Tag Archives: schools

Bringing Music Back to the Kids Through High School Nation

89d94678302311e39d8022000a1fa9ec_7Imagine you’re back in high school trying to make it through 3rd period history without falling asleep. How awesome would it be if a giant truck rolled into the parking lot and unloaded all the makings of a music festival onto the front lawn? That’s what High School Nation, a non-profit organization that works to promote and fund music and art programs in schools, is doing for high school and middle school students around the country. By bringing live music to campus and giving kids a free concert with the help of generous sponsors, High School Nation hopes to inspire students to pick an instrument and express themselves in creative ways.

Intent recently chatted with lead singer of the band STAMPS – who are currently on their third HSN tour – Ren Patrick about the organization, how they got involved and what it means to her to make sure music programs and the arts stay alive in public schools.

Intent: What is High School Nation and how did STAMPS get involved? 

Ren: High School Nation is an organization that is promoting arts and music in schools all across the country. It’s really cool and important to us because I was so involved in choir growing up, since middle school. Basically, it’s a charity tour with a ton of sponsors – like Ernie Ball, Guitar Center, and Monster – all of those donate their products and money. All of that is given to each school.

We got involved with that through the person that created High School Nation. His name is Jimmy Cantillon. We went on tour with his brother who is in a  band called Tommy and the High Pilots. They heard our music and said “Wow, you guys would be great for this demographic because it’s all – it’s touring high schools all across the country.” It’s just really cool organization.

 Intent: What is a typical day on an HSN tour like when you get to the school? 

Ren: It’s basically a festival type thing. you go in and there’s a tent all set up. There’s an Ernie Ball stage – which is what they use at Warped Tour. All the sponsors have their own thing they are representing. All the kids come out and we play a show. It’s basically a crazy, madness sea of children and it’s amazing.

Intent: What do you guys think is your favorite part of performing for HSN? 

Ren: Sometimes at the show you can really connect to a kid. They’ll come up to you afterwards [or] they’ll be hanging around the merch table. They get really real with you, and say something that’s really hard for them to say. Sometimes they will come up to us and confess their depression or that the cut themselves or they’ve been having a terrible week, but [then] they say, “You guys just made my week,” or “Now I have a new favorite band and something to look forward to.” It breaks my heart but it makes me really happy that we can make them happy. To be able to make their day in any way is really special to us.

Intent: What difference do you think it makes when kids are exposed to the arts early on? 

Ren: I think it makes a huge difference. There are so many talented kids that have no idea they are talented yet. For a lot of people it takes something like band or choir or orchestra to realize what they are good at. You won’t know you’re good at guitar unless you start playing guitar. They have so much potential and it’s sad to see a talent like that go to waste. It would be sad to see programs like that disappear.

Photo credit: High School Nation snapwidget


High School Nation continues it’s fall Tour at the following cities

Oct. 9 – Newark, NJ
Oct. 10 – Trention, NJ
Oct. 11 – Atlantic City, NJ
Oct. 14 – Baltimore, MD
Oct. 15 – Washington, DC
Oct. 16 – Virginia Beach, VA
Oct. 17 – Raleigh, NC
Oct. 18 – Charlotte, NC

STAMPS was recently recognized as a BMI indie spotlight artist. They have a self-titled EP which you can listen to on their website. They are currently in the process of recording a follow-up and will continue producing a new record at the end of the High School Nation tour so stay tuned for that!

Fragrance Free: 10 Ways to Protect Yourself from Toxic Scents

Stinky, sweet smelling air fresheners, cologne, body sprays, and scented shampoo are made with synthetic fragrances, and they’re bad for your health…especially children and pregnant women. These factory-made fragrances contain phthalates, which are chemicals that can cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects and reproductive problems.

I tell my clients not to buy artificially scented products for their home or office because they can also trigger migraine headaches, allergies and asthma attacks. A recent Institute of Medicine study sponsored by the EPA put fragrances in the same category as second hand smoke as a trigger for asthma in school-age children. Also, in homes where aerosol sprays and air fresheners were used frequently, studies found that mothers experienced 25% more headaches, and infants younger than 6 months old had 30% more ear infections.

Scented disinfectants and air fresheners are showing up everywhere! I now call ahead and request no air fresheners in rental cars and at hotels, just like asking for a non-smoking car or room. I ask my groomer not to use fragrance when she washes my dog. But it’s hard when you work at a school or non-service oriented business because most people think the person who is sensitive to fragrance is just plain weird. I know a chemically sensitive woman who was told to attend staff meetings by using Skype on her computer, so her co-workers wouldn’t have to give up using cologne or perfume. “They think it’s all in my head,” she said.

Even the mall isn’t a safe haven. The clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch sprays its signature fragrance Fierce inside as well as outside, so people are unknowingly being exposed to harmful chemicals by simply walking by the store. One environmental group,Teens Turning Green, held protests in San Francisco and New York demanding that the spraying stop. Their effort is supported by more than two dozen groups, including theCampaign for Safe Cosmetics, which revealed that A&F’s Fierce contains 11 secret chemicals that are not listed on the label.

When you see the word “fragrance” in an ingredient list, you can assume it’s all synthetic—and not a blend of natural flower extracts. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reports that “95% of the ingredients used to create fragrances today are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum, including benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and many other known toxins and sensitizers.” According to the EWG, there are potentially hundreds of chemicals in a single product’s secret fragrance mixture.

Be forewarned: Fragrances can contain neurotoxins and are among the top 5 allergens in the world.

Ten powerful ways to protect yourself from toxic synthetic fragrances:

  1. Avoid air fresheners. They are made with synthetic fragrances, containing phthalates.
  2. Watch for any product that lists “fragrance” or “parfum” on the label — these are FDA-approved catch-all words synonymous with hidden phthalates.
  3. Products that claim to be “fragrance free” or “unscented” could contain masking agents that give off a neutral odor, so it is best if the word “fragrance” does not appear on the label at all.
  4. Look for scents that are naturally derived or are plant-based or labeled as 100% essential oils. These are not the same thing as fragrance oils which are artificially created and contain synthetic chemicals.
  5. If a product says “Made with…” it can mean as little as 1 percent of the ingredients in the bottle.
  6. For scented candles, try those made from soy or beeswax, and make sure their fragrance is made from 100% essential oils.
  7. To clear the air use a non-aerosol citrus spray containing only citrus peel extracts, which are effective at dissolving airborne odors, instead of scented aerosol sprays, liquids that emit a continuous scent, or solid air fresheners.
  8. Labels that claim a product is “natural” or “biodegradable” do not mean that it is necessarily free of synthetic fragrances or other chemicals
  9. Certified Organic products do not contain synthetic fragrances.
  10. Make requests at hotels, car rental companies, dog groomers, schools, and offices to not use scented cleaning products.

Beth Greer, Super Natural Mom®, radio talk show host, former President of The Learning Annex, Certified Build It Green healthy home makeover specialist, eliminated a sizable tumor in her chest without drugs or surgery. She’s author of the bestseller, Super Natural Home, endorsed by Deepak Chopra, Ralph Nader, Peter Coyote, etc. She’s leading a movement of awareness and responsibility about healthy home environments and informs and inspires people to transform their homes into safe havens. Beth consults for residential and commercial clients nationwide.

Students Know What Makes a Good School (VIDEO)

 Urban Academy, located in Midtown Manhattan is a public school. As their tag line says, it’s a small school with big ideas.

The building is old, but feels like home with comfy albeit old couches and cozy student gathering places. The teachers skip teaching to the test in order to engage students in genuine inquiry based learning that challenges their thinking. Many of the students failed at other large, urban public schools, and now find success at Urban Academy. 

Some of the students travel over an hour each way every day from as far as the Brooklyn public housing projects to attend Urban Academy. Students at Urban love their school, take pride in their education and want to succeed. The model at Urban can be replicated without pouring millions and millions of dollars into a fancy new environment — although these students deserve as much. What is so special about Urban Academy? Listen to the students speak in their own words. What do you think makes a great school? 


Photo: CC Flickr//Dean Terry

Do Something about Bullying: Stop it

Racial bullying, ethnic bullying, homo-phobic bullying, cyber-bullying, and more. It’s all the RAGE, literally and all of it is entirely despicable and depressing. 

I’m not here to tell you something you don’t already know, that bullying of any kind of is not tolerable and sadly can end in absolute catastrophe if not identified and acted upon.  Bullying is weak and pitiful and most often the symptom of a deeper sense of inadequacy and weakness in he or she who is the perpetrator of the crime. In fact, it almost makes you feel bad for the bully.


We need to go past slogans and anthems and clubs and groups pledging solidarity to one another that while great at bringing attention to an issue that has long plagued playgrounds and schools, offer little in the way of teaching creative conflict resolution that not only roots out the deeper causes of the problem but nurtures an actual way to resolve them.

The truth is that often in schools, even our teachers haven’t been properly trained on how to stop bullying. As a result, because they don’t know what to do and don’t have proper support from their administrations, many of them actually choose to look the other way. The results, as we have sadly seen in recent weeks, can be catastrophic. Ask any bullied kid and he/she will tell you that an untrained teacher can make it much much worse. You probably have friends who are teachers, ask them how many training hours they have had on how exactly to respond to antigay harassment.

For the last few years, I have supported an organization that is in the trenches on this issue and has had amazing success, but needs more support to continue their important work. Encompass has been very effective in preparing teachers and administrators on how to identify, confront, and resolve conflict and bullying in classrooms in particular. The sad reality of our economy today is that even schools and administrators with the best of intentions simply don’t have the resources to succeed on their own. They desperately need our help. The good news: we can help!

Through 10/21 GlobaGiving is matching funds for this program only (no administrative fees or overhead, all monies go right to this program only. Here’s the link


to learn more and contribute.


Don’t just take my word that what Encompass does actually works, check out the stats:


98% of teachers found Creating Bias-Free Classrooms an effective way to learn new teacher strategies for challenging homophobia

94% of teachers found creating Bias-Free Classrooms helpful in their role as educators

97% of teachers found Creating Bias-Free Classrooms an engaging way to learn about homophobia in the classroom

97% of teachers recommend Creating Bias-Free Classrooms to other educators


97% of administrators felt Creating Bias-Free Classrooms is relevant to their school/district

98% of administrators found creating Bias-Free Classrooms helpful in their role as educators

100% of administrators found Creating Bias-Free Classrooms engaging way to learn about homophobia in the classroom

97% of administrators believe Creating Bias-Free Classrooms would benefit their school or district

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / JSFauxtaugraphy

Back to School Tips for Parents

 Although most of the country is still sweltering in the throes of summer heat, young people across the nation are thinking about new school supplies and what to wear on that anticipated first day of classes.

A new year means a new start and here are some strengths tips that will make the transition back to school easier for you and your child.


Start the year off right by getting to know your child’s teachers. One way to begin to foster positive relationships with teachers is to sit down with your elementary or middle school child and together write your teachers a letter of introduction. In this letter you can include personal information about your family, your child and your hopes for the school year. For example, you may wish to introduce yourself with an anecdote about your most memorable learning experience. Follow this up with a few lines about your greatest hopes for your child’s school year. Introduce your sons or daughters to the teacher by explaining little known facts such as how you chose your child’s name or their favorite books, colors or funniest memory. Do this with your child, so the introduction includes both your voices. By offering little known facts in this manner, the teacher will get to know you and your child in a more a personal way from the start and you will signal that you desire a positive relationship.

Let the teacher know your child’s strengths. List two or three things that your child loves to do and ask the teacher to consider this when interacting with your child. Is your child organized? Talkative? Inquisitive? Every child has strengths they bring to the classroom. When you alert these to the teacher from the get-go, your child and the teacher have a foundation to build on.

Finish your letter by inviting the teacher to write back. Ask the teacher similar questions: what is your favorite book? What was your best learning experience? When did you know you wanted to become a teacher? It is even better if you have the time to have this conversation in person. However, teachers are extremely busy at the start of the year and might welcome the letter instead. Teachers also like to save things about their students and chances are a letter of this kind will become a cherished part of a teacher’s memory folder.


It is estimated that children spend more than 75 percent of their time in school focused on social interactions. More often than not, the quality of your child’s friendships will be a significant influence in their success in school. You can’t choose your child’s friends, but there are several things you can do to help. Children function best socially when they are open to diversity in their relationships. The idea of a BFF (best friend forever) is an attractive and alluring idea that is often a highway to unhappiness. Because conflict is an inevitable part of new relationships, those children who limit their relationships by declaring BFFs too soon, or latching onto a clique are often isolated as soon as the conflicts occur.

Before school begins, sit with your child and make a list of their strengths. List everything they feel energized by whether it is a sport, a certain subject or an activity such as collecting coins or stickers. Encourage your child to find a different person who shares each one of the strengths. When young people are associated with others around shared interests, there is more opportunity for uninhibited self-expression. The focus of the relationships becomes less about popularity and more about sharing interests. Remind your child often of the importance of connecting with different kinds of children, even if they don’t consider them friends.


Start the year off right by preparing the environment for home study. All children do not study in the same way. You can help your child by determining in advance where and when your child will study at home. Some people can study in the bedroom while others are more focused at the dining room table. Some people can concentrate with music, while others prefer silence. Room temperature can play a part in a child’s ability to focus. Is your child someone who likes it cool or warm? Does the study space accommodate this? Don’t assume that the way you study is the same as your child. Each person learns in a different way.

How do you get your child to focus on homework and not on social networking or computer games? Hopefully the homework they bring home will be engaging, active and involve others but you can’t count on that. Making deals or contracts about computer use in relationship to studying or homework can be effective. Rather than disallowing all computer use until the homework is finished, try breaking the study time up between school tasks and free time. Agree that a half hour of study may be followed by a half hour of computer or television. When you make deals and not only demands, young people tend to be more cooperative.


Listen carefully to your child. Adults have a tendency to want to give advice rather than listen to a child’s experience. If you can do one thing to foster your children’s successes it will be to listen to their experiences. Rather than asking your child what he learned in school that day, ask him to tell you a story of the funniest thing that happened, what surprised him most or to describe the best interaction with someone. The quality of the questions parents ask their children will determine the level of response. Young people tend to open up when they believe adults are genuinely interested in their experiences. Don’t judge what your child tells you. Instead, follow up with more questions and comments as to what they said. Listen for your child’s uniqueness and individual experience with learning and school. When these interactions become regularly integrated into your daily routine, your child will see you are truly invested in his or her learning rather than simply wanting them to get good grades. Good grades are never as important as true engagement in learning.


The more you seek out what is unique about your child and begin to see these individual qualities as strengths to be shared, the more successful your child will be socially and in school. If you begin the year on a proactive note, showing your child and your child’s teachers that you are part of the learning relationship– then the chances increase for your child’s success in school.


New Session Begins : Classroom Management Tips

For new as well experienced teachers always in a plan how to manage class. Especially in new session when teacher take charge of new students. Here the point is how to manage class to their best. Classroom management has always been the number one goal as to how your class will go for the year.  Sometimes new teachers are not quite sure about what to do to get their classroom under control.  Experienced teachers just need some new tips or strategies to use. Know the name of each student.  Being able to call on a student by name will cut down on discipline issues. This is very important from view point of classroom management. Always walk around the class to monitor student progress and keep a watchful eye on talkers.

Apart from these, make the students who are talkative leaders in the room. So that you can pass different tasks to these students that bring sense of responsibility in these students, such as collecting calculators or erasing the boards. Do not call parents in the beginning as it proves negative some times. Or any case if you need to call parents, be sure that do not speak all the negatives about student, encourage / stimulate student to study more or to work hard, in this case sometimes student starts working hard and put more efforts on his or her studies. Make environment more challenging it brings sense of new research and more learning when students are free and have no work. 

Always have something for the student to do when he/she finishes early. Students could go to the computer in the room. And always makes them to surf different studies websites to learn more and whats new in the world. Always try to resolve the little issues in class so they do not turn into bigger issues. Do not pass these types of issues to top management as it creates frustration in the mind of students. Students who show bad behavior in your class room may not show it in other classes or do not scold in front of other students. Make them meet after school timing and address their problems and try them to understand why discipline is necessary in the class room. Be fair to all students. If you tell one student no, then you must tell the rest no also.  Students know when teachers are being unfair and will let you know.


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