Education Blog

My Mentor. My Friend

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

An urban Greek myth suggests that Alexander the Great valued the contribution of his mentor Aristotle more so who gave him knowledge than  his father who gave him life.  I value the contribution of my mentor who was my  high school  teacher, life mentor and friend–Diane Howard.  She taught me much in terms of three values that I  hold dear:  integrity, hard work, and an appreciation for the arts.  

Diane pushed me the moment she saw my very first speech as a freshmen in  her class.  I talked about the wonder I had for Houdini–one of the greatest magicians of all time.  She told me that she was impressed because I had taken the effort to memorize the speech and it was obvious I was passionate about the subject.  She became my forensics coach and believed in my ability to interpret works of prose and drama.  It was through drama and forensics that I discovered my love for theater and the field of communications.

She invited me to join a group of students to take a  trip to San Francisco and Ashland, Oregon to see professional theater productions.  I saw my first show at the Curran Theater in San Francisco–A Chorus Line.  I was awe struck and moved by the beauty of the music and the deep-felt passion of the stories of the striving actors.   The following year I was exposed to Edward Albee and Athol Fugard at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  My early exposure to theater influenced my career choices and my support of the arts.  I am currently sit on the Arlington County Commission for the Arts and the Alliance Theater Board.  I am also a judge for the Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, DC.  I have seen theater productions around the world and my passion for the arts has never waned since that first trip to San Francisco.  

Diane also instilled me the necessity for  hard work.  This was reinforced by my mother as they were both single mothers who struggled to provide for their children.  Their efforts paid off and I truly appreciate a work ethic that emphasizes a balance between giving back to the community and an appreciation for family and friends.

Lastly, Diane emphasized the importance of integrity at every level of our existence.  To this day we talk about the importance of being consistent between our words and deeds.  I try to be a model to younger generations, especially young Latinos.  I encourage growth in others and I have taken on the role of mentor to members of our Toastmaster family.  Nothing makes me happier than to watch others grow and to continue the practice of good mentorship.  I am most fortunate that I had a strong mentor growing up who has been a life long friend and teacher.  

I encourage all Toastmasters to share their appreciation for their mentor and to become a mentor for others.  

What It Means to Celebrate Our Silver Celebration

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Carlos V

by Carlos Velázquez, DTM

May 1, 2018 marks the anniversary of our club becoming a chartered organization with Toastmasters International.  Our club environment was probably very different in the early years as some of our charter members and officers were living in a time of dramatic political changes in South Africa, Sri Lanka and the US.  Mrs. Doubtfire and Jurassic Park were entertaining audiences while Philadelphia and Schindler’s List were making powerful statements in the film industry.  The Beanie Baby was introduced to the world while Whitney Houston told us how much she loved us. 

I am guessing that many of our new Toastmasters members were not born or still in their early childhood years in 1993.  I was returning to the United States after several years in Australia and I remember feeling so removed from my home country watching the replays of the Rodney King beating, the riots in 1992 and the final verdict for the civil rights case in 1993—two weeks before Crystal City Evening Toastmasters became an official club.  We met in Aurora Hills Senior Community Center for 23 years until the space went through a nice facelift.  We returned last year to a new look and a comfortable and familiar feel. 

Years have gone by and our timing box has kept time for many speeches.  It has remained a symbol of our longevity and our members are symbolic of our success.  Some of those successes include earning our Presidents Distinguished in 2013 to 2015 and again from 2016 to 2018; producing speech champions from 2015 to 2017; and receiving awards for membership drives and website designs.  Our use and dependence on technology has dramatically changed as we have integrated Pathways as the norm in our club.  We are one of the few clubs in District 27 who has earned their distinguished status with a majority of our education awards from the Pathways program and the only club that has all of its members registered for the new curriculum.  We are early adopters and that is symbolic of our success.

We are a highly diverse club with members who represent the baby boomer generation to millennials; countries such as Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, China, and Palestine; and from various career paths such as teachers, trainers, and accountants.  The diversity is also symbolic of our success.  Our differences make us stronger communicators and leaders and contribute to a richer club experience. 

Finally, our success is built on our consistent drive towards our mission and the values that define our club culture.  Beyond the traditional values of Toastmasters International we consider family an important value that is symbolic of our respect for one another and the meaningful relationships that have developed over the years.  Twenty-five years ago our club was chartered in a different world.  Symbols of our success surround us whether they be a weathered time box; the chandelier logo; the diversity of our members; or the familiar ties that unite us we can proudly say that “Crystal City Evening Toastmasters is 25 years strong and growing.” 

 

An Early Start to Success: Tips for Achieving Distinguished Club Status

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Carlos Vby Carlos Velázquez, DTM

The Distinguished Club Program (DCP) is a set of goals developed by Toastmasters International
to help clubs achieve education, membership and administrative objectives. Crystal City Evening Toastmasters (CCET) met our first goal of becoming a distinguished club very early in the program year. In fact, we were the first club in District 27 to do so and it is the earliest that CCET has accomplished this goal in the last decade.Toastmasters International has found that Distinguished clubs tend to be successful, fun, strong clubs of which members enjoy being a part.  Members of these clubs are completing Traditional manuals and Pathways levels, and receiving recognition for their achievements. Distinguished clubs are continually growing and improving. These are essential steps for achieving a Distinguished club status. We also know that early planning is best. At CCET the officers mapped out objectives for the club in our Club Success Plan early in the program year. Achievement of these goals is well underway.

Toastmasters International has found that Distinguished clubs tend to be successful, fun, strong clubs of which members enjoy being a part.  Members of these clubs are completing Traditional manuals and Pathways levels, and receiving recognition for their achievements. Distinguished clubs are continually growing and improving. These are essential steps for achieving a Distinguished club status. We also know that early planning is best. At CCET the officers mapped out objectives for the club in our Club Success Plan early in the program year. Achievement of these goals is well underway.

For example, we have recruited nine new members since July 1st and our hope is to increase our membership by five percent from our base membership last year. We also had an objective of having 100% of all active members register for Pathways by the end of the year, supporting our education goals. We currently have 66% of our members registered which is a strong indication that our club is actively engaged in the Pathways journey. By the end of November we are slated to have five of our six education goals met through the Pathways program. At CCET we also believe that becoming a Distinguished club means that we lead by example. Our officers were sworn in with the Toastmasters’ Promise in mind. We signed off on the Promise formally through a pledge that we would fulfill our commitment through service to the membership and the District. Within CCET we have three members who serve as Area Directors and they have all eagerly volunteered to support Area and Division contests as well as TLI sessions, in addition to the District Fall Conference. I have the honor of serving as the TLI Dean for District 27 and as a Pathways Guide for Districts 27 and 36. This level of service is leading by example and our members rise to the occasion
when we engage them for club meetings and District-wide events.

In addition, we pride ourselves in creating a supportive and welcoming environment where a strong diversity of members feel comfortable taking risks, challenging themselves to grow, and sharing their successes with others. The officers are also committed to act within the Toastmasters’ core values of integrity, respect, service and excellence while conducting all Toastmasters activities. Our values serve
as a guide to achieving our DCP goals as they serve as another measure of our success. The success we are experiencing this year as a club starts within our leadership but is sustained by our members. We have a “can do” attitude that is making our club thrive. We hope to sustain this level of commitment and success by integrating a new mentor program that will foster future leadership. In summary, our early success within the DCP is based on three simple tips:

● Early planning
● Lead by example
● Exemplify core values
I am convinced that our success this year will be replicated for next year as we have established a pathway for ongoing growth and results-driven leadership.