You are here

Feature

Each afternoon between social studies and math, Marilynn Szarka’s third-grade students start to get droopy. Szarka instructs everyone to stand up and spread out while she dims the lights, closes the door and flips on the interactive whiteboard that will take them on an aerobic adventure.

At Sells Middle School in the Dublin City School District in Ohio, school administrators are using the Complete Student Safety and Behavior System technical tool to track student tardiness and how it might relate to school fights.

It was a lunch hour more than 10 years ago when Terri Lozier, now a principal in another district just outside Chicago, was sucked into the violence of a school fight. Then a teacher, she was supervising the cafeteria when one girl tried to strangle another.

An AT&T employee volunteer, above left, helps a student in the Boys & Girls Clubs navigate a creative obstacle course to help motivate youth to be ready for successful transition into the upcoming school year.

Some of the world’s most powerful companies are increasing their influence in K12 education by funding programs that blend workforce development with public service. Corporate initiatives range from retail giant Target’s $1 billion plan to fund literacy programs to IBM’s high school STEM programs that aim to prepare the workers the company needs to fill its ranks.

Global defense company Raytheon has invested $100 million in education initiatives since 2005

Aetna

The Aetna Foundation will provide more than $1.2 million in grants to provide health and wellness technology to disenfranchised and minority populations, including those in schools. Efforts include a K12 digital health curriculum that teaches diet and nutrition, exercise and disease prevention. Students can collaborate on projects using social media and access the curriculum digitally.

As part of Activity Works programs, above, students in the “Food on the Farm” episode demonstrate how to be popping popcorn kernels for 10 minutes.

Keep activities short so teachers can easily incorporate them into busy school days. “Once teachers experience the rewards from just a few minutes of activity, they realize it’s worth it,” says Marilynn Szarka of Loesche Elementary School in Philadelphia.

Give students the reins. “Younger kids like to be led by older students. Let students choose music and activities. Let them take ownership,” says Jesus Mejia of Creating Opportunity for Physical Activity in California. “Increasing options to be engaged increases motivation to participate.”

Some administrators are analyzing student traffic patterns to eliminate the bumping, pushing and shoving—and in turn, the fighting—that occurs in overcrowded hallways and stairwells.

Randy Boardman of the Crisis Prevention Institute says that one middle school with particularly narrow hallways solved the problem by cutting down on hallway traffic.

The names of professional sports teams like the Washington Redskins have generated national controversy in recent years—to the point that three news publications will no longer publish the word “Redskins,” and instead refer to the team as “Washington.” In this political climate, some states have enacted laws to ensure K12 school mascots are culturally sensitive.

Pekin Community High School District No. 303 in Illinois changed its mascot in 1980 from a derogatory term for Chinese people to the dragon.

Mascots with names like the Orientals and the Redskins will no longer be cheering on student athletes in some schools. Districts across the county are coming under fire from civil rights groups for perpetuating negative cultural stereotypes that could impact students’ view of a diverse society.

Tracey Green is substitute teacher for second graders at Bryan Elementary School in the Jefferson County School System in Birmingham.

The substitute teacher just became more valuable.

Economic struggles and new federal education guidelines over the past five years have changed the environment for substitute teachers. When economic difficulties led to staff cutbacks in almost every industry, many laid-off workers signed up to be substitutes, allowing districts to be more selective.

When students are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), approaches that were once excluded from the classroom are now considered a valid option for helping them focus and learn. 

Pages