School Breakfast Challenge

In a recent contest, Philadelphia's Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, a middle school, beat out 900 other Pennsylvania schools in the so-called School Breakfast Challenge.


The school on East Courtland Street in North Philadelphia achieved the largest increase in breakfast participation in the state, improving from 29 percent of students in October 2013 to an average of 77 percent during January through March of this year.


"I guess it was a success," was principal Michael Reid's low-key assessment. The School District of Philadelphia's food services division will receive $3,000 on Feltonville's behalf in a ceremony at the school Friday morning.


The inaugural challenge was launched by the state Department of Education in conjunction with several nonprofit partners, including the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger and Public Citizens for Children and Youth.


School breakfast, like school lunch, is a federally funded program aimed at low-income students - though all Philadelphia School District students are eligible for free breakfasts regardless of income.


"So many schools stepped up because we know that school breakfast has such positive impacts on student health," said Julie Zaebst, policy manager for the coalition. "Schools report fewer discipline problems, improved concentration, and fewer students tardy when children eat breakfast."


At Feltonville, Stephanie DiFrancesco, the dean of students, said breakfast is making a difference.

"The eighth graders, who don't eat lunch until 1 p.m., seem more focused and aren't feeling faint, like many used to before eating breakfast," she said.   >> READ MORE  

Art School Aims To Bring Love Of Comics To San Diego Year-Round

San Diego is famous for Comic-Con, the celebration each July of comic book and geek culture, but the rest of the year the city's vibrant comic book scene goes virtually underground.


Alonso Nu�ez is busy trying to change all that, a panel at a time. Comic book art is one of the great loves of his life, a love that he hopes to pass along to others.


"I grew up loving comics," said Nu�ez, 33. "I got my bachelor's of fine arts in comic book illustration from the School of Visual Arts." His diploma the New York university hangs on a wall at Little Fish Comic Studio, where he teaches all levels of comic book and manga art to students of all ages.


The school is almost hidden on a leafy tree-lined street in Ocean Beach. Inside, the place is lined with bookshelves and chalkboards, and there is art on every wall. The restroom is plastered, floor to ceiling, with comic strips.


Little Fish is the only place in San Diego that teaches exclusively comic book and manga art. Nu�ez got the idea after mentoring an after-school program at High Tech High in Chula Vista.

"I had so much fun doing it that I decided, you know, I think this needs to be a full-time thing," he said. He and co-founder Patrick Yurick opened Little Fish in 2012, and since then he has been the school's year-round instructor.    >>READ MORE 

Low-Performing Detroit Middle School Eliminates Grade Levels, Goes Blended

"I'm a level 11 in math, and a level 9 in English, but I'm trying really hard to move up," I heard from a student who I believed to be a 5th grader. Huh?


In July 2013, Matchbook Learning, a national K-12 school turnaround nonprofit, partnered with Burns to bring up scores and graduation rates by using a student-centered learning approach. And one major facet of that? Individualized learning that brought an end to K-8 grade levels in mathematics and English language arts.



It's a tough situation: a 2013 NAEP report shows that urban students in Detroit performed the worst out of 24 U.S. cities on the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), and within that Detroit community is Burns Elementary-Middle School. According to the school's teachers and administrators, Burns has traditionally been known as a low-performing school in Detroit, with a history of low enrollment, low scores, and violent behavior. Burns currently serves 482 students, and all of them qualify for free or reduced lunch.


Back in 2009, the state of Michigan passed a district takeover in Detroit (similar to the TN ASD). The reform turned a number of Detroit's lowest-performing schools--the bottom 5% in academic achievement--into The Education Achievement Authority (EAA), a public district that currently operates 12 schools in Detroit, including Burns. However, despite high hopes and an extended school year, Burns continued to flounder for the next four years.   


When it comes to speedy Internet access in schools, which technology advocates say will be critical to ensuring that American students stay competitive globally, Philadelphia is way ahead of many districts across the country.

In the Obama administration's new ConnectED initiative, an effort to redirect $2 billion in federal funding to put high-speed broadband in all American schools, the goal is for schools to have Internet speeds of at least 1 gigabit per second by 2017. Philadelphia schools already have 2 gigabits, and will have 20 in 18 months, says Melanie Harris, the district's chief information officer. "We call it laying the highway," she said. "We've put our schools in a great position."


It's a major accomplishment, but one that also highlights the difficulties of bringing technology to the nation's neediest kids. When President Obama announced the ConnectED plan last year, he said "there's no reason we can't do all this."

Yet in Philadelphia, where 87 percent of students are economically disadvantaged and school resources are scarce, the city's schools still have far to travel before they reach the president's goal "that virtually every child in America's classrooms has access to the fastest Internet and the most cutting-edge learning tools."


The speedy Internet does students and teachers little good in many Philadelphia schools. The district paid for its Internet upgrades using the federal e-rate program, a subsidy that is key to achieving the president's goal and that can only be used for networking and telecommunications - not to buy the actual devices teachers and students use to go online. (The ConnectED initiative will not allocate new government funds, but companies recently donated $750 million in goods and services to the cause.)   >> READ MORE 


M. H. West & Co., Inc.  has worked closely with Norfolk Public Schools over the years, so  we were happy to attend the Norfolk Education Foundation's charity golf tournament at Cypress Point Country Club for the second year in a row. The event brings together many of the top business executives and community leaders whose generosity supports Norfolk Public Schools.


Team WEST pictured above included (left to right): Brennan West, Austin Mill, Justin House, Julian House and Joe Armstrong. Marilyn West, CEO and Chair of M. H. West & Co., Inc. also attended the event, but she was wise enough to stay out of the heat and enjoy her time in the air-conditioned clubhouse!


* Using Math for Sports, Cooking & Entrepreneurship
* Creating Stories Through Scrabble
* Promoting Image through Look Books, Fashion Shows and the Movies
* Connecting with the Neighborhood through Community Service and Volunteerism
* Sharpening Writing Skills through Journal Writing about Guest Speakers and Site Visits
* Using Planning Principles to Support the SEP Graduation Ceremony and Celebration


Contact the Summer Enrichment Program Team (Marilyn West, Julian House & Justin House) for more information:  804.782.1938, 888.937.8904, or
M. H. West & Co., Inc.'s Young Entrepreneur Program has won the Norfolk Education Foundation's Collaborative Award. The award was presented at their 7th Annual Together In Education Awards Gala & Silent Auction.

M. H. West & Co., Inc. has designed its Young Entrepreneur Program with this in mind. The Young Entrepreneur Program helps youth experience the journey felt by individuals in becoming business owners and in the process pick up skills and guidance that they can use inside and outside of the classroom.


The program ties to standards of learning of the state or jurisdiction where the program is implemented. The program can be offered as an enrichment program over several weeks or an extended period to elementary, middle and high school students. Discussions matter and the program revolves around small and large group participation, individual study, internet research, media presentations, roleplaying and site visits.


1. Laying the Groundwork
2. Turning Ideas into Action
3. Preparing the Business Plan
4. Opening the Business
5. Evaluating Progress

* Elementary, Middle and High School Students
* Girls and Boys Club Members
* After School Students
* Summer Camp Participants
* Youth Reentry Citizens
* Administrative, Teaching & Support Staff

* On-Site Program Delivery
* Technical Assistance for Program Development
* Professional Development for Program Staff

Read More About the Young Entrepreneur Program

If you are interested in learning more about the Young Entrepreneurs Club for your school or organization, please contact Marilyn West at 804.782.1938 or
Program provides STEM Education to Under-served Students

A competition for students of the In Search of Genius program will take place today June 11, at North Park University in Chicago.


Founded by Riverwoods resident Gerry Walanka, the ISOG program teaches science, technology, engineering and math to third- through fifth-graders at under-served schools throughout the Chicago area.


At the event, hundreds of students will compete and demonstrate what they learned during the school year in the hands-on and inquiry-based program, which pairs mentors with educator. Students will be asked to take on challenges in areas of ecology, electricity and physics and earn science-related prizes.  >>READ MORE 

The school year is coming to an end, but the commitment to ensuring America's students have meals that are healthy, delicious and affordable is a year-round effort.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education hosted the finalists of Cooking Up Change, a culinary competition sponsored by the Healthy Schools Campaign, a non-profit Chicago organization. Ten teams presented dishes for evaluation to a panel of judges from the fields of education, nutrition and government. The meals were required to be between 750-850 calories and needed to cost around one dollar per meal, showing the possibility of executing nutrition, taste, and low budgets.

White House Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy Sam Kass stopped by to commend the young chefs who had traveled across the country.

"I think there's a real effort in undermining rolling back standards," said Kass. "We need to make sure we're putting kids and science first and let nutritionists determine standards, not politicians."  >>READ MORE 
At the White House Science Fair, Chicago Public Schools today was awarded a competitive grant through the US2020 City Competition, which challenged cities and school districts to develop innovative models for increasing the number of STEM professionals mentoring students and increase STEM opportunities for girls, minority students and children from low-income families. CPS students have been participating in the White House Science Fair.

"A high quality STEM education opens the door of opportunity for our students to explore new interests, build new technology, and discover scientific breakthroughs that will define the future of our City," Mayor Emanuel said. "Our goal as a City is for every child to be 100% college ready and 100% college bound, and this grant is part of our larger efforts to prepare our children to be the next leaders in the 21st century highly-specialized, technical economy."  >>READ MORE 



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

Betty and Bob brought back blue balloons from the big bazaar.

Cedar shingles should be shaved and saved.

Draw drowsy ducks and drakes.

Friendly Frank flips fine flapjacks. 
"Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere."
- Chinese Proverb 
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