Friday, December 16, 2011

Artist of the computer kind

I appreciate this guest post from Marian Combs

Who would have thought that living here would inspire me to become an artist? Well, not a paint and canvas kind of artist but the graphic design kind – I love owning my own business and working for myself! I can only imagine what my life would be like if I still had to sit in a cubicle all day and stare at a computer screen to make money…I can’t believe I ever lived that kind of life!

I got wireless internet Seattle to help me communicate with my customers from my home office and I met with an accountant to make sure I had all the logistics under control before I got started. I thank God everyday I moved here and met Sam who encouraged me to follow my dreams because with his support, both emotional and financial, I never would have been able to do this for a living. I can’t imagine doing anything else and I’m happier than I’ve ever been so I can be grateful for everything I’ve got in life!

Nine states to share early learning grant

Studies show that youngsters who participate in strong early childhood programs have a much greater chance of succeeding in their academic and professional careers.  Public schools are trying to stay ahead of the game.

Nine states will get a chance to jump-start their early childhood initiatives, thanks to $500 million in federal grant money.  The funds are available through the U.S. Department of Education's program, Race to the Top.  In this initiative, states compete for federal dollars to create programs that make schools more effective.  The $500 million will be shared by the following states:

  • California
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington

A long-term study by the Chicago Public Schools found that "children who attended a high quality early childhood program were more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to stay out of jail and less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than students who did not attend such a program."

Sources: The Associated Press, Chicago Tribune

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My own boss

Guest post by Aldo Mays

Being my own boss is something I always thought I might do but I had no idea how it would actually come to fruition. I never had a ton of extra cash, and it took me decades to figure out what I was good at. But look at me now – I own my own graphic T-shirt company, and I’m actually turning a profit!

I’ve had to learn as I go about stuff like bank card processing and human resources and tax laws – you don’t learn about any of that stuff when you don’t go to college (and I’m not so sure you learn it in college, either!) -- but I think I’m pulling my weight and starting to feel more confident about being a good businessperson. I like having total control over what I put out there.

I try really hard to be a good boss.  I know how important it is to keep morale high and people interested in working for you. That’s why I finally struck out on my own!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Polical humor

Conan O'Brien: "Telemundo is going to make history. It will host its first ever Republican presidential debate. Yeah. This could be nice. The Republican candidates will take questions from journalists and then have them deported."

Conan O'Brien: "Occupy Wall Street's been getting a lot of attention. And it's been reported that it has now raised more than $300,000. Which means, which means technically now they have to protest themselves."

Source: U.S. News & World Report

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Are guidance counselors facing burnout?

At most local high schools, counselors used to check in with students to make sure they were taking the right classes and had the grades they'd need to graduate on time. It's not that simple anymore. High school counselors across the country face growing caseloads. At the same time, students need their help more than ever -- whether it's applying to college or meeting more complex graduation requirements.

The American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of about 250 to 1, but it's nearly twice that at many high schools. In addition, counselors have to help students with a growing array of personal struggles. Many are homeless or living in poverty. More experience mental illness or have more complex medical or developmental disorders. Details from the Seattle Times.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shopping for that special day

This guest post is from Lu Beck.

I'm a mom with two kid. Holiday shopping, especially for Easter or Valentine's Day, involves buying candy and maybe a small toy for them. I try to remember my husband and find something that he'll really enjoy, but money is tight and often we choose to do something together for the holiday. Instead of surprising each other with flowers or chocolates, we often go out to dinner together.

It's nice to have a date night with just the two of us; doing this allows us to reconnect. Parenthood doesn't often allow for alone couple time, so for Valentine's Day we really try to have a night out together. I usually surprise my kids earlier in the day with their gift. My kids are great and are appreciative of presents that they receive. This Easter I may surprise my husband with a small, affordable present. I was thinking maybe a CD or a movie. I usually shop at Target or Wal-Mart for these types of gifts. I may look for a romantic movie or CD to celebrate the spirit of the holiday.

I'm glad I added my home security alarm to my home a year ago. I always set the alarm from before we leave the house to go to dinner and I can feel confident that our home is in safe hands.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Involved parents = student success

All parents want their children to succeed in school. Research reveals that children whose parents are involved in their kids' education are more likely to succeed. But for many parents, it is hard to know how or when to start.

Today's parents work long hours, extra jobs and must handle a host of other responsibilities. Resources such as Parent Information Resource Centers (PIRCs) offer assistance in many states. Many community centers also provide help. By all means, do not overlook your child's school, which can provide a wealth of information.

Education starts at home. Kids spend most of their waking hours outside of school. Rose Jackson-Beavers, an author and director of parent services for the Parent Engagement and Empowerment Center in St. Louis, believes that even busy parents can take an active role in their child's education. According to Jackson-Beavers, the benefits of ongoing parent involvement are substantial.

"A parent's opportunity to get involved in their child's education doesn't end the moment that child walks into the classroom," said Jackson-Beavers. "Studies show that children with involved parents have more positive learning experiences. This translates into better academic performance, higher grades and test scores. I know our parents can make this happen with a little help."

Here are tips on how busy parents can work smart:

- Send your child to school well-fed and rested.
- Stay on top of homework.

- Attend open house or back-to-school night at your child's school. It's the perfect time to meet your child's teacher. If you have to work, schedule a meeting with the teacher at another time.
- Go to parent-teacher conferences.
- Each day, ask your children what they are learning at school. Discuss it with them or have them explain it.

- Set high expectations for your children. Encourage them to do their best.
- Get involved in your school's parent-teacher organization, and find out other ways you can support your child's school.

Missouri parents offer their own advice on best practices. Kim Brand is the mother of a middle school student. She also taught elementary school for 22 years in a suburban school district. Family friends notice that Brandon and her daughter, Maggie, always work together as a team. They even tackle homework at the hair salon!

"I learned right away to be the best teacher you could be for your child at home," said Brand. "Don't ever stop working with your child. Anytime my daughter has homework, I am involved in it." Brand emphasizes that the effort comes with rewards. Maggie now carries a 4.0 grade point average.

Another mom, Leslie Smith, encourages parents to establish ongoing communication with their children. Kids will talk to me before they will talk to their mom or dad," Smith stated. "They are afraid to talk to their parents." Smith says it is important that parents listen to their kids.

Dee Crump has the experience of being a mother, a grandmother, and a foster mom. She says that when she was raising her own children, her job made it difficult for her to be active in school.

Nevertheless, Crump emphasizes, "You definitely need to develop a relationship with the teacher. Let the teacher know that you really care about your child's education."
Crump, who is proud of her adult kids, now raises two foster children.

Bottom line: When parents are involved in their children's education, kids do better in school.

Additional Resources:

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