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Education E X P LO R AT I O N Keynote Speaker: Scott Oki - 7:00 PM

Scott Oki is the Founder and Chairman of Oki Developments, Inc. and is a serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, philanthropist, author and community activist.

Presentations on a variety of education topics will be made starting at 3pm and ending at 9pm.

REGISTER AND WIN!

Visit isandbeyond.com/educationexploration and pre-register for this Free Event and you will be entered in a drawing for one of three $50 Gift Certificates to SIP Wine Bar and Restaurant.

Co-sponsored by:

FREE education expo Tuesday - 3 to 9 PM

Feb. 15, 2011

Pickering Barn

Articles:

OnLine Learning - page 14 Preschools - page 16

&

and beyond...

Zackery Lystedt Law - page 18 Montessori Education

- page 20

Early Language Education - page 22

VOICE Mentoring - page 24 Post-High School Career Options - page 26

isandbeyond.com - Jan/Feb 2011 - 13


Online Learning Is it right for you?

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t’s hard to miss the many advertisements attracting families and students to the opportunities of online schools. The appeal of online learning is obvious. Students can take a class to free up their schedule so they have room for an elective, learning is individualized, students can set their own pace, and they can learn anytime from anywhere in the world. In addition, new technologies appeal to students of any age and promise engaging experiences that m a k e learning fun and interactive. It’s little wonder, then, that over the past five years Washington state has experienced an explosive growth of online learning. During the 2008–2009 school year, a state Department of Education study found that more than 15,800 students took nearly 51,000 courses. These courses may provide a viable learning alternative, but the important question to consider is: How do you know if online learning is right for your child? You will want to consider the following issues when weighing important educational options for your child. Teacher-to-student ratio: Personal contact and a strong relationship with the teacher are consistently identified as key factors in student success. Knowing how many students each teacher is ex-

14 - Education Exploration

by Sally Lancaster

pected to work with may help you gauge the level of attention a teacher can give your child. In a typical high school there is approximately one teacher for every 30 students per class. You should look for this ratio or one more favorable, for your student in an online learning environment. Technology may help teachers be more efficient in managing the learning, but teacher-student interaction is still a critical piece to ensure the student’s success. Testing requirements: Make sure the online program has easy options for meeting statemandated testing r e quirements. Many programs are connected to districts in remote areas of the state. It is important to know where your child will be expected to take the required state tests, such as the high school proficiency exam, and how the program will support them. Success rate: Each program defines success differently. In the 2008–2009 study mentioned earlier, more than 8,000 students failed to complete the online course(s) they were enrolled in. Another 16,000 students received a failing grade. In addition, only about one-third of the students who were enrolled in an online program in 2007–2009 stayed with the same program the following year. It is important to ask about completion, success, and retention rates to understand

the comprehensive view of any online program you are considering. Technological advances are changing the way people think about learning, while expanding the opportunities available to benefit children and families alike. These advances need to apply to the world of learning in ways that improve academic success for each and every child. For more information about online learning, please come to the Education Expo February 15th at Pickering Barn.

Sally Lancaster will be a featured speaker at the Education Expo on February 15 at Pickering Barn, where she will elaborate on online educational options.

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Inspiring Knowledge and Faith Preschool - Grade 8

IBIT

Institute for Business and Information Technology

Certificate and Degree Programs St. Joseph School Issaquah ď – Snoqualmie For informational meeting and tour dates visit us online

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isandbeyond.com - Education Exploration - 15


Preschools: Are they an important option for your child?

Waiting patiently in line, being a supportive friend, and following directions. Great skills for everyone to have, right? But they are also perfect examples of what kids learn in preschool. by Denise Steele Darnell

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n these economically uncertain times, parents naturally question if a preschool environment is beneficial for their 3-or 4-year-old. Helen Glenn, co-owner of Sammamish Learning Center, comments that although parents and other family members are by far the most important factors in terms of teaching and nurturing, a preschool can offer a new social experience. It is a great chance for children to be in a social group other than their family, and can give them an advantage when they go to kindergarten.

16 - Education Exploration

As children learn how to share, eat snacks together, and be in a classroom with others, they are learning important social skills. Sharon Romppanen is a parent educator at Bellevue College’s cooperative preschools in Issaquah and Sammamish. In working with children, she finds the social-emotional support that preschool provides can be instrumental in establishing lifelong social skills. She notes they start to get what “school” looks like and words and phrases such as “circle time,” “line leader,” and “cubbies” become common vocabulary.

Bonnie Steussy, the founding director of The Children’s Garden School, also emphasizes the importance of preschool for communication skills. Preschools strive to teach children how to let their needs and wants be known. They emphasize making eye contact and learning how to ask for something, whether from a teacher or another child. In addition, Steussy notes that preschool is a great window of opportunity to teach kids how to work with others and create a love of learning. Romppanen explains that every child faces the difficult developmental milestone of separating from their parents. Preschool helps support 3- and 4-year-olds as they learn to feel safe with a teacher and in a school environment. School can benefit moms and dads too. Depending on the preschool, parents can enjoy education classes, conferences, volunteering in the classroom, and having camaraderie with other families. Ironically, the prevalence of technology for kids plays a role in the importance of preschool. At preschool, children are unplugged from all the game and movie time. Glenn says children are spending more time with technology, but spending less time learning social cues. They are playing with a screen more than with


each other. At preschool they learn what it means to get along with others. This can be as simple as asking another child to pass the water pitcher at snack time or taking turns with a shovel in the sandbox. Parents certainly contribute to teaching important social skills, but it is hard to duplicate a preschool environment. Most kindergarten teachers are able to tell which students have attended a preschool. Because a kindergarten day consists of more academics than ever before, teachers have less time to spend on honing kids’ social skills. Those students who are able to work well with their classmates, listen and respond to the teacher, follow directions, and make friends are further along at being successful in a kindergarten classroom.

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The new Zackery Lystedt Law A common sense approach to preventing brain injuries to youth athletes.

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overnor Christine Gregoire signed the nation’s toughest and most enlightened returnto-play law on May 14, 2009, requiring medical clearance of youth athletes suspected of sustaining a concussion, before sending them back to the game, practice, or training. The new law, known as the Zackery Lystedt Law, prohibits youth athletes suspected of sustaining a concussion

18 - Education Exploration

by Richard H. Adler

from returning to play without a licensed health-care provider’s approval. The new law is the most comprehensive return-toplay law in the United States for athletes under 18. This common sense law makes youth sports safer and helps avoid preventable brain injuries. I was the attorney who represented Zackery Lystedt, now a 17-year-old Maple Valley boy, who suffered a life-threatening brain injury

during a football game on October 12, 2006. School coaches returned him to the field after he sustained a concussion, without first obtaining a complete evaluation by a licensed health-care professional trained in the evaluation and management of concussions. The young football star underwent emergency brain surgery at Harborview Medical Center after he collapsed on the field. He remains dependent on a wheelchair and requires 24/7 supervision for his needs, but continues to improve in the areas of speech, memory, and mobility. Zackery’s injuries were not unusual. More than 3.5 million sports-related concussions occur each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This legislation provides the protection Zackery should have received. Wellestablished return-to-play rules following a concussion must now be communicated by school officials to coaches, student athletes, and parents.


Key provisions of the new law require: • Youth athletes who are suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury to be removed from play. When in doubt, sit them out. • School districts to work with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to develop information and policies on educating coaches, youth athletes, and parents about the nature and risk of concussion, including the dangers of returning to practice or competition after a concussion or head injury. • All youth athletes and their parents/guardians to sign an information sheet about the signs and symptoms of concussion and head injury prior to the youth athlete initiating practice at the start of each season. • Youth athletes who have been removed from play to receive written medical clearance from a licensed health-care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussion prior to returning to play. • Private, nonprofit youth sports associations using publicly owned playfields to comply with this law. As a direct result of the Lystedt Law, Harborview Medical Center and Seattle Children’s launched the Seattle Sports Concussion Program to evaluate, treat, and provide medical clearance for athletes to return to sports following a concussion. And momentum to extend Washington’s Lystedt Law to all other states is on the fast track, as it has been adopted in other states and approval is pending in many more. The National Football League recently banned helmet-to-helmet hits for all its players, sending a clear message to youth sports. The NFL also recently announced its support to have Washington’s Lystedt Law adopted in all states within the next one or two years.

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Montessori Education What are the differences with this approach to educating children? “Good morning, Lukas, it’s great to see you.” “Mr. Sean, I tied my own shoes this morning.” “Way to go—your practice has certainly paid off. What do you want to tackle next?” “Today I am going to work with the golden beads.”

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his is typical of the personal greeting each child receives upon entering a Montessori classroom. Respect for the child, and an awareness of their emotional readi20 - Education Exploration

by Mary O’Brien

ness for learning, is a primary role of the teacher; the core of the program is focusing on the individual child’s needs. Following this greeting, Lukas enters a peaceful environment, where the teacher has researched, studied, and strategically prepared and placed materials relating to practical life, art, use of the senses, math, language, science, and geography. Within this structure, Lukas constructively chooses what he will do. He works alone, or with a friend, until he exhausts his interest and returns his work neatly to the shelf, ready for another child. Now he is ready to move on. He may be

invited by the teacher to receive a lesson, approach the teacher requesting a lesson, join a friend for a snack, or simply move on to other work. He feels safe; he is growing within a thoughtfully arranged environment engineered specifically for his developmental needs. He is making his own choices, he is able to focus and concentrate, and he is developing greater powers of discrimination, observation, awareness, control, coordination, and judgment. He is free to collaborate with friends, and he is experiencing what current neurological and cognitive sciences conclude are best educational practices. He is a Montessori student. The greater Issaquah community has approximately a dozen schools using the Montessori approach. Lukas’s experience is taking place in a large, open room with low shelves and tables tastefully placed throughout. He is one of 20 children, between the ages of 3 and 6, each intent upon their own work. They are practicing buttoning, sorting, learning letter sounds or basic arithmetic,


writing, drawing, painting, learning geometric shapes or experiencing scientific processes, or exploring a globe. Some are sitting at tables, some on the floor; mostly the classroom is quiet, with just a hum of concentration punctuated by periodic exclamations of success. The teacher is nearly invisible, moving quietly around the room, supervising where necessary, appearing beside those in need, and remaining nonintrusive to those who are engaged. This description of a Montessori classroom dates back to a 1909 description by Maria Montessori herself, and is equally true today. The distinct advantage Montessori education gives students is self-esteem, confidence, and independence beyond their years. The students are strongly self-motivated, with a keen interest in learning and awareness of the value of a good education. This is most obvious in their unique ability to share with others their knowledge, tools, and skills.

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Imagine... finding hidden potential just around the corner

Early Language Education In the first four years of life, a child’s brain by Jackie Friedman Mighdoll is focused on language acquisition.

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wo-and-a-half year-old Mateo is already on his way to being a world citizen. He and his parents have been taking classes in Mandarin Chinese since he was just a few months old, learning together. From the outside and to Mateo, having fun is what it’s all about. He sings and dances and hugs the furry white cat that he asks for in Mandarin. But while he’s playing, a lot is going on in his brain. In the first four years of life, a child’s brain is focused on language acquisition— first on sounds, then grammar, and then vocabulary. The brain forms neural pathways in response to the language

surrounding it. Amazing as it sounds, the brain wires itself in a particular way because of the language around the child, and even relatively small amounts of exposure to a second language before the age of one make a difference in the development of those neural pathways. How do these differently wired neural pathways affect children? Children who are exposed to language early recognize and produce sounds like a native speaker. As children get older, however, this gets much more difficult to do. In addition, children who know more than one language have shown they understand that things can have more


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than one name—that language is, in effect, symbolic. This understanding leads to strong verbal and analytical skills. The cognitive benefits show up in academic tests. Children who have studied a foreign language score higher on testing in math and social studies, and even on their SATs. There are tremendous advantages to learning a language at any age. (Recent research shows that speaking two languages as an adult may even help delay dementia!) Starting young can also help with reaching competency. Researchers at the University of Oregon discovered that students who start learning a language in elementary school are 70 percent more likely to reach competency than those who start in high school. Excellent pronunciation and success in academics are great benefits, but ultimately there’s an even bigger benefit: the effect that knowing a second language has on a child’s approach to interacting with people from around the world. Children who grow up embracing other languages and cultures aren’t intimidated by someone who speaks or acts differently. They have the confidence and willingness to understand and appreciate other people and cultures. They are compassionate global citizens, and the world needs more of them.

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Faith

Academics

At The Bear Creek School you don’t have to choose between faith and an exceptional education. Academic excellence is grounded in the liberal arts and exposes students to the great ideas and great works of the centuries while Christian values are modeled and woven throughout the curriculum and student life. Located in Redmond Preschool–Grade 12 Tuition Assistance Available

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A homegrown success story.

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othing speaks more highly of a community than the education and support it provides to its students. Issaquah is fortunate to provide both—an outstanding school district and the Issaquah Schools Foundation (ISF), which further supports students in specific, meaningful ways. A perfect example is the VOICE (Volunteers of Issaquah Changing Education) Mentor Program.

by Susan Gierke

In 2003 ISF did a needs assessment survey to discover unmet student needs, and concluded that one of the greatest needs was in the area of student development, including mentoring, tutoring, and additional counseling. With limited funding, the foundation did not know how it could tackle this enormous challenge. Recalls ISF executive director Robin Callahan, “Susan Gierke and I were listening to a grant presentation


from the Issaquah Valley principal requesting funds for students struggling. Susan, a new board member and recently retired teacher who was familiar with the Bellevue VIBES mentoring program, leaned over and said, ‘Don’t we have a program similar to VIBES? That’s just what these students need, a mentor.’ Susan was determined to get such a program started and worked gratis for the first year establishing the program at Issaquah Valley Elementary School and Issaquah Middle School.” That first year ended with 25 students matched with mentors. Since then, word of the program has spread and the work of the mentors with their students has been so valued by district personnel that the program has grown significantly. Today the VOICE Mentor Program is in all 23 Issaquah School District schools, with more than 150 mentors working with 182 students. With this wonderful success, however, comes a need for more VOICE mentors for Issaquah schools. VOICE recruits community members to work one-on-one with students. Mentors work with students in kindergarten through 12th grade for one hour per week during the school day, on the school campus, under the direction of school staff. If you have one hour a week to devote to a student in the Issaquah School District, please contact me at 425.837.6801, voice@issaquah.wednet.edu, or visit our website at issaquahschoolsfoundation. org/programs/index.htm#VOICE to find out how you can make a difference in the life of a student in our community.

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Post–high school career options Cougar Mountain Academy Est. 1962

A distinctive private Elementary School dedicated to high expectations, an excellent education based on international standards and a wonderful school experience for each child.

How to avoid the deadly “decade drift.”

by Steve Hanson

W

here are you going to college? Most high school seniors are asked that question. While many will rattle off several colleges they have applied to, there are also those who are undecided. Those are the ones who usually end up in “decade

working life. Technical colleges play a key role in training students for work, providing the skills needed to get a living-wage job. At Renton Technical College (RTC), the average student age is 31, but this is starting to trend down. More students

drift,” meaning they don’t go to college and instead end up working at a lowwage, dead-end job for about 10 years. At that point, the lightbulb comes on and they realize that they need to have a skill in order to enhance their personal life. What they don’t realize is that the wages they could have earned had they attended a vocational/technical school and gained a skill will never be made up during the remainder of their

are realizing that they need some entrylevel skills in order to compete in today’s job market. As more students opt for a post-secondary education, there has been a change in what the typical student looks like. For many years, nurses were fema le and welders were male. Not anymore. Women are discovering careers in the welding industry, as well as in construction, automotive fields, and technology. Men are training for careers

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www.RTC.edu 26 - Education Exploration


in nursing, office management, massage, and as medical assistants. The licensed practical nurse program at RTC is 40 percent male. Why the change? Young adults are encouraged more than ever to follow their passion and are able to make a career out of it. Doors are opening to a more diverse workforce. Instead of leaving high school and taking a decade to finally discover what their passion is, students can now enter careers without worrying about the gender role attached. That is how it is for Ronni and Chelesa, two women at Lake Washington Technical College who are training to be in a traditional male field. Both became interested in welding after tak-

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ing an elective in high school, and both have found many options are available in this industry. Promise, an RTC nursing student from Africa, is one of those pursing their passion. “I think more men should try nursing,” he says. “Men have compassion too and can do just as good. You are able to see that you are helping someone, and that is a good feeling. It is a good career choice for men.” In the end, high school students need to realize the value of marketable skills and not delay their postsecondary education for a decade. Gaining marketable skills after graduating from high school can result in higher earnings and more opportunities in the future.

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5th & 6th graders in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” isandbeyond.com - Education Exploration - 27


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Education Exploration  

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