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Angelique McDonald

Our newest Family Educator!

Our newest Family Educator! 2500 1459 Angelique McDonald

Tell us a little bit about you!

I am a wife of 24 years to an awesome husband. I have three grown and wonderful children, ages 30, 25, and 22 years old. I am also a proud grandmother to two adorable grandchildren, ages 8 and 2 years old.

What brings you to Way to Grow?

Patricia [a Way to Grow Program Manager] was my supervisor at HeadStart, and she asked me on several occasions to work at Way to Grow. I have also been in the Early Childhood Education field for 20 years. Without a doubt working with families is my passion!

What excites you most about working at Way to Grow?

I am excited about interacting and working with the families. I also enjoy working with all of my awesome co-workers.

What do you do for fun?

I hang out and enjoy my awesome and loving family, as much as possible!

What do you hope to bring to Way to Grow?

I hope to bring my knowledge and understanding as a mother, grandmother and an educator.

Meet our newest Family Educator!

Meet our newest Family Educator! 2500 1459 Angelique McDonald

Meet our newest Family Educator, Courtney!

Tell us a little bit about you!

I grew up in Inver Grove Heights, MN. I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of North Dakota. This past January I decided to move back to the Twin Cities to be closer to my family.

What brings you to Way to Grow?

I was drawn to Way to Grow because of the approach they take with families. I have always had a strong passion for children’s education and have seen how family life can impact a child’s learning. As I learned more about Way to Grow, I saw how they looked at each family as a whole to provide education to support the child’s development, while putting a focus on the parent being a child’s first teacher. It was very inspiring to me.

Where did you work before Way to Grow?

I worked for an agency in Grand Forks that provided a multitude of services related to different forms of violence. My role specifically was on the prevention side of things: doing outreach, training to adults and youth, social media, etc. The training and outreach I did with adults focused on what they could do if they were to see violence happening in the community. When working with the youth it was a larger focus on what healthy relationships look like in both friendships and dating relationships.

What excites you most about working at Way to Grow?

I am excited to work with each family and give them the tools they need so that their child can grow up with the education and confidence they need to become whatever it is they want to be in life.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I enjoy going camping and hiking, especially if I get to bring my 70lb mutt, Gunnar, with me. I like to spend a lot of my time outside, whether it be for a run, out on the lake, playing with my dog, or just sitting outside with family and friends, so I definitely try to take advantage of the few months that I actually can. I also enjoy reading. I mostly read mysteries, any book I can learn something from, or ones about travel. 

Welcome, Courtney!

Meet Our Scholar: Jake

Meet Our Scholar: Jake 2576 1534 Angelique McDonald

Age: 4
Favorite Book: Spiderman

Jake has a contagious smile that charms everyone he meets. He is very active in play and loves to run, jump, and dance around! He has a sense of humor that is razor sharp and a grin that tells you that he knows much more than he lets on. He loves playing soccer, cars, Simon says, and learning through games.

At the most recent home visit, the focus was on learning colors. “Jake loved the games and the educational activities,” Suzie, their Family Educator recalls. Martinah, Jake’s mother, is deeply involved in the process of preparing him for school. She says that they are very hopeful that Jake will one day go to University. 

“His Dad thinks that he will be a doctor,” says Martinah. “He is always playing with a stethoscope.”

Jake’s family is very active in Way to Grow and participates in many of the programs offered. At a weekly Play to Grow group, Jake learns how to share, take turns, and listen in a classroom setting. His family also enjoys Family Engagement Nights, where Jake learns math and reading skills through playing board games. 

Jake’s family immigrated to the United States from Liberia and when they arrived, they knew no one from outside of their community. Now they are more involved in their neighborhood and feel confident that Jake is on a path to do well in preschool and beyond. Jake’s progress has made Martinah and Sien very proud and they are very excited to see what the future holds!

Meet our new Director of Education!

Meet our new Director of Education! 2500 1459 Angelique McDonald

Help us welcome Deedee Stevens-Neal to Way to Grow. Deedee comes to us from the Fraser School where she was the Director. She oversaw the large childcare center which cares for kids who have autism, mental health issues, and special needs.

Deedee was drawn to Way to Grow because of our intentional partnerships with organizations around the Twin Cities to help create a network that empowers families and centers their child’s education. She believes that the home visiting component is very unique to Way to Grow and is essential to family success.

Deedee is excited to bring her own education and experiences to Way to Grow and hopes that a different perspective will help grow the organization. Please join us in welcoming Deedee to the Way to Grow family!

 

#BeerForBetter: Join Us For A Night Out!

#BeerForBetter: Join Us For A Night Out! 2400 1256 Angelique McDonald

Way to Grow is excited to announce our partnership with Lakes & Legends Brewing Company as their February #BeerForBetter campaign recipients! On February 27, Lakes & Legends will be donating $1 of every beer sold from two of their specialty taps from 5:00–10:00pm. Stop by after work for happy hour or after dinner for a night cap and support Way to Grow!

Come early and visit with Way to Grow staff, get your adult crafting on and test your skills with some of our preschool curriculum activities, plus a surprise raffle! We promise, it’s a goodie! Mark your calendar and make sure that you bring a friend (human or four-legged). We can’t wait to see you there!

WHAT:

Beer for Better! Sponsoring Way to Grow

WHEN:

Thursday, February 27, 2020
5:00 – 10:00 pm

WHERE:

Lakes & Legends Brewing Company
1398 Lasalle Ave, Minneapolis

A Look Back at 2019

A Look Back at 2019 851 568 Angelique McDonald

It has been quite a 30th Anniversary Year at Way to Grow!

In 2019, we took a leap and moved into our new home on Irving Avenue North, and we’ve already hosted Cooking Matters courses, Dream Tracks groups, and several staff potlucks. This summer, we even got the help of Little & Company when they chose to design and install a mural in our new playroom!

Our families put a lot of work in this year as well, attending parent groups, Family Engagement Nights, advocacy events, and Parent-Teacher Conferences, all on top of regular home visits. All that work paid off when this fall, 90% of Way to Grow preschoolers were ready for kindergarten and 92% of elementary students showed growth on reading level assessments at the end of last school year. Way to go, families!

We also had another year of successful fundraising with our Spring Luncheon in May and our Annual Shine Celebration just two months ago. Together, those two events raised over $500,000. And we can’t forget Give to the Max Day last month, where we raised over $4,000 for our programming in just 24 hours!

While it has been a year for the record books, we know none of this would have happened without your support. Our children deserve every opportunity to succeed, and thanks to you they are able to do just that! Way to Grow cannot thank all of you enough for your continued generosity and support throughout the past year.

May the next decade be as wonderful as the last three! Happy New Year!

Cookie Hunt!

Cookie Hunt! 1152 864 Angelique McDonald

Our preschool is on winter break, but last week they celebrated the end of 2019 with a cookie hunt!

From Mr. Eka: “We’ve been reading The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires so we decided to make a gingerbread cowboy of our own. The children had lots of fun watching Ms. Alanna carve the dough into a cowboy. Then they used the rest of the dough to cut shapes using their favorite cookie cutters.

“But just like in the story, after we baked the gingerbread cowboy, it ran away! So we had to look everywhere in the building and catch it so we could eat it! Fortunately, we caught the gingerbread cowboy at the front desk. We ate it and it was delicious!”

Adopt-A-Family

Adopt-A-Family 600 250 Angelique McDonald

What a month! We cannot thank our supporters enough for making Adopt-A-Family a huge success. From individual families to entire departments at Allina Health, hundreds of community members helped make this season bright. Due to this incredible generosity, this year Way to Grow was able to provide gifts for 60 families!

Way to Grow’s Adopt-A-Family program provides gifts for families in need throughout the holiday season. This year, our families received everything from snow pants and quilts to bikes or a holiday tree. Thousands of packages made their way to Way to Grow, leaving our staff in awe of the generosity of so many. We are so grateful to all of our friends who stepped in to help our families. You definitely made the season bright!

A special thanks to our friends at Allina Health and St. Gerard’s for their amazing selflessness year after year—we are so thankful for your partnership. We also want to give a shoutout to our wonderful volunteers from St. Kate’s who came and wrapped all our gifts from the Adopt-A-Family registry!

Our amazing St. Kate’s volunteers!

Shine Celebration 2019

Shine Celebration 2019 1800 1200 Angelique McDonald

Our 30th Anniversary Shine Celebration on October 26, 2019 was an enormous success! Thanks to the support of our generous donors and our extraordinary volunteers and staff, Way to Grow raised over $400,000!

The 2019 Shine Celebration was a bedazzled evening of spectacular moments. The stars were out that night, with incredible performances by Jamecia Bennett, Dennis Spears, and T.Mychael Rambo peppered throughout the evening. One particular highlight was a performance by T.Mychael and our very own Way to Grow children—they were a smash! With a storybook song written just for us, T.Mychael positively mesmerized the audience while sharing the 30-year history of Way to Grow.

We were also delighted to welcome special guest speaker, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan to our celebration. During her keynote, she spoke about the importance of early education and the access for all children in the community. She also discussed how Way to Grow’s model has proven to be successful and stressed how education should be part of all that we do to support families and children in our communities.

One touching moment that stuck with us was listening to Bryanna Lopez, a Way to Grow alumna. Bryanna was joined on stage by her father, and spoke eloquently about how her family’s time with Way to Grow set them up for success by changing how they approached education as a family. Now a college sophomore studying bio engineering, we couldn’t be more proud!

The excitement ramped up with a Live Auction event that boasted trips to Scottsdale and Tuscany, great tickets to sporting events, and more. The money raised set the tone for a night of incredible generosity. Hundreds of guests showed amazing support all evening. Through donations of all sizes, live and silent auctions, and event sponsorships, we were able to raise over $400,000. Wow!

We at Way to Grow want to express our gratitude for all who came and supported our mission during our 30th Anniversary Shine Celebration. Thank you and we will see you in 2020!

Book-O-Ween

Book-O-Ween 1008 756 Angelique McDonald

This October, our Preschool Pals celebrated Book-O-Ween! This special holiday is when our very special friends get to dress up as one of their favorite book characters and have a party in the classroom. This year, they feasted upon spooky snacks like ghost & bat chips, monster strawberries and bananas, and washed it all down with spider milk.

Naturally, no event could ever be complete without a dance party! Our friends got to enjoy music followed by some spectacular spider art, and they wrapped the day up with a monster movie. It was a mighty adventure!

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