Category Archives: Advice

Advice for high school students, parents, aspiring college students, and homeschooling.

Mindfulness for Students

Found this great video for quiet time for yourself or your students.  I am falling asleep trying to write this little blurb. It creates relaxation so quickly. Let your mind be in the here and now.  Don’t think about the past, can’t do anything about it.  Don’t think about the future, it will come when it’s time.  Think only about the NOW!  Please try it!  For more information on Mindfulness and helping students, educators and parents, go to Mindfulness in the Classroom~Sandy



Americans are very generous and donate much and often. I put some lists up on Facebook about good and poor donations. I then started thinking it might be beneficial to share how we processed our donating.

My husband and I set up our Vision, Mission, Value and Goals for our family and business. We run all of our decisions through that filter before we give.

We began with keeping people alive: starving, getting clean water, medications, etc. So as we looked at where to donate to assist with that mind frame, we found that all donations are not created equal which is why you should research places to best donate and those to avoid.

When we couldn’t figure out where our donations really ended up, we decided to work closer to home. We started feeding people ourselves. We started with a small church group. Then my husband decided he wanted to show up alone and make sandwiches for the hungry. What we found then was people abusing that system, not really hungry but just wanting to see what they could get for free.  (We saw this pattern more than once in our hands-on giving which was very disheartening. Made us more concerned about where donations go.)

We then turned to the homeless in our area. Instead of getting involved with others, my husband and son found people on the streets and provided them with sleeping bags. We have learned over time that some homeless people choose not to live in a home. They want to live how they live, they just appreciated the warmth during cold nights.  It was a great way to help others.

Ensuing my passion of teaching, I wanted to assist teachers. Reaching students is the greatest gift a teacher can have in this world. After many years in the classroom, I felt that I had much to offer others in streamlining their workload.  My goal was to help others keep their fire in teaching.

I  wanted to help teachers with the basics of mathematics via workshops on hands-on tools for teaching mathematics. Helping others discover best teaching practices in mathematics was very beneficial to teachers as well as teachers. Sharing the importance of utilizing manipulatives for concrete to representational to abstract interaction to create better student understanding and putting it into long-term memory was the foundation of this work.

As we watched my son struggle as an high-functioning-ADHD student in the public school system, we next set up ADHD conferences along with a psychologist for teachers and parents separately. This turned into an incredible long-term relationship with those in attendance. Parents and teachers alike loved what they learned about this Learning Disability that affects so many. Understanding how to deal with ADHD allows teachers to differentiate instruction to enhance universal learning.

Following, I set up a conference for teachers that wanted to THRIVE and not merely SURVIVE the classroom. This is  where I shared my 28 years of classroom experience to assist teachers with making the best use of time. Classroom management simplified leads to more time to create and work with students.

Next was an ADHD preparation for students called “Starting Off on the Right Foot.  We helped students and their parents prepare for the school year.  We shared what worked in the past and what each had to do to be responsible for their success in the classroom.  We set them up with folders, ways to take notes, using their phone, pencils, pens and more. Parents understood more about what teachers expected in the classroom and what they could do to support their children in the classroom.

All conferences went wonderfully and given at no profit.  I knew exactly where the donations were going and was thrilled with the outcomes.  This is a way to donate hands-on.

Further on, I opened a not-for-profit online school that offered courses for high school students. This morphed into an avenue for highly-motivated students to take courses not offered by their school and courses that allowed students to accomplish school-offered courses in order to take more courses throughout their school years.  It was exciting to be working with students again.

We donate to Christian Radio Stations as we appreciate all the ears that fall upon this music and messages.  We donate to people that directly affect our lives in a positive fashion. We donate to schools where friends and family work or attend. We donate to the cancer society directly through those affected by cancer. We tithe and donate to all of our churches. All of this COULD save lives which gets us back to our hearts desire.

After many trials, we narrowed donating money where it best meet the needs we want to see fulfilled. Currently we donate to leaders in and out of education that we personally know will do what is best. Leaders that follow our vision and mission. Leaders that share with us how others benefitted from the donation. This is how we suggest all to donate.

When you donate to a large organization, you have no idea where that money goes.  If you give a dollar or two at the check-out of a store, where does it go? It’s easy to drop a check into an pre-addressed envelope, but where does it go? Are you helping those in need or is it going into someone’s pocket?

It may take a little time to figure out what your passions are, but make your dollars count for those with needs. Your church is best place to donate above tithing.  Listen for the needs and then match it to your passion. Next, look at the teacher of your children or grandchildren. Look at the places these children are involved.  All of these things will directly effect people you love.

So, before you write that next check, consider if you know exactly where this money goes and whom it will assist.

Happy giving!


7 Things You Don’t Know About ADD That Can Hurt You

7 Things You Don’t Know About ADD That Can Hurt You

8x4-addADD is the most common learning and behavior problem in children. But the issue doesn’t end there: It is also one of the most common problems in adults, and has been associated with serious problems in school, relationships, work, and families. Despite its prevalence, many myths and misconceptions about ADD abound in our society. Here are just a few of them:

MYTH: ADD is a flavor-of-the-month illness, a fad diagnosis. It’s just an excuse for bad behavior.

FACT: ADD has been described in the medical literature for about one hundred years. In 1902, pediatrician George Still described a group of children who were hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive. Unfortunately, he didn’t understand that ADD is a medical disorder and labeled these children as “morally defective.”


MYTH #2: ADD is overdiagnosed. Every child who acts up a bit, or adult who is lazy, gets placed on Ritalin or Adderall.

FACT: Less than half of those with ADD are being treated.


MYTH#3: ADD is only a disorder of hyperactive boys.

FACT: Many people with ADD are never hyperactive. The non- hyperactive or “inattentive” ADD folks are often ignored because they do not bring enough negative attention to themselves. Many of these children, teenagers, or adults earn the unjust labels “willful,” “lazy,” “unmotivated,” or “not that smart.” Females, in our experience, tend to have inattentive ADD, and it often devastates their lives.


MYTH #4: ADD is only a minor problem. People make too much of a fuss over it.

FACT: Left untreated or ineffectively treated, ADD is a very serious societal problem! Although previous research has demonstrated that ADD is associated with problems like job failures, relationship breakups, drug abuse, and obesity, recently published research in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatryconducted a systematic review of all the available evidence and confirmed the link between ADD and a wide range of health and psychosocial problems. The study demonstrates the importance of properly treating ADD early in life in order to potentially prevent these future adverse outcomes.


MYTH #5: ADD is an American invention, made up by a society seeking simple solutions to complex social problems.

FACT: ADD is found in every country where it has been studied. I once had a patient from Ethiopia who had been expelled from his tribe for being so easily distracted and impulsive.


MYTH #6: People with ADD should just try harder.

FACT: Often the harder people with ADD try, the worse things get for them. Brain-imaging studies show that when people with ADD try to concentrate, the parts of their brains involved with concentration, focus, and follow-through (prefrontal cortex and cerebellum) actually shuts down—just when they need them to turn on.


MYTH #7: Everyone who has ADD will get better if they just take stimulant medication.

FACT: ADD, like many other conditions, is not just a single and simple disorder; therefore, treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution. With more than 120,000 brain scans in our database, we have identified 7 types of ADD. And each type requires a different treatment plan because of the diverse brain systems involved.

Amen Clinics has helped tens of thousands of people with ADD from all over the world and can help you, too. To learn more or schedule a comprehensive evaluation, contact the Amen Clinics Care Center today at 855-698-5108 or

Trade School vs. College

Many realize that not everyone is created to go to college.  What are your talents? Gifts? Skills?  What is your passion?  Take that route! ~Sandy

Why You Should Consider Trade School Instead of College

For a lot of people, going to a four-year college seems like an automatic choice when they graduate from high school. The reason is obvious – higher income. According to theNational Center for Educational Statistics, a bachelor’s degree accounted for an average of $16,900 in additional income per year compared to a high school diploma ($30,000 versus $46,900).

Over a 30-year career in the workforce, that’s more than a $500,000 difference in earnings. These numbers may not paint the whole picture, however. Due to the increasingly high costs associated with a college education, as well as other drawbacks, more and more people have been considering trade school as an education alternative. If you’re one of them, you can actually search for a great trade school right here using the tool below:

Find Schools That Fit YouThree easy steps and we’ll connect you to our online education partner that matches your needs.

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Trade School vs. College: Drawbacks to College Education

Length: Four (or More) Years vs. Two Years

For starters, a bachelor’s degree typically takes four years of study, which means that people who enter the workforce after receiving their bachelor’s degree aren’t doing so until age 22. That shaves some years off of a person’s career and can be considered an opportunity cost for experiencing the ‘real world’ hands on instead of being in a classroom. Plus, a four-year program usually makes you take classes outside of your major to fulfill credit requirements. Unless you enjoy spending time in a classroom, it may seem unnecessary to pay for extraneous credits and courses. Sure, that improv theater class was fun, but was it helpful for your chemistry major?

High Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree

Another drawback is the cost. Research conducted by the Idaho Department of Laborfound that the average bachelor’s degree in the United States costs $127,000! Not only that, but nearly 70% of students take out loans to help pay for school. According to the study, over 20% of students with loans owe more than $50,000, and 5.6% owe more than $100,000 at the end. Although some student loans are certainly better than others, the added cost of accruing interest makes the overall expense of receiving an education in the U.S. significantly higher for the average student than the already steep price tag suggests. The college lifestyle isn’t cheap either — dorming, paying for food, going out, and even doing your own laundry adds up!

Dropout Rate + Late Grads

A third drawback: Some people simply aren’t prepared for the rigors of a four-year college. For many students, college is their first experience away from home and, without an adequate plan, it’s easy to stray off course. In fact, the Institute of Education Statisticsestimates that 40% of attendees at a four-year college drop out before completing their degree. If you find yourself as a part of that 40%, not only have you incurred some of the expense of college, you left without receiving a degree. For the 60% that do complete their degree, a whopping 64% take longer than four years to graduate, costing themselves nearly $70,000 in lost wages and educational expenses per year, according toU.S. News. Most colleges don’t even require students to pick a major until the end of their sophomore year, creating a class of undecided students who may have wasted their time and credits on courses that they chose not to pursue.

Poor Economic Conditions

Finally: Job prospects for new graduates may not be as bright as they had expected. Although some college majors are faring better than others when it comes to labor market outcomes, a recent report released by the Economic Policy Institute states that overall, the unemployment (8.5%) and underemployment (16.8%) rates for college graduates under the age of 25 are nearly double what they were in 2007. Over the past five years, graduates have faced sluggish labor markets Young graduates are faced with limited job opportunities and difficulty paying off their student loans. College degrees are a career investment that require a considerable amount of both time and money, and the portion of grads who are unable to find desirable employment (or employment at all!) are seeing negative returns.

Trade School as an Alternative

My response to these statistics is that people approaching high school graduation should seriously consider trade school, particularly if they are not at the top of their class. A traditional four-year degree is not for everyone, and trade school offers a pretty compelling career path, especially when considering the factors associated with a college education outlined above. I’ll provide an overview of what a trade school education is, who it would be best for, and some of the advantages of trade school versus college.

What is a Trade School or Vocational School?

A trade school, also known as a technical or vocational school, is an educational institution that exists to teach skills related to a specific job. Trade schools are a more streamlined approach to education, with curricula focusing on developing a particular skillset and knowledge base for a career rather than receiving a general education. Trade schools typically take a lot less time to complete, have smaller class sizes, and the majority of the training is hands-on, which is an ideal environment for many types of learners. Vocational degrees can lead to well-paying jobs like electrician, mechanic, machinist, pharmacy technician, nuclear technician, and dental hygienist, with room for growth and managerial potential in each field.

Advantages to Trade Schools

Salaries for Trade School Jobs

For starters, salaries for trade school graduates aren’t that much of a drop-off compared to a four-year degree. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, technical and trade school jobs have a median annual salary of $35,720, though this figure varies heavily based on the particular industry and the experience level of the worker. The BLS predicted earnings for bachelor’s degree holders to be roughly $46,900, amounting to an annual difference of $11,180. This stat, of course, doesn’t factor in long term earnings growth.

However, because trade school only takes an average of two years to complete versus four, that amounts to an additional two years of income for the trade school graduate, or $71,440. Factor in another $70,000 in costs for the many students who take an extra year to graduate from college, and trade school grads can be over $140,000 ahead at the get-go, making up for over 12 years of difference in income.

Price of Education

The average trade school degree costs $33,000, which, compared to a $127,000 bachelor’s degree, means a savings of $94,000. But that’s not all! If you assume that students are fully financing their education with loans at 4% over 10 years, the bachelor’s degree will cost $154,000, while the trade school degree will cost only $40,000. That’s a savings of $114,000 just on the degree.

Of course, most students in both cases won’t fully finance their education. They’ll work and find other sources of income to help with the process, meaning the gap will be smaller in the average case. Research gathered in 2012 suggests that the average college student debt load is $29,900, and that number rises to $36,327 when factoring in interest. Conversely, the average debt load for students graduating from a two-year technical school is $10,000, roughly 70% less than the four-year graduate.

Job Security

Yet another advantage of technical trade school is that most of the jobs you’ll get are extremely difficult to export to another country. More and more jobs are being outsourced to places where labor is cheaper, making domestic employment in certain sectors difficult to get. It is much easier to export, say, computer programming work or other information economy work than it is to export carpentry or electrical work, as that requires a physical presence.

Not only that, but there’s a growing domestic demand for high-precision skills. According to Forbes, skilled trade workers are a disproportionately older population, and will only continue to get older, creating increased opportunities for young workers to fill their shoes.

Final Thoughts on Trade School vs. College

It should be noted that I’m not opposed to a four-year degree; instead, I’m simply making a strong case for an option that many people overlook when deciding what to do after high school. In lifetime earnings, a bachelor’s degree still pays off – don’t get me wrong. According to statistics, a person with a bachelor’s degree is projected to earn around $1.1 million, compared to the $393,000 projected earnings of an associate’s degree or trade school program graduate.

The advantages of a four-year degree are many: You’re going to earn much more later on in life and you also have the door wide open to continue your studies and earn substantially more with a masters degree or doctorate, however the cost/benefit equation to even higher education is changing every day.

Trade school graduates are very limited in opportunities to continue to bolster their education. That being said, a four-year degree is expensive, and not suited to everyone’s learning style and skill set. If you’re a hands-on learner, excited by the prospects of getting out of the classroom and starting to work immediately after high school, trade school is a relatively inexpensive alternative education that may work well for you. Take advantage of the search tool above to learn more about trade schools near you and what they offer.

I’ll leave you with an anecdote. My wife’s cousin graduated from high school at roughly the same time my wife graduated. Her cousin went to electrician’s school, while my wife went to four-year university. Her cousin started working three years before my wife and incurred much less student loan debt. Today, though he makes a little bit less money than she does, the difference isn’t very significant, plus he had hardly any debt to pay off after school.

This past May, my nephew graduated from high school. He is now attending electrician’s school as well. I think it’s the wisest move he could have made in his situation.

If you are graduating from high school soon, or have a loved one who is approaching graduation, I recommend seriously considering trade school as an alternative option. If you’re still unsure about your academic future or you’re looking for more information and options, check out our education series.

Considering Trade School: An Infographic

Consider Trade School

Etiquette and Manners are Important!

Have manners changed with new technology?  Are you a Poor Listener? Check the list to see! Did Robert Fulghum have it right that we learned it all in kindergarten? Are manners about being a good servant or a giver?

In order to display better manners in the workplace, in the fun places and with your own family, please check out the attached posters, articles and Tim McGraw’s song!  When we are not irritating each other, then real conversations can begin.  ~Sandy

Poor Listeners

things_learned_kindergarten25 Manners Kids Should Know

Helping your child master these simple rules of etiquette will get him noticed — for all the right reasons.  By David Lowry, Ph.D. from

Your child’s rude ‘tude isn’t always intentional. Sometimes kids just don’t realize it’s impolite to interrupt, pick their nose, or loudly observe that the lady walking in front of them has a large behind. And in the hustle and bustle of daily life, busy moms and dads don’t always have the time to focus on etiquette. But if you reinforce these 25 must-do manners, you’ll raise a polite, kind, well-liked child.

Manner #1 – When asking for something, say “Please.”

Manner #2 – When receiving something, say “Thank you.”

Manner #3 – Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.

Manner #4 – If you do need to get somebody’s attention right away, the phrase “excuse me” is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.

Manner #5 – When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.

Manner #6 – The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.

Manner #7 – Do not comment on other people’s physical characteristics unless, of course, it’s to compliment them, which is always welcome.

Manner #8 – When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.

Manner #9 – When you have spent time at your friend’s house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.

Manner #10 – Knock on closed doors — and wait to see if there’s a response — before entering.

Manner #11 – When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.

Manner #12 – Be appreciative and say “thank you” for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.

Manner #13 – Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.

Manner #14 – Don’t call people mean names.

Manner #15 – Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.

Manner #16 – Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.

Manner #17 – If you bump into somebody, immediately say “Excuse me.”

Manner #18 – Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don’t pick your nose in public

Manner #19 – As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.

Manner #20 – If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say “yes,” do so — you may learn something new.

Manner #21 – When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.

Manner #22- When someone helps you, say “thank you.” That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!

Manner #23 – Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.

Manner #24 – Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.

Manner #25 – Don’t reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.


Etiquette Rules For Our Times


“It is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built upon a renunciation of instinct,” Sigmund Freud said.

There’s always a tension between how much we should follow our instincts and how much we should yield to social conventions. But at times like ours, the tendency is to tilt too far toward our instincts, since the conventions are changing fast and there’s no consensus about them anyway. There’s a risk in that. You don’t know whom you might be offending or how you might be sabotaging your own success.

The original etiquette manuals of Western civilization were in fact success manuals. As author Steven Pinker notes, they taught knights and nobles how to conduct themselves in the court of the king—which is where we get the concepts of “courtly” and “courtesy.”

[See this related post for more on the history of manners, including Pinker’s provocative suggestion that the rise of manners at the dinner table helped bring about a steep decline in violence on the streets.]

I asked some tasteful and civilized friends and colleagues what an updated manual for 2014 would look like. Here are 27 rules to help you, whether at an office lunch, the company gym or the birthday party of your child’s schoolmate.

You’ll notice a common denominator in all of them: Think about other people’s feelings first because it’s not all about maximizing your personal convenience.

1. Texting “Hey, I’m running 20 minutes late” is not as acceptable as making the effort to be on time.

2. If you can’t attend an event that you’re formally invited to, don’t think that not RSVPing is the same as declining. And don’t RSVP at the last minute for an event that involves real planning by the host.

3. Show some decency around the office refrigerator: If you didn’t put the food in, don’t eat it. And take your leftovers home or throw them out before they morph into some radioactive nightmare.

4. Don’t bellow on your cell phone. Just because you can’t hear the other person well doesn’t mean the other person can’t hear you well.

5. Turn off the phone at a dinner party, and be in the moment. You’re annoying at least one person who thinks you have no social skills. At bare minimum, turn off the ringer so you can text and conspire in relative stealth.

6. Remember that if you feel a need to respond immediately to every incoming text, you’ll lose more in the eyes of the person who’s in front of you than you’ll gain from the unseen people who are benefiting from your efficiency.

7. When you get to the front of the line at Starbucks, don’t tell the barista to wait while you wrap up your phone discussion. The barista hates you, and so does everyone behind you. They are hoping the barista spits in your latte.

8. If you come late to an exercise class, don’t think you’re entitled to barge your way to your favorite spot in the front.  And don’t block others from weight racks or other equipment—just step back three feet and make everyone happy.

9. Keep personal conversations and arguments off social networking sites. The dramatic airing of grievances is best done through SMS .

10. Moderate your use of cameras and video at events. Enjoy your time with colleagues, friends and family in the present and preserve only a memento for the future, rather than recording the entire thing to “relive” later in some “free” time that you’ll never actually have.

11. Remember how easily e-gossip can be forwarded along to the wrong person.

12. Just because you’re wearing headphones doesn’t mean you can tune out from social courtesies. For example, if you accidentally cross someone’s personal space, apologize graciously.

13. Don’t lend someone a book or item unless they specifically ask for it. They’re probably too busy to ever get around to it. They’ll feel guilty about that, and you’ll be annoyed that they didn’t appreciate it or even get around to returning it.

14. Don’t RSVP for an event, then not show. Now you’re not just being rude, but you’re costing the host money, and you’ve probably kept a lonely soul from being invited as a backup.

15. Don’t be the first or second person to talk on your cell phone in a public space (like a bus or train). If everyone’s doing it, you’re allowed some slack here.

16. Don’t show up at a party empty-handed, unless you’ve been instructed to — and sometimes not even then. Bring wine or dessert or a plant.

17. Use your turn signal at least 50% more than you use your middle finger.

18. Don’t make your dietary requirements everyone else’s dilemma. As one friend reminds me, “People who can eat dairy don’t just keep coconut oil-based butter around.”

19. If your children are invited to a friend’s house to play, they (and you) should also feel invited to help with the cleanup.

20. Don’t break up with someone by text. And don’t announce a death in the family by text. There are still times when phones or face-to-face are the best way to go.

21. Don’t take photos for posting on the People of Walmart page.

22. Don’t discuss sensitive personal issues on Facebook, especially if you’ve friended coworkers.

23. Your dog is cute, but he or she doesn’t have a pass to go anywhere. “I’m a huge dog lover,” says one colleague, “but don’t assume it’s okay to bring along your dog to my house. I can barely stand what my own dogs do to my house … I also don’t like people who bring their animals to Petco. Seriously, do you think your dog likes to shop? It’s just you seeking attention. You probably don’t even need anything at Petco… you’re just there because you can bring your dog in, and you think it’s cool to bring a dog out in public. Dogs don’t shop. They would rather be sniffing the pee on that trashcan outside by the front door than walking on slippery retail flooring.”

24. Double-check that your headphones are plugged-in before streaming your favorite Spotify station.

25. Don’t say, “I’m having a party. Bring your own food and drink.” That’s not a party.

26. If you’ve been invited to an event, be reluctant to ask for an upper ceiling on how many friends and relatives you can bring.

27. And finally, all the classics still apply. One working mother offers a quick review here:

Chew with your mouth closed; don’t talk with food in your mouth; keep your elbows off of the table while eating; wash your hands after going to the restroom. My children know better—so why do I see adults exhibiting such poor behavior? If you bump into someone, say excuse me. Don’t reach across someone’s face. Don’t board a plane when they’re loading group A and you are in group D. Don’t stay behind the crosswalk when you are making a left turn and thus prevent anyone else behind you from turning. Don’t let your kids act like wild monkeys in a restaurant. Don’t touch someone’s belly when she’s pregnant–or even when she isn’t. Don’t leave cupboard doors and drawers open—someone can get hurt. And don’t pull up to the exit gate in a parking lot without your ticket handy.”

That may seem like a lot, and to some it may seem like an uptight way to live. But just remember the basic success principle underlying all manners: Think about other people’s feelings first because it’s still not all about you.


Part of being both charming and just a good human being is having the right set of manners. Here’s a few reminders…

1.) Never push someone into a pool or off the dock.

2.) When going out to eat, always offer the seat that has the better view.

3.) If someone asks you for the salt or pepper, always hand them both.

4.) If you’re staying with a friend, never wake up after them.

5.) As a dinner guest, never salt your food before you taste it.

6.) Never get more drunk than the hosts of the party.

7.) Meet your date at your door, not in your car.

8.) At a sporting event, don’t take your seat in the middle of play.

9.) When a lady comes back from the bathroom while out to eat, stand up until she takes her seat. Tom Ford approves of this one.

10.) Never wear sunglasses inside unless you’re Jack Nicholson.

11.) Hold the door open for a woman. It’s old fashioned, sure, but classy.

12.) Always stand when shaking someones hand.

13.) When meeting someone for the first time, never fist-pound.

14.) In a crowded area, never take a seat. Let someone have it who needs it more.
15.) Write hand-written thank you notes after receiving gifts.

16.) Always bring something for the host, even if it’s just a bottle of wine or a 12-pack.

17.) Celebrate with grace, but don’t “humblebrag.”

18.) Place your knife and fork in the 4:20 (clock) position when you’re finished eating. That lets the host or server know you’re finished.

19.) Never check texts, emails, or Instagram when dining with someone.

20.) When introducing someone at work, always introduce the person with higher “rank” first. “Mr. CEO, this is Mark from marketing.”

21.) If you use the last of something, always replace it. Last cup of coffee, toilet paper, etc.

22.) When on speakerphone in a public area, always let the person you’re chatting with know that you are on speakerphone.

23.) When staying with someone, make your bed each morning.

24.) Never say something through the internet that you wouldn’t say to someones face.

25.) Never “one-up” a conversation.

26.) When telling a story, keep it short and sweet.

27.) Don’t give an opinion on a book or movie unless you’ve seen or read it.

28.) Check in with old friends regularly.

29.) Be liberal with your group texts.

30.) When borrowing a car from a friend, always return it with a full tank of gas.

31.) Whether you’re driving with a guest or in the passenger seat, never stay on the phone for longer than a minute. It’s rude to the other person who can’t listen to music and has to hear one-half of a conversation.


Need a GAP YEAR?

As a student that has worked your way through your high school diploma, do you wonder what is next?  Did you look into colleges and feel you weren’t quite ready?  Did you look at Trade Schools and wonder what trade am I really intrigued by?  Did you think you were done with school forever and then realize that your parents won’t let you hang out on the couch watching tv or playing games, eat out of their refrigerator or prepare food for you the rest of your life?  Maybe it’s time to consider a GAP YEAR.
What IS a gap year?  It is a British term referring to a period, typically an academic year, taken by a student as a break between secondary school and higher education.
If that sounds like a great plan for you, look further into this article of all the possibilities. ~ Sandy

The USA Gap Year Fairs profile a broad range of Gap Year programs.

All the programs listed below are Keystone Programs; that is, they are registered to participate in the majority of our fairs across the country.

Below you will find a profile of each Gap Year program and a link to its full website. If there is a specific program you are interested in or a question you have regarding these programs, please feel free to contact them directly!



Dynamy Internship Year is the oldest and only residential internship program in the country. Our mission is to offer young people, ages 17-22, a transformational gap year (or semester) opportunity. Located in Worceste…


Thinking Beyond Borders

Thinking Beyond Borders’ gap year programs are specifically designed for students who are passionate about learning and are eager to create meaningful social change in the world. We combine deep cultural immersion, worki…


API Abroad

API Abroad is dedicated to providing comprehensive gap year and gap semester programs in Argentina, Chile, France, Ireland, Italy, and Spain. API’s language and cultural immersion programs provide students with oppo…

gap force


Students from the USA, UK, Canada, Europe, Australia and more all come together as a Gapforce team to share their adventure. Over 15,000 global students have all participated on our professionally led gap year and study …


Venture Semester

Venture Semester provides young adults with life-changing experiences in food, farming and leadership in the Green Mountains of Vermont. As a program of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, corps members live, lea…


Outward Bound

Over one million students in the U.S. have benefited from Outward Bound’s unparalleled approach to “learning by doing.” Outward Bound in the U.S. traces its roots to 1962 when courses were developed to prepare young peop…

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Cross-Cultural Solutions

Expand your horizons through immersive service-based experiences with Cross-Cultural Solutions. With CCS, the possibilities are endless.  We operate year-round in 10 exciting destinations across Africa, Asia, and Latin …

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The Experiment in International Living

The Experiment in International Living provides summer abroad programs for high school students who want to connect deeply and engage meaningfully with the richness and complexities of another country. Participants explo…


EF International Language Centers

Invest in your dreams on the ultimate study abroad experience. Achieve fluency, see the world, expand your international network – and launch your global future. Study for 6, 9 or 11 months and start in April, June, Se…


Academy at Watkinson

The Academy at Watkinson offers a pre-college year designed by YOU. While strengthening your transcript at a historic preparatory school, you can participate in intriguing internships, travel opportunities to amazing pla…


Carpe Diem Education

Carpe Diem programs are designed to safely challenge every student. Through service, travel, community and cultural exchange – our students receive a unique and personal insight into themselves and the cultures they live…


Youth For Understanding (YFU)

YFU advances intercultural understanding, mutual respect, and social responsibility through educational exchanges for youth, families and communities. The global YFU network, consisting of partners in more than 60 dif…


Youth International

Since 1997, Youth International has been providing many people with the most exciting, fulfilling and educational experience of their life. Youth International is an experiential learning program that combines rugged int…


Summit Adventure

Summit Adventure is a nonprofit organization that uses experiential education, adventure, service and cross-cultural immersion as tools to move individuals and groups out of their comfort zone and into more reliance on G…


RIDGE Mountain Academy

RIDGE Mountain Academy is a campus-based gap year enrichment program that revolves around mountain sports. Located in Whitefish, Montana, RIDGE is designed for male and female student athletes ages 17 to 20 that are inte…



Sea|mester offers a range of unique gap-year adventures where our students live full-time aboard either S/Y Ocean Star or S/Y Argo sailing from island to island, country to country or continent to continent in any number…


Eastman Immersion

If you’re passionate about music – if you can’t wait to get home from school so that you can practice, if the highlight of your week is an orchestra rehearsal, if you scour the web for recordings or videos of your …

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LEAPNOW: Transforming Education

LEAPNOW runs LEAPYEAR, the only gap year program that is a full academic year in length, focuses equally on international travel and your inner journey and features a fully integrated and accredited year of college and r…



Visitoz – visit Australia – is the only organisation in Australia that guarantees jobs for young people coming to our country on a Work and Holiday Visa. The visa is for people between the ages of 18 and 30, but most pa…


Irish Gap Year

Ceid Mile Failte! A hundred thousand welcomes to Ireland! At Irish Gap Year, our pristine beaches, forests and mountains are your classroom. You’ll truly immerse yourself Irish culture, history and nature through trave…

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ARCC Programs has been offering programs for young adults since 1983. ARCC Gap Semester programs are an opportunity to live and learn in some of the greatest classrooms on earth. Our Semester programs take students on a …

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MEI Academy

Imagine studying Buddhism in the temples of Angkor Wat, examining communism in the Silk Market of Beijing, or observing efforts in ecological sustainability while scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. Learning about th…


Center for Interim Programs

Founded in 1980, the Center for Interim Programs is the first independent gap-year counseling organization in the United States. For 35 years, Interim has been developing an extensive database of vetted programs and plac…


Amigos de las Americas

AMIGOS offers Gap Year and Gap Semester opportunities in Nicaragua, Colombia, and Brazil with the goal of empowering youth leaders and promoting community development throughout the Americas. Gap volunteers intern wit…



An overseas volunteer or internship placement is a great way to get experience of working in a team and overcoming challenges while having a great time in a beautiful location.  You can also earn qualifications includin…

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The High Mountain Institute (HMI) Gap

The HMI Gap is a semester of rock climbing, exploration, and conservation in the rugged American West and wild Patagonia.HMI Gap is for 18-22 year olds looking to discover more about the world and themselves through out…


The Leap

Every program delivers a unique and varied experience. In all our program, you’ll get to travel to different locations and work on a range of different projects.  One week you could be teaching local kids whilst livi…


Art History Abroad

Study art, architecture and European culture in Italy, Paris and London. Our carefully structured programs last for 12 weeks in the fall, or 6 weeks at other times. We also offer shorter summer courses. Learn about t…


Where There Be Dragons

In the days before the world had been fully charted, mapmakers would draw dragons to represent lands that were still unknown. Bold explorers who ventured beyond the map’s edge were said to go “where there be dragons….


National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)

For nearly 50 years, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) has been the leader in wilderness education. More than 221,000 students have learned and mastered outdoor skills, developed leadership, and studied envir…

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Expedition Education Institute

Expedition Education Institute Do you want to be an Ecological Leader, to become deeply rooted in the natural world and in your own power to make change and create a better, more resilient world? Organized as the e…

About Global Impact (1)

International Studies Abroad

ISA Gap programs range anywhere from one month to a full year in length, and include courses that cover virtually every academic discipline: Language, Science, Humanities, and more. Students will take classes at prestigi…


YMCA of the Rockies

TREK is a working Christian gap program designed for 18 to 24 year olds seeking personal and spiritual growth while working in a seasonal job at Snow Mountain Ranch. The 2016-2017 TREK @Snow Mountain Ranch (TREK @SMR) w…

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Winterline Global Skills Program

9 months. 10 countries. 100 skills. Are you ready to travel? Gain practical life skills that you didn’t get in high school and won’t get in college? Develop friendships that will last a lifetime? Then come join us…


International School for Earth Studies

The International School for Earth Studies (ISES) is a private, interdisciplinary institution specializing in earth-based studies.  We seek students who wish to pursue interests related to responsible and sustainable en…


Enroute Consulting

EnRoute Consulting creates customized itineraries for students who are looking for a meaningful, rewarding gap year. Director Julia Rogers offers a personalized, supportive approach in connecting young people with vetted…


University of Navarra

International Foundation Program Enrolling in the International Foundation Program at the University of Navarra will be an adventure you will remember for the rest of your life. Experience a total language and cultura…



CIEE offers recent high school graduates a unique way to explore the world. While on a gap year with CIEE, participants establish and hone skills needed to excel in a globally interdependent world gaining greater appreci…

Oyster Worldwide

Oyster Worldwide

Oyster Worldwide is a gap year and responsible travel company with over fifteen years of experience. Our unique projects are demanding, but worthwhile, offering the opportunity to experience life overseas first-hand. …


Rustic Pathways

A global leader in community service, experiential education, and international adventures for young adults, Rustic Pathways facilitates incredibly unique and powerful Gap Year programs. While emphasizing safety, positiv…

USA Gap Year Fairs | Copyright © 2016. All Rights reserved. – Site Design

Keep Kids Brains Active Through Summer!

25 Activities to Keep Kids’ Brains Active in Summer

As students set out on summer adventures, send their parents a much-needed “life preserver” — a list of 25 activities to share and enjoy with their children. These fun activities cover all subjects and grades; there truly is something for everyone. And, if you have your own summer adventurers at home, this list can rescue your kids from the boredom and blahs of rainy summer days. This year, do more than amuse and entertain your kids and hope for the best for your students, keep their minds working all summer long! Included: Twenty-five activities to fight summer boredom and build thinking skills.

It’s summer — that time of year when teachers bid farewell to students, hoping their gleefully escaping charges don’t forget everything they’ve learned during the school year. It’s also the time of year when nervous parents take on the challenge of keeping their children physically busy and mentally active during long summer days. To help those efforts, Education World offers 25 ideas that not only reinforce skills taught during the year, but also to entertain students through the summer months. Share these resources with parents to help them and their children make the most of the lazy, hazy days to come!

Many of these activities link to online resources. In most cases, however, the activities can be completed even by those without Internet access. The activities that do require Internet access can be printed and distributed to students before school ends or accessed and printed by parents at most public libraries.

  1. Fill in summer’s special days and events on the Education World Coloring Calendar for June, July, or August. Or help children use pencils, drawing paper, and rulers to create, decorate, and fill in their own summer calendars.
  2. Teach kids to cook with the step-by-step lessons and recipes at Cooking With Kids. The site also includes measurement reminders, safety tips, and suggestions for involving kids in the cooking process. Or check out your local library or book store for one of the recommended Heritage Cooking for Kids: Taste History books and try out recipes from Colonial days, the Civil War, and the Lewis and Clark expedition.
  3. Make homemade Bubble Solution and experiment with such unique Bubble-Blowing Tools as strings, milk containers, and garbage can lids.
  4. Read aloud The Paper Crane by Molly Bang. Then introduce the art of paper folding by printing and following the instructions for How to Make an Origami Crane.
  5. Go on a Light Walk, an outing designed to teach kids the properties of light and facts about the sun. Bob Miller of the Exploratorium explains it all. Can’t take an online tour? Do your own image walk by printing the directions and template found at the site.
  6. Create musical instruments from materials found around the house. Need help? Enchanted Learning provides instructions for such Musical Instruments as a rattle, box guitar, maraca, and rain stick.
  7. Cool down by making Ice Cream in a Bag. The simple technique produces delicious ice cream in about 5 minutes. What ice cream varieties will you and your child concoct?
  8. Read aloud a selection from Candlelight Storybooks or your own favorite myths or fairy tales. Discuss the stories with your child. Then invite your child to choose a favorite story, and together make a diorama depicting a pivotal moment in the tale.
  9. Catch a firefly and then go to The Firefly Files online, or read a book, such as Fireflies by Sally M. Walker, to help your child learn more about them. Then invite your child to complete the Education World Firefly Facts work sheet. Firefly Facts Answers:
    • Fireflies are really beetles because they have four wings; true flies only have two wings.
    • Most fireflies like warm, humid areas.
    • In the United States, glowing fireflies are found east of the middle of Kansas.
    • Firefly larvae feed mostly on earthworms, snails, and slugs.
    • Scientists believe fireflies use their ability to flash as a warning signal to predators and to attract mates.
  10. Print a grid of dots from Connect the Dots by Math Cats and invite your child to make an original tessellation.
  11. Staple together pieces of plain paper or use a notebook to help your child make a cartoon flip book. Kids draw a sequence of cartoons and simulate motion as they “flip” through the pages. (Note that the first image in the series should be at the bottom of the stack of pages, and the illustrations should progress from bottom to top.) How to Draw Cartoons or The Complete Cartooning Course by Steve Edgell, Brad Brooks, and Tim Pilcher, offer simple instructions for drawing cartoon figures.
  12. Learn about national parks from the comfort of your own home, and encourage your child to complete online activities and become a Web Ranger. Materials are grouped by age and include cool awards and a membership card.
  13. Start a rock collection. Collecting Rocks, a Web site by the U. S. Geological Survey, offers advice to help the novice collector gather, identify, and store neat rock specimens. The Audubon Society Pocket Guide Familiar Rocks and Minerals North America will help children identify and label the rocks and minerals they find.
  14. Plan with your child a family activity day. Decide how much money to spend, and help your child research events and activities in your area and choose an affordable activity the whole family can enjoy. Remind your child to be sure to allow enough time for the activity, and to remember to include food in the day’s plan. (The online Planning a Party guide will help.) Don’t forget to bring a camera and take lots of pictures. Your child can mount and label each photo and create a family scrapbook of your special day. You might provide the questions below to help guide your child’s thoughts as they plan this special day.
    • Describe the event or activity your family will attend.
    • Will everyone in the family enjoy this activity? Why do you think so?
    • What do you need to arrange ahead of time? Will you need to purchase tickets? Pack a lunch? Make reservations?
    • What supplies or materials will you need?
    • What costs will be involved?
  15. Take a virtual CampusTour of colleges and universities your high school student might be considering. Tour the schools’ grounds, look at maps, view videos and photos, and request information about those institutions of higher learning. If you don’t have Internet access at home, take your tour at the local library.
  16. Have your child follow instructions to Build the Best Paper Airplane in the World. Then ask your child to design an original paper airplane and diagram the steps for constructing it, so another family member can recreate it!
  17. Start a family or neighborhood book club. Even a parent and child can form a book club, by reading the same book and chatting about it. For larger groups, check out some online hints for starting a book club.
  18. Hang a white sheet outside at night and shine a light on it. Observe the variety of insects it draws. To identify some of those nighttime visitors, see The Orders and Selected Families of Insects or read the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders.
  19. Kids rarely have the opportunity to design their own rooms to best suit their individual needs. Invite your child to devote some thought to ways to improve his or her living space. Explore with your child Kids’ Room Decorating Ideas to find ways your child might individualize his or her room without spending a great deal of money. Then have the child draw the layout of their “new” room. The following questions might guide kids as they consider the possibilities:
    • Other than sleeping, what do you do most often in your room? Play games? Work on a computer? Listen to music? Do homework? Entertain guests?
    • What furniture or other items do you use most often? What do you use least often?
    • What kind of storage do you need? A dresser? A bookcase? A clothes hamper? A desk?
    • What do you like best about your room? What do you like least?
    • How do you want to change your room?
  20. Help your child make a set of tangrams with instructions found at the Math Forum’s Constructing Your Own Set of Tangrams. Trace the designs on a piece of paper, mix up the tangram pieces, and use them to create jigsaw puzzles.
  21. Create a thing of beauty from a lump of coal! With a few common ingredients, you and your child can grow a “Magic Crystal Garden” with pieces of coal. Instructions for the crystal garden can be found at Joey Green’s Mad Scientist Experiments.
  22. Soar into space (the space in your bedroom, kitchen, or dining room) by constructing Science Bob’s Balloon Rocket. This simple science experiment using a balloon, string, straw, and tape, illustrates the use of air pressure to produce movement.
  23. Turn plain white carnations or fresh-picked Queen Anne’s Lace into dramatic colored creations by Coloring Flowers. Using just food coloring and water, flowers can be changed from white to any tint, usually in just one day. Colors deepen over time, and kids will enjoy modifying the experiment to see what unique combinations they can make.
  24. Invite your child to play a Math game and record his or her scores on a sheet set up like the illustration below. Choose a probability game, a timed flashcard activity, an online game from a site such as FunBrain, or another favorite math activity. Then have your child graph the results of the Game Challenge chart. Celebrate your child’s effort with a special treat.Game Title: _________________________________
    Round Kind of Game Level of Difficulty Score


  25. Put old wallpaper and magazine scraps to good use by using them to create Recycled Paper Beads. This easy activity requires very few common materials and keeps kids very busy on rainy days. When they’re finished, children can string their beads and give them as gifts or wear them for fun.

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
Copyright © 2009 Education World

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Good Teachers Don’t Need Tenure!

As a teacher, I never depended on tenure. I didn’t need tenure. I was a hard working, organized, and productive member of many school staffs. When I hear teachers concerned about losing tenure, I wonder what they are doing to cause them to be concerned about losing their teaching position. Adminstators don’t have tenure. County Office Educational employees don’t have tenure. State and Federal Educational positions don’t have tenure. Educational careers depend on good educators on the team.  The PIE team doesn’t worry about tenure because they are making a difference for students not hiding behind closed doors. Dead weight creates a problem for students, parents, coworkers and districts.  Get rid of tenure and work for the sake of all stakeholders! ~Sandy

Teachers who can’t teach.

Ending tenure would rid classrooms of incompetents


Anew study in the New England Journal of Medicine has a surprising conclusion. It finds that over the past decade, 1 percent of physicians accounted for 32 percent of malpractice claims. In other words, health care providers could eliminate one-third of malpractice and its associated health, legal and economic costs by removing the worst 1 percent of doctors.

It’s called the “law of the vital few” — better known as the 80/20 rule. It states that a disproportionate impact comes from a small input. Eighty-four percent of total income tax payments, for instance, are paid by 20 percent of earners. And more than two-thirds of all drunken-driving fatalities are caused by the tiny fraction of drivers with at least a 0.15 blood-alcohol level (the hard-core drunk drivers).

Perhaps nowhere is this rule more apparent than in the U.S. education system. Education economist Erik Hanushek has found that a small percentage of teachers are responsible for virtually all of the United States’ poor global education ranking. (U.S. students score worse on international tests than students from countries like Vietnam, Poland and Latvia.)

According to Mr. Hanushek, replacing the bottom 5-8 percent of teachers with average teachers could move the United States near the top of international education rankings. A 2013 study by a different group of researchers found that replacing the bottom 5 percent of teachers with average teachers would increases students’ lifetime income by approximately $250,000 per classroom per year. Getting rid of the worst teachers would improve productivity and economic output by trillions of dollars, says Mr. Hanushek.

Subpar teachers are complicit in poor student performance. According to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress, one-quarter of eighth grade students do not have basic reading skills, and two-thirds don’t have “proficient” reading skills. About one-third of high school graduates who try to enlist in the armed forces are rejected for insufficient reading or basic math abilities.

Unskilled people have few employment prospects. As a result, there is currently a youth unemployment crisis in this country. The youth unemployment rate is more than triple the overall one and is much higher than that in certain parts of the country. In Washington D.C., whose schools are notoriously bad, the current youth unemployment rate is 30 percent.

The value of early-career work experience is well covered. Thomas Mroz of the University of North Carolina and Tim Savage of Welch Consulting find that someone who is jobless for just six months at the age of 22 will earn 8 percent less at 23 than someone without an employment gap. Economists at the University of Bristol found that men who were jobless in their youth earn 13 percent to 21 percent less at age 42 than their employed counterparts.

On the flip side, Christopher Ruhm of the University of Virginia and Charles Baum of Middle Tennessee State University conclude that those with early-career work experience — even a part-time or summer job — earn about 10 percent more per hour throughout their careers than those without such experience.

It’s said that there are three ways people leave a job: some quit, others are fired, and some quit and stay. It is this last group that is most troublesome in any workplace. To solve this youth unemployment crisis and its associated ramifications, teachers who quit and stay must be fired.

But it’s easier said than done. Militant teachers unions like the American Federation of Teachers led by Randi Weingarten make it virtually impossible to fire the worst teachers. Less than 0.1 percent of teachers are fired each year in major districts nationwide. As a colleague of hers once said, “Randi Weingarten would protect a dead body in the classroom. That’s her job.”

The single most effective reform to make it easier to fire ineffective teachers is ending tenure, which virtually guarantees teachers jobs for life after as little as two years in the classroom. “Teacher tenure, and the related onerous and costly requirements for dismissing an ineffective teacher,” says Mr. Hanushek, “have evolved into a system that almost completely insulates teachers from review, evaluation, or personnel decisions that would threaten their lifetime employment.”

The concept of tenure for grade school teachers is taken from the university system, which needs to protect professors who promote nontraditional theories and views in courses like religion and political theory. But there is no justification for this level of employment protection for people who teach junior high algebra or geography.

The end of teacher tenure is overdue. Doctors, lawyers and first responders are all accountable for results and failures. Why do grade school teachers get a pass? The sorry state of our schools and the reasons for it should be a 2016 campaign issue.

Richard Berman is president of Berman and Co., a Washington public affairs firm.