Sesame Street Explores New Frontiers in Education
In the 1960s, creating educational programming for children on television was innovative. Today there are more channels than ever before, and more children first meet Big Bird and other Sesame Street friends on phones and tablets. At the same time, children's educational needs continue to grow, from obesity to autism, and parent deployment to bullying. Leaders at Sesame Workshop, the parent of Sesame Street, are exploring creative methods of reaching out, educating, and helping children thrive.

Although its programming began on television, Sesame Workshop quickly realized the medium was just the beginning. Sesame Workshop developed websites, cable shows and networks, and 16 million "outreach kits" and events that reach hundreds of thousands of children and their parents through partnerships with over 3000 organizations. With a budget of $104 million, though, more work is needed to fulfill its mission of helping kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.

Sesame Workshop recently announced the creation of Sesame Ventures, a partnership with a venture capital firm called Collaborative Ventures, and the subsequent creation of a new fund, Collab + Sesame. The $10 million fund will invest in startups developed by corporations and other for-profit organizations in six broad areas: entertainment and media, food, health and wellness, family development, education tools, and social and emotional development.   >>READ MORE
Teachers Win "Curious Classroom" Competition With Innovative Resources and Lessons
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) has announced the winners of its national "Curious Classroom" competition, where it rewards educators for having innovative classroom practices.
Winners were submitted after submitting a three-minute inspirational video "featuring an innovative resource, tool or lesson they created to engage and motivate students."

"The HMH Curious Classroom first place honor goes to Heather Francis, an eighth grade mathematics teacher at Granite Park Junior High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. Francis submitted two dance activity resources - Dance Dance Evolution and The Distributive Choreography Project - that help students explore core mathematic principles like rounding and distributive properties. Both resources teach students about key math concepts through dance and challenge them to think outside of the box," said HMH in a statement.
Other winnings included Matthew DiGioia and Sherry Mitchell from Harry M. Bailey Middle School in West Haven, CT who were recognized for their collaboration in helping students merge science and language arts curriculum.

They were rewarded "for their collaborative and engaging interdisciplinary mini-unit based on Andy Weir's novel, "The Martian," which helps students learn about the science behind realistic fiction. DiGioia and Mitchell's collaborative resource highlights Language Arts and Science lessons, but can be easily modified and applied across the curriculum.   >>READ MORE
More schools plant seeds of learning
plant watering
Twice a week at Malcom Elementary School in Laguna Niguel, children like Heather Smith can't wait to skip their lunchtime recess.

Instead of a game of four square or basketball on the playground, they stream into their school's garden, push up their sleeves and get to work.

On this Thursday in late fall, that work is thinning and transplanting lettuce seedlings and planting carrot and radish seeds in the ground. Some kids scurry around on a "botany scavenger hunt," using magnifying glasses to examine leaves' shapes and characteristics.

Malcom Elementary was one of the first schools to participate in the Grow Your Own! organic garden program through the nonprofit Ecology Center ( in San Juan Capistrano.

Since 2012, the Grow Your Own! program has expanded to serve 30 area schools, and now receives more applications than it can accept. The Ecology Center consults with schools about garden design and provides guidance about what to plant. The organization also offers curriculum development and ongoing training for teachers and garden volunteers.

"I like being in nature," said Heather, a fourth-grade student at Malcom. "I just like being in the garden. It's important for kids to learn how things grow and how they change. A book is interesting, but if you can read and see it in person, it's better."  >> READ MORE
Innovative educational program puts high school students on the right track for college
As first-generation college applicants begin the road to higher education, they encounter many barriers to completing college.
"Our greatest areas of need moving forward are to ensure students are getting quality summer engagement and are able to cover financial gaps once in college," said Mike Woodward, Site Director of College Track New Orleans (CTNO).

CTNO helps to guide high school students from underserved communities to college graduation by providing academic support, leadership training, financial and college advising, and scholarships.

"For me personally, I attended a summer enrichment program at Stanford University between my junior and senior years of high school; that experience marked a turning point in my educational trajectory. For the first time in my life, I felt as though I belonged in college. There is simply no substitute for setting foot on a college campus."

College Track, with its aim toward addressing some of those challenges students face and helping them achieve success, seems to echo what Woodward said. There are statistics that help back the program's emphasis.

Earning a college degree translates into a brighter future for youths and more financial security. An analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington in 2014 revealed that Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree. That's up from 89 percent from five years earlier and up 85 percent from a decade ago.
Tour black history: Visit sites around Richmond that tell stories from decades of struggle and celebrate moments of triumph
It was 90 years ago this month that historian Carter G. Woodson created the first "Negro History Week," and 40 years ago that President Gerald Ford offered official government recognition of "Black History Month." The choice of February has been questioned ever since, the shortest month being offered to honor a long-oppressed people. But Woodson's choice was sincere, opting for the second week in February to celebrate the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12) and Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14). This year, we're offering our own self-guided tour of black history in Richmond. In several stops, you can get a glimpse of life, from captivity to commerce and from segregation to vindication.

Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church
Where: 14 W. Duvall St.
One of the oldest black churches in Richmond. It was founded in 1867 by John Jasper, a former slave who went on to have a long career in the pulpit. He delivered his "De Sun Do Move" sermon across the South. The church survived the 1950s, when an interstate highway was built through the middle of Jackson Ward, nearly killing the historically black neighborhood. Today, the church is literally perched above the highway, its back door high above the Third Street off-ramp. The church nearly died out by the beginning of this century, but it has surged back to life, and relevance, since the arrival of pastor Tyrone Nelson. The church has a museum of its history, detailing the rise of Jasper, and life in the church ever since.    >>READ MORE 
Tracy Threet treats Trixie Threet to Treats

Ginger Grain Grabs Giant Green Grapes Gently

Bring Bobby Bragg's Big Brown Bag

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)

M. H. West & Co., Inc. now accepts payments through PayPal for your convenience. 
College Steps announced that it has partnered with Norwalk Community College (NCC) as part of a strategic plan to expand its educational model into Connecticut. NCC marks the 7th college with whom College Steps has partnered since 2011. College Steps is a non-profit that supports students living with social, communication, or learning challenges via individualized, college-based learning programs.   >>READ MORE 
Science Fair Makes Learning Fun For Preschoolers
The Goddard School's second annual science fair made learning fun for kids on Thursday, Jan. 28.

Preschoolers got the chance to explore the amazing world of science through activities such as making artificial snow, watching volcanoes erupt and inspecting insect bugs with a magnifying glass. Parents, friends and the community were invited out to join in the fun and take a personal tour of the school.  >>READ MORE 
Fact Sheet: Helping More Americans Complete College: New Proposals For Success
At a time when the economy is changing faster than ever before, real opportunity requires that every American get the postsecondary education and training they need to find a good-paying job. President Obama believes that we must help many more Americans graduate from college. Still, far too many students never complete their degree - only 60 percent of those enrolled in a bachelor's degree program complete their education. Even for those who do complete, at least a third take longer than expected to graduate, forcing them to carry additional costs and leave school with higher debt burdens. The consequences of not completing college are especially severe for students who leave school with debt; borrowers who drop out of college face a three times greater risk of defaulting on their student loans compared with those who graduate.


Success in the Middle Grades Workshop
Feb 8-9, St. Louis, MO

SXSW Education Conference
Mar 7-10, Austin, TX 

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). 
The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals.
The struggles within yourself  - 
the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us  -
  that's where it's at. -  Jesse Owens