If you called John J. Theis a Lone Star College political science professor, you’d be “partly” wrong.
Sure, he has a doctorate from the University of Arizona. He teaches political science at Lone Star- Kingwood. He’s written and presented numerous research articles to various regional and national “poli sci” associations.
But, when he’s with his Lone Star College “Texas Politics” students at Humble ISD’s Community Learning Center in Atascocita, he’s “Coach.”
This is the fifth year that Theis has “coached” a public achievement program that brings young adults with special disabilities from a program called Mosaic, together with some of Lake Houston’s brightest and most motivated young adults – Lone Star Kingwood students and students from Humble ISD’s Quest Early College High School.
What are “Mosaic” and “Quest?”
Mosaic is a unique and innovative program for Humble ISD special education students, ages 18 to 22, to help them transition into independent and productive adults.
Quest is another distinctive Humble ISD program for qualified students who earn both a high school diploma and associate degree from Lone Star College-Kingwood or up to two years of credit toward a bachelor’s degree.
“Coach” Theis blends his Lone Star students with the Quest and Mosaic students who select an “issue” they are concerned about and want to do something about. The three groups get together every Friday to work on their “issue.”
“I tell them that we can’t look to other people to solve our community problems,” Theis said, “We need to figure out how to solve these problems ourselves.”
While we’ve learned the importance of voting, Theis believes we haven’t been as good at learning about the importance of community service.
“Washington can’t always solve what we need,” he says, “so, together with our Lone Star and Quest students, we’re coaching the Mosaic students on the skills they’ll need when they step out into the real world. Skills that we think will help them make a difference in their community.”
Theis added, “Our goal is to get these young adults to see themselves as capable citizens not passively waiting for government to fix problems.”
The Lone Star Quest and Mosaic students this year identified three issues – nurturing a community garden, helping to solve the problem of abandoned animals, and raising awareness of special disabilities.
“We had to scale back our program because of the flooding of our Lone Star campus,” Theis said, “which is why we’re being housed currently at Humble ISD’s Community Learning Center, but the students are resilient and worked very hard on their particular issue.”
One group is working on a new community garden to replace the one destroyed at Lone Star by Hurricane Harvey. Previously, the garden included flowers, herbs and produce but, to get started again, students this year will grow flowers.
A second group is concerned about abandoned animals and is organizing a fundraiser to buy fabric to create bandanas for animals.
The third group has organized a panel discussion of parents and students to educate the community about disabilities that will be held Friday, March 9, 10-11 a.m. in the library at the Humble ISD Community Learning Center, 18901 Timber Forest Dr.
“The students had to research the topic, invite speakers, find a location,” said Theis.
“Like any good team sport, we provide the coaching the students need to accomplish their goal.”
What is unique about this program and ultimately makes it so successful, Theis believes, is that the young special disabilities adults from the Mosaic program get to work with their peers, exceptional young adults from Lone Star College and Quest.
“These special young adults learn that they don’t need adults to run their lives,” Dr. Theis said.
“They can flourish with effective coaching from their own peers. Our Lone Star and Quest students flourish as well, learning how to make a difference in their own communities.”
For more information about Quest, visit humbleisd.net/qhs; Mosaic, humbleisd.net/mosaic; and Lone Star Kingwood, lonestar.edu/kingwood.