Local Educator Pat Kenschaft Advocates for Parental Involvement For Math Success

BY  |  Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

mathpower_Dr. Patricia Clark Kenschaft is busy advocating for issues she is passionate about–local organic food and math education.

The 73 year-old organic gardener, Montclair resident and Montclair State University professor emerita of mathematics is promoting her book, “Math Power: How to Help Your Child Love Math Even if You Don’t,” which has been reissued (it was originally published in 1997).

“It’s the only book by an American mathematician for parents (with children) ages one through 10,” she says.

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Local Educators Weigh In on Longer School Day and Year

BY  |  Thursday, Feb 06, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Longer School Day and YearWhile we wait for details on Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal to extend New Jersey’s public school year and hours spent in the classroom (“information will be forthcoming,” said a Christie press rep. when we requested a delivery time frame), we wondered what local educators thought of this initiative (minus the funding issues).

The concept, which President Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan have advocated since 2009, has been implemented as pilot programs in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Tennessee and Colorado, and studied by scores of organizations that have published research citing positive and mixed results.

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An Education on Eco-Friendly Toys

BY  |  Thursday, May 31, 2012 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (1)

Tired of the plastic parts to cars, creatures, board games and Silly Bandz my nine year-old son has stockpiled, I started to think about eco-friendly toys.

While I had a hunch I knew what an eco-friendly toy was, I wondered if there was an industry-wide standard for this classification in order to better understand how my potential eco-friendly purchase might help the environment.

According to Kristen Morency and Adrienne Appell, representatives with the Toy Industry Association (TIA), a non-profit trade association representing over 550 North American toy manufacturers and importers, “there is no ‘official’ definition of eco-friendly toys at this time. However, our members who are producing ‘green’ products typically have implemented one of the following actions:”

  • They use materials that are recycled or are renewable under schemes such as the FCS (Forest Stewardship Council); and/or
  • They are producing in a factory that is currently using environmental energy sources; and/or
  • They are producing biopolymers

TIA representatives also mentioned that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has not yet completed the update of its Green Guides, which provides guidance on “how to help marketers avoid making unfair or deceptive environmental marketing claims.”

When I contacted the EPA to gather additional feedback on what an eco-friendly or “green” toy was, I was directed to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).  A representative there asked me to email my request and someone would get back to me (nobody has yet.)

To get the local take on the subject, I contacted Montclair’s environmental affairs coordinator Gray Russell to see what he thought….

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Coffee with…Judy Blume

BY  |  Tuesday, May 01, 2012 4:17pm  |  COMMENTS (2)

Photo courtesy of Judy Blume

Forever. Deenie. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Blubber. Superfudge. If you grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, you know these titles, along with the issues and rites of passage that some of author Judy Blume’s characters experienced. For many, Blume’s books are forever entangled with growing up.

Tiger Eyes, Blume’s 1981 book about how a young girl copes with her father’s sudden death, has been made into a movie directed by Larry Blume, Ms. Blume’s son, and will be shown at the Montclair Film Festival on Saturday, May 5 (there will be a Q&A session with both Blumes following the movie.)

In addition to the Tiger Eyes screening, this year marks the 40th anniversary of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and the release of some of Blume’s books as e-books.

From her Key West residence, Judy Blume, who has sold over 82 million books, spoke to Tara Williams about her ties to New Jersey, censorship and turning Tiger Eyes into a film.

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Coffee with…Chris Gifford, co-creator of Dora the Explorer

BY  |  Thursday, Jan 26, 2012 7:45am  |  COMMENTS (4)

Beginning January 30, preschoolers will get a chance to join Dora, Diego, Boots, Swiper, Pinto, Backpack and Map on more adventures when Dora the Explorer premieres new episodes on Nickelodeon.

Since the interactive animated series featuring the bilingual Latina adventurer debuted in 2000, Dora has become an international hit with preschoolers around the world (the show is broadcasted in 151 markets and translated in 30 languages), won a host of awards, including an Emmy, Peabody, Parents’ Choice, NAACP, Latino Spirit and ALMA, appeared with Shakira in a video and launched a spin-off show for Dora’s cousin, Diego, in Go, Diego, Go! (both shows were recently nominated for an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Children’s Program.” )

Tara Williams sat down with Chris Gifford, Dora’s co-creator and executive producer, as well as the creator and executive producer of Go, Diego, Go! to chat about his characters and Nickelodeon (he was a producer on Nick’s Clarissa Explains It All.)  If you were a child of the 80s you may remember Gifford as “Danny” on The Great Space Coaster and 3-2-1 Contact, the PBS kid’s show Gifford worked on as a unit manager.

Q: When did you move to Montclair?

I think it was December of 1993.

Q: And you were living in New York City before that?

Actually, I was living in Orlando.  I was working for Nickelodeon in Orlando for three years.  Prior to that, I grew up in the city.

Credit: Nickelodeon

Q: How was Dora the Explorer created?

I had been developing a number of shows—I was executive in charge of production and development for Nick Jr.—and I was developing a number of shows over a couple of years and none of them were capturing what I think Nick Jr. was trying to be.  What I really, personally, wanted to do, which was more about producing—I felt more comfortable producing—than I did as an executive.

Q: Because?

I like to be more hands-on.  As an executive, I think I would be too intrusive to their production process and I think better executives sort of let the producers and creators work on their own.  So, I would be my own worst nightmare as an executive.  Personally, I was feeling as if I really did not want to get back into production.

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Coffee with…Jeanne Ginsberg from the Playhouse Cooperative Nursery School

BY  |  Thursday, Jan 19, 2012 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (2)

In 1951, Jeanne Ginsberg and a group of mothers who wanted to be involved in their children’s early education founded the Playhouse Cooperative Nursery School.  In a rented space in a South Orange building, Jeanne and the parent volunteers worked together to create an environment that focused on individual learning, learning through play and peace and compassion for 10 children.

Today, the West Orange-based school incorporates these principles in its co-op pre-nursery and nursery programs, transitional kindergarten, all day school and summer camp programs for more than 100 children from Montclair, South and West Orange, Caldwell and Maplewood.  The school is also committed to creating classes that reflect cultural, religious and socioeconomic diversity (it offers sliding scale tuition based on annual family income.)

Tara Williams sat down with Ginsberg, 92, and the school’s education director for almost 50 years (she retired in the late 90s), to chat about her experience in childhood education.

Q: You were born in Newark?

Yes, I lived in a family home for over 40 years.  The (Playhouse) School had given me a sabbatical, and I spent a year in Denmark visiting preschools there.  I had a friend who lived there who was in charge of teacher education and she invited me to come.

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Coffee With…Roscoe Orman, aka Gordon From Sesame Street

BY  |  Wednesday, Aug 17, 2011 2:00pm  |  COMMENTS (3)

For more than 40 years, Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster and Grover, along with their human neighbors, have invited children to join them as they learn their ABC’s and 123’s on the world’s longest street, Sesame Street. The series will debut its 42nd season on September 26.

In 1974, Roscoe Orman, a stage and screen actor, joined the Sesame Street family as “Gordon,” the caring and patient, yet firm, teacher who adopted “Miles,” an 11-month infant (played by Orman’s real-life son) with “Susan,” his Sesame Street spouse, in 1985.

Tara Williams sat down with the Montclair resident to discuss his acting career, involvement with the Civil Rights Movement and his experience with the Emmy-Award winning children’s television show and American institution.

Q: How did you find about Montclair?

I have several friends who lived here for many years and I used to visit them quite often. I was really impressed with the feel of the community, particularly the school system, I was attracted to.

That combined with the fact that I had so many friends and colleagues—a few of them had a theater they were running for a while, Luna Stage. I became a board member shortly after moving here and I began teaching acting classes, and I did a few productions there, as well.

So, that was kind of nice to have—a home base as an actor. Basically, I’m a theater actor and that’s been my primary background. And I love the theater. If I could afford to live only doing theater, that’s what I would do.

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An Adult Adoptee’s Account

BY  |  Friday, Nov 05, 2010 8:30am  |  COMMENTS (1)

November is National Adoption Month and as a female Korean adoptee who grew up in an Italian and German-American family on Long Island in the 1970s and 1980s, I sometimes feel like a surrogate older sister who can guide the young Chinese and Korean daughters of my Caucasian friends through the feelings they may have about their identity and their adoptions.

When a Northwest jetliner delivered me to my mother and father at Kennedy Airport in 1972, the Long Island Press newspaper profiled my new parents and the process they underwent to adopt me in its article, “Jet-Propelled Stork; Airport Delivers Adopted Babies.”

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Hope with Homeschooling?

BY  |  Tuesday, Oct 19, 2010 2:00pm  |  COMMENTS (4)

The release of  Waiting for Superman, Academy-Award winning director Davis Guggenheim’s documentary about the state of public education in the United States and the national debate it sparked have inspired parents like me to demand a higher standard of teaching and accountability from my school district. It has also made me question whether institutional schooling will give my son the support and resources he needs to achieve his academic goals.

For many parents, homeschooling–parent-led home based education–has replaced the classroom.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), a non-profit homeschooling advocacy organization that provides research on homeschooling, there were an estimated 1.9 to 2.5 million children in grades K to 12 who were home-educated in the US in 2008-2009 and the homeschooling population continues to grow.

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The ABC’s of Gifted Children

BY  |  Thursday, Aug 19, 2010 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (10)

childwriting.jpgHas seven-year-old Michael ever announced, “Mommy and Daddy, I want to compose music like Mahler or Beethoven”; four-year old Emily voiced her concerns about global warming or three-year-old Aiden memorized and recited house and license plate numbers and asked you how these numbers were selected?

If your child popped these types of comments or questions on you, your immediate reaction may have been to:

A. Ask your child to repeat the information because you are sure your brain imagined or misheard it.
B. Think, “Wow, even though I only scored a 533 on the mathematics portion of my SATs, my kid is a genius!”
C. Experience an anxiety attack after you mentally calculated your contributions to that 529 plan.
After the jubilation of producing a genius wears off, you may wonder if your kid is legitimately advanced or gifted.

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