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Learning Specialist/Director of Schools Attuned

I have worked as a Learning Specialist for 8 years at an academically aggressive independent Episcopal school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In those 8 years, I have directed our Schools Attuned program and together with a dedicated faculty have maintained our Schools of Distinction designation.

The story of an Artist misunderstood

I deal with L.D but I believe I am also gifted I have always wanted to go to college. I feel that if I tried to go to college for art which I love I would be made to take tests and work on math and punctuation. I am 61 years old and I want to be a competitive artist which is difficult because learning and reading about art is difficult. I do not know of any textbooks that have been recorded about art. I like to do abstract art but I also want to understand and use perspective. I have always talked about and shown my interest in art for as long as I can remember. Getting support for being creative is difficult when others don’t realize using this talent was imperative for me. I still want to take college level courses but I feel it is unfair to have to audit a class or be denied the good classes because I am 1. Learning disabled. 2. an senior citizen I would like instead to get credit for my life experiences which are my best credentials. I am an Art Activist and Community Artist recently I have been working


In high school, after my best friend’s parents sent her away to boarding school and my parents didn’t, school became a pretty lonely scene for me. Not only because of her absence and my grappling with my lesbian identity in a pre- Gay-Straight Alliance world, but maybe even more so because I was a wanna-be intellectual in a population where, in a typical year, only about 40% of the graduating class would go on to attend a four-year college. Being engaged with the wider world of ideas landed me in a pretty small club. There were sometimes opportunities to take courses at an honors or Advanced Placement level, but it depended on interest and ability — my senior year, the AP English Literature course that I would have loved to take didn’t “run.” The rules of regular English let me test out of some of the units I could demonstrate mastery of, so Mrs. McLain found herself writing me pass after pass to the library, where I stumbled upon a video of a PBS special featuring a young Ian McKellen entitled, “Acting Shakespeare.” I was absolutely spellbound. I watched the video over the course of multiple days and then, when

Is a Free Education a Fundamental Right?

Should your zip code determine your access to the American dream? Or is the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee to provide “equal protection” a principle we have silently agreed to uphold in theory – but not in practice? I’m starting to wonder after reading about Tanya McDowell, the Connecticut mother facing felony charges for lying on her five-year-old son’s registration forms so he could attend a better school. McDowell’s story is painfully reminiscent of Kelley Williams-Bolar, the Ohio mother who made a similar choice earlier this year – and is now a convicted felon. These two stories of civil disobedience come against the backdrop of an ongoing national conversation about our public school system – and how it must be improved. They also provide an unsettling irony in lieu of tomorrow’s 57th anniversary of Thurgood Marshall’s historic victory in Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that triumphantly reaffirmed a core American principle: “In the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” If Marshall were alive today, he would urge us to stop celebrating our symbolic victory in Brown, and start accepting our actual responsibility for tolerating a public education system that

The Dress Code at My Kids’ School Changed My Own Wardrobe–and Got Me Thinking

When my kids started attending a school with a dress code, I didn’t expect my own clothes to change as well. The dress code at the kids’ new school read simply: “No clothes with words or cartoons on them.” I thought I knew why—something about avoiding unnecessary distractions in the classroom. Fair enough, I thought to myself: I want a classroom where my kids can learn. So I got right to work. Out went all the camp shirts with the names of the camps on them, out went the matching Purple Cow ice cream store t-shirts, and good-bye to Hello Kitty imploring us to bike more often. Out went my son’s cheesy Star Wars shirt that I despised and the one with the cartoon of a motorcycle with wings on it that I had always thought was kind of cute. I was left with stripes and solids. My kids didn’t seem to notice. When I dropped them off at school the next day I scanned the other kids’ clothes. I felt curiously refreshed being in a room without words or cartoons on clothes—something you wouldn’t have noticed unless it was pointed out to you, but once you did, it felt

A Small Comment, a Huge Assumption

Most every teenage girl starts off as a babysitter before getting a real job. As long as the kids are safe and happy, everything is fine. Sounds easy right? Well, it’s just as easy to mess things up…. As I shuffled out of the neighbors’ house, the mother casually asked me, “So, do you think you will be available next Saturday night too?” Yup, I said. Though unbeknown to me at the time, this small inconclusive comment apparently meant final word. No phone call, no knock at the door would come within the next week, so obviously my thought was that I just wasn’t needed to babysit anymore, since I hadn’t been further notified. But I guess that wasn’t so obvious to the parents of the kids I babysat. Flash-forward, next Saturday night. Now, at this time, I was just coming home from a softball tournament. It was around 6 o’clock, precisely the time I had babysat last Saturday. As I pulled into my cul-de-sac, I saw a little red car speeding out, opposite direction I was going. Just as my car and the other car reached the point of parallelism, the car stopped abruptly. I turned my head…and there

Those Who Can Teach; Life Lessons Learned

He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches ~ George Bernard Shaw [Man and Superman, 1903] "A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education." ~ George Bernard Shaw I heard the words for as long as I recall. The meaning was intricately woven into my mind. I, as all little children since George Bernard Shaw scribed his belief, "He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches," was taught to believe that teachers could choose no other career. Educators, entrusted with children's lives were indeed, incapable beings. These individuals had tried and failed to perform well in professions that required intellect and, or dexterity. Because the incompetent were inept, they fled to schools and identified themselves as "Teachers." In classrooms, less than sage scholars could teach with little authentic expertise. Today, as a culture, Americans choose to prove this erroneous truth. Grading the Teachers: Value-Added Analysis. Happily, our fellow citizens dismiss the "scientific" evidence that amasses. In our stupor we embrace Value-Added Analysis, disregard the research revealed in a 2010 Department of Education report, Error Rates in Measuring Teacher and School Performance. "Consideration of error rates is especially important when evaluating whether


Back home in Nigeria, I used to wake up as early as 5am, say the morning prayer with my family and head out to deliver crates of bottled soda (Coca-Cola and Limca products) to customers before heading to school. My mum was the owner of the business and I and my siblings had to help deliver the products to customers in other to make gain. This became my daily routine. School started by 8:30am, but sometimes, before I finish my morning routine and get to school, it was already 8:45 or 9am. This happened at least three times out of the five school days a week. In my secondary school (Christ the King College Onitsha) late coming is against the school rule and attracts punishment. My principal, Mr. Olisa, had a way of getting late comers. At the assembly ground, each class prefect would write down the names of students that attended the morning assembly. And if your name was not on the list, like mine sometimes, sorry for you. Mr. Olisa would lie in wait for late comers and lash them with a cain that we call KOBOKO. Getting the lashes made me think: ‘should I skip my morning

Book Smart

I was four years old and a very independent child. It was after dinner and I needed a band aid for a cut I had received earlier. I had remembered the other day I had found the band aids on the top shelf of tall book shelf in my room. Walking up to my room, my mom asked what I needed. I told her that I needed a band aid for my cut and she told me that they were in her bathroom. I knew she was wrong. Absolutely, 100 percent wrong, I knew I had seen them on the top self of my book shelf. They were there and couldn’t be anywhere else. I got to my book shelf and stared up at the top self. The band aids were up there and I would have to scale the tall white mountain filled with all my favorite books. I put my small foot on the second shelf and began the ascent. I got both feet on the second shelf and then worked my way up to the third shelf and so on until both of my feet were on the fourth shelf. I looked up to the top of

The Bees Came Back to Bite Me

I used to catch bees in a manner that would have horrified Pol Pot. Stick in hand, I would march up to any available honeybee (blissfully unaware) and give it a solid whack with the weapon. At this point the bee would do one of three things: A. Sustain injuries (I refuse to accept liability) B. Die or C. Fly away because I missed it completely. If I injured the bee (or at least stunned it enough that it was not able to fly), I would grab it by its back and plop it into a container of my choice. From that point I would generally subject it to a number of tortures: shaking, poking, or even drowning. I considered myself somewhat of a bee hunter extraordinaire; I knew the proper amount of force to knock them out, and I knew the clover fields where they frequented well. To be fair, my activities were not exactly humanitarian in nature, but I was a young kid, and during the long, hot, dull summer days, any sort of entertainment was welcomed as a godsend. Up until a particularly unparticular July day, I went about my genocidal business without consequences. That was the

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