Arlington, VA

Local beekeeper Brad Garmon says raising a new generation of farmers is vital to keeping the budding urban apiary industry alive, and it starts in Arlington County.

“If you talk to anyone involved in this space, [they’ll tell you] the need for young minds and younger people getting involved is dire,” Garmon said.

Committed to backing up that buzz, Garmon is hosting a class early next month to introduce students around the 5th grade age range to bees and beekeeping. The class is part of Arlington Public Schools’ Youth Enrichment Program, a new set of classes offered for local students in late-elementary school and middle school to gain new experiences.

“The Youth Enrichment Program course is not so much a technical course on managing the hives, it’s about understanding the importance of bees and getting people to realize that we have a responsibility to be good environmental stewards and the importance honeybees have,” Garmon said.

Raul Matos, coordinator for APS’ Arlington Community Learning program, said the Youth Enrichment Program started this past September. Matos said many of the programs, like the Help the Honeybees class, are aimed at children who’d rather be in a classroom for their out-of-school enrichment activities.

“It got started because we discovered that not all children, when it comes to enrichment, want to be outside playing soccer or being in the pool,” Matos said. “Some want to be in the classroom, in classes like Japanese and video film editing.”

Matos said students don’t need to be Arlington Public Schools students; homeschool students, students enrolled in private schools, and kids outside of Arlington Public Schools can also take classes.

The Help the Honeybees class is $39 for a 90-minute workshop on March 12. The class is from 4:30-6 p.m.

“There’s a lot of misinformation around honeybees, like when people say ‘my kid was playing baseball and got stung by one,'” Garmon said. “So we look at honey bees vs. wasps and yellowjackets. That way when kids are walking around their yard and see a honey bee on a flower, they’ll know it’s not an aggressive insect. It gets them to go back out to their kids and their parents and teach them what they learn.”

Beyond just an elementary apiary education, Garmon said there’s life lessons for kids to learn from the hive. One honey bee only makes one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey, and Garmon said there are a lot of kids can learn about the power of collaboration through that.

“There’s a lot of biomimicry,” Garmon said. “These insects only live a couple weeks, but what they live their entire life doing is serving to benefit their community. You can parallel that to these kids, who may feel small and insignificant. They get little straws and run around ‘pollinating flowers.’ Bring some of that nectar back to the hive. Even though these are small droplets of water, the end result is much bigger than themselves.”

Garmon said he hosted an initial class when the Youth Enrichment Program started in the fall and it filled up quickly. There’s only a few slots open left in the March session, but Garmon said he hopes to host another one in May.

Other classes being offered over the next few months include an animation class and a guide to making fascinators. Matos said he’s particularly excited about the math strengthening classes, but those are currently full. This summer, Matos said the Youth Enrichment Program plans to offer STEM-related classes like “Programming through Minecraft” and “Building Fortnite Games.”

Photos courtesy Brad Garmon

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Starting next year, Arlington Public Schools will incorporate cloud-based learning curriculum from Amazon Web Services into the classroom.

AWS Educate is the e-commerce giant’s K-12 initiative, designed to get students comfortable with the basics of cloud computing and artificial intelligence tools.

The service is available online at a fee for all educators and interested students 14 years or older. However, in late September, Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) announced a partnership with AWS Educate across select Virginia universities, community colleges, and four K-12 school districts in the state, including APS.

For the participating Virginia K-12 schools, including in Arlington, AWS Educate is expected to be incorporated as either a dual enrollment system with a participating community college or university, or as a resource utilized in exiting STEM classes.

Earlier this month APS staff met with officials from Amazon and Northern Virginia Community College to discuss the best way to introduce the curriculum into the 2020-21 school year.

“At this time, we do not have a finalized course list,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia. “Courses may or may not be dual enrolled. We need to see from the community college what their requirements are for the teacher before we can give dual enrollment or college credit.”

Northern Virginia Community College was the first area organization to partner with AWS Educate, rolling out a cloud-based degree program in 2018.

On the recent Virginia partnership, Ken Eisner, head of AWS Educate, said “in this way, students can learn about the tech concepts behind things like online gaming and expand their knowledge with more in-depth challenges on concepts like variables and big data. We’re excited to work with school divisions across northern Virginia and the entire Commonwealth to meet students and educators where they are and open up big opportunities in the cloud.”

Additional area school districts and universities partnering with AWS Educate include:

  • Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Arlington County Public Schools
  • Alexandria City Public Schools
  • Loudoun County Public Schools
  • Northern Virginia Community College
  • George Mason University
  • Virginia Tech
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
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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.

Fresh off a win at the Small Biz Challenge, Arlington startup Boolean Girl is now headed is to Nationwide’s “Pitch to Win” contest as a finalist.

The company sells classroom kits aimed at getting young women interested in coding as part of an effort to combat the gender disparity in the tech industry.

The Pitch to Win competition is scheduled for Oct. 3 and includes an all-expenses-paid trip to the insurance company’s headquarters in Ohio, where the groups will present their business proposals to a panel of judges. The winning business will be awarded $100,000, with the runner up receiving $20,000 and third place earning $10,000.

Co-founder Ingrid Sanden said the winnings from Pitch to Win would help the company expand into middle-school-age sets.

“Winning the Pitch To Win competition would propel Boolean Girl Tech’s efforts to keep middle school girls engaged and excited about moving from basic coding to complex, real-world projects,” said Sanden. “Typically, there is a dramatic drop off in participation in STEM and computer science classes in middle school, so bridging the gap from elementary to high school and beyond is a crucial step as we close the gender gap in STEM careers.”

Boolean Girl will be competing with six other companies from across the country, from a skateboard grip tape business to a company that makes AI-enabled digital stethoscopes.

Boolean Girl launched in 2014 around the same time Google’s lack of diversity was making headlines. Since then, the company has developed a build-it-yourself box set for $169.99 and a kit that including ten boxes, ten monitors and a variety of accessories for $5,000. The company also offers a coding summer camp in Arlington.

Photo courtesy Boolean Girl

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Virginia Tech has been making local headlines lately with the announcement of its Innovation Campus in the newly-designated neighborhood of National Landing.

While the new campus will help cement the university’s regional footprint, Virginia Tech has been quietly providing graduate education opportunities in the D.C. area since 1969.

Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business has offered its MBA programs in this region for decades and more recently made the decision to narrow its focus to working professionals in urban centers across the commonwealth.

“What we did at Virginia Tech a few years ago was to say that we really want to focus on the working professional — someone who wants to enhance their career or make a change in the direction of their career, but not at the expense of continuing to be a business professional,” says Pamplin Dean Robert Sumichrast. That allows those students to come into the classroom, he adds, “and use what they’ve learned as part of the experience of the MBA program.”

Arlington is home to the Executive MBA program, an 18-month, cohort-based option for mid-career professionals. The curriculum is centered around experiential learning modules that provide students with hands-on experience in topics like business analytics and leadership and governance.

The nationally-ranked Evening MBA program is based in Falls Church and designed to provide maximum flexibility. Students can change their course load each semester to balance work and other commitments. They also have the option to focus their degree in one of 10 specialization areas, including traditional business topics like finance and management, and some more niche areas like healthcare information technology.

The Professional MBA program is a 24-month hybrid option with once-per-month in-person classes that rotate between Richmond, Roanoke and Newport News.

Visit mba.vt.edu to learn more about Virginia Tech’s MBA programs, or register to attend an upcoming information session.

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It seems like summer break just started, but some local organizations are already pitching in to help at-risk students prepare for the upcoming school year.

Arlington-based Offender and Aid Restoration and Verizon Wireless retailer TCC are two of the organizations that are setting up drives for backpacks and other classroom necessities in Arlington.

TCC’s program, School Rocks Backpack Giveaway, first started in 2013. The program has donated 950,000 backpacks stocked with school supplies since its founding. TCC asks that on July 24 from 1 p.m-4 p.m. community members drop off backpacks and supplies at participating stores, including a store at 3141 Lee Highway

Offender Aid and Restoration, which works to improve the lives of the incarcerated population through educational programs, community service opportunities and reentry services into society, is also organizing a backpack drive.

Until August 12, Project Backpack, sponsored by OAR, will collect school supplies for children and deliver them with a note of encouragement from their incarcerated parent.

“It is so crucial to maintain strong family bonds while a parent is incarcerated for both the child and the parent,” said OAR’s executive director. “Incarceration not only affects the person going through the system, but everyone closest to them as well.” 

Anyone interested can also donate to the Project Backpack cause online. Community members may also drop off items physically or mail them to OAR’s Arlington office at 400 N. Uhle Street, Suite 704, Arlington, VA 22201. 

File photo

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The Goddard School — a private early-childhood education franchise — is planning to open a pair of linked childcare facilities 350 yards apart on Lee Highway.

A decision on permits for the facilities at 5328 and 5222 Lee Highway are docketed for the County Board meeting this Saturday, July 13.

The larger of the two projects is a childcare center and school at 5328 Lee Highway, which will host up to 208 children.

“The child care center will serve children ranging from two (2) to five (5) years of age, in addition to before/after school services for school age children ages five (5) to ten (10) years,” says a county staff report. “The applicant proposes to reconfigure the existing office space to create 14 classrooms, one of which can also operate as an indoor gymnasium, as well as several ancillary rooms, including a pantry, teacher resource room, and two offices.”

A portions of the building, which most recently served as an office building, had previously been approved as a child care facility in 2017, but the staff report noted that the proposed facility never opened. The property is attached by a breezeway to United Bank, which the report says is expected to continue operating alongside the school.

Meanwhile, the proposed childcare facility at 5222 Lee Highway will have up to 60 children, ranging from 6-weeks to 2-years-old. The building will replace the former Chevy Chase Bank and drive-thru, which has been vacant for two years.

Under local ordinance, the larger of the two facilities would be required to have 26 parking spaces, but only 18 are available in the parking lot behind the building. The staff report says The Goddard School is asking to have the additional parking be provided off-site at the 5222 Lee Highway location. That proposal has been met by concerns from neighbors.

“Yorktown Civic Association which is adjacent to the subject site, is in support of the proposal, however, has concerns regarding circulation and turning movement around the site,” the staff report says.

The report said pick-up and drop-off would occur from the parking area, accessible via two existing curb cuts, and staff recommended that the County Board find the circulation and parking issues sufficiently addressed.

If approved, the facilities would be the first locations for The Goddard School in Arlington.

Another childcare center — VINCI Early Learning School — has been proposed for 3508 Lee Highway and is also on Saturday’s County Board agenda. Consideration of that facility, however, is expected to be deferred until September “to allow the applicant additional time to meet with the community and address any concerns that they may have with the proposed use.”

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Virginia Tech’s Evening MBA program moved up three places to No. 14 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 rankings of the best part-time MBA programs.

The Northern Virginia-based program now ranks as the top public university part-time MBA in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The report assessed more than 300 part-time MBA programs across the country on factors such as student quality, peer reputation and the ratio of part-time to full-time students.

“This marks the fifth consecutive year that the Evening MBA has featured in the top 20 programs nationwide,” said Dana K. Hansson, director of MBA programs. “We believe the faculty expertise and high level of flexibility we offer are key factors in continuing to attract high quality students to our program.”

The Evening MBA is one of three MBA programs offered by the Pamplin College of Business. With many shared courses and faculty, the Executive and Professional MBA program options offer a similar academic experience to the Evening program, but with alternate formats and locations to better serve a range of students.

“What we did at Virginia Tech a few years ago was to say that we really want to focus on the working professional — someone who wants to enhance their career or make a change in the direction of their career, but not at the expense of continuing to be a business professional,” says Pamplin Dean Robert Sumichrast. That allows those students to come into the classroom, he adds, “and use what they’ve learned as part of the experience of the MBA program.”

This commitment to serving part-time students contributed to Virginia Tech’s highest ever overall score in the ranking. Another contributing factor was a strong appraisal by other programs.

“We’re particularly proud of the peer assessment score given the high quality of other programs in the nation,” said Dr. Parviz Ghandforoush, associate dean for graduate programs at Pamplin. “In part, we believe the high rating is due to our commitment to offering cutting-edge courses in areas like innovation and entrepreneurship, machine learning/AI and cybersecurity that aren’t available to students in more traditional MBA programs.”

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Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup 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.

EdConnective isn’t an Arlington startup, but starting early next year, it will be.

The Richmond-based company was chosen from 64 applicants as the winner of this year’s “Startup Arlington” competition. That means the firm will earn a temporary stay in the county, as well as some exclusive mentoring.

EdConnective’s mission is to provide virtual coaching and customized feedback for teachers. The startup launched in 2015 and has since worked in more than 30 schools throughout Virginia and surrounding states. More than 1,400 coaching sessions have been held with 70 coaches.

“EdConnective is thrilled to have been chosen as the winner of the Startup Arlington competition,” said Erik Skantze, Chief Operating Officer of EdConnective, in a press release. “Having a base of operations in Arlington will provide an enormous opportunity for us to grow our client base and to engage with investors. We look forward to an exciting and productive four months and beyond.”

According to the EdConnective website, participating teachers record a clip of their classroom instruction and share it with a coach, who shares feedback via Skype. These sessions are held twice a week for four to six weeks.

Pricing for the service ranges from $99 per session to $130 per session, depending on the package selected.

According to Arlington Economic Development, EdConnective will receive four months of rent-free lodging at Residence Inn Rosslyn and incubator space in Rosslyn at Spaces, a coworking space located in The Artisphere. The company staff will also receive transportation passes and exclusive mentoring.

The company is scheduled to start its Arlington operations next month.

Image via Startup Arlington

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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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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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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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