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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
Summer Learning Loss: Four ways kids approach summer vacation   It’s always interesting to me when an old topic takes on new urgency – as though it were a new phenomenon.  “Summer Learning Loss” is one of those.   Educators have known about this as long as there have been school calendars with long summer breaks. Mastery in reading, math, science and history somehow vanish for certain students.  Why do some kids return to school in the fall... Read More
One of the questions posed to stakeholders in the Asheville City Schools strategic planning process is: How well does ACS prepare students with the skills they need to be successful in employment or at college? I’d venture to say there are the old, current and evolving roles.   Old Role:  Worker Prep Based on a manufacturing model of many years ago, public education was viewed as a production line of good workers:  People who were literate and... Read More
  The Asheville City School system is designing a new strategic plan.  I had the recent honor of being interviewed as a stakeholder in the schools.  The questions were well thought out and it gave me a chance to reflect on my children’s experiences in their very different journeys from kindergarten through graduation, and my own experience as a parent, nonprofit administrator and a four-year term member of the school board.  I plan to write... Read More
Whenever I go to a conference that costs me or my employer money, I expect to bring back at least three things.  I want to get at least one new idea I can put to use quickly.  I want to make at least one connection with another person who is doing interesting things in their work and who I can follow up with later. And I want to be inspired.  I look for a passionate speaker who makes me want to do a better job and be a better person. I think we'... Read More

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