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Concussions, inexpensive tutors, healthy eating, art contest, ‘Distracted,’ mean teachers

Schools Education

Lorna Sheridan/Index-Tribune Education Editor

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This is my 100th column – and the time has flown by.

While the Index-Tribune works out some kinks in transferring over to a different news archive, you can search almost all past content from this column on my blog at: educationroundupnational.com. Thank you for reading this column each Tuesday and for all the encouraging feedback sent my way.

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Sonoma Valley High School has a list of students who are interested in tutoring in the community. You can only get the list by stopping by the College and Career Center. I have used student tutors from the high school for my children and it is a great service at a far more reasonable price than professional tutors … with the added advantage of a potential great role model for your child. Right now more than 20 sophomores, juniors and seniors are offering to tutor in math (algebra through calculus), all sciences, and Spanish, Japanese and French. Last I checked, prices ranged from $15 to $20 an hour but you arrange the cost with the student.

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International Man of Memory Chester Santos is appearing on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m. at the Hanna Boys Center Auditorium on Arnold Drive. This presentation sounds cool and it is free and open to the community. Santos is the U.S. Memory Champion and he is one of the world’s foremost experts on memory training. He provides tips on remembering names, numbers, speeches and languages. Reservations are required; email tstanley@hannacenter.org or call 933-2504.

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Reading tutors are still needed for our local Schools of Hope program. The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation is working with the United Way again this year in our five Valley elementary schools. The program begins now but they will continue to add tutors throughout the year. Contact Sallie Moore at shkmoore@gmail.com if you can help out. Flowery Elementary School is in need of bilingual tutors.

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The Los Angeles’ school district’s $1 billion iPad initiative offers a cautionary tale. The LA Times reported recently that students quickly bypassed security measures to visit unauthorized websites and school officials took the new devices back from students, but only two-thirds have been returned. And officials hadn’t decided in advance what consequences there would be if the iPads were lost or stolen.

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Transition Sonoma Valley is seeking to train and mentor one or more local high school (or college) students who want to help do something about climate change right here in Sonoma Valley. This is a great opportunity for students who need a senior project at the high school, or who want to make their college applications stand out. Interns will gain valuable experience in online marketing and social media. Skills in writing, English-Spanish translation, video production, graphic design, photography, public speaking, web development or fundraising, are all a plus. transitionsonomavalley.org/about-us/contact-us/.

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Emergency room visits for sports-related traumatic brain injuries (such as concussions) increased 92 percent between 2002 and 2011, according to research by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Skiing, sledding, inline skating and skateboarding had the highest ER admission rates. tinyurl.com/nqtmnfe.

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Sonoma Old School’s Art Contest deadline is Friday, Nov. 1, and entry forms (on which you propose your design for a skateboard) are at the store right now. This is a great, and unusual, way for students to express their creativity. A dozen finalists will be given a blank raw wood deck on which to fully execute their design.

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Enrollment in teacher training programs in California dropped by 24 percent from last year to this year, according to the state commission on teacher credentialing. The Edsource website suggests that potential teachers have been discouraged by teacher layoffs, rising performance expectations, reduced support and bad word of mouth from existing teachers whose job satisfaction numbers have plummeted in recent years.

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Do tough teachers get good results? I have seen some lively arguments on Facebook about Wall Street Journal writer Joanne Libman’s piece lamenting the by-gone days of tough and scary teachers. She writes, “It’s time to revive old-fashioned education. Not just traditional but old-fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict discipline and unyielding demands. Because here’s the thing: It works.” Her manifesto centers on these eight principles but I urge you to read it in full (tinyurl.com/pywwtan):

1. A little pain is good for you.

2. Drill, baby, drill.

3. Failure is an option.

4. Strict is better than nice.

6. Grit trumps talent.

7. Praise makes you weak …

8. … while stress makes you strong.

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California is considering allowing its 112 community colleges to offer (four-year) bachelor’s degrees. More than 20 states already do, although many in only specific technical fields. The public universities don’t like the idea as it will mean increased competition for students and funding. Another concern is that two-year colleges will abandon their mission of providing job training for local students, often from underserved populations.

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A recent study found that e-readers are more effective than paper for some students with dyslexia. Researchers at Harvard University and U. Mass found that about a third to one half of students read more effectively with a device rather than on paper because of the ability to enlarge the type and have fewer words on a page. We are trying it out in our house. October, by the way, is National Dyslexia Awareness Month.

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October is also ADHD awareness month, and more than 1 in 10 American kids are now diagnosed with the condition. While most take powerful medication, some experts are now suggesting that many of these children may actually be suffering from sleep disorders. A child who struggles to pay attention or is aggressive or socially withdrawn may actually be exhausted from a lack of quality sleep. Without proper rest, kids’ nervous systems cannot function properly, which particularly affects the area of the brain that deals with focus and attentiveness. Parents should look out for night tremors, bedwetting, sleepwalking and noisy breathing – not just snoring – and discuss options with a doctor if need be. (tinyurl.com/njc58ot)

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Santa Rosa Junior College kicks off its theater season with the play “Distracted,” a witty and realistic story of parents grappling with their son’s diagnosis of ADD. “Distracted” is recommended for age 14 and up. The remaining performances are Oct. 10, 11, 12 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 12 and 13 at 2 p.m. santarosa.edu/theatrearts/tickets.html.

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The Ecology Center’s Fall Festival is Saturday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The community is invited to Sonoma Garden Park to kick off harvest season with a fun event for the whole family. There will be a straw bale fort, live music, tractor rides, pumpkin patch and carving, scarecrow contest, pie contest and workshops. Tickets at the door are $15 adults ($7 kids, under 5 free) sonomaecologycenter.org.

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There is a free parenting skills workshop in Spanish on Wednesdays, Oct. 9, 16 and 23 from 5:15 to 7 p.m. at La Luz. The topics covered will include: how to create a stable, supportive and harmonious family; how to reward and encourage good behavior; how to deal with problem behavior; how to build positive relationships with your child; and how to take care of yourself as a parent. Childcare will be provided. Sign up by calling 938-5131.

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Whole Foods is partnering with La Luz to offer a series of free lectures in Spanish on healthy eating education and how better food choices can impact your family’s lifestyle. The first lecture is Friday, Oct. 11, at 11 a.m. at 875 Lyon St. in Sonoma. No registration is required.

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The California State University applications are online now through Nov. 1 and the high school’s College and Career Center is offering a CSU application help day on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The high school is also offering a scholarship and financial aid night for parents of juniors and seniors on Thursday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m. in the Pavilion.

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A Mindful Parenting workshop (centered on mindfulness and positive discipline), led by Katherine Llodra and Susie Cook is being offered on three Wednesday evenings (Oct. 9, 16 and 23) in the Presentation School library. Email familiallodra@gmail.com or suscookie@gmail.com for details.