April 2009 Archives

School nurses have been hit by layoffs as hard as anyone working in education, but the quick-thinking and arguably heroic actions of one nurse may end up saving a few others their jobs. Mary Pappas, the nurse at the 2,700-student St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, New York, is credited with detecting the first case of swine flu in New York State, according to The New York Times. Early Thursday morning, a handful of students came by her office with flu symptoms, and by 10 a.m. dozens were streaming in with sore throats and fevers. She recalls thinking, "Wow,...


While New Hampshire Teacher of the Year candidate Christina Hamilton may have dodged layoffs (despite a very close call), the Teacher of the Year award recipient at a California high school is not likely to be as lucky, according to the Orange County Register. The 56-year-old veteran English teacher Phil Hohensee, known for his engaging yet tough teaching style, was beckoned out of his 45-day-old retirement in 2007 to rejoin the staff at Cypress High School in Anaheim, Calif. "The guy is just a phenomenal teacher," said Cypress High principal Ben Carpenter. "He teaches from bell to bell." "He'll push ...


In an attempt to motivate students for standardized testing, administrators at Laguna Creek High School in Sacramento, Calif. held racially segregated pep rallies, reports the Sacramento Bee. The "Heritage Assemblies" were designed to aid teachers in talking about test scores, which are measured in racial subsets, without making any one group feel singled out. Students could attend any of the five rallies but the rooms were allocated by race: African Americans in the gym, Latinos in the multipurpose room, Pacific Islanders in the theater, and so on. "Is it racist? I don't believe it is," said Laguna Creek principal Doug ...


A 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy who wanted to play school managed to order a batch of the state’s standardized assessment tests.


Last week, New Hampshire 8th grade teacher Christina Hamilton was nominated for state Teacher of the Year. Unfortunately, she was also laid off by her school. Hamilton was notified on April 10th that her position, along with six others at Hampton Academy, would be eliminated due to the school’s proposed change from the middle school to junior high model, reports Seacoastonline.com. On Monday, she was one of 35 nominees honored at a Teacher of the Year ceremony held by the New Hampshire Department of Education. Hamilton was actually not on the initial list of cuts at Hampton. However, ...


A heart-wrenching piece in the New York Times tells the story of 18-year-old Tiffany Clay from Newark, Ohio, a straight-A student and gifted violinist whose ambitions are being stymied by the dreary economy. As Clay’s high school music teacher explains in the article’s accompanying video, "Tiffany is very, very talented, incredibly smart. If I could uproot her and put her somewhere else, she’d probably be going to Harvard or Yale on a full scholarship." As it is, Clay, who moved out of the house at age 16 due to family conflicts and now shares an apartment with ...


Here’s an interesting class project: Rebecca Chapman’s 4th grade students in Texas recently sent letters of support that brought tears to the eyes of AIG employees in Connecticut and London, according to The Washington Post. Yup, the same AIG that incurred global scorn recently for dolling out millions in bonuses after receiving a government bailout. Chapman gives her students daily economics lessons. Last month, she used the populist outrage over the AIG bonuses as a teachable moment. First she asked her students to pretend they were the tax payers funding the bailouts. They got riled up. Then she ...


A new Vanderbilt University study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, finds that students learn best when taught the concepts behind math problems rather than specific procedures on how to solve them, reports ScienceDaily. "When you just show [students] how to do the problem they can solve it, but not necessarily understand what it is about. With conceptual instruction, they are able to come up with the procedure on their own," said Percival Matthews, Peabody doctoral candidate and co-author of the study. In math classes now, many teachers demonstrate solving a problem and then have students practice similar ...


It’s getting harder and harder to fail in Texas. According to The Dallas Morning News, a growing number of Texas school districts are prohibiting teachers from giving grades lower than a 50, 60, and sometimes even a 70. This prompted state legislators to create a bill that, if passed, would prohibit the practice of giving minimum grades to failing students. Republican Senator Jane Nelson, a former teacher who introduced the bill, said the practice of putting a minimum on student grades encourages students to “game” the system. "Kids are smart and can figure it out," she said. "A student ...


Schools across the country have stepped up campaigns against violence and bullying by incorporating lessons about empathy into their curricula, reports the New York Times. In Scarsdale, an affluent and high-achieving school district in New York, for example, students discuss qualities of empathy in the relationships among Shakespearean characters and assess local wheelchair access to relate to people with physical disabilities. "As a school, we’ve done a lot of work with human rights," said Michael McDermott, the principal at Scarsdale Middle School. "But you can’t have kids saving Darfur and isolating a peer in the lunchroom. It all ...


Teach for America is coming to Beantown—and the Boston Teachers Union isn’t happy about it, reports The Boston Globe. With layoffs of current teachers pending, the union is objecting to the placement of 20 new teachers from the esteemed recruitment program, which puts high-achieving recent college graduates into public school classrooms after five weeks of intensive training. The union's president, Richard Stutman, sent a letter to TFA saying, "We already have hundreds of good, 'surplus' teachers . . . By coming here, you will only make matters worse." However, school officials claim they will put the recruits into high-needs slots that ...


The Dallas Independent School District is trying desperately to get its best teachers into its worst classrooms, according to The Dallas Morning News. In 2007, the district offered teachers $6,000 to make the move. The incentive only culled about 65 teachers, so this year they’re offering $10,000. There is no official count of how many teachers have taken the money this year, but the Morning News reports that “a review of district staffing records shows that the number probably was not significantly higher.” According to Dallas teachers’ union representative Dale Kaiser, teachers’ reluctance to move isn’t ...


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