It’s indisputable that most students perform better academically when they have parents or adults to help with homework and to be advocates with teachers and principals.
But in many communities, parents who juggle multiple jobs, don’t speak much English, or have low levels of education often don’t have the time or resources to make meaningful connections to their child’s schooling experience.
That’s why some leading-edge districts have made it their job to reach out to families and create more welcoming and accessible ways for parents to be part of their children’s schooling.
In Washoe County, Nev., for example, the school district’s family-engagement work includes organizing home visits by teachers—and training those teachers to make the most of those face-to-face encounters in students’ homes.
In Federal Way, Wash., the leader of family-engagement efforts taps a diverse array of parents to serve on committees or task forces that inform major decision making in the district, including high-level hires.
Still, the specialized field of parent and family engagement has mostly been driven by ambitious leaders at the district level. And even in districts with robust programming, resources to support the work are often tight.
But new and potentially bigger forces are building around the need for schools and educators to forge deeper connections with parents and community members.
Philanthropists—in particular the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation of New York—are championing the flow of more money into family-engagement initiatives, including research to identify what efforts are effective.
And the federal budget has set aside $10 million to help fund efforts by several state education agencies and outside partners to develop strong parent and community programming.
The Every Student Succeeds Act also directs states and districts to develop plans to work with families and surrounding communities—a requirement that has spawned a multistate endeavor to create guidelines and exemplars for schools and districts to follow.
Advocates for building strong ties between schools and families say it’s a major opportunity for a proven, yet underutilized strategy to make schools better.
“There is a lot of excitement, and more of an evolution in where both policymakers and funders feel like they want to increasingly put their money,” said Vito Borrello, the executive director for the National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement…
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Two South Carolina law students were awarded scholarships Thursday, November 1 by the Association of Administrative Law Judges (AALJ), the union representing 1,400 federal administrative law judges at the Social Security Administration during the AALJ’s annual meeting in Charleston.
“As judges for a public agency which serves tens of millions of Americans, we’re delighted to honor outstanding law students like Kerry Shipman and Clarissa Guerrero,” said AALJ President Marilyn Zahm. “Their accomplishments in public interest law, so early in their careers, shows an outstanding commitment to the highest ideals of our profession.”
Ms. Guerrero, who is pursuing a joint degree in law and social work at the University of South Carolina (USC), is a volunteer guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children in South Carolina. She is also co-president of the USC School of Law Pro Bono Program Board and has served as a law clerk at the South Carolina Center for Father and Families. She is recognized by her teachers and fellow students as “a voice for the underrepresented, the misunderstood and the disenfranchised.”
Mr. Shipman, a law student at Charleston School of Law, has worked as an intern at the Mecklenburg County District Court and Charleston Pro Bono Legal services, and as a law clerk at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina and at the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. He is presently a judicial extern for North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Michael R. Morgan.
Mr. Shipman has pursued his legal career in the face of considerable personal challenges following the death of his mother from colon cancer at the age of 46, as described in the Charleston Post and Courier. He is presently the legal guardian for his younger brother, a freshman in high school
AALJ members award a scholarship each year at the organization’s annual Educational Conference, recognizing law students with demonstrated experience or interest in pursuing a career in public interest law. The scholarships are made possible by donations from AALJ members and a contribution from LexisNexis Risk Solutions.
Marking 26 years of scholarship support for high school students, the Marie Jenkins Jones Incentive Award (MJJIA) announces five award recipients for 2018. Receiving scholarships of $500 each are Kayla Bennett, Ajani Brooks, Quinara Lawson, Zataya Rivenbark and Jamesia St. Louis, all recent graduates of Baptist Hill Middle High School. These outstanding young ladies have excelled in their high school studies and will be pursuing higher education this fall semester.
“My siblings and I are thrilled about this year’s scholarship recipients,” says Andrea C.J. Casey, MJJIA Board Chairperson and daughter of the late Mrs. Marie Jenkins Jones. “Because of matching gift donations and increased support from local businesses, former students, and the community, we were able to help even more students this year,” explains Casey.
MJJIA is a federally recognized 501(c)3 organization that helps deserving graduating seniors at Baptist Hill Middle High School advance their education at a vocational school, trade school, college or university of their choice.
Over the years, this scholarship has awarded tens of thousands of dollars to students assisting with books, school supplies or any other needs they may have toward their educational goals.
Mrs. Marie Jenkins Jones educated students of Charleston County for over forty years. She had a passion for teaching, love for her students and a devotion to the community. In 1992, she retired from Baptist Hill High School after decades of teaching in District 23. Her children established the scholarship to honor their mother’s legacy and to support students in furthering their education. “MJJIA wants to grant more scholarships in 2019, so we ask churches, organizations and the community to spread the word and encourage students to apply,” said Casey.
For more information about the MJJIA, to make a tax deductible donation, or to apply for the 2019 scholarship, please visit www.MJJIncentiveAward.org or contact the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org
According to Larry Pogemiller, the Commissioner of the Office of Higher Education, “The five chosen programs all demonstrate innovative and promising teacher preparation methods that can help Minnesota schools meet the challenge of finding the teachers they need.”
The grant program was created during the 2017 legislative session and allocated $750,000 for new alternative preparation programs that intended to do one or more of the following:
Fill Minnesota’s teacher shortage in licensure areas that the commissioner has identified.
Recruit, select, and train teachers who reflect the racial or ethnic diversity of the students in Minnesota.
Establish professional development programs for teachers who have obtained teaching licenses through alternative teacher preparation programs.
Importantly, only a “school district, charter school, or nonprofit” were eligible for the grant monies, meaning that institutions of higher education were not. Additionally, in order to be eligible, programs must also have been in operation for three continuous years in Minnesota or any other state, and are working to fill the state’s teacher shortage areas. Finally, the commissioner of Higher Education must give preference to programs that are based in Minnesota.
This post will provide a description of an alternative teacher preparation program, as well as a description of the programs for each of the grant recipients.
What is an Alternative Teacher Preparation Program?
In 2011, the Minnesota legislature passed a law that created the opportunity for alternative teacher preparation programs to be created. According to a 2016 Office of the Legislative Auditor report, school district, charter schools, and nonprofit organizations are eligible to establish an alternative program by partnering with a college or university that had an alternative teacher preparation program. Additionally, school districts and charter schools are also able to establish an alternative program by forming a partnership with certain nonprofit organizations, but only after they had consulted with a college or university with a teacher preparation program.
Concordia student, Dominick Snow Pierce, says filing the FAFSA helped him follow his dreams. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)
As surprising as it may seem, applying to universities and trade schools may be the easiest step when it comes to continuing education. The second step, often viewed as the most daunting one, is filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid better known as FAFSA.
Over the years, FAFSA has gained a bad rep, although it’s working hard to change that. Recently, the FAFSA application process, which once began in April, changed to October. In other words, people can begin submitting their FAFSA applications as early as Oct. 1.
“FAFSA is the tool that opens the door to education,” said Mayor Tom Barrett.
According to Interim Milwaukee Public School Superintendent, Dr. Keith Posey, in 2016 the FAFSA completion rate in MPS hit 49.9 percent. This year’s goal is 80 percent. To help achieve this goal, all the high schools will be participating in the Wisconsin Goes to College Campaign, Posey said.
Additionally, to encourage more students to apply to college and FAFSA, 20 new college career centers were established in MPS high schools. M3, which consists of UW-Milwaukee, MATC and MPS, are continuing their joint efforts to ensure that every student continues their education.
Dr. Keith Posey, interim superintendent, says the college and FAFSA application processes are community efforts. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)
Posey said FAFSA is a community effort. It’s not just the schools and the students, he said.
“[The students are] going to need your commitment and your support,” Posey said to parents.
Shannon Snow, the mother of Dominick Snow Pierce who graduated from MacDowell and now attends Concordia University, said the College Career Program helped Dominic with his applications.
As a mother, Snow said she always emphasized to her children that school was the top priority. MacDowell’s college advisors matched her commitment by following through with Dominick and making sure he filled out not only his college application, but FAFSA too. He’s eternally grateful his support system pushed him to do both, said Dominick.
“FAFSA is the best thing in life,” he said.
As a parent himself, Barrett said he knows how intimidating the FAFSA application can be. The name alone sounds scary he said. The first questions many people have is ‘What is FAFSA?’ followed by ‘How do I do FAFSA?’. Once the application process begins, it quickly becomes understandable, he said.
“We filled out the FAFSA,” he said. “[It was] one of the smartest economic decisions of my life.”
FAFSA helps the students and their parents establish a plan for their college years. Barrett called it a blueprint of do-ability that can help ease the discomfort of financial uncertainty. He said, as mayor, he speaks on behalf of the city. Milwaukee needs more kids to go to college, he said.
The job vacancies are there, but the applicants may not have the skills to even apply for the jobs, he said. Companies may decide to export the jobs if they can’t find employees in Milwaukee. This would be a huge blow to the city’s economic status. Wealth can be built in these neighborhoods, he said, and it can be built through education.
“The plus side is so huge, I think it’s worth it,” Barrett said.
Andrea Atkins, a single mother of seven MPS students, testified to how helpful FAFSA is. Of her children, four have attended college, so far, and three of them have graduated. Parents can support their child’s dream of attending college with FAFSA, she said.
“Our children are the future and we must invest in their education and success,” she said.
MURFREESBORO, TN — MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee kicked off the new academic year Thursday, Aug. 23, by applauding the university’s faculty and staff for continued progress in student retention and graduation while emphasizing the need to develop new strategies in an ever-evolving higher education landscape.
Now in his 18th year leading the Blue Raider campus, McPhee addressed a capacity crowd of faculty and staff inside Tucker Theatre during his annual State of the University remarks as part of the traditional Fall Faculty Meeting in advance of classes beginning Monday for fall semester.
“The calling to make a difference in the lives of others — the passion that drew each member of our academic community to fulfill careers in teaching, research, service, and providing mentorship — is the ultimate goal of our institution,” he said.
Another highlight of the gathering was the presentation of the MTSU Foundation’s Career Achievement Award, this year going to Judith Iriarte-Gross, a professor of chemistry at MTSU since 1996 who is nationally known for her advocacy for girls and women in the sciences.
Iriarte-Gross is director of the Women In STEM (WISTEM) Center at MTSU and the founder and director of Tennessee’s first Expanding Your Horizons girls’ STEM education workshop. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
In assessing the university’s overall progress during his hourlong remarks, McPhee noted that MTSU continues making progress through its Quest for Student Success initiative to improve retention and graduation rates, accountability and affordability while “striving to become the public university that more students and parents look to for a top-rate education.”
He cited the increase in full-time freshman retention rate from 69 percent in Fall 2013, when the university first began its student success initiatives, to 76.8 percent in Fall 2017. MTSU’s efforts have become a national model, he said, with media outlets such as The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Chronicle of Higher Education taking note.
He commended University Provost Mark Byrnes and Vice Provost Rick Sluder for leading the retention efforts and touted a list of other achievements from across the university — from funded research to accelerated graduate programs and from athletic successes to ongoing support for student veterans.
“Our proven ability to educate graduates with the least amount of taxpayer dollars per-student is something in which we can, and should, take great pride,” he said.
McPhee also announced Thursday that the MTSU Board of Trustees earlier this summer approved his recommendation for a 1.5 percent across-the-board salary increase for employees while also approving the use of $3.7 million in state and university funds for partially implementing a compensation plan to make MTSU salaries more competitive over time.
Other address highlights:
MTSU’s new 91,000-square-foot Academic Classroom Building will provide a state-of-the-art facility for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, including much-needed classroom, office and lab spaces for the Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Social Work departments. The $36 million project is expected to be completed in Summer 2020.
Renovations at Peck Hall are nearing completion and include new ceiling and lighting for the breezeways, new lighting for the corridors, refinishing of the flooring on the second and third levels, and new furnishings for the courtyard areas.
The long-running Middle Tennessee Boulevard widening project is expected to be finished in December.
Parking Services will have new facility located on City View Drive on the southeastern edge of campus, with completion expected by the end of 2019.
Alumni and supporters donated more than $12.7 million in gifts in the last fiscal year, which exceeded the previous year.
Discussions continue regarding the potential transfer of the Valparaiso University’s law school to MTSU. Such a transfer would result in an estimated gift value of $35 million to $40 million.
McPhee concluded his remarks by noting that he would be meeting with senior administrators and deans in the coming months to develop strategies for the next five years “that will differentiate MTSU from our peers and competitors.” (Read the full text of his remarks at http://ow.ly/XbcX30lwRHc)
Career Achievement Award winner
MTSU chemistry professor and nationally recognized STEM education advocate Judith Iriarte-Gross, center, proudly accepts the 2018 MTSU Foundation Career Achievement Award Thursday, Aug. 23, from MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, and MTSU Foundation President Ron Nichols, right, at the university’s Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre. Iriarte-Gross, who’s taught at MTSU since 1996 and is director of the Women In STEM (WISTEM) Center at MTSU and the founder and director of Tennessee’s first Expanding Your Horizons girls’ science, technology, engineering and math education workshop. The Career Achievement Award is presented annually to a professor at MTSU and is considered the pinnacle of recognition for the university’s faculty. Iriarte-Gross also is a fellow of both the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, two of the country’s premier scientific professional societies, among her many honors. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)
In accepting the Career Achievement Award, Iriarte-Gross noted the importance that federal programs such as TRiO and Upward Bound played in helping a young, first-generation college student from a single-parent home enter higher education and pursue the sciences with the encouragement of teachers and mentors.
Iriarte-Gross also is a fellow of both the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, two of the country’s premier scientific professional societies, among her many honors.
“I tell my students today, listen to your teachers because they see something in you that you might not see,” she said.
When she and husband Charles moved to Murfreesboro in 1996, Iriarte-Gross recalled that she noticed the absence of an EYH program for young girls anywhere in Tennessee. She went to work launching one on the Blue Raider campus that will host its 22nd edition in October and has since been joined by five other EYH programs across the state.
“We are changing the future STEM workforce for Tennessee by showing girls that they can do anything,” she said.
The Career Achievement Award is presented annually to a professor at MTSU and is considered the pinnacle of recognition for the university’s faculty. It is given at the Fall Faculty Meeting as part of the MTSU Foundation Awards, which include a variety of awards recognizing outstanding faculty members. Find the full list of winners at www.mtsunews.com.
It is no secret that the Black man in American society must work harder than his counter-parts. And at the height of all the racial discrimination, Black males have lived with fear affecting their academic performance directly. However, during all these, there are those who are rising above the current and are proving to society that “yes we can.” One good example is the story of two Black boys- twins who have been named Valedictorians at their high school graduation.
The two brothers who were born 11 minutes apart, Malik and Miles George, went to Woodbridge High. They both scored excellently on their SATs and were both named valedictorians of their graduating class. Because of their good work, they will both be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on scholarship. They had a choice between scholarships from five prestigious schools, and they chose MIT as their preferred school.
And Thursday at their graduation, they shared the stage, crediting their success to their parents. They also shared their love for science and the fact that they dedicated their time and effort to school work. Speaking to ABC7, Malik said of their parents, “Seeing them always doing their best to care for us has definitely made a good imprint on us,” Malik told the news station. “Whether it’s academics, athletics, some form of art, whatever passion someone has, my best advice would be just to explore it and do your best, and the success will come.”
Miles also talked of their efforts and one of the reasons they excelled so well. He said, “We worked hard, every course, studying, paying attention in class, asking questions is one of the most important things, being an active student in our own education, because that’s what the teachers are there for.”
The two boys have excelled not only in class but also beyond academics. The two have for a long time been science research fans and were also named first doubles tennis partners. This just goes to show that if you really give it your all, then you can achieve your goals.
The Woodbridge High School principal, Glenn Lottmann, spoke to ABC7, bragging of how wonderful the two boys were. She said, “I don’t know how long this segment is before I talk about what they’ve done right. I don’t think I have enough time… But I could tell you what they’ve done wrong, nothing!”
It is very encouraging to see young boys overcome the adversities that face the African American communities, and aim for their goals without fear. Malik also encouraged others not to fear ideas, he said, “Whether its academics, athletics, some form of art, whatever passion someone has, my best advice would be just to explore it and do your best and the success will come.”
Hip-hop superstar Jay-Z and his wife, Beyoncé, have announced a new scholarship program that will award 10 scholarships worth $100,000 each to “exceptional” high school seniors who demonstrate financial needs.
“This back to school season, students in the On The Run II Tour markets, who are preparing for college, will be chosen by Boys and Girls Club of America,” according to a joint press release from Beyoncé’s “BeyGOOD Initiative” and Jay Z’s “The Shawn Carter Foundation.”
“Qualified students must demonstrate academic excellence and show financial needs that would make it hard for them to enter college or university for the academic year 2018-2019,” the release noted.
The markets will include Atlanta, Orlando, Miami, Arlington, Texas; New Orleans, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara, and Seattle.
The power couple has had a long history of helping students with The Shawn Carter Foundation spearheading college tours to historically Black colleges and universities and providing scholarships to college bound students throughout the country.
Through her BeyGOOD initiative, Beyoncé created the Formation Scholars Award, a merit program to help female students start or further their college education, and this year they announced the Homecoming Scholars Award, a second merit program, opened to qualified students, regardless of gender, to enter or continue their studies at one of eight HBCUs.
Applications are being accepted now through October 31, 2018, for the Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence magazine. This annual outside-the-classroom mentoring program is scheduled for March 21-24, 2019, at the Walt Disney Resort in Florida. The program helps 100 select high school students, ages 13-19, from across the United States jump-start their life goals and pursue their dreams.
Disney Dreamers Academy turns the entire magical setting of Walt Disney World into a vibrant classroom. Students participate in a series of sessions and workshops designed to help them imagine bright futures, make exciting discoveries and learn how to put their goals into action. Disney Dreamers engage in a wide variety of experiences at Walt Disney World while working side by side with celebrities, community and industry leaders and Disney cast members.
For more than a decade, Disney Dreamers Academy has inspired young people from across the country by fueling their dreams and showing them a world of possibilities as they prepare for the future. Each year, students participate in hands-on, immersive career seminars in a wide range of disciplines found at Walt Disney World. Participants learn how to improve their communication skills, what it means to be a leader and networking strategies, among other skills. They are also inspired by celebrity speakers and other special guests who share their stories and provide insights on how to achieve their life goals.
The second decade of Disney Dreamers Academy is focused on challenging young people to relentlessly pursue their dreams through the “Be 100” campaign. This promotional push is inspired by the powerful impact Disney Dreamers Academy has made on graduates, who have gone on to become doctors, nurses, engineers, pilots, journalists and more. Some have started their own public relations firms, while others have worked with national political leaders.
Applicants must answer essay questions about their personal journeys and dreams for the future. Students are selected based on a combination of attributes, including strong character, positive attitude and determination to achieve their dreams. A parent or guardian accompanies each student on the trip.
This four-day, all-expenses-paid experience at Walt Disney World will continue to help change the lives of young people in 2019. For more information or to apply, visit DisneyDreamersAcademy.com.
Following on his generous $100,000 scholarship gift made in 2015 through UNCF (the United Negro College Fund) to four deserving college students, actor and comedian Kevin Hart has joined forces with UNCF and KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) to help 18 more KIPP students earn a college degree. Through a new UNCF scholarship program launched in partnership with Kevin Hart’s Help From The Hart Charity and KIPP Public Schools, the $600,000 scholarship will provide funding to support KIPP students from eight different cities who are attending 11 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
UNCF is the largest provider of college scholarships for students of color in the U.S., awarding more than $100 million in college scholarships annually to deserving students. The 18Help From The Hart Charity Scholarshiprecipients have been selected based on their academic and personal accomplishments and may receive substantive renewable awards based on need.
“The Help From The Hart Charity Scholarship will not only support students, but will also demonstrate support for HBCUs,” said UNCF CEO and President Michael L. Lomax. “Research shows that HBCUs matter, and that HBCU students are having a positive college experience, but they also have an unmet financial need. Together, Kevin and KIPP have made an investment that will have a significant impact. We can’t thank them enough for their support.”
“Education and knowledge are powerful,” said Hart. “I just wanted to do my part in providing opportunities for our future leaders, especially from my Philly hometown, and show support for HBCUs. This is just the beginning; trust me when I tell you there are a lot more kids who want to go to college who don’t have the money to make it happen.”
The 18 students receiving college scholarships are high school graduates who attended KIPP public charter schools in eight different communities: the Arkansas Delta, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. A recent survey of KIPP alumniacrossthe country showed that the KIPP graduates who attend HBCUs reported a stronger sense of belonging, better mental health, and were more likely to have a mentor than those attending non-HBCUs.
“Nothing brings me greater joy than to see the hard work of these 18 KIPP students recognized by Kevin Hart and UNCF through this generous scholarship program,” said John Fisher, chair of the KIPP Foundation Board of Directors. “Michael Lomax has been a longtime KIPP supporter and friend and a tireless champion for young people. We are incredibly grateful to both UNCF and Kevin Hart for their partnership and support to help our students thrive in college and achieve their dreams.”
Hart’s gift to fund this new scholarship program puts him in line with many other renowned celebrities—like Lou Rawls, Ella Fitzgerald, Clifton Davis, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Anthony Anderson, Beyoncé, Chris Rock, Usher, Pharrell Williams, Ray Charles, John Lennon, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis who, realizing the value of a quality education, have supported UNCF over the years. “Giving back to build better futures is the name of the game, and we hope that others like Kevin will understand why educational investments are so important, especially now, and step up to help more deserving students,” said Lomax.
Lomax also added, “Over the last decade, UNCF has been building a relationship with the KIPP public school network, and we are so excited that KIPP’s board of directors and Chairman John Fisher are behind this outstanding new venture. There are more than 1,300 KIPPsters currently enrolled at HBCUs, and together, we are bringing resources and shining a spotlight on these students who are doing all they can to get a college education. This unique partnership will help UNCF continue to bridge the gap from high school success to college achievement and enables UNCF to help more students get to and through college.”