Thursday, April 29, 2004

Gadsden woman’s ministry teaches teens, college-age girls truths for godly lifestyles

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
April 29, 2004



While women like Britney Spears and Janet Jackson lead the fight for an “anything goes” mentality, many parents battle to keep their teens from being part of statistics this viewpoint generates.

More than 16,500 babies born in Alabama in 1996 were to girls 15–19 years old, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute.

But parents hope to curb these and other statistics through a ministry named Beyond the Eye (BTE), which focuses on teaching the truth of the Bible to girls grade 6 through college.

With a realistic approach to depression, fashion trends, sex, eating disorders, gossip and self-esteem, BTE holds one-day conferences, taught by college-age girls under the mentorship of its founder Leslie Gary.

Along with break-out seminars, the conference has a praise and worship time, a fashion show and skits. Each girl attending receives a gift bag with a T-shirt, Scripture cards and memory verse outline.
The ministry of BTE started with a Bible study Gary facilitated several years ago for college girls from her church, CrossPoint Community Church in Gadsden.

As the group grew, the concept for the ministry began to form. It held its first conference under the guidance of Breakaway Ministries, a Gadsden-based organization that organizes yearly retreats for students. A dozen BTE conferences later, Gary is juggling teaching responsibilities at Piedmont Elementary School and overseeing the ministry.

Because discipleship was a vital part of the Bible study, it is with the ministry as well. “Our job as women is to seek after Christ and become more like Him. Character will determine true beauty‚” she said.

With discipleship, memorizing Scripture is a vital key to the Christian life. Gary first learned the skill of memorizing Scripture from her father as he made his children quote a verse before each left for school.

No Scripture verse meant the tardy bell. In her adult life she developed a true love for Scripture and seeks to pass on this passion to help fend off temptations from the world.

“Girls are looking for attention and if they don’t get it at home, they are going to go to something or someone looking for it,” she said. She said craving love and attention can lead to wrong choices in dating, friends and fashion.

One of the most entertaining aspects of the conference — a fashion show and skit about the do’s and don’ts of girls’ clothing — is also the main reason boys are not allowed.

“Girls need a setting that they can be themselves and get a clear view of what a godly girl should be,” Gary said.

The skit is important because girls today are bombarded with images and fashion trends that give the wrong message to boys, she noted. “Girls can still be pretty and attractive without showing guys what only their future husband should see. I am thinking about adding a do’s and don’ts about fashion.”

Learning to dress appropriately is something Nikki McClellan, 21, had to learn from Gary. McClellan, a nursing student at Gadsden State Community College, leads the “Getting Past Your Past” seminar because she thinks it is important for girls to know God’s Word. Raised in a non-Christian home and engaging in hurtful activities, she speaks from her own experience and her heart.

“Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll were my life for five years‚” she said. That changed when she met Gary three years ago, and a discipleship lasting two years helped her to change her attitude and heal her spirit.

“God took the desires away,” McClellan said. “It is fun for me to wake up every morning and know that I am accepted by God. I am complete.”

The 17 college girls who lead the seminars are a close group that share with, encourage and teach each other as well as conference attenders.

The bond of friendship is important to Gadsden native, Randi Lipscomb, as she leads the “Friendship & Accountability” workshop.

The 20-year-old attends Auburn University where she pursues a degree in elementary education. She began to study the Bible with Gary in grade 7.

“Coming from a completely different background than Nikki, I was raised in church but I lacked passion for Christ.”

She is now able to teach girls why Christian friends are important. “So many times the reason we fall is that we are not being held accountable by anyone. Friendships are an investment.”

Lipscomb said she is grateful to her parents for providing a solid, Christian home but now Bible study time is the “most amazing encounter with God. I know who I am and teaching girls their identity in Christ is what Beyond the Eye is all about.”

Gary also speaks at church services, Sunday School classes and women’s conferences.

Recently Adrian Rogers invited her to speak to the young women at Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tenn. Gary said the opportunity was amazing and reminds her that the main goal is to teach young women to have a hunger and thirst to get to know Christ intimately.

“God’s Word is our sword to fight with, our convector and our lamp to guide us,” she said. “We hope to show that to girls.”

Copyright 2005© The Alabama Baptist. All Rights Reserved. Contact The Alabama Baptist

Thursday, March 04, 2004

FBC Opelika member sees DHR job as way to serve God

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
March 4, 2004

A high-level public servant in Alabama infuses commitment to Christ into his life and work as he fulfills his responsibilities to protect Alabama’s children.

Page Walley, a member of First Baptist Church of Opelika, leads the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) as commissioner.

He promises a new day in the child welfare agency that oversees child support enforcement, child and adult protective services, food stamps, foster care and adoption.

The post was left vacant when Bill Fuller announced his resignation to become a career missionary.

Like Fuller, Walley brings a strong sense of faith, desiring to be a vessel used by God. “I will follow the example of Jesus Christ and go out and serve and draw people to Him,” he said.

Raised in LaGrange, Tenn., a small antebellum town of 160 citizens, Walley, the oldest of three siblings, said his childhood offered the perfect environment. His father’s hard work at his job in the cotton industry and his mother’s commitment to raising the family created a safe and loving Christian home. This influence would guide Walley throughout his life.

Upon graduating from high school, he attended Davidson College, Davidson, N.C., on a football scholarship, where he still holds fifth place in the top 10 for career rushing yards.

Although he was a stand-out athlete at Davidson, the pigskin did not determine his future as much as a gothic-style psychiatric hospital located in Bolivar, Tenn., just 22 miles from his hometown.

“I always was intrigued by the mental health field and the massive state hospital and wanted to pursue psychology,” he said.

Walley said he publicly confessed his salvation in his junior high school gymnasium during an evangelism meeting. “I admit though, during my college years I did not always remember the lessons learned in my Christian home,” he said.

His faith would find replenishment after he completed a master’s and doctorate in psychology at the University of Georgia. He then took a residency at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Coral Gables, Fla., and joined University Baptist Church, Coral Gables.

The love and influence of his new church home, as well as the leadership of Dan Yeary, now senior pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church, Phoenix, Ariz., offered a renewed faith. Yeary recruited him as the director of Christian counseling ministry at University Baptist, a position he held 1985–1987.

The staff position afforded him the opportunity to discover a gift for preaching after occasionally preaching in Yeary’s absence. “The church approached me about licensing,” Walley said. “Their policy was to reserve ordination for those who have seminary training. The church wanted to recognize a calling in my life, but I am not a full-time preacher.”

So Walley was licensed to the gospel ministry by University Baptist Church in 1986.

Walley said he does a lot of guest speaking in churches and Sunday School classes and is interested in supply preaching.

He met his future wife, Terry, a Montgomery native and Auburn graduate, at University Baptist in Coral Gables. With a strong foundation built on Christ, the Walley family — which includes children Blake, Jordan and Annelise — moved back to his hometown in 1987 so he could take the position of clinic director of Quinco Community Mental Health in nearby Bolivar, Tenn.

Amid his interaction with people in the community, he regained a grassroots feel for the needs of the people, enough so that he ran for public office. “People kept saying things about changing the state policy, and so I ran for office,” he said.

This led him to serve in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1990 to 2000, sponsoring the legislation that created the department of children’s services in 1996. He held membership on the calendar and rules committee, health and human resources committee, finance committee and the governor’s task force to study child care.

But he decided after 10 years in public service he wanted to focus on his family and the career he loved, so he served as a consultant for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. He next became the department’s commissioner. In March 2003 he moved to Alabama when Gov. Riley appointed him director of the department of children’s affairs.

Although Walley was the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s 1994 Karl F. Heiser Award for Advocacy and several other awards, he wants no glory for his achievements.

He said it is the everyday heroes like his parents, grandmother, minister, his wife, his in-laws and those in adversity he has counseled, who have influenced him.

Copyright 2005© The Alabama Baptist. All Rights Reserved. Contact The Alabama Baptist

Adoption offers Alabama Baptists the opportunity to care for orphans

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
March 4, 2004

Alabama’s adoption activity in 2004 could reap more rewards for the state thanks to the Adoption Promotion Act of 2003.

Signed into law in December by President Bush, the law allows states to receive extra incentive money based on the number of older children adopted each year.

The new law renews a 1997 law that provides $4,000 to the state per finalized adoption, regardless of the child’s age and $6,000 for each special needs child adopted. But it adds an additional $4,000 to the state for each child adopted who is 9 years old or older. This is because most people prefer to adopt younger children or infants.

According to the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR), the state benefited from the 1997 law by receiving $519,821 for 838 adoptions from 1999 to 2002.

The incentive money will have no effect on the cost of adopting in Alabama, nor is it distributed directly to foster children, families or private child welfare agencies. The DHR receives 100 percent of the funds into its budget and the entire amount is allocated for the recruitment of foster parents and adoptive parents, their training and materials with which to train them.

While praising the previous adoptions in Alabama, newly appointed DHR Commissioner Page Walley appeals to Christians on behalf of the 200 children currently awaiting placement by the DHR Alabama office of adoption.

“As a Christian, I think we should hold true to our belief that involves taking care of orphans and widows‚” he said. “Putting our faith into action means taking care of the least of these.” Walley — a licensed counselor, former Tennessee legislator and licensed Southern Baptist minister — believes bringing a child into a home is an act of worship.

“It is a calling,” Walley said. “Taking care of children is our Christian duty and when we do [it], we are blessed.”

The number of finalized adoptions in Alabama has risen since 1999 when 152 children were adopted. Couples adopted 200 children in 2000, 237 in 2001 and 249 in 2002. The figures for 2003 were not finalized at press time.

Walley said the children who are available for adoption through the state DHR are there because parental rights have been terminated for various reasons.

Some children in foster care or awaiting adoption have special medical or emotional needs. These needs should be carefully considered by prospective parents, since adoption is a final commitment to a child.

“People need to have open hearts and need to realize that they come out of situations not of their own making,” Walley said. “We need to recognize that these children really are the least of these.”

Children categorized as having special medical or emotional needs include any child over the age of 8; any black child over the age of 2; a child with mental, physical or emotional difficulties; sibling groups of three or more and a child with a high risk background, such as one born to a cocaine-addicted mother.

“We need to support the (DHR) workers. Sometimes they may fail but more often they are the only safety net for these children.” One idea Walley has for churches and individuals to support DHR is to “spiritually” adopt children. “We need to commit to prayer for children and workers. Their battle is not just physical, but they need spiritual protection and they need to know they are loved,” he said.

Walley said a Web site set up by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services features photos and biographies of children awaiting adoption in Alabama and other states — www.adoptuskids.org.

“We need to bathe them in prayer. As a body of believers, we must pray,” he said.

To adopt a child an Alabama couple must be at least 19 years old, have been married for three or more years and undergo 30 classroom hours of training by DHR. Other requirements apply, including but not limited to criminal background checks.

A child lives with his or her adoptive parents for three months before the adoption process can be sanctioned by the courts, plus a social worker must give consent for the adoption to proceed. At this point the couple begins the legal process in probate court. Once this court process is complete, the adoption is finalized and the state may then receive funds from the Adoption Act of 2003.

A ministry opportunity can also be found through foster care. Eligibility requirements include the foster parent’s being at least 19 years old, the ability to provide a safe, comfortable atmosphere for the child with enough space for the child and his/her belongings and a home that conforms to Alabama minimum standards for foster family homes. Another requirement is that all members of the family be in good health, with all adults agreeing to undergo a thorough background check, including criminal history.

Every county offers a local department of human resources that provides the 30-hour preparation course for foster care with foster families receiving guidance from an assigned social worker.

Foster parents receive a monthly payment for room and board, but are limited to a maximum of six children at one time.

Prospective foster parents can also contact the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries (ABCH). With campuses for children and youth in Decatur and Mobile and group homes in Mobile, Dothan, Gardendale, Oxford and Alabaster, ABCH also licenses and trains foster families. Paul Miller, ABCH executive director, said they are always in need of Christian couples.

“This is a ministry opportunity and we are looking for the type of people who are willing to open their homes and invest in children‚” Miller said. The staff, which includes social workers and counselors, provides supportive services and works diligently to match families with children, he added.

To contact ABCH, call 205-982-1112, 1-888-720-8805 or visit the resources section of www.thealabamabaptist.org.


Copyright 2005© The Alabama Baptist. All Rights Reserved. Contact The Alabama Baptist

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Anniston, Bessemer youth fast, become ‘homeless’ to help others

Matthew Wilson tries to shield himself from the cold during HillCrest Baptist's homelessness event.

By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
February 26, 2004

As most teenagers in Alabama prepare for weekend nights of fun on the town, some youth are putting aside this social frivolity for lessons in gratitude. Teenagers in the youth group at Hillcrest Baptist Church, Anniston, gathered Jan. 23 in the parking lot of the church to experience homelessness.

They unfolded cardboard boxes suitable for shelter and spread blankets for warmth. Fifty-five gallon drums for fires littered the concrete.

While the rules included being able to bring blankets and empty boxes, aid from electricity was not allowed. The 70 youth and adults who participated also had to defeat hunger brought on by the 24-hour fast, which started at 6 a.m. the day of the event.

The event was organized by Tim Thomas, Hillcrest’s youth pastor. To coincide with the event the youth collected two truckloads of used blankets, coats, gloves and clothes to donate to Calhoun County shelters that assist the homeless.

“We are attempting to get teenagers out of their comfort zone and get out of the ordinary lifestyle,” Thomas said.

He believes it is only the start of teaching the youth to meet the needs of people in the community. “We have no idea where it is going to end up, but we know where it is going to start,” he said.

Maghen Haynes, 18, said the experience offered her a lifetime of gratitude.

“At first I did not know if I could handle it, but I don’t regret it. I realize now that I don’t take anything for granted,” she said.

The Wellborn High School senior encourages other youth groups to have similar awareness events because it unites people.

The National Coalition for the Homeless indicates approximately 39 percent of the homeless population are children.

The most at risk for becoming homeless are people living in poverty. A growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty are primarily to blame for h0omelessness.

Hunger is a major part of homelessness. To combat world hunger teenagers from Loveless Park Baptist Church, Bessemer, will observe a fast for world hunger Feb. 27–28.

For 30 hours more than 30 students are expected to go without food after asking sponsors to donate money that will go to World Vision, a nonprofit organization coordinating efforts to relieve world hunger in many countries.

“This will bring our students to an awareness they have never felt before,” said Will Nahrgang, minister to youth.

To begin the Friday and Saturday World Vision 30-Hour Famine the youth will begin fasting at 12:30 p.m. wherever they are on Friday. They will gather at the church at 6:30 p.m. to begin a night of varied group activities. The event will end 6:30 Saturday evening.

Nahrgana cited World Vision statistics that 29,000 children in the world die every day from hunger and other problems. It takes $30 to feed and care for a child for one month and $360 to feed a child for a year.

“I know that when we participate in the 30-hour famine we will be changing lives and spreading the love of Christ to those in need,” he said.

His youth group’s goal is to raise $7,200 — enough to feed 20 children for one year in a developing country. (Anthony Wade contributed)

Copyright 2005© The Alabama Baptist. All Rights Reserved. Contact The Alabama Baptist

Thursday, January 01, 2004

About Me

Before I started teaching in 2012, I was the Managing Editor of Longleaf Style magazine and Special Publications Editor at The Anniston Star. This job offered me a chance to fulfill my dream of being a journalist, but I felt something was missing from my life. I didn't even know something was missing until I became a teacher. 

I've been married to Mickey for 28 years and we have two sons, Solomon and Simeon.  

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION

LIFE-LONG JOURNEY
My philosophy of education reflects the idea of a life-long journey of learning. From the first breath to the last, education is a constant process. As John Dewey said, “Education is growth. Education is, not a preparation for life; it is life itself.”

INDIVIDUALIZED LEARNING
Individualized learning and individualized success is important to me. In order to understand how to teach a student, I feel that I must understand the whole student and his or her personal journey. Each student brings experiences from his or her home, culture, and social life to the classroom. So, when a student enters my classroom, I have no preconceived ideas about the student. I value only what I witness for myself and seek to help each student learn in his or her unique way. My desire is for every student to take responsibility for his/her learning and to be motivated to excel.

ACTIVE AND FREE

Learning, to me, is active. In Progressivism, the foundation of learning is not passive. I appreciate the Progressive belief that learners are seen as problem solvers and thinkers. To me, engagement in the process of learning is essential to success. An environment that embraces communication and fluid learning between the student, the community, family, and school is important.

EDUCATION 
Master of Science in Education, Secondary Education, ELA 
Expected graduation date: Fall 2017 
Jacksonville State University 
Jacksonville, AL 

Bachelor of Social Work 
Minor: Sociology 
Graduated: 1996 
Jacksonville State University 
Jacksonville, AL 

CERTIFICATIONS 
TEACHING 
Career Technical Education Certificate 
Alabama Department of Education 
Valid: 7/1/2013 - 6/30/2018    
Specialty Area 3, Career and Technical (CS3)    
Grade Level: 6-12    
Technical Education (025)    
Technical Education: Advertising Design (T01)    
Technical Education: Graphic Arts (T18) 

SOCIAL WORK 
Licensed Bachelor Social Work 
Alabama State Board of Social Work Examiners 
Valid: 3/1/1997-3/31/2007 

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS 
Alabama Education Association (AEA) 
Alabama Association for Career & Technical Education (ALACTE) 
Association for Supervision & Curriculum (ASCD) 
National Education Association (NEA) 
Phi Delta Kappa 

PRESENTATIONS 
Freedom's Choice 
CORE Academy, Jacksonville State University, 2015 
The Freedom Rides of 1961 and some Calhoun County residents clashed on May 14, 1961 when members of a local Klan Kavern burned the Greyhound bus in the Welborn community and beat Freedom Riders on the Trailways bus. This workshop focused on the local history of the Greyhound bus, the photos taken by Joe Postiglione for The Anniston Star, and ways to teach the topic in secondary schools. 

Cover It!  
CORE Academy, Jacksonville State University, 2015 
Workshop about communications, journalism and media in classroom projects. 

Augmented Reality in the Classroom 
CORE Academy, Jacksonville State University, 2014 
Augmented Reality (AR) is a merging of the physical and virtual reality worlds. Using an iPad, iPhone, or Android device, apps like Aurasma and Layar allow a printed page to link with digital content, like websites, videos, coupons, social media, photo galleries, 3D animations, and audio. The Anniston Star: http://webmedia.newseum.org/newseum-multimedia/tfp_archive/2014-06-06/pdf/AL_AS.pdf 

Connect. Create. Change 
CORE Academy, Jacksonville State University, 2014. 
Integration of technology in the classroom. Using digital art and media projects to allow students to Connect to the topic, Create a project, and Change the way the student learns. Connect. Create. Change.