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Keidra Boaze, High School Equivalency Instructor

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hand and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are about the earth.” Deuteronomy 11: 13-21

My name is Keidra Boaze and I am one of the High School Equivalency Instructors at Advance Memphis. Teaching is a huge passion of mine. The gift of teaching that the Lord has given me has proven all the more that I was made in his image–He is the one TRUE teacher and I have learned so much from him. In light of this, our licensed counselor, Molly Akin and I decided to begin a brain development/parenting class based on the curriculum from the Urban Child Institute titled Touch Talk Read Play (TTRP). Our heart was to further equip our neighbors in 38126 with tools for ways to help their children develop cognitively, socio-emotionally, and physically.

We recently began our first pilot class and I’ve been blown away by participants’ response to it. In the beginning, I thought that–based on different cultural practices–that students might be offended by the content. I also thought that we would be doing a lot more teaching than learning. After only a couple classes, I have learned that I was very wrong. Our participants have been eager to learn about child development and how many different circumstantial and environmental activities can affect their child’s (ren’s) brain both negatively and positively. They have also been FULL of wisdom. I come from a poor African American family and I am even learning the not ALL cultural practices are wrong. The key was helping our participants see that they were also doing some things right! We never want to destroy their dignity and the work that they have done as best as they can.

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One of the participants has older children. She, as well as other participants, was beginning to feel defeated by some of the discussions. We had to reassure the entire class that it was NEVER too late to restore those relationships and continue to help their children develop. The challenge to them was to implement a strategy from the Touch module which includes talking as well. She said that her 14 year old was feeling neglected by her. During the week, she decided to spend quality time with him by taking him to dinner. In class discussion, she expressed her excitement about his response to their time together. We were so excited for her and to see that things are never too late for redemption.

The passage I quoted above is really the foundation of child development. In the context of Israel, they were to tell the good news of the Lord to their children in every circumstance. We, too, are desiring for our participants to TTRP with their children in different capacities, especially in sharing the truth of who Christ is. I am grateful to take part in such an amazing class.

Keidra Boaze
kboaze@advancememphis.org