Playpens, Curfews and Trust: Our Responsibility to Children

One of the longer hours you can put a teacher through isn’t monitoring lunch or that final 60 minutes before spring conferences are over–it’s at an in-service, the mandatory training that the state, city, superintendent or your principal inflicts upon educators.  Topics can range from the terrors of airborne pathogens to the correct way to open your laptop.  Michigan teachers are required to attend 30 such hours by law and most fall under the same sad irony found in the half-day seminar on the twenty-minute attention span. But somehow, in 1991, I found myself at a training that stays with me to this day.  Its metaphor was the playpen.  Al Dicken, who would later become my administrator when I changed school districts, was the trainer at a drug-awareness session. Al explained that when our kids are tiny, we place them in the playpen (or its transformer version since the late 80s, the… Read More…

For Kids, Many Voices Become One at “Twenty Feet from Stardom” Benefit Screening & Concert

Few third graders have been heard to proudly announce to their classmates… “I hope to be fourth cellist in the New York Philharmonic.” “I’d like to be a situational middle-inning relief pitcher for the Yankees.” “I want to be an Indy pit crew member.” or… “My dream is to be an editor.” Not many editors get a standing ovation.   Even at the Oscars, its award is sandwiched between Best Costume Design and the latest Revlon commercial.  And you are more likely to be mistaken as that fourth cellist before someone says, “Aren’t you an editor–of documentaries?” Twenty Feet from Stardom honors the teammate, the supporting role–in effect, the glue behind some of the greatest songs of the last fifty years.  And someone had to convert 700 hours of interviews and archival footage of these amazing women into 90 minutes.  Enter Doug Blush, who last Friday embodied the spirit of this movie to help young… Read More…