Monday, July 27, 2015

From Teens: Study Resources

Booker T. Washington Magnet School, Tulsa
Extreme applause for the Teen Advisory Board (TAB) at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for not only finding these study resources but also for sharing them. TAB even allow online requests through which BTW students can request a peer tutor in a particular subject. How is that for feeling included?

In addition, the BTW TAB in 2014-15 created Big Sib, a peer mentoring program matching upperclassmen with freshmen, who meet during advisory period, similar to homeroom, during the school day.

Back to the resources...

Studying Tips and Online Help
Study Blue 
Flashcards, review sheets, quizzes, study guides and more...

Open Study
Why Study Alone? Make the world your study group.

Homework Help

Simple tools that let you study anything for free.

Khan Academy
Learn anything!

Start your own study group.  

Guides and Reference Materials

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

The Purdue MLA Online Writing Lab

Generate citations.

Citation Machine
Generate citations.

Make a bibliography or works cited with just an ISBN.                                    

A Research Guide for Students

Info Please
Study Skills (includes various subjects)

Study Skills Online, Brunel University

(no longer updated but usable for the past—newspapers, collections, resources by subject, etc.)

Shakespeare Online

Math and Sciences


West Texas A&M Virtual Math Lab

Ask Dr. Math
The Math Forum at Drexel

Purple Math  

The Science Page 
for those hooked on science and science education

The Image
Gemstones, geology, digital photography

Interactive  Periodic Table

Aplus Math                                                                                                                 Interactive math resources for teachers, parents, and students featuring free math worksheets, math games, math flashcards, and more.                                                           

History Resources
West Point, Dept of History

Interactive Maps

A Timeline of History


Interesting Things


Ret. 7-24-15

Monday, July 20, 2015

Essential or Dangerous Secrets

Quoting from The Secret Life of Families...

Dr. Imber-Black states that teens live in a very different landscape in which to make secrets than their parents or grandparents did.

Parents are often confused about how much privacy their teen can safely have and frightened about the meaning of secrets in their children’s lives..

The line between essential secrets and dangerous secrets has become exceedingly thin in an age when many teens keep such physically lethal or emotionally harmful secrets from their parents as severe alcohol and drug abuse, date rape, suicide attempts, and violent attacks by peers or strangers. 

Some parents have become afraid to ask their teens what’s going on in areas where it can be extremely dangerous to maintain silence. Distortion of the normal need for secrecy in adolescence, in a culture where the connections between teens and parents [or other authority figures] are often frayed, results in a pattern of mutual distancing and no conversation on topics that require greater openness.

Developing a thoughtful, creative position and a competent range of responses to teens and their secrets today involves a complex stew. A given family's current social and economic terrain, the values and beliefs embedded in ethnicity, social class, and specific history, and each parent's biography as a secret-keeping adolescent intertwine to inform actions.

Adolescent Secrets—Yesterday and Today

Take a moment to reflect on your own adolescence.
  • As an adolescent, were you able to keep secrets from your parents?
  • What were the secrets you kept?
  • How did your parents respond if they discovered one of your secrets?
  • Were there differences in the kinds of secrets that you kept from your mother and the ones kept from your father? What accounted for the difference?
  • What was the relationship like with your closest confidant?
  • Did you keep secrets from your siblings?
  • How would you compare the secrets you kept with the ones you imagine your teen keeps from you now?
  • How would you compare the secrets your parents kept from you with the ones you keep now from your teen?

Imber-Black, Ph.D., E. (1998). Private Investigations: Secrets Between Teens and Parents. In The Secret Life of Families (pp. 244-246). New York, NY: Bantam Books. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Meaning and More


Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of successes or failure is of less account.

John W. Gardner

Speech delivered to the Hawaii Executive Conference in Kona, Hawaii, April 1993

Other thought-provoking quotes from John W. Gardner...

Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.

True happiness involves the full use of one's power and talents.

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.        

Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.

History never looks like history when you are living through it.

The creative individual has the capacity to free himself from the web of social pressures in which the rest of us are caught. He is capable of questioning the assumptions that the rest of us accept. 

The idea for which this nation stands will not survive if the highest goal free men can set themselves is an amiable mediocrity. Excellence implies striving for the highest standards in every phase of life.

Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world's ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all.

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities - brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.

If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

New Discipline Approach

What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?

Negative consequences, timeouts, and punishment just make bad behavior worse. But a new approach really works.

| July/August 2015 Issue
June Arbelo, a second-grade teacher at Central School, comforts a student who wants to go home during the first day of school. Tristan Spinski/GRAIN
LEIGH ROBINSON WAS out for a lunchtime walk one brisk day during the spring of 2013 when a call came from the principal at her school. Will, a third-grader with a history of acting up in class, was flipping out on the playground. He'd taken off his belt and was flailing it around and grunting. The recess staff was worried he might hurt someone. Robinson, who was Will's educational aide, raced back to the schoolyard.
Will was "that kid." Every school has a few of them: that kid who's always getting into trouble, if not causing it. That kid who can't stay in his seat and has angry outbursts and can make a teacher's life hell. That kid the other kids blame for a recess tussle. Will knew he was that kid too. Ever since first grade, he'd been coming to school anxious, defensive, and braced for the next confrontation with a classmate or teacher.
The expression "school-to-prison pipeline" was coined to describe how America's public schools fail kids like Will. A first-grader whose unruly behavior goes uncorrected can become the fifth-grader with multiple suspensions, the eighth-grader who self-medicates, the high school dropout, and the 17-year-old convict. Yet even though today's teachers are trained to be sensitive to "social-emotional development" and schools are committed to mainstreaming children with cognitive or developmental issues into regular classrooms, those advances in psychology often go out the window once a difficult kid starts acting out. Teachers and administrators still rely overwhelmingly on outdated systems of reward and punishment, using everything from red-yellow-green cards, behavior charts, and prizes to suspensions and expulsions.
How we deal with the most challenging kids remains rooted in B.F. Skinner's mid-20th-century philosophy that human behavior is determined by consequences and bad behavior must be punished. (Pavlov figured it out first, with dogs.) During the 2011-12 school year, the US Department of Education counted 130,000 expulsions and roughly 7 million suspensions among 49 million K-12 students—one for every seven kids. The most recent estimates suggest there are also a quarter-million instances of corporal punishment in US schools every year.
But consequences have consequences. Contemporary psychological studies suggest that, far from resolving children's behavior problems, these standard disciplinary methods often exacerbate them. They sacrifice long-term goals (student behavior improving for good) for short-term gain—momentary peace in the classroom.
Teachers who aim to control students' behavior—rather than helping them control it themselves—undermine the very elements that are essential for motivation: autonomy, a sense of competence, and a capacity to relate to others.
University of Rochester psychologist Ed Deci, for example, found that teachers who aim to control students' behavior—rather than helping them control it themselves—undermine the very elements that are essential for motivation: autonomy, a sense of competence, and a capacity to relate to others. This, in turn, means they have a harder time learning self-control, an essential skill for long-term success. Stanford University's Carol Dweck, a developmental and social psychologist, has demonstrated that even rewards—gold stars and the like—can erode children's motivation and performance by shifting the focus to what the teacher thinks, rather than the intrinsic rewards of learning.
In a 2011 study that tracked nearly 1 million schoolchildren over six years, researchers at Texas A&M University found that kids suspended or expelled for minor offenses—from small-time scuffles to using phones or making out—were three times as likely as their peers to have contact with the juvenile justice system within a year of the punishment. (Black kids were 31 percent more likely than white or Latino kids to be punished for similar rule violations.) Kids with diagnosed behavior problems such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and reactive attachment disorder—in which very young children, often as a result of trauma, are unable to relate appropriately to others—were the most likely to be disciplined.
Which begs the question: Does it make sense to impose the harshest treatments on the most challenging kids? And are we treating chronically misbehaving children as though they don't want to behave, when in many cases they simply can't?
That might sound like the kind of question your mom dismissed as making excuses. But it's actually at the core of some remarkable research that is starting to revolutionize discipline from juvenile jails to elementary schools. Psychologist Ross Greene, who has taught at Harvard and Virginia Tech, has developed a near cult following among parents and educators who deal with challenging children. What Richard Ferber's sleep-training method meant to parents desperate for an easy bedtime, Greene's disciplinary method has been for parents of kids with behavior problems, who often pass around copies of his books, The Explosive Child and Lost at School, as though they were holy writ.
His model was honed in children's psychiatric clinics and battle-tested in state juvenile facilities, and in 2006 it formally made its way into a smattering of public and private schools. The results thus far have been dramatic, with schools reporting drops as great as 80 percent in disciplinary referrals, suspensions, and incidents of peer aggression. "We know if we keep doing what isn't working for those kids, we lose them," Greene told me. "Eventually there's this whole population of kids we refer to as overcorrected, overdirected, and overpunished. Anyone who works with kids who are behaviorally challenging knows these kids: They've habituated to punishment."
"We know if we keep doing what isn't working for those kids, we lose them… Anyone who works with kids who are behaviorally challenging knows these kids: They've habituated to punishment."
Under Greene's philosophy, you'd no more punish a child for yelling out in class or jumping out of his seat repeatedly than you would if he bombed a spelling test. You'd talk with the kid to figure out the reasons for the outburst (was he worried he would forget what he wanted to say?), then brainstorm alternative strategies for the next time he felt that way. The goal is to get to the root of the problem, not to discipline a kid for the way his brain is wired.
"This approach really captures a couple of the main themes that are appearing in the literature with increasing frequency," says Russell Skiba, a psychology professor and director of the Equity Project at Indiana University. He explains that focusing on problem solving instead of punishment is now seen as key to successful discipline.
If Greene's approach is correct, then the educators who continue to argue over the appropriate balance of incentives and consequences may be debating the wrong thing entirely. After all, what good does it do to punish a child who literally hasn't yet acquired the brain functions required to control his behavior?
Nina D'Aran, Principal of Central School in South Berwick, Maine
Nina D'Aran, the principal of Central School in South Berwick, Maine, has implemented many of Dr. Ross Greene's methods and philosophy along with her staff. Tristan Spinski/GRAIN

WILL WAS STILL wielding the belt when Leigh Robinson arrived, winded, at theCentral School playground. A tall, lean woman who keeps her long brown hair tied back in a ponytail, she conveys a sense of unhurried comfort. Central, which goes from pre-kindergarten through third grade, is one of a few hundred schools around the country giving Greene's approach a test run—in this case with help from a $10,000 state anti-delinquency grant.
Will, who started first grade the year Central began implementing Greene's program (known as Collaborative and Proactive Solutions, or CPS), was an active kid, bright and articulate, who loved to play outside. But he also struggled, far more than the typical six-year-old, to stay in his seat—or in the room. When he couldn't find words for what was bothering him, he might swing his hands at classmates or resort to grunting and moaning and rolling on the floor. A psychologist diagnosed him with a nonverbal learning disorder, a condition that makes it hard to adapt to new situations, transition between settings, interpret social cues, and orient yourself in space and time. At the beginning of second grade, Central designated Robinson as his aide.
Out on the playground, she approached the boy reassuringly, like a trained hostage negotiator. "Do whatever you need with the belt," she told him gently. "Just keep it away from people." Slowly, Will began to calm down. They walked over to some woods near the school, and she let him throw rocks into a stream, scream, and yell until, at last, he burst into tears in her arms. Then they talked and came up with a plan. The next time he felt frustrated or overwhelmed, Will would tell another staffer that he needed his helper. If Robinson were off campus, they would get her on the phone for him.
A few years earlier, staffers at Central might have responded differently, sending Will to the office or docking his recess time. In a more typical school, a kid who seems to be threatening others might be physically restrained, segregated into a special-ed room, or sent home for the day. Children with learning and behavior disabilities are suspended at about twice the rate of their peers and incarcerated at nearly three times the rate of the overall youth population, government data shows. Will, like most of Central's student body, is white, but for black kids with disabilities the suspension rate is 25 percent—more than 1 in 4 African American boys and 1 in 5 African American girls with disabilities will be suspended in a given school year.
Before Greene's program was put in place, conventional discipline at Central was the norm. During the 2009-10 school year, kids were referred to the principal's office for discipline 146 times, and two were suspended. Two years later, the number of referrals was down to 45, with zero suspensions, all thanks to focusing more on "meeting the child's needs and solving problems instead of controlling behavior," principal Nina D'Aran told me. "That's a big shift."
The CPS method hinges on training school (or prison or psych clinic) staff to nurture strong relationships—especially with the most disruptive kids—and to give kids a central role in solving their own problems. For instance, a teacher might see a challenging child dawdling on a worksheet and assume he's being defiant, when in fact the kid is just hungry. A snack solves the problem. Before CPS, "we spent a lot of time trying to diagnose children by talking to each other," D'Aran says. "Now we're talking to the child and really believing the child when they say what the problems are."
Before CPS, "we spent a lot of time trying to diagnose children by talking to each other," D'Aran says. "Now we're talking to the child and really believing the child when they say what the problems are."
The next step is to identify each student's challenges—transitioning from recess to class, keeping his hands to himself, sitting with the group—and tackle them one at a time. For example, a child might act out because he felt that too many people were "looking at him in the circle." The solution? "He might come up with the idea of sitting in the back of the room and listening," D'Aran says. The teachers and the student would come up with a plan to slowly get him more involved.
This all requires a dramatic change in mindset and workflow. Central School diverted building improvement funds to divide one classroom into two spaces. One side was called the "Learning Center"—a quiet spot for kids to take a break, maybe have a snack, and problem solve before going back into the classroom. The other area became a resource room. The school also committed to 20 weeks of teacher training, with an hour of coaching each week from Greene's trainer via Skype.
Will's breakthrough session happened in first grade, after several failed attempts, when D'Aran, then a guidance counselor, and his teacher sat down with him. He'd been refusing to participate in writing lessons with his classmates. Over 45 minutes, they coaxed Will through the initial moans and "I don't knows" and finally landed on a solution: Will said if he could use lined paper that also had a space to draw a picture, it would be easier to get started writing. Before long, he was tackling writing assignments without a problem.
Psychologist Ross Greene offers a radically different approach to fixing kids' behavior. Tristan Spinski/GRAIN
GREENE, 57, HAS curly brown hair, glasses, and the habit of speaking in complete paragraphs, as though he's lecturing a psychology class instead of having a conversation. At the annual conference of Lives in the Balance, the nonprofit he founded to promote his method and advocate for behaviorally challenging kids, I watched him address a crowd of around 500 teachers, psychologists, and other professionals. His baby face and tweedy blazer called to mind a high school social-studies teacher, but he worked up a full head of steam as he spoke of millions of kids being medicated and punished for misbehavior.
The children at risk of falling into the school-to-prison pipeline, Greene says, include not only the 5.2 million with ADHD, the 5 million with a learning disability, and the2.2 million with anxiety disorders, but also the 16 million who have experienced repeated trauma or abuse, the 1.4 million with depression, the 1.2 million on the autism spectrum, and the 1.2 million who are homeless. "Behaviorally challenging kids are still poorly understood and are still being treated in ways that are adversarial, reactive, punitive, unilateral, ineffective, counterproductive," he told the audience. "Not only are we not helping, we are going about doing things in ways that make things worse. Then what you have to show for it is a whole lot of alienated, hopeless, sometimes aggressive, sometimes violent kids."
Greene was trained in behavior modification techniques—a.k.a. the Skinner method—as are most people who work with families and children. But in his early clinical work as a Virginia Tech graduate student, he began to question the approach. He'd get parents to use consequences and rewards, but the families kept struggling mightily with the basics—from dressing to chores and bedtimes. To Greene, it felt like he was treating the symptoms while ignoring the disease.
Around the same time, he learned about new brain research by neuroscientists who were looking at brain functions with powerful fMRI machines. They found that the prefrontal cortex of our brains was instrumental in managing what is called executive function—our capacity to control impulses, prioritize tasks, and organize plans. Other research suggested that the prefrontal cortexes of aggressive children actually hadn't developed, or were developing more slowly, so that they simply did not yet have brains capable of helping them regulate their behavior.
But brains are changeable. Learning and repeated experiences can actually alter the physical structure of the brain, creating new neuronal pathways. Nobel laureate Eric Kandel found that memory may be stored in the synapses of our nervous system. He won the Nobel Prize in 2000 for studying the Aplysia, a very simple sea slug, and discovering that when it "learned" something, like fear, it created new neurons.
The implications of this new wave of science for teachers are profound: Children can actually reshape their brains when they learn and practice skills. What's more,Dweck and other researchers demonstrated that when students are told this is so, both their motivation and achievement levels leap forward. "It was all sitting there waiting to be woven together," Greene says. He began coaching parents to focus on building up their children's problem-solving skills. It seemed to work.
By the early 1990s, Greene had earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He moved to Massachusetts, where he began teaching at Harvard Medical School and directing the cognitive-behavioral psychology program at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also began testing his new approach in children's psychiatric clinics that had previously used Skinneresque methods. In 2001, Cambridge Health Alliance, a Boston-area hospital group, implemented CPS, and reports that within a year, its use of physical and chemical restraints (like clonidine, which is a powerful sedative) in young patients dropped from 20 cases per month to zero. A subsequent five-year clinical trial at Virginia Tech involving 134 children aged 7 to 14 validated the method as an effective way to treat kids with oppositional defiant disorder.
By 2001, when The Explosive Child came out in paperback, Greene had become a sought-after speaker, even appearing on Oprah. The first peer-reviewed paper in a scientific journal validating the effectiveness of his model appeared in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, and that led to even more invitations to speak at teaching hospitals and other facilities.
A child draws at Central School. Tristan Spinksi/GRAIN
In 2004, a psychologist from Long Creek Youth Development Center, a correctional center in South Portland, Maine, attended one of Greene's workshops in Portland and got his bosses to let him try CPS. Rodney Bouffard, then superintendent at the facility, remembers that some guards resisted at first, complaining about "that G-D-hugs-and-kisses approach." It wasn't hard to see why: Instead of restraining and isolating a kid who, say, flipped over a desk, staffers were now expected to talk with him about his frustrations. The staff began to ignore curses dropped in a classroom and would speak to the kid later, in private, so as not to challenge him in front of his peers.
But remarkably, the relationships changed. Kids began to see the staff as their allies, and the staff no longer felt like their adversaries. The violent outbursts waned. There were fewer disciplinary write-ups and fewer injuries to kids or staff. And once they got out, the kids were far better at not getting locked up again: Long Creek's one-year recidivism rate plummeted from 75 percent in 1999 to 33 percent in 2012. "The senior staff that resisted us the most," Bouffard told me, "would come back to me and say, 'I wish we had done this sooner. I don't have the bruises, my muscles aren't strained from wrestling, and I really feel I accomplished something.'"
"Is giving him a consequence—suspending him, calling his grandparents—is that going to teach him not to throw chairs?" she asks. "When you start doing all these consequences, they're going to dig their heels in even deeper, and nobody is going to win."
Maine's second juvenile detention facility, Mountain View, also adopted Greene's method, with similar results. Incidents that resulted in injury, confinement, or restraint dropped nearly two-thirds between April 2004 and April 2008.
LIKE THE LONG CREEK guards, staffers at Central were skeptical at first. When an enraged second-grader threw a chair at educational technician Susan Forsley one day, her first instinct was to not let him "get away with it." But she swallowed her pride and left the room until the boy calmed down. Later, she sat down with him and Principal D'Aran, and they resolved that if he felt himself getting angry like that again, he would head for the guidance office, where he'd sit with stuffed animals or a favorite book to calm down. Forsley eventually learned to read his emotions and head off problems by suggesting he take a break. "Is giving him a consequence—suspending him, calling his grandparents—is that going to teach him not to throw chairs?" she asks. "When you start doing all these consequences, they're going to dig their heels in even deeper, and nobody is going to win."
Will had graduated from Central and outgrown most of his baby fat when I arrived for breakfast at his home one Saturday morning. As he and his brothers helped prepare apple pancakes and fruit salad, he took a break to show me "Antlandia," a board game he created to showcase his knowledge of insects. Now in fifth grade, he'd made friends at his new school and was proudly riding the bus—something he couldn't handle before.
Between bites, Will consented to describe his experiences with the teachers and staff at Central School. "When they notice a kid that's angry, they try to help. They ask what's bothering them," he said, spiky brown bangs covering his eyebrows as he looked down at his plate. His mom, Rachel Wakefield, told me later that CPS had trained Will to be able to talk about frustrating situations and advocate for himself. Now, she said, he actually had an easier time of it than his big brother. "It's a really important skill as they enter into adolescence," she said.
From Greene's perspective, that's the big win—not just to fix kids' behavior problems, but to set them up for success on their own. Too many educators, he believes, fixate on a child's problems outside of school walls—a turbulent home, a violent neighborhood—rather than focus on the difference the school can make. "Whatever he's going home to, you can do the kid a heck of a lot of good six hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year," Greene says. "We tie our hands behind our backs when we focus primarily on things about which we can do nothing."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

12 Money Lessons for Kids

These relatively simple money lessons are highly adaptable for mentees. 

12 Money Lessons Your Child Should Know Before Age 12

by Christine Alford
June 25, 2015

There is unfortunately a significant lack of financial education in our country, which makes it more important than ever for parents to teach basic money lessons to their children.
Although some financial topics might seem challenging, you might be surprised what your children can absorb. From about age five, children can understand saving and spending, and as they get older they can learn more about budgeting and even investing.
To give you some examples, here are 12 money lessons your child can learn before age 12:
1. What it means to buy a stock.
Even a younger child can understand the concept of buying a stock. Explain to them that when they buy stock, they are buying a small portion of a company. If the company does well, they make money since they are a partial owner in the company. If it doesn’t do well, they could lose money. Sit with them and pick out a few companies they recognize and follow the stock from week to week to explain your point.       
2. What it means to be greedy.  
Most children can understand the feeling of greed, especially in terms of not wanting to share toys. However, they need to understand the consequences of greed. Explain to them what happens when one person hoards all the resources. Teach them to be giving instead of greedy. 
3. How to donate wisely.  
Your child is going to come across a lot of people who want them to donate their money. You can teach them how to research a cause or a company or how to be giving to a friend in need.  
4. How to budget.  
Budgeting is one of life’s most essential skills, right up there with learning how to do your own laundry and make a simple dinner. When you teach a child to budget, or better yet, have them learn from your budgeting skills, you will give them a lifetime of financial security.
5. What it means to pay taxes and fees. 

Most older children will know what the word “taxes” means in theory, but you could always take it a step further by imposing your own tax. Also, I once knew a family who charged late fees if chores weren’t done on time. Their kids learned a valuable lesson and, of course, learned that people mean business when they threaten to impose fees.
6. How to save for large purchases.
In a world where adults are frequently offered 0 percent store cards so they can make large purchases right when they want them, it’s important to teach your children how to save for large purchases. Not only will it give them time to decide if it’s something they really want, but they can get the satisfaction of paying for something that they worked so hard to save for.
7. What it means to be in debt.  
I remember my mother telling me that debt is a fact of life, but I’ve come to realize that there are many people and families who operate entirely debt-free. It’s my goal to also be debt free someday, and I want my children to know that’s the real way to experience a life of financial freedom. 
8. How to track your spending.              

One of the quickest ways to learn how to manage money is simply to know where it’s going. If you give your child $5 but they don’t know where it went after a few days, it’s time to encourage them to keep track of what they spend. They can record it by hand or type it into their phones if they are old enough to have one.
9. Defining needs versus wants.
It’s a good exercise for everyone to go over what needs are versus what wants are. Talking to your child and asking them to point out which things in the house are needs or wants will help to reemphasize this.
10. How to buy used items.  

Some people are against buying used, and if that’s you, that’s perfectly fine. Just teach your child that there is an option to buy used, whether it’s for clothes or iPhones.  
11. The meaning of compound interest.  

This is likely a lesson for older kids, but like buying stocks, it’s good preparation for future investing. You can teach them how to calculate compound interest and basically give the lesson that the earlier they invest, the better off they’ll be.  
12. How to use credit wisely.
Teach your child how a credit card works or they might assume it constitutes free money. Let them know that whenever you swipe the card, you have to pay it off at the end of the month. Let them know that if you don’t pay it off, you will be charged interest, and if the payment is late, lots of fees. They should have an understanding of interest and fees from the lessons mentioned above, so it all comes full circle.
Ultimately, as a parent, teaching your children about money is probably one of the most important gifts you can ever give them. Smart money management will set them up for a lifetime of stability and freedom, and who doesn’t want that for their kids?

Ret. 6-28-15

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mentor 2, Fairview's Mission Mentors Appreciation Dinner

Editor’s Note
This is a transcript of Christine Sorrels’ presentation at Fairview's Mission Mentors Appreciation Banquet. A Yukon Public Schools mentor and mentoring director, Christine’s story encompasses the beginning of Yukon’s mentoring program, mentors’ making an impact, mentoring Jeremy, and encouraging other mentors and potential mentors. More information about Christine and Yukon follow.

Salute to Mission Mentors
As I was looking at your Mission Mentors website,,
I was very impressed with the success you have had with mentors and mentee since your beginning in 2010. That first year you had 50 matches. This year 70 or more! That is remarkable! Congratulations to John Medley, your Mentor of the Year, honored at the State Capitol in January. Also, the Mission Mentors YouTube video,, is very cool! We may have to borrow your format.

Yukon Public School's Miller Mentors
In 1998, I attended a Youth Friends Mentoring conference in Kansas City, Missouri. It was the only formal mentoring program around that had training on how to begin a mentoring program. I felt our Yukon Public Schools Helping Hand Volunteer Program would be a great fit for school-based mentoring, which was really needed in our community. For example, in 1998 the United States rated at 34 per cent the highest number of single-parent families among developed countries. Oklahoma has consistently been in the top ten states with the highest divorce rate, in fact, number one in the USA in 2011.

Funding & Planning
I applied and received a Learn & Serve grant to start our program.  Not a lot of folks had heard about mentoring then. Counselors understood the need for and wanted mentors. Understandably, teachers, on the other hand, were not too thrilled to have students pulled from their instructional time throughout the day. 

So we compromised that first year by mentoring from 2:45 to 3:25 p.m. at the end of the school day. Many of the students who were referred were already being pulled out of their classrooms for math or reading labs or other specials in their Individual Education Plan (IEP). Teachers wanted the time with these students to give them as much instruction in their classrooms as possible. As a former second grade teacher, I understood their concerns.

The Pilot and Results
In January 1999, we kicked off the program with nine mentors at Skyview Elementary School. At the end of that school year, teachers that had students with a mentor were sold! Mentors had made a positive change in their mentees’ behavior, school attendance, and grades. The teachers said, ‘Tell the mentors to come any time of day, whenever it’s convenient for them! And get more…because we have many more students who need a mentor!’

The next year we had 41 matches at four school sites.  By the third year, we were in five of Yukon’s seven elementary schools with 96 matches. 

Mentors’ Making an Impact
Many times, especially at the beginning of a new mentoring relationship, mentors may not feel as if they are making an impact on a child’s life. I know because I mentored a second-grade girl who was struggling with many issues. Kammie, my mentee, was unable to pass second grade, although I had mentored her for half a year. Disappointed in myself, I felt as if I had failed her.

But for the past 16 years since we began our program, I can tell you more often than not mentoring does make a huge impact in a child’s life even if the child does not know how to express that back to the mentor.

As you know many of the students we mentor have never been taught appreciation. They have only been taught rejection, sadness, and a lack of self-worth whether it is because of academic struggles, a lack of caring and nurturing at home, or a combination of both.

As it turned out, failing was a good move for my little mentee. Her not being able to pass the second grade actually helped her mature and develop better skills and coping with school. 

She just graduated from Yukon High school a couple of weeks ago and began taking summer college classes this week! Yes, I continued to mentor her. I didn’t give up.

Our program’s mission statement is "Mentors will serve as role models and tutors providing academic and social support to empower and motivate students to succeed." It may take more than one  semester or even one school year to feel you are having success with a child you are mentoring…but don’t give up!

At orientations, I always tell our mentors that most of us have had at least one person in our lives that made a difference. Even as a young adult or in your work, someone may have taken a special interest in you with a constructive positive attitude that influenced your outcome. I tell them, "You might not have called them a mentor back then. Can you, however, recall how that person made a difference in your life? ‘How he or she made you feel or how you could see things in a different perspective for your life?"

Jeremy Bennett & Christine Sorrels

Bonding through Adversity
Jeremy is another of our program’s success stories. In 1999, several teachers and I were asked to help with remediation tutoring and mentoring after school for a group of students. I was matched with a young man named Jeremy Bennett.  It was a tough time for Jeremy Bennett as his mother was going through some very difficult health issues. At that time I was dealing with the impending death of my sister, who had a 13-year-old daughter whom I loved and finished rearing.  Both women, Jeremy’s mom and my sister, passed within weeks of each other from the same disease.  Needless to say, Jeremy and I created a strong bond.

Sealing the Bond
Later Jeremy and I reconnected again at the local cancer charity, the Relay For Life. Because so many folks that year were in the stadium and so many luminaries on the football field, an announcement was made that no children would be allowed on the field. Jeremy was devastated. He sought me out in the crowd, and he told me that he would not be allowed to light his mother’s memorial luminary. He asked me if I would do it for him. Fiercely determined, I grabbed his hand, and together we walked onto the stadium floor. Not turned away, we lit both of their luminaries together. That lighting ceremony was an unforgettable emotional moment in my life.

Jeremy's Growing Older
As Jeremy went through high school, we didn’t have formal mentoring meetings, but I always kept up with him. Always happy to see each other, we would pass in the hallways at school, stop, and spend a few minutes catching up. I witnessed his leadership skills grow stronger and stronger.  He was an officer in Yukon’s agriculture classes. I heard an outstanding speech he gave to middle school students about skills and responsibilities of being an officer in the agriculture program. Jeremy went on to compete nationally in FFA. Jeremy, a graduate of Oklahoma State University, currently is the field representative for Congressmen Frank D. Lucas. Reading in our local newspaper about Jeremy’s accomplishments throughout his high school and college life pleased me.

Last school year, I had one of the biggest thrills of my life when Jeremy walked into my office at the school’s administration building. The first thing he said was, "Mrs. Sorrels, do you remember me?" As my eyes filled with tears of happiness from seeing him, he said, "I’m here because I’m in a position now where I just want to give back."

Jeremy's Mentoring
Jeremy began mentoring a third-grade boy last year. This year while mentoring two third-grade boys, Jeremy has already made quite an impact in their lives as well as upon the faculty and staff of Myers Elementary and Yukon Schools.

Encouragement to Live and Mentor Passionately
I would like to close with these words from the Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard, as a reminder to each of us, including myself, to think about what you choose to do each day and for next school year as you re-up to mentor again.

Most people are reactive vs proactive. We allow other people and their needs to dictate our days…Setting goals for each day, being intentional about living now! That is where true joy and happiness come from. LIVE NOW! How often do you live your life telling yourself, I have a little more busywork THEN I can relax; THEN I can enjoy my children; THEN I can pursue my life's work; THEN I can be happy? Don't do the minimum each day, choking through life waiting for happiness to knock on your door. Be intentional with your life, you have the choice to create happiness!

Burchard’s ideas are nothing new, but many of us must motivate ourselves to be intentional and make critical choices. We don’t have a second chance, folks…as you have heard before, this isn’t a dress rehearsal… this is your life; therefore,

1)    Choose to elevate OTHERS!

2)    Commitment to be consistent and dependable – to maintain a steady presence in the life of the youth you have mentored or will be mentoring next year.

3)    Spread the word… you are the greatest recruitment tool for Oklahoma’s children. 

Introduction of Jeremy
I’m so proud of the work and dedication my ‘mentee turned mentor’ is doing with his students. Everyone needs a ‘Jeremy’ in his or her life. It is my honor to introduce Yukon’s 2014-2015 Mentor of the Year, Jeremy Bennett.

See the next post for Jeremy’s sharing his mentoring experience.

More about Christine & Yukon Public Schools, Yukon, OK
Christine Sorrels, a mentor since 1998, is the director of Yukon Public Schools Helping Hand Volunteer Program, 45 years old, and Miller Mentors. Yukon, once a closely-knit rural area near Oklahoma City, is a rapidly growing suburban community of about 25,000 people. In addition to several other school programs, Christine and her staff/sidekicks, Christal Whitmire and Donna Klukas, encourage and supervise over 750 volunteers, mentors, and academic tutors within nine elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and one alternative school. ‘A masterful achievement! Yukon’s goal with so many structured contact mechanisms between students and community members is to preserve the small town atmosphere in burgeoning suburbia. Perhaps more importantly than all of her accomplishments and well-executed responsibilities, Christine is the mentor of the mentee turned mentor.

For more information about Yukon Public Schools Helping Hand Volunteers and Miller Mentoring Program,

Yukon, located along historic Route 66, has long been known for its grain milling industries, hence the apropos name of the program, Miller Mentors. 

We are so proud of the leadership of western Oklahoma towns such as Fairview and Yukon to begin and sustain effective mentoring programs. 

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