Beyond School Hours XV: See You in California!

Post image for Beyond School Hours XV: See You in California!

This week in Burlingame, California, Foundations is holding its fifteenth annual Beyond School Hours (BSH) conference. I look forward to BSH each year because I always meet so many interesting people from across the country working in school, afterschool, and in our neediest communities. As I mentioned in last year’s blog entry, Beyond School Hours is one of the only national education conferences that puts afterschool at front and center, highlighting out-of-school time programs—and the people who make them happen—as critical to kids’ success.


Today’s Premier Principals: Leading by Doing

by Rhonda H. Lauer November 17, 2011
Thumbnail image for Today’s Premier Principals: Leading by Doing

Late last month, sixty-one leaders representing both public and private schools from around the nation gathered in Washington, D.C., to be honored as 2011 National Distinguished Principals. Since 1984, the National Association of Elementary School Principals has recognized and celebrated outstanding elementary and middle-level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for students, families, and staffs.

Read more…

EL Reform for Large Urban Districts

by Jennifer Kobrin October 13, 2011
Thumbnail image for EL Reform for Large Urban Districts

The two districts with the largest numbers of English learners, Los Angeles and New York City, are both receiving pressure to substantially reform services for these students. In New York, the state commissioner on education held a video conference yesterday, calling for more qualified bilingual teachers and pointing out the city’s alarming 7% graduation rate for ELs.

Read more…

Mother Tongue, or another Tongue?

by Jennifer Kobrin September 22, 2011
Thumbnail image for Mother Tongue, or another Tongue?

For years, would-be cheesesteak patrons at Geno’s Steaks in South Philadelphia have been confronted with a simple message: “This is America. When ordering, please speak English.” (We’ll forget for a moment that ordering cheesesteaks in Philadelphia has its own language, with phrases like “wit wiz,” etymology unknown). There is a photo of owner Joey Vento pointing to the sign on Geno’s website.

Read more…

STEM, Reading, and Rock & Roll

by Jennifer Kobrin September 15, 2011
Thumbnail image for STEM, Reading, and Rock & Roll

A couple of weeks ago I watched an inspiring primetime television special hosted by Will.i.am, producer and front man for the band, The Black-Eyed Peas (As of January, he is also Intel’s Director of Creative Innovation). The program was called i.am First: Science is Rock & Roll and highlighted the 20th Annual FIRST Robotics Championship. A non-profit organization like Foundations, FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – designs innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. Inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989.

Read more…

Hungarians Reject English, But Why?

by Jennifer Kobrin August 31, 2011

In a story reported by the Wall Street Journal last week, the Hungarian government plans to discourage teaching English in schools. Officials believe it is too easy to learn and can lead to frustrations when children eventually start learning additional, harder, languages. As a former ESOL teacher, I’m curious about how people form values around languages. Learning even a few words in an additional language can resonate emotionally and evoke strong opinions.

Read more…

New Report Highlights the Benefits of Afterschool Participation

by Jennifer Kobrin August 18, 2011

Over the past several years, Foundations has partnered with elementary schools in some of Providence’s poorest neighborhoods to help all children read on grade level by third grade. Working with teachers, principals, afterschool workers, family support specialists, librarians, literacy coaches, health workers, and many others, we saw firsthand that when everyone works hard and is willing to collaborate closely across programs, agencies, and departments, amazing things can happen for kids.

Read more…

STEM and English Learners Continues to be Focus of Feds

by Jennifer Kobrin August 11, 2011
Thumbnail image for STEM and English Learners Continues to be Focus of Feds

I’m back from the Dakotas, where I presented last week at a statewide conference for 21st Century Community Learning Center grantees. After a brief game of chicken with a buffalo standing in the road, I was reminded that rural afterschool programs face many of the same challenges as their urban counterparts (except I guess how to move 1,000 pounds of Bison). It’s really about being able to leverage that spark of curiosity all young people possess into authentic, academic learning opportunities. Which brings me to this week’s topic—STEM and English learners!

Read more…

eBooks for Kids

by Julianne Grasso July 6, 2011
Thumbnail image for eBooks for Kids

While digital books and the devices to read them have been typically marketed at adults, children’s books are making their way into digital format. Possibilities for sound, animation, and interactivity have made touch-screen devices like the iPad and iPhone particularly engaging for children. I wondered if any of these interactive additions are particularly conducive to enhancing literacy skills. (After all, it may be difficult to justify purchasing an expensive gadget when you could easily get these books for free at your local library).

Read more…

Reading for Life: Parenting and the Achievement Gap

by Rhonda H. Lauer June 22, 2011
Thumbnail image for Reading for Life: Parenting and the Achievement Gap

Approximately 3 million young people in this country are graduating from high school this month. As a former teacher, principal, and school superintendent, I applaud their achievement. But, here’s the flip side: over 1 million of their peers will not graduate, more than half of them minorities. Boys dropout at a higher rate than girls. And, as my colleague Michele Rodgers noted in her recent blog, African-American males face a double-whammy: only 47% of them will obtain a high school diploma.

Read more…

Summer Countdown

by Jennifer Kobrin June 16, 2011

It’s mid June. Many people think of this time as when schools and districts are gearing down, packing up classrooms, and preparing for vacation. But it can be one of the busiest times of year, especially for directors and coordinators of summer programs, who are frantically pulling together field trips, activities that must be the right mix of fun (so the kids come) and academically enriching (so parents and teachers are happy), nutritious daily meals, and everything from salsa lessons to horticulture classes with a huge range of outside partners.

Read more…