My last post D:

“I thank my God every time I remember you.”

Philippians 1:3

“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

Dr. Seuss

As I reflect back on my time as an intern at Fannie Battle Day Home, I am forced to consider it as simply a blessing. It was truly a blessing to be chosen as a Turner Fellow, a blessing to be chosen to work at FBDH, and a blessing that this summer went exactly how it went. One of the main reasons I wanted to become a Turner Fellow was because I thought this experience would change me for the better. After this summer, I am very pleased to realize that I have learned more about myself and that I grew as a person. This experience has allowed me to not be as uptight, become more extroverted, become more of a leader and become more independent. These four traits are things that I have lacked throughout the entirety of my life and thanks to FBDH, I have gained these valuable attributes.

The Bible verse above represents something that I have been constantly doing since leaving on my last day. Every time I think about that amazing place, the delightful staff and the wonderful kids, I have no choice but to thank God for giving me this opportunity.

The quote from Dr. Seuss above describes something that I have had trouble in fulfilling. Leaving FBDH on my last day was actually very depressing. I am not exaggerating when I say that I was truly distraught and it was very difficult to stop crying. The tears started when I was at the door of the school age classroom and was struggling to exit because all the kids ran over and embraced me in a warm hug. During that moment, I realized there was no point in trying to hide the tears. Every time I think about FBDH, my natural reaction is to shed a few tears in remembrance of the best summer of my life. Now I realize that I should just be thankful for the experience and not cry but smile, like the quote says.

I will miss this place so much and am extremely grateful that I had this opportunity. In total I completed 256 hours. If I had had the time, I most definitely would have worked more. All of that to say, I find joy in knowing that I will be back to FBDH. I have already planned to return during fall break, but I am sure I will be back before then.

Below are some pictures from my last day.

Thank you all for joining me on this journey! I hope you enjoyed reading my weekly updates as much as I enjoyed writing them!

Arianna (my left) and Annalise (my right)
These two girls asked to be my sister so this is a picture of 3 sisters 🙂
School age kids 🙂
Some pre-schoolers 🙂
More pre-schoolers 🙂

Week 7: My last week :(

Going into work on the last Monday of my Turner Fellowship was very hard. I was greeted by Mrs. Melissa who appeared disheartened at the thought of this being my last week. However, this week was a handful. It was full of several small activities for the kids to do which led up to the big event on Friday.

Monday, was a normal day spent in school age except for when Coach Flegel came and took some action pictures of the kids and I.

On Tuesday I joined the school age classroom once more. After lunch every day, the kids have a special period of time that is devoted to reading. They are allowed to pick out at least 3 books to read on their own. Today, we took a few kids out at a time and read outside in the front of the building for a change in scenery. After this, another group went outside and made signs for the big event on Friday called Ride for Reading.

Reading outside!
Ride for Reading poster

Wednesday was a pretty average day as well. In school age, another group of kids was able to make more signs for the Ride for Reading event.

Thursday was a normal day in school age. As my last day was approaching soon, it became harder and harder to treat every day normally. On this day I changed the decoration in one of the hallways to advertise and encourage reading. This was very fun and I was quite pleased with the end result.

The new hallway decorations 🙂

Friday, my last day, was very sad. However, this day was super busy so it was easy to not focus on the reality. Today was the day for the Ride for Reading event. This event involved dozens of bike riders who rode 4 miles to reach FBDH to deliver books for the kids. They brought enough books for each kid to have at least 5! Hearing this was truly remarkable because these kids really love to read and now they have some brand new books. Upon arrival to my last day I helped Mrs. Melissa set up for this big event which did not take long. We filled jugs of water for the bikers, carried out tables, etc. Once the bikers arrived they explained everything that would happen and after the kids had the chance to pick out their books, some of the bikers read their books to them. They of course loved this because they love being read to. Not only did bikers come to FBDH, but 2 police horses and an Italian ice company joined the fun as well! The kids LOVED seeing these horses and they enjoyed the Italian ice. To make this event an even bigger success, two kids whose names were randomly chosen received two brand new bikes and bike helmets!

Some of the books that were delivered
Kids with their new bikes !!
Annalise meeting of the horses

As this event was coming to a close, the school age kids rushed to the auditorium because The Science Guy came and gave them a quick science lesson! Nearing the end of the day I took some pictures of the kids with new school supplies gifted to them by United Way and the Titans. Since this day was my last day I decided to go visit the other classrooms and say goodbye. Upon entering each of the classrooms I was greeted with hugs and smiles by the little kids. Saying goodbye to these kids who had such a large impact on me was one of the hardest things I have had to do. I will truly miss all of them and this summer could not have been any better. I am very thankful for FBDH and the Turner Fellowship Organization for allowing me to have this life changing opportunity.

Some of the kids with their new school supplies 🙂

Week 6: A shorter week

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Winnie the Pooh

My Turner Fellowship is sadly coming to a close as I begin my final week tomorrow. In preparing for many goodbyes, I must reflect on yet another week that has passed. Week 6, being only 3 days long, was a time for strengthening bonds and preparing to tie the knot on friendships made during this amazing experience.

On Monday and Tuesday I devoted my time to school age (not surprising :)). To say the least, there is never a dull moment up there. Every day is a new day in school age and every day brings some of the same and different experiences as other days. On Tuesday, a group of school agers went to the Microsoft shop in Green Hills where they played games like Fortnite and Minecraft, while also learning about software. I did not join them because I stayed back to help with the other group of kids still at FBDH that would go to Microsoft on Thursday. Even though I was not there, the kids that returned quickly and excitedly filled me in on everything that happened, which truly made me feel as if I had experienced it myself.

Wednesday, the last day of week 6, was spent in school age! However, I had the pleasure of seeing some of my favorite little kids including: King, Adriel and Chase who ran up and hugged me, Maddie, Zayden, Zorey, Cingston, Marlo and the kids from Sunbeams. Apart from seeing these kids again, this day was also special because I became closer with new friends in school age. Every day for parts of outside time, I sit on a rock with my friends Brookyln and Johanna and watch some of the kids play football. After seeing us three sit on the rock, others eventually come join us and it is a super fun time. Johanna and Brookyln are very close friends and it is interesting to hear their stories, their laughs and to hear about their friendship. On Wednesday we also played with chalk outside and some of the girls made very beautiful drawings of rainbows, flowers and more. Needless to say, this short week was very exciting.

The quote included at the beginning of this post is an accurate description of my feelings towards this summer. My Turner Fellowship experience has been nothing short of a blessing and I am extremely thankful that God gave me this incredible opportunity. I am extremely lucky and blessed that I was apart of something that I love so much. Saying goodbye to this place, these kids and this staff will truly be one of the hardest goodbyes and the tears have already started. While this summer is coming to a close, I find peace in knowing that I will still be working with this organization during the school year and hopefully for the rest of my life.

Week 5: An eventful week

This week was definitely not normal to say the least. It was full of surprises and new adventures that I am so glad I was apart of.

Monday was pretty normal. I went back to one of my favorite classrooms, Sunbeams, to see Silas, Julius, Aiden, Wells, Casey, Maddie, etc. These are by far my favorite little kids and I am so glad that they remembered me from when I first saw them. Whether it was Aiden constantly calling me momma or Silas always wanting me to hold him, this day was super fun and refreshing.

On Tuesday I accompanied the school agers on a field trip to Circus World in Hendersonville. Here, we had the opportunity of choosing to roller skate, bowl, laser tag, bumper cars and much more. Fun story:: I am terrified of skating but I did it anyways and was astonished to see that the majority of the kids could skate and it was quite embarrassing– but I did not fall!

Micah and I skating
Skating!
(Tip: If you want a good quality picture, don’t let a 9 year old take it)

On Wednesday I had the honor of accompanying my supervisor, Mrs. Melissa, to an agency fair led by Blue Cross Blue Shield with a few other nonprofits in Nashville including Safe Haven, Operation Stand Down, Senior Ride, United Way and more. This was a really cool experience because I got to see a major part of Mrs. Melissa’s job and we had the opportunity to tell different people about FBDH and discuss volunteer opportunities with them. Since I share some of the same responsibilities as a volunteer at FBDH, I could really connect with these people and tell them what I do everyday in hopes of encouraging them to volunteer as well. I also got to learn more about other non profits in the area that I did not know about before.

Thursday was a normal day in school age!

On Friday I ran the Summer Reading Book store again which is always a delight because I can reward children for reading which encourages them to read more. After this I went to school age until around 1:00 pm. At this time I went with Mrs. Melissa and Mrs. Stacie to a hotel in Cool Springs where we picked up 500 snack packs made for FBDH and other nonprofits by the Hansen Group. Seeing all of this food packaged especially for FBDH was super cool. The Hansen Group has made such a large impact on FBDH and the other non profits by doing this big deed. Seeing that this simple idea has such a big impact gives me hope that I can change other peoples lives by doing something similar. When we returned, I went back to school age to see the kids make bouncy balls that resemble planets with a science guy. This was really interesting and quite simple and the kids loved it!

Kids making bouncy balls
Bouncy ball (almost finished)

Weeks 3 & 4

Weeks 3 && 4 of my Turner Fellowship at Fannie Battle were the most relaxed weeks I have had since I started, mainly because at the beginning of week 3 I had officially settled in and I started to have a routine. That being said, these weeks were still nonetheless crazy and fun– like every week so far. All of that to say, I decided that I would like to dedicate the majority of my time to the school age classroom because the school age kids are always full of surprises and always wanting to chat. However, since the little kids are the sweetest and always a treat to be with, I try to spend a lot of time with them as well.

Week 3 was spent solely in school age with the exclusion of Wednesday morning. I have found out that if I spend the morning with the little kids and leave at my lunch time (while the kids are sleeping), I can easily join school age for the rest of the day which is truly the best of both worlds. All of that to say, during this week of school age, I not only made new friends but my relationships with those I formerly met grew as well. Wednesday was a very interesting day. In the morning I was in the preschool classroom, Fernando Frogs, again to see some of my favorite kids. Not only did I see my favorites, I made new favorites especially one kid named Zorey. Zorey is the sweetest little boy and he always wanted to sit in my lap. Soon after joining this classroom I helped out some staff members in staining new wooden toys for the playground. This was a very cool experience because I had never done anything like this before and because in completing this task I knew that in addition to leaving an emotional impact (I hope) on FBDH, I would also leave a tangible impact.

Two of my favorites: Chris && Kadence
(they are siblings)
Keon (on my left) and Gary (on my right)
Owl Hill !

Week 4 was a shorter week for me because I left Thursday morning for a quick trip to Florida. While it was shorter, there is no doubt this week was not as wild as the others given that I spent my 3 days in school age. Monday I learned how to use a stamp machine (stamp machine is definitely not the proper name but I do not know the real name) which instantly prints stamps onto envelopes within two seconds. This was definitely a strange and enlightening experience but these machines are very handy so I am glad I got the opportunity to use one. On Tuesday I went with a group of school agers to Owl Hill. We saw a few owls, learned about feathers, and listened to bird calls. Needless to say, even though I am older than the kids, there is still a lot more that I can learn about a lot of things– especially birds :).

From my time at FBDH, especially with school age, I have learned many very important lessons. The most important being to “stay in my own lane” if you will. I realized that I began to take it upon myself to act as a teacher in some events, which it turns out is not fun for me or the kids. While yes, it is my job to be the responsible one and be in control of every situation I am involved in with the kids, but in a mentor sense. Trying to fit into a teacher role and be more strict results in less fun and more stress. So, being a mentor and leading the children in the right direction which is away from disputes and wrongdoings suits me better than being a teacher. That being said, I have A LOT of respect for the teachers because their jobs are extremely hard.

My second week!

Monday: On Monday I was in the Butterflies classroom which contains children from ages 2-3. I met some new friends named : Adriel, Steele, Chace, Harper M, Harper C, Emma, Jacob and King. I was able to celebrate King’s birthday with him and it was super fun! By far the best part of today was when I saw my buddy Silas. We ran to each other on the playground and gave each other a huge hug. This moment was very reassuring because it shows that he remembers me and that I am making a difference in his life which makes me very happy.

Adriel (far left), Chace (standing up), Emma (far right), Jacob (behind Emma)
Steele

Tuesday: Today I was in the Bumblebee classroom which also is for children who are 2-3 years old. I met Drake, Remi, Cooper, Kaylee, Jacob, Beulah, Nell, Za’ariyah and Kaceon. I was able to work with another volunteer, Vanessa. She is the same age as me so having this opportunity was very refreshing.

Wednesday: Today I was in the Fernando Frogs classroom which is for pre-schoolers. The new friends I met are named Jayce, Maddie, Kenn’drick, Zayden, Kaden, Amarson, Emery and Kamari. I learned how to laminate things today and I find it very fun. The 50th anniversary of the book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” is tomorrow and the kids are rehearsing for a play where Miss Tennessee will read the story. We were rehearsing all day and the play will be amazing! During outside time I played basketball and learned that these kids are actually really good at sports.

Thursday: I was with the pre-schoolers of the Fannie Frogs classroom. I met Jo’hanna, Ma’siah, Eli, Paisley, Annie, June, Trae, Larenzo and Ta’ Teyonna. We rehearsed more for the play this afternoon. Vanessa and I assembled some new toys for the kids to play with outside. I was able to get to know Jayce better today and he is the sweetest kid ever. We had some really fun conversations :).

Jo’hanna, Jayce and I

Friday: SCHOOL AGE TODAY!! Some new friends I met are named Gary, Johanna, Kadence, Chris, Jodee, Jeremiah, Levi, Zachary, Rowan, Rohan, Sam, Jayla, Syntel, Clea and Cleo. The school age kids are awarded the oppportunity to take swimming lessons during the day at the YMCA. They alternate groups and these groups go swimming on different days every week. I think this is an amazing opportunity for these kids because swimming lessons are super important and they can learn for free. At the end of the day, Gary gave me this toy he had been playing with and it made my heart so happy !!!

Typical Day at Fannie Battle

Everyday at Fannie Battle I am doing something different. There is not really a set daily schedule which I actually enjoy. When I walk in at 8:00 am, I never know what I will be doing until 4:00 pm when I leave. This being said, most days I go into a classroom until lunch and after lunch I go back into that classroom until it is time to leave. On other days I may be running the book store or helping my supervisor with some of her duties, while still having plenty of time to play with the kids. With all of this in mind, I have really enjoyed my time at Fannie Battle so far. I have met so many new friends and the only sad thing is knowing that I will not be able to stay with these kids as they grow older. These are some of the sweetest kids and they have so much potential and I wish I could stay with them forever. Knowing this, I realize I must take advantage of this wonderful experience and have the biggest impact on their lives while I can.

I truly love Fannie Battle. From the kids to the amazing staff, this place is truly magical. I love the weekends but I cannot wait for Mondays!!

Overview of my first week

The first full week of my Turner Fellowship was full of nerves and excitement. The loving staff made it easy for me to begin and the atmosphere truly feels like a family. This past week mainly consisted of doing office work for my supervisor and hanging out with the kids which allowed me to get a taste of every role at Fannie Battle.

My first day I worked with my supervisor and at the end of the day I was outside with the pre-school aged kids while they were playing outside. This allowed me to meet some of the kids that I would get to know more later in the week.

My second day I joined the infant/toddler room and met many new friends including: Silas, Julius, Kate, J’ael, Joe’l and Jo Jo. These kids were no older than 16 months, so it was an interesting experience to say the least. As we played on the carpet with many toys, I was able to teach them the word ‘ball’ which resulted in them repeating this word constantly all day long. Not only was this day full of learning on my end, I believe that I was able to teach these young kids a little in return. At the end of the day I realized that after just one day I had already made an impact on the classroom when after saying bye to Silas he, in return, gave me two hugs. These two hugs had an huge impact on me and caused me to feel as if I had a big influence in such a short period of time.

J’ael and I

My third day I was in the “Sunbeams” classroom with kids whose ages varied from 1-2 years. This day I made even more friends including: Aiden, Wells, Casey, Aubrei, Maddie, King and Remi. I hung out with these kids all day and I grew very close to them. Even though I had one kid wanting me to hold him constantly and three kids in my lap at the same time while reading a book for the majority of the day, I can happily say this was one of my favorite classrooms.

Aiden 🙂
Wells (far left), Remi (to my left), and Aiden (to my right)

The forth day I ran errands with my supervisor for the majority of the day. We went ALL over Nashville bearing gifts to some of the sponsors and restaurants who participated in one of Fannie Battle’s fundraisers, YUM!East. This day allowed me to grow closer to my supervisor and I feel we have a great relationship. After this I went back to the Sunbeams classroom and was able to be with the friends I met the day before. I was a bit surprised when the kids remembered me, especially Silas and Julius from my second day who recently transitioned into Sunbeams.

My fifth day I ran a Summer Reading Book Fair where the kids who wrote down all of the books they have read could earn tickets to pick out certain toys. This was a bit hectic because they all wanted the same toys, but in the end it all worked out. After this I joined the School Age kids who are the most advanced of all the children at Fannie Battle. I was more than nervous before joining this classroom because I had not been with kids this old before. By midday I had already gained new friends including: Joshua, Mika, Keon, Gary, Annalise and Rowan. We played many games and then we went to the auditorium to see this science guy who showed them a lot of cool things. Even though the kids were around 8 years old, they still tried to sit in my lap :). This day turned out to be the most fun because with kids this age I was able to have real conversations and play real games, which was refreshing.

The Summer Reading Book Fair
Some “School Age” Kids

Needless to say, my first week at Fannie Battle Day Home for Children was amazing. I met new friends and grew closer to the staff. I know that I will be with these kids for the rest of the summer and I could not be happier knowing this. I am super stoked to work here because if the whole journey is anything like the first week, I know it will be life changing!

My First Week at Fannie Battle!

Hello! My name is Christina Stearns and this summer I have the pleasure of working at Fannie Battle Day Home for Children as a part of the Turner Fellowship Organization. This upcoming fall I will be entering my senior year and I could not be more excited. Fannie Battle opened as a non-profit organization in 1891 and currently stands as one of the oldest of its kind still in service. Their mission is to provide affordable, high quality childcare for at risk children and to empower families to reach their full potential. After researching this place and learning about what they do, I knew this was the perfect spot for me to serve because I love children!! I could not wait to start this new experience, however, due to a large fundraiser and my week of vacation, my first day was postponed to the 17th of June. So, I am currently still in my first week of my internship and I am still learning a lot about the organization and am not really settled in yet. Throughout my first few days I have learned a great amount about childcare and how non-profits function. My first day was very stressful and relieving at the same time. While I was extremely nervous to start, my supervisor quickly settled the waters and allowed me to start with ease and no stress. This day, I mainly helped my supervisor with many organizational things and then I had the opportunity to play with some children– the best part! While this day may have been a little hectic, I certainly was stoked to come back the next day. All of this to say that so far I have very much enjoyed my short time at Fannie Battle Day Home for Children. The staff was EXTREMELY welcoming and showed me that they have no problem assisting me and making my journey easier, which I am very grateful for. In my next blog post I will be walking through my first full week of my Turner Fellowship so that I can give a clear overview of my work! Thank you so much for joining me on this journey!