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If this is still the land of opportunity (and I surely hope it is), shouldn’t every young person have a chance to go to college?  Even if we accept that not everyone is suited for a college education, how do we know when to make that determination?  When they are in middle school? In 3rd grade? And who gets to decide? Teachers, parents, youth? I imagine most of us know people who: Dropped out of high school and then went back and became doctors... Read More
It’s risky to challenge the role of sports in public schools during football season in WNC.  People get downright passionate about their local high school’s football team in this part of the country.  In fact, I was watching the High School sports roundup on the news the other night and it reminded me of the long conversations we had back when I was on the school board. Sports Programs in Education Settings...Pros and Cons Why Sports Are a... Read More
Welcome to the 9th Grade.  Your child has entered this brave new world and you are excited and terrified.  You want the best for your child; an easy transition, friends, success in class.  But your child's chance of success is slim – 80% of children entering the 9th grade don’t have the knowledge or skills they need to graduate. If, in middle school, your child's experience included failing math or English, an unsatisfactory behavior grade in a... Read More
There are national education grants for school systems to improve student success.  There are national neighborhood grants for districts to improve families’ economic success.  There are national county and multi-county grants to improve people’s health conditions.  At times these efforts stumble over each other as they try to put together collaborations of the same handful of local institutions – but each effort has the potential to make a big... Read More
How does anyone manage to survive middle school years?  Problems loom large. Changes are traumatic.  Perception is EVERYTHING! United Way is running a community project of “Where am I now?”, highlighting a few individuals who share their own struggles during those years and how they realized a successful life – even with the twists and turns they had along the way.  You might see one of them on a billboard around the county or on the United Way... Read More
A children’s garden – such a sweet notion for such a big step for 5 year olds into the world of education!  Checking out kindergarten blogs and chats, the ones I found were by kindergarten teachers – I was looking for one by parents.  I had a recent conversation with a dad whose daughter is starting school this year. My kids are past that stage, but I remember some very significant parts of entering the school system.  And I’m sure parents have... Read More
The attached link to a Frontline program on middle school is worth the few minutes it takes to view it.  Before you watch it, consider this story of one young girl in New York City as translatable to a young girl in Buncombe County NC.  Imagine a young girl living  sometimes in a local shelter, other times with different relatives, trying to figure out how to get back to her school each day even though she is in a different part of the of county... Read More
Summer learning loss. It's the new buzz term for kids’ brain hibernation over the summer vacation. It happens a little bit to all students, but most significantly to those who have few opportunities to exercise their minds. What can be done? Right now a test run is underway thanks to the collaborative attitudes and efforts of the YMCA 21st Century program, AB Tech, and United Way’s Middle School Success initiative. Fifty middle schoolers (rising... Read More
Can One Passing Comment To a Child Really Make a Difference? In previous blogs I wrote about our community’s role in education for our youth, opportunities to be involved with young people in a positive way, and listening to the opinions of young people.  During the summer months as kids are interacting with lots of different adults, let’s consider the power of adult influences on a young person’s life.   How Teachers Comments Make a Difference... Read More
[Ann is on vacation this week.  Of course she wrote this well before she headed out - we are posting it on her behalf.]   A few months ago I wrote "Lessons From Local Youth" - letting you know about a project we were working on called Community Conversations which we held with 5 different groups in Buncombe County. In it I shared what young people said about opportunities, education, and the community they live in.    United Way Hosted Worldwide... Read More

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