BEST BUYS FOR EVERY BACKPACK
BACKtoSCHOOL FALL 2017
AYESHA CURRY Mom, wife, chef & author
CREATIVE, COOL STEM TOYS
Back to school made easy Keep your home healthy during the hustle and bustle of back to school. Get CloroxÂŽ Disinfecting Wipes and kill 99.999% of bacteria*. Perfect for the classroom and for your home.
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BACKtoSCHOOL FALL 2017
INTERNET OVERLOAD Tips for balancing teens’ online intake
High-tech playtime Children’s toys of the future are making their debut now
Game-changer Celebrity chef Ayesha Curry mixes love of cooking and family
Lessons in equality Embracing differences helps students learn acceptance
UP FRONT 8
Backpack checklist School supplies to start the year right
Toys that teach tech Activities focus on coding and STEM
All product prices and availability are subject to change.
Healthy snacks Wholesome bites that kids will love
Box Tops for Education Clipping logos for classroom cash
Get geared up Trendy clothing for the new school year
DEPARTMENTS Elementary 60
High School 86
Organizations give young ladies a boost
Learning in foreign lands expands horizons
Schools immerse students in foreign languages
Scholarship prep How to cash in on free money for college
A New Addition
Boys reap rewards when men are teachers
Middle School 74
Introducing Julia Sesame Street welcomes autistic muppet
One-on-one Education franchises engage in low-tech tutoring
Digital learning Online options expand educational opportunities
82 ON THE COVER: Ayesha Curry and daughters Riley, left, and Ryan. PHOTO BY: Sasha Gulish
for Cheeky Kids
4 BACK TO SCHOOL | FALL 2017
A time of change Behaviors to look for and how to address them
JERALD COUNCIL; SESAME WORKSHOP/ZACH HYMAN; ILLUSTRATION: LISA M. ZILKA
FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS PREMIUM PUBLICATION EDITORIAL
Lisa A. Beach is an Orlando-based journalist and copywriter who writes about family, food, wellness and other lifestyle topics for publications such as Parents, USA TODAY’s Pet Guide and Edible Orlando. With a long history of volunteering (most recently with Orlando’s Edible Education Experience), Beach loves shining the spotlight on nonprofit groups and the amazing work they do, particularly those that help young girls excel (page 60). “I was so impressed by the girl empowerment organizations I profiled for this piece, opening minds — and doors — for young girls.”
Gina Roberts-Grey has interviewed hundreds of actors, athletes and politicians, and her work has appeared in numerous print and online outlets including Family Circle, Glamour, Essence, Live Happy and Bicycling. She shares a joy of cooking for loved ones with Ayesha Curry, whom she talked with for our cover story (page 40). Roberts-Grey, her husband and their college-age son still prepare and share family meals in their Syracuse, N.Y., home when everyone is under one roof. “There’s nothing like time together in the kitchen to bond and create memories!”
DIRECTOR Jeanette Barrett-Stokes email@example.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jerald Council firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGING EDITOR Michelle Washington email@example.com EDITORS Tracy Scott Forson Patricia Kime Elizabeth Neus Sara Schwartz Debbie Williams ISSUE DESIGNER Miranda Pellicano DESIGNERS Gina Toole Saunders Lisa M. Zilka
PROVIDED BY THE CONTRIBUTORS
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Matt Alderton, Lisa A. Beach, Vanessa Caceres, Claudia M. Caruana, Hollie Deese, Valerie Finholm, Gina Roberts-Grey, Quinn Kelley, Christine Romero, Adam Stone, Kristi Valentini, Suzanne Wright
Christine Romero spent a decade as a business newspaper reporter and has since worked in communications. The awardwinning business writer’s work has been published across numerous platforms including Realtor.com, USA TODAY’s Hispanic Living and University of Colorado publications. The Denver-based writer has always had an interest in issues of equity and inclusion, and that prompted her to look at how gender and intersectional issues are incorporated into the classroom (page 46). “I think it’s fair to say that all of us have seen the ups and downs in our country in the last year,” she says. “After hearing from teachers and students, like 10-yearold Liz Ondoma, I truly felt inspired knowing this is our future.”
Adam Stone’s coverage of education, technology and government has appeared in a range of national publications including Converge, Government Technology and C4ISRNet. He follows tech trends in the public sector and writes frequently on emerging technology in military and government circles. A passionate proponent of public school funding, he also serves on the board of Aleph Bet Jewish Day School in Annapolis, Md., where his kids have attended both private and public schools. “In my research into digital learning, (page 78) I was excited to see the breadth of creative ideas on the table,” he says. “The real question is whether this society values education enough to chase down these opportunities. It comes down to money.”
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up front | finances BACK TO SCHOOL
UP FRONT SHOPPING 8 | TECH 14 | FOOD 16 | EDUCATION 18 | FASHION 24
Some students get the chance to experience different cultures, like this girl who is learning weaving techniques from a woman in Mae Sariang, Thailand, as part of the Rustic Pathways cultural immersion program (page 86). Whether or not your child takes part in a similar program, they can make the new school year just as exciting and fulfilling wherever they learn.
up front | shopping
Backpack ready Get the school year off to a great start by filling your childâ€™s book bag with these key supplies to help ensure their success.
The 1 Voice Sidewinder backpack includes a battery charger to keep teensâ€™ devices powered on the go. $159, 1voicenyc.com
The Original Orangehandled Scissors measure 8 inches. $16.99, fiskars.com
Divoga twopocket poly folders, $2.50, Office Depot and OfficeMax
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3 Prismacolor Premier fine line illustration markers are acid-free. $9.73 for eight-pack, amazon.com
Prismacolor Premier colored pencils are good for shading. $11.47 for 24-pack, amazon.com
Drinkmate 12-ounce glass water bottle comes in a protective silicone sleeve. $3.96, Walmart
Swingline ergonomic grip stapler, $7, Staples
TUL gel ink pens are retractable. $7.99 for four, Office Depot and OfficeMax
FIND THE RIGHT RELIEF FAST Get Back to Healthy & Happy
Use only as directed.
RELIEVES PAIN AND REDUCES FEVER while being gentle on the tummy
Use only as directed.
ONE DOSE LASTS UP TO 8 HOURS Help them get through their day or night
GIVE THEM THE RELIEF THEY NEED THIS SCHOOL YEAR Â© J&JCI 2017
up front | shopping
Stock up on essentials Fill your son’s or daughter’s backpack with supplies they’ll need every day and there’ll be no excuses for not getting the job done.
2 1 4
1 TUL custom note-taking system notebook, $14.99, Office Depot and OfficeMax
2 Cars one-subject composition notebook, $2.50, Target 3 Space Junk backpack with video-game controllers design, $29.99, Target
4 Scientific calculator has holes so it can be placed in a binder. $7.99, Staples
5 Divoga two-pocket poly folders, $2.50, Office Depot and OfficeMax
6 Greenroom 1-inch hard cover binder, $4.99, Target 7 Crayola erasable colored pencils, $4.49 for 24, Target 8 Yoobi composition book with banana print, $2.29, Target goes on purple and dries clear. $3.99 for 5 ounces, Target
10 Embark Jartop backpack in colorful flower print, $24.99, Target
10 BACK TO SCHOOL | FALL 2017
9 Elmer’s disappearing glue
up front | shopping
Always be prepared Complete your childâ€™s school supplies checklist with these go-to items that will be sure to help them get the grades.
Cat & Jack lunch kit with crayon design, $12.99; matching 12-ounce stainless steel water bottle, $9.99, both at Target
Post-it notes in emoji shapes, $2 for two 30-sheet packs, Office Depot and OfficeMax
Dual-tip highlighters have a see-through barrel that shows the ink supply. $5.99 for five, Office Depot and OfficeMax
Yoobi mini office supply kit includes a mini stapler, scissors, tape dispenser and more. $4.99, Target
Yoobi spiral one-subject college-ruled notebook with flamingo design, $2.29, Target
UBrands 30-count gel pens in assorted colors, $15, ubrands.com
CRG2 Stow-It supplies storage container, $8.99, Office Depot and OfficeMax
Yoobi No. 2 pencils are printed with fun messages. $1.49 for six, Target
PENCIL BOX 1 Yoobi rubber pom pom keychain in pink, $2.99, Target 2 OMG erasers, $1 for three, Office Depot and OfficeMax 3 ChapStick lip balm, $1, Walmart 4 Yoobi mini backpack coin purse keychain, $3.99, Target 5 Small pink stapler and scissors, included in Yoobi mini office supply kit above
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made for ﬁrst days and every day
3 smart ways to save REDcard
® Registered Trademark and * Trademark of Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc. © KCWW.
up front | tech
This playground building set teaches engineering and design. $24.99, learning resources.com
Children ages 6 and up use apps to program the Dash robot to perform behaviors. Starting at $149.99, makewonder.com
The Arduino coding kit lets teens ages 14 and up create and code their own inventions. $99.95, littlebits.cc
Coding in Disguise BY QUINN KELLEY
n today’s business environment, skills in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) are more valuable than ever. When it comes to STEM education, it’s best to begin nurturing children’s interest in these areas at an early age. Introducing coding and programming through play makes these skills accessible for boys and girls. These toys foster curiosity, inspire creativity and could possibly lead to future careers in an in-demand field — without the children even realizing that they’re learning.
Future robotics engineers can learn programming, complete activities and more with the Sphero SPRK+. $129.99, sphero. com
The Cubetto robot teaches children ages 3 and up the basics of computer programming. $225, primotoys.com
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PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
Learning is child’s play with these tech-related toys
IN A CLASS OF ITS OWN
Aspire R 15 57*
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â€¢ NVIDIAÂ® GeForceÂ® 940MX graphics
â€¢ 12GB DDR4 memory, 256GB SSD
Tablet ,QWHOÂ® Coreâ„¢ i7 processor
up front | food
Pizza-flavored, whole-grain Rise Buddy rice chips are thin, crunchy and baked, not fried. $3, munchpak. com
Stonyfield YoKids Organic Squeezers are low fat and
contain 25 percent less sugar than similar yogurt treats. $3.54 for eight 2-ounce tubes, Walmart
Snack Smart Keep lunches creative and healthy BY HOLLIE DEESE
eeping children’s packed lunches tasty and as nutritious as possible every day during the school year is a constant challenge for parents across the country. Here are a few new ideas that will fit the bill from fall to summer:
Van’s blueberry PB&J Sandwich Bars are filled
with oats and real peanut butter, with no artificial flavors or preservatives. $5.69, vitacost.com
With a full serving of fruit, twistable Fruit Shredz snacks do not contain any of the eight major food allergens. $3.99, Target
Annie’s Summer Strawberry Bunny Fruit Snacks are organic
and vegan-friendly. $5.99 for five 8-ounce pouches, buybuybaby.com
16 BACK TO SCHOOL | FALL 2017
GETTY IMAGES; PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
Fresh blueberries are conveniently ready to go in Naturipe’s Snack Pack. $2.98 for three 1.25-ounce packages, Walmart
WELCOME BACK to wellness Nature Made® has trusted, quality vitamins and supplements that help support your family’s nutritional needs when getting back to a healthy routine.
At Nature Made, we’re committed to quality. That’s why we work with USP, an independent organization that tests for quality and purity. The Nature Made difference is easy to see—just look for the USP Verified Mark on the label of our products.
up front | education
Clipping for Cash Box Tops for Education program can be a gold mine for school funding
n 1996, General Mills launched a program in California to help support education and local schools. Piggybacking on the nation’s enthusiasm for coupons, the company offered to redeem General Mills cereal box tops for cash for schools. Fueled by PTA parents, Box Tops for Education took off and soon expanded to schools across the nation. Today the program is a mainstay for school fundraising, and clipping Box Tops logos has become a longstanding habit for many families. Those box tops — still redeemable by schools for 10 cents each — add up. Since the program started two decades ago, nearly 80,000 schools have raised more than $840 million, says Maria Lopez-May, senior manager of Box Tops for Education. Over the years, the program has expanded to include box tops on hundreds of General Mills products and partner brands including Annie’s, Nature Valley, Kleenex, Lysol and Ziploc, increasing the earnings potential for schools.
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+ = For every box top clipped, schools get 10 cents toward the purchase of needed school supplies.
The program has also become tech-savvy — its Facebook page has been liked nearly 2.5 million times — but has resisted converting entirely to digital to keep alive the tradition of bringing box tops to schools, Lopez-May says. “This is something so simple, and you can make a difference one clip at a time,” she says. FIELD TRIPS AND IPADS Lopez-May says schools have used their earnings from the program to pay for everything from field trips and playground equipment to computers and iPads. “One school used Box Top earnings to pay off-duty police to help with traffic control,” she says. “Another purchased a ‘Buddy Bench’ for the playground so shy students can make connections with other kids at recess.” In today’s era of shrinking school budgets, the program has become even more important at cash-strapped schools. At Horace Mann School in St. Paul, Minn., proceeds from Box Tops for Education help fund the school’s band, which was cut from >
JOE DICKIE/GENERATION PHOTOGRAPHY; GETTY IMAGES; GENERAL MILLS; GETTY IMAGES
BY VALERIE FINHOLM
up front | education
Here are some products that carry the Box Tops for Education logo that can be clipped and collected for cash: CEREAL
uCheerios uFrench Toast Crunch uGirl Scouts Thin Mints Cereal uRaisin Nut Bran uWheaties PAPER AND PLASTIC PRODUCTS
uHefty trash bags uKleenex tissues uReynolds parchment paper uScott paper towels uZiploc sandwich bags uZiploc Twist ‘n Loc containers SNACKS AND JUICES
uAnnie’s snack products uBetty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks uFiber One bars and brownies uNature Valley Baked Oat Bites uChex Mix
the budget four years ago. “We have music and band back in our school,” says Lynda Imholte, a teaching assistant at the school who also volunteers with the program. Imholte, whose three children have helped her clip box tops over the years, says the entire town helps collect box tops for the program, which earns the school about $1,000 a year. GOING DIGITAL Box Tops for Education has evolved with the digital age. Last year, it introduced a mobile Bonus app that allows shoppers to scan store receipts for extra Box Tops cash, and a crowd-funding digital tool called Clip Board, where more than 7,000 schools have posted fundraising goals and received pledges from supporters to
20 BACK TO SCHOOL | FALL 2017
bring in box tops. What hasn’t changed is that collectors still must clip the logo from product packages and bring them to school — a tradition that consumers have indicated they want preserved, Lopez-May says. “We have a woman who used to clip for her daughter and now she clips for her grandson, who is in the first grade,” she says. “We hear over and over from consumers that this is tried-and-true behavior.” Imholte says her mother still clips box tops for the program, and Imholte plans to do the same after her youngest child graduates from elementary school this year. “I love that you see it (the coupon) on your box and you cut it out,” she says. “Would you throw a dime away?” l
FOOD AND DAIRY ITEMS
uGreen Giant vegetables uLand O’Lakes cheese products uHamburger Helper select flavors uOld El Paso Dinner Kits uProgresso soups and broths HOUSEHOLD CLEANING SUPPLIES
uFinish dishwashing detergent uLysol bathroom cleaners uLysol Disinfecting Spray uLysol Disinfecting Wipes
JOE DICKIE/GENERATION PHOTOGRAPHY; PROVIDED BY GENERAL MILLS
Clipping box tops from participating products to help local schools has become a longstanding tradition for some families.
When you buy paper, make sure it has
BoisePaper.com Boise POLARIS and Paper with Purpose are trademarks of Boise White Paper, L.L.C. or its afďŹ liates. BOISE is a trademark of Boise Cascade Company. Box Tops for Education and associated words and designs are trademarks of General Mills, used under license. ÂŠ General Mills
“I knew that He would guide me through the tough times.”
CHILDREN FIND STRENGTH IN GOD’S LOVE. What if we all did?
WE BELIEVE that, along with a strong and caring home life, involvement in a faith community gives children strength that helps them manage changes and challenges better. And never is ﬁnding strength more important than at the start of a new school year. It’s a time of new friends, new experiences, but also new challenges. Knowing God loves everyone unconditionally lifts up kids’ hearts. As the summer winds down, we invite you to bring your family to a United Methodist Church near you, to learn more about the strength that comes from unconditional love.
FOR MORE ABOUT HOW GOD’S LOVE CAN CREATE RESILIENCY IN CHILDREN, VISIT RETHINKCHURCH.ORG/BACKTOSCHOOL.
up front | fashion
Cat & Jack star-print knit leggings, $12.99, target.com
Flower print hoodie by Kidpik, $26.50, basicsbykidpik.com
Cat & Jack Shae sneaker, $19.99, target.com
Cat & Jack short-sleeve Learn graphic tee, $12.99, target.com
Denim jacket with lace trim can be purchased as part of a Kidpik clothing subscription box. $29.50 for jacket, kidpik.com
Cat & Jack metallic headband with knotted round bow, $5.99, target.com
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1969 doodle embroidery chambray shirt, $49.99; straight crop jeans, $39.95; both at gap.com
PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
Start the new school year right with these fashion-forward finds that will prove your child is as stylish as she is smart.
find us in the snack aisle ÂŠ 2017 Materne North America. All rights reserved. Materne and GoGo squeeZ are registered trademarks of Materne North America Corp.
up front | fashion
Kids wonâ€™t be able to wait to get dressed for school with these cool style choices.
Cat & Jack Be A Hero long-sleeve tee, $8.99, target.com
Cat & Jack slouchy-fit chino pants, $16.99, target.com
GapKids straight-fit jeans, $34.95, Gap
Art Class long-sleeve flannel shirt, $16.99, target.com
Hadley adventure sandals have soft straps and a sporty sole. $55, keenfootwear.com
Plaid poplin convertible shirt, $34.95, gap.com; icon denim jacket, $49.95, Gap
26 BACK TO SCHOOL | FALL 2017
PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
Short-sleeve pocket slub tee, $16.95; highstretch skinny jeans, $34.95, both at gap. com; classic trainer shoes, $39.95, Gap
up front | fashion
Head of the Class These trendy options could inspire students to excel in and outside the classroom.
Cat & Jack long-sleeve Astronaut shirt, $8.99, target.com
Cat & Jack drawstring joggers, $16.99, target.com
Art Class short-sleeve hoodie, $17.99, target.com
Versavent breathable shoe comes in four colors. $60, keenfootwear.com
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Gingham short-sleeve poplin shirt, $24.95, Gap
Shortsleeve slub tee, $16.95, Gap; chinos in camo print, $34.95; perforated classic trainer shoes, $39.95; both at gap.com
PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
Stripe short-sleeve pocket slub tee, $16.95, gap.com
Pack a smile in every lunch
©2017 The Glad Products Company. © Disney, © & ™ Lucasﬁlm Ltd.
Save now with
up front | fashion
Stay in Style She can mix and match these fun picks through the entire school year.
Art Class vest with flap collar, $21.99, target.com
Cat & Jack terry hoodie jacket, $22.99, target.com
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High-stretch legging jeans, $39.95; high-stretch superskinny jeans, $39.95; pink stretch straight crop jeans, $39.95; all at Gap
Art Class short-sleeve dress, $19.99, target.com
Versavent shoe has a cushioned footbed and bungee laces. $60, keenfootwear.com
Art Class Elephant tee with fringe detail, $14.99, target.com
PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
Art Class Safari tank top, $12.99, target.com
up front | fashion
SO chambray woven buttonfront shortsleeve top, $36; JanSport Cool Student laptop backpack, $74, both at kohls. com
32 BACK TO SCHOOL | FALL 2017
Zorg overdyed French terry mock-neck sweatshirt comes in four colors. $168, konusbrand.com
Zarta Bundy shirt jacket also comes in black-andwhite plaid. $168, konusbrand.com
Roland camo-printed M65 jacket has a belt and a zipper opening at the cuff. $198, konusbrand.com
Asymmetrical side-tie dress, $148, bananarepublic.com
Nautical stripe pullover hoodie, $49.99, llbean.com
Girls can hit the ground in style in the Ian leather Oxford with contrasting perforated uppers. $200, konusbrand.com
PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
The older set can flex their fashion muscles in items that hit both hot and cool notes.
up front | finances
PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
Urban Pipeline Ultimate Tee, $14; JanSport Cool Student laptop backpack, $74, both at kohls.com
Fog wash jeans have trendy rips and faded details. $168, konusbrand.com
The Social Bomber jacket is made with neoprene and vegan leather. $192, konusbrand.com
Convoy hooded jacket with color blocking and sleeve patches is water repellent. $228, konusbrand.com
Zip-front jacket, $128; commuter backpack, $198; both at bananarepublic.com
The Josef pebble leather chukka boot has a custom paint smear sole. $230, konusbrand.com
The Active nylon utility backpack comes in four colors. $175, konusbrand.com
go high-tech 3-D printing, drones, robots and virtual reality fuel future play BY MATT ALDERTON
Take Cozmo. He’s the size of a hamster, and cute like one, too. So cute that when you meet him, you’ll want to coo, “Hey there, little guy,” and scratch him under the chin as if he were a puppy. But he’s not a pet. He’s a robot, and he might just be your child’s new best friend. Created by consumer robotics company Anki, Cozmo has a square head, a squat body and four wheels that roll around atop two tiny, tanklike treads. He has a mechanical lifting arm that moves precious cargo — three interactive “Power Cubes” around which his favorite games revolve — up and down like palettes in a warehouse. His most important attribute, however, is his brain: an internal computer comprising more than 360 individual parts, including
34 BACK TO SCHOOL | FALL 2017
MEET COZMO! He’s got a one-of-a-kind personality that learns and evolves. Ages 8 and up. $179.99, bestbuy.com
PROVIDED BY ANKI
ith technology, big things often come in small packages.
PROVIDED BY SPIN MASTER
AIR HOGS DR1 FPV RACE DRONE This remotecontrolled flyer contains a camera that broadcasts video footage to wireless goggles. Ages 10 and up. $99.99, available this fall at major retailers
three circuit boards, three processors, an OLED screen, a camera that recognizes places and faces, a built-in speaker and accelerometers that measure movement and speed. The sum of all these little parts is a big personality. A composite of beloved bots like Star Wars’ R2-D2, Pixar’s WALL-E and Johnny 5 from the 1986 film Short Circuit, Cozmo uses his expressive eyes and voice to emote as though he has human feelings. When he’s bored, he whines. When he loses a game, he throws a tantrum. And when he wins a game, he gloats. Because of sophisticated machine-learning algorithms that Anki calls his “personality engine,” Cozmo learns and evolves over time in response to events that happen to him. Just like you do. “Every single interaction he has ... changes his personality and mood, and how he’s going to react in the future,” says Anki
co-founder and president Hanns Tappeiner. “At that point, Cozmo is no longer a machine; he’s a little dude who lives in your apartment. Obviously, it’s all simulated. But people really start to believe that this little guy is, essentially, alive.” Cozmo isn’t just cool, however. Along with things like kid-friendly drones, 3-D printers and virtual reality (VR) games, he’s also a bellwether, portending a newgeneration of high-tech toys that promise to make children’s play more interactive, engaging and educational
— STEVE SCHELL, co-founder and CEO of New Matter Inc.
36 BACK TO SCHOOL | FALL 2017
than it’s ever been.
BACK TO BASICS In 1977, childhood changed forever. That’s the year Atari introduced the first commercially successful home video game console: the Atari PLAY IMPOSSIVideo Computer System. Before, play was analog. BLE GAMEBALL links wirelessly to After, it was digital. Over the next 40 years, kids a mobile app for transitioned from active play with balls, sticks and physical-digital dolls to sedentary play with screens. gameplay. Ages 5 The next wave of high-tech toys is attempting to 15. $99, to go back while still moving forward, according amazon.com to Brian Monnin, co-founder and CEO of Play Impossible, an active gaming system whose first product — The Play Impossible Gameball, a connected, multisport ball equipped with sensors that connect wirelessly to users’ smartphones for physical-digital gameplay — was expected to be released in July. “As the quality and fidelity of digital video games has increased, so has their popularity and potency — but in our opinion, at the expense of physical play and human-to-human social interaction,” he says. “Those things are missing from simulated gameplay, and we believe there’s an opportunity to reintroduce them in a way that benefits from the latest technology.” America’s largest toymaker, Mattel, has similar convictions, according
PROVIDED BY PLAY IMPOSSIBLE
“KIDS HAVE A REALLY GOOD TIME WITHOUT EVEN REALIZING THAT THEY’RE LEARNING THINGS LIKE THE ENGINEERING PROCESS.”
TOYS OF TOMORROW KIDS WILL LOVE TODAY uSimon Air is an updated version of the classic memory game with high-tech motion sensors. Ages 8 and up. $16.86, walmart. com uBeasts of Balance, an animal-themed balancing game where players stack objects that correspond in a digital world. Ages 7 and up. $99, beastsof balance.com uVR The Diner Duo, a downloadable virtual reality game for the HTC Vive system, simulates running a restaurant. All ages. $14.99, store.steam powered.com
PROVIDED BY MATTEL
uFisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar teaches the building blocks of computer coding. Ages 3-6. $36.49, target.com — Matt Alderton
BARBIE HELLO to Michael Shore, Mattel’s vice president and head DREAMHOUSE of global consumer insights and foresights. The best is a “smart home” toys, he says, plant seeds in kids that will grow into dollhouse that kids the skills they need as adults. Used well, technology control with voice can be a fertilizer. Mattel’s Fisher-Price Think & Learn commands and a Code-a-Pillar, for example, is a programmable robot mobile app. Ages that teaches preschoolers the sequencing skills needed 6 and up. $239.99, for computer coding. Its Barbie Hello Dreamhouse, walmart.com meanwhile, uses speech recognition to catalyze imaginative play that develops children’s creativity. “We’re really trying to approach technology from a purposeful perspective ... so that technology is in service of (learning and development) versus being an outcome in and of itself,” Shore says. Indeed, many new high-tech toys have developmental benefits baked into them. Robots like Cozmo, for instance, help kids develop social and emotional intelligence, and many come with software development kits (SDKs) that help kids learn computer programming. In June, for example, Anki introduced a kid-friendly SDK for Cozmo that uses Scratch, an approachable coding language designed especially for tweens and teens. Another technology that’s ripe with educational potential is 3-D printing. New Matter Inc., for instance, manufactures an at-home 3-D printer, the MOD-t, that kids can use with adult supervision. Kids and parents can download digital models from the Internet or create their own using 3-D modeling software like Tinkercad. Using the MOD-t, they can turn those
FISHER-PRICE THINK & LEARN SMART CYCLE The more kids pedal, the more they learn letters, spelling and reading. Ages 3-6. $149.99, amazon.com
38 BACK TO SCHOOL | FALL 2017
MOD-T 3-D PRINTER can be operated from a smartphone, computer or tablet. Ages 7 and up. $299, newmatter. com
engaging experience,” explains Whirlybird Games CEO Kevin Lövgren.
ACHIEVING BALANCE Although toymakers are quick to promote the benefits of high-tech play, skeptics worry that even the best-intentioned technology could hinder children’s development more than help it. “I really love technology, and I can’t imagine living without it. What concerns me is that all these exciting new electronic toys will become an imagination substitution,” says tech wellness advocate August Brice, founder of the website Safertech. “I’d like to see kids playing more with a combination of classic toys and new high-tech toys. It’s all about balance.” To strike that balance, parents should look for toys that promote active instead of passive play, says Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Toy Association. Pasierb also recommends toys that promote unstructured instead of structured play. “Scientists have followed kids and discovered that kids who engage in unstructured play experience significant developmental benefits compared to kids who don’t. “If your kids play soccer and baseball, that’s great, but there’s a right way to play soccer and a right way to play baseball, whereas there’s no right way to play tag or space monsters.” That’s why next-gen toys are so exciting: Kids can program their robots to do anything, fly their drones in any direction and 3-D print whatever their mind’s eye imagines. And they can have genuine fun doing it.
PROVIDED BY THE COMPANIES
models into physical objects, including their own custom toys, such as action figures, ping-pong ball launchers and the toy that’s invading classrooms everywhere, fidget spinners. “Kids have a really good time without even realizing that they’re learning things like the engineering process,” says New Matter co-founder and CEO Steve Schell, a former mechanical engineer. Drones are another toy category on the rise — literally. Toymaker Spin Master’s latest model coming out this fall, the Air Hogs DR1 FPV Race Drone, is designed for high-speed aerial racing around homemade obstacle courses. It has a remote control and a camera that provides streaming first-person video to the pilot via wireless goggles, allowing kids to develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills while exploring the world around them. “Drones ... offer kids an incredible freedom to explore the world in a way they couldn’t otherwise,” says Kate Keller, global business unit lead in charge of Spin Master’s remote control line. VR offers the same freedom, albeit in digital instead of physical worlds. One popular game, for example, is VR The Diner Duo. Created by Swedish game maker Whirlybird Games, it’s designed for two players who must collaborate to successfully manage a hectic virtual restaurant. “The VR technology makes it possible to let people improve their body coordination, unlike similar traditional games, and it gives the players a more
WINNING RECIPES FOR HER FAMILY’S NEW SEASON BY GINA ROBERTS-GREY
PROVIDED BY FOOD NETWORK
er husband reigns supreme as one of the NBA’s best shooters of all time, having been named the league MVP in 2015 and 2016. But Ayesha Curry, 28, has made some career slam dunks of her own. The wife of Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry skillfully juggles writing cookbooks, running a national meal-kit delivery service, starring in her Food Network series, Ayesha’s Home Kitchen, and cheering on her husband while being mom to the couple’s two young daughters, Riley, 5, and Ryan, 2. And she’s doing it all while readying her family for a major milestone: kindergarten. “Everyone tells you time flies by so fast. But until your baby is the one getting ready for that school bus, you don’t realize how quickly it feels like you’ve gone from getting ready to bring them home from the hospital to sending them off to elementary school,” Curry says, looking ahead to Riley’s first day of kindergarten this fall. Already an experienced preschooler, Riley knows what it’s like to be away from home for a few hours during the day while she’s interacting with teachers and peers. However, Curry says it’s natural to hope the transition to “big-girl school” won’t be too
LOVE O F C O O K I N G On Ayesha’s Home Kitchen, which airs on the Food Network, Curry prepares simple but flavorful meals that home cooks can make for their own families.
her game ON TOP OF
much of a shock to her daughter’s system. She’s also apprehensive about how she personally will cope with the change to the family’s routine. “I am so nervous for this next chapter of our lives,” she says. “She’ll probably do absolutely great, but I’m sure I’ll bawl my eyes out on her first day of kindergarten.” And to keep all her plates spinning while trying to help Riley — and the whole family — prepare for elementary school, Curry relies on one secret ingredient: “I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no ‘right’ way to do any of this,” she says. She’s written a bestselling cookbook, The Seasoned Life: Food, Family, Faith and the Joy of Eating Well, but Curry says she’s yet to find the words for a handbook on how busy moms can strike a balance in their daily lives. “Maybe one day I’ll write that book,” she jokes.
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Until then, Curry relies on a pen to keep her schedule straight and her life organized. “The way I find any balance and stay on track is massive planning,” she says. “I write everything out so I can see what’s filling not only my days, but the schedules of my family, too.” That preparation helps Curry keep a common interruption at arm’s length. “I still struggle with not always answering or responding to a pinging or chirping phone,” she acknowledges. “I guess I’m called a Millennial mom and as such, technology and being plugged in is a way of life. So I struggle with ignoring my phone. It’s so hard because it’s right there in a pocket and is so accessible.” Planning out her day allows Curry to disconnect and enjoy quality time with her family. “I know it really is the hardest thing to remove
PROVIDED BY FOOD NETWORK; CAROLINE EGAN/COUER DE LA PHOTOGRAPHY (2)
A FA M I LY A F FA I R Curry’s husband, Stephen, top, and daughters Riley, left, and Ryan, frequently join her in the kitchen, at home and on her TV cooking show.
yourself from the world of constant connection. But when we do stop working and when the phone does stop, it feels great to really be in the moment with the girls,” she says. “I tell myself that my phone can blow up, but this is my girls’ time. I’ll put the phone on ‘do not disturb’ and set it away. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes, I put my phone out of reach or hearing.”
PANCREPES WITH RASPBERRY SAUCE
CAROLINE EGAN/COUER DE LA PHOTOGRAPHY
ESTABLISHING ROUTINES Curry doesn’t reserve preparation for just her schedule. She’s been busy gearing up for Riley’s first day of school for a couple of years. “We’ve slowly been prepping ourselves,” she says. “In preschool, everything is so regimented and her school has a lot of structure. She’s used to that aspect of academic life.” But preschool doesn’t necessarily include toting a lunch to school and making healthy choices in the cafeteria. To get Riley ready for that phase of her life, Curry tries both to prepare food in advance, and to teach Riley how to think about the process. “I’ll have her help me pack her lunch. That’s become a routine we share together and creates the chance for us to discuss how I include things like a napkin, a piece of fruit ... to give her a sense of how to implement thinking ahead in her own life.” Curry also creates opportunities for Riley to develop personal responsibility. “Some day, she’ll have to remember to take her homework or a book to school with her in the morning. And to gear up for that type of accountability, I have her make sure she gathers her blanket or rain boots,” Curry says. “Those routines are small steps to the big day when she starts school. And I’ve been focused on creating opportunities to develop small routines that will help her throughout her academic career and beyond.” The Curry parents didn’t always harness the power of routines. “I learned the hard way,” she candidly recalls. “The first three years of Riley’s life, we had no routines. She went to all Steph’s games, and our schedule — if you could call it that — was off. She’d go to bed late and then sleep late. It wasn’t good.” Ryan’s arrival in 2015 cultivated a more structured path for Riley — and her parents. “That’s when I put my foot down,” Curry says. Now, regardless of whether they’re on the road or hanging out in their San Francisco Bay-area home, the family sticks to a familiar pattern. “Our evenings with the kids are the same no matter
INGREDIENTS Pancrepes 4 large eggs 2 cups all-purpose flour 11/2 cups whole milk 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil 1 T. honey 1/2
tsp. pure almond extract Kosher salt (optional) Granola, for serving (optional) Raspberry Sauce 1 cup raspberries
cup agave nectar
1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
REPRINTED FROM THE SEASONED LIFE WITH PERMISSION FROM LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY, NEW YORK
To make the pancrepes: Preheat the oven to 175° F. Put a rimmed baking sheet or platter in the oven to keep the finished pancrepes warm before serving. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Whisk in the flour, milk, oil, honey, almond extract and a pinch of kosher salt (if desired) until smooth. (A few lumps are OK.) Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Working in batches, pour the batter into the pan to make pancrepes about 5 inches in diameter. Cook the pancrepes for about 2 minutes on each side, then transfer them to the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. You will have about 12 pancrepes. To serve, spoon the raspberry sauce on top of the pancrepes and add a handful of granola for crunch, if desired. To make the raspberry sauce: Combine the raspberries, agave and lemon juice in a blender and puree. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
CAROLINE EGAN/COUER DE LA PHOTOGRAPHY
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where we are,” she adds. That includes bedtime. “I think that as much as they want to fight back on bedtimes, kids thrive on routine and regimen. I’ve noticed huge differences since getting Riley on a regular sleep schedule. And in general, parenting Ryan is much easier because of those routines.”
COOKING IS A WAY OF LIFE Curry has always felt at home in the kitchen. Time spent in her childhood kitchen with her mom, who is of Jamaican and Chinese descent (her father is Polish and African-American) and her grandmother laid the groundwork for Curry’s passion for experimenting with foods and flavors of various cultures. And whether they’re traditional favorites or twists on recipes her mom and grandma made, fast, fuss-free, healthy meals are staples in Curry’s kitchen. She’s found carving out time once a week to prepare them, rather than cooking every day, makes serving healthy meals a snap. “I know it can be overwhelming to find time to plate food you feel good about serving your family when you’re running from school to soccer, dance and gymnastics while trying to find time for homework, storytime and baths,” she says. To steer clear of spontaneous drive-through meals, Curry packs the week’s snacks and preps meals every Sunday evening. “I pack five containers of snacks for the girls and my husband,” she says. “Then I’ll roast chicken and quinoa in a rice cooker and (put) some veggies on a tray in the oven to roast. In under an hour, I’ll have two to three meals and the week’s snacks all ready and packed.” She plans to enlist Riley’s help during the school year to assemble her own healthy lunch. “I like to give her three options I’ve chosen, like celery, carrots and green pepper. Then I ask her which snack she wants,” Curry explains. “That’s worked better than me saying, ‘You need to eat carrots,’ because she feels like she’s part of the decision-making process.” Cooking with her daughters has made the girls “more willing to expand their palates and try
foods that are new to them,” she says. One of those new foods is Curry’s recipe for chicken tenders (available via her meal-kit delivery service, Homemade, cookhomemade.com). “That’s a perennial kid favorite, but instead of dipping them in batter and frying the tenders, I coat them in flaxseed and bake them.” No matter how much she plans and prepares, Curry knows having a child in elementary school is sure to throw a few curveballs into the family’s schedule now and again. The cool and collected mom has a plan for that, too. “I’ve already started reminding myself not to sweat the small stuff,” she says. “Life is hectic and crazy. It just is. But I’m not going to let the small things (get to me) like bows not being perfectly tucked in their hair.” Instead, Curry is focused on the big picture. “As long as kids are healthy, fed and getting to school safely, moms need acknowledge they’re doing something right.” One thing she’s not worried about: social media. Riley became an Internet darling in 2015 when the then 3-year-old adorably stole the show at her father’s MVP news conference; she is the subject of several humorous Internet memes and has her own Twitter account, but Curry carefully manages her and her girls’ social media presence. “I think too many people stress about and strive for Instagram perfection,” she says. “But that’s not realistic and can create a lot of unnecessary and unfair mom guilt. “I have a Food Network show and I’m far from a perfect mom. Who knows, I may forget the cupcakes for a class party or something like that,” she confides. “There’s always someone doing it better. For me, the key to my family having a successful school year comes down to balance, and keeping things in perspective by remembering I am a busy, working mom. And that’s OK, because I’m setting good examples for my girls to be strong women. “As long as my girls are happy and healthy,” she adds, “there’s no need to get stuck in a cycle of trying to be seen as the most perfect mom and feeling awful if you can’t live up to that unreasonable expectation.”
I WRITE EVERYTHING OUT SO I CAN SEE WHAT’S FILLING NOT ONLY MY DAYS, BUT THE SCHEDULES OF MY FAMILY, TOO.”
EQUALITY Schools address gender inclusion to ensure all students can learn BY CHRISTINE ROMERO
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ILLUSTRATION: MIRANDA PELLICANO
leven-year-old Liz Ondoma thinks talking about gender equality in schools is important. The Madison, Wis., fifth-grader took part in creative projects in Michele Hatchell’s art class that allowed her to express her views on equality. Her favorite was creating her own superhero with superpowers. “I’m both genders in my superhero,” Ondoma says. The powers she chose were foiling racism and promoting equality for girls. Because Ondoma has experienced societal expectations for how both girls and boys are supposed to look, she gave her superhero messy hair to counter those notions. Messy hair breaks all the rules in a good way, she says. For Ondoma, all aspects of equality go hand-in-hand. “We are the future generation,” she says. “If they are teaching us about (equality), we have a better chance of preventing the notso-good stuff that’s in the world. If they teach us now, we have a better chance of stopping all that and being better role models in the future. The sooner, the better.” Ondoma is one of thousands of students nationwide learning about gender equality in schools. The lessons are infused into history, literature, art and social studies for K-12 students. Because schools are supposed to serve all children, teachers say it only makes sense that they would talk about gender equality, race, class and sexual orientation in the classroom. If children feel they aren’t safe or aren’t being treated fairly, or if they are preoccupied with being teased or bullied, they can’t focus on their schoolwork, according to Welcoming Schools, a project of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF), which advocates for the rights of LGBTQ individuals. Teachers say if they wait to talk about these issues, it could be too late for some kids. Teens grappling with these concerns face violence, higher dropout rates and greater risk, advocates add. Many educators and organizations supporting
inclusive lessons say gender expectations limit all people. “I remind people that (this work) lifts up all students,” says Hatchell. “When parents question it, the response is, ‘Don’t you want your child to reach their full potential outside of gender restrictions and gender stereotypes?’ ” Most advocacy groups and nonprofits helping produce school gender equality lessons generally hail from the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning and/or queer) communities, because when a child steps out of gender norms, the first slurs are generally anti-gay, regardless of how they identify. Shaped by social expectations, needs and influences, gender biases have generally been accepted as cultural norms for decades. From color designations (pink or blue) to extracurricular activities (sports or dance) to emotional behaviors (aggressive or compliant), society has often guided and defined gender roles. But a major shift in opinions and attitudes about gender socialization is underway in the United States — and classrooms are not exempt. “This is a movement. Teachers are doing it. We are unstoppable,” says Jiménez, a New York City English teacher who runs Feministteacher.com, a website that promotes equity and justice on issues affecting women and girls. Children become conscious of physical differences between the sexes around age 2, and by age 4, they have a sense of their gender identity and start to learn expected gender role behavior, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Advocates say the goal of gender equality programs is to create more inclusive schools with children receiving a better education and reaching their full potential.
INTERSECTIONAL TOPICS Many educators say gender equality cannot be discussed without also talking about how the topics of race, LGBTQ issues, disability, sexism and class issues are related. This is known as intersectionality. For example, children who do not conform to >
gender stereotypes often get teased or bullied. Girls who prefer short hair and boys who like Shopkins toys may be taunted with anti-gay slurs. Gender identity (whether a person feels male or female) and sexual orientation (physical attraction to others) are two different things, but the lines blur on the playground. A person doesn’t have to identify as LGBTQ to be hurt by bias. “You have to start having these conversations in elementary school because it escalates in very dangerous ways for high schoolers,” says Johanna Eager, director of the Welcoming Schools project. In its 2012 Growing Up LGBT in America report, the HRCF found
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LGBTQ students are twice as likely to be physically assaulted. Additionally, if there’s a lack of acceptance at school, it can negatively affect a student’s grades and attendance. The research specifically looked at self-identified LGBTQ students, but experts agree that in a hostile environment, bias can also hurt those perceived to be LGBTQ. The Welcoming Schools project offers professional development and free resources for educators nationally, covering topics such as gender, LGBTQ-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying and embracing family diversity.
CARING CIRCLES Take the traditional family tree
school assignment. What happens in the mind of a foster child with an abusive background, the student with two dads, or a child with divorced parents, both now remarried? When a child is worried about what others may think, he or she is likely to check out, says Eager, who spent two decades as a high school teacher and administrator in public education. “You start to lose them as far as their ability to participate that day academically,” she says. “Our main goal is to educate kids. We connect all of this to academic achievement.” Hatchell, Ondoma’s art teacher and a Welcoming Schools expert, trainer blends equality easily into her lessons. In one class, Hatchell’s
PROVIDED BY MICHELE HATCHELL
LESSONS IN EQUALITY
WHY INCLUSION MATTERS
LGBTQ students are twice as likely to be assaulted
Lack of acceptance can negatively affect grades
students examined contemporary and 1980s Lego ads. Students felt there were less strict gender expectations in the older ads, but all were still lacking in racial and ethnic diversity. Students said the recent ads made them feel like girls should stay in the home, while boys are supposed to be aggressive and even violent, says Hatchell. “For all the kids, this didn’t feel OK,” she says. They decided to create their own modern ads that felt inclusive and even shared their findings with Lego, which responded and validated the students’ observations. Hatchell, who has been teaching for 23 years, likens students to flowers and schools to soil. If they don’t feel safe and valued, it hampers their education. “We don’t change the flower. We have to change the soil,” Hatchell says.
ICONS: MIRANDA PELLICANO
Michele Hatchell’s art class at Shorewood Elementary School in Madison, Wis., created artwork that embraces gender and cultural diversity as part of the Welcoming Schools project.
These trends come as no surprise to researcher Jason Dorsey, who says schools are addressing these topics. Many educators are in their 20s and 30s and fall within the Millennial demographic, those born generally between 1982 and 1997. U.S. education is a rare spot where all of the generations play a role, from children (Millennials and younger) to parents, teachers and school board members (Generations X, born from 1965 to 1981, and Z, 1996 to 2010, and Baby Boomers, 1946 to 1964) to grandparents (Boomers to the Greatest Generation, born before 1928) who pay property taxes supporting the schools, says Dorsey, president of the Austin-based Center for Generational Kinetics, which provides insight to companies worldwide on Millennials and Generation Z. “You have five generations interacting on a daily basis around not just traditional conversations and core academic subjects,
By age 4, children have a sense of gender identity
Gender identity is different from sexual orientation
but also around these values-based conversations,” Dorsey says. “This forces a melting pot of values that also has an academic charge and academic mandate.” Views on diversity are a key marker in these conversations and could be a reason this is trending. Topics that were once taboo are now part of the main conversation, with generational shifts and attitude changes that make people more willing to discuss race, class, sexism, gender identity, sexual orientation and more. “Millennials are taught it’s all about diversity and inclusion with an emphasis on inclusion. Many Millennials do not see diversity until it’s absent,” Dorsey says. “They’ve always known about gay marriage. They’ve always had conversations around being transgender.” And it’s just getting started in schools. “In our research, we don’t see this conversation going away. Trends are starting with the youngest and rippling to the oldest,” says Dorsey, who sees these changes affecting some corporate boards that are working to include more diversity.
HOSTILE WATERS Teachers are navigating some hostile waters right now, says Adrienne van der Valk, deputy director for Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center that offers professional development, webinars and other resources for educators. Teachers are often looking for books and classroom resources. The group offers a Central Text Anthology, a collection of materials representing anti-bias themes and meeting Common Core state standards. Gender-focused texts for high schoolers include Sojourner Truth’s Ain’t I a Woman?; Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image and Growing Up Latina by Rosie Molinary; Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own; and an Internet video titled Gend-o-meter that features >
LESSONS IN EQUALITY
We don’t change the flower. We have to change the soil. — MICHELE HATCHELL, Welcoming Schools project trainer
young people talking about society’s gender expectations. “We really come from the perspective that schools are tasked with educating all students to succeed. In a diverse demographic, no one can totally understand someone’s lived experience, but if our goal is to work together effectively, it’s important to have the exposure to the lived experience of other people,” van der Valk says. Jiménez says she’s hearing from more educators at her website as they seek to weave intersectionality into their classrooms. “Public school teachers want to do this work and are already doing it,” she says. “They want advice on best practices and how to create assignments.” Jiménez says her students tell her that her classes prepped them the most for the rigors of college. “I have always brought an intersectional feminist lens to my work,” she says. “I teach literature, and I teach the close reading and analysis of literature. I teach writing skills. I teach young people how to come into a self-awareness of how they are and a consciousness of who they are in the world and a language by which to do that.” Students are already hearing about these topics and have the start of an intersectional framework. They read books such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter and analyze the ways in which Hester Prynne is sexually shamed, a topic still relevant today.
MORE THAN A HASHTAG Intersectionality “is not just a hashtag on Instagram,” she says. “This is rigorous literature. This is literature that gives me a language to understand myself and the world around me.” But why is this good for all students, one may ask. “Don’t we want our students to become change agents?” Jiménez asks. “This is about justice. It’s great for all students. It engages them in a really deep analysis of the ways in which they have internalized a message that has been damaging to themselves and others.”
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Gender equality in schools has traditionally been about making sure that girls have the same rights as boys. Now, the federal law that governs sex discrimination in schools is at the center of a nearly 3-year-old court case involving a transgender Virginia student’s right to use the bathroom matching his gender identity. Title IX was enacted to prevent gender discrimination in sports; it grants equal rights in educational programs and activities that receive federal dollars. Transgender rights advocates say Title IX extends to respecting students’ gender identity. Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old who was born female but identifies as male, sought to use the boys’ bathroom at his school. On Dec. 9, 2014, the Gloucester County School Board adopted a policy that prohibits transgender students from using bathrooms that do not match their biological gender. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Virginia filed a lawsuit against the school board, arguing that the policy is discriminatory. The case bounced between a district court and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court said last October it would review the appellate court’s ruling in Grimm’s favor. In March 2017, 53 companies, including Intel, Amazon, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft, IBM and Yahoo, signed on to a brief supporting Grimm. “Gender identity discrimination is a form of sex discrimination,” the brief states. The Supreme Court decided not to accept the case, following President Trump’s Feb. 22 decision to rescind protections for transgender students that the Obama administration enacted regarding the use of bathrooms and other facilities. The case was returned to the 4th Circuit, and on April 7, the court declined to expedite its ruling before Grimm graduated. It plans to hear arguments later this year on the scope of Title IX protections for transgender students. — Christine Romero
ILLUSTRATION: MIRANDA PELLICANO
GENDER CASE GAINS SUPPORT
A Flavor For Everyone
*No genetically modified (or engineered) ingredients.
ÂŽ, TM & ÂŠ 2017 Dole Packaged Foods, LLC.
Internet addiction: Cutting the Cords BY KRISTI VALENTINI
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Experts weigh fallout from teensâ€™ preoccupation with their screens
PICTURE THIS: IT’S SATURDAY MORNING AND YOUR TEEN wakes up barely before noon, still groggy from staying up late to text with friends. Smartphone already in hand, he plunks down on the couch. One bowl of cereal and hours later, he’s still texting, watching videos and scrolling social media. You go on screen patrol — a job you hate — and nag him to do chores, go outside or do anything other than stare at a screen. He ignores you and things get tense. If this scenario sounds all too familiar, you’re far from alone. It’s not surprising that 66 percent of parents feel their children are spending too much time on mobile devices, according to a 2016 study by Common Sense Media. What is surprising? Half of American teenagers agree with their parents and admit feeling addicted. “I think this is really a pretty serious epidemic and the issue of our time,” states Nicholas Kardaras, a licensed psychotherapist, author of Glow Kids and executive director of The Dunes East Hampton, an addiction recovery center in New York. “We’ve effectively done a global experiment on a whole generation of kids, allowing them to have more and more screen time at younger ages. And we’re already seeing some pretty significant red flags.” >
Every time your teen gets a Facebook like, receives a text or plays a video game, he gets a hit of dopamine — the same feel-good body chemical that increases when we eat chocolate or exercise. The difference is that digital interactions raise dopamine levels much higher than other activities, and hours of screen time means young brains are awash in dopamine, says Kardaras. Subconsciously, kids begin chasing that dopamine spike by spending more time
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on screens, and it’s never enough — a hallmark sign of addiction. But dopamine isn’t the only thing that hooks kids, says Bernie Les, a clinical psychologist in Birmingham, Mich. There’s also a fundamental human need to connect with others. “By far, the majority of problems I’ve seen in my practice with adolescents and screen addiction comes from social media,” he says. “They are walking around with this attachment need and trying to get it met simply by picking up their smartphone.”
WHY DO KIDS CRAVE SCREEN TIME?
WHAT’S THE HARM? For parents who were raised in a home where the TV was always on, spending time on digital screens doesn’t seem that bad. But Kardaras says this generation’s version of screen time is far more stimulating and engaging than TV has ever been. The hyper-arousal and adrenaline rush that come from digital media interaction simply makes any other activity pale by comparison, he says. Spending increasing amounts of time in the digital world can have harmful effects on youth. A 2010 study by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine linked teenagers who spent more than three hours a day on social media with higher rates of depression, substance abuse, decreased sleep, stress, poor academics and suicide. The study also found that teens who texted more than 120 times a day had greater episodes of behavioral acting out, more sexual partners and poor academic outcomes. As if that wasn’t enough, researchers have found excessive digital media use can also contribute to ADHD, depression and anxiety and negatively impact your child’s brain development. “There’s been fairly recent brain imaging research that shows that a person’s brain who is on screens for more than 15 hours a week looks exactly like that of a cocaine addict. What we see is a shrinkage of the frontal cortex and less dense gray matter,” Kardaras says. “That’s especially problematic for young people whose frontal cortexes — the rational, decision-making part of the brain — isn’t fully developed to begin with.”
SO HOW MUCH SCREEN TIME IS OK? Experts hesitate to give concrete guidelines for teen screen use, but instead encourage parents to observe their child’s behavior. If your teen has difficulty focusing on school work, and starts forgoing real-life interactions and activities to spend more time online, he might have a problem. “Digital media use should be on the periphery of your child’s life. The centerpiece of your child’s life should be school, friends and things like learning how to throw a good curve ball or practicing soccer,” says Les. When kids start spending too much time online, it makes getting homework done (taking into consideration that today’s students often need to be online to complete assignments, check in with teachers or communicate with classmates), getting enough sleep and developing crucial social skills much more difficult. If you see even one of these signs, it could be time for an intervention: ▶ Your child is spending increasing amounts of time online, and it’s never enough. ▶ Your teen has a negative reaction when access to digital media is limited or taken away. ▶ Your teen can’t stop spending time online despite mounting consequences like plummeting grades and parental punishment. >
HOW CAN YOU BREAK THE HABIT?
most important to your family, then creating rules to protect those things. If it’s sleep, have a tech curfew at the end of the day and require that all devices get placed in a common area (not in the teen’s bedroom). If it’s meal time, then everyone agrees to not have devices at the table. If it’s studying, then there’s no extracurricular digital media use until after homework is done. Says Hofmann, “I think we often surrender ourselves to the digital world and kind of throw our hands up around it. But by slowing down and giving thought about how we want to integrate it into our family, I think we can have technology in our lives in a way that is positive, in a way that enhances education and social relationships or curiosity, in a way that can be fun.” l
Experts agree that the first step in helping your teen move away from screens and back toward real-life activities is having a conversation. Start by talking with your teen about the changes you’ve noticed in his behavior, what too much screen time is doing to his brain and how it’s affecting his life. Then it’s time to discuss the new limits you’re placing on screen time. It’s best to reduce the amount of daily screen time, rather than eliminate it entirely, says Les. “Take the device away to allow enough time for adolescents to do healthier endeavors like studying and socializing,” offers Les. “The reason being that if you take away the personal device entirely for several weeks, what you’re guaranteeing is social exile for a lot of these adolescents.” The key to making this work is helping your child find positive replacement activities for the lost screen time like hanging out with friends, taking
music lessons or joining a sport — something that’s rewarding and helps strengthen life skills. But prepare for pushback. The first few days may be rough, warns Kardaras, but your child will adjust. Setting boundaries that allow space from devices can go a long way to helping technology be a positive part of you and your child’s life. “Think about technology in the same way you would think about raising your child with anything else. We don’t want to just hand over the device and hope for the best. We want to teach our kids how to use technology,” says Janell Burley Hofmann, mother of five and author of iRules. Hofmann, concerned about the ramifications of giving an iPhone to her 13-year-old at Christmas, created a written contract for her son to sign. The list of expectations went viral. Hofmann now works with families and speaks internationally about how to create a tech-healthy home. She recommends taking time to consider what’s
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When you’ve spent over 80 years in syrup... tradition tends to stick.
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Girl Power! Programs help put young females on a path to success BY LISA A. BEACH
young girls realize their dreams. “We work to empower the CEO in every girl to take steps towards business ownership and community leadership,” explains DeShawn Robinson-Chew, the group’s CEO and founder. “Our hands-on, immersion program helps young ladies be a ‘she’ while becoming an ‘EO’ (executive officer). We foster both personal and professional development.” Founded in 2003, SheEO partners with schools, churches and youth centers to encourage budding entrepreneurs ages
8-16 through summer camps, classes, after-school clubs and individual coaching. With guidance from SheEO professionals, entrepreneurs-in-training plan and pitch business ideas, set goals, strategize and connect with like-minded peers. While some girls need help on their path to entrepreneurship, others just need a helping hand. When she was 11, Diamond Jones was living in extreme hardship in Chattanooga, Tenn. Her mom was ill, her dad was in jail and she was homeless. She turned
hen 9-year-old Jelani Jones discovered a passion for creating natural bath products, she decided to launch her own business — Lani Boo Bath — in October 2016. But when she needed help creating a more structured approach to grow her business, Jelani turned to SheEO, a Springfield, Va.-based mentoring and enrichment company that provides entrepreneurial training. SheEO joins a growing number of “girl empowerment” organizations that share a common goal: to help
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GIRLS INC.; GETTY IMAGES
GIRLS INC. Equips girls ages 6-18 to navigate gender, economic and social barriers with programs that focus on education (particularly science, technology, engineering and math); mental and physical health; money management; media literacy; and social issues. girlsinc.org
Girls work to her local Girls Inc. organization for muchtogether to needed support and guidance as she overcame examine properties her struggles. Now 18, she recently graduated of soil as part of an high school with a 3.8 GPA and is the first in activity at the Girls her family to go to college; she will attend the Inc. program in University of Memphis in the fall. Lynn, Mass. Headquartered in New York, Girls Inc. taps into its network of more than 1,200 sites across the U.S. and Canada to serve 140,000 girls ages 6-18 each year. Its overarching purpose? To inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold by providing direct assistance and advocacy. “We are on the prevention side,” says Judy Vredenburgh, Girls Inc. president and CEO. “We create strong, long-lasting mentorship between girls and our professionals done in a sisterhood of support.” To accomplish this, Girls Inc. offers programs covering media literacy, healthy relationships, sports and initiatives like Operation SMART, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Another nonprofit, Girls Who Code, takes the STEM-focused approach even further. It strives to build the largest pipeline of future female engineers in the U.S. by providing free after-school clubs and summer immersion camps to girls wanting to learn computer programming. Since 2012, the organization has grown from serving 20 girls in New York to 40,000 in 50 states. “In both our summer immersion program and our clubs, girls work on a final project using technology to solve an issue that matters to them. That personal relevancy is crucial in sparking and sustaining girls’ interest in the field,” says founder and CEO Reshma Saujani. As today’s girls battle gender-specific stereotypes and biases, they can lean on girl empowerment organizations along the way. “We need to start challenging our girls to step outside of their comfort zone, to push girls to be brave and reward them for trying,” Saujani says.
GIRLS WHO CODE Aims to close the gender gap in technology by providing handson opportunities to girls in grades six through 12 who want to learn coding through free after-school clubs and summer immersion camps. girlswhocode.com GIRLS WRITE NOW Matches girls in grades nine through 12 from New York’s underserved neighborhoods with professional women writers, providing mentoring, writing and technology workshops and opportunities for leadership, college prep
and professional development. girlswritenow.org SheEO Encourages girls ages 8-15 to become entrepreneurs and business leaders through mentoring, classes, after-school clubs and other enrichment and career exploration activities. BEaSheEO.com SHE’S THE FIRST Helps educate girls in low-income areas globally by providing mentoring, global awareness of educational access and affordability, and scholarships to girls who will be the first in their families to graduate high school. shesthefirst.org STEP UP Encourages professional women to inspire girls ages 13-18 in underserved neighborhoods to succeed through mentorship programs, encouraging them to graduate high school confident, college-bound and career-focused. suwn.org
Parlez-vous FranÇais? Sprechen Sie Deutsch? ¿Hablas Español? Why learning foreign languages at a young age is a good thing and what you can do to make sure lessons are available in your schools
BY CL AUDIA M. CARUANA
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hen twins Ryan and Michael D’Introno entered kindergarten two years ago, they often came home from school singing songs in Spanish, part of a language immersion program their school in Bedford Hills, N.Y., decided to try. All students, many of whom were native Spanish speakers, received instruction in both English and Spanish a few days a week. The boys’ mother, Gina D’Introno, says her sons “were excited to learn Spanish.” D’Introno also believes the Spanish-
speaking students were pleased to see their classmates learning their language. Similar immersion programs focusing on Spanish and other languages such as French, German and Chinese are increasing in the United States, as are more traditional programs in secondlanguage learning in elementary schools. In fact, 25 percent of all U.S. public and private elementary schools offered foreign language instruction in 2010, according to the Center for Applied Linguistics. The Washington, D.C.-based organization tracks language study in >
Take foreign language learning beyond school
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the U.S. Many of the programs are immersion programs where children are taught in English for part of the day, and in another language at other times. French immersion programs have been popular in Canadian schools for many years, and in the U.S., many school districts offer them to encourage language learning. But as much as educators and many parents applaud a strong approach and increasing interest in foreignlanguage learning, it is not available in every school district. And the U.S. is still far behind many European countries, where young children are required to begin learning a foreign language before the age of 9. In several countries, students are required to learn a second foreign language soon after that, says Nancy Rhodes, senior foreign language education consultant for the Center for Applied Linguistics. According to the most current U.S. Department of Education statistics regarding second-language learning, Spanish overall was the most in-demand language in 2009, with French coming in second, Rhodes says. “There also continues to be interest in learning Chinese and Arabic,” she adds. WHY WE NEED OTHER LANGUAGES Theresa Bruns, director of professional development at Middlebury Interactive Languages in Middlebury, Vt., says children have an advantage when learning a second language because their brains are still developing, which >
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Katherine BarkoAlva, a professor at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., specializing in teaching English as a second language, recommends that parents “do everything in their power to maintain their children’s access to a second language through conversations, exposure to multicultural literature and explicit instruction. Your children will be forever grateful. Language skills acquired in our first language will transfer onto the second language.” Theresa Bruns, of Middlebury (Vt.) Interactive Languages, says it is easy for parents to engage kids in another language even if they don’t personally know that language. For starters, Bruns says, “Encourage them to talk about what they are learning in the classroom. Let them be the teacher, and teach the parents words for common household items, foods, furniture and family relations. Put sticky notes around the house naming the vocabulary so that the whole family can learn the language together.” Other suggestions Bruns offers include having a “language night” at dinner, where the interaction is in the second language,
using school-provided resources. “The language may not be perfect, but this provides an opportunity to reinforce it at home,” she says. “Watch familiar movies in the second language, and listen to songs on YouTube in the second language.” Families can play games such as Scrabble or Bananagrams, which are available in foreignlanguage editions. For parents who already speak another language that might not be offered in their child’s school, there may be special challenges in finding sources for formal instruction. If grandparents or other relatives speak the language, encourage them to speak to your child in that language often and have the child respond in kind. Make sure if you speak another language, you speak to your child in that language, too. Hire a caregiver who speaks the language you want your child to learn. Often, local ethnic and fraternal organizations give free or low-cost language lessons for children or will work with children to ensure that language learning is alive in their community. Private schools and summer camps also are smart options. — Claudia M. Caruana
GETTY IMAGES; ILLUSTRATION: LISA M. ZILKA
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gives them the capacity to more easily acquire the language. Another possible advantage of having more than one language under one’s belt: A study published in 2014 in the ” Such strategies can include Annals of Neurology by researchers at the integrating digital tools — including University of Edinburgh indicates that games, videos and animation — into knowing another language might slow classroom lessons. It’s not easy, the onset of dementia later in life. Bruns says: "Reality tells us that with In addition to the intellectual and increased standardized testing and time potential health benefits that learning being spent in the classroom focusing a second language might offer, on test preparation, there is not time to globalization provides another motive add in one more subject to the day.” to speak another language as more Other major roadblocks are funding Americans decide to travel, programs and finding faculty study or work overseas. that can teach more complex “There are now definitely foreign languages to younger more jobs globally that children. of all U.S. public require language and “Shrinking budgets often and private cross-cultural skills,” says means that schools just elementary Rhodes. “U.S. universities are don’t have the funds to hire schools realizing that they need to language teachers,” Bruns offered foreign prepare globally competent notes. But some elementary language graduates and are starting to schools are turning to digital instruction in offer more tailored language courses that can provide 2010. classes in preparation for flexibility with how and when SOURCE: CENTER FOR needs in the workforce. They the instruction will occur APPLIED LINGUISTICS are also internationalizing during the school day. “Digital their curricula to help learning is driving this their graduates adapt to the global growth because it can provide access marketplace.” to qualified online Chinese teachers, In recent years, Bruns says, “We have which can be very difficult for many seen growth in (the number of) school districts to find,” Bruns says. districts where administrators, teachers and parents recognize the long-term PARENTS AND COMMUNITY MATTER benefits of second-language acquisition It can be difficult to advocate for and employ creative strategies to language learning in lower grades provide students with high-quality because a second language is not world language instruction. required by schools in most states. But
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experts say it is important for parents to urge school boards, administrators and even local politicians to include language learning in their children’s schools for reasons that range from preserving native languages to serving a specific community. In New York City, for example, the first bilingual program in Urdu will begin this fall in Brooklyn, in part to address the needs and interests of local speakers of Urdu, which is the official language of Pakistan and is also spoken in many parts of India. There are some parents who want their children to learn another language even earlier than in elementary school. Emily Abdallah, a middle school teacher at an independent school in New York City, decided that her 3-year-old daughter, Aria, would benefit by attending the Maryel International School, a private school also in New York City, where Spanish is spoken almost exclusively. Abdallah plans to enroll her younger daughter, now 2, at Maryel next year. “I want my children to be able to access their culture — to truly do so they need to speak the language,” she says. “Although my parents are both Spanish speakers, they taught us English and didn’t speak Spanish. At the time, the goal was assimilation and the avoidance of having an accent. Now that I know that notion was incorrect, I want to do everything I can to have my kids have the chance to experience being bilingual.” l
ILLUSTRATIONS: LISA M. ZILKA
Help Wanted Male teacher shortage affects boys who need role models BY HOLLIE DEESE
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“Support from a male figure, it really contributes to their confidence level,” Saunders says of his students. At Valley View Elementary School where he teaches, Saunders, 56, is one of very few men — he estimates just 5 percent of the staff. It’s a number he’d like to see change. “A male role model figure is a key person in many of the boys’ lives, especially if this person is someone who listens, who’s a giving person and patient,” he says. “And there may be boys
who might be afraid to ask a question to a female figure or may be more comfortable with specific questions geared for men.” WHY THERE’S A SHORTAGE According to the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, only about 24 percent of all teachers were male in 2012, with just one in 10 men teaching elementary school students. Ethan Zagore, director of the University of Notre Dame’s TRiO program, a federally funded
or 35 years, Len Saunders has been teaching physical education to elementary school children in Montville, N.J. Personally, he knows how important a strong male role model can be and hopes he is that for his students. His own father died just months before he was born, so he depended on uncles, coaches and other men to guide him in certain areas of his physical and mental development. Without them, he thinks, his life would have taken a different path.
BLACK MALE TEACHERS IN SHORTER SUPPLY The absence of black male teachers is even more pronounced in U.S. schools, accounting for just 2 percent of the nation’s educators, according
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to a report on racial diversity released last year from the Department of Education. Alphonso Evans, CEO and principal of Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School in Philadelphia, says he can count just two black male teachers he had growing up, memorable mainly because they were like him. He was on track to become an emergency physician when he went into a local YMCA to do required volunteer work in a Head Start classroom. He realized education was his true path after he connected with the students in ways their female teachers could not. “I think, especially in AfricanAmerican communities, so many children are yearning for that type of attention,” Evans says. “It’s a heavy absence of male figures in the community and it gives them hope, it gives them guidance.” Evans just released a book on the importance of male mentorship, Tell Them They’re Great ... I Dare You, and says he is continuously on a mission to
Our area of education is losing so much influence that we could be giving to our young males because of the absence of male teachers at all.” — ALPHONSO EVANS, CEO and principal of Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School
Dedication page of Alphonso Evans’ book
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initiative aimed at helping disadvantaged youngsters obtain an education, says a number of factors contribute to the shortage, but a big one is that many people just fundamentally — consciously or subconsciously — believe the role of an elementary teacher is better suited for women. Jay Underwood, head of school for High Meadows School, a progressive, independent school for preschool through eighth grade in Roswell, Ga., agrees that teaching young children has long been considered a woman’s job. “Unfortunately, this misperception — and the stigma that comes with it — has led to a dearth of men in the teaching profession,” Underwood says. “We see this in other professions as well — nursing is predominantly female, manufacturing and IT are predominantly male — so it isn’t unique to teaching.” Another barrier is that while many colleges are focused on increasing the number of male teachers, there are not enough programs to meet the demand for their services or the increase in population, Zagore says. And maybe most importantly, the money just isn’t there. “Nationally, the average salary for elementary teachers is embarrassingly low,” Zagore says. While pay can vary greatly by location, according to the most recent statistics from PayScale, a crowd-sourced database, the median salary for an elementary school teacher is $43,737.
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recruit male teachers for his own school. “Last time I checked it was 78 percent Caucasian female, nationally, so you’re constantly fighting that battle,” he says. “Our area of education is losing so much influence that we could be giving to our young males because of the absence of male teachers at all.” According to the Department of Education’s report, just 42 percent of black students complete a bachelor’s degree in education, compared with 73 percent of whites. WHY BOYS NEED MEN Underwood says it is important for boys to have strong male role models with open minds and challenge gender stereotypes. “All students benefit from diverse teaching perspectives, and gender roles are a big part
of that,” Underwood says. “Boys learn differently than girls, so the daily interaction of an inspiring male teacher in their learning environment is highly productive.” David Hough, dean of the College of Education at Missouri State University, agrees that an adult male’s influence can be positive when the role model exhibits positive character traits. “Children tend to mimic or ‘act out’ the behaviors they see,” Hough says. “In schools, male children may benefit from male teachers by observing appropriate behaviors, most notably associated with how to handle anger, respect for others and rule following.” CAN IT CHANGE? Zagore says a combination of strategic actions and a change in perception are necessary to turn around this trend, including a
gradual increase in elementary teacher salaries. Colleges and universities must also serve as liaisons between male high school upperclassmen with the passion and ability to teach, and the actual elementary classroom, where these same male students can change lives after they graduate from college. “Elementary school teachers must be compensated to reflect their impact on a student’s academic future, which is often related to their financial future,” Zagore says. “For institutions of higher education, developing a series of programs which direct students from freshman year of college to elementary classrooms and offering excellent scholarship packages for those academically achieving in majors and paths towards the teaching profession, are both essential in getting more males in elementary classrooms.”
CRITICAL TIME Many education experts say more male teachers are needed in elementary schools.
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Low-Tech Learning Educational instruction centers rely on old-school methods to help students achieve
alk into any school today and you’ll see kids on computers. When those students need additional help, however, they might find it at an education franchise that takes a much lower-tech approach to teaching. “At our centers, every kid is at a desk with a bunch of scratch paper and sharpened pencils,” says Larry Martinek, co-founder
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of Mathnasium, a supplemental math learning franchise with more than 800 centers worldwide. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of education franchises in the U.S. that, like Mathnasium, rely on highly trained tutors to provide individualized instruction in smallgroup settings. In addition to Mathnasium, some of the more well-known companies include Huntington Learning
Center, Sylvan Learning, Kumon and Tutoring Club. Many of these centers focus on providing one-on-one tutoring to boost K-12 students’ proficiency in reading, writing and math, which can include problemsolving with whole numbers, algebrareadiness, geometry, trigonometry and calculus. Each center can tailor learning based on students’ age and ability. Since opening his
first math learning center in 2002 in Los Angeles, Martinek, a former teacher, hasn’t changed his approach to keep up with the fast-moving pace of technology. He’s not averse to the use of computers in the classroom; he just believes a hands-on approach is best when kids need remedial help. “The hope is that technology is going to be this magic bullet, but if you want people to >
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learn, you have to do what Socrates did — have an interaction between an instructor and student. It’s nearly impossible to replicate on a screen,” he says. That doesn’t mean, however, that technology has bypassed Mathnasium. After students take a handwritten assessment to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses, computers generate individualized instruction materials based on the results. Computers are also used for online training of instructors. “We use technology for pretty much everything except teaching,” says Martinek. Mathnasium isn’t alone in its approach
to supplemental teaching. The Kumon after-school math and learning program, which has an estimated 26,000 centers and 4 million students, also takes a low-tech approach. “We’re still using worksheets,” says Dominique Ciccarelli, education spokeswoman for Kumon. Some of the math worksheets haven’t changed since Kumon’s founder,
Toru Kumon, a high school math teacher in Japan, developed them in the 1950s to help his son, who was struggling in math. “Research shows that when students write something down, it commits it to their memory better than typing on keys,” Ciccarelli says. Like Mathnasium, Kumon doesn’t allow calculators in most of its classes. Instead, students write out their answers so that
instructors can see their work. “Real proficiency means students should be able to do math and know math without using tools,” Ciccarelli notes. “Students in Kumon learn from their mistakes. Just like if you’re playing the violin or piano, you want to practice each day to make sure you don’t make careless errors.” That approach was a win-win for Denver mom Maureen Kerkhoff, who enrolled her daughter in a Kumon center because she struggled with math fundamentals in elementary school. “At Kumon, she worked one-on-one with the instructor on the basics,” Kerkhoff said. “That helped lay the foundation.” l
EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE If you think your child might benefit from the individualized tutoring approach used by some of the top education franchises, here are a few to try. These centers offer tutoring programs starting at $100 per month per subject. Prices will vary depending on location.
2. Sylvan Learning. Students can get tutoring in math, reading and writing
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at Sylvan, which was founded in 1980. More than 750 centers operate throughout North America. sylvanlearning.com 3. Huntington Learning Center. Founded in 1977, Huntington provides tutoring in math,
reading and writing at 263 centers around the country. huntingtonhelps. com 4. Mathnasium. At more than 800 centers around the world, Mathnasium, which was founded in 2002, offers tutoring in various
levels of math. mathnasium.com 5. Tutoring Club. Founded in 1991, Tutoring Club has 63 U.S. locations that offer tutoring in reading, writing and math. tutoringclub. com – Valerie Finholm
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1. Kumon. Founded in 1958, Kumon offers tutoring in math and reading at an estimated 26,000 centers in the U.S. and around the world. kumon.com
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Beyond the Classroom The digital era ushers in K-12 online educational options
ath is making sense this year for high school junior Sarah
Robinson. “With each step, my teacher tells us why he did it this way, how it worked. There is a level of clarity that makes it easy to learn,” she says. She doesn’t mind that the lesson is delivered to her home in Massillon, Ohio, via webcam. In fact, that’s usually how Sarah gets her schooling. As a student at Ohio Connections Academy, she’s one of a growing number of students who receive some or all of their education online. Digital learning is taking off in U.S. education. School districts nationwide are experimenting with it; for-profit companies offer digital curricula and the
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Sarah and Emily Robinson supporting technology; and parents like Janeen Robinson are enthused. “I like that they can learn at their own pace. If there is a problem, they can stop, review it, get the help they need,” says Robinson, whose other daughter, Emily, is a senior in the virtual school.
The Robinsons’ school fits one of several digital-learning models. It’s a “virtual” academy, run almost entirely online. Classes meet via webcam and students can Skype or email teachers for extra guidance. “Blended” schools offer another model, one in which students attend a traditional institution and supplement their learning with digital coursework in specific subjects. The National Education Policy Center reports that in 2016, 278,511 students were enrolled in 528 full-time virtual schools, while 36,605 students were enrolled in 140 blended schools. Thirty-four states had full-time virtual schools and 21 states had blended schools. The report raised concerns,
GETTY IMAGES; PROVIDED BY JANEEN ROBINSON
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without being told what to do and when to do it.”
LEVERAGING RESOURCES Digital education can be a boon to school districts looking to expand their academic offerings. A school might not be able to hire a Latin teacher, but if students from a half dozen schools study Latin together online, that might make it economically viable, says Tracy Weeks, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association. LIBERATED LEARNERS “It helps in hard-to“We allow students staff areas, where a complete control single school might not of their time, path, have enough students place and pace of to take those courses or learning,” says Kenneth where they might have Grover, principal of trouble in recruiting the Innovations Early teachers,” she says. College High School, a Proponents say blended school in Salt digital tools also Lake City. Students can personalize the come to a physical academic experience. building every day, but “Technology-based an online curriculum programs are not just and digital study tools static online books. allow them to learn They are adaptive,” when and how they says Jeanne Allen, see fit. founder and CEO of the Technology liberates Center for Education students and teachers Reform. “The system SOURCE: THE NATIONAL from the shackles of EDUCATION POLICY CENTER can gauge whether you the traditional learning are reading at the right environment. level. If you aren’t, it may provide a “We get out of the way to let different text to catch you up, or give students move at their own pace,” you cues or prompts to help you grasp Grover says. “We treat people with the content.” respect, and when we do that, they Still, some worry digital education self-direct.” could exclude students who cannot Not all students will self-direct, afford laptops or who don’t have though; nor will all children thrive in broadband Internet access at home. an online education setting, experts Many digitally driven schools answer say. this concern by giving free laptops and Krin Abraham, superintendent of subsidized broadband to students from Minnesota Virtual Academy, which low-income homes. enrolls more than 1,600 students from For many parents, the ultimate test around the state, says it takes a certain of digital education will be their child’s type of child to thrive outside the academic success. Janeen Robinson conventional classroom. says Sarah is thriving in the 11th grade, “The most successful ones are while Emily is already taking college organized and independent,” Abraham courses as a high school senior. says. “They are the ones who really “It has definitely prepared them for want to dig into things on their own the future,” she says.
The average number of students per teacher in virtual schools in the U.S. in 2016, compared with 16-1 in the nation’s public schools.
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DIGITAL SCHOOLS Here are some other virtual or blended-learning schools that serve students at various levels: Whitmore School was the world’s first online high school, founded in 1994. It uses proprietary systems and curricula to deliver studentpaced, fully online learning; grades 9-12, whitmoreschool. org Crater Lake Charter Academy is an online public charter school that partners with the for-profit company K12 to offer traditional learning and onlineonly education options; grades K-12, craterlakecharter.org Desert View Middle and High School, a charter school in Yuma, Ariz., uses a combination of digital and personalized instruction, combining an online campus with remote learning options; grades 6-12, desertviewmhs. com Arizona Virtual Academy, another K12 partner, offers a fully online public school experience, along with “blended learning centers” where students can receive face to face support; grades K-12, azva.k12.com The Keystone School offers customized, blended-learning programs or individual courses to supplement traditional schools’ curricula; grades K-12, keystoneschoolonline.com
however, about performance. On-time graduation rates were 43.4 percent in virtual schools and 43.1 percent in blended schools, well below the national average of 82.3 percent for all public high schools. “Virtual schools continued to underperform academically, including in comparison to blended schools,” the report noted. But advocates say digital learning can be a meaningful alternative for some students, nonetheless.
In the Middle Expect — and manage — behavior changes in your junior high student
ou may feel as if you’ve stepped onto an alien planet when you talk with your new middle schooler. Legos and Minecraft no longer hold their interest like before. Now, it’s all about what their friends are saying and doing. They challenge what you say a lot more. And they seem hyperaware of their bodies and the ongoing changes. Just why do middle schoolers leave parents befuddled and flummoxed with their behavior? It’s the double whammy of
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entering puberty and moving from the comfort of elementary school to the new territory of middle school (generally sixth to eighth and sometimes ninth grade). With changing classes and teachers, combined with more homework and social pressures, middle schoolers often feel nervous and awkward. “They have one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood,” says Joel Minden, a psychologist with the Chico Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Chico, Calif.
Managing your middle schooler’s transition may be a challenge, but here’s the good news: Most of the behavior changes you’ll see are completely normal. “Because there is so much going on in so many complex ways during this stage of development, it’s important to not just punish these behaviors, but to help kids learn to cope with the myriad feelings and thoughts they are having,” says psychologist Lisa Herman of Synergy eTherapy in Minneapolis. >
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Start off on the right foot!
Beating the middle school blues Here are five behavior changes you’ll likely see in your middle schooler — and some tips to keep tabs on them: 2
EXPECT SOME CATTINESS. “In seventh grade, there’s an increase in bullying and being mean to each other,” Morton says. Even your mild-mannered middle schooler may make some not-so-friendly social choices. As you help teach your child what’s respectful in the social realm, keep an eye on how the school responds to cliques and bullying. Some do a better job with this than others, he adds.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BFFs. “Friends can be more important and influential at this age than parents,” says Chris Morton of Morton Neuropsychology in Arlington, Mass. But your role as a parent is still important at your child’s age, and that relationship still needs to be nurtured, Morton says. Schedule one-on-one time with your kids. It can be something as simple as playing a favorite video game together, Morton suggests.
SCHOOL TROUBLES COULD CROP UP. A child who coasted through elementary school may hit some obstacles in middle school. As they transition from rote schoolwork to more critical thinking — along with added time-management pressures and social demands — it’s not uncommon for school performance to drop or learning difficulties to emerge.
INDEPENDENCE IS KING. “They are trying to figure out how much to do on their own versus accepting help,” says child psychologist Stephanie O’Leary of Westchester Psychological Services in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., and author of Parenting in the Real World.
NO WAY! YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT?
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THEY’LL QUESTION AUTHORITY. “There’s more rule-breaking and talking back,” Minden says. “It’s OK (for them) to ask questions and wonder if limits are appropriate, but they need to learn how to do this in an appropriate way.”
When setting limits, try giving them some sense of control. For example, if your child is involved in after-school activities, you can offer two choices, such as playing a sport or practicing a musical instrument, and let them have the final say, Minden suggests. And if you need extra help with your child, a psychologist or therapist can provide an objective perspective on what’s going on. Some red flags that your child may need to talk with a professional: ▶ They are isolating themselves socially. ▶ They are more emotional. ▶ They have lost interest in social activities. Sometimes at this age, they’ll ask for help. “I think parents want to downplay (problems), but listen to your kids,” Herman says. If your children do open up about any issues or topics affecting them, listen to them without responding — even if you don’t always like what you hear, advises child psychologist Stephanie O’Leary of Westchester Psychological Services in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. Validate what they’re saying, and let them know you’re there to help without trying to pointedly tell them what to do. That’s admittedly difficult for parents. By simply listening, you still get an important window into their lives, and you may be surprised by how often they want your advice. Allow for some stumbles along the way. Your child will make some mistakes at school or with friends. Permitting some failures and helping them learn from them are part of growing up, O’Leary says. No matter what your middle schooler’s struggles are, hang in there. “We recognize that this is a stressful time, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get through it,” says Chris Morton of Morton Neuropsychology in Arlington, Mass. l
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Broadening Horizons Cultural immersion experiences are a springboard to learning and leadership
growing number of educators, parents and students say travel is the ultimate education, and cultural immersion programs offered during spring and summer breaks have the power to change young lives. “Travel has taught me to not be afraid to step outside of my comfort zone,” says Eva Jasinski, 18, of Urbanna, Va., who studied in India as a sophomore and in Senegal a year later. “The most incredible experiences happen when you allow yourself to be challenged, feel uncomfortable and be confronted with completely new perspectives.” According to a study by the nonprofit Institute of International Education and the U.S. Department of State, about 300,000 U.S. students left the country to
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Cameron study in other countries in 2013-14, Woods, far the most recent figures available. left, stayed in And interest is on the rise. a rural village The Experiment in International in Jaipur, India, Living organization has shepherded as part of The high schoolers on journeys beyond Experiment in the classroom since 1932. This International year, they will place 600 students Living. overseas. The Experiment’s most popular destinations are Asia, especially Korea and Japan, and Latin America, specifically Argentina and Ecuador. Jordan and South Africa are emerging destinations. Cameron Woods, 19, learned about The Experiment (experiment.org) from a friend. He had a homestay
THE EXPERIMENT IN INTERNATIONAL LIVING
BY SUZANNE WRIGHT
Rustic Pathways participants in Alaska’s Denali National Park
GAINING CULTURAL COMPETENCY Woods’ experience is exactly the point, says Chris Stakich, CEO of Ohio-based Rustic Pathways, which offers programs that integrate education, philanthropy and travel in 20 countries. They even offer a “Mystery Country” trip to encourage students to stretch their boundaries in an undisclosed destination. In 2002, Rustic Pathways (rusticpathways. com) hosted 250 kids; that number will reach 11,500 by the end of summer 2017. Stakich believes a global perspective is more important than
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The most incredible experiences happen when you allow yourself to be challenged, feel uncomfortable and be confronted with completely new perspectives.” — EVA JASINSKI, participant in international cultural immersion programs
it’s ever been. “Look at the speed at which things are changing, from climate change to income disparity to politics to technology,” he says. “The reality is that the world students will enter is dramatically different than it was even 10 years ago. International travel programs put students in a situation that is uncommon and uncomfortable. The self-awareness
High school students participate in community service projects in 20 countries and learn about different cultures via Rustic Pathways programs.
RUSTIC PATHWAYS; JUSTIN KASE CONDER /RUSTIC PATHWAYS
in a rural village in the Himalayas when he was 17. “I wasn’t ‘Cameron Woods from Chicago,’” he says. “I was Cameron with two younger brothers, one who was bilingual and the other who only spoke Hindi. I had a new mother and grandmother who wore traditional clothing every day and would not eat dinner with us because it was proper for the men of the family to eat dinner first. I felt changed inside and that change will never leave me.”
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Finding the right trip Parents and students sometimes have different — even conflicting — criteria when it comes to choosing a cultural immersion program. Experts suggest you: 1 Assess your student. What are your teen’s weaknesses and strengths? What’s drawing him to a specific program or country? Does she want to learn a language or have a transformational experience? 2 Push the envelope. The bigger the cultural difference, the better the learning experience. Consider not just “safe” destinations, but emerging markets. 3 Do your homework. Cultural immersion programs can range from $2,500 to more than $7,000, so you want your
investment to pay off. Talk to educators and friends in your community. Search online for feedback from program alumni. Finally, check out two referral websites, gooverseas.com and goabroad. com, for parent and student reviews of specific programs. 4 Seek embedded staff. To ensure the highest quality experience, select programs that have a local office and full-time staff in the desired location. 5 Look for longevity and experience. Group leaders must be more than young and
passionate; they need experience and maturity to be effective. 6 Choose a balanced program. Itineraries should have structure, but also allow for independent experiences. 7 Ask about risk management. What measures are in place to ensure a student’s health and safety in the (rare) case of emergency? A 24/7 call system, emergency insurance and strong connections with the U.S. State Department ensure peace of mind for both parent and child.
— Suzanne Wright
they gain, the intercultural intelligence, the critical thinking and humility — these are skill sets that companies are looking for.” Immersion spurs fast and lasting growth. Traveling with your family is great, but intimate time with a diverse group of strangers provides a completely different experience. “The food, language, music and religion are all different when riding horses across the plains of Mongolia,” says Stakich. “When your cellphone doesn’t work and the destination doesn’t feel like another version of home, you develop empathy. When you go off to college and beyond, your approach in life will be more inclusive and less divisive.” Aaron Morehouse, executive director of The Experiment, agrees. “When kids study abroad, they learn new ways of learning, seeing and thinking about the world,” he says. “Our approach focuses on empowering students to gain the skills, confidence and agency to make decisions and create opportunities that impact their lives and the lives of others in a positive way. Soft and firm skills gained include adaptability, decision-making, problem-solving, resilience and self-reflection.” Woods says The Experiment influenced his field of study. “I ended up applying to colleges as a prospective international relations major, envisioning myself as a diplomat, striving to better communication between countries and really improve the way the people of the world coexist.” Eva Jasinki’s best memories include serving as an unofficial wedding photographer in India and participating in a traditional harvest dance in Senegal. “It’s a big world and it can be easy to be afraid of new people, cultures and traditions,” she says. “Travel has a way of destroying those fears.”
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SCHOL AR SHIP DO’S AND DON’TS DO be sure to list other awards and scholarships you’ve received on applications, says Kim Stezala, an author and founder of Scholarshiplady. com. Some students think a committee won’t give them money if they already have awards, but Stezala says committees want to know others already believe in you. DO plan “Scholarship Saturdays” or “Scholarship Sundays,” Stezala says, to organize the application process into manageable tasks. DO talk in dollar terms with your children in advance about your ability to pay for college, says Ashley Hill, a scholarship strategist for Collegeprepready.com. This can help students be realistic and plan how they can help.
Experts advise searching early and often for supplemental — and free — sources of college cash BY CHRISTINE ROMERO
ow is the time to start considering college scholarships. Your child is only in sixth grade, you say? Yep. Time to help your child lay a foundation with activities, leadership roles and, most important, good grades, to improve their chances of landing a scholarship, financial aid experts say. Students need to work on building a résumé years before they need money for college. For many families, the need to tap into scholarships instead of relying on costly college loans is increasingly critical, with college costs more than doubling in the last 30 years, even when adjusted for inflation, the U.S. Department of Education reports. By 2030, a four-year degree could top $205,000, the department estimates. But before you panic, listen to the advice of the “Scholarship Lady,” who advises this mantra: Dream, plan, act, excel. >
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DON’T apply for awards you aren’t qualified to win, Stezala says. Focus your energy on those that fit you and your goals. DON’T wait until the deadline to file. Often, “it’s on a first-come, first-serve basis” at schools, Hill says. DON’T freak out, Stezala says. So many students freeze up when it’s time to write essays. Do take time to hone your writing and proofreading skills so you can shine!
DON’T use the same essay for every application. You can repurpose some of your content, but take the time to polish your writing and essay skills, Hill says.
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Projections by the U.S. Department of Education estimate the cost of a degree at a four-year college or university could top $205,000 by 2030.
“I generally tell students they should start looking for money a year before they actually need it,” says Kim Stezala, author of Scholarships 101: The Real-World Guide to Getting Cash for College, who offers tips, advice and resources at Scholarshiplady.com. “The longer they wait, the more they lose out on opportunity.” Because the federal government recently moved up its deadline for applying for financial aid — it’s now Oct. 1 rather than Jan. 1 — that triggered a cascade of other schedule changes. Now, scholarship and aid offer letters go out sooner, so you need to hop on scholarship applications earlier. The places families can look for scholarship funds are endless, but some of the most promising may be in your backyard. And there are tons of free websites that money-seekers can consult, says Stezala. “But a cautionary tale about that,” she adds. “If you only rely on those types of databases, (you) are missing out on a lot of local scholarships they might qualify (for). You’d be amazed what you can uncover.” Stezala says to inventory all of your family’s local connections (clubs, memberships, affiliations) and be sure to let people in your community know your child is looking. Stezala recalls her father, who was extremely ill when she was seeking funding sources for her own daughter, persistently reminding her not to forget about the local Eagle’s club scholarship for grandchildren of members. Ashley Hill, an Augusta, Ga., scholarship search strategist who runs Collegeprepready.com, tells students to create a scholarship résumé that lists all their accomplishments, activities and intended major, in much the
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same way they would do when applying to colleges. This helps them fill out applications and see everything clearly. Hill is already helping some parents with elementary school-age children secure funding. She says it’s important to involve students in activities that can help them later, but she advises making sure they’re engaged so it’s not drudgery. There are academic and merit-based scholarships, but there are also prizes students can win in their early school years. Apply for both, Hill says. “Parents say, ‘I want them to have a childhood,’” Hill says. “It’s about preparation. This is one of the biggest mistakes that parents make. They are waiting until junior and senior year. Other kids have been applying since maybe sixth grade and younger.”
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I’m Big Bird!
Julia Joins Sesame Street Muppet with autism aims to teach lessons of understanding and acceptance BY MARY BOWERMAN AND GREG TOPPO
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he Sesame Street gang has a new pal, with the addition of Julia, a muppet who has vibrant red hair and autism, to its lineup. Julia was already a staple in Sesame Street digital and print books, and she first appeared in the 47th season of Sesame Street in April. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, introduced Julia in books and an app as part of the Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children campaign. Julia, who “does things a little differently,” according to the organization, is part of an effort to reduce the stigma of autism. Show creators say Elmo and Abby help the other kids on Sesame Street understand that even if Julia doesn’t look them in the eye, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to be their friend. And while the show may make it look like Julia’s character effortlessly came together, it took years of consulting with organizations and experts in the autism community to develop her character and the campaign, Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president of U.S. social impact told The Associated Press. “In the U.S., one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder,” Jeanette Betancourts says. “We’re modeling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: finding things that all
children share.” Scott Badesch, president and CEO of the Autism Society in Bethesda, Md., was involved in the committee of people in the autism community who helped Sesame Workshop think through the concept. His autistic son, who watched the show as a child, graduated from college last year and is working, Badesch says. Badesch says it was obvious the committee “really wanted to get it right” — and they got it right” with Julia’s character. “When you can have a character that shows what autism is, it will help everyone who watches Sesame Street have a really good appreciation of what (it) is, in a positive way,” Badesch says. People often forget that autism is a spectrum disorder, he adds. “People are on various points of that spectrum. The common characteristic that people don’t understand is that behind that is a human being.”
SESAME WORKSHOP/ZACH HYMAN; ILLUSTRATIONS: LISA M. ZILKA
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