I began visiting Greenville, South Carolina, schools more than two years ago, for our American Futures project. One was the A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School of Engineering, for the tiniest engineers in pre-k through grade five, which I wrote about here. At the time, I heard about plans for a middle school, set to locate adjacent to Clemson University's International Center for Automative Research ( CU-ICAR) campus and research facility.

When we returned to Greenville last week, I paid a visit to the new school, the Phinnize J. Fisher Middle School, named for a former superintendent of Greenville County Schools. Fisher opened in fall 2014 with a class of over 300 sixth-graders. Today, Fisher enrolls sixth- and seventh-graders. Next year, Fisher will have the full complement of students in grades six through eight. Some of the tiny engineers from A.J. Whittenberg-growing up now-attend Fisher. Others go elsewhere. Greenville County schools operate on a "choice" system; essentially, students are assigned to the school in their home district, but they can apply and join the lottery to attend a different one. About 15 percent of Greenville students attend "choice" schools.  >>READ MORE
What a liberal arts education should mean in the 21st century
One of the world's endlessly recurring debates is over the value of a liberal arts education. Recently, the famous Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla weighed in with a post blasting the liberal arts, saying, "Little of the material taught in Liberal Arts programs today is relevant to the future."

Ths follows a familiar line of argument, one that usually results in shouts of "liberal arts provide critical thinking!" or "we need more science classes or we're going to be eaten by China and/or robots!"

But there's one thing that this debate consistently misses: What are we referring to, exactly, when we talk about "liberal arts"? Is there an agreed-upon definition? No, there isn't, actually. In fact, there is a huge, separate debate within the academy about what we mean by liberal arts, and how to teach them. This debate, to me, is the more interesting one, but I think there's an interesting convergence between the two that has not been properly explored, namely: what should a liberal arts education mean in the 21st century?

Here's a starting point: We call them the "liberal arts," because they are supposed to make us free. The idea of the liberal arts is that they represent what a man should know to have a truly free mind. So, then, how should we structure an education that liberates the mind?   >>READ MORE 
Little Ferry students participate in STEM program
The Little Ferry School District held "Tree-Tastic," a family science night event, Feb. 24 for students in kindergarten through second grade as part of an educational series that is run through a partnership with Ramapo College of New Jersey.

The program is part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) initiative developed by the two institutions and serves as a hands-on way for elementary school students to learn about various science topics.
It is headed by Angela Cristini, the assistant vice president of the Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs and a biology professor at Ramapo College, and funded by the Nuckel Family's Better Education Starts Today (BEST) initiative.
According to a press release provided by Cristini, borough resident Donald Nuckel funded a two-year grant for the program through his BEST initiative, and worked with Ramapo College and Little Ferry Superintendent Frank Scarafile to implement it last fall.

The program has Ramapo College educators work with district teachers on a series of age-appropriate projects for children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

"Projects that involve students in solving authentic, real-world problems, while working with others, and building real solutions can increase student interest in STEM and involve integration into other areas of learning," the press release stated. "There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that student involvement in such programs can lead to improved study skills, work habits, and academic performance. Studies indicate that these programs had a positive and statistically significant impact on participants' competencies, including effects in self-confidence and self-esteem, increases in positive social behaviors and increases in achievement test scores."  >>READ MORE
Art Museum a critical resource for arts-deprived schools
As arts education in Philadelphia public schools continues to suffer, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is looking to fill the void by offering a wide array of arts programs, from afterschool clubs to workshops for teachers.

Students don't receive enough exposure to arts without school programs, said Ah-Young Kim, manager of school visits for the museum. "Most students don't visit the museum with their families, so school is a critical resource for that exposure," she said. "We want to inspire kids to be creative and make art."

Kimberly Gavin, a teacher at Overbrook High School, said the museum's education department is a big help for teachers and students. "They have tapped into a new paradigm for education, a new way of thinking," she said. "Not just about art, but about learning as well."

Suzannah Niepold, manager of teacher services at the museum, said the museum's programs are designed to reach each unique part of their audience.

"We want to have a wide selection of programs all working together," she said. "We look at going both broad and deep, so we can actually connect with many different people."

According to the School Superintendents Association, art instruction and music listening wire the brain for successful learning by helping cognitive growth. Community-based efforts and grassroots organizations like the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership and ArtsRising have been working toward restoring art programs in District schools since the budget cuts first started appearing.  >>READ MORE 
Tactics to relieve stress for APs, SATs, and ACTs
Advanced Placement tests, SATs, ACTs, and finals can put immense stress on junior students trying to manage their academics and extracurricular activities. However, there are many tactics that students can use in order to reduce their school related stress, perform well on standardized tests, and balance their schedules.

Eleventh graders prepare for the SAT or ACT, the two college entrance exams required by most, if not all colleges. Most students prepare for these tests by hiring a private tutor or purchasing study books such as Princeton Review or Barron's. Another helpful way to prepare for these tests is to search for old distributed tests on the Internet. This will familiarize students with actual ACT or SAT questions.
"In order to prepare for these tests I do a lot of studying. It helps me relax and I do it until I feel comfortable," said Spencer Stewart ('17).

According to a study by the University of St. Andrews, located in the United Kingdom, the best way to calm nerves and focus is not to panic on the actual test day. The quickest way to reduce anxiety and stress before a test includes taking deep breaths and saying motivational phrases such as "I am calm and relaxed" or "I know I will do fine." >>READ MORE  
Give papa a cup of proper coffee in a copper coffee cup. 

Near an ear, a nearer ear, a nearly eerie ear.

Wunwun was a racehorse, Tutu was one too.
Wunwun won one race, Tutu won one, too.

Build your school's spirit this year with a large, custom display banner. Call M. H. West & Co., Inc. for pricing and size options.    ( 804.782.1938)

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March has been officially designated by NAfME, The National Association for Music Education for the observance of Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSMĀ®), the time of year when music education becomes the focus of schools across the nation.

MIOSM began as a single statewide celebration in 1973, and has grown over the decades to encompass a day, then a week, and then in 1985 to become a month long celebration of school music.
Yale Builds Humanities Outreach Network
Administrators from the Office of New Haven and State Affairs have begun to craft a network knitting together the wide variety of arts and humanities programs for New Haven Public Schools students offered by the University. >>READ MORE 
CCPS Participates in Digital Learning Day
Teachers and students in Caroline County participated in Digital Learning Day on Thursday, Feb. 17, highlighting all the innovative ways the school system is using technology in the classroom.

Digital Learning Day, started nationally in 2012, shows great teaching practice and showcases innovative teachers, leaders and instructional technology programs that are improving student outcomes. The event promotes the effective use of modern day tools afforded to every other industry to improve the learning experience in K-12 public schools. >>READ MORE  


M. H. West & Co., Inc.'s Chair & CEO, Marilyn West discusses current topics of interest every Monday in our free publication, Marilyn's Monday Morning Message (M4). 
Education brings about opportunity,
and in turn inspiration. - Bill Frist