My son read Dostoevski’s “Crime and Punishment” this summer for his high school English class.That and “Notes from the Underground” are two of my favorites, so you’ll have to forgive me for the more than liberally rewritten quote that follows.And if you’ve never read “Notes from the Underground” you really should do that, too…
I AM A HEALTHY WOMAN.... I am a hopeful woman. I am an attractive woman. I believe my glass is half-full. However, I know nothing at all about my optimism, and do not know for certain what rescues me from cynicism. I don't consult a school counselor for it, and never have, though I have a respect for counseling and counselors. Besides, I am extremely superstitious, sufficiently so to pay attention to the details of what goes on around me in the belief they may have import for me.It is in this spirit that I eavesdropped one evening.(Shocking, but true, so read on!)
We’re in Honeoye, NY for the summer now.We have a small supermarket in town, but the nearest major supermarket is in Canandaigua, 20 miles away, so we make an outing of it.Dinner out (not so good this time), grocery shopping (never so good, really) and afterward, frozen custard at Abbott’s (EXCELLENT!)Abbott’s is a ritual.We snuck in at Wednesday evening, a week before school let out for the summer.The manager, a jovial middle-aged man, locked the door behind us immediately.
“Don’t worry – I’ll let you out, I promise!” he said.“But since we employ teenagers we have to close by on school nights.”Pointing to his assistant, “He’s young so he can’t work after , and I’m old so I can’t work after 9 either, so it’s good for both of us!”We all chuckled.Good law, I thought to myself.And then began my clandestine eavesdropping, facilitated by the instant quiet that ice cream cones always engender, at least in my family.
Manager to 16-year-old Mark:“What did you learn
in school today?”
Mark: “Mumble, mumble, mumble…”
Manager:“Well, what you should have learned at work today was to study hard so you don’t have to do this for the rest of your life!”
Here’s to you, Mr. Manager, here’s to you.
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By Laurie Bennett, JD, Ph.D. Senior Research and Policy Analyst, NCSE
Proud parent of DPS student and Shakefest participant, Sam Clark
Every spring a marvelous event erupts in Denver.Hundreds of children and young people, dressed in their own interpretations of Elizabethan garb, converge on downtown to perform Shakespeare – for themselves, for their families and friends, and for any observer who has the good fortune to happen by.It is the Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival, or DPS “ShakeFest,” as it is known by the young aficionados of the Bard who joyfully participate.A wide range of schools and students are represented, from ESL students, to tiny kindergartners, to the seasoned actors of the DenverSchool of the Arts (the DSA, a public magnet middle-high school with a theater program of wide renown).Supported by sponsoring teachers, the students choose the scenes they wish to perform, go through an audition process, and if chosen, show up to dazzle the crowd.
This past May, the venue was the grounds of the DenverCenter for the Performing Arts (DCPA).A dozen or so stages were scattered around the DCPA green space, with an additional indoor theater set aside for the DSA actors.All the stages operated simultaneously, with scenes from tragedies, histories, and comedies unfolding everywhere.Weaving between the stages, a troupe of itinerant high school improvisers, dressed variously as jesters and swordsmen, solicited suggestions from the milling crowd and created Shakespeare-inspired mini-performances on the spot.The sun was shining, and the Shakespeare was sweet.The excitement was palpable, among actors and audience alike.The enthusiasm of these young public school students, representing all backgrounds, income levels, genders, ethnicities, races and language groups, was authentic and obvious to anyone who watched.This is a program for which DPS should be lauded by anyone who cares about educational engagement, and I cannot wait to see it again next year!
How Educational Opportunities Re-Engages Kids with High School by First Linking them to College
Educational Opportunities is a one-time 3½ hour class conducted on a local community college campus.Truant students are referred by schools.The class provides education on state truancy laws, information about negative consequences of truancy, motivation to continue education into undergraduate or technical studies, and discussions on how to apply to and pay for college.The class is offered one Saturday a month for both parents and students, with co-facilitators who offer lecture, role play and provide a campus tour.Students leave the class understanding that college enrollment is a real option for them, once they graduate from high school.
The program was originally developed by Richard Williamson in Dallas, Texas, but has been replicated in several other locations.In Dallas, a substantial proportion of the participants graduate from high school and go on to take classes at the community college.Educational Opportunities is a real community college class, for which students pay a modest fee, so participants are automatically placed on the college mailing list like any other college enrollee. The result?The kids get regular reminders of post-secondary options available nearby – as long as they stick it out through high school.Each student also receives a certificate of completion for a class called “Educational Opportunities” – the certificate says nothing about truancy.Ideally, students should also have access to the college’s career development services.
Educational Opportunities operates as an alternative to court.It is available to high school students (and their families) who have a choice of attending the class or making a court appearance.Some programs are only available to Juniors and Seniors, but others include Freshmen and Sophomores.There is a fee, determined locally, but most families feel it is a ‘good deal’ compared to the alternative.The community college has an incentive to cooperate with the program because they get a portion of the revenues and potentially some additional students in the future.The students have an incentive because they can avoid court (of course, if their attendance does not improve they will have to go to court eventually), and schools have an incentive to refer students because it is a positive intervention they do not have to run themselves.
Two teachers work together to develop the curriculum and co-teach the class.Each time they teach a class they get paid; that amount is also determined locally.It is best to have a number of high schools referring students to the program so that the enrollment numbers will be sufficient to make the program pay off and so it can be held more regularly.Teachers can have a wide variety of backgrounds, and can teach the class as part of their regular jobs with the school district or state agency, or they can be independent consultants.Of course, someone who is a dynamic teacher and can relate to the students will have better success.
Sign up for education-related e-mail alerts from Grantsalert.com. The website also includes grant-seeking tips, a special page for sources of classroom funding for teachers (called GSFT), and a directory of grant writers to help you. Registering for funding alerts is free, but the grant writers, of course, are not
Teachers, go to Doners Choose to make requests for classroom supplies.
RGK Foundation - The Foundation's programmatic areas of interest include Health, Education, Human Services, and Community Affairs. The Foundation's primary interests within education include formal K-12 education, literacy, and higher education.
Here’s a wonderful webpage that lists endless grant opportunities for K-12 schools, and has a page on grant writing tips! They also offer a subscription to Schoolgrants Biweekly Newsletter for $45 a year.
The Military Child Initiative, funded by the Department of Defense and run by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, has put together an excellent set of resources for promoting school engagement among the highly mobile set of children of the military, many of whom are living with only one parent.Although the funding has ended and the Initiative is no longer able to provide technical assistance services, the website resources are still available.See the Best Practices Library section on School Connectedness and Academic Achievement in particular.
Founded in 1943, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development is a nonprofit membership organization that develops programs, products, and services essential to the way educators learn, teach, and lead.The (ASCD) addresses all aspects of effective teaching and learning—such as professional development, educational leadership, and capacity building. ASCD offers broad, multiple perspectives—across all education professions—in reporting key policies and practices.The ASDC hosts three annual conferences.
Learning Beyond Boundaries will be held in March, 2009.