Cooler temperatures and shorter days of fall soon will bring superheroes, cartoon characters, movie stars and more to our doorsteps, as boys and girls dress up to celebrate Halloween.
Dating back 2,000 years,”All Hallows Eve” has roots in an ancient Celtic harvest festival and the Christian holy day of All Saints Day. During the past century, Americans have helped shape Halloween into more of a whimsical, community event for children.
While Halloween is a festive and fun time, it is also one of the most dangerous celebrations of the year for children. According to Safe Kids USA, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than the rest of the year.
This year, families can help make Halloween less scary by following a few safety measures, such as these for a “SAFE HALLOWEEN” from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
S – Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
A – Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
F – Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
E – Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them.
H – Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you.
A – Always test make-up in a small area first and remove before bedtime to prevent irritation.
L – Look both ways before crossing the street! Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
L – Lower your risk for bacterial infection or eye injury by NOT wearing decorative contact lenses, unless they are prescribed and fitted by a medical professional.
O – Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
W – Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
E – Eating factory-wrapped treats is best. Avoid homemade treats unless you know the cook.
E – Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult; otherwise, stay outside.
N – Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
Here’s to a safe and happy Halloween!
On any given school day, more than 369,000 children in Oklahoma ride to and from school on yellow buses that together travel 67 million miles each year. With so many miles to cover and thousands of boys and girls to transport safely, practicing school bus safety is a must at all times.
It’s one reason we observe National School Bus Safety Week each fall. This year, October 19-23, “Avoid Harm, Obey the Arm” is the national theme to stress the need for drivers to obey the rules of the road and for students to follow safety rules.
Motorists, parents and students alike are reminded that:
• Yellow lights will flash when a school bus is preparing to stop.
• Red lights will flash and a red stop sign arm will unfold from the side
of the bus when cars must stop because a bus is loading or unloading.
• Never pass on the right side of a bus where children board. It is also
illegal for motorists to pass a school bus that is stopped.
• Motorists may proceed only after the red lights have stopped flashing,
the stop sign arm has been folded up and the bus moves.
• When the bus approaches, students should stand at least three giant
steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street. Also:
1. They may board only after the bus stops, the door opens, and the
driver says it’s okay to step onto the bus.
2. They should never walk behind the bus but rather several feet in front
where the driver can see them.
3. If something is dropped near the bus, children should tell the bus
driver and only retrieve the item if the driver can see them.
The school bus continues to be the safest form of transportation to and from school. In fact, it is eight times safer than passenger vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In a 2002 report by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies for Science (NAS), children were found to be at more risk traveling in private passenger vehicles to and from school – especially if a teenage driver is involved – than in school buses.
The most dangerous part of the bus ride is when students load and unload from the bus. So please review safety rules with your children. Together – students, parents and communities – we can help ensure a safe and secure ride to school for boys and girls.
A dedication ceremony for a new cross and mace on the Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel will be at 1 p.m. Oct. 15 on the Oklahoma City University campus, 2501 N Blackwelder Ave.
The cross will be the focal point for the chapel services. The cross and mace were created by woodcarver Haven Mankin.
Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City will host a Think Pink Tea at 1 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 8) to raise awareness about breast cancer.
The event will be on the third floor of the student center in conference room south, 900 N Portland Ave.
Brandi Brown, of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, will be the featured speaker. Admission is free, and refreshments will be provided.
For more information, call 945-6796.
Enrollment is open for the Sustainable Energy Solutions seminar hosted by Bob Willis of Sunrise Alternative Energy.
The seminar will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 13 in the John Massey Center at Oklahoma City Community College, 7777 S May Ave.
Willis will discuss issues regarding environmental sustainability and using solar energy. The cost is $25. To register, call 682-7562.
Thirty-four-year-old Brian Grimm, an English instructor at Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, has been named Oklahoma’s 2010 Teacher of the Year.
I was honored to make this announcement this week before a standing-room-only audience of educators, friends and family members at the Oklahoma State Fair in Oklahoma City. Grimm repeatedly motioned “thumbs up” while accepting a “prize package” valued at more than $60,000.
The prizes from numerous, generous sponsors includes: Teacher of the Year trophy; $11,000 in cash awards and stipends; a laptop computer; a year’s lease of a Toyota Prius; thousands of dollars in Oklahoma college tuition fee waivers; a $500 credit toward a classroom makeover; specialized training; and software and computer equipment for the classroom.
As Teacher of the Year, Grimm will spend the next year as “Oklahoma’s Ambassador of Teaching” and will represent our state in the National
Teacher of the Year ceremony.
A native Oklahoman, Grimm attended school in Sapulpa before relocating to Texas with his family. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. He credits his family’s influence as educators, and the mentoring of two college professors with his dedication to his profession. “I never considered anything but teaching,” he said.
Grimm returned to the Tulsa area in 2004, when he was employed at Will Rogers, a Title I school beset with problems common to urban schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
He says he was challenged to make the curriculum “relevant to kids with so much on their plates,” and credits his success and that of his students as a joint effort between school administrators, fellow teachers and district officials.
He admits his career as an educator was almost derailed by frustration and disillusionment. Nothing in his earlier experiences—teaching well prepared students in affluent schools—had prepared him for the students plagued with generational poverty he found at Will Rogers High.
After much thought and contemplation that first year at Will Rogers, Grimm became determined to reach deep in his educator’s toolbox to do whatever needed to reach his students and be an effective teacher. He hasn’t looked back since.
While Grimm says his message is simple, “You can do it!,” he says success with challenged students required him to think beyond traditional methods.
“In a contemporary classroom filled with students from diverse backgrounds…there is no particular formula, no exact equation for success,” he says. Teachers just need to “go to school every day and be prepared to try something new.”
I wholeheartedly agree, Mr. Grimm. Congratulations!
Today is the last day to vote for Oklahoma in the First Book competition to get 50,000 free books for children in the state. Go to the Web site and type in the book that got you hooked on reading and do your part to help Oklahoma students get hooked on reading too.
- Staff Writer Dawn Marks
Why don’t our teachers stay: Providing the right learning conditions for new teachers
Today’s efforts to improve teaching and boost student achievement are almost exclusively focused on punitive measures or short-term cash incentives. While the classic motivators of fear and money may be effective for a little while, that is not the answer for long-term retention of our teachers. Many teachers feel called to do this job, so motivation is not what our new teachers need. They are motivated, but what is missing are working conditions that provide an opportunity for success.
Nationally, in the first five years of teaching more than 60 percent of teachers leave the profession. Research by the New Teacher Center suggests that the reason teachers leave the classroom is poor working conditions.
A teacher’s working conditions are a student’s learning conditions. If the environment is not conducive to effective teaching, it certainly is not conducive to effective learning.
If the quality of the teacher is the single most important determinant in a child’s success, we have to dedicate more time and resources to creating successful learning environments.
Poor working conditions that lead to attrition
• Large class sizes- Each student is an individual with different learning styles and talents. Teachers, especially our new teachers, need small class sizes that allow them to know and work with each student individually. Research conducted by the National Education Association has shown the positive benefits of being in small classes of 13-17 students in the early grades continued after students were placed in larger classes in secondary school. It is absolutely essential for our elementary students to receive the individual, specialized attention they need to create a foundation for success throughout their academic careers. With large classes, teachers cannot provide individual support. They also spend large amounts of time managing the classroom as opposed to engaging students in active learning. Large class sizes contribute to poor student achievement, thus lowering teacher satisfaction and contributing to increased turnover.
• Heavy workloads – In 2006, the average workload for a secondary teacher in the United States was five classes a day, teaching two different subjects. The more excessive the workload, the more problems new teachers will incur. On top of providing engaging and effective instruction to students during school hours, teachers go home and continue to work by grading papers and calling parents. In my small community of Tahlequah, I would end up holding a parent conference on the fly at the discount pharmacy or the local grocery store. People sometimes forget that you are a teacher 24-7. It is a very consuming job, especially paired with heavy workloads and no support.
• Insufficient resources and materials – The average teacher spends about $500 out-of-pocket a year on instructional materials, but the average first year teacher spends $700 out-of-pocket a year on classroom supplies. I recently heard a story of a parent who could not help her child with his homework because he was not allowed to bring his book home. The mother’s challenge was helping her child complete a math worksheet with no examples from the textbook. While she understood the information, the way she learned how to solve the problem and the way the teacher showed her son how to solve the problem was different. The mom was confusing the son and needed a textbook example to help. We have to have sufficient classroom supplies at a bare minimum, to help our teachers and parents educate our kids.
What can we do to provide working conditions conducive to teaching and learning?
• Provide extra support for new teachers- The sink or swim induction new teachers typically experience is causing our new teachers to drown. A high-quality, multi-year mentoring system helps provide the extra support new teachers need. The Oklahoma Education Association has partnered with the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University to create an intensive two-year mentor training program. A 2005 study by the New Teacher Center showed that retention can rise to nearly 90 percent, 30 percent above national retention rates, after implementing a rigorous instructional mentoring and induction program. Ensuring that there are dedicated resources to implement a quality, multi-year mentoring program should be the first step in a comprehensive and sustained effort to ensure Oklahoma’s most important educational resource, dedicated teachers, are available and able to help every child learn.
• Provide time to work collaboratively with colleagues- In strong professional learning communities, teachers help and support each other, develop innovative approaches to instruction and accept responsibility collectively for student achievement. However, the workplace culture and structure has to promote it. New teachers need time embedded in the workday to exchange ideas and solutions. New teachers cannot be isolated.
• Provide additional help to work with students and parents – Schools must provide extra support to students with additional needs and for teachers working with students with additional needs. School must try to create a culture of collective teacher responsibility for student achievement and provide comprehensive student support services. Nurturing school, family and community partnerships also creates multiple support systems for teachers and students.
- Becky Felts is president of the Oklahoma Education Association
With the school year in full swing, boys and girls are busy learning new things and completing classroom assignments. Backpacks are chock full of pens and pencils, books and paper, and most likely homework.
A great resource for homework help, project research or general knowledge is called the Digital Prairie. A set of statewide databases, the Digital
Prairie has a collection of full-text reference materials available for all Oklahomans to use for free, 24/7. All that is needed to get started is a computer connected to the Internet, a username and password, which you can get from your local school or public library.
Digital Prairie is a service of the Oklahoma Library Technology Network and is funded by the state Legislature through the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Federal funds are also provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Great resources for school reports are available for any grade level and include articles from a wide variety of professional and popular journals, magazines, and newspapers. There are also historical and current maps of states and other countries, and pictures that can be downloaded.
Digital Prairie includes:
• EBSCO has thousands of complete articles, from both professional
journals and general interest magazines, as well as an encyclopedia, dictionary and an image collection. It has more than 1,000 national and international publications. There are search tools in place for students of all ages, parents and educators as well. “Searchasaurus” is designed for lower elementary, “Kids Search” is for upper elementary and middle school students, and “Student Research Center” is for middle and high school students.
• SIRS Discoverer is geared toward Grades K-8, with articles and Web
sites that are age-appropriate and selected by a team of former teachers.
It includes articles and images from more than 1,600 newspapers, magazines, government documents and appropriate Web sites.
• FirstSearch/WorldCat is a comprehensive bibliography, representing many
languages, and including information that is available in libraries around the world.
Access to Digital Prairie is available on the State Department of Education’s Web site http://www.sde.state.ok.us/ from the Library Media/Instructional Television office. Call your local school library or public library to get your username and password, so you can start exploring Oklahoma’s Digital Prairie – today!
Students in kindergarten through 12th grade can participate in a free art contest as part of the Global Oklahoma Festival at Rose State College.
Elementary school students will make impressionist paintings using the style of Monet; middle school students will create free-standing sculptures of the Eiffel Tower; and high school students will make movement paintings using Degas’ style.
The art work will be judged Oct. 3 during the festival. The deadline to enter the contest is Oct. 1.
For more information, go to www.rose.edu/commfriend/globok or call 818-6431.