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Cindy L. Freeman – Children as Teachers, 4/13/19

In the forty-five years I spent teaching children from preschool through high school, they taught me more than I ever taught them.

With young children there is no need to guess. They are honest and guileless. They tell you exactly how they are feeling, and if not allowed to use words, they show their feelings through their behavior.

Six-year-old Greg (not his real name) was disruptive, interrupted with smart-aleck comments, and tested my boundaries at every turn. He was also bright and capable, but unproductive unless the attention focused solely on him. Outside the classroom, I noticed his mother seldom corrected him even when he was blatantly rude.

What Greg was trying to teach me was that his father was dying, and his mother was distracted. As his life spun out of control, he desperately needed to express the fear and frustration he felt. Like all children, Greg sought stability and predictability in his shaky world. Rather than coddle Greg, I was strict with him, requiring him to behave as a class leader. He still acted out periodically, but he learned to expect a swift consequence. Greg flourished in that environment, and his classmates began to not only tolerate him but include him. He taught me to look beyond outward behavior and that children will rise to the expectations placed upon them.

Seven-year-old James and his family had just emigrated to the United States from a South American country. His parents barely spoke English, but he and his younger sisters picked up the language quickly. James acted macho, entering the classroom like a bull in a china shop. Aggressive and clumsy, he invaded other children’s spaces and intimidated them.

James was trying to teach me that he didn’t feel confident in his abilities. Since he was afraid to try new things, he would play the clown, getting his classmates to laugh at his antics. It was his way of distracting others from his perceived failure.

I learned that James’ dad worked as a dishwasher in a local restaurant. The family lived in a trailer park with very few amenities. Sometimes James and his sisters were dirty and smelly, causing other children to shun them. But his parents were dedicated to building a good life for their family in America. His father took on multiple menial jobs trying to earn enough to support his family. Finally, his odd-jobs efforts helped him build a successful landscaping business. Eventually, James’ mother was able to begin taking some college courses. Through much hard work, James’ parents were on their way to achieving the American dream for their children. After they moved to Florida, James called me to tell me he missed me. I missed him, too.

Marissa was a seventh grader when she joined my youth choir. She was shy, not wanting attention drawn to her. She also had a learning disability which made reading difficult for her. But I had to discover this for myself by looking past the chip on her shoulder. Marissa would become angry and combative when she felt embarrassed by her disability. She needed help to follow a score but was ashamed to ask for it, rejecting it when offered. Although the other kids weren’t unkind to her, she just didn’t fit in.

Marissa taught me that even though she rebuffed attention, she desperately needed affirmation. She needed to feel that she was making a worthy contribution to the group. I began to look for ways to commend her, whether it was her singing posture or her ability to blend her voice with those around her. I established partnerships in the group, encouraging the pairs to support each other in any way their partner might need. Soon, Marissa was allowing her singing partner to help her put her music in order, find the right page, and follow the score. Marissa taught me that, to flourish, every child needs to feel included, valued, and productive.

The children in my classes and choirs taught me so many valuable lessons. What a privilege it was to learn from them for forty-five years.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room, and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cindy.l.freeman.9. Her books are available from amazon.com or hightidepublications.com.

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Susan Williamson – The College Scandal

Susan Williamson

The outrage is beginning to die down, but we are still hearing about the parents and “admission coach” who bribed and faked the way for many rich students to enter choice colleges. I think the part of this that bothers me the most is that fake sports prowess in water polo or rowing or sailing make a particular student more attractive to an ivy- league or other highly desirable school. The investigation showed that these students did not participate in the sport once they enrolled. But why does a university consider adeptness at water polo or rowing criteria for enrollment?

Back in the dark ages when I applied to college, I applied to three schools. I had good grades and decent SAT scores. Bucknell University accepted me but Allegheny College and Swarthmore did not. Was I beaten out by someone who could row or play water polo? Somehow I think not.

In my sophomore year I decided to transfer to the University of Kentucky because I wanted to major in agriculture. When I hadn’t heard anything by early summer, I was worried and called UK. Of course you will get in, they said. Were my classes easier at UK than at Bucknell? Did I have a lesser quality of instruction? Yes and no. The competition for grades was easier at UK and the curve less steep, but the instruction was excellent at both schools.

When I applied to grad school I was accepted at all three choices and chose the one which offered me the most money for a fellowship, the University of California at Davis. Many of my classmates at Davis were trying to get into vet school or medical school so the curve steepened. The instruction was again excellent and I was well prepared for it.

I never felt that I was handicapped by not attending a “top tier” school. I didn’t hobnob with a lot of now rich and famous people, but that was neither my nor my parents’ goal. My goal was to get a good education and take the maximum number of classes in order to get the most for my tuition. Twentieth century American novels and technical writing were not required for an ag major, but those classes no doubt helped with my writing career. And my father’s advice to earn a BS (and later an MS) led me to several teaching opportunities.

Looking back, I feel fortunate to have had the educational opportunities I did. I never earned a huge amount of money, but I had several fulfilling jobs. When it was time for our daughter to attend college, we told her we could send her to any state school in North Carolina where we lived at the time. She chose NC State and I believe received an excellent education. She applied and was accepted on her own merit—I cannot imagine doing otherwise.

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Sharon Canfield Dorsey – A New Year – A Day At A Time –April 1 – 11, 2019 – The Journey Continues…

APRIL 1, 2019: I cleaned house today, top to bottom.

April Fool! I just put things in less obvious places.

APRIL 2, 2019: We MUST keep talking about the caged children on the southern border.

Who is going to reunite them with their grieving parents?

APRIL 3, 2019: Forsythia and daffodils bloom like sunshine around the yard.

Pollen blooms like nuclear waste on the hood of my car.

APRIL 4, 2019: Saw a rabbit nibbling clover in the back yard.

Left a basket out in case it’s the Easter Bunny.

APRIL 5, 2019: I hate road work. Trucks run over me

while I’m driving the 50-mile-an-hour speed limit.

APRIL 6, 2019: A friend texted today just to say hello.

She must have known I needed a digital hug.

APRIL 7, 2019: My annual cardiology check-up was today.

Paid money for someone to tell me my heart is still beating.

APRIL 8, 2019: Thought I saw a spider on the carpet – was a piece of yarn.

It’s dead yarn now.

APRIL 9, 2019: Sad news is…I went to the movies alone today.

Good news is…I didn’t have to share my pizza.

APRIL 10, 2019: Wish I could win the lottery.

I’d pay off everybody’s student loans.

APRIL 11, 2019: Saw an interesting t-shirt today.

It said, “Go braless. It will pull the wrinkles out of your face.”

SHARON CANFIELD DORSEY is an award-winning author and poet. She has published four children’s books: Herman the Hermit Crab and the Mystery of the Big, Black, Shiny Thing; Revolt of the Teacups; Buddy and Ballerina Save the Library, illustrated by her granddaughters; and Buddy the Bookworm Rescues the Doomed Books; a memoir, Daughter of the Mountains; and two books of poetry, Tapestry; and Captured Moments.

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Cindy L. Freeman – Using Time Wisely, 4/9/19

Cindy Freeman

You’ve heard the saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” I suppose that’s because busy people must be efficient with their limited time. I’ve noticed the more time I have, the more I waste. When I’m the busiest, I seem to accomplish the most.

Last week, I was preparing for guests to stay with us for several days. I needed to dust, vacuum and mop the whole house, scrub the bathrooms, clean out the refrigerator, sweep the garage, prepare the guest bedroom and bathroom with clean sheets and towels, buy groceries—okay, I don’t get credit for that since my husband does the grocery shopping—cook some meals to access quickly while they’re here, arrange tickets for sightseeing activities, etc. The list goes on. Amidst all that, I participated in two critique-group sessions, edited a novel, and wrote three chapters of my memoir.

This week? Let’s just say I’ve been less productive.

I sit at the computer and go through the motions, but then I notice the birdfeeder outside the window. I should tell my husband it’s almost empty again. The cardinals are busy. I wonder if they have a nest nearby. What do cardinal eggs look like? I’ll do a Google search. There’s a picture. I didn’t know cardinal eggs were speckled. How interesting! And cardinals often mate for life. Here’s an interesting article: Fun Facts About Cardinals. It says the cardinal’s life span is about three years. Since they don’t migrate, we might see the same birds at our feeder year after year. Oh, there’s that pesky squirrel! We named him Fat Albert for obvious reasons. Okay, back to work.

I can’t seem to concentrate, so I make a cup of coffee and try again. Wow! Just look at those redbuds across the street. They’re in full bloom. So pretty! Soon, the dogwoods will sprout blossoms. I love spring!

I haven’t heard from my grandsons in a couple weeks. I text the older one and email the three younger ones. Just quick notes to let them know I’m thinking about them. Now back to work.

Surely, I can write a sentence, just one sentence. Maybe if I take a walk, the exercise will energize me.

My thirty-minute walk turned into an hour, but it would have been rude to pass my neighbors and their dogs without stopping to chat. Right? Now I’m ready to churn out a chapter or two. Nope! Not happening. I’ll edit instead. Oops! Time for lunch.

With a full stomach, I’m ready for a productive afternoon, but first I’ll wash all those sheets and towels left behind by my guests. How can I concentrate with laundry hanging over my head?

At last, with the washer and dryer fully engaged, I can handle my overflowing inbox and get started on this week’s blog post. But I have a deadline to meet on editing that novel. Yes, I’d better finish that first.

Fun, fun, fun! How did I get so fortunate as to be paid for reading interesting novels? And it took only three hours to edit 20,000 words of a 65,000-word book. At this rate, I’ll be finished by dinner time.

The dryer stopped. I should fold those clothes before they wrinkle.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room, and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cindy.l.freeman.9. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com.

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Larry Finkelstein -Organizational vs Employee Loyalty

I sometimes hear complaints from employers that they don’t think their employees are very loyal and I am always hearing from job seekers that they have not and do not expect loyalty from employers. A lot of truth on both sides but neither is totally correct, since I see both sides of the situation and see great loyalty from some employers and employees. Still…

People need to take control over their own careers as much as possible. The sense of real community and commitment that many organizations use to express is over. Gone are the long-term commitments, significant benefits and extensive training that once exited (there are always exceptions).

The idea that you will stay with an organization for a long period is increasingly rare. To take care of yourself you need to:

  • Find situations where you are a good match
  • Keep your skills up-to-date
  • Keep track of your accomplishments
  • Keep your resume up-to-date
  • Constantly network
  • Be flexible
  • Be open to new possibilities