During the COVID-19 pandemic, Plano’s Heritage Farmstead Museum had to temporarily close, but that didn’t stop staff and volunteers from hosting an annual event supporting students in the Plano ISD School-Age Parent Program.
The Heritage Farmstead Museum includes a working farm and Victorian-era home in Plano that opens its doors to educate people on what life was like on the Blackland Prairie in the early 20th century. In springtime the sheep living on the farm give birth, also known as lambing season.
To mark the occasion, the Farmstead decided in 2018 to host an annual “Sheep Shower,” but instead of buying gifts for the sheep, attendees buy baby gifts from an Amazon wish list benefiting students in the Plano ISD School-Age Parent program. The program provides practical and emotional support that expecting and parenting teenage mothers and fathers need to stay in school, remain on track for graduation and be the best parents they can be.
The Sheep Shower Goes Virtual
This year, the Sheep Shower was broadcasted to the public via Facebook Live. Heritage Farmstead Museum President and CEO M’Lou Hyttinen and Vice President of Strategic Growth Initiatives Kathy Wilson ran the show, and made all the guests feel comfortable by inviting them to enjoy some mimosas as they virtually brunched together.
Not only did online attendees get to enjoy video clips of some of the newly born lambs as well as soon-to-be-mama sheep on the farm, but they also had the chance to hear from Crystal Hahn, owner of Hahn Insurance and Financial Services, and Jan Hughes, director of the Plano ISD School-Age Parent Program.
Crystal shared with online viewers that she found out she was expecting her first child at 15 years old. At the time, she and her entire family were planning her quinceañera. Crystal reflected on how painful it was to cancel the celebration, but spoke about the beauty that also flowed out of her situation.
She recalled hearing her grandmother telling guests over the phone that she’d be sending back their gifts and money as there would be no quinceañera. Their overwhelming response? “Keep it, for Crystal and for the baby, and our love and prayers are with you,” Crystal remembered.
“Those memories stick out because they’re so impactful. You can’t comprehend how far that type of compassion goes for a person that is in such a delicate situation,” she said.
Crystal went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from UT Dallas and has now worked in the insurance and financial services industry for almost 17 years. She married her high school sweetheart. Their firstborn daughter Alex is 21 years old and a junior in college, and they have four other children together.
“[Friends and family] wrapped their arms around me and embraced the road ahead. They didn’t turn their backs, didn’t hide, didn’t cower – they just held my hand and walked right alongside me,” Crystal said.
“The PISD School-Age Parent Program is trying to use support, education, life skills and tools to make sure that mothers and fathers that are in similar situations have the best possible shot.”
Giving Teen Parents a Successful Start
Plano’s School-Age Parent Program is built to serve students that are in the same situation Crystal experienced. Jan Hughes, the program director, ensures that each student in the program is properly supported through the life-changing experience of becoming a parent.
“I visit each student individually or in small groups at their campus…I listen to each student’s unique needs, and I connect them with resources,” Jan said.
On top of individual visits, the program also hosts evening events for the school-age parents. Some of the events are social, so they can develop a community of friends who are going through the same experience, and some are informational. The informational events are often classes on childbirth and newborn care.
When young women in the program are restricted from attending school due to pregnancy-related circumstances such as the first few weeks following birth or bed-rest requirements, they are visited by teachers who will help continue their school instruction and communicate with Plano ISD to ensure they stay up to speed in all their classes.
The program also has a program called Bonus Bucks, in which a student can earn credit by making responsible choices such as attending medical appointments, having good attendance in school, making good grades or helping another school-age parent. The Bonus Bucks can be used to purchase things for their baby through the School-Age Parent Program shop – supplied in part by the Sheep Shower hosted by the Heritage Farmstead Museum.
“We are so pleased to partner with PISD on this incredible program,” M’Lou shared. [We’re] creating a place where community gathers and supports one another. A place of joy for future generations.”Watch the Virtual Shower > Purchase a Gift for School-Age Parent Program > Heritage Farmstead Museum >