments to further motivate myself as I strive for excellence in all I do. Those, who could, stayed behind to help with the inevitable post-workshop clean-up and pack up. How wonderful that was! Thank You, to Charlie who helped us settle in, Jude Schanzer, the Director of Public Relations and Programming, and last but not least, my husband, James Lacy, for his role as the photographer and another set of helping hands.
For many years now, I have been affiliated with Nassau Boces Barry Tech- quite naturally drawn to what they do for high school students who need more exposure and support out of the walls of the traditional classroom. Barry Tech affords hands-on opportunities to students who are artistically and technical minded in a setting that is just for them! As a Fashion Industry Partner (under Madona Cole Originals) over the years, I have taken in student interns, offered Mini Workshops and contributed to the integrity of the fashion design program technology curriculum.
Thank you Barry Tech for showing your appreciation with an Appreciation Brunch every year. Thank you for the certificate of appreciation you for 2016!
“It was yet another pleasant reminder of why I have chosen to utilize my passion for the arts to creatively communicate and interact with others!” -Madona Cole-Lacy-Workshop Facilitator…
My quest to contribute to the making of the world a smaller place took me to Bellport High School last week. It was a pleasure to meet and interact with a mix of multi-ethnic students with the express purpose of assisting them in identifying and celebrating their respective cultural heritage and family traditions in preparation for the designing and creation of their own unique Coat of Many CulturesTM (This project is funded by a grant from South Country Education Foundation to the school)
There were students who spoke with a great sense of confidence, others who, even though they did not say it, would have preferred to introduce themselves in terms of a subculture they had created or acquired that they were obviously comfortable with. Others appeared to be disconnected from their cultural background because “they were born here” and had not been exposed to “anything” “cultural. Whatever the case may be, I stay committed to my role in the lives of these students as we work diligently toward designing a coat that will not only speak to their identity for years to come, but will take them on a journey of self-empowerment and appreciation for their cultural heritage.
(Madona Cole-Lacy with Art Students at Bellport High School – Easing Into the Creative Process Through Engagement)
As I anticipate an unpredictable yet successful execution of these series of workshops which I facilitate in Long Island and beyond, I want to highlight a few points that I believe society can bear in mind as they nurture and empower their children particularly in times like these when teachers are reporting bully related incidents that are targeted at children who may not necessarily represent the race and cultural background of those who torment them.
1. If we instill a strong sense of belonging in our children, there will be no need to worry about them being victimized by others. There are no “others” in an all-inclusive world where people work together for the common good of humanity.
2. It is important to maintain family traditions that reinforce cultural values.
3. Parents should do an ancestry search, and share information about family heritage with their children.
4. We should research and/or review the history of our cultural/ethnic/racial/religious group, and hold family discussions regarding this background and how it currently impacts each family member.
5. Promote social studies and history education in schools that is fully inclusive of all ethnic, racial, religious and cultural groups. This should emphasize their values and contributions to humanity.
We can’t know where we’re going until we know who we are and where we as people have been or been through.
Learn more about my art-related personal development and social/cultural enrichment workshops tailored to schools and community organizations here.