Monthly Archives: April 2020

Annie Montgomery Clausen -114

I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and I had a little baby inside of me. I had to be strong. You do what you’ve gotta do to get through the hard things. -Annie Montgomery Clausen

Just imagine it: you are 34 years old, happily married with a successful career as a sales rep for Stryker Instruments. You love being a mom to daughter Quinn and are overjoyed to learn that you are expecting a second child. And then suddenly, something is very wrong. Your OB-GYN notices that one of your ovaries is abnormal and before you know it, you are having surgery to figure out what is wrong. Biopsies are taken and at 14 weeks pregnant you are told that you have stage 4 colon cancer. The situation is dire and word goes out through family and friends that prayers are needed. A group of prayer sisters, all Boston College grads receive this request and begin praying for Annie and her unborn child in earnest. Welcome to the life of Annie Montgomery Clausen, a beautiful California girl raised in the Bay area by loving parents (both cancer survivors) who taught her that a positive mindset combined with equal parts of courage and determination will serve you well. Although there was a moment when doctors warned that treating the cancer and saving the baby might not be possible, Annie and her husband found an oncologist at UCLA who could effectively treat her cancer without harming their unborn child. Exhausted but determined to “keep her head down and beat this” she did 9 rounds of chemotherapy and delivered a perfectly healthy baby girl named Cody at 36 weeks. Say’s Annie: “Someday I’ll tell her that she’s a warrior. From day one, she fought and fought. She is our miracle baby. In this emotional interview, Annie shares a cancer journey that is still unfolding and a mindset that will inspire anyone who hears it. This story is what “mother love” is all about. #inspiringstories #motherhood #coloncancer

Laurel Schnitman -113

My decision to pursue this career is because I feel that I learn from kids every single day. Sick children are amazing. They don’t act like they are sick. -Laurel Schnitman

Meet Laurel Schnitman: wife, mother of two and certified child life specialist for Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. I didn’t have to go very far to find Laurel, because she lives right across the street! We settled into my living room for a conversation about her career and her passion for working with children while making sure we practiced social distancing! As part of a team of 15 child life specialists, Laurel provides psychosocial, medical play therapy and procedural support for children during hospital stays. Many of the children she helps are hospitalized for long periods of time and she has experienced the heartache of losing her young patients to the illnesses that brought them to the hospital in the first place. Laurel is that critical bridge between doctors, nurses, parents and children, offering sage advice and comfort when it is needed the most. In this interview, Laurel shares her experience of working with children and families at the most vulnerable times in their lives to shed some light on how our children are reacting to the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Anxiety and fear come from the unknown. When you can give children a predictable environment at home, that can really help to reduce fear and anxiety.” For a tutorial on helping your child maneuver the rough seas of a worldwide pandemic, press that download button. #wereallinthistogether.

Debra Briss Wolfe -112

The one thing that isn’t being talked about in the corona virus pandemic is that people are dying alone. And that’s not all: Covid-19 has changed the entire funeral service. -Debra Briss Wolfe

The woman you are about to meet has spent nearly 30 years in the funeral business. In fact, it is fair to say that being of service to those who have died and those who are mourning is in her blood. Debra Briss Wolfe is the great-great granddaughter of Jacob H. Levine, the founding father of Levine Chapels and that iconic funeral home has been part of the fabric of the Boston Jewish community for generations. A graduate of Mount Ida College, Debra recalls going inside Levine’s as a child, and becoming very aware that “important work” was done there. Armed with a degree in funeral service, Debra has been devoted to her work in the funeral industry ever since, first as a Funeral Director and now as a Family Service Counselor. With the death toll climbing each day from Covid-19, I wanted to ask Debra if she could shed some light on how the extremely contagious virus has changed her industry, what families can expect when their loved one is taken to a funeral home and how the rules around funeral services and burials have changed due to new CDC guidelines. The mother of two daughters, Debra says she has never shielded her girls from the reality of her work. A big believer in the healing power of yoga, she is “sitting in a lot of silence these days because I feel that I’m going to be needed by my colleagues, my friends and my family. This pandemic is going to be rough for a lot of people.” No matter what your faith is, Debra’s knowledge of the funeral industry, along with her understanding of the importance of religious customs and rituals for the dead and those who mourn them will educate, inform and inspire you.
#coronavirus #covid-19 #funeralservice

Sima Aleahmad -111

If you walk on the sidewalk outside our school you might see blood. -Sima Aleahmad

Frightening words from Ms. Sima, an elementary school teacher in South Central, Los Angeles, one of the most violent school districts in the United States. But it is here in this place that Sima has chosen to work, spending 20 years empowering hearts and expanding the minds of underserved children. Sima says it is not rare at all to see kindergarten students kicking doors and punching teachers. An advocate for school improvement from the inside out, she is a beloved teacher whose classroom strategies reach into the hearts of children who live in a world filled with toxic stress and fear. She calls her philosophy the SIMA method and that stands for: success is mindful awareness. Says Sima: “One thing I know after 20 years of teaching is that all children really want is to love and be loved. Connecting with a child heart to heart is how we create fertile soil. It is how we plant the seeds for a child’s future.” Her third graders have learned how to be mindful of their actions, how to stop and “refresh” before reacting violently, and how to fill themselves and each other with compassion and love. And it’s not just the students Sima is transforming, it is her fellow teachers. Increased performance demands and complex student needs have made teaching more challenging the ever before. In this interview, Sima advocates that self-care for teachers is just as important as creating a daily lesson plan. Armed with a masters degree in Elementary Education, Sima is also National Board Certified in Teacher Leadership. In this up-close and personal interview, Sima speaks passionately about the violence she has experienced first hand, including the devastating loss of students who have been murdered. She also shares her success stories and the everlasting belief that what drives student success can’t be found in a textbook. For this exceptional woman, the meaning of success is simple: “I do whatever I can to make a child feel safe, secure and loved. I want to be that one teacher who changed a life.” #thesimamethod #storybehindhersuccess #inspiringteachers