Reading Room

Dr. Mae's Musings

I read about a super gal who transitioned from one aspiration to another with grace. She was always a strong student and energetic. While in high school she took part in lots of theatrical productions, while in competitive classes. Then she was cast in a movie and during production and post production reevaluated. We had already applied to colleges and she decided to defer and take a Gap year. During that time we met often to discuss what next. The Gap year was productive in which she taught dance and we focused on using her already strong skills in communication to find the right program. Additionally she took classes at Bucks County Community College in journalism. What we came to was using the brilliant talents she had as a communicator in another direction. Ultimately she entered George Washington University in the prestigious school of Political Communications. While at GW, she thrived in academics and involvement in many activities. While in college she began first interning and then working in large production and communication companies. I kind of followed her travels and work history for a bit. Then this morning I read that last year she entered the Stern School of Business at NYU. What a start, never dwelling taking a gift and expanding it. I so love counseling kids that have open ears and hearts and are in the process of discovering themselves (life-long I might add)


I am determined, I can make it real, I do practice, I will capture my Gold.

Track cycling champion Christine D’Ercole translates her winning strategy to Peloton classes and I got to see that strategy live, as she took to the track to win the Gold. Along with her cycling, Christine conducts WordShop’s™ in which you attack debilitating self-talk, changing the words that don’t serve you. I am both her indoor cycling student and attend WordShop’s ™, which have showed me that even a 70+ year-old cyclist can capture their own Gold.

Valley Preferred Cycling Center, in Breinigsville, PA (T-Town) is regarded as one of the top cycling tracks in the United States, cycling is my lifelong passion, and July 13-15th was my first time at a real track a place where top competitive cyclists race, and amateur cyclists train and race.

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A Story

Once there was a girl from Connecticut, and she was very diligent. This girl had really strong grades and lots of activities. Her mom, was an acrobat and her dad a juggler. She had lots of love and was a leader at her school. When it came time to apply for college, she was very picky. This amazing girl would only attend a school in Boston or New York. She was not sure about Chicago, hated the South and Philadelphia. Baltimore was out of the question. She worked very had on her applications, and presented herself well. Her test scores although fine-were a little low for her aspirations that year. Barnard College, was her Early Decision choice and rejection was difficult for her to accept. Unfortunately, she had withheld other applications and was scrambling to get them in by the deadline. I encouraged her to apply to Manhattan College, a smaller school in Riverdale with great internships, strong alumni network, and a solid Business program. Come March, more rejections-and she had to decide between Boston University and Manhattan College. At the later she was put into the Honors program and had a huge Merit scholarship. Her parents had saved $100.000 for her college education and if she attended Manhattan she would graduate debt free. The girl was intent on going to Boston University, where she would have massive debt. However with some coaching she decided on Manhattan. The first two years were difficult, she dreamed of the Ivies and planned to put in applications but never did. Manhattan College, grew on her and she was massively successful. I checked in on her this summer and her Dad thanked me for recommending Manhattan College. PS she had a great internship on Wall Street (her goal) The End for now.

Making Do

All my friends wore crinolines and long-line bras and I relished having these two extraordinary undergarments. Crinolines were those big puffy undergarments that made your skirt flounce. I have no idea how one of these long garments came into my position, maybe it was secondhand from Joyce and Cynthia, my friends from the Jewish Alps in the Catskills where I spent my summers. I knew that it didn’t come from shopping because since my mother died, it was all second-hand. I remember setting my hair with bobby pins the night before and in the morning using an inordinate amount of spray-net to keep it in place. My plan was to be gorgeous for Dennis Flynn, a tall blond that went to Saint Cecilia’s the local Catholic Church. I dressed carefully, making sure my crinoline was in place by folding over the waistband and making it secure with a safety pin. Making do was a common occurrence in my life. A crisp white blouse topped my green and white-striped skirt. I had gone to the 5 and 10 the day before and purchased Fire Engine Red Lipstick. I felt like a movie star. I put on some short green gloves and proceeded to walk down Teaneck Road past the Jewish Community Center in spike heels with pointed toes. I recognized him from a distance -- Dennis Flynn, my heartthrob from Catholic school. I froze in front of him, not knowing what to say, and it was then that my crinoline fell to the ground, the safety pin failed. I remember picking it up and walking on.

2015 written for Talk Story at Bucks County Playhouse

To Transfer, Or Not?

I learn so much working with my students on college, graduate school and to transfer from one place to another. So many takeaways, each unique and important to that individual. About this time last year, I received a call from a student that was very unhappy at his college. He had attended a fine private high school, had good grades and test scores. However, competition being what it is when the big envelops arrived was not accepted into his first choice. The college that he accepted is a wonderful school, albeit large with limited flexibility in curriculum. The young man became frustrated, as he decided on a major requiring cross-disciplinary opportunity. When we met, I began with background information. It turned out that he had never sent his Subject Test scores to his colleges. The advisor at his school did not look into such things, leaving them up to the individual student. This young many had three perfect or almost perfect scores-which could have made a difference in his acceptance. We submitted a new application, sent all his scores, and he began the wait. Late last spring he was accepted to Haverford College, a perfect and challenging Liberal Arts school, where he is now thriving. Another transfer share is of the Robotics whiz who dreamed of Vanderbilt. He was an amazing albeit anxious student. Vanderbilt rejected him, and off he went to another college where he thrived. However, he decided to try again-and was accepted. Last summer we met to ponder his decision-whether to stay where he was successful or attend his original choice. We searched for research opportunities in Robotics, and found Vanderbilt Medical School was using Robotics in surgery. He decided to make the move, and according to his mother is doing well. Transferring is complicated often the student puts in applications and then decides to stay up at their home school. This fall, a student that I know well and worked with for many hours was very unhappy at his Southern university. He was in a competitive Computer Science program and thriving. However, in life he has always been a misfit. This young man is very rigid, highly intelligent, and conservative in life choices. He does not drink, is a voracious reader of history, and enjoys the company of adults. My student yearned for friends, to have a girl friend, and a social life which has always evaded him. We applied to other universities with a similar computer science program, and he was accepted at every one. However, when we spoke he had decided, much to his parents delight to stay put. I think that he just had to know he would take himself wherever he went. Life will bring this young man choices maybe not in the chaotic world of colleges but surely he will meet, "his" people.

My life has been blessed, and enriched by supporting others-which in turn supports my own happiness. I think joy is circular-and manifests in every nook and cranny when we take time to observe and commit to action.

Dr. Mae's Musings

Musing with Gratitude

Growing up, I was fortunate to instinctively develop discernment-that was necessary for survival. Observing those around me, I saw differences and that what seemed obvious might not be so. Quite left to my own resources, a small group of people welcomed myself and my brother into their homes. The sadness at being neglected was assuaged by learning that soft-loving hearts were not the property of one race or religion. Among the open-doors were the local Syrian families and Armenian's. George the barber cut my hair at not cost until I left the area at eighteen.I will never forget his kindness nor that of his family. What a treat to have delicious meals where I encountered a life-long love of Middle Eastern food. Hospitality and inclusiveness was without pity or self-aggrandizement. Such kindness, built my heart of compassion and not bitterness and to them I bow.

A Path to the Ivies

My path to the Ivy League, began like most with good grades, however, the key was not grades. Registration for classes junior year at the University of California at San Francisco, I met two girls Diane and Debbie. Long time residents of the city, one was of Italian heritage and the other African American. We formed a team took classes and studied together. Soon after the semester began we heard about the Reading Improvement Center led by William P.J. Costello. If myth is right, he was fired from the Boston school system for using comic books to teach reading. We took the requisite training in phonemic awareness, phonics and comprehension in a great workbook that I still have. Costello, had a mantra, " The alphabet has 26 letters and 44 learn .. you can do it", We did some research and asked if we could implement the program at an alternative Rooftop School and a Girls detention Center. At first they were hesitant, but agreed.. especially because the girls were locked up. Off we went twice weekly teaching reading-incorporating creative dramatics and lots of TLC. I remember going to a dance with the girls at a boys center, Our volunteering took hours, literally, Friday nights, and continued after we graduated. Fond memories.. when I applied to Columbia with the lowest test scores since I had no math since high school-I found out that the head of the entire education department wrote a recommendation. Here is the key, get out of the box, do something that is impassioned, be a self-started in whatever the discipline. Diane, Debbie and I did not spend hours to get into the Ivies.. we did our job to be better teachers and for love.

Thinking back to when I began counseling college and graduate students

This past weekend, I consulted with a family that asked about my background and how I became a college and graduate school counselor. It had been many years, since I went back to thinking about working in Graduate Admissions at Columbia.I learned how students were selected, and that being rejected did not mean that they were unqualified-just not right for the program. A short time later, opening my learning center, I received a call from Stanley Bosworth, the founder and Head of St. Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights. He asked if I would be willing to hire one of his students as a tutor. Ian was brilliant and stayed on for years. I kept in touch with Stanley through Ian and other students he recommended and was able to observe and learn how special his college prep program was. Ian left us when he graduated from St. Ann's attended MIT and later received a doctorate from University of California at San Diego. Other peer tutors followed, many of whom are friends on Facebook. Other schools sent students in need of a job including Carmine Farina the current Chancellor of Education in New York City whose daughter Marisa worked in as a peer tutor for years.It felt so good to give teens meaningful work. In my own background, my jobs were mostly horrible and exploited my time and talents. Everyone of the peer tutors has become an amazing adult productive adult...and I do what I did way back then to the best of my ability.

Red Lantern

Growing up, hours were spent listening to the radio. One the most memorable Saturday morning radio programs theme still haunts me. A fatherly fish named Red Lantern guided two children (who surely I identified as my brother David and me) deep into the Land of the Lost. Every show opened with the same line: “In that wonderful kingdom at the bottom of the sea” lost objects are stored beneath the waves. In the fathomless deep could be found precious objects waiting to be claimed by their child.

I remember going to sleep with the voice of the Red Lantern, most memorably played by the late Art Carney, soothing me deep to the land of dreams. At the bottom of my sea was a teddy bear I particularly loved and slept with every night until once, sick with a bug, I vomited all over it. I remember crying and crying when I could not find him again, and those dream times in the depth of the ocean helped make the loss more palatable. I seemed to know that love, although no longer tangible, could always be found in the heart.

Paying for College-Work can Work

How to pay for college, is on the mind of many families. My own experience, way back was the knowledge that any education I received would be paid for by work. Good fortunate, and being observed by experienced teachers allowed me to find jobs in my field from the second semester at community college. Small scholarships, were supplemented by full time jobs. At Teachers College - Columbia University​, I found a position through the employment center at Alfred Einstein Hospital which unbeknownst to me was affiliated with the Health and Hospital Workers Union, that contributed to my education. I graduated owing $13,000. Today, I am working with students who are doing the same, of course their college experience (fun) is measured differently. But life always has gives and takes, my Community college students often have 4 jobs.Here is a hint.. if this is your situation-make sure to find positions in your field or related to it. This means like me working in schools/hospitals, editing for a professor, restaurant work (hospitality major's), etc..This requires effort, and results in a strong resume and employment upon graduation. The adage Theory without Practice-world firm.

My mentor Professor Leslie R. Williams

Goodbye, Professor Leslie R. Williams

Every so often, I receive an alumni newsletter from Columbia University Teachers College where I completed my doctorate.

This month brought sad news: my department chair, dissertation advisor, mentor and friend — Dr. Leslie R. Williams — had died at the age of 63 from colon cancer.

Leslie was a remarkable woman; one who changed the course of my own life and many others as well. She saw potential, had the highest expectations and demanded rigor. Her will to provide the highest standards for every child was unshakable.

Leslie was devoted to advancing the importance of early childhood education in general and specifically multicultural education. The author of 15 books, many articles, even an encyclopedia, this woman was a tireless advocate for children.

Her influence extended well beyond these United States, especially with educators dedicated to establishing early childhood programs, including those for indigenous peoples.

Coming from a large family of limited means, she financed her own education through scholarships and jobs. Dyslexic at a time when the term was primarily equated with a lack of intelligence provided an extra struggle.

Defying these odds, she was accepted at St. Paul’s for advanced studies after high school followed by an undergraduate degree at Wellesley, master’s at Harvard and education doctorate at the Teachers College.

An amazing education, indeed, and having achieved this pinnacle, she wholeheartedly believed others could as well. Leslie recognized every student deserved to be taught with the highest standards, and it was the job of the teacher to find out what strategies best-suited individual children.

My first choice for graduate school was the Bank Street College of Education with its outstanding programs and long history of excellence. Having earned honors in California with all the requisite experience and recommendations, I felt fairly confident I would be accepted.

Well, that was not the case, evidenced when the thin envelope arrived at my apartment. Needless to say, I was devastated.

Several weeks later, I received a call from graduate admissions at Bank Street. They were re-evaluating my application to see if a mistake was made in rejecting me. I inquired as to why I had been denied in the first place. ”From what we ascertain, you have been responsible for yourself since childhood. We do not know how you will be with a mentor or if you can work under someone successfully,” was the reply.

I assured her I had had no difficulties working under people, especially when given respect. The committee again reviewed my application, but I was again rejected, much to the expressed sorrow of the woman who called me.

Further demoralized, I was at a crossroads. In retrospect, the Bank Street rejection opened the door to another and more personally appropriate situation.

Depressed about my future after having worked so hard throughout my schooling as an adult learner, I was close to giving up. A friend suggested going up to Columbia.

I was doubtful: how in the world would the most prestigious education school in the country even look at my application after the debacle at Bank Street?

Nevertheless, I made an appointment where I first encountered Professor Leslie R. Williams, who then was fairly new to the department of curriculum and teaching. She was a formidable yet friendly presence, and her eyes spelled welcome.

She took me into her office, and we spoke for quite a while. I told her about my background, the tutoring program I started in San Francisco and my goals for children.

She shared her story of being dyslexic and working her way through Wellesley, Harvard and then Columbia University Teachers College.

At the end of the interview, she encouraged me to apply into the doctoral program rather then for a master’s degree. Leslie told me that from our interview she believed I could make a unique contribution to the lives of children.

That short visit changed the course of my life. I did complete the application and was one of the few students admitted to the doctoral program in curriculum and teaching that year.

This acceptance has led me to believe in the miraculous with my own students, knowing that, without exploration and even risk, you may never find that right school and the educators best suited to develop your particular talents.

Leslie’s classes were difficult with voluminous materials to be mastered. She was distressed at educational trends that fostered so-called “dumbing down” or oversimplification of curriculum.

Rather then a degradation of intellectual standards, she taught us the converse: to prepare each and every student with the optimal education.

Having Leslie R. Williams as a mentor left an indelible impression on my philosophy of education as well as my heart. It is her influence that makes me disheartened when potential teachers in my foundations classes reveal their most admired teacher was like a friend or used the word “crap” in class.

Such teachers make it more difficult for those with higher more professional standards on the part of instructors. Used to being spoon-fed diluted materials, students squirm and kvetch when higher standards are expected.

Several high school students recently complained to me about an English teacher who requested they call her Mrs. instead of by her first name. They were also frustrated that diagramming sentences was a requirement and essays had to follow the professional MLA format.

Used to informality and the latitude of having been taught by “pal” teachers, this more rigorous instructor received a plethora of negative comments on the student-driven Web site — Rate My Teacher.

Those instructors that dumb down the material often receive four stars, and the ultimate criteria for approval is the easy A for the course.

How sad this lax and demeaning attitude is! Instead of dumbing down the curriculum, why not try ratcheting it up?

Yes, ratcheting up the curriculum is exactly what my highly rated professor would have agreed to. Well before No Child Left Behind, this was her philosophy.

Sounds old-fashioned, I know, yet I believe Dr. Leslie R. Williams would concur that by raising educational standards, we raise potential and each student’s ability to achieve.


Two great stories of tenacity. One former college prep student went off to a college down south. She was not ready, and had some serious issues to confront. Additionally, it did not offer her major which was engineering. Needless to say she failed out and came home for a year. Subsequently she entered the local community college where she received straight A's. From their I worked with her on graduate school and she was accepted to Temple University where she thrived. I just read on that she has promoted to a Senior Systems engineer at Lockheed.

Another former student was accepted to small college as an art major. She came from an independent school where the science program lagged. Once she graduated, finding meaningful work proved difficult. We had one meeting where she shared her ambition to become a nurse. However she would need at least a year for the science requirements. Time passed and this fall she completed those classes and yesterday wrote that she was accepted to the Columbia University Irving School of Nursing in the competitive program for students who did not graduate with an undergraduate degree in the field.

I am thrilled that both students trusted and came back to work with me. When I get sad during these time such news perks me up knowing that I am really good at what I do.

Why Write about the Weather?

The doors opened. in the back of a daycare center on Court Street in 1983-where I sat in a little desk awaiting my first clients. I was grateful to a former fellow doctoral student at Teachers College - Columbia University who let me share her space. Advertising, was doing door to door and writing letters on pasteboard that were placed in the shop window. Over fifteen years-that storefront was home and holds such special memories and love. One of my earliest collaborators was Maryanne Miceli since deceased-way too early. She was a special education teacher in Park Slope, Brooklyn and tutored students with reading and writing problems on the side. We wrote many proposals together, and often discussed teaching methods. This was the time that learning disabilities were barely acknowledged and special education classrooms were often dumping grounds for children will kinds of needs. Maryanne and I were both fortunate to have had prior experience with Orton-Gillingham methods-and had taught remedial writing. One of the tried and true topics of story starters was to write about the seasons, which I found impossibly dull. The reasons behind this choice were that seasons were neutral. Who wants neutral writing, I wondered? And from my own perspective this topic was meaningless. Fast forward over the decades and we find Common Application topics which can be interpreted with the same cliches as the story-starters of old. Maybe that is why these topics were picked-but since the change of options two years ago--so many personal statements that I see, need to be rewritten or cast aside. Summer is hot, winter cold, spring warm, fall, pretty---who cares? I miss giving students the chance to talk about a book, artist, piece of music, film that inspires them.. and yes topic of your choice...sigh excuse the diatribe..but having been deluged with essay's about seasons this is probably why although I love being in Talk Story the topic of Tales told in Winter brought back memories of correcting so many papers that said exactly the same thing.

The Hidden Saints- Dr. Janusz Korczak

"Hidden Saints" antidote to world in chaos

The holidays are upon us when families and friends come together from far and wide to bask in the felicity of the season.

This year, however, some may find loved ones missing at the table; young men and women in the armed services will not be homebound. They are stationed in dangerous corners of the world, both prey and predator, combing ancient lands at a time of war.

Peace can seem as far off in the new millennium as during the '60s when young men and women fought in the marshes of Vietnam. I salute the sacrifices of these young people, and I hope their courage does not go unheeded. Keeping abreast of the daily escalating horrors is overwhelming.

My personal antidote, since childhood, when faced with a world in chaos, was to think about those individuals who were not afraid to keep their eyes on the power of love and peace, often at grave personal cost, even death: the hidden saints.

According to the Talmud, the hidden saints are responsible for the welfare of the universe. The righteous are just 36 in number and are amongst us in every generation. At times of danger, they use their hidden powers to defeat enemies, and as mysteriously as they appear, they fade into obscurity.

One of the righteous is Janusz Korczak (1876-1942), a doctor and child psychologist from Warsaw, Poland, whose story I would like to share. I first read about Dr. Korczak 20 years ago from an article in the New York Times.

The accompanying picture was of a girl was of a young, round-faced girl with a captivating expression. The article described the orphanage where she lived in Warsaw, named for Dr. Korczak, and described the theories of education Dr. Korczak had used with Jewish and Catholic orphans in the 1930s:

"He envisioned a world in which children structured their own world and became experts in their own matters."

Peer and staff review maintained order, not harsh discipline or adult supremacy. Every week, a children's court was scheduled to voice grievances, allow the accused to present evidence and mete out punishment, if necessary.

This reminded me of how Father Edward Flanagan disciplined his beloved urchins at Boys Town USA. I was intrigued by the piece and wanted to learn more about Dr. Korczak.

Those bygone days were before the Internet and immediate responses to questions. My search entailed calling the Midtown Manhattan Library, which undertook a search of the literature available on this man. The materials that turned up were written primarily in Hebrew and Polish, neither of which was known to me.

Finally, two small booklets, printed in Israel and written in English, came into my hands. His remarkable contributions to child welfare and sacrifice of this unique man rendered the search more than worthwhile.

Dr. Korczak was an exceptional human being and advocate for all children. He was an assimilated Polish Jew who had served in the Russian Army.

Born Henryk Goldszmit in Warsaw, Poland, in 1876, he coined the pen name of Janusz Korczak when, as a young man, he began publishing children's stories. He went on to become a medical doctor and educator and had a popular radio program in which he offered advice to parents on child rearing.

Eventually, he gave up his medical practice and served as director of the Polish and Jewish orphanages in Warsaw. Never materialistic and disdaining pomp and artifice, he chose to live in a small room at the Jewish orphanage.

Dr. Korczak was known throughout Europe for training teachers in moral education and humanizing orphanages. His theories of education were child-centered and stressed tolerance and patience.

Many visitors came to the orphanage where he resided to observe the famous Dr. Korczak and found it difficult to distinguish him from the domestic staff.

Children sensed Dr. Korczak loved them and wanted to please him. A shy and socially awkward man, he was most comfortable in their presence. The orphanage was a secure, safe and orderly place — the only home many of the children ever knew, and many remembered their time there as the happiest they ever knew.

Eventually, most of the staff was comprised of people who grew up at the orphanages.

When Poland was invaded in 1939, he had many opportunities to emigrate to freedom on a kibbutz in Israel, but it was not in his character to seek personal safety when others had no recourse. Dr. Korczak and devoted members of his staff stayed in Poland, knowing full well those who remained put their own lives in jeopardy.

Soon, thereafter, the orphanage was moved behind the wall of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Dr. Korczak became a master of the black market, securing foodstuffs and medications that were necessary to keep the children as healthy as possible. The staff tried to keep the ghetto orphanage organized and adhered to the same routine that existed on the outside with few exceptions.

The children began to perform in plays that were opened to the public. The material chosen often had an underlying message of courage and fortitude.

August 1942, after two years of near starvation, declining health standards and privation in the ghetto orphanage, the end came. The children were ordered to report to the train station at Umschlagplatz for relocation to the East.

The night before the children were to be led away, they put on a performance of a one-act play by Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore entitled, "The Post Office."

When Mahatma Gandhi saw this play in Calcutta in 1917, he wrote, "I did not have enough of it, but what I did have had a most soothing effect upon my nerves which are otherwise always on trial."

Irish poet W.B. Yates echoed these sentiments, noting, "On the stage, the little play shows it is very perfectly constructed and conveys to the right audience an emotion of gentleness and peace."

When Dr. Korczak was asked why he chose the "The Post Office," he answered "Eventually one had to learn serenely the angel of death."

The audience was riveted by the play. Amal, a gentle, imaginative boy who has been adopted by a poor couple, is confined to his room with a serious illness. Forbidden by the village doctor to go outside, he is shut in from the world of nature, like the orphans awaiting an uncertain future.

The children at the orphanage were aware of their real destination; news of the extermination of the Jews had flooded Warsaw. Dr. Korczak and his staff were prepared.

Bold and courageously, they led the "Army of Children" to overcrowded trains and certain death at Treblinka.

Jehoshua Perle later wrote an eyewitness account in his book, "The Destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto: "A miracle occurred, two hundred pure souls, condemned to death, did not weep. Not one of them ran away. None tried to hide. Like stricken swallows, they clung to their teacher and mentor, to their father and brother, Janusz Korczak."

The children wal

ked quietly to the station in clean and meticulously cared for clothes. German, Ukrainian, Polish and Jewish policeman fired upon their procession as they walked by them. Perle describes the last march of the orphans foreshadowed the destruction of the ghetto itself.

The memory of that sad day lives on memorialized. The Poles regard Dr. Korczak as a martyr, who, had he been born Catholic, would have been canonized a saint.

The Israelis revere Dr. Korczak as one of the "Thirty-Six Just Men" whose souls make possible the world's salvation.

And when the notorious Treblinka was transformed from a vast crematorium into a memorial rock garden with 17.000 thousand stones representing the millions of men, women and children that died there, there was only one that was given a personal inscription — "Janusz Korczak and the Children."

And so ends my story, and I go back to the news of bombings and death.

The importance of Focused Curriculum in Teacher Training

Last night, Talk Story-Tales told in Winter gave a brief reading at the Lambertville Library. We were asked to describe what work we did and a little about our background. After the reading was a question and answer session, in which I shared that at college (undergraduate school) I had majored in storytelling and Children's Literature. How could this be? Well, at San Francisco State University it was the first year that the Ryan Act was implemented (Leo Ryan, later murdered at Jonestown)--this teacher preparation program was to my memory curriculum based and these topics were my choice having been an actress. How wonderful, our major instructor majored in Children's Literature at Northwestern University (Can no longer find this major)-our course were so interesting with an emphasis on storytelling of all kinds- I remember my final, overly ambitions, reducing Wagner's Ring for Young Children. Concurrently, myself and several classmates took classes at the Reading Improvement Center where we learned how to teach reading. Putting these skills together we designed programs for incarcerated teens, and for an experimental school. These projects, continued after we graduated on to other things. I feel so fortunate to have had that focused curriculum background which has served me so well as I continued to study at Teachers College - Columbia University for my doctorate--and today teaching Literacy and Language Development. While I was focusing on my areas of interests others were focusing on art, science, mathematics..I believe as specialists those of us fortunate enough to attend college at that time in all likelihood made significant contributions to our students.. excuse the diatribe.

Talk Story at the Bucks County Playhouse.. I will be sharing a few

Hester Kamin: TALK STORY: TALES TOLD IN WINTER on tour! December 8 at Lambertville Free Public Library, 7:00PM. December 10 at Bucks County Playhouse, BIG SHOW, 8:00PM. December 16 at Farley's Book Shop, 7:00PM. Real people. Real stories. Join the circle.


Comprised childhood's, in fact an honest examination of one's impressions of a life can open the door to untold gifts. Sharing as an extension of my yesterday's status, a little anecdote. My first learning center was located in a basement on Court Street in Brooklyn Heights. This to my knowledge was the first of its kind outside of the great Stanley Kaplan who was focusing on test preparation. My brother happened to be in town, and quietly observed me working with a high school student named Matthew. This young man was having social and academic problems at school. He was Gay at the beginning of the AIDS pandemic in 1982, parents divorcing, and Mom diagnosed with Breast Cancer. His reputation amongst many was horrific. When I spoke with him, perhaps and yes tapping into my own memories-he left our session with Hope, and returned often. My brother later told me, "You have found your gift"--and that is my hope for all...

Avoid College Debt

I know that I often pontificate about colleges-that is my job. Here goes, many families tell me that attending a community college will not provide a 'college experience'. These good folk have been putting aside funds since the birth of their child and have about $70.000 or so. Sounds like enough to pay for college? Hardly, just a little over 2 years at some and 1 year at others. Of course their is merit awards at some schools, and scholarships--but not all will quality. It is important to read the fine print on individual college websites. Then why not think about a 2 year start at a place like Bucks County Community College. This college and others like them have activities, sports, and in this case an Honors program. Doing well at a Community College, can assure a successful transition and lack of debt. What a student experiences is up to them be it Ivy or a commuter school. Debt ties a noose around someone's neck, freedom from debt in my opinion is a much better choice.

Personal Statements Rock

I liked it better when college essay's were called Personal Statement's. What formally, were reflective pieces that delved and perhaps illuminated a person's heart, are being plucked over as if they were in school essays. The problem is many become generic-and not probing. Over the years, I have known so many students that shared really unique interesting pieces from Math problems they designed (Princeton acceptance), poetry, and fictional noir romances 9

Tray Lovejoy---

Oberlin)...have always been careful to tell my students not to share too much until spring perhaps-as the reflection should be their own.. copy-editing of course for grammar--but ah...probably this is the wave of the future and it will be almost impossible to tell one essay from another..except for those that really stand out-the creative iconoclast that goes right to the big envelope.

The College Essay and some Pitfalls

The college essay's shared by the New York Times several days ago are excellent. Each of the winners in a competition about going through difficult financial times had stories to tell. Yet, if taken to heart by this year's and future college aspirants I am concerned. I expect some to feel guilty that they have not suffered from being evicted, having periods of homelessness, experience a parent's loss of income and the like. All are catastrophic life experiences that the essayists dealt with insight and grit. However, I have to issuer a warning to others that they need not have confronted such situations to write a marvelous college essay. The essay or personal statement need not be contrived and the smallest incident if heartfelt can bloom. Autobiographic writings came naturally to me in my study of theater and later with an undergraduate major in Children's Literature and Storytelling. Working in Admissions at Columbia University, I learned the difference between a graduate more informative statement of purpose and what undergraduate statements drew the attention of the readers. Then later still, the person that I consider to be a genius in encouraging the best college essays was the late and sorely missed Stanley Bosworth Stanley Bosworth, who founded St. Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights... His appreciation of individualism drew out the minutest experience into extraordinary revealing works. The college essay or personal statement is an exploration--and pitfalls need be avoided--saving the world at 17 years-old- most travelogues- forged essays about the death of a relative or friend-the did not exist or was not known. And of course recycling used works. I love seeing a college essay evolve be it empirical, poetic, or literary. Getting to know a person through writing is such a window and creative process when honest. And I have read some of students that consider they to be terrible writers to put forth a simple statement that is profound and beautifully evocative.

Over the course of a lifetime, I and I hope you have been fortunate to experience great teaching. As a teenager, I was fortunate to work at the North Jersey Playhouse/Playhouse on the Mall where I met one of my foremost mentors to whom I remain indebted and kept in contact over many years. Henry Sutton, a gem of a man as you can see from the picture with the telephone taught me so many things about life beyond the stage. "There are no small parts, only small players."

Robert Moore was a brilliant director who died of AIDS far too young. He was so vibrant and always found a way to squeeze me into a part regardless of how small-reemphasizing that one-line can done with passion can captivate an audience. William (Bill) Hickey, was my acting teacher for over three-years from the age of 19 on. He was a genius, sensitive, precise, and beyond compare. To know him was to love hime and accord the highest level of respect. Bill was the consummate instructor and actor. Most of what I learned about teaching comes from those years with Bill--what gratitude fills my heart and memories. One of Bill's good friends was Elaine May who taught the advanced class when Bill was recovering from an accident. What an honor, and what commitment to excellence. Classes had no time limit and when the studio space was no longer available we moved to my apartment next to HB. Eternal gratitude-- These four stand out in my life, and hopefully their gifts have passed through to my students for oh these many years.

We are Still waiting for Affordable Childcare

The year 1971 was slated to become a seminal year for supporters of affordable child care. Advocates concerned about meeting the needs of working parents and ensuring the benefits of early childhood education had long lobbied Congress to take up their cause, and the dream was within reach. The Senate and the House of Representatives both approved a Comprehensive Child Development Bill, which mandated the right of all children to be given child care with a priority to those in economic, social or family need. The bill included federal standards for quality control, staff training and securing facilities. The fee for service would be on a sliding scale according to income. President Richard M. Nixon was on record as supporting a federal role in child care. The passage of this bill would permit mothers, especially those heading single-parent households, to seek employment.

It was a time of great optimism, which soon faded as Nixon vetoed the legislation under pressure from his conservative constituents. Nixon's change of heart dashed the hopes of advocates and families who were unable to either find or afford adequate services. His veto continues to have vast ramifications in the kind, type and accountability of services provided for children in this country.

At the time of Nixon's veto, I was completing an undergraduate degree with a specialization in children's literature and a credential to teach reading at San Francisco State University. As a student teacher, I spent hours observing classrooms and substitute teaching in San Francisco's long-standing Child Development Program, which had been established in 1943.

This program was much like that mandated under the Comprehensive Childcare Bill. The department was opened during the World War II when women worked around the clock in factories to support the war effort. Twenty-four hour day care was necessary for these brave "Rosie the Riveters," who proved middle-class women were fully capable of working outside of the home.

Other parts of the country had similar programs, which were closed when the war ended. Yet the San Francisco programs have continued to grow. Teachers at these centers are qualified and credentialed experts in early childhood education. They meet health and safety standards required of all schools and reflect the diverse populations of that city.

Working with and observing these programs was a wonderful opportunity and illustrated how outstanding early childhood programs served communities and could do the same if similar programs were in place countrywide.

A federally funded grant I worked under in New York exposed me to the ramifications of what can happen in unregulated day care. The grant to train and evaluate programs was headed by the late Dr. Martin Deutsch, a professor at New York University. He was well known as the father of Head Start, which evolved from the programs he developed in Harlem during the early 1960s.

Head Start programs continue to thrive and are federally funded. These centers have accredited teachers, assistant teachers and class size restricted to 15 students. The children are exposed to a range of literature, music and the arts.

A goal of our grant was to translate many of Head Start's successes into the non-regulated programs. Happily, some of these child-care centers stand out in memory as outstanding. In particular, the Haitian American Day Care Center, had a cohesive program, was spotless, with a top-flight administrative staff. Although many of the teachers were not certified in this country, they had the necessary accreditation from Haiti. The program was bilingual, administered in English and Haitian Creole. When children grew too old to attend the daycare center, they passed on to a local elementary school with a similar mission. When the school day ended, it was back to the Haitian American Childcare Center for after school and homework assistance. The children in this program certainly could not have been better served.

At the opposite end were several child care centers that were a disaster. One with an infant care program that had tiny babies placed in cribs all day while teacher's aides watched game shows and soap operas. The ceiling tiles in this particular center were never replaced, and water dripped on the floor from the leaky pipes. Books were so scarce and torn children had little or nothing to read.

This administration was negligent; one can only imagine how a different situation with high and established standards might have made proficient advocates and teachers out of the staff.

The sad fact is the knowledge of how to establish outstanding early childhood programs is available. Developing the prerequisite skills for later successful schooling have been thoroughly researched and can be successfully implemented. The results of comprehensive research have documented pre-reading strategies that would alleviate much of the frustration students face in elementary school, which, if not attended to, can translate into a lifetime of functional illiteracy. Yet the funding to create and sustain such programs (and the oversight necessary for their success) has not materialized.

Nixon's veto of the Comprehensive Childcare Act in 1971 was a disaster, particularly for those in the middle-class who do not qualify for federally supported childcare. Barbara Beatty, chairperson of the education department at Wellesley College, laments, "Time's a wasting for 3- and 4- year olds despite bipartisan support from broad-based coalitions of stakeholders from public and private sectors." A high-quality early childhood system building on Head Start that serves all parents and all children would have untold benefits. Middle-class families with two working parents are left in the lurch, having to spend exorbitant fees for childcare. Perhaps it is now the right time to look toward San Francisco and how it has managed to keep outstanding early childhood programs within the school district for more than 60 years.

Of course, as is often lamented, children do not vote, are not a priority and have minimal clout on the Beltway. It took more than 100 years to have kindergartens attached to public schools; perhaps the time of subsidized child care is on the horizon.

For the sake of children and parents, I hope that horizon is not long in coming.

Stop with the birds

I have been reading college applicant's essay's or personal statements for quite some time. The Common Application, which most student's use as a portal changed its topics after many decades. The earlier question's were very straightforward, asking about person's that influenced you, and a topic of your choice. The new topics require more critical thinking, but are basically similar. One that has caught the eye of students is a place where they are content. (Many students now prepare these essay's in English classes and receive grades-which I find questionable. Another topic the efficacy of writing a personal statement for a class assignment.) What I am beginning to read on the contentment topic are some statements full of far too many cliche's: birds chirping, sound of a brook. I would rather read about contentment sitting on the toilet, reading a forbidden book or magazine. Imagination and creativity goes out the window when succumbing to what you think someone wants to read. Ditto goes for an essay about saving the world after spending several with an expensive summer service program.

Good essay's start with introspection taking time to share what is truly meaningful. What is it that makes you tick and it does not have to be a thesis? A very simple statement carefully constructed can be more effective then endless platitudes. Several days ago a former parent checked in with me and we discussed her three children all of whom I worked with. Two have successfully launched careers, and the third is on the way. All three wrote vastly different essays one was journalistic, another service oriented,and the third metaphoric. Each topic came from their heart. I hope that I can reach some kids and get them on track--pretty difficult task after they have been affirmatively graded---and please.. stop with the birds....

Why You Should Try Service Learning

A group of Haitian students enjoy a daytime yoga class led by our team of Urban Zen Integrative Therapists.

Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection. Adding service learning to mindfulness curriculum can be a key towards opening the heart of youth participants to the world. To serve others is an act of love when it is based on reciprocity.

My most recent journey with service learning began in 2008 when I discovered Urban Zen. Founded by Donna Karan, Urban Zen’s Integrative Therapist program trains practitioners to transform patient care in hospitals, healthcare education in nursing schools, self-care in the home, and emergency relief in disasters.

In the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, I traveled with Urban Zen’s integrative therapists to the country to provide respite for workers, administration and volunteers at St. Damien’s Hospital–the largest and free pediatric hospital in the country. In preparation for the trip, we received support from the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in working with trauma relief.

Haiti is home to courageous people who, along with the devastating earthquake, have lived with poverty, high crime rates and despotic politics for many generations. It cannot be denied that Post Traumatic Shock Disorder (PTSD) abounds. Despite catastrophic misfortunes and natural disasters, many Haitians remain resilient and work toward a brighter future.

On the second floor of St. Damien’s hospital in a beautiful light-filled facility overlooking the mountains of Haiti, our first class included a group of women whose job was washing diapers, some for over 25 years. Leaning over a bucket, hour after hour they labored with seemingly beatific continence. These women quietly took their seats for a chair yoga session. Behind the chairs, fellow therapists applied Reiki and the lavender oils. Later we were told that these sessions were the first time our participants had ever been given a break during what was a very long and labor intensive workday.

Session after session filled with people of all ages and a variety of backgrounds. Men who were responsible for maintenance sat next to pediatricians and oncologists. Simple yoga moves relaxed and focused the body, the healing touch of Reiki, along with awareness of the gift of breath provided a universe of healing. The simplicity was transcendent. Toward the end of the each session, time was given for integration and meditation. Each participant left revived, relaxed and ready to go back to the ever-present bustle and atmosphere filled with the unexpected that exists in hospitals.

Since that first trip, six additional Urban Zen teams have continued to win the confidence of staff at St. Damien’s. The patient interaction has increased, as has our permission to work in expanded sites including the adult hospital St. Luc’s, the school for children, another day school for severely special needs children, many pediatric rooms for HIV positive children, those with cancer, and abandoned babies. Although there are an overwhelming number of disparate needs, the hospital has created a community feeling, and the atmosphere draws one in immediately.

Small efforts make a difference. Standing with the Haitian people in whatever way is requested to look toward a better tomorrow is an honor that I cannot overestimate. I encourage you to find a service learning project in your community that allows you and your students to give back with compassionate mindfulness.

Clarence written for Talk Story at Bucks County Playhouse--Father of the Heart

Clarence was the handyman at Sunny Oaks a hotel in the Catskill Mountains of New York where my father sent me every summer after my mother died. He knew the owner from volunteering at the Hebrew Home for the Aged in Brooklyn.

I loved going to the mountains, where I had little supervision and could spend my days swimming and rock climbing and nights talking to Clarence. He was from the south and came up north to Philadelphia with his wife Theola and their son Willy.

Clarence was a very religious Southern Baptist and I considered him to be my second father. Every night we would sit out near the shed on a bench near where the garbage was kept and he would tell me stories that began with “Praise the Lord”; I loved to hear him share Bible stories and about his life down South.

Once, Clarence asked Theola to comb my hair; which was unruly and unkempt. “Every little girl has to have someone come their hair real nice and you have such pretty curls” Theola took me up to the attic room where I stayed and spent what must have spent hours,combing out the knots. When she was satisfied we came back to where Clarence was sitting, “ Praise the Lord, you sure are pretty.”

During the winter, I missed Clarence so much and when feeling poorly, I would cry for his comforting presence. I looked foreword to seeing him every summer, and our talks on the bench near the shed where the garbage cans were kept.

When I was thirteen, Clarence told me that we could not sit together anymore because people would talk. “One day all this will change” That summer Sunny Oaks lost its luster, and I never returned or saw Clarence again.

Dr. Mae Sakharov and Associates: Kirby Fredendall Art Portfolio Development and Review

Art Portfolio Prepartion

KIRBY FREDENALL helps students to develop a strong, coherent art portfolio. She will assess the work that the student has already and discuss work that needs to be done. Meetings are structured to completely cater to the individual needs of the student, whether they need critique on continuing work or simply help organizing. She can help students photograph their work for digital submission or organize their physical work for an interview.

If you are applying to a liberal arts program and you are a strong art student, including an art portfolio with your application is a great idea.

If you are planning to attend National Portfolio Day you will need a strong portfolio to take with you.

Kirby Fredenall, has lived in the local Bucks County area for 44 years. She was raised in Carversville, left the area to receive her BA in Art History from Duke University and returned to earn her MEd in Art Education from Arcadia Universtiy and is certified in K-12 Art. She has taught at Solebury School in New Hope for 21 years.

Students have taken classes ranging from begining to advanced painting & drawing, design, collage, life drawing, ap art, and portfolio presentation. Her students have gone on to attend Moore College of Art & Design, FIT, MICA, Chicago Institute of Art, & Tyler to name a few.

Please visit the Glendale Art Studio

No Dream Schools-Please

This season is my thirty-first year as a college advisor and career counselor. Prior, I spent a time working at Admissions at Columbia University and volunteered as a tutor and dissertation advisor. I find myself, as excited as ever and eager to lend support this year’s group of students on an adventure whose results are months away.

Things have certainly changed over the decades, in terms of rabid competition, outlandish costs, and uncertain prospects for employment. I have been mulling over the concept of a dream school, based on a student’s imagination, glossy photographs, and choreographed tours.

Prospective students, oftentimes get fixated forgetting that dreams are best when grounded in reciprocity. The best college for most aspirants is the one that wants them and is going to be affordable.

Sharing from my mind’s legacies:

1) A talented student was accepted to an Ivy League college and another fine school with a full scholarship and living expenses. After some lamentation, he went for the one that funded his education, and later came back to grad school at that same Ivy.

2) Barely distinguished students, from a local high school with most abysmal grades-found themselves with rejections. Each was accepted to the same more liberal minded, more opened enrollment school in Washington State. Once at college, they became star students on their way to become physicians

3) One student hated city schools and was fearful of leaving the suburbs. She was accepted into a wonderful urban school with a guaranteed admission to graduate school in Occupational Therapy. After a short period of adjustment, she is thriving.

4) His so-called safety schools rejected him, a student with less then average grades and a wonderful heart. added another college, more competitive, and dedicated to seeing individual potential. This same student was accepted to the more competitive school and awarded a Merit scholarship. His mother received an email from admissions saying how wonderful a person her son was.

5) A student was unhappy about her college choices, decided on a gap year was set on a small liberal arts school. After the year, this girl had many acceptances and chose an urban university where she thrived.

6) A boy had his heart set on playing soccer and realized that the school he pontificated about attending was totally wrong. After one semester, he changed course and found himself exactly in the right environment.

A Sense of Community is A Bulwark in times of Economic Distress

We all need to value a sense of community

As a private college counselor and advisor, much of my work is with students in high school.

Recently my clients have begun to include recent college graduates or their parents. Some grads are angry, questioning whether they should have taken so many loans, and wonder if they chose the right major or even should have attended college at all. Parents who have been laid off are more than perplexed knowing that they may never have the same level of income, or that a stay-at-home parent must now try to rejoin a shrunken work force after a pause of many years.

In these circumstances it is difficult not succumb to feelings of failure and defeat. What tools can help maintain balance during this type of a transition? Staying active is surely one, networking another, as is turning to sources of comfort (not alcohol or drugs!). One man I know, who having had to close his business, attended early morning mass for prayer and guidance. Many months later he secured a position at a private school recruiting international students. Now, when he is not traveling, I often see him on the way to morning mass in a continuing remembrance of that larger source of strength.

I have a friend who had a high level position in television production. Her position was secure until her boss passed away leaving her, at age 50+, without gainful employment. She took many steps to re-educate herself and sought work in different areas that proved to be too poorly paid. After much deliberation she worked with an executive recruiter who helped reposition her skills and sent her out on quite a few job interviews. Eventually she was hired with minimal benefits and at a lower salary than she was used to. Her new position is not optimal, and does not fully take advantage of her skill sets, but she has chosen to make it work for the time being, all the while keeping her eyes open for other possibilities.

When asked what is lacking in her new position from those she had in the past, she responded, “A sense of community.”

It’s the same for many others of my acquaintance. One, a highly organized person who worked in financial services, has been bitten by the entrepreneurial spirit and now does the books for several small businesses as well as managing a local restaurant where her skills are deeply appreciated. Although her parents keep insisting that she re-enter the corporate world, she demurs and says that she is happier and less stressed now as a solo-entrepreneur with a variety of clients rather than in a single office every day.

Another family, whose successful floral business servicing big corporations went under, sought different careers and they now make a living selling cut flowers at various local farm markets. These markets bring together entrepreneurs who have found a new skill or are able to develop long forgotten talents into a source of income. The atmosphere is generally supportive and a positive experience, even though the remuneration may not be what many vendors had previously been accustomed to.

In particular, women who have been out of the workforce or have taken roads less traveled have a real challenge finding a way to make a living. Dan Barry,wrote and article in the New York Times which to me it was a profile in courage and of personal choices and it touched me deeply. On the surface she would appear to have little in common with finding work in a mainstream workforce, but dig a little deeper and you see a fierce sense of independence driving her will to both survive and follow her own road. She also found an unexpected community with values of a different age — both congeniality and a respect for privacy. The courage, spirit, and generosity of the woman Barry writes about can inspire.

Chutzpah is the Yiddish term for audacity and when faced with difficult transitions, this woman’s survival took chutzpah. Annie the pushcart hawker, as she was known to all at the Fulton Fish Market, and the beautiful Gloria Wasserman were seemingly two different people. One picture in the article was of Annie, an old woman pushing a cart, looking like one of the homeless or otherwise disenfranchised that populate our society; the other, showed was of a glamorous woman in a 1940s-style bathing suit running on a beach many years ago.

When I was growing up, the Fulton Fish Market was located in lower Manhattan near the Brooklyn Bridge; it was a mythical place right out of Dickens where one could envision hawkers selling their wares. My affinity came from far off Dublin and my favorite childhood song about the fishmonger, Molly Malone, whose lyrics always brought me to tears. I wonder, too, if Gloria/Annie ever thought about Molly Malone when she cast her lot with the denizens of the new updated fish market in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx.

At 22, the gorgeous Gloria had left behind life in New York and biked to Alaska with the man who was to become her first husband. Two children were birthed of this union and another two came from a second marriage. Relationships came and went, and her children were sent East to live with family that she supported with her meager earnings.

No one remembers how she got there, only that Annie was soon a fixture known for her increasingly bawdy wit and profane behavior. Yet she had an endearing quality that engendered the support of the hardened workers who looked upon her with affection. In off times, Annie became Gloria Wasserman again, living in subsidized housing in the East Village, still sending checks to family members, even contributing to college educations.

Beyond the generosity and adventurous nature of Annie/Gloria, I was most touched by the affection that some of the men at the fish market showed for her. When she was ill, they visited her in the hospital, and welcomed her back when she was able to return. Annie/Gloria dealt her own cards and played her own game, yet found a community that valued what she could contribute, and push come to shove they cared back.

This reflection brought to me something I have noted in my own long work history. It is not what you do to make a living, but more about the community surrounding you that makes for happiness at a job. In one restaurant, one nightspot, two schools and my own business, what stands out is that each workplace has been a give and take of community. Conversely, in situations where I was not authenticated or given credence, I became depressed, withdrawn and alienated.

I have not done justice to Annie/Gloria or the experiences of those whose lives are torn apart, and whose families have to struggle in ways that are unimaginable. My hope is that for this upcoming holiday season, a light is turned on for a bright tomorrow and that those in need may find their own community either like Annie, or in a more traditional situation.

Whether working, or still on the road to finding gainful employment, we do need to value the sense of community. When it surrounds us, know — even as the darkest day of the year approaches— we are not alone.

The Rising Cost of Student Debt

Sharing this article, in hopes of generating discussion about a so serious topic. Join the discussion on the above link.

What are the roads not taken because students must take out loans for college? A collection of studies shows that the burden of student debt may well cause people to make different decisions than they would otherwise — affecting not just individual lives but also the entire economy.

For one thing, it appears that people with student loans are less likely to start businesses of their own. A new study has found that areas with higher relative growth in student debt show lower growth in the formation of small businesses (in this case, firms with one to four employees).

The correlation makes sense. People normally have only a certain amount of “debt capacity,” said Brent W. Ambrose, a professor of risk management at Pennsylvania State University and a co-author of a preliminary paper on the research along with Larry Cordell and Shuwei Ma of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

When students use up their debt capacity on student loans, they can’t commit it elsewhere. “Given the importance of an entrepreneur’s personal debt capacity in financing a start-up business, student loan debt, which cannot be discharged via bankruptcy, can have lasting effects later in life and may impact the ability of future small-business owners to raise capital,” the study says.

Considering that 60 percent of jobs are created by small business, “if you shut down the ability to create new businesses, you’re going to harm the economy,” Professor Ambrose said.

Student loan debt also appears to be affecting homeownership trends. According to research by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, fewer 30-year-olds in general have bought homes since the recession, but the decline has been steeper for people with a history of student loan debt and has continued even as the housing market has recovered.

Total student loans outstanding have risen to $1.1 trillion, compared with $300 billion just a decade ago, according to the Fed’s study. The average total debt for student borrowers was around $30,000 in 2013. No wonder borrowers have been reluctant to start businesses or to buy homes.

Student loan debt may also affect career choices. Having a college loan appears to reduce the likelihood that people will choose a low-paying public-interest job, according to a 2011 study by Jesse Rothstein of the University of California, Berkeley, and Cecilia Elena Rouse of Princeton.

They arrived at their conclusion by studying a well-off university that began meeting students’ financial needs through a combination of work-study money and grants, and dispensing with loans altogether. (The school insisted on anonymity as a condition for participating in the study.)

Before the new policy started in the early 2000s, students were more likely to choose well-paid professions like investment banking and consulting, Professor Rothstein said in an interview. After the policy took effect, more students chose jobs in areas like teaching and the nonprofit sector.

In many cases, the choices that student borrowers make are just common sense, based on the financial realities they face. Taken together, they seem to be having a substantive — many would say negative — effect on the economy.

Is that enough reason for schools or the government to step in with a solution? Not many schools are like Anon U (as the researchers above called it), which could afford to take loans off the table. If society wants to change the skewing effect of student loans, some tough decisions about allocating educational resources may well lie ahead.

KINTSUKOROI- "to repair with gold"

I was once written that scar's can be stronger stuff. Here's to the Broken.

Bike Riding: Meditation in Motion

Bike Riding: Meditation in Motion.

I do not remember when my training wheels were taken off, or even if training wheels existed at the time.

Perhaps one just seamlessly graduated from tricycle to bicycle. I only know that after a bit of practice on my home turf, I took the leap and decided to ride down the hill near the local high school.

Not just any hill, the one where my classmates often stood on the sidelines to watch rider after rider attempt to conquer this formidable obstacle. As I began to brake on the way down, fear overtook me and I could not face the plummet.

Making the worst of all possible decisions I froze and fell off the bike. It flew down the hill, and both knees were bloodied. Humiliated in the face of cruel taunts I limped home, head in hands, leaving my demolished bicycle behind.

Intrepid warrior that I was, the knee mishap did not deter my desire to successfully master the two-wheeler. My destination became the very empty schoolyard early in the morning, before the cacophony of shrill voices filled the air.

Mastering the bicycle became my secret. Several years and a new bicycle later, I began to ride in earnest and experienced how wonderful it was to feel the cool wind, whether I was smiling or my face in tears.

The bicycle gave me hope. Perhaps it seems funny/absurd to think a simple machine could have such meaning, but I had found a simple truth: riding was special meditation in motion that was mine alone.

Alas my bicycle was stolen and left me without wheels for the first time in many years. Somehow it was difficult to get over this loss, and get back on the saddle.

I actually did have a bike. It was an old three-speed Schwinn that was left in the basement. It remained there encased in dust for years, until recently when, with the spring, my curiosity was once again aroused.

Now over 60 years in age, I walked the Schwinn to the local bike shop and found that it indeed could be properly fitted for me to ride.

As if I was taking off the training wheels for the first time, I sat on the bike. It was difficult, and I was challenged. Tentative steps, feet on the pedals, I began to ride, each day going a little further. I had not forgotten. Time had not dulled the passion. The meditation began again.

”The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.” — Iris Murdoch.

Musing on Attributed da Vinci

I teach a class at Bucks County Community College in Literacy and Language Development. What wonderful skills to pass on to students--so many applications from teaching reading to the young to essay writing with students of all ages. So many in this class were absolutely outstanding. One student shared a quote--which is what one hopes for all... "It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them,They went out and happened to things." Leonardo da Vinci

Dr. Sakharov, This quote is especially for you. Another Thought: Most education, does not focus on or give credence to surfacing the individual students gifts. But then how would that be possible, as curriculum is directed towards homogeneity. When working with college prep students and/or adults I probe with them to find that light. Once ignited, the flame will only grow resulting in self-awareness towards ones individual path. Any road, has risks and potholes but oh the rewards. Courage friends----don't be help back from achieving your dreams-although the manifestation may be different then expected.

Dr. Mae Sakharov Ed D Associates

Over the years, I have assembled highly qualified professionals to whom I send referrals on an as need basis. Dr. KC Wilder is one such expert and it is an honor to share her services.

Dr. K.C. Wilder is one of the nation's leading mental training coaches specializing in individuals and teams. Dr. Wilder maintains a private practice in Doylestown, PA. With over 12 years experience as a Mental Training Coach and as a graduate of the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education specializing in educational applied sport psychology, research and counseling, she is currently serving as a private practitioner. Among her areas of expertise are youth performance enhancement, overcoming sport performance stressors and balancing the freedoms of sport with the responsibilities of life. Dr. Wilder is an interactive, solution-focused Mental Training Coach. Her consulting approach is to provide support and practical feedback to help clients effectively address sport and exercise challenges. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client. In addition to being a prominent Mental Training Coach, Dr. Wilder has presented at national conferences and to general audiences speaking on the topics of confidence, effective thinking, goal-setting and optimal performance. Dr. Wilder is also the author to children's book, Tour de You. She has also co-authored Golf Confidence for Women and Golf Confidence for Juniors with Dr. Robert K. Winters and Karen Wilder. Dr. Wilder's work can also be seen in several case studies on various topics, such as psychological rehabilitation, goal setting and planning, and attitude, in Case Studies in Sport Psychology edited by Bob Rotella...[et al.]. Dr. Wilder is a member of the following organizations: Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) American Council of Exercise (ACE) USA Track & Field (USATF) USA Cycling (USAC)

What is the real world? Does a real world exist?

I think not at least not in the state or way that many are taught, directed, and many are programmed to believe. Thinking with compassion of former students and others-including myself at that time who after graduating from an all encompassing experience-i.e. college find themselves facing what are few options. My own experiences after completing each degree and working my way through colleges was depression-and not knowing what to do. Each successful completion left me in the midst of a recession where positions were not plentiful. Earning a doctorate at Teachers College Columbia University was a honor for sure. Landing, was postpartum-addressed by early morning bicycle rides on the then downed Westside Highway. Eventually, I found an ill-suited corporate position followed by a stint as a fundraiser. Then concurrent with my thesis being published, a late night idea to start my own business a general practice in education-becoming one of the first learning centers in the US--and a source of great happiness. Graduates, I am sharing my experience with you, in hopes that if facing the same situation as I-take a risk and when that dream surfaces follow it--and the door will open--even if more slowly then wished.

Early this afternoon, I had an appointment with a junior in high school that is preparing for college. He has extremely high test scores, great grades in competitive classes, and a bounty of serious extracurricular activities. Extremely well organized his resume is being fine tuned, he has made a list of college with majors of interest, and is up-to-date on Naviance. What could be missing? For one as we discussed no college visits- for another outside of having the major he did not know the ideology and differences between colleges. With so many students from around the globe applying- it is more important to establish relationships when possible rather then apply now buy later. Examples in New York--NYU, Columbia and Barnard--to develop good applications the applicant needs to know the significant differences between these schools. Recently, I spent many hours teaching a reluctant applicant about this. On April 1, she was accepted to the school of her dreams-with lower SAT scores, grades, and competitive classes then necessary- I am convinced this is because her essays and supplements were targeted to the colleges mission. When my student left today, he had scheduled his tours and I lectured him about how to--stand out in a crowd, which means knowing what your are standing out for.