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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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On both sides of nurse careers: Mom-daughter duo share bond as caregivers this Mother’s Day

UPDATED: Fri., May 12, 2023

Lois Yearous was a bedside nurse for 19 years in Spokane and now works for MultiCare in professional development for nurses. Natasha Yearous recalls her mom going to nursing school in Oregon when she was a child and she “helped” her mom with studies. It sparked something in her. Today, she as a nurse in MultiCare’s Pulse Heart Institute for cardiac care, and she said her mom has been a steady mentor in her career. They'll celebrate Mother's Day with family as well as a close bond as caregivers.
News >  Features

Stevens Elementary teacher goes to Marshall Islands and Guam to strengthen ties with students

Teacher Shawn Tolley wants to connect with music in a culturally accurate way, including for many of his Stevens Elementary School students whose families came to Spokane from various countries. Within that diversity, the school has more than 30 Marshallese students, he said, a reflection of Spokane County's Marshallese population of about 5,000 residents. Tolley set a goal to travel to the Marshall Islands to learn more about its music, language and culture. COVID mixed up plans a bit, but Tolley got grants to travel first to Oahu and Guam this past summer, and then to the Marshall Islands April 1-10.

A&E >  Entertainment

Commentary: Adolescence is temporary. ‘It’s Me, Margaret’ is forever.

At a preview screening of "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" a couple of weeks ago, I walked into the theater and counted two dozen women and precisely zero men. Some did eventually show up, but the vibe of the gathering can best be captured this way: When I complimented another attendee's dress, she immediately showed me that it had pockets, and then her friend offered to share a coupon code for the store that sold the dress, and then her friend's friend said she actually owned the dress in blue but it never fit right so she was happy to just give it to me - what was I, 5-foot-5? 
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The Full Suburban: The magic of a clean bedroom

My two youngest sons, Emmett and Hyrum – ages 11 and 8, respectively – have shared a room for the past several years, and while I don’t want to call them out in this very public arena, I’m just gonna say it. Their room is a disaster. Most days, it looks like a Lego store and a piñata exploded and landed all over their floor.
A&E >  Entertainment

Theater for all: My Turn Theater gives spotlight to actors who have disabilities

My Turn Theater, a Spokane nonprofit, is scheduled to perform "Beauty and the Beast Jr." in June at Gonzaga University's Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center. The theater group runs musical productions designed for special needs adults and teens. Each actor is matched with a nondisabled partner to do live stage performances. During shows, the volunteer "shadow actors" dress in dark clothing to support the cast of costumed performers, if hints are needed for a line or position. But most often, the reminders aren't needed, said Wendy Carroll, the theater's executive director and founder.
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Their teachers assign math, grammar - and giving small gifts to strangers

While writing report cards several years ago, Jennifer Thiessen was troubled by something.Her third-grade students were being evaluated on subjects such as math and science, but not on life skills - such as social responsibility and kindness."That's the stuff that I feel is really important for them to learn and carry forward in their lives," Thiessen said.She wanted to be sure she was encouraging those skills, which she said are at least as critical as understanding how to multiply and divide or distinguish between nouns and pronouns."There are so many important life lessons I wanted to teach them outside of the curriculum," said Thiessen, a teacher at Canada's Watson Elementary School in Chilliwack, British Columbia.She mentioned her concerns to Kyla Stradling, then a fellow teacher at the school, and they hatched a plan. They assigned their students a project that had nothing to do with standard school subjects. Instead, it was centered on spreading goodwill. They called it the "Kindness Project.""If we could be that spark of kindness, we could inspire others to do acts of kindness," Thiessen told her third-graders in 2018.Students from two separate third-grade classes made cupcakes at home and sold them for $1 during a series of bake sales at the school. They raised about $400 and used the proceeds to purchase small gifts - things like bouquets of flowers, dog treats, chocolate bars and coffees - and handed them out to strangers near the school."The students felt joy inside of them; that they did something that day that mattered," Thiessen said.Many of the gift recipients seemed "caught off guard" at first, she said, though they were all in when the students explained what the project was about. Some were moved to tears."This is a lesson we can't teach in a classroom," Thiessen said.She decided to make it a yearly activity for third-graders at the school."This project isn't about who can read the best and who is best at math," she said. "This is an everybody project. It doesn't have any limitations when it comes to ability."For the past five years, third-grade students at Watson Elementary have embraced the Kindness Project. They host several bake sales to raise money, and each class adds their own spin to the assignment. During the pandemic, for instance, students collected funds to put together care packages for front-line workers."Every year, we sit down with them and ask them how they want to spend the money," Thiessen said. "We want them to be part of the process."Occasionally, students can be "a little overzealous," she said. As she brainstormed with her class this year, one child enthusiastically said: "Let's buy someone a house!""They have wonderful dreams of what they can do," Thiessen said.Given the success of the project, the school decided to broaden it this year to involve five classes - including three third-grade classes, and some students in second and fourth grades. They started selling cupcakes each week at the school in February, and over five weeks, they raised more than $1,000 - the highest amount yet.In addition to raising funds, "we spend time reading books about kindness and doing kindness writing activities," Thiessen said, explaining that students also write and decorate cards that explain their project.This year, the 100 students split up into several groups to focus on different initiatives. While one group wrote cards and bought small gifts to hand out to strangers, another put together care packages with essential supplies - including toothbrushes, snacks, gloves, socks and sanitizer - for homeless children and teens. Other students made a "teacher appreciation bin" filled with treats and goodies and dropped it off at a nearby school.On March 15, the students and chaperones divided and carried out their various kindness missions. Some stayed at coffee shops surrounding the school, offering to buy beverages for strangers, while others waited around a local park, passing out dog treats and fresh flowers. Several students did a forest cleanup."It's my favorite day of the year with them," Thiessen said. "I'm there to supervise but I really get to sit back and just watch them do their thing."Plus, she added, "it's nice to see people smiling at you."Though the goal of the project is to start a chain of kindness within the community (one man offered up $20 toward next year's fundraising effort, Thiessen said), it's also intended to show the students what they are capable of."I think what I want most for them is to know that it doesn't matter where you come from or how old you are, you can do something that is good," Thiessen said.Artie Foik, 8, said he loved being part of the project."It just warmed my heart to help others," he said. "You start as doing a small kindness, and then it keeps going and going."His classmate Harlow Montroy, 9, bought several coffees for strangers."It made me happy, because other people enjoyed it," she said.The bigger idea of the project, Thiessen said, is the feelings they'll carry with them as they grow."It's this lasting thing," Thiessen said. "I think down the line, it will always stick with them."
News >  Features

Kellen Cares nonprofit offers suicide prevention education

Spokane mom Kimber Erickson wants to spread education on suicide prevention, including insight on the effect of depression in boys and young men and how their brains can be wired toward addictions and violent self-harm. After her 19-year-old son Kellen died in January 2020 by suicide, she and her husband Mike Erickson founded the KellenCares Foundation. On Saturday, the group will host an all-day seminar for parents, teachers and counselors at Summit Church on the South Hill. Along with break-out workshops for age groups, the event is scheduled to have speaker Dr. Michael Gurian, a Spokane family counselor and author of more than 30 books, including “Saving Our Sons."
News >  Features

The Full Suburban: RV road trip a success, bumps and all

The fact that you are reading this column means that I was alive to write it, which means that my family and I survived our spring break RV “experiment” down to Moab, Utah. Would we do it again? Absolutely. Was it without mishap? Absolutely not.

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