web analytics



Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.


Call For Free 15/M Consultation



Westlake Legal Group > Education (Page 8)

Meet the NoVA nonprofit that recently partnered with Keanu Reeves

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-114 Meet the NoVA nonprofit that recently partnered with Keanu Reeves youth development programming Philanthropy partnership nonprofits kids Keanu Reeves g3 community services Family empowerment Education
The G3 Community Services team includes just three full-time staff members: Executive Director Jonathan Shores (left), administrator Karen Myers (center) and founder Vernon Green Jr. (Photo courtesy of G3 Community Services)

A few years ago, Vernon Green Jr.’s daughter came home to their Stafford residence crying about her day at school. When he asked what happened, she explained that the boys were causing trouble, the teachers couldn’t control it and she needed his help. 

“All daughters think their daddies are superman when they are young,” says Green.

The following day, Green—an Army veteran, former minister and CEO of a cybersecurity company in NoVA—addressed his daughter’s class and told them sternly, but honestly, that the students’ behavior had to change and he would ensure it did. From down the hall, a few other teachers asked Green to do the same thing and before he knew it, the principal of Anthony Burns Elementary School inquired about turning that one lecture into a full-time program for young boys, eventually becoming nonprofit G3 Community Services.

While G3CS started as a mentorship program for young boys, it has since grown to benefit young children in Stafford County in general, as well as veterans and families in the NoVA region through extensive programming. 

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-28 Meet the NoVA nonprofit that recently partnered with Keanu Reeves youth development programming Philanthropy partnership nonprofits kids Keanu Reeves g3 community services Family empowerment Education
Vernon Green leads a discussion at one of the Stafford elementary schools that offers his programming. (Photo courtesy of G3 Community Services)

Extraordinary Young Minds is the organization’s longest-standing program, supporting character development of children in the school system through science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) initiatives, including lessons on coding, race car building and virtual and augmented reality. While this branch of the organization is currently offered at nine public schools in the county, Green hopes to extend the entirety of the group’s work to parts of Maryland and Washington, DC, in addition to more schools in Northern Virginia.  

As of August, Green got a little bit closer to this goal with help from Fairfax native Jim Klock and actor Keanu Reeves, who recently produced Already Gone, a film about two New York City teens who attempt to escape complex upbringings. Following an introduction through Green’s long-time friend and Stafford County Sheriff David Decatur, Green was given the opportunity to partner with Reeves and the rest of his team to host a special screening of the film in New York, benefiting G3CS. 

“I swear I thought it was a joke. I was like there’s no way,” says Green about the interest from Reeves. “It ended up being a win-win situation—they wanted a sponsor and we needed someone who would carry our message.”

While the event generated interest and several donations from attendees, ultimately fully funding one public school’s G3CS programs, Green’s focus is on finding more volunteers who can teach and inspire the organization’s participants. 

“We are looking to move north but it goes by where I can generate volunteers,” says Green. “We want to have an impactful program, not something that’s barely getting by.”

Green is bringing his outreach efforts to his for-profit cybersecurity company, GCubed, Inc., too. Through internship programs for veterans transitioning out of the system to employee visits at participating G3CS schools, Green seeks to benefit NoVA’s community and workforce at the same time.

“I started to realize there’s a lack of qualified professionals in cybersecurity and information technology in our area, so by teaching these kids from the start, it helps put them into that pipeline of possibilities,” says Green. “If you can give people education, careers and opportunities we can change lives.”

Want more news about Northern Virginia schools? Subscribe to our semimonthly Education newsletter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

‘Cause We Can’t Have Politics in School: Varsity Cheerleaders Get Put on Probation for Posing with a Trump 2020 Sign

Westlake Legal Group north-carolina-cheerleaders-trump-sign-SCREENSHOT-620x352 ‘Cause We Can’t Have Politics in School: Varsity Cheerleaders Get Put on Probation for Posing with a Trump 2020 Sign Uncategorized Front Page Stories Featured Story Education Allow Media Exception Academia

[Screenshot from ABC13 Houston via Twitter, https://twitter.com/abc13houston/status/1173937414462758912]


North Carolina’s North Stanly High wants students to show their school colors but not their political ones.

On August 30th — before a Friday night football home game — a group from the cheer squad posed with a banner that read…**Trigger Warning**…”Trump 2020: ‘Make America Great Again.’”


Photos of the ghastly endeavor made their way across social media, and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association acted fast.

According to the Daily Mail, the entire squad was placed on “probation,” which means they can’t cheer for a whole year.

The Associated Press reports Stanly County Schools Superintendent Jeff James made clear the intention of the probation: To make sure the guilty gals “don’t do it again.”

And why? Because all NC high schools have a policy against students displaying political signs.

Officials explained:

“The focus of Friday night football games should be on our students — the players, cheerleaders, band members — the focus should not be on politics. For this reason, we are hopeful the situation will resolve, and our student athletes can have a successful fall season.”

But some are calling hogwash: A Facebook event was created, encouraging backers of the girls to attend this week’s game in support.

As for the district’s rule: So school shouldn’t be about politics? That sounds great; when do we start?

Take a ganders:

Dumb University Of Cambridge Rescinds Fellowship Offer To Brilliant Jordan Peterson

Pennsylvania State University Adds ‘Conjoling’ With Flattery As A Basis For Sexual Assault Guilt

The Regression Of Progress: College Bans Chick-Fil-A Because Of Its Values

University Of Montana Bans Mean Speech

California Passes Legislation Forcing All Public Universities To Provide Abortion Pills

The BBC Releases A Lesson Plan For 9-Year-Olds: There Are More Than 100 Genders. Disagree And Go To Jail

New Video Allegedly Reveals Planned Parenthood Instructing Teachers On How To Help Kids Hide Abortions From Their Parents

Former Sex Educator: Planned Parenthood Is Grooming Girls For Abortion Via The Public Education System

TREACHERY: Tennessee School System Creates Video For Teachers On How To Teach Kids America Is Racist

Hey — I just thought of something: Since the students are individuals, but the school is funded by taxpayers, isn’t it the school that should never be political, but students should be free to voice their opinions? Aw, I’m probably just turned around.

In the meantime, there is one bit of good news:

The cheerleaders will be on probation for a year but are expected to continue cheering.

Punishment ain’t what it used to be.



Find all my RedState work here.

And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you for reading! Please sound off in the Comments section below. For iPhone instructions, see the bottom of this page.

If you have an iPhone and want to comment, select the box with the upward arrow at the bottom of your screen; swipe left and choose “Request Desktop Site.” If it fails to automatically refresh, manually reload the page. Scroll down to the red horizontal bar that says “Show Comments.”

The post ‘Cause We Can’t Have Politics in School: Varsity Cheerleaders Get Put on Probation for Posing with a Trump 2020 Sign appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group north-carolina-cheerleaders-trump-sign-SCREENSHOT-300x171 ‘Cause We Can’t Have Politics in School: Varsity Cheerleaders Get Put on Probation for Posing with a Trump 2020 Sign Uncategorized Front Page Stories Featured Story Education Allow Media Exception Academia   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ranil Jayawardena: The free school programme is good. Let’s make it outstanding.

Ranil Jayawardena is Member of Parliament for North East Hampshire and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party.

Education holds the greatest hope for a life rich in promise. That’s what I said in my maiden speech. I believe it to be true now more than ever. If we are serious about unlocking the potential of every community, we need not only to build the fantastic transport and future-focused digital infrastructure, but we need to put pupils and parents at the forefront of our education policy.

There have been great successes. 1.9 million more children are now in good or outstanding schools due to reforms since 2010 and the continued commitment of teachers in the classroom. Boris Johnson has set out that we will ‘level up’ funding so that schools in every corner of the country get a boost. And it is right that we think about the next steps.

Every year, we get more evidence of the growing success of David Cameron’s free schools policy. But seeing these great results comes with a tinge of frustration that so few have been approved recently. That’s why I was delighted with Boris’ announcement that there will be a new wave of free schools, changing the lives of countless pupils.

We know how well these schools achieve – they outperform other school types at every level, and are more likely to be rated Outstanding by Ofsted than any other school. Last month, GCSE results day brought these triumphs further to life, showing more of the transformational impact these schools have made.

Schools like Cobham Free School, where 78 per cent of the first cohort of students achieved Grades 9-4 in their English and maths GCSEs. At the East London Science School, more than a quarter of all grades were 7 or above, significantly above the national average.

Kings College London Mathematics School retained their spot as the highest performing state school at A-level with 91 per cent of all grades achieving A* or A. The specialist maths school offers talented young mathematicians opportunities that would previously have been denied to them. Alongside Kings, at London Academy of Excellence in Newham an incredible 93% of all grades by students were A*-B, resulting in an unprecedented 22 students securing places at Oxford and Cambridge.

It would be remiss of me not to reference Michaela Community School, too. The school has attracted huge amounts of criticism over the years, but proved its doubters wrong in stunning fashion last month. Across every subject, more than half of exams were graded 7 or higher, while nearly a quarter of students achieved grades 9-7. Overall, the school has an estimated Progress 8 score of 1.5, making it likely to be in the top ten highest performers in the country.

This makes it all the more frustrating that there is no guarantee these schools would get approved today. The criteria for new schools to open have been squeezed over the past few years so much so that new parent and community groups are at risk of becoming extinct. While I do not agree with the critics who suggest that the free school programme is now merely a vehicle for academy trusts to grow, the argument is too easily made.

I know first-hand that it is still possible for community groups to go through this process, daunting as the requirements are without the resources of an academy chain behind you. In support of a free school in North East Hampshire, I have worked with teachers, parents, employers and community leaders to make the case for a new school. We hope this will put us on the way to opening our doors and doing our bit to make sure even more local children get the education they deserve.

Sadly, there are still some schools in north Hampshire that are not delivering for the next generation – this is why we came together, and what we are working to change. But it has been extraordinary to be on the receiving end of so much misunderstanding, misinformation and ‘fake news’, for simply wanting parents to have a real choice for their children.

And this is what other areas need, too. The bottom line is that there are still far too many schoolchildren going to schools which aren’t good enough – where families know their children are being short-changed and they have no opportunity to make it better. It’s true in north Hampshire, and it’s true in too many other communities as well.

The free school programme should be much more about standards, not just about school places. How many of those surplus places are in schools where you would not send your own children? School choice is taken for granted in areas with an abundance of high-performing schools, but in others the lack of options makes this a sham.

Because this is the unspoken truth: we already have school selection in every – yes, every – part of our great nation. Not by ability, but by house price. It is the lowest paid who are left behind; they cannot afford to move to the catchment area of a better school and they certainly cannot afford school fees. They want to do the very best for their children. They work hard, but are not rewarded for doing the right thing.

I was lucky. I grew up in my constituency and was fortunate enough to be in the ‘right’ catchment. My parents couldn’t have afforded school fees and my great education at the village primary schools and local comprehensive was simply a quirk of fate. It could have been very different. But it shouldn’t be.

Boris Johnson has explicitly called upon parents, educational groups and community organisations to come together to make this happen and play their part. I welcome this. The process is not easy, but nor should it be, but we need to be sure we don’t shut out those who want to help. That’s why I should like to thank Unity Howard and her team at the New Schools Network for the invaluable support they offer applicant groups.

Levelling up the quality of education is a lesson objective we all share. And free schools are vital to doing so. But like a disruptive pupil at the back of class getting all of the attention, the opportunity for all pupils to get the best education is hamstrung by the current focus on the need for new school places alone. The free school programme is good; let’s make it outstanding. Giving energised parents, teachers and communities the freedom to set up truly innovative new schools will enliven our educational ecosystem, provide families with the choice that their children deserve, and get British education up to the top of the class.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

5 mommy-and-me classes to attend with your kids this fall

Westlake Legal Group Mommy-and-Me-Feature 5 mommy-and-me classes to attend with your kids this fall Things to Do parenting Motherhood mommy and me classes kids fitness family friendly events Family Features Family Events Education children
© Shutter2U / stock.adobe.com

School is back in session and the community pools have closed their gates. It’s an adjustment period, as most parents call it, prepping for the busy weekends that are bound to lead straight into the holiday season.

But if you’re looking for a fun way to spend some time with your little ones and slow down during the hustle and bustle, here are five of our favorite upcoming classes to enjoy, with no cleanup required!

For more stories relating to parenthood, roundups of family-friendly events and more, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Bella Bundle
Sept. 23, 8:45 a.m.
You might know the location best for its ballerina lessons for tiny twirlers, but this class is designed for adults (and strapped-in babies) only. The baby-wearing and prenatal fitness class incorporates dance components, strength training and gentle stretching. It’s a great way for you to get up and moving, no babysitter needed. // prices vary

Mommy & Me Fitness
Sept. 25, 11:45 a.m.
This family-friendly class not only gives parents the chance to get a workout in, it also allows the kids to learn the importance of exercise from a young age. Any children over 1 year old can join the class, as well as any athletic or fitness level for adults. That recommended 30 minutes a day of physical activity will fly by in no time. // prices vary

Mommy & Me Yoga
Oct. 3, 10 a.m.
The benefits of a yoga class for a new mom can make for a long list, but we’ll keep it short: engage and stimulate the mind of your little yogi, allow your child to see how others react to movements and behaviors for social development, shake off new-parent jitters and make some new friends. // $20 per adult (kids are free)

Mommy and Me Chocolate-Making Class
Oct. 14, 10 a.m.
Everyone loves Halloween candy, but what about making it yourself this time? Take a chocolate-making class with Santosh Tiptur, head chef at The Conche (the Leesburg-based, chocolate-themed restaurant), and learn how to make a chocolate bunny from the world-class pastry chef and chocolatier himself. Plus, moms get a drink to kick off the class, and kids get a free cup of hot chocolate. // $50 per person

Parent and Me Decorating Class
Oct. 20, 2 p.m.
Baking with the kids can be fun and educational, but it can also make for quite the mess. Instead of turning your kitchen into a war zone, grab a tube of icing and get to decorating these Halloween-themed cookies. You know what they say: have your cookie and eat it too … or, something like that. // $30 per person (two tickets required)

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

This year’s 7th annual Senior Spelling Bee to benefit local memory care program

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-43 This year’s 7th annual Senior Spelling Bee to benefit local memory care program words Things to Do Features spelling bee Spelling seniors senior spelling bee Senior Living memory improvement memory care Education Dementia annual event
© Terdsak / stock.adobe.com

On Sept. 26, community members throughout Northern Virginia will gather together for one day of educational fun, thanks to the annual Senior Spelling Bee, started by NoVA resident Toni Reinhardt. This year’s funds will go toward Insight Memory Care Center’s program, Dementia Friendly Herndon

Dementia Friendly Herndon was established in 2016 as the first Virginia-based branch of the national organization, Dementia Friendly America, which seeks to provide support for those living with dementia and their caregivers. 

While the event first began as a recreational activity for seniors living in community centers to participate in, it is now a full-fledged, annual fundraiser. This year’s event will be held at retirement community Hunters Woods at Trails Edge in Reston, where seniors will compete in a comfortable and social atmosphere for the chance to win a special prize that has yet to be announced. Plus, food and door prizes will be served to all attendees, regardless if they are participating or not. 

Prior to the competition, each participant will be supplied with a practice spelling bee list, tips for how to properly prepare and the option to volunteer to help groups run trial spell-offs events. Then on the day of, organizations across Northern Virginia can choose two participants over the age of 65 to be the team leaders and compete. 

For those who want to come out and watch, be sure to represent your given team with T-shirts, signs and noisemakers to add to the already supportive community event. 

“It gives people a chance to gather together and stretch their brain cells,” says Reinhardt. “And some people who are good spellers, even if they have early onset dementia, they retain that ability and it’s fascinating.”

If you are interested in registering for or becoming a sponsor at this unique fundraising event, click here. // Hunters Woods at Trails Edge: 2222 Colts Neck Road, Reston; donations encouraged

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Dead Hand of Antonio Gramsci

If you’re not familiar with Antonio Gramsci, you should be. Gramsci was an Italian Communist who, while in prison in the 1920s, penned what has become the left’s handbook for taking over societies. The current ne plus ultra of Gramsci’s methods is Pope Francis, the Marxist who worked himself up through the ranks of the institution to become its head. Today’s Catholic Church, a 2,000-year-old institution, is headed by a Marxist who may not even be a Catholic. That’s Gramsci.

The Pope is hardly the only leftist “marching through the institutions.” He’s just a handy, very prominent example. The world is full of these people. The idea of Cultural Hegemony — seeking it, maintaining it, using it — is central to leftist thinking worldwide. Here in the United States, we are at considerable risk of being surrounded by Gramsci-style cultural hegemons. Ironically, that is because we had attacked them where they are strongest.

There was a think piece in Friday’s Wall Street Journal that is nominally about “the role of the corporation in society” but which describes how Roosevelt’s New Dealers built the American welfare state inside the private sector, using large firms to do what they could not do (at that time) politically. They basically ‘Gramscied’ the Fortune 500 into carrying out their preferred social policy in regards to medical care, defined pensions, employment security, etc. They could do this because corporate governance was quite weak back then. Managers did whatever they wanted with corporate assets; ownership was so spread out and unorganized that shareholders really had no say in how resources were used.

All that changed in the 1970s with the rise of ‘shareholders rights’ movements and institutional investors who swung a big enough bat to put an end to the corporate welfare state. Which the lefties hated but which is just as well because it’s probably a bad idea to have unelected people setting social policy anyway. As we are learning the hard way with Twitter and Google.

So all the unelected Social Policy Makers from the private sector moved into the government, where they populated a vastly expanded federal bureaucracy. That’s pretty much where we’ve been for the last 30 years, with Gramsci’s hegemons happily directing government resources and power into their favorite causes. Like the corporate hegemons of the 1950s, they have mostly ignored the owners’ elected representatives.

Just as shareholders eventually revolted in the 1960s and reclaimed their assets from the occupying social engineers, so the voters are waking up and wondering why their government is allowing so much harm to come to them, and doing so little to benefit them as opposed to all these other causes and peoples around the world.

If it hadn’t been Trump, it would have been somebody like him. Somebody was going to come along and harness the fact that the government is in the hands of a huge, unelected clique of arrogant do-gooders who don’t care, and don’t have to care, what the public wants or what the “politicals” tell them to do.

It has taken Trump three years, but we are finally starting to see evidence that the Gramscian Hegemons in government service are being squeezed. They certainly aren’t gone yet, and they may never be entirely removed. But we don’t need them to be gone. We only need them to get their hands off the steering wheel.

Here’s what else we don’t need: we don’t need them popping up again in the private sector, turning large corporations into social engineering platforms the way they were in the 1950s. This isn’t just happening in Silicon Valley anymore. We’re seeing Gramsci’s head pop up in places like WalMart and NASCAR, where left-leaning ideologues are using market power to implement social policies they cannot get past the elected leaders in government.

The good news is that this means that the left wing hegemons are indeed being kicked off their perches in the Civil Service. They feel threatened, and many are jumping ship.

The bad news is that if we don’t catch this in time, and the Bad Guys get lucky, they could end up owning both the private and public sectors. And then we’re hosed.


Follow Robert A. Hahn on Twitter.

The post The Dead Hand of Antonio Gramsci appeared first on RedState.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Born In A World At War

Westlake Legal Group 9-11-september-eleventh-620x325 Born In A World At War War Terrorism terror September 11 school History Front Page Stories Featured Story Education Allow Media Exception 9/11

Eighteen years ago today, a series of airplane crashes changed the world.

These crashes were no accident. The September 11th terror attacks were a well-orchestrated strike into the hearts of Americans, killing so many of our countrymen and injecting a new and terrible fear into the hearts of us all.

The strikes brought down the World Trade Center in New York, a section of the Pentagon, and aimed to take out the White House (had it not been for the heroic actions of the Americans on board of the final plane, sending it instead into a field in Pennsylvania). They kept us out of sports arenas and large gatherings for fear of what might happen next. The United States began taking steps toward war to punish those responsible – a terror organization deep in the heart of the Middle East.

That war and the wars that followed have not ended since they started.

Across America today, there are students who are learning about this event in a solely historical context – this year’s graduating high school seniors were either less than a year old or not even born when the attacks happened. Yet, the world they are growing up in is a world built upon those attacks.

Many of them have parents in the military, who even now serve overseas in the same places that spawned the terrorists who attacked us. Others have family that has been lost in those conflicts. Still others come from families who support the war or families who oppose it.

The politics inspired by those terror attacks and the wars in the Middle East have shaped family discourse. While not solely due to the September 11th attacks, what has happened in the political realm has undoubtedly been shaped by them. Because of that, we now live in a very politically-charged era. Kids are becoming all-too-aware of the toxicity of it all, and it bleeds into the classroom.

It’s a world that they know all-to-well, but it’s not the world that my generation (the beloved millennial generation) and those older than I always knew. Sure, we can look at several events through history that have changed the world, and we can argue many generations have their own similar historical world-shaping events. It’s also true that this generation may well come to witness an event that shapes their worldview like September 11th, Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK, and other events affected previous generations.

With September 11th the most current of those events, however, it’s important for those of us old enough to remember it to explain why and how the world has changed. There are far too many people even in our media and political establishments who pretend as though history began sometime after 2002.

That type of worldview, the type that ignores the context of the times we live in, is actually dangerous. Context is what makes history something to learn from. Simply memorizing the dates and people and events of history isn’t enough. The context that makes them important fill in the gaps, and lead us from one event to the other, making it more than a timeline but an explanation of why the world is the way it is.

The students in our classrooms today need to understand the context of their world. They need to know the context of the world as it was before and leading up to September 11, 2001, and they need to understand the world now as it has been affected by those terror attacks.

The post Born In A World At War appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group 9-11-september-eleventh-300x157 Born In A World At War War Terrorism terror September 11 school History Front Page Stories Featured Story Education Allow Media Exception 9/11   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Kidcreate Studio set to open in Old Town this fall

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-11 Kidcreate Studio set to open in Old Town this fall Studio play time kids inspiration family friendly Family Features Family Entertainment Education Creativity children arts art education art classes
Photo courtesy of Kidcreate Studio

From knitting classes to gymnasiums for toddlers, there is no shortage of entertainment for NoVA’s kids. And later this fall, the community of Old Town will have a home for artistic play, structured creativity and pure fun for children 18 months through 12 years of age, thanks to one local mom. 

Kidcreate Studio first opened in Minneapolis over 10 years ago by Lara Olsen, who noticed a lack of art education in her young children’s school curriculums. Today, the brand has grown into a franchise with studios in 10 states, with Virginia being the latest addition to the company. 

“Here in the area we are invested in making our kids great community members who are enthusiastic about their interests, and I think this studio will really help with that,” says Fairfax County resident Diane Greenbaum, who has plans to open Kidcreate late this fall in Old Town Alexandria. “When I thought about what I wanted to do next, this just made sense.”

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-22 Kidcreate Studio set to open in Old Town this fall Studio play time kids inspiration family friendly Family Features Family Entertainment Education Creativity children arts art education art classes
Photo courtesy of Kidcreate Studio

Greenbaum previously worked in the corporate world, yet recently found that her current interest didn’t match with the same dreams she had as a 20-year-old. With Kidcreate, she’ll be able to dive into the company’s full-fledged curriculum, featuring about 1,000 lesson plans, in an effort to give children in NoVA a creative outlet. 

Want to be the first to know when family-friendly activities are coming to NoVA? Subscribe to our e-newsletters.

According to the eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care, the creative arts help support children’s growth in a variety of ways, including social, cognitive, emotional and physical development. 

Kidcreate consists of programming for children between 18 months and 3 years, where parents stay alongside their child; a preschool program for those between 3 and 6 years of age; a curriculum for children ages 4 through 9, which is the most popular program; and an elementary school program for kids ages 5 through 12. 

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-52 Kidcreate Studio set to open in Old Town this fall Studio play time kids inspiration family friendly Family Features Family Entertainment Education Creativity children arts art education art classes
Photo courtesy of Kidcreate Studio

“Each lesson follows anywhere from art techniques to material use to just free-for-all painting, and we really stay in tune with what kids are into right now,” says founder Lara Olsen. “Recently, we did a Harry Potter class where he flew through Van Gogh’s Starry Night. We like to incorporate a little more pizzazz than what the kids are used to at school.”

In addition to weekly structured lessons, Kidcreate has drop-in messy time, as well as an on-the-go division, which allows the team to bring art to you, whether that be at a birthday party, local organization or an after-school program. Parents can also submit requests to host birthday parties within the studio, which Greenbaum has already received, despite not yet having a set location for the site. 

According to Greenbaum, she is hoping to sign a lease at a desired location within the next few weeks and open the doors before November’s end. Until then, she will continue to spread the word and scout for local talent in the Alexandria region to join the local branch of the company. Talent does not have to come in the form of an artist, though, but rather someone who is genuinely great with kids and isn’t afraid to get a little messy. 

In Olsen’s words, “If you don’t like glitter, it’s not the job for you.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

John Bald: There is no reason why other schools should not apply Michaela’s principles

John Bald is a former Ofsted inspector and has written two books on the history of writing and spelling. He is Chairman of the Conservative Education Society.

Now that the euphoria over Michaela Community School’s results has calmed down, we can consider their wider implications.

First, the facts. Four times the national average of the new top grade of Level 9 – 18 per cent of all entries, with two pupils (from 850 or so nationally) this grade in all subjects. Two and a half times the national average at L7+, equivalent to the former A grade, and 58 per cent Ebacc passes, compared to a national average over recent years in the low twenties. I’ve questioned the validity of the “progress 8” measure, which sees everything in terms of scores in English and maths at 11, but this is still an astonishing 1.5.

The Guardian, no friend of Michaela, said these results placed Michaela among the best state schools in the country, an understatement. They represent the latest milestone in a long journey that has extended the idea of who can succeed academically from the 25 per cent of pupils in the grammar school era, via 50 per cent in the Newsom “Half our Future” report of the early 60s, to the over 80 per cent achieved by Mossbourne nine years ago. Over 90 per cent of Michaela’s passes were at Level 4 (old C) and above, and there are grammar schiools not far away.

Michaela has not merely broken the mould but, as Katharine Birbalsingh put it, “smashed it”. Discussions with teachers at the school’s celebration evening on Friday added to what I’d learned on my visit two years ago. First, the low-level disruption that plagues education in many schools, including some rated outstanding – pupils only do it when inspectors are there if they really hate their teachers – is eliminated during the induction “boot camp”. Pupils who have been used to setting their own behaviour patterns have to change their ways – a smirk across the table when a teacher is talking brings an immediate 25 minute detention, and teachers do not back down in the face of a tantrum.

Second, pupils are grouped according to their abilities and learning needs. Unlike almost all other schools that do this, however, the same attention to detail is paid to the teaching of lower-attaining pupils as to top sets. The one valid objection to ability grouping, that lower sets do not get their share of the best teaching, does not apply, and Deputy Head Katy Ashford, who doubles as special needs co-ordinator, is a key figure in making this happen. No stigma is attached to lower sets, and visitors mentioning setting in front of pupils may be asked to leave.

Third, Michaela’s teaching is consistently thoughtful and systematic. Maths in the first year is arithmetic, based on the computer programme Times Tables Rockstars. Mr Bullock, Head of Year 7, does not comment when I say that this should have been done in primary school, but it ensures that nothing is left out by the time algebra is introduced in the second year. Pupils then work on the programme Hegarty Maths, which tracks individual progress, and do so every day. Detention is there if they don’t, but the constant positive feedback makes them want to. This is another key feature at Michaela – everyone, including nearly all visitors, comes to want to buy into the system.

Despite the obstacles and abuse she faced while setting up the school, Birbalsingh, like Sir Michael Wilshaw at Mossbourne. started with one advantage – a new staff who shared her values, commitment and determination. The young teachers joining the school this year, including some from the private sector, and a physics teacher straight from the Higgs boson project, have this experience to learn from, as well as making their own contribution. Former deputy Barry Smith, who has applied Michaela principles at Great Yarmouth, has had to overcome opposition from established staff, and deal with a group of seriously, and at times violently, disruptive pupils and hostile parents. Birbalsingh gives credit to nearby Ark Wembley Park school for adopting Michaela principles, with similarly positive results, showing that the approach works beyond her own school.

There were no politicians at the celebration evening, leaving the field to the people who have done the work – the staff, and pupils who have joined the new sixth form – entry level 7 passes at Grade 7 or above, aiming for Oxbridge and Russell Group universities, and the social mobility that these bring. It was a pity that Michael Gove could not be present at what is, in my view, his greatest achievement. But if the Conservative Conference in 2010 was Katharine Birbalsingh’s day, this was her night. And Michaela’s.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

David Skelton: From Gateshead to ‘Ghosthead’, how our towns have declined

David Skelton is the author of Little Platoons: How a revived One Nation can empower England’s forgotten towns and redraw the political map. He founded Renewal, dedicated to broadening Tory appeal.

There’s been an impressive urban renaissance in our great cities. The Baltic in Newcastle, the transformed stations in Manchester and Birmingham, Millennium Square in Leeds and the waterfront in Liverpool, are all testament to this. Sadly, this only tells half of the story. Travel only a few miles from these reborn city centres and there are too many examples of towns that continue to be “left behind”.

Walk only a few miles from the Baltic in “Newcastle-Gateshead” (a phrase that nobody other than marketing men use) and you’ll arrive in Gateshead town centre. As the local newspaper puts it: ‘You will see signs with letters missing, windows without glass and shutters pulled firmly down.’ In 2016, one fifth of the stores in Gateshead town centre were empty, with the Evening Chronicle saying that the town had gone from ‘Gateshead to Ghosthead’.

There are forgotten towns like this all over the country, often blighted by appalling transport links, poor digital infrastructure, a lack of skilled jobs, declining communal spaces and insufficient entrepreneurialism. They have all been more negatively impacted by deindustrialisation and the after effects of the banking crash. Mass immigration from EU accession countries changed the nature of some of these towns almost overnight.

The policy of successive governments has done little to make things better. A focus on linking big cities with London has left many towns exposed, and a fad for out of town shopping and business parks has hollowed out town centres. A myopic obsession with Higher Education meant that government actively encouraged all the talented young people to leave town when they turned 18. This has resulted in what some academics have described as ‘urban shrinkage’, where some towns face both a falling population and diminishing new business growth. It has also produced a deeply divided nation, where GDP per head in the City of London is almost 19 times that in County Durham.

It should have come as no surprise that these towns voted decisively for change in the Brexit referendum. Delivering Brexit is, of course, fundamental to maintaining democratic trust and delivering national renewal, but a first priority of post-Brexit Britain must be to turn these towns around.

It was heartening that the Prime Minister used his first major speech to address these issues. He argued that:

Towns with famous names, proud histories, fine civic buildings where unfortunately the stereotypical story of the last few decades has been long-term decline… Time and again they have voted for change, but for too long politicians have failed to deliver on what is needed.

As I set out in my new book, Little Platoons, we need a transformative agenda to renew long neglected towns:

Delivering world-class infrastructure

Without adequate infrastructure, parts of the UK are doomed to fall further behind. Proper investment in road, rail and digital links into town centres will provide the basis for a vibrant private sector.

Devolution and the creation of ‘prosperity hubs’

Power should be devolved to the local level, whether that be city, town or even neighbourhood. But devolution alone isn’t going to turn around towns that are well behind. Government should give special powers to elected mayors of the towns and conurbations that have the worst levels of deprivation. They should be declared as ‘priority prosperity hubs’ and provided with extra extra powers and resources, with a mandate to do whatever it takes to bring about economic regeneration.

Reviving town centres

The towns with the highest levels of deprivation should be able to charge the lowest level of business rates. Government should encourage community-based regeneration, with a promise to match a multiple of an amount raised locally for innovative regeneration projects. Town centres should be at the core of local economies, with a focus on jobs and businesses being located in the town centre rather than in distant business parks.

Reindustrialisation of forgotten towns

The UK’s productivity has suffered because our economy has deindustrialised more than any other major Western nation. We should explicitly aim for reindustrialisation of many towns. Measures should be taken to incentivise R & D investment and high value manufacturing. Centres for applied research should also be established in some of these towns.

A vocational education revolution

Government should invest heavily in creating world class vocational education, reversing a status quo, where the UK lags behind every other major European country. Towns should be empowered to create a “dual learning” system, where young people from the age of 14 will be able to continue their academic education, but also develop vocational skills in partnership with local employers. Vocational centres of excellence, in partnership with key employers, should also be established within our towns.

We should also move towards a higher minimum wage, lower taxes for workers and more employee share ownership. Such a transformative agenda would help change towns into well connected, high skill, high entrepreneurship locations.

It could also help to redraw the political map. Many towns that once felt an almost familial attachment to Labour have now abandoned a Party that has ignored and belittled them in favour of a metropolitan identity politics. Once staunchly Labour towns, such as Bishop Auckland and Stoke, now dominate the battleground of marginal seats.

The same towns that spearheaded the Brexit coalition could form the basis of an expanded Conservative coalition. Becoming the party associated with the positive transformation of towns could reshape British politics forever, making the Party the natural home for the urban working class in newly rising towns and, with it, recreating One Nation.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com