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More Than a Job: Millennials See Work as a Way to Do Good

Young people are idealistic: That’s as true today as it was 50 years ago.

But there’s one sentiment that sets millennials apart from earlier generations — from the silent generation, the baby boomers and Generation X. They are also eminently practical. Call them “realistic idealists,” if you will, or “idealistic realists.” Either term applies.

Take their attitudes toward work. Many young baby boomers were skeptical that businesses had the inclination to make the world a better place. But today’s young people feel differently — they expect to give back through their jobs, too.

According to the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey, “Many millennials feel unable to exert any meaningful influence on some of society’s biggest challenges; but in the workforce, they can feel a greater sense of control — [as] an active participant rather than a bystander.”

Businesses are responding to these attitudes — both to attract young workers and to make a difference themselves.

“Leading companies aren’t just redirecting profits by giving back to society through more traditional ‘corporate social responsibility’ tactics,” said Robert Haynie, an instructor at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. “They are figuring out how to address social and environmental issues while simultaneously advancing their business interests.”

And this mentality isn’t just limited to the business world. Before venturing into the professional world, millennials are seeking a practical way to integrate this desire to do good within their careers — without their success taking a backseat.

At Georgetown, coursework is designed to serve students who want to make money and make an impact. This approach is driven by the School’s Jesuit values, which emphasize community, social justice and service to others.

Whether you’re a millennial or a business that hires them, the landscape is changing. It’s more important now than ever that the work we do has a purpose and serves the greater good.

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Here’s What Professionals Can Do to Keep up with the Changing Job Market

There used to be a widely accepted formula for career success: earn a college degree, land a job and work your way up.

That’s still good advice, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. And that’s because today’s professionals, college-educated or not, are encountering a new age of job disruption that is perhaps more radical than anything before.

So what does this mean for today’s professionals?

In a world where competencies are becoming obsolete, adaptability helps you stay competitive. That means being able to regularly respond to and anticipate change by building upon existing knowledge, as well as expanding it to new areas.

“Education isn’t something that stops,” said Dr. Annie Green, a faculty member for the Artificial Intelligence Management Certificate at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. “It continues. Just like the continuous improvement of an organization, it’s the continuous improvement of a person’s knowledge, skills and abilities.”

More and more professionals today are adopting this “continuous learning” mentality. A smaller commitment, certificate programs offer an accelerated way for professionals to stay relevant. And the higher education world is responding to these shifting demands by making certificates more accessible. Today’s certificates are as varied as the needs of the professionals who earn them.

Take Moe Tun, an engineer who earned a Certificate in Cybersecurity Strategy. Cybersecurity impacts many aspects of Tun’s job, so he assembled the information he learned into a framework, similar to those his team members use to process complex technical information outside their areas of expertise. Earning a certificate in a new subject helped him adapt to evolving technologies.

No matter the industry, motivation, or career level, one thing is clear: maintaining the status quo doesn’t cut it anymore. Today’s professionals must adapt, embrace uncharted territory, and create new ways forward — wherever they may lead.

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Setting the Pace of Global Education in Northern Virginia

What does it mean to prepare students to succeed in any challenge?

One revolutionary school in Northern Virginia sets out to answer this question through their comprehensive liberal arts and sciences program, which is benchmarked to the best educational systems in the world.

BASIS Independent McLean, a PreK-12 private school located in Tysons Corner, focuses on preparing students with the content knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary for success in an ever-changing world.

The Northern Virginia campus was opened in 2016 and is part of the lauded BASIS Curriculum Schools network, which includes six out the 10 top-ranked schools in the country, according to U.S News & World Report.

Centered on the belief that students can do more than what is typically expected of them, BASIS Independent McLean challenges students to reach the highest international levels and holds them accountable for mastering a wide breadth of subject material.

Each discipline is taught by passionate subject experts who have professional expertise or advanced degrees in their chosen field, and who help students become excellent problem solvers poised to confidently tackle whatever comes their way.

“Our school really stretches students’ expectations and requires them to strive for achievements that they previously didn’t think they could achieve,” says Mr. Sharp, English Subject Expert Teacher at BASIS Independent McLean.

In just two years as an established learning community, the school has already made an impact on the educational landscape, winning two state MATHCOUNTS competitions and participating in various national and state events, including the Washington National Youth Music Competition, Model UN and National History Bowl, just to name a few!

Register for an information session on September 29 to learn more about the world-acclaimed program and unparalleled learning culture at BASIS Independent McLean.

Applications are open for fall 2019. Visit our website for more details.

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Learn About Marymount Grad Programs in Business, Tech and Cybersecurity on June 14

Thinking about a career or advancement in business, technology or cybersecurity?

Marymount University offers a unique mix of specialized masters, dual degrees and certificate programs that can help in fields of critical importance to the region.

Marymount’s ideal location and its faculty’s wealth of industry experience and deep industry connections takes learning and professional preparation to new levels.

Consider the options:

Graduate degrees in business and technology:

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) — flexible program delivery in online and face-to-face formats
  • Human Resource Management
  • Healthcare Management
  • Leadership and Management
  • Information Technology
  • Cybersecurity — flexible program delivery in online and face-to-face formats

Dual degree options to enhance your expertise in targeted fields

  • MBA/MS in Cybersecurity
  • MBA/MA in Human Resource Management
  • MBA/MS in Information Technology
  • MBA/MS in Leadership and Management
  • MS in Healthcare Management/MBA
  • MS in Healthcare Management/MS in Information Technology
  • MS in Cybersecurity/MS in Information Technology

Certificate programs in specialized fields

  • Association & Nonprofit Management
  • Organizational Development
  • Human Resource Management

New for Fall 2018: Doctorate in Cybersecurity!

Have your questions answered at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 14 at Marymount’s Ballston Center, 1000 North Glebe Road in Arlington.

For more information and to register, visit www.marymount.edu/business-technology-info.

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Marymount Hosting Information Webinar for Transfer Students

Still looking for the best place to finish your college degree?

Marymount University is accepting applications for the fall semester!

At Marymount, you can complete a bachelor’s degree in one of many high-demand fields such as nursing, information technology, interior design, criminal justice or business administration. You can even choose to maximize your existing credits and complete your degree in Liberal Studies.

MU also has opportunities to move seamlessly to your master’s degree from select bachelor’s programs.

At Marymount, you’ll receive one-on-one, personal attention during every step of the enrollment process.

No minimum number of transfer credits are required in order to be eligible for admission. Plus, it’s free to apply if you visit campus. And a special partnership guarantees transfer admission for qualifying Northern Virginia Community College students!

Learn more about Marymount’s application process, admission requirements and transfer scholarship opportunities during our free webinar at 6 p.m., Wednesday, June 6.

Sign up at www.marymount.edu/Transfer-Webinar.

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Marymount Hosting Info Sessions on Advanced Nursing Degrees May 16 & 30

Do you want to make a positive impact on the nation’s health?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics identified the profession of nurse practitioner as the sixth fastest-growing occupation and the Institute of Medicine (2010) called for doubling the population of nurses with doctoral degrees.

Marymount University’s Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice hybrid online programs offer flexibility for working professionals while providing advanced knowledge and skills in clinical practice, health policy, systems improvement and evidence-based practice.

Options:

  • Full and part-time MSN/Family Nurse Practitioner blends real-time online streaming with faculty and classmates and in-person, on-campus sessions.
  • Full and part-time DNP/Family Nurse Practitioner (for those with a BSN) uses a hybrid online model of real-time web-based sessions and periodic on-campus sessions with faculty and peers.
  • Post-Master’s DNP (for those with a prior Master’s in Nursing) uses the same blended online model as post-Baccalaureate DNP program.

If you don’t have your BSN, join our traditional four-year or Accelerated BSN cohort!

At MU, you can learn about leading health care organizations from Dr. Terri Gaffney, former ANA vice president. Analyze health care policy and nursing impact with Dr. Suzanne Miyamoto, chief policy officer for the American Association of College of Nursing and director for the national Nursing Community Coalition. Advance your clinical and organizational skills with Dr. Maureen Moriarty, the first nurse to be named a Fellow of the American Headache Society.

Learn more at one of our free upcoming information sessions in time to apply for the June 15 application deadline:

  • 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 16 (Webinar)
  • 6:30 p.m., Wednesday May 30 (Main Campus in Arlington)

For more details or to register for an information session, visit www.marymount.edu/Nursing-Info.

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Washington-Lee PTA Concerned about Possible Education Center Repurposing

Some members of the Washington-Lee High School Parent-Teacher Association are concerned that the Arlington School Board may re-purpose the adjacent Arlington Education Center into an elementary school instead of adding high school seats, as was previously decided.

The concern stems from a working session on April 12 centered on the Arlington Public Schools Capital Improvement Plan, in which School Board members briefly discussed the costs of potentially converting the Education Center into elementary school space rather than up to 800 high school seats.

John Chadwick, Arlington Public Schools assistant superintendent of facilities and operations, said that the cost determination was done in anticipation of the possible need for swing space in the future, to make sure the numbers are correct from the get-go.

The Washington-Lee PTA circulated an email last week noting that changing the Arlington Education Center plans would make it “extremely likely that boundaries will be redrawn.” If a boundary re-working were to occur, it could knock some Washington-Lee families out of the school’s district, the PTA stated.

At the April 12 working session, School Board members Nancy Van Doren and Tannia Talento both voiced concern about confusion within the community about actions that the School Board may take.

“I’m very concerned that we have two months to make this decision,” said Van Doren at the working session. “This is a compacted time frame and a very complex set of decisions… I’m worried that we need to take the community along as we make that set of decisions.”

Talento added that the Board “cannot be vague” about its future plans, and that the community should be kept apprised of the entire process, even just casual discussions about future facility repurposing. She noted that many families might have already tuned out of school planning discussions because they assumed that nothing would change dramatically, which could cause confusion for those just hearing about a possible Education Center plan change. In fact, Talento said that she herself is unclear on where the Board stands on the matter at this point, and she asked for direction.

“I’m happy to consider, if we’re reconsidering the use, I just need to know and we need the community know that we’re reconsidering,” Talento said.

The email from the WLHS-PTA added that if a re-worked Education Center plan were to come to fruition, the future of and use guidelines for certain facilities — like sports fields and the planetarium — is an open question.

More from the PTA’s email:

In June 2017, the School Board voted to create 500-600 high school seats at the site of the Ed Center building, next to W-L by the planetarium and to create 700-800 high school seats at the Career Center. While the program details for the Ed Center site was not decided at that time, there was a strong possibility that they would have been added as an expansion of WL. If this occurs, W-L would likely get additional benefits such as a black box theater (which YHS and WHS have today, but we don’t) and the capacity to expand our IB program to offer it to any Arlington student who wants it. (Note: For the freshman class entering W-L in 2018, we could accept less than half the students who applied.)

During the April 12 School Board work session, it was revealed that APS staff has been working to determine costs for using the Ed Center site as a Middle School or an Elementary School and to move ALL the new high school seats to a comprehensive neighborhood school at the Career Center school. If this actually happens, it is extremely likely that boundaries will be redrawn such that some W-L families will no longer be in the W-L district. Furthermore, it is not known whether W-L students who can currently take advantage of classes offered at the Career Center would still be allowed to do so. There are questions about facilities such as fields – will we have to give up some of our sports fields to be used by a Middle or Elementary School? What other ramifications are there if a MS or ES is built at this site? Will the planetarium remain or will that be destroyed to make room for parking, a playground, or something else?

It is urgent that W-L’s community be aware of this possible change in plans because the timeline for finalizing decisions is extremely short, and the board is bypassing the typical community engagement process to which we are accustomed. The school board vote to finalize its decision is June 21.

File photo

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Marymount Offers Free Session on Becoming a Teacher

Virginia had more than 1,000 unfilled teaching positions in October 2017, according to former Virginia State Department of Education Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples.

In response to that shortage, Marymount University is expanding its education programs for those interested in seeking a pathway to the teaching profession. Its mission is central to meeting the needs of the community while fulfilling the dreams of newcomers and career-switchers who want to make a positive difference in the lives of children.

Learn what Marymount can offer future teachers at a free information session at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12 in Rowley Hall, G206, Marymount University, 2807 N. Glebe Road.

Options include

  • Bachelor’s degree with VA state licensure in just four years
  • Fast-track, full-time, one-year Master’s program leading to licensure
  • Part-time, self-paced Master’s program, leading to licensure
  • Weekend cohort Master’s program leading to licensure in 18 months
  • Certificate program (12-15 credits) in Special Education, English as a Second Language and STEM that provides the foundation to teach on a provisional license

For more information or to register for the information session, visit www.marymount.edu/Education-Info-Session.

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Sen. Kaine Talks Gun Control With Wakefield Students

Sen. Tim Kaine joined Wakefield High School students this morning (March 16) to discuss gun violence and school safety.

Students offered their own perspectives and asked Kaine questions ranging from what he would do regarding the Dickey Amendment to school security measures to mental health treatment.

Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Sociology students were invited to the hour-and-a-half long event, which was also attended by Wakefield’s Michelle Cottrell-Williams, Virginia’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.

Over 40 students sat in the classroom, surrounded by members of the local press, most raptly attentive and occasionally emotional as they asked detailed questions of their senator.

“You’re shaking us out of our complacency and challenging us,” Tim Kaine said while introducing himself and his legislative background.

One student asked the senator whether or not he agreed that protection is emphasized over prevention, or that there is more concern with adding security than preventative gun control measures, which the senator affirmed he did.

He mentioned several times a desire to allow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct public health research on gun violence, as well as expanded mental health services and funding. He also said he supports cutting down on the power that interest groups have over Congress.

Kaine focused many of his responses not over assault weapons but on high capacity magazines, at one point saying that it is easier to write a bill outright banning high capacity magazines with over ten rounds than it would be to describe every permutation of what is broadly called an “assault weapon.”

He added that “every constitutional amendment has reasonable limits within it,” emphasizing the “well-regulated” aspect of the second amendment.

“You won’t eliminate violence, you won’t eliminate gun violence,” he began.”But that’s not the goal, the goal is to reduce it.”

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Randolph Elementary PTA Holds Online Auction Fundraiser

Randolph Elementary School’s PTA is hosting an online charity auction to support classroom and extracurricular programs, auctioning off local business deals, unique experiences and gift certificates today through Feb. 15.

There are over 200 auction items up for grabs, with prizes ranging from a veterinary check-up to an Annapolis sailboat ride valued at $500. One lucky bidder could even win a homemade baby back rib dinner for four at Arlington Public Schools board member Reid Goldstein’s home, for a minimum bid of $75.

Or perhaps you’d rather just relax at home and let Randolph Elementary principal Dr. Donna Synder and assistant principal Ms. Rebecca Irwin Kennedy take over the bedtime story routine one evening for a minimum bid of $15.

Holly Jeffreys, the Randolph Elementary PTA auction chair, says that all auction proceeds will fund field trips, classroom supplies, field day, and literacy programs like the Summer Mailbox book program. She noted that Randolph is a Title I school, a designation indicating “high percentages of children from low-income families,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Approximately 73.6% of students at Randolph qualify for free or reduced price meals, according to an October 2017 Arlington Public Schools report.

The auction has taken place in previous years. New this year, according to organizers, the auction website will accept credit card payments — via PayPal — from auction winners, in addition to checks.

File photo via Arlington Public Schools

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Arlington Public Schools to Consider Lifting Ban on Planned Parenthood Website

Arlington Public School officials are considering unblocking the website of Planned Parenthood on APS computers.

The site for the nonprofit organization that provides reproductive care healthcare is currently blocked on all student computers because it is considered sex education, according to the school system.

After ARLnow contacted the school system about the ban, a school spokesman said the county was considering plans to lift the content filter.

Frank Bellavia, the school system’s communications coordinator, said a decision is expected within the next week. The school system began reconsidering the block after receiving several inquiries, he said.

“Part of the determination is determining if we do unblock across all grade levels,” Bellavia said. “We are still evaluating the site for age appropriateness and for instructional content.”

One parent who contacted ARLnow.com pointed out that Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion services, is blocked while the website of anti-abortion group National Right to Life was not blocked.

The block has been in effect “for quite some time,” according to Bellavia. The school system contracts an external provider that filters content on student computers.

Update at 11:40 a.m. — Bellavia says National Right to Life has now been blocked. “Because it was brought to our attention previously, IT staff blocked that site,” he said.

Anna Merod contributed reporting.

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Wakefield High School Teacher Named Virginia Teacher of the Year

A social studies teacher from Wakefield High School will be Virginia’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year after winning the state’s Teacher of the Year award Monday night.

Michelle Cottrell-Williams was named Virginia Teacher of the Year on September 18 at a ceremony in Richmond. She was one of eight regional winners in the Commonwealth, and was selected for the state prize after being interviewed by a committee.

She was joined at the ceremony at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Arlington County School Board chair Barbara Kanninen and Wakefield principal Chris Willmore. Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven Staples announced her as the winner.

Cottrell-Williams will join her counterparts at the National Teacher of the Year award ceremony at the White House this spring, when the national winner will be announced.

More from a Virginia Department of Education press release:

Michelle Cottrell-Williams, a social studies teacher at Wakefield High in Arlington County, was named 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year Monday evening during a recognition ceremony at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond. Cottrell-Williams was selected from eight regional winners announced last week and will be the commonwealth’s nominee for 2018 National Teacher of the Year.

Cottrell-Williams, the Region 4 Teacher of the Year, was selected as the state’s top teacher after being interviewed by a committee that included representatives of professional and educational associations, the business community, and 2017 Virginia Teacher of the Year Toney Lee McNair Jr. of Chesapeake. The selection of Cottrell-Williams was announced by Secretary of Education Dietra Y. Trent and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples.

Cottrell-Williams is a 11-year veteran of the classroom as a social studies teacher for grades 9-12. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Utah State University and a master’s degree from George Washington University.

The other seven 2018 Virginia Regional Teachers of the Year, who were also honored during the ceremony, are as follows:

  • Greenlee B. Naughton, an English teacher at Highland Springs High in Henrico County (Region 1)
  • Theresa A. Guthrie Goltermann, a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) electives teacher at Tabb Middle in York County (Region 2)
  • Sarah M. Adamson-Mair, a kindergarten teacher at Lewis and Clark Elementary in Caroline County (Region 3)
  • Russell T. Jennings, an agriculture teacher at Fluvanna County High in Fluvanna County (Region 5)
  • Karey A. Henzey, a special education teacher at West Salem Elementary in Salem (Region 6)
  • Chrystle M. Gates, a music teacher at Chilhowie Elementary in Smyth County (Region 7)
  • Tiffany W. Lynch, an English teacher at Park View High in Mecklenburg County (Region 8)

As the 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year, Cottrell-Williams received a $5,000 award and a commemorative ring from the Apple Federal Credit Union Education Foundation; a $2,500 award from Richmond law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen; a $1,000 award from Dominion Resources Services Inc.; a teacher membership from VMFA; educational opportunities from several public and private colleges and universities; a three-year SMART Learning Suite subscription from SMART Technologies UCL; flowers from Coleman Brothers Flowers Inc.; an engraved plaque from Bunkie Trinite Trophies Inc.; a gift basket from C.F. Sauer Co.; overnight accommodations at the Crowne Plaza Richmond Downtown; and an engraved crystal apple.

The 2018 National Teacher of the Year will be announced next spring at a White House ceremony. Two previous Virginia teachers — B. Philip Bigler, the 1998 Virginia Teacher of the Year, and Mary V. Bicouvaris, the 1989 Virginia Teacher of the Year — went on to be named as a National Teacher of the Year.

Courtesy photos.

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Morning Notes

Today Is ‘Terrible Traffic Tuesday’ — Today is the Tuesday after Labor Day, when students in Arlington and around the region go back to school. As a result of the extra school buses, parents and students on the roads, and the end of summer vacations, it is also dubbed “Terrible Traffic Tuesday” by AAA Mid-Atlantic. In reality, however, the day after — which now has a name: “Woeful Wednesday” — is worse in terms of commuting times, and next week should be even more woeful. [Washington Post, WTOP]

Chili’s Dying Out in D.C. Area — The Chili’s in Bailey’s Crossroads has closed. The restaurant chain closed its Crystal City location last year and its Reston location the year before that. The nearest Chili’s to Arlington is now along Route 1, outside the Beltway, in Fairfax County. [Twitter]

Roosevelt Profiled by Conservative Media — GOP candidate Adam Roosevelt is getting some attention from conservative media outlets. Roosevelt “is a moderate Republican running for the Virginia House of Delegates against current Democratic Delegate Alfonso Lopez, who has never before faced a GOP opponent during his six years in office,” writes the Daily Caller, calling the district he’s running in, which includes part of Arlington, “far left.” The lead sentence in Newsmax’s article about Roosevelt has a different focus: “A conservative Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, who happens to be black, has recently emerged as one of the most spirited advocates of keeping Confederate statues up in the Old Dominion State.” [Daily Caller, Newsmax]

Webb Removed from Civ Fed Debate — School Board candidate Mike Webb has had his invitation to tonight’s Arlington County Civic Federation debate — the unofficial kickoff to campaign season in Arlington — rescinded because he reportedly “failed to return required paperwork in time to allow participation.” Allison Dough, the other candidate to challenge Democratic endorsee Monique O’Grady, has said she has other commitments and will be unable to attend the debate. [InsideNova]

Arlington Man Evicted From ‘Big Brother’ House — Arlington resident Matt Clines, 33, has been evicted from the Big Brother house. Clines had advanced about half-way through the CBS reality show before being voted off. [Reality TV World, Parade, Hollywood Reporter]

DeVos to Make Big Announcement in Arlington — Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is reportedly planning to make a “major announcement on Title IX, the campus gender equality law,” from George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington on Thursday. [BuzzFeed]

Flickr pool photo by Jim Webster

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Making Saving for College Easier at ‘Leaf’

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Leaf College SavingsThe skyrocketing cost of higher education can make saving and paying for college overwhelming. So you might want to “leaf” the burden to the experts.

Leaf College Savings co-founders Juan Aguilar, Chris Duffus and Josh Bixler set out with the goal of making it easier to save for college. More specifically, they wanted to find an easier way to give the gift of college savings because, as Aguilar says, “it’s a complicated web out there of college savings.”

The collaborators previously had been colleagues at another Arlington business and regrouped a few years after that company sold. Leaf has been around for about three years now and the Rosslyn-based business has nearly 20 employees.

Leaf enables people to purchase an FDIC-insured gift card which transfers money directly into any 529 college savings plan. If the recipient doesn’t have a college savings account, the business will help set one up.

“It’s a gift that says something very special and very specific,” Aguilar says.

Another option Leaf offers is for an employer to allow payroll contributions to go toward a college savings gift, in a similar way to how a 401(k) works.

“That’s the headache we’re solving right now,” says Aguilar. “The gift card is one idea, a payroll deduction… is idea number two.”

Aguilar points out that children are more likely to pursue higher education if they have some savings set aside for it. He says Leaf offers ways to start saving early — for example, by giving one of the gift cards at a baby shower — and all of the contributions will add up over the child’s lifetime.

“We’re not trying to say a gift card will pay for every dime. But we say that every little bit helps and you need to get started somewhere,” he says. “Over time it will grow into something, which is certainly better than not having made a plan or waiting until it’s too late.”

The business continues to evolve and improve based on feedback from customers and research on changes and trends for savings plans. Employees currently are devising a payroll benefits program to help workers pay off their student loans. Leaf is working on the idea with companies interested in using such a benefit as a recruitment and retention incentive.

“The amount of college debt is staggering,” Aguilar says. “Companies love the idea of college savings and helping employees with student loans.”

As a testament to the benefits Leaf provides, Aguilar says he uses the services for his own kids.

“On a personal level, being able to use Leaf myself… it’s good to see the product work and that it really helps people,” he says. “I’m happy that we’re helping people save for college.”

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Block Scheduling for Middle Schools Being Considered Again

Williamsburg Middle School (photo via APS)(Updated at 8:50 a.m.) In 2012 Arlington Public Schools considered, and then scrapped, a proposal to move middle schools to block scheduling. Four years later, the issue is coming up again at Williamsburg Middle School.

Block scheduling introduces longer periods for core classes — math, English, science, etc. — reducing the number of classes per day attended by students and increasing instruction time. Critics, however, say that longer classes can detrimental to students, especially those with shorter attention spans. They also say that longer core classes cut into electives like music.

In response to an inquiry from ARLnow.com, prompted by emails to us from parents, Williamsburg principal Gordon Laurie confirmed that block scheduling is under consideration. School staff will be presenting a proposal to parents at a meeting in two weeks, he said.

Here’s a statement from Laurie:

We have been considering the block schedule as a staff since January 2016 to provide for an Arlington Tiered System of Supports (ATSS) period in the day as a way to meet the needs of all students’ academic, behavioral, and emotional needs.  Our goal with considering block scheduling is to make sure that we can provide individualized supports and to provided individualized learning to our students.

We convened a faculty committee to examine the block schedule and how it might benefit all students and Williamsburg. We also invited APS teachers from schools that use the block schedule system to visit with their teacher peers and talk to them in their content areas about their experience. We shared the process with the Williamsburg community last February to gather their feedback.

As the process evolved, it became clear that we were too far along in our school year to undertake and implement a new bell schedule for this school year (2016-17). Williamsburg staff began discussing block scheduling again this year as a way to provide additional supports to students. Staff has put together a proposal to share with Williamsburg families at a meeting on Wednesday, November 9 at 7 p.m. During that meeting, we will seek input, provide clarity and answer questions. No final decisions have been made at this point.

Parents who contacted ARLnow.com about the block scheduling said they had been kept in the dark about it and only found out when word leaked out following a school staff meeting yesterday.

Block scheduling has been in place at Arlington’s high schools for at least a few years. It is in place at Kenmore Middle School but not at other local middle schools, an Arlington Public Schools spokesman said.

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