Page 1




Retaining Black Male Educators.................... 3

Summer Smarts .......................................... 7

Robert Bolling of ChildSavers....................... 4

School Success Strategies............................. 8

Weeding out Food Deserts............................ 5

VUU Grad heads to MIT................................. 9

Finding Identity at 6PIC................................ 6

ALA’s 2018 Awards...................................... 10

older. Then they realize that they couldn’t be with their parents for a reason.”

Pursuing Permanency

Virginia seeks better foster care outcomes By Debora Timms Christopher Banks, 25, is pursuing a dream. The Richmond, Va. resident is trying to establish his own record label, D.O.A. Entertainment, and he’s working to promote the handful of artists already signed. Banks plans to move to Atlanta soon, even though much of his time will be on the road touring and promoting. Having grown up in Virginia’s foster care system, Banks is accustomed to moving around. “I remember the day I got taken away, but it’s kind of blurry,” Banks says in recalling how his foster care experience began at age 3 or 4 when he was removed from his mother’s care because of what he describes as her alcohol addiction. “My exact feelings were that my mom didn’t want me,” says Banks. “I think most kids will wish that they could be with their parents until they get

An April 1, 2018 snapshot of children in foster care from the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) shows there 5,271 children living in foster care in the state. The numbers of males and females were nearly even, and 45 percent of children were ages 13 or older. About two-thirds of those in foster care were currently in a non-relative foster home. Many had been removed from neglectful or abusive homes. A brochure on foster care and adoption distributed by the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) is blunt: “Growing up is hard enough imagine doing it alone.” Research finds that children do best when raised in their own families whenever possible. To that end, the Family First Prevention Services Act, a federal piece of legislation, was passed in February 2018. It restructures federal child welfare finance to provide services to at-risk families that may prevent or eliminate the need for a child to be removed from the home and enter into foster care. However, any number of reasons may lead officials to decide to place a child in foster care.

Several common foster care placements include kinship care, traditional foster care, therapeutic care, emergency and respite care. When a child enters foster care in Virginia, reunification, or returning a child to his or her family, is both the primary goal and the most common outcome. Every year, about one-third of children exiting foster care are returned to their parents’ custody. When reunification is not possible, other avenues to permanency may be found with relatives or adoptive families. Kinship care was the solution for Chloe Edwards, program director for Connecting Hearts, a Richmond nonprofit organization that works to help find permanency for kids. Edwards says that she was placed into kinship care with her grandparents at age 14. “Kinship care is a relative placement and it is also a way to divert kids from the foster care system,” Edwards says in a phone interview. “My grandparents became my permanent guardians when I was almost 18 because reunification didn’t work out with my birth mom.” (Individuals are considered adults in the eyes of the law once they reach the age 18 in Virginia.) Continued on page 2

VUU’s Center for the Study of the Urban Child was established in 2010 to serve as an essential resource hub and informational clearinghouse for researchers, practitioners, and community stakeholders who desire to improve the quality of life for urban youth through advocacy, education, prevention and intervention programming. By virtue of its mission, which is to translate research into actionable knowledge, the Center seeks to heighten awareness, sensitivity, and responsiveness regarding critical urban child issues in the academic, practitioner, and residential communities.

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Pursuing Permanency Continued from page 1

But her placement was not without problems. Edwards said her grandparents were not always equipped to deal with the trauma she had been through. This is often the case for children who enter the foster care system. “When any child is removed from their home, it is innately traumatic and we need to be able to support those children,” says Allison Gilbreath, a policy analyst focusing on issues related to foster care and juvenile justice with the child advocacy organization, Voices for Virginia’s Children. But there can be an extra hurdle for families that are caring for relatives. In a recent phone interview, Gilbreath said that an estimated 2,000 children each year are being diverted into kinship care as opposed to a non-relative placement. Right now, those children and families are not receiving the services they need to be successful because they have not been eligible for the financial assistance and services that a non-relative placement would give them. The Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP) was passed by Virginia legislators and took effect on July 1, 2018. It will help provide foster care payments to eligible children who have been placed with a relative for at least six months as long as the relative is willing to care for the child permanently. Gilbreath believes this is an important first step. “When children are placed with a kinship relative, they’re more likely to stay connected to their biological family and they’re more likely to achieve permanency before they turn 18,” she says. Edwards believes KinGAP can help families obtain resources to take in relatives’ children and to access the counseling and other support services they need. She also believes it will give youths more opportunity to achieve permanency, rather than moving from home to home in the foster care system.

Banks says that was his experience - moving from home to home and rarely staying in one place for more than a year. Eventually he was placed in a group home. When he turned 18 and “aged out” of the system, he found himself on his own. It is the same situation that, according to a recent report by Child Trends for the Better Housing Coalition and the Children’s Home Society of Virginia, one-fifth of the children and youth exiting Virginia’s foster care system also face. Such outcomes were behind Virginia’s Fostering Futures program, introduced in July 2016, to extend foster care services to youths after age 18 on a voluntary basis. The program has helped the situation, but since many youths choose not to participate, it has not solved the problem. The same Child Trends’ report shows that Virginia has one of the highest rates of aging out, or emancipation from foster care in the country - 20 percent compared with 9 percent nationally. Youth who age out of foster care without achieving a permanent, legal, familial relationship experience worse outcomes than their peers. Child Trends’ report said that about 23,000 children nationally aged out of foster care. Within two years, 25 percent were incarcerated, 20 percent became homeless, 42 percent dropped out of high school and 71 percent were pregnant or parents. Faced with such statistics, state and private agencies are working to avoid these outcomes and achieve greater permanency for youths in the foster care system. For example, Connecting Hearts conducts awareness campaigns, education and recruitment for foster-to-adopt families. Edwards says the organization has also worked with Thea Ramirez of Adoption Share to bring the Family-Match program to Virginia. Using the same technology as the dating website eHarmony, Family-Match is designed to generate more stable matches for children in foster care to be paired with foster and adoptive families based on markers of compatibility. Hopefully, increased stability will improve outcomes for all children in foster care, says Edwards.


Edwards is excited that local departments of social services and Adoptions Through Collaborative Partnerships are starting to use the new program’s innovative technology, especially for their longest waiting children who may have already had multiple placements. Also, several other organizations are working on programs and initiatives to help address foster system issues, including the Children’s Home Society’s (CHS) collaborative Possibilities Project. Gilbreath is a member of the CHS Policy Expert Group, which is spending the next several months working to improve outcomes for the population that is aging out of foster care. Another idea that Gilbreath speaks about is a kinship navigator program. The Families First Prevention Act would provide half of the funding to allow for kinship navigators to work with caregivers who are raising relatives to help them secure available community resources often found in schools, churches and other facilities. “We’re taking a step back to see what more can be done to achieve permanency to prevent these youth from aging out,” says Gilbreath. “Or find ways to give them the support needed so that when they do turn 18, they can have the best success possible.” Debora Timms is a freelance writer based in Connecticut.

VCU education professor discusses his new research into how schools can better recruit and retain black male special education teachers By Brian McNeill - Virginia Commonwealth University Public Affairs School districts across the country are struggling to close the racial gap in the teaching workforce and hire more black teachers — particularly male teachers — who are more likely attuned to the cultural needs of black students, thereby creating a space for positive academic achievement. A new study, “Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Black Male Special Education Teachers,” by LaRon A. Scott, Ed.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education in the VCU School of Education, and Quentin Alexander, Ph.D., an assistant professor of counseling education at Longwood University, aims to help school systems diversify their teacher workforce, with a particular emphasis on black males teaching special education. Scott recently discussed his study, which will be published in a forthcoming special issue of the journal Remedial and Special Education.


How would you describe this study’s key findings? The findings indicate that recruiting and retaining black male teachers, particularly black male special education teachers, as a mean for diversifying the special education teacher workforce, will require that higher education institutions and school districts reconsider their strategies for recruiting and retaining black men.


How difficult would it be for school districts to implement the strategies your study recommends? In fact, it would not be too difficult for school districts to implement the strategies. Higher education institutions and school divisions will need to re-evaluate their short- and long-terms goals regarding pathways of diversifying the teacher workforce; but many of the strategies have been posited in the literature. Higher education institutions and school districts will need to consider redirecting some existing funds for recruitment and retention, but ultimately if the strategies are implemented effectively it will save school districts costs by not having to rehire teachers each year. Special education teachers leave the field at a higher rate than general education teachers. Teachers of color are also leaving the field at alarming rates. Male teachers and teachers of color represent a small fraction of the teacher pipeline and in-service teachers.


Why is it important for schools to recruit and retain black male special education teachers?

Black boys labeled with a disability are subjected to poor educational outcomes. Special education is at a unique disadvantage because of the smaller ratio of black male teachers based on the disproportionately larger rate of black students, particularly black boys, enrolled in special education (Sample, 2010).

Many experts have cited concerns about professionals who misunderstand cultural nuances exhibited by black students and cite concerns about their decision-making when it comes to placement, suspension and academic teaching of black male children in special education programs (Ford, 2012; Jones-Goods, 2016; Talbert-Johnson, 2001; Terrill & Mark, 2000).

In particular, black students in special education have faced systemic biases with disproportionality, behavior misunderstandings, misdiagnoses, and academic underachievement (Douglas et al., 2008; Ward, 2010). For thousands of black students in special education who are influenced by a systemic cultural incongruence, the fact is that they could go through their entire K-12 programs without interactions [with] or the presence of a black male teacher.

As a result, students solely rely on their academic, social and interpersonal needs being met by special education teachers who represent racial and gender backgrounds that may be widely different.

This study combines all of these variables to provide strategies for higher education institutions and school districts seeking to attract, educate and keep male teachers of color.


What implications does this research have for school districts across the country?

The intersection of race and gender on the recruitment of teachers, particularly in special education, and the inequities in recruiting and retaining special education teachers is a focus.

In my time at VCU, I have received grant funds aimed at recruiting and preparing teachers for the workforce. In that time, I have built a program that has doubled the number of minority teachers invested in training to become special education teachers, and those committed to working in our local schools. The number of male special education teachers has also doubled. Interestingly, some of the strategies employed were validated in the study.

The need to close the racial gap between teachers and students within Virginia, and across the country, has been noted locally in research and policy for decades. While only 2 percent of the teaching workforce are black men, and only a small fraction of that alarming number are special education teachers, the need for more black male special education teachers is that much more evident. We know that black male teachers contribute to higher academic achievement of students, and can positively influence mentoring and other behaviors of students.


How does this study fit into your larger body of research? My larger body of research focuses on the teacher shortage crisis. In particular, an area of my research focuses on the retention and attrition of teachers of color in higher education programs and in the K-12 careers.

Does this study have implications beyond special education? While this study focuses on special education teachers, the implications can be generalized to the general education teacher workforce. I would encourage that general education teacher workforce to strongly consider the recommendations.


Robert Bolling of Childsavers By Alfonzo Mathis Jr. The U. S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that one in five children will experience a mental health issue by age 16. Compounding that number is emotional trauma. Trauma may result from the loss of a parent due to death, incarceration, witnessing domestic violence or experiencing physical, sexual or severe verbal abuse.

Black Male Educators Philadelphia Conference Courtesy of Black Enterprise Magazine Vincent Cobb II and Rashiid Coleman are the founders behind The Black Male Educators Convening, an organization on a mission to triple the number of effective black male teachers in Philadelphia public schools to 1,000 by 2025. Through a series of programs, which includes an annual conference and career fair, BMEC intends to increase the 2 percent of black male teachers in the U.S. On Oct. 12 – 14, the second annual BMEC conference will be take place in Philadelphia to advance and celebrate the development, recruitment and retention of black male educators. This year’s lineup includes Marc Lamont Hill, a journalist, author, activist, and television personality; Dr. Chris Emdin, a professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University and author of “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… And the Rest of Y’all Too”; Ericka Pittman, chief marketing officer at Aquahydrate Inc; and Shavar Jeffries, a civil rights attorney. For more information, visit www.


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The solution? “Prevention and intervention,” says Robert Bolling, chief executive officer of ChildSavers, a not-for-profit agency that provides child mental health and child development services in the greater Richmond, Va. community. “Reaching children early and consistently with quality care and age-appropriate mental health services allows them to not only survive, but to thrive,” adds Bolling, who has served as the organization’s director since 2012. A native of Richmond, Bolling has dedicated his professional life to helping those in need. He began public service as a data analyst at the Virginia Department of Health. He later was the executive director of the William Byrd Community House, a community-based agency that serves children and families.

Advocate: What makes ChildSavers unique compared to Q The similar organizations in the city? Bolling: ChildSavers is the only organization in our region that uniquely addresses the two critical moments in children’s lives, the first being when they are developing the toolsets needed for lifelong learning and secondly, when they experience a mental health condition.

Children up to 3 years of age develop neural connections at a rate of 1 million per second. These connections enable thinking and decision-making skills necessary to navigate the complexities of life. ChildSavers is there to intervene and support children early on when this development may be threatened. Advocate: Have the demographic and issues affecting Q The children changed since ChildSavers’ creation in 1924?

Bolling: At its inception, ChildSavers focused on white children -- essentially neglected by their parents, who had to work long hours in factories. Today, the demographic has drastically changed. Ninety percent of our clients are African American, and we’ve seen a 5 percent rise in need from the Hispanic community. The issues facing children are still the same: trauma brought on by poverty, neglect and abuse. The difference is how we address them, which is through quality early care, education and age-appropriate mental health services.

Bolling’s other nonprofit work includes Boaz & Ruth, an agency that helps The Advocate: What does trauma-informed mean, the formerly incarcerated to achieve as mentioned in ChildSavers’ mission statement? independence, and The Healing Place, a Bolling: Trauma informed is simply how you view a child’s adverse long-term residential recovery center for behavior. It changes the conversation from “what is wrong with you?” homeless men suffering from addiction. to “what has happened to you?” Subsequently, it educates parents, Early in his career, Bolling ran a youth teaches and caregivers on how to respond to their needs and not workforce development program that simply their behavior. helped high school and college students find summer employment. The outgoing The Advocate: Where do you envision Childsavers being in and personable Bolling also has lived and the next five years? taught school in Botswana, Africa. Bolling: ChildSavers wants every child in our community to be



In a recent interview, Bolling discussed ChildSavers’ mission and the organization’s continued importance in the Richmond community. His answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

safe, happy, healthy and ready to learn. We currently serve 7,000 children each year.  In 2024, ChildSavers will celebrate its 100th anniversary. We will seek to grow our services threefold to 20,000 children. Alfonzo Mathis Jr. is a Richmond, Va.-based freelance writer.

Duron Chavis helps urban gardens thrive amid food deserts By Morgann Williams It’s widely known that good nutrition contributes to a person’s physical and mental well being. Healthy people equal a healthy community. Surprisingly, even with the influx of new grocery store chains arriving in Richmond, Va. there are still some communities, such as Church Hill and Southside, that lack access to a conveniently placed grocery store with healthier and lowercost food options. The USDA classifies communities without a grocery store within a mile or more as “food deserts.” Food deserts are mostly concentrated in low-income, minority areas with residents who lack reliable access to transportation. In the absence of a grocery store, most food options are relegated to neighborhood convenience stores that offer limited healthy food choices. According to a Richmond TimesDispatch article published in September 2017, Richmond has “the worst food desert in the U.S. for a city of its size.” Urban gardens provide residents with access to healthier food options through direct involvement from the community. One program that is working to educate the community about urban gardening is the Ginter Urban Gardener training program, sponsored by Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. To learn more about the program and urban gardening efforts in Richmond, I spoke with Duron Chavis, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens’ community engagement coordinator. Chavis describes “The Ginter Urban Gardener” as a 12-week training program to give individuals the skills to sustain a garden in their neighborhood. “The program itself was really designed to provide individuals with the skills necessary to plan, design and implement urban gardens where ever they may find themselves in the community. We teach folks how to design gardens, we teach them about soil science tests, and how to build trust with residents in the neighborhood so that the community has ownership.” Chavis, who joined Lewis Ginter in August 2016, is a native of Richmond and graduated from Virginia State University. Before joining Lewis Ginter, he served as project director of the Harding Street Urban Ag Center, an indoor farming incubator funded

by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Chavis is known nationally for his leadership in urban agriculture and is an advocate for communitydesigned solutions to local challenges.  Chavis also is a graduate of Hope in the Cities’ Community Trustbuilding Fellowship program (2015) and Leadership Metro Richmond (2011); and is a certified Alternatives to Violence Project conflict resolution trainer.  He is the founder of the McDonough Community Garden, and has served as

project coordinator for Renew Richmond’s community garden start-ups. While most of his projects are with Lewis Ginter, Chavis firmly believes in community buy-in and participation. “The big conversation that needs to be had about food deserts is that whatever the solution, the community has to be involved for it to be sustained. So, we implement this training. Lewis Ginter provides the technical expertise for volunteers to go back into their communities and impart their knowledge onto others.”

Before starting an urban garden, Chavis advises it’s important to be clear about the purpose and goal of your garden; a garden that will be a food source will need to be maintained differently than an urban garden that will only be planting fruit trees. If your garden will be located in the city, you may need to apply for a permit. When asked about successful urban gardens in Richmond that have community support, Chavis notes that it depends on how you define “success.” He cautions that urban gardens don’t solve the problem of a food desert – “Even with food production on a mass scale, you need a mechanism for processing and getting the food to the table and communities in poverty don’t have that mechanism.” Chavis says one of the challenges with urban gardens is the assumption that they are easy to start and sustain. He believes urban gardening is only one aspect of a deeper issue that involves systemic racism and inequity. Becoming involved in local food production is the best way to work to meet the challenge of food deserts, but ultimately you must have the infrastructure to maintain this process and this requires additional funding. When working with urban youth, Chavis doesn’t shy away from presenting to them reality checks to drive home his point about food deserts. In a recent social media post, he describes taking some local teens to various parts of Richmond to point out the differences between living in a food desert. When the students visited the historically black Jackson Ward neighborhood, “they ended

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Highland Park Center offers teens a sense of identity and more

Continued from page 5

up being racially profiled” by a convenience store manager who assumed the students were there to steal, reads Chavis’ post. The area has no grocery stores. Later, in the more upscale, predominantly white Carytown neighborhood, which has several grocery stores within walking distance of one another (and a fourth grocery under development), students were greeted with looks from customers “who seemed to feel like we didn’t belong there,” Chavis notes in his post. Readers responded positively. “Thank you for teaching the youth,” was one reaction. “Great that you are opening eyes!” reads another post. “Some of us don’t get to experience or recognize prejudice in their daily lives and will try to convince others of its nonexistence. Smh.” To further reach youth and demonstrate to them the importance of urban gardening, Chavis believes in training volunteers and providing them with resources to go back into their communities to bring about change. He looks forward to training a new class of Ginter Urban Gardeners and hopes to get local colleges and universities involved in the local food production process. “Being intentional in outreach,” is my goal, he says. “Inviting them to the table. Food, justice and racial justice are connected.” Morgann Williams is a Richmond, Va.- based freelance writer


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By Alfonzo Mathis Jr. The Six Points Innovation Center (6PIC) not only provides teens with something to do, but it also gives them something to be. Located in Richmond, Va.’s Highland Park neighborhood, the youth-driven community center, which opened last year, is already succeeding at transforming millennials into leaders and assisting them with becoming active participants in the progression of their community, says its supporters. More than 100 local youth, between the ages of 13 and 24, have come through the center since its inception. Many of them come via other youth programs such the Mayor’s Youth Academy, private counseling services or neighboring recreation centers. Others may simply wander in off the street – captured by the brightly painted building and constant buzz of teen activity. All of the center’s attendees leave the facility equipped with life skills and a better perspective of themselves and where they live. What makes 6PIC so attractive is its intentional co-locational strategy. Five nonprofit organizations, including Storefront for Community Design, Groundwork RVA and Art180, operate in the space. As a result, each organization shares the facility’s operation expenses, collaborate on funding initiatives and even shares students, offering a variety of enrichment options under one roof.

“This is not just another afterschool program,” says Jackie Washington, the center’s director. She notes that 6PIC youth even had a hand in designing the 4,000-squarefoot facility that houses the program and helped write grants that fund the building’s renovation. “What we do is specifically centered on youth empowerment and putting the decision making in their hands,” she says.

graduate of the University of Richmond. Barracks lived and taught in Japan for two years before returning to the U.S. to earn his master’s degree in nonprofit studies and currently is in the Media, Art and Text Ph.D. program at Virginia Commonwealth University The Blacademic program meshes with 6PIC’s goal of presenting and achieving excellence among AfricanAmerican youth by having them interact with someone who lives and studies in the city and who resonates with their identity. Since opening in Highland Park, a community that is undergoing its own racial changes as more young whites move into the area that is just minutes from downtown, 6PIC is measuring its success by its new and longtime residents.

Two Richmond-area students wanted to work with power tools this summer. So Armstrong High School graduate Davantae Ballou and rising Armstrong senior Michael Long worked with Groundwork RVA, which introduced the two friends to construction and demolition. “It’s been hard work,” says Ballou, who lives in Richmond’s Southside. “But these skills will give me some options later” he adds, saying that he’s also considering a career in graphic design. In addition to hands-on programming in the arts, urban ecology and advocacy, teens are provided academic mentorship with a specific ethnic slant. 6PIC maintains a “Blackademic in Residence “ – a minority scholar who connects attendees with educational resources, support and opportunities. The position currently is occupied by Chaz A. Barracks, a 2011

“I’m floored by their commitment,” says Jacqueline McDonnough, a retired Virginia Commonwealth University professor and 6PIC volunteer who has lived in Highland Park for 31 years. McDonnough praises the program for addressing the needs of youth with academic tutoring, career mentorship and, more importantly, providing a safe space for local youth to thrive. “It’s wonderful to see these kids blossom,” she says. “I love it.” Alfonzo Mathis Jr. is a Richmond, Va.-based freelance writer.

Summer Smarts Summer is nearing an end and schools everywhere soon will reopen. Where does time go? Apparently wherever the imagination and stimulation may take you, whether it’s reading a riveting book, learning how drones can deliver the news, or figuring out your future earning potential. Here’s a snippet of the fun and creative activities in which hundreds of Virginia youth participated this past summer. June 21, 2018 Teens ages 12-18 joined author Lamar Giles for breakfast and a writing workshop at Six Points Innovation Center (6PIC) in Richmond’s Highland Park. Giles is an Edgar Award- nominated author and a founding member of the We Need Diverse Books organization. He writes short stories and novels for teens and adults and his titles include “Endangered,” “Fake ID,” and his newest book, “Overturned.” Giles’ visit was sponsored by Richmond Public Library’s Black Male Emergent Reader (BMER) committee, The DELTA House Foundation, Inc., and 6PIC. July 16-27, 2018 For two weeks, the BND Institute-Ephesus Summer Media Camp enabled 12 students in middle and high school to learn journalism basics while exploring multi-platform reporting and new media technology, allowing them to create work to be displayed via a digital presence. In addition, students increased their confidence as they learned about media literacy and gained more awareness about their individual and collective communities. In between writing, editing and exploring their visual skills with the assistance of media professionals, students visited Richmond media outlets such as NBC12-Richmond and Padilla, a global communications firm. A special treat included a visit to Sun Path Family Farm, an urban garden that is putting a dent in one of Richmond’s many food deserts. A program highlight included a visit by Ned Oliver of the Richmond Mercury who showed campers how drones can be used in reporting. The media camp was sponsored by the BND Institute of Media and Culture ( and Ephesus Junior Academy. For information about next year’s camp, contact bonnienewmandavis@ July 10 to Aug. 14 Kudos to Linnie S. Carter, Ph.D., for reaching out to dozens of women who responded to her request that they join her in creating a summer program to benefit local youth in Dr. Carter’s hometown of Norfolk, Va. Although Dr. Carter’s original goal was to establish a program to teach and mentor black girls to become strong black women, her outreach quickly pivoted to include black boys when she was informed that the Norview Community Center was interested in partnering with her and her friends. The community center hosts a summer-long program for boys and girls, the Norfolk Navigators, and center officials were happy to meet with Dr. Carter to discuss her programming ideas. In record time, a partnership was formed and the ball was rolling. Each Tuesday, from July 10 to Aug. 14, approximately 30 boys and girls participated in classes that included resume writing and interviewing skills, how to maintain healthy relationships, how to handle pain, and money management. Each class was taught by a trained business professional, entrepreneur or educator. In addition, dozens of Dr. Carter’s friends doubled as sponsors to provide the students notebooks, pens, pencils, snacks and other goodie bag items. Plans already are in place to present the program next year.

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Back to School: Helping Kids Transition Back to the Classroom From the U.S. Department of Education

With summer winding down, the new school year begins. Here are some tips and activities to ease children’s transition back to the classroom and to help prepare them for the new school year. • Get student records organized: Before the school year ramps up, try to schedule whatever medical appointments may be needed, and finish any applications that may be needed for health and nutrition programs, such as the National School Lunch Program. Schools can require documentation of up-to-date immunizations, so check on your state’s vaccine requirements. • Remember to read: While summer may have meant a more relaxed routine, try to set aside time to read with your kids. At this time of the year, your local public library likely has a display of back-to-school themed books, including children’s picture books, children’s chapter books, and young adult novels. Pick one off the shelf or ask the librarian for some suggestions. For a change of pace, online learning games may promote reading skills that your child can apply in all subject areas. • Be there to ease transitions: Starting a new school or moving from one grade to the next, for example, moving from elementary to middle school, can mean adjustments for kids—new route to school, new schedule, or new classmates. Try to assist in the transition by visiting the school with younger kids before classes start, maintaining routines at home for a sense of a familiar environment, or attending any parent orientation the school provides. Get tips for talking to kids about changes and coping with stress. Keep the lines of communication open and listen to your child. • Support homework: Show kids that homework is a priority. Establishing a standard time and maintaining a schedule can help. Determine a routine place for your child to do homework—a desk or the kitchen table. Try to keep it uncluttered, but have supplies they may need, like pencils, a ruler, and scissors handy in a drawer or a basket. There is an abundance of online resources available today to help kids with their schoolwork. Many sites enrich and personalize your kid’s experience and numerous information sources can aid in students’ comprehension. Get online with your child and find libraries at the local, state, and federal levels in your area that may help kids with school projects. • Pack nutritious lunches and snacks: Following dietary guidelines can help ensure your child has the proper nutrition to perform well in school. Promote a healthy, active lifestyle by encouraging kids to help with packing their lunch or trying a new recipe with nutritious ingredients. • Stay active: With the return of school can come more time spent indoors, but don’t forget to keep physical activity a part of the daily schedule. Encourage the whole family to get moving for 60 minutes a day. Play tag in your yard or neighborhood park, for example. Staying active and getting the wiggles out can help your child focus on homework and relieve stress. • Try a new extracurricular activity: Afterschool programs are a way for kids to form new friendships, develop teamwork skills, and improve academic proficiencies. Look into programs that may be offered at your child’s school, or your local community center may have activities that could help your child explore a new hobby or discover a new passion. Is he interested in music, theater, or soccer? Is she curious about chess, robots, or world languages? And afterschool professionals can check out ED’s You for Youth (Y4Y) online community.


Disclaimer: The U.S. Department of Education does not mandate or prescribe particular curricula or lesson plans. This information is provided for the reader’s convenience and is an example of the many resources that parents and educators may find helpful and use at their option.

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VUU graduate who struggled as a child heads to MIT Based on an article in the Baltimore Sun

Corshai Wil iams

An article in the June 2, 2018 edition of The Baltimore Sun reports that Corshai Williams, 22, a recent Virginia Union University graduate, will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) this fall to earn her Ph.D. in organic chemistry. “It was very humbling,” Williams told Baltimore Sun reporter Liz Bowie, who wrote that Williams spent most of her life struggling to survive. “She left her mother’s house at age 12 because she often was forced to miss school to care for younger siblings, moving in with a favorite aunt in an apartment near McCulloh Street and North Avenue,” Williams is quoted as saying in the article. “She found part-time work to help pay the rent.” With the help of her teachers and guidance counselor at Booker T. Washington Middle School, she got into Western High School, one of the city’s top schools. One there, it was difficult to fit in, but Williams persevered and sought help from a former middle school counselor. She made it through high school, and, upon enrolling at VUU, found another mentor in Carleitta Paige-Anderson, an associate professor in biochemistry. In April of 2018 Williams received the American Chemical Society (ACS) Award for Outstanding Senior in Chemistry in the Virginia Section, according to her LinkedIn profile. Williams also was named 2018 Rhodes Scholarship Finalist. Virginia Union created a circle of support around Williams, understanding that she didn’t have a traditional family that was supporting her, Paige-Anderson told the Baltimore Sun. Williams, who told the newspaper that she is “transitioning out of survival mode,” noted that she is just beginning to imagine a future where she doesn’t have to struggle.

Center for the Study of the


American Library Association’s 2018 Youth Media Winners This is a partial listing of the prestigious ALA awards. DENVER– The American Library Association (ALA) recently announced the top books, video and audio books for children and young adults—including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards—at its Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colorado. A list of all the 2018 award winners follows: John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature: “Hello, Universe” written by Erin Entrada Kelly, is the 2018 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Three Newbery Honor Books also were named: “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut,” written by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James and published by Bolden, an Agate Imprint, a Denene Millner Book; “Long Way Down,” written by Jason Reynolds and published by Atheneum, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a Caitlyn Dlouhy Book and “Piecing Me Together,” written by Renée Watson and published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children: “Wolf in the Snow,” illustrated and written by Matthew Cordell is the 2018 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was published by Feiwel and Friends, an Imprint of Macmillan. Four Caldecott Honor Books also were named: “Big Cat, little cat,” illustrated and written by Elisha Cooper and published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership; “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut,” illustrated by Gordon C. James, written by Derrick Barnes, and published by Bolden, an Agate Imprint, a Denene Millner Book; “A Different Pond,” illustrated by Thi Bui, written by Bao Phi and published by Capstone Young Readers, a Capstone imprint and “Grand Canyon,” illustrated and written by Jason Chin, a Neal Porter Book, published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership.


Center for the Study of the

Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognizing African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults: “Piecing Me Together,” written by Renée Watson, is the King Author Award winner. The book is published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books. Three King Author Honor Books also were named: “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut,” written by Derrick Barnes, published by Bolden, an Agate Imprint, a Denene Millner Book; “Long Way Down,” written by Jason Reynolds, published by Atheneum, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a Caitlyn Dlouhy Book and “The Hate U Give,” written by Angie Thomas, published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. “Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets,” illustrated by Ekua Holmes, is the King Illustrator Award winner. The book is written by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderly and Marjory Wentworth and published by Candlewick Press. Two King Illustrator Honor Books also were named: “Crown: An Ode to a Fresh Cut,” illustrated by Gordon C. James, written by Derrick Barnes and published by Bolden, an Agate Imprint, a Denene Millner Book and “Before She Was Harriet: The Story of Harriet Tubman,” illustrated by James E. Ransome, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and published by Holiday House. Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award to affirm new talent: “The Stars Beneath Our Feet,” written by David Barclay Moore, is the Steptoe Author Award winner. The book is published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. “Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song,” illustrated by Charly Palmer, is the Steptoe Illustrator Award winner. The book is written by Kathryn Erskine and published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC. Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement: Eloise Greenfield is the winner of the Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. The award pays tribute to the quality and magnitude of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton. Eloise Greenfield was born in Parmele, North Carolina, and currently resides in Washington, D.C. Early in life, she discovered a love of reading and writing and realized there were few books that showed the fullness of African American life. She published her first book in 1972 and went on to write and publish more than 40 books. From “Honey, I Love” to “The Great Migration,” this multiple award-winning author has captivated audiences through the years. Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults: “We Are Okay,” written by Nina LaCour, is the 2018 Printz Award winner. The book is published by Dutton Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers. Four Printz Honor Books also were named: “The Hate U Give,” written by Angie Thomas and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; “Long Way Down,” written by Jason Reynolds and published by Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing; “Strange the Dreamer,” written by Laini Taylor and published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, a division of Hachette Book Group and “Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers,” written by Deborah Heiligman and published by Godwin Books/Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

Center for the Study of the


Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience: “Silent Days, Silent Dreams,” written and illustrated by Allen Say and published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an Imprint of Scholastic Inc., wins the award for young children (ages 0 to 8). “Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess,” written by Shari Green and published by Pajama Press Inc., is the winner for middle grades (ages 9-13). “You’re Welcome, Universe,” written and illustrated by Whitney Gardner and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC is the winner for teens (ages 14-18). Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences: “All Systems Red,” by Martha Wells, a Book, published by Thomas Doherty Associates; “The Clockwork Dynasty,” by Daniel H. Wilson, published by Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House LLC; “Down Among the Sticks and Bones,” by Seanan McGuire, a Book, published by Thomas Doherty Associates; “Electric Arches,” by Eve L. Ewing, published by Haymarket Books; “A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea,” by Melissa Fleming, published by Flatiron Books; “Malagash,” by Joey Comeau, published by ECW Press; “Roughneck,” by Jeff Lemire, published by Gallery 13, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.; “She Rides Shotgun,” by Jordan Harper, published by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; “Things We Have in Common,” by Tasha Kavanagh, published by MIRA Books and “An Unkindness of Magicians,” by Kat Howard, published by SAGA Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. The 2018 winner is Jacqueline Woodson, whose award-winning works include “Brown Girl Dreaming,” “After Tupac & D Foster,” “Locomotion” and “Show Way.”

Center for the Study of the Urban Child Leadership Team Lisa T. Moon, Director Associate Professor Department of Psychology A Richmond native, Dr. Moon is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Virginia Union University and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. For the past two decades, she has demonstrated her expertise in academic instruction & advisement, academic program development & coordination, clinical training, clinical practice and research. She has also served as a professional consultant and presenter on psychological topics related to urban children. Dr. Moon recognizes the importance of the theoretical aspects of psychology and the implementation of those theories in practice. Her research interests include impact of abuse/trauma on child development, perceptions of urban children, importance of parental involvement in child development, African American female psychological development. She earned her B.A. degree in Psychology from Spelman College and her Master’s and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Dr. Joy Lawson Davis, Associate Professor & Chairperson Department of Education Dr. Davis is an Associate Professor & Chair in the Department of Teacher Education at Virginia Union University. Her career spans four decades, and she has served as a teacher, district gifted education coordinator, university level Research Grant coordinator, and an Executive Director/principal at a specialized high school for gifted learners in urban and rural areas in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Dr. Davis is a recognized expert in the area of Cultural Diversity & Gifted Education. Dr. Davis has worked as a State Specialist for Gifted Programs, K-12 in Virginia and is currently serving a 3-year term as an At-Large member of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Board of Directors. She previously served as Chair for the NAGC’s Diversity & Equity Committee.

Dr. Sandra K. Flynn Associate Professor Department of Social Work Dr. Sandra K. Flynn is an Associate Professor of Social Work at Virginia Union University. She has concentrated her career in academia. Her research interests include investigating the health issues that impact African Americans, the support needs of the aged, chronically ill, and caregivers. She teaches courses in Social Research Methods, Ethics, Social Welfare Policy, Social Work Practice and Field Placement. Prior to her current academic appointment, she maintained a career in law enforcement. A Southwest Virginia native, she earned her MSW from Radford University and her Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.

Dr. Davis is a reviewer and published author of several articles, book chapters, technical reports and an award-winning book ‘Bright, Talented & Black: A Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners’. Her research and publications are focused on family/ community engagement, under-representation in gifted education, and the psychosocial needs of high achieving students from diverse backgrounds. Dr. Davis holds two graduate degrees from The College of William & Mary.

Newsletter Editor - Bonnie Newman Davis, Bonnie Newman Davis Media Consulting

Profile for VUU Center for the Study of the Urban Child

The Advocate ISSUE NO 8: Fall 2018  

VUU’s Center for the Study of the Urban Child was established in 2010 to serve as an essential resource hub and informational clearinghouse...

The Advocate ISSUE NO 8: Fall 2018  

VUU’s Center for the Study of the Urban Child was established in 2010 to serve as an essential resource hub and informational clearinghouse...