Archive for the ‘School’ Category

Service of Nice

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

 

John Wyeth at Harlem Link School

John Wyeth at Harlem Link School

 

Telling someone that their blind date is “nice” was, in the day, code for the man/woman is either ugly, dumb, addicted to some substance or a combination. That was in my salad days.

Over the years, as the literal “nice” applies to increasingly fewer people, the word has come to mean what it should and is positive and precious to me.

Given my appreciation of all things nice, you’ll soon see why I jumped when I read a good friend Deirdre Wyeth’s Facebook post about the school at which her dear husband John had worked and the reason I asked if I might post what they did to remember him. John died last fall, far too soon.

Deirdre wrote on Facebook: “The wonderful people at Harlem Link Charter School, where John worked for almost 10 years, held a celebration this evening in memory of him. There were in-person and video tributes, a song by one of the students, and a buffet based on what he brought for lunch every day: pb&j, wheat thins and grapes in a brown bag.

“They also created a plaque for him [photo below]. And especially wonderful, they announced they will name an award for a graduating student in his honor – and the award is for niceness. How perfect is that? Such a moving and emotional evening. Thanks to all!”

On its website Harlem Link describes itself as a “Pre-K to 5 public charter school that has offered a high quality educational choice to families in Harlem since 2005. Our school attains high levels of academic achievement in a safe, nurturing environment through a well-rounded curriculum.” In another section I read: “We also pay attention to details that too many public schools ignore, such as the consistency with which teachers use language from grade to grade to build a common culture and the quiet tone of our hallways.”

Quiet hallways. Wow. What’s quiet in NYC and with children around?

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Being nice was just one of the wonderful and particular things about John. In addition to writing plays and being a topnotch school administrator, he loved ragtime and being a dad. Of the many children in his life his brilliant, lovely daughter May benefited most from his creativity, composure and his pride in her accomplishments.

The Nice Award caught my attention for another reason. I’ve mentioned before that I was designated “Best Camper” at my overnight camp at aged 8, a concept considered so yesterday in today’s competitive world. The tangible reward was a magnificent, special lollipop—I’d not tasted a more delicious one before nor have I since. I think the recognition was for similar reasons as the John Wyeth Nice Award. I relate and am pleased to see appreciation for such characteristics returning.

We mostly reward celebrity, financial success, physical beauty, the four star restaurant and the people who get all A’s. How many institutions recognize–and honor–the nicest person in the group?

John Wyeth Plaque

Service of Bullying on and off the Political Stage

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Photo: bully and the booger baby blog

Photo: bully and the booger baby blog

While the drastic impact and deadly repercussions of children bullying children is sadly so often in the news–a story in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal advised what to do if your child is a target–bullies of all shapes, sizes and ages have always existed.

My father didn’t speak much about his military service or later war experiences but one of the few stories he shared was about a bully in his basic training squadron. The fellow lost his terrorist status the morning the troops were lined up to receive an injection. He fainted when it was his turn. Amen.

Photo: wikihow.com

Photo: wikihow.com

Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor, professor and author knows something about being bullied. In a September 9 Facebook posting he wrote: “Because I’m very short, I was always bullied as a kid. I discovered that the best defense against bullies was to taunt them into revealing the weaknesses and insecurities that had made them into bullies.”

Photo: National Bullying Hotline

Photo: National Bullying Hotline

He continued, “After watching him for the past year, I’d guess [Donald] Trump’s weakness and insecurities have to do with his not feeling very intelligent, not feeling respected in the circles in which he craves respect, and not feeling he’s the man his father wanted him to be.”

Reich admits to the guess—his degrees and experience are not in the area of psychiatry. However with on-the-job training as a target he goes on to suggest a way to deflate the presidential candidate who flummoxes even the most high profile, experienced news people to silence when confronted with his bombast. Reich wrote: “Trump isn’t basing his candidacy on policies or facts, which the media are trained to probe. Trump is selling alpha-male strength and power. It’s a hoax, of course. Trump is just a garden-variety bully. But the media aren’t trained to expose this kind of hoax. In fact, the more Trump can bulldoze and belittle his interviewers, as well as Hillary Clinton, the more he appears to show strength and power.”

The solution? Reich suggested: “So questions from the media (and comments from Hillary) that provoke him in these areas will, I believe, cause him to expose the sham of his alpha-male strength and power.”

I’m not sure where Reich came up with his guess about Trump’s relationship with his father but the other two insecurities seem to fit. Do you agree? Have you known/worked with/been to school or lived with bullies? How have you dealt with them?

 

Photo: drawception.com

Photo: drawception.com

Service of Internet Love: Security & Swindles

Monday, July 27th, 2015

 

Caveat emptor

 

While a third of couples who have married between 2005 and 2012 have met online, according to a National Academy of Sciences survey funded by eHarmony, Internet love isn’t always lovelier the second or 20th time around. This was made clear by two examples in the recent news.

Caveat Emptor I

I hadn’t heard of Ashley Madison, the online dating site for married people who want to cheat on their spouses and whose slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair,” until I read that its database had been hacked. The hackers warned that they might divulge personal information unless the website, which claims to have 37 million members, is shut down. According to cnn.com, “The hackers called themselves the ‘Impact Team,’ and the potential release includes ‘profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails.’”

Apart from the fertile ground for profitable blackmailing, “The hackers — or hacker, perhaps — appear to be upset over the company’s ‘full delete’ service, which promises to completely erase a user’s profile, and all associated data, for a $19 fee.” The hackers claim that the most important information—names and addresses—are not removed. “Avid Life Media also said that it had hired ‘one of the world’s top IT security teams’ to work on the breach.” Between the leaky “full delete” service and the hacking, I doubt that Ashley Madison members are sleeping well at night.

Caveat Emptor II

Last week Elizabeth Olson wrote in The New York Times about women who were swindled by older couplemen they’d met on Internet dating sites. She was unable to report the total number of people pulled in but noted that according to the Federal Internet Crime Complaint Center in just six months–between last July and December 31–grievances representing $82.3 million were made by almost 6,000 people. In one case history in her story, “Swept Off Her Feet, Then Bilked Out of Thousands,” a woman sent nearly $300,000 to a fellow who claimed to be in Ghana on business and ran into snags. Another didn’t tell her family about the $292,000 she sent to another con-person.

Hacking into a dormant dating profile is how it generally starts, Olson learned from Vermont’s Attorney General office’s Public Protection Division. The fake lover alters age, gender, occupation and quickly asks the target to continue to communicate with them via email, phone or instant message. The swindler creates trust and then a sense of urgency/need of cash.

It’s become such a problem for women mostly in their 50s and 60s that AARP has asked dating sites to up their surveillance for romance cons wrote Olson. Its Fraud Watch Network suggests that users check Google’s “search by image” function to see if the new contact’s photo appears on other dating sites under different names. Google also has romance scam sites on which to confirm suspicious language.  The FBI’s Internal Crime Center also shared clues: Watch for someone who says they love you, asks for money so they can visit and then, if you refuse, reprimands that you don’t love them back; tells you that your “romance is destiny or fate;” or that they are from the US and are going overseas for business or to attend to family.

Given the high profile triumph of hackers are you amazed that so many would voluntarily put such intimate information about themselves—not to speak of their marriages–in such a potentially compromising situation? I know people under 40 who have met their life mates on dating sites and others who are older who haven’t. How might older people safely level the online playing field?  In addition to the Internet, local pub, through work or religious institution, where else might people meet once they’ve left school/college?

The Heartbreak Kid

The Heartbreak Kid

Service of a Mistake You Wish Hadn’t Happened

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

oops 2

My senior year in high school was one of the most stressful of my life. That’s why this mistake caught my attention. Someone in the admissions department of Johns Hopkins sent an email with the subject line, “Embrace the Yes,” to 294 students telling them that they had been accepted when, in fact, they had been rejected.

EraseAccording to coverage in thedailybeast.com, in an article by Jonathan Ernst for Reuters, the college immediately admitted its mistake and apologized. “Admissions decisions days are stressful enough. We very much regret having added to the disappointment felt by a group of very capable and hardworking students, especially ones who were so committed to the idea of attending Johns Hopkins that they applied early decision,” Ernst quoted David Phillips, vice provost for admissions and financial aid at the University.

Mistakes happen. The university did what it could to address the matter and with speed. But oh, gosh! In this discussion I’m not including fatal mistakes by physicians, surgeons or parachute folders. Have you made such an error, been the recipient of one or heard of slip-ups with no happy ending that make you slap your head and exclaim, “Oh no!”

slap head

Service of Equality: Free School Breakfast, Lunch and iPads

Monday, September 9th, 2013

 apple

I want my taxes to cover the breakfast and lunch of children whose parents can’t afford to feed them. Currently in NYC, according to Stan Brooks on 1010 WINS radio, NY:  “The free meals are only available in a quarter of city schools, and only one-third of eligible students are eating them. On Wednesday [August 21], the City Council passed two resolutions by a vote of 42-2, asking the state legislature to take action.”

WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb reported: “‘Currently, only 34 percent of New York City schoolchildren who qualify for free or reduced lunch eat breakfast at school. When compared with other big cities across the country, Newark, for example, at 87.2 percent or Houston at 79.1 percent, our performance in abysmal,’ City Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) said at an education committee hearing on Wednesday.” Lamb quoted Levin as saying because we don’t spend it we return $50 million to Washington. He also wrote that NYC Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn reported that: “Only about 28% of elementary school students, 15% of middle school students and 12% of high school students participate in the school breakfast program.”

healthy breakfastWhile Mayor Bloomberg thinks all the children should have a free breakfast, the Mayor is concerned about overfeeding the some 40 percent of obese NYC children. Wouldn’t this be an opportunity to teach the children about eating healthy food by serving it to them?

However, I think that the children whose parents can afford to pay for breakfast and lunch should do so.

kids using iPadsSimilarly, I have a bone to pick with politicians such as NYC Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn who feel that every child in public school should be given an iPad. It’s happening in LA to help erase the divide between rich and poor. If it’s imperative for every child to own a tablet, there’s nothing wrong with a Nook or a Kindle both of which have access to email and apps, a savings of hundreds of dollars per child.

Should the adults who’d like a tablet and can’t afford even one of the cheaper ones pay taxes for kids to get the luxury version? Won’t there always be a colleague, team member, neighbor or relative who has more goodies than you? Is it up to the government to even up such inequities? Should we not spend tax money to teach kids so they can become the ones who can afford the equivalent of the iPad if they want one rather than giving them a fancy gadget and expect it to do the work?

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