AuthorHeather Leonetti

How to Increase Safety in Schools

lockers-94959_1280Are we safe? Every day when I turn on the news there is without fail stories about shooting, rape, and murder. Although most of us would not like to admit it, our world does not seem to be getting any safer. As in any situation, most psychologists would say that the first step to resolving a problem is coming to the realization that there is an issue. We must first come to terms with the reality that our lives and the lives of our children could potentially be in danger. According to the research by Everytown.org, school shootings continue to increase as time goes on. In the graph displayed below, I mapped out a chart showing the gradual and then sudden increase in school shootings from 2000 to 2014.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 2.10.40 PM

Based on the chart above, from 2012 to 2014, school shootings began to dramatically increase with more than 10 school shootings a year. In addition, the amount of shootings in 2014, one-year period, was almost equal to the amount of school shootings in a 10-year period. Indeed, the need for increased security is clearly evident in the facts. There are many reasons as to why school shootings have increased. Some might say it is because we need stricter gun laws due to the fact that people do not stress safety in the homes of those who own guns. Others believe that some children with mental disabilities are going undiagnosed by schools and families causing life-threatening results to their peers, as well as to themselves. Lastly, another suggestion is the thought that we were once a country founded on Christian principles and now with God taken out of schools, as a result, violence in schools has increased. Nevertheless, the fact is that schools today face sometimes life-threatening situations.

Once we realize that schools are not absent from violence, the second step would be to take action. One way to help increase safety in schools is finding a school security program. Parentglue is a program that helps parents and school administrators increase communication, as well as safety. As part of the Parentglue program, they are launching their newest product called SonarCloud. The purpose of SonarCloud is for principals to have easy access to the P.A. system from anywhere inside and outside the school building. This will allow principals the ability to quickly announce an emergency lock down from their smart-phone. SonarCloud is highly secured with code identification as well as backup for when a wireless system is temporarily down. The device will also include a panic button that will be sent out to 911 if the situation is potentially life threatening. SonarCloud is expected for released in June of 2015. If you are interested in having SonarCloud in your school please contact Parentglue at info@parentglue.com or call them at 1-888-874-6551.

 

Jack Martin, President of The Martin Group and retired Chief of School Police once stated… Three reasons why school security fails: “It can’t happen here.” “We can’t afford it.” “We don’t have the time to do all that.”  

 

Do you want to be a change agent? Do you not want to be another school statistic? Learn more about how you can make a difference in your school at www.parentglue.com.

 

Celebrate Mother’s Day by Making Your Home Safer

baby-17327_640Mother’s are one of the most influential people in a child’s life. Moms Demand Action organization provides material and other great resources on how you can make your child’s life safer. Melissa Joan Hart recently did an awareness campaign for Moms Demand Action, as provided below, explaining how as moms you can make your homes more secure. Take a look for yourself.

Happy Mother’s Day from our families to yours!

Parentglue

How to Show Your Teachers You Appreciate Them

apple-256261_12802! 4! 6! 8! Who do we appreciate? Teachers! Teachers! Gooooo…teachers!

Get excited because next week is National Teacher’s Week! Around the country, several students will be thanking their teachers for the impact they have on their lives. Teachers are rarely recognized for the dedication and hard work they implement in their classrooms. As educators, they become their students’ doctor, psychologist, caregiver, coach, and much more. The many hats they wear are endless. When we look at our calendars we see days of celebration for moms and dads, so why not teachers?

Before World War II, there was no established day for teachers. In the year “1944, Ryan Krug, a teacher from Wisconsin began talking to educational and political leaders about establishing a day to honor teachers” (Holistory.com). However, the movement started gaining buzz when first lady Eleanor Roosevelt received a letter explaining the importance of having a day recognize the importance of teachers. Eleanor responded by convincing Congress to establish a National Teacher Day. Due to the dedication of its forerunners, we now celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day May 5th, of every year.

To celebrate National Teacher Day, here is a poem for parents to share with their child’s teacher.

Our Children all Need Great Teachers Like You

You once had a choice
And you chose to teach
And every day
It’s our children you reach

You make the difference
In the life of each child
Those that are quiet
And those that are wild

It’s the way that you teach
You do it so well
They look up to you
And think you are swell

You teach from your heart
That’s plain to see
They think you’re divine
And we all agree

Please never forget
And remember it’s true
Our children all need
Great teachers like you

We appreciate you
And we value your time
And if you should forget
Please re-read this rhyme

 

If you are a parent and are interested in making your child’s teacher feel special next week, here are some other ideas:

  1. Dinner in a bag: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/271412315015318750/
  2. There’s “muffin” like a great teacher bag: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/113434484340326027/
  3. M & M bag: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/113434484338671221/
  4. Hang congratulatory or thankful banners on the classroom doors.
  5. Have the community contribute gifts and gift certificates for teacher gift baskets.
  6. Write a personal “Thank You” note to special teachers.

 

Resources:

Poem:

http://www.all-unique-fundraising-ideas.com/teacher-appreciation-poem.html

History of National Teacher Day:

http://www.holistory.com/history-of-national-teacher-day/

Gift ideas:

pinterest.com

http://www.wincalendar.com/National-Teacher-Day

How to Know If a Child Has Been Sexually Abused

portrayal-89189_1280This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. I know many adults who have been sexually abused when they were children; the consequences are devastating. These precious adults became heavily involved with drugs, alcohol, self-injury, extreme dieting, and sexual activity, as well as suffering from depression, all from a young age. Many of them are in their thirties still struggling to adjust and live a normal life. If you know someone especially a child who may be a victim of sexual abuse, please seek help. The earlier the intervention, the brighter the future is for the child. To better understand if a child you know is being sexually abused we need to know what sexual abuse is. Child sexual abuse includes two types of activity, touching and non-touching.

 

Touching sexual offenses include:

  • Touching a child’s genitals or private parts for sexual pleasure
  • Making a child touch an adult’s sexual organs; and penetrating a child’s vagina or anus.

Non-touching sexual offenses include:

  • Exposing children to pornographic material
  • Deliberately exposing a child to the act of sexual intercourse; and masturbating in front of a child.
  • Photographing a child in sexual poses
  • Encouraging a child to watch and hear sexual acts
  • Inappropriately watching a child undress or use the bathroom

 

Many young victims will show signs of sexual abuse through drastic changes in their behavior. At different stages of development, children act out different forms of behavior by themselves and/or with other children. Parents Protect gives a list of behaviors at each stage of development.

 

Pre-school children (0-5) years commonly:

  • Use childish ‘sexual’ language to talk about body parts
  • Ask how babies are made and where they come from
  • Touch or rub their own genitals
  • Show and look at private parts

School-age children (6-12 years) commonly:

  • Ask questions about menstruation, pregnancy and other sexual behavior
  • Experiment with other children, often during games, kissing, touching, showing and role-playing ex. moms and dads or doctors and nurses

Adolescents:

  • Ask questions about relationships and sexual behavior
  • Use sexual language and talk between themselves about sexual acts
  • Experiment sexually with adolescents of similar age
  • About one-third of adolescents have sexual intercourse before the age of 16.

 

If you know a child who might be sexually abused, contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). Help is free, confidential, and available 24/7 or contact your local emergency services at 9-1-1.

You might be that child’s only voice. Save a child now!

 

Resources:

American Humane Association: http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/child-sexual-abuse.html

The U.S. Department of Justice: http://www.nsopw.gov/en/Education/FactsStatistics

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/features/sexualviolence/

Earth Day 2015 Events Kick Butt

recycle-29227_1280I can’t believe it! Spring is in the air and Earth Day is right around the corner. Although, this year is no ordinary year, it marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. Not to long ago, many were oblivious to the need for environmental change. Most people were busy opposing the Vietnam War and buying bigger cars. Minds began to awaken when in 1962; Rachel Carson came out with her bestseller “Silent Spring” which raised awareness about the dangerous effects of pesticides in America’s crops. Several years later in 1969, a fire broke out in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, which shed light on the detrimental effects of chemical waste disposal. Only then, did fear begin to rise within American citizens. On April 22, 1970, rallies were held in most of America’s major cities. In New York City, Mayor John Lindsay organized an environmental rally that encompassed celebrities like Paul Newman and Ali McGraw. According to Earth Day Network, “Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.” Unlike many years ago, today there are hundreds of environmental groups that yearn to see a better and cleaner tomorrow. A couple of events that are taking place this weekend is Global Citizen’s event in Washington D.C. and the New York Earth Day Initiative event in New York City.

Global Citizen will be hosting a concert event at the Washington Monument Grounds this Saturday the 18th to commemorate Earth Day. Together with world leaders, Global Citizen “will work to educate and inspire citizens to take immediate action to end extreme poverty and address climate change”. Celebrities such as Usher, No Doubt, and others will raise their voices to encourage and enlighten others to take action.

In New York City, others are taking initiative to raise awareness by sponsoring exhibitions and activities for children. The New York Earth Day Initiative will be hosting several fun activities in Union Square on April 19th from 12 to 7pm. I attached a link below that contains a flyer listing all the events in further detail.

Union Square Earth Day Activity Flyer: http://earthdayny.org/2015-events

For other FREE Earth Day events in the New York area, go to http://www.nycgovparks.org/events/earth_and_arbor_days

*Save the environment by sending this flyer to parents/friends by emailing this link or send a push notification through Parentglue’s Parent Relationship Manager app.

#globalcitizenearthday     #EarthDay2015       #recycle      #savetheenvironment

Other resources:

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/earth-day

http://earthdayny.org/home

5 Ways for Parents to Empower Their Children From Child Predators

trust-649465_1280The Center for Missing and Exploited Children discovered that most child abductions occur between the hours of 2pm to 7pm, when most children are home alone. Simply reciting the statement, “Don’t talk to strangers!” without informative information is a recipe for disaster. Children cannot reason on their own, they must be taught ‘why’ they should not engage with strangers. According to Jean Piaget, an education philosopher, children between the ages of 7 to 11 are at the development stage of thinking logically about concrete events, but have difficulty understanding abstract ideas. Of the 466,969 children abducted last year, the center found that most of the children taken are between these ages and some only beginning to approach the age of abstract thinking. This is why keeping children safe is our top priority at Parentglue. Our goal is to have all parents discuss the following with their school-age children.

1. Talk often. Children need to be reminded often not to talk to strangers. As a parent, discuss logically ‘why’ children should not talk to everyone and ‘why’ not everyone can be trusted. Just like everyone else, children must also learn that a person must earn their trust.

Activity: Sit down with your child. On a piece of paper, have your child write the answers to the following questions:

“What does the word ‘TRUST’ mean?(have the child look up the word in a dictionary.)

“What makes a person trustworthy?”

“What does it mean to trust a person?”

Add some concrete examples of your own.

2. Go with your gut feeling. Along with talking about strangers, parents need to keep the lines of communication open. Children need to feel safe in their home environment to be able to discuss people or things that may have upset them or made them feel uneasy.  As parents, you need to make a point, that if your child feels uncomfortable around a camp counselor, babysitter, etc., that their feelings are valid and there may be a reason why they feel that way.

Activity: For camp counselors, leaders of after school programs, and other programs your child is involved in, ask their supervisor if they have had a background check run on them. After your child has spent time with the new person, always speak to your child about how they feel about the person. Remember to validate what your child is saying.

3. Make a list. Make a list and discuss with your child who they can trust when being picked up from school and other events. According to the center, the vast majority of children were taken by acquaintances and people they know.  So while your child may be familiar with someone, they must understand the difference between simply knowing someone and knowing who you have given permission to pick them up.

Activity: Write down all the people with whom your child comes in contact. Go through the list, one by one, and have your child ask the question, “Can I trust this person?” Show pictures of the people for visual memory.

4. Code Word. When a child is being picked up from school, sometimes it will be someone other than the parent picking them up. Create a code word with your child that only they and the person picking them up will know.

Activity: On a day when someone else is picking up your child, practice the code word with them so you are sure they will remember it. For example, “Mommy made chili tonight!” When your child hears the phrase “Mommy made chili tonight!”, they know it is safe to go home with that person. Just like passwords on a computer that can be hacked, I suggest changing the code word each time for extra caution. Make it fun for your child, as if they are part of a secret operation.

5. Map out a Route. Just a few decades ago, children were able to wander the streets alone and parents were unafraid of anything terrible happening to them. Sadly, today that is not the case anymore. Safety is a factor, but at the same time children should not be sheltered their whole lives. The suggested age when a child is capable of walking home alone from school is 10. Only you, as their parent, are best equipped to determine at what age this is appropriate for your child.

Activity: When your child is ready to walk home alone from school, practice walking home with your child several times. Map out the route that they must follow every time, and explain why they must avoid short cuts home. Also, when walking home, have your child practice looking for people that they can talk to if they were to get lost walking home such as: moms or dads with children and store clerks. In addition, explain that there is no reason an adult needs to ask a child for help. If an adult asks for your child’s help, insist that they go find help immediately.

 

Some of us might think it would not happen to my child, but I would say it is better to be safe than sorry. Besides talking to your child about whom to trust, a game plan is an excellent way to increase the safety of your children.

The Game Plan

  • Make sure you have up-to-date pictures of your child from every angle. Be sure the images are easily recognizable.
  • Get your child fingerprinted. Many local police departments offer the service free of charge, so your child can be entered into a database.
  • Have a list of emergency contact numbers easily accessible. The first number on your list should be 911, and the second should be for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children: (800) The Lost, (800) 843-5678. The first few hours after abduction are most critical.

If you are a concerned parent that would like to find out other ways of increasing safety at your child’s school, please check out Parentglue’s Frontdesk and Parent Relationship Manager tools. We provide parents with updated information about their child’s safety in school, as well as other important information.

 

For more information about Parentglue’s Frontdesk and Parent Relationship Manager, click here.

 

 

Resources:

http://www.monkeysee.com/play/5436-what-age-group-and-gender-are-most-at-risk-for-being-abducted

http://www.wusa9.com/story/local/2012/05/25/3947631/

http://www.missingkids.com/KeyFacts

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ncic/ncic-missing-person-and-unidentified-person-statistics-for-2014

http://drphil.com/articles/article/623

http://www.bhg.com/health-family/parenting-skills/responsible-kids/how-to-keep-your-child-safe-from-abduction/

How to Rescue a School District on the Brink of Being Taken Over by State

pencils-447481_1280 (1)Why is ‘change’ a thing to be feared? Is it that people think matters will only grow worse with change? Or perhaps, do people believe that change in the end will conjure insignificant results? Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of Jennings School District in St. Louis, met with some opposition to her ideas for change, but in the end many parents have become grateful for it.

In 2010, the Jennings School District was at risk of being taken over by the state. In April 2012, Tiffany Anderson became superintendent of about 3,000 students, more than 90 percent of whom were eligible to receive free or reduced-priced lunches. They needed change and Dr. Anderson was willing to think outside the box. According to Education Week, Dr. Anderson began with setting up a food pantry of “fresh vegetables, canned foods, multigrain bread, and pasta” to meet the needs of local families.

Several other initiatives were spearheaded by Dr. Anderson to encourage parental engagement in their child’s education according to the Huffington Post.  As a way of removing the barriers she encountered when trying to get parents involved, Dr. Anderson installed washers and dryers in every one of her district’s schools as a way “for parents to do a load of laundry for free in exchange for an hour of volunteer work at the school”.  Dr. Anderson believes that poverty is not an excuse for an underperforming school; instead she takes stumbling blocks and turns them into opportunities. In addition, she understands the importance of investing in her students’ futures and that is why her priorities have included encouraging students to take action and become leaders in their communities. With this in mind, she began a “student advisory council that allows student input on district policies; instituted meetings with the local police to discuss crime and collaborative efforts; and made a commitment that at least 30 percent of the district’s employees will be alumni and residents”. Dr. Anderson uses everything opportunity as a learning experience, including the Ferguson incident. When students wanted to hold protests, Dr. Anderson arranged for local police to meet with students to “address their concerns about policing within the community”.

This is just the tip of the iceberg highlighting only a few of the successful changes Dr. Anderson has instituted over the past three years.  Above all, she understands the importance of relationships. “No significant learning can really occur without a strong relationship—in a classroom, in a district, in a school”.  Before Dr. Anderson embarked on making changes within the school and community, she met with parents, police, local officials, and the teachers’ union to define what revisions needed to be made.

She has also successfully tackled the district’s finances, going from a deficit in her first year in office to creating a surplus of $500,000 last year.  With finances straightened out, Dr. Anderson is now setting her focus on obtaining full accreditation for her entire district.  As a matter of fact, she has “hired teachers who had mastered their content areas; accelerated the curriculum; and created a specialized college-preparatory academy, where a select group of 150 students attend classes six days a week, 11 months a year, and will graduate with a high school diploma and associate degree at the same time.”

Dr. Anderson once stated, “I think our only barriers are our mindsets”.  How often do we limit ourselves from the possibilities that we think are beyond our reach, but are in actuality only an arm’s length away? One of my favorite and most inspirational quotes is by Steve Jobs.  “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.”  If we aspire to do great things, with hard work and ambition, communities will flourish and lives will be changed.

Thank you Dr. Anderson for breaking down the barriers and never giving up!

 

How Education is the Great Equalizer – Rochelle Brown Interview

rochelleIs education the great equalizer among races? In Rochelle Brown’s opinion, education is the key to success no matter your story. We are all given the opportunity to succeed, but it is up to us to make the decision to take it. As a self-motivated child, Rochelle’s opportunities were limitless. With determination and a supportive household, Mrs. Brown went from attending an accelerated school to becoming the Dean at The Scholars’ Academy in Queens, New York. Rochelle Brown was kind enough to share her story that we may gain insight into a woman with a bright future ahead.

  1. What type of household did you grow up in? I was raised by my mother and father with two siblings in a strict household.
  1. How did your family view education? Education was highly valued in my household. There was never an option of “IF” you were going to college it was what college and what did you want to study. My parents led by example in that they both completed Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees while having a family. They attended all parent teacher conferences which at one time meant going to 3 different high schools and failure was not an option.
  1. What does education mean to you? As an educator and someone who also has a Master’s Degree, something I often tell my students is that education is the way out. Education is the great equalizer meaning that it doesn’t matter what type of household you come from, if you can get a good education then you can get a good job. There is nothing else that affords people from varying backgrounds the same outcome. Of course, more affluent people are able to hire tutors when their children struggle and provide them with computers and other resources, but if someone in poverty wants it bad enough they can circumvent the circumstances that they were born in and both a person born into riches and a person born into poverty can be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Education is the way to unlock the door to dreams and for people to be anything they ever imagined to be.
  1. What did you want to be when you were growing up? And why? Growing up I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I actually wanted to get an M.D/Ph. D; so after I was done practicing medicine I would spend my days teaching college. After my aunt died from cancer when I was 15, I really wanted to study cancer and help those suffering from that terrible disease, especially children. Who knows I may even go back to medical school.
  1. Did your parents ever do anything out of the box to encourage growth? What was it? And what did you do about? My parents made sure that my sisters and I were well rounded students. We took piano lessons in addition to our formal education; went to the public library frequently; were not permitted to watch television during the school week and were restricted from watching certain shows. Additionally when my oldest sister was in elementary school, my mother found the information to have us take the test to attend a specialized middle school. If she had not done the leg work, my educational path may have been different as I was able to excel and advance at Phillipa Schulyer School for the Gifted and Talented. At the Phillipa Schulyer School, I learned to play the violin and the beginning of learning Spanish as a second language. During the summer, my father made us read books and write book reports to make sure that our minds were always actively engaged. These may seem like ordinary things, but I think it just showed a dedication to our education and not allowing our minds to always be actively engaged.
  1. Where did you go to elementary school? What kind of student were you? I went to P.S. 208, The Elsa Ebeling School. I was always very smart and studious.
  1. What was a struggle of yours in school and how did you overcome it? I do not recall struggling in school. I enjoyed school and I enjoy learning to this day. Most of the work came very easily to me. There were a few classes along the way like 7th grade math that I really had to study hard for, but overall I did not have any major struggles in school. In my junior year of college, I hit a rough patch where I was sick of being in school and just did not want to finish. I was extremely unmotivated. One thing that helped get me back on track was I used that time to volunteer with the American Red Cross and realized that in order to make a significant difference in life, I would need to finish. I also prayed a lot during that time and God was able to give me the strength to get back in the game –so to speak.
  1. Was there a teacher who inspired you? What did he/she do to inspire you? One teacher that really inspired me was my 7th and 8th grade Language Arts teacher Ms. Keane. Ms. Keane was an inspiration, because she really seemed to love her job. She exposed me to poetry and made it fun which I had never thought about before. She was also very caring and compassionate and just an all-around great teacher.
  1. Who was your support system? My parents were supportive. Nevertheless, I was motivated and wanted to be successful, therefore I was able to do it on my own.
  1. What is your greatest achievement/accomplishment? I would say achieving my Master’s Degree has been a great accomplishment. In a world where many people do not finish their education I am grateful that I was able to. When I was in college, I also did a study abroad program in Puerto Rico. Studying abroad was a huge achievement for me, because I was able to live completely away from my family and everything that I knew for a certain amount of time and still be successful.
  1. What did you have to learn or experience to get to where you are today? I had to learn to be self-sufficient and realized that whatever I want in life I have to go after. It’s good for parents to lay the ground work, but as people get older they have to tread the waters of life for themselves and learn to navigate various things. I attended City College and there were a lot of things about the college system that I had to learn, but realizing very quickly to get things done you have to learn and be persistent. I recently received Teacher Loan Forgiveness and that was because I was persistent in going after what I wanted. I also recently completed the course work to become a Principal and I know that when I decide that was the direction I wanted to go in is the direction I knew it would require a lot of hard work and dedication which I could only do for myself.
  1. Is there a saying/quote or something that someone said that inspires you? A quote I like very much is from Nelson Mandela that says: “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.” I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.
  1. What factors lead you to becoming an educator? I always wanted to teach, I just did not anticipate it being the middle or high school level and at this stage in my life. However, after getting married and having my first daughter I applied for a program called the New York City Teaching Fellows. I felt that if it was God’s plan for me I would be accepted and then determine my path from there. I got accepted into the program and became a middle school science teacher. After I got accepted, I realized that each year I would have hundreds of students in front of me whose lives I could make a difference in, which continued to spark my excitement. A few years into teaching, I realized that I liked working with students but not as much in the classroom setting. I enjoy speaking to them about life and making wise decisions and being different than what society expects them to be. I thought about going back to school to become a Guidance Counselor, but at the time there was a hiring freeze and I did not want to go to school and not find a job. I was granted the Dean’s position and realized that I had found my niche and something that I really enjoyed — dealing with the students that many teachers write off quickly and getting to speak to them about life and the consequences of making poor decisions.
  1. Do you feel that there is disconnect between administration and parents in schools today? How would you like it to change? If there is communication, how do you communicate with parents? I feel that the disconnect comes when administrators forget what it’s like to be in the classroom. I actually feel there is more a disconnect between administrators and the actual student body than with the parents at times, which can create tension. As I continue on my education journey and as a parent I always have to remain mindful of what it was like to be in the classroom both as a student and as a teacher. This helps to keep me grounded and to focus my energy in the right places. Currently, I am in a school that communicates using technology as a resource in terms of emailing messages. I find this method to be highly effective, because it makes both parents and staff easily accessible and since 90% of people have a smart phone, it is highly likely that the message will be received. Telephone calls are also another tool that I use to communicate, because sometimes parents have questions that are easier to address over the phone.
  1. What do you desire to see changed or improved upon in the education world? The single thing that I would like to see improved in education is equality. Education is free to everyone, but there is a huge disparity between the resources a school like Stuyvesant High School receives versus an inner city school in South Jamaica Queens. I would like the playing field to be even and everyone be granted the opportunity to have a fair education by dedicated teachers. Some people rely heavily on testing, but how can you make a test that’s standardized when education is far from standardized? And it starts from Pre-K. We cannot control the outside situations that our students come from, but we should be able to more authentically provide them with an education that will set them on the road to success.I would also like standardized tests not to be the measure of success, but progress. For example, if a student starts the year unable to read but by the end of the school year they are able to read short stories, then I believe that the teacher has been successful in meeting the needs of the student. In Finland, students have the option of either choosing an academic route or a vocational route. I also believe this is something that is needed in the American education system. Not every student desires to go to college or is capable of doing well; but because that is not an outlet that’s stressed these students end up becoming frustrated and dropping out of school where there are other viable options.

Connect with  Rochelle Brown on Linkedin or find out more about The Scholars’ Academy.

Is Our Children’s Future Safe in NYC Public Schools?

children-602977_640

In recent months, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other New York City dignitaries have come together, united in one cause. They believe that suspension is not the solution; the key is to see every child as an individual with emotions. Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Most behavioral issues are deeply rooted. The fruit of the student might be lashing out, but the root may be something completely different. When we look at the child as a whole human being and not a problem, a solution can be found.

Solutions Not Suspensions states that, “Every year 3.3 million students in the United States are suspended from school, causing them to miss critical learning time, as well as opportunities to grow and succeed.” And statistics show of these 3.3 million students, there are a disproportionate number of students of color and those with a history of abuse, neglect, poverty or learning disabilities. Due to this critical epidemic, NYC has begun taking legal action for the sake of its students.

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently stated, “No parent should have to choose between a school that’s safe for their child and a school where every student is treated fairly. All our schools can and must be both. That’s why we are investing in the training and best practices needed to ensure that when problems arise, we fix them first and foremost inside our schools – not by sending a child home or calling 911 needlessly, hurting their education in the process. These changes will help make campuses safer, treat students of every background with dignity, and provide kids with the support they need to learn.”

Through case study research people are seeing the facts, and the facts are that suspensions are not always the answer. Data also shows that there are major repercussions on a child’s future as a direct result of being suspended. “National research shows that a single suspension in high school lowers a student’s odds of graduating in four years by 46 percent, while students nationwide who are arrested during high school are twice as likely as their peers to drop out.” In recent years, schools have seen a significant decline in school crimes when they incorporate preventative and support training methods.

The school training methods that are being implemented in the school climate reforms are associated with the Dignity in Schools Campaign. Dignity in Schools Campaign challenges the previous zero tolerance and No Child Left Behind act and “advocates for the human right of every young person to a quality education and to be treated with dignity.” Along with Solutions Not Suspensions, they are working to defy the status quo.

 

What do you think? Please share your insights.

We would love to hear from you!

For more information go to Department of Education: http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/mediarelations/NewsandSpeeches/2014-2015/City+Announces+School+Climate+Reforms.htm

Why Parents and Schools are Vital to a Child’s Growth

viewImageDo you honestly believe that parents make a difference in their child’s education?  Dr. Travis J. Bristol seems to think so. From the heights of New York City to a Research and Policy Fellow at Stanford University, Travis has seen it all. I asked Travis to share some insight into his personal experience of being raised in a single parent household and the benefits of a support team in school.

  1. Did your parents have an impact on your education? How?

I grew up in a single mother household. As a child, I remember my mother reading to me and coming to teacher/parent conferences. She was also very active in helping me with my homework, especially in my elementary years.

  1. Do you wish your parents were less or more involved in your education?

I think my mom was as involved as I allowed her to be. I believe the school could have been more creative in involving her, but I feel my mother did the best she could given the circumstances she was dealing with.

  1. Did you have a favorite teacher? Why?

One of my favorite teachers is Ms. Shapiro, she was my 11th grade teacher at Washington Irving High School. She was my favorite teacher, because she made learning come alive. Ms. Shapiro not only gave us challenging text to read, but she made us act them out. For example, when we were reading the Scarlet Letter, she had students walk around with the letter “A” across their neck so they could get a sense of what the character was feeling.

  1. Who helped you succeed the most in school?

I had a small group of teachers that held me to high expectations and a guidance counselor who told me I had the potential to apply to more challenging schools.

  1. Why did they push you?

They probably pushed me, because they saw something in me.

  1. What influenced you to pick your career?

I had the misfortune and fortune of going to a really challenging school, Washington Irving Heights School. In 2004, it was rated on the top twelve most dangerous schools in New York City. Nevertheless, I had the fortune of going to one of the best colleges in the country, a small little art college in Massachusetts, because of my high school. In recognizing the opportunity, I wanted to use what was given to me to help others. I thought teaching and education might be the ideal profession.

  1. What advice would you give to kids that are in school or about to enter school?

Read every day, don’t accept everything that people say, be critical of what teachers tell you, and what the media tells you about yourself and about people who look like you. In addition, read what intelligent people are writing and imitate their writing to help improve your own skills. As long as you can read or write, people will respect you.

  1. As a parent now and being successful, what do you take from what your mother did to your kids now?

Something my mother did was read to her kids. Due to my mother’s concern about my education, I have incorporated her passion into my own children’s schooling. I am very fortunate to have a very flexible job so I can work from home at times. Therefore, I can go and read in my kids’ classes. So many parents today don’t have that kind of flexibility and so the T.V. becomes their babysitter. Nevertheless, children need to read more and if possible, turn off the T.V.

 

More about Dr. Travis J. Bristol  here

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