Tag Archives: education

#KeepKidsLearning this Summer by Joining NSLA’s Thunderclap!

2 Jun


Research shows that summers without quality learning opportunities put our nation’s youth at risk for falling behind – year after year – in core subjects like math and reading. The math and reading skills low-income students lose each summer are cumulative and contribute significantly to the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income kids.
By fifth grade, cumulative years of summer learning loss can leave low-income students 2 1/2 to three years behind their peers.
Many kinds of high-quality learning opportunities during the summer can make a difference in stemming learning loss, and ultimately closing the country’s achievement gap.
On June 17th, we’ll create an online groundswell with a Thunderclap calling for communities across the nation to level the playing field by keeping ALL KIDS learning this summer.
Donate one Tweet or Facebook post to encourage everyone to #KeepKidsLearning!


Stemming the Slide: How Summer Presents Unique Challenges and Opportunities for Underrepresented Students

14 Apr

Below is a shortened version (you know I would never do a presentation without icebreakers, but I didn’t want to spoil it for any potential participants!) of a presentation I am giving at the National Partnership for Educational Access Conference on April 17, 2015. Hope you’ll join me in Philadelphia and see what it looks like live and with tons of activities!

Apply for the 2015 Excellence in Summer Learning Awards

7 Jan

Do you run a high-quality summer learning program that should be recognized nationally?

NSLA CMYK logoThe National Summer Learning Association’s (NSLA) Excellence in Summer Learning Award and the new Founder’s Award recognize summer programs or models that demonstrate excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for young people.

Just by submitting an application for one of these awards, your program will receive a feedback summary from NSLA outlining its strengths and areas for improvement. There is no cost to apply.

Award winners and finalists receive even more detailed feedback, similar to having a full CASP (Comprehensive Assessment of Summer Programs) assessment and a consultation phone call with the NSLA Program Quality Team.

As a Summer Learning Excellence Award Winner, your program will receive:

  • Visibility at NSLA’s Summer Changes Everything™ national conference through general sessions presentations, and other speaking opportunities.
  • National exposure through a NSLA press release during the busy summer media season.
  • Peer learning opportunities through NSLA’s new affinity group structure.

Your program may even be featured in a future case study in NSLA presentations, publications, or reports that are widely distributed throughout the education field and staged on summerlearning.org.

The application deadline is Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. Visit summerlearning.org/SummerExcellence to learn more and apply today!

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What is a Career Launching Resume and why should you use one?

2 Apr

Recently during a roundtable discussion about personal branding I was asked: “What should I do if my experience isn’t exactly linear or it’s not obvious that I have the skills necessary for the job?” My answer: forget the traditional resume and use a Career Launching Resume (CLR).


Unlike traditional resumes that are linear and based around where you worked and when, with a career launching resume you can highlight previous experience that is directly connected to the job you’re applying for. This is especially important for college students and recent graduates. When you’re in college, you’re most likely working random jobs or internships that may not go together or show a clear career path. You’re trying out different positions, industries, and organizations maybe only for a few months at a time. Therefore, a traditional linear resume is not the answer; what you want to send to potential employers is a Career Launching Resume (CLR).

Key Elements of a Career Launching Resume

It highlights your life experience, not your work experience

Why stuff your volunteer experience all the way at the bottom of your résumé, especially if it’s the most relevant to your potential job? Your volunteer and extra-curricular experiences are indicators of your potential in the workplace. Plus, the experience you gained through those activities is often more relevant than the experience or training gained in paid (but unrelated) work.

It focuses on your greatest assets and achievements

If the job you are applying for wants management skills, give data that shows what the team or project you managed accomplished, how you increased sales, or how you followed through with a successful project. Connect what you did and who you are with what the organization wants. This is where a strong personal brand can really help you craft your career launching resume.

It demonstrates your authentic interest in the role you’re applying for

Be explicit: how do your experiences connect with the mission of the organization? Highlight any experience (academic, extra-curricular, volunteer, internship, etc.) related to the position.

It’s written like a sales proposal and the product is you

In the end you are marketing a product: you! It is crucial that the packaging is put together and there are no surprises (think about the three C’s). What is your best presentation? Think about your personal brand and make sure your résumé highlights your brand and backs it up with specific examples.

Straying from the traditional resume can be scary and controversial. I argue that these days it’s hard to get a job without a personal connection, so you might as well do what you can to market yourself and stand out in a tough job market. For college students and recent graduates, this is especially important because you may not have the real-world experience to prove that you have the skills necessary for the job. Do you want more information about a career launching resume? Contact me and I can help you craft a resume destined for success!

What do you think about a career launching resume vs. a traditional resume? Share your answers in the comments!


Why Parents should Not Support School Vouchers: an Economic Analysis

27 Mar

As part of my Economics class for my Master’s of Public Policy program at Johns Hopkins University, I was to write a one-page blog post responding directly to another post. The goal was to use economic principles and theory to construct an argument opposed to another article. Below is my economic blog post analysis about school vouchers.

Should parents receive vouchers to send their children to the school of their choice?

Should parents receive vouchers to send their children to the school of their choice? Source.

School vouchers act as certificates parents use towards private school tuition instead of sending their child to public school. School voucher policies attempt to allow students and families to choose the school that best fits their needs.

The free-market economic justification for school vouchers is that increased competition among schools will lead to better quality education because public schools will have to compete with private schools for funding. When families can choose between their home public school and a private school that becomes affordable to them because of the voucher payment, public schools have a monetary incentive to improve. If they do not, students will leave causing enrollment to drop, and the school will lose funding. On the surface this sounds like a great idea: in the battle for vouchers, the highest quality schools win! However, the economic theory of positive externalities paints a different picture.

Individuals that have access to quality education throughout primary and secondary school and graduate are more likely to have stable families and be active and productive citizens. They are also less likely to commit serious crimes, place high demands on the public health care system, and enroll in welfare assistance programs. These extra benefits that education brings to society are what economists call positive externalities.

Since people do not recognize the extra benefits they bring to society by receiving quality education, they may not receive as much education as society wants. In other words, without a government intervention, people probably would not be willing to pay for or spend as much time in school as they do with government intervention. What people also don’t realize is that these externalities make it in their best interest to ensure a quality education for as many people as possible. And research shows that voucher programs may actually diminish school quality overall. With a decrease in school quality society may experience additional costs—such as more people enrolling in welfare assistance programs.

A market-oriented education system like the one created by school vouchers creates an additional incentive for schools to focus on test scores and neglect other important lessons. Many of the important things that we ask schools to do, like teaching creativity, morality and civic duty impact society. If we leave it up to the private market, the theory of externalities states that these externalities will be under-provided.

Another downside of school vouchers as an intervention: parents who value education more highly will leave the lowest achieving schools. Often the most participatory parents are the ones who value education highly. Schools rely on these parents to run fundraisers, volunteer for school trips, and participate in the PTA. Vouchers create concentrations of these parents in schools that don’t need them, diminishing education quality across the schools left behind.

By using school vouchers as an intervention in education, the government will decrease education quality for many students. This will create negative externalities and diminish positive externalities thus hurting not only our young peoples’ education, but society as a whole.

In response to: Public strongly supports school vouchers, new report finds.


The Benefits of Public Allies

12 Jun

During my term of service with Public Allies Maryland and to prepare for the 20th anniversary of Public Allies I’m participating in a blog project called “Ally Snapshots.” Here is my latest post!

Everyone Leads Image from Public Allies Facebook page

This image from the Public Allies facebook page illustrates their feelings about leadership: everyone leads!

This is one in a series of Ally Snapshot blog posts on the theme, “Why Public Allies?” If you are thinking of service work, please read on. If you know someone who might be interested, please share!

Why Should You Join Public Allies?

You’ve heard about Public Allies, you’ve read the blog, checked out the website, googled around… and you’ve ended up here. I’m glad that you did because after being part of Public Allies Maryland for the past two years I will tell you exactly why you should join this truly wonderful and life changing program.

Before I answer your question “Why should I join Public Allies?” I want you to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I want to make a difference in my community?
  2. Do I see a need in my community and want to help even though I may not be sure exactly how to do it?
  3. Am I interested in learning more about the nonprofit sector and how I can build a career while making a difference?

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you’re ready for service work. Why should you pick Public Allies over any other AmeriCorps or service program? What makes it so great? What are the benefits of joining Public Allies? What sets Public Allies apart? Why should you join Public Allies?

The 5 Reasons You Should Join Public Allies

  1. Public Allies believes in you. At Public Allies they believe that everyone can lead and that leadership is an action you take, not a position you hold. This is the number one reason I joined Public Allies. I always knew I had the power to make a difference in my community and the world, but I wasn’t sure how I could do that and there weren’t many people out there who thought a receptionist at a veterinary hospital really had that much to offer. Public Allies knows that everyone has the potential and assets to make a difference.
  2. Leadership coaching and professional development trainings. Experts from the nonprofit sector and the community will be there every week to teach and answer your questions to help you develop the skills you already have and make you the next great leader you always knew you had the potential to be! It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to come together each week and learn as a community.
  3. Support. From your program managers, to your teammates on your team service projects, to your partner supervisors, and even the directors, you will be supported. They’ll be there to give feedback, they’ll be there when you’ve had an awesome day or the worst day, they’ll be there volunteering at your events, and cheering you on every step of the way! At Public Allies you really are family.
  4. True and intentional diversity. At Public Allies diversity is not just an ideal. Public Allies purposefully recruits diverse young leaders and works to promote and support leaders from all different walks of life. Diversity can mean so many things from racial, ethnic, class, background, perspective, experience, sexual identity, sexual orientation, gender, to educational and Public Allies intentionally works to include them all. On average, Allies are 67% people of color, 60% women, 50% college graduates (including some with graduate degrees), and 15% LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender). Diversity is one of the reasons why I decided to join Public Allies because they don’t just talk about diversity or say we need diverse leaders; Public Allies actively does diversity and develops diverse leaders.To quote Susan Edwards from Everyone Leads by Public Allies’ CEO Paul Schmitz: Diversity is an action, not an ideal.
  5. More than 4,000 alumni (and counting!) across the nation working in almost every sector are waiting for you to complete the program and use them as resources to keep developing as a leader and a professional. The end of my second year is fast approaching and the closer it gets the more important our strong alumni network becomes. Check out the Public Allies Alumni page on LinkedIn to get an idea of what alumni are doing now!

These 5 reasons are just the beginning of the many, many reasons why Public Allies is an amazing program to take part in. I hope you’ll join us at the site closest to you and discover all the benefits Public Allies has to offer for yourself.

What do you think are the benefits of joining Public Allies? Let me know in the comments below!


Service-Learning: Kid Tested, Data Approved

6 Jun

In April 2012 I attended the National Service-Learning Conference hosted by the National Youth Leadership Council in Minneapolis, MN. I will be writing many updates about the wonderful sessions I attended at the conference, the following post is one of them!

The Gold Standard of Service-Learning

The second pre-conference session I attended at the National Service Learning Conference was called “The Gold Standard of Quality Practice: What Research Shows and How to Bring it to Your Program.” It was presented by Shelley H. Billig, Vice President of RMC Research Corporation who wrote The relationship between the quality indicators of service-learning and student outcomes and co-authored and edited Advancing Knowledge in Service-Learning: Research to Transform the Field. She has also published many articles summarizing the research she has done on quality programs. You can find a list of nearly 60 articles that are written by Shelley or cite her work in the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse Library. (Just doing a quick google scholar search for “Shelley H. Billig” brings up pages upon pages of books and articles.) Basically, Shelley’s the expert when it comes to Service-Learning data and outcomes and I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to attend her workshop.

One of the criticisms Service-Learning often receives is that there is not enough results to back-up the implementation of a program or to obtain funding. Shelley was at the conference to set the record straight and educate others on how to use data to support your service-learning program as well as explain what the data should look like if you have a high-quality service-learning program. So what did she find?

The Data

Over the past few years, the research on the impacts of service-learning on students has grown exponentially, and the results are good!  High-quality service-learning programs yield statistically significant impacts on students’ academic achievement, civic engagement, acquisition of leadership skills, and personal/social development.  (More information and data can be found here: Service-Learning Standards and Research.)

Service-learning does a great job helping average students excel academically, but does an outstanding job with the lowest and highest performing students. However, if you want to achieve the absolute best outcomes you must have continuous and ongoing service and learning. This means that episodic or one-time service is not enough to make a profound difference in academic performance. The duration and intensity of service-learning has the most transformative growth and power. When you have the ideal amount of intensity it transforms who students think they are and they’re character while the duration of the service-learning teaches the skills students need to be academically successful.

Another huge determining factor is the ability to celebrate the service once it’s complete because studies have shown that a group centered culminating event at the end of service tends to have a more lasting effect on the outcomes. While doing something is better than nothing at a minimum, a large culminating event is better.

One of the last factors that makes a profound difference in the outcomes is having teachers who volunteer to do service-learning. When teachers are required to implement service-learning programs, they have worse outcomes than those who participate by choice. This really highlights the importance of igniting a passion in your teachers and creating a culture of service at your school.

The stats don’t lie: when you have high-quality service-learning programs you have a huge increase in positive outcomes for students.

Click here to download one of Shelley’s works: Why Service Learning is Such a Good Idea

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