Winter Break Tips

Winter break is here. This means students (and teachers) will have a break from school as the holidays are celebrated. Although this is a break from school, this does not mean that learning should stop. Education allows students to develop indispensable tools for life. Knowledge will enable students to acquire critical thinking skills as they discover how to relate to others through practical social and communication skills. It is essential that during this time, “off,” we remember to stimulate student growth through engaging activities.

The following tips will help you to develop the ideas that are best for your student. 

Create an opportunity for your student to volunteer with a community organization or church. Civic responsibility and leadership are key when teaching students about compassion — allowing students to volunteer will teach them how to work for others and embrace what is unfamiliar as they create solutions to problems that affect their community. 

Review and Advance. Have your students spend one hour a day reviewing old learning objectives as well as review or prepare for future learning objectives. Learning objectives past and present can be found on your department of education website. You can also review learning objectives or skills using free education websites.

Create an exercise routine. The body and mind both need to be stimulated during this time of “rest.” Create a routine that allows students to be physically active. This physical activity can be an outside sport, dance (Zumba), yoga, walking, etc. A healthy diet should accommodate exercise. Limit snack consumption that is full of processed (refined) sugars. Focus on giving students nuts, cheeses, fruits, etc. as healthy snacks.  Click here to learn more about exercise ideas for your student.

Set Goals. Work with your students to create long term goals. Goal topics should be related to developing your student’s skills and character. Focus on areas the student needs improvement in. An easy way to plan goals with an action plan is by using a SMART goal sheet. It allows students to design an effective timeline as they write out how this goal will positively affect their lives.

Plan a family excursion. Focus on your student(s) during this time. Plan a day together doing your favorite things such as an ice cream date, a sporting event, a concert, or play. During this time, strengthen your relationship with your student(s) as you allow them to share what they are feeling. This is also a great time to use conversation starters to learn about your student’s hopes, worries, and friends. Learn more about conversation starters here.

Have your student write thank you letters. Writing letters creates a genuine connection between others as students develop an essential learning tool, writing. It is crucial that your student understands how to demonstrate gratitude through words. While writing, students learn how to creatively express their emotions as they tell stories of love and appreciation. Letters will be different based on your students grade level. Use the provided examples to give you an idea on how you can help your student to write thank you letters.

College and Career Search. If you have a high school student, your student must use this time to investigate college and career options. College helps to develop mature, responsible adults who are prepared to succeed in the 21st century. Students should think carefully about where they enroll. Urge your student to think about location, enrollment size, tuition cost, as well as majors and programs that are offered. Students should think carefully about what the institution can offer them as they prioritize wants and needs. Once your student has created a shortlist of interested schools, visit all of the colleges to determine if your student’s career goals align with the university. If your student is unsure about the career, they would like to pursue, have them take a career quiz to discover their interests and strengths.

Do School Board Elections Matter?

Public schools are run by the public. As engaged citizens, you hire the candidate that will assume a leadership role in overseeing the academic, legal, and financial health of the school district. The candidate you select will represent the public interest as they should have solutions to serve the diverse needs of the community. Aside from your child’s school faculty and staff, a school board candidate will have the most significant effect on your child(ren), because they make the decisions on how the district’s public school funds are spent and how school policies are set to increase students’ social, emotional and academic skills.  

School boards make educational choices for their community; therefore, it is incredibly vital to ensure you are selecting candidates who are concerned and aware of the issues our children face in K-12 classrooms. As a concerned citizen, a voter should research and question their school board candidates as they remain engaged in creating educational solutions for their community. The candidates you select have the responsibility of working with all stakeholders as they keep them informed on equitable solutions that will promote students’ academic skills within their district. 

A school board candidate must always reflect on the community’s expectations and needs for their school district as they keep in mind their responsibility to help students remove academic barriers. 

The business or responsibility of the candidates should include:  

  • Developing revue streams to fund increased teacher salaries, updated school buildings, technology, textbooks and library books.  
  • Address budget issues, which includes the overspending in certain areas or positions
  • Advocating the needs of the public school system with the students in mind

As you are thinking about your candidate(s) ask yourself these questions:

  • Do they have a genuine interest in improving the public school system within your area?
  • Are they aware of the issues (big and small) with in the district?
  • Do they understand the current curriculum, the district strengths and weaknesses as well as the district policies and state education laws?
  • Are they truly committed to serving the public through public education? This includes believing every child is deserving of a fair education despite their race, creed or color.

Active school board members are essential to the health of the school district, local colleges, and the economy. They should maintain a healthy organizational and supportive structure within their community as they empower the superintendent and district administrators to manage schools, the teachers to effectively teach students, and the students to thrive in their learning environment. 
Remember, you want a candidate that is willing to fight for all children as they make decisions that will academically, socially, and emotionally advance all students.

The Challenge: 

  1. VOTE! Your vote matters!
  2. Stay actively involved in your community schools. 
  3. Monitor the choices your school board makes as well the progress of your local schools.
  4. Know the FACTS!

Passport To Learn

Globalization is changing the way we see and live in the world.  More companies are demanding culturally diverse employees who can demonstrate empathy and speak at least two languages. With such high expectations, how do future employees gain the cross-cultural competence needed to impress employers while increasing their global, personal, and professional opportunities?  This answer is summed in two exciting and cost-effective words: study abroad.

Studying abroad builds global educational opportunities for students who are studying at a four-year college or university. The program allows students to live in a foreign country and attend a foreign partner institution. Based on the partnership between the two universities, students can spend a semester or up to two years studying aboard as they develop life-changing experiences and skills. According to Northeastern University, in the past twenty-five years, the number of students who have studied abroad has tripled. With 100,000 more students participating in traveling abroad programs, colleges and universities, have expanded their programs to accommodate the growing interest in learning and traveling.

Researching the foundation and international internships are critical in selecting the right country, school, and program to advance your resume, professional skills, and life.

Most universities require you to be in good academic standing with the university, which includes a GPA (grand point average) cumulative of a 2.5 or above. The university may also require your study abroad plan to align with your major and your career goals as discussed with your academic advisor. Study abroad programs usually are not offered until the second year of your post-secondary career.

The US News has published a list of universities and colleges that have substantial academic work and top study abroad programs. Review the list as you begin your quest for learning more about studying abroad.

Some educational programs and K- 12 boarding schools, allow students to volunteer, study, and intern abroad. Learn about the ten best high school study abroad programs.

If you are interested in becoming a global leader, traveling abroad is for you! Students who participate in study abroad programs improve: their language, social, and leadership skills, experience different teaching styles, enhance their professional network circle, learn new cultures, gain independence and develop professional confidence.

Think about the following steps below as you plan to learn aboard.

1. Write down your educational and career plans.

2. Develop educational goals and a plan that will allow you to obtain your goals.

3. Look for universities that offer study abroad programs.

The Challenge:

1. Find a program, school or foundation that offers study abroad options based on your educational and career goals.

2. Write down what are the benefits of travel abroad and how it would help you to reach your career and educational goals.

3. TRAVEL! If traveling at this time is not an option, be sure to read and plan your future excursions.

Building Employability Skills: 101

Ms. Tayana White, is a Human Resource Specialist who is currently working for Facebook. The experienced and educated specialist who has earned a Masters of Business Administration Degree, shares her wisdom on how to be noticed by a hiring manger and or human resource specialist. Below you will find her advice on marketing and networking as well as building a resume that will impress your future employer.

As a HR specialist, what are the key elements of a good resume?

Most recruiters will scan a resume as they have a limited time to review multiple resumes to fill various roles. Relevant skills, buzz words, an easy read–no more than 5 bullet points and what you actually did in the role.
Depending on the resume template you use, you want your relevant skills to be listed at the top or on the side of your resume. This allows the recruiter to determine if your skills meet the basic qualifications and if you have transferable skills to be successful within the role. Some companies use an applicant tracker system with rules to either accept or reject resumes based on the words listed on a resume. These are often times referred to as ‘buzzwords or ‘keywords’’. Nailing the ‘buzzwords’ or ‘keywords’ within your resume allow for a better chance that your resume will be reviewed.

Rule of thumb–do not copy and paste the job description to your resume! In some roles, you may wear many hats or be responsible for multiple tasks. However, you want to Keep your resume simple and include only the relevant work experience that applies to the job posting. Also, speak to what you actually did in the role and how you reached results. Did you increase revenue or sales within a specific timeframe? Were you able to improve a process to decrease the overall time to complete a task? For example, you may have decreased payroll processing time by four hours by automating a report within the system.

As you are looking over resumes and cover letters, what are keywords and or phrases that you look for?

When reviewing cover letters and resumes I’m assessing if they both include relevant work experience to the job posting and what would set you apart from others applying for the role. If you notice the role fits some of your work experience, but you don’t have all of the skills they are looking for, be sure to leverage your transferable skills and call that out in your cover letter. Within the resume, I’m examining if those key elements are apparent and easy to read.  Make sure your cover letter provides a bit more detail of your work experience relevant to the role you’re applying for. Provide an example of a success at work.

What advice would you share with new graduates and or new professionals as they build their resume?

As a new graduate, companies are aware you may have limited experience and through internships, and this is okay. A few things to increase your skills and experience and free:  online courses through different Universities (Harvard, Stanford, etc.), visit your local Urban League or Workforce Solutions agency. An additional alternative, not free, is to sign up for, an online learning through LinkedIn. As a new  professional, build your resume as you grow within your role. If you’re learning how to use a new system, functionality of a system, joined a professional network, include it on your resume. The key is to determine the best place to position these details on your resume.

What advice would you share with current students?

As a current student, you have access to various resources, use them! Visit your University’s Career Center and speak with the Director about the services and resources available to you. They will want to discuss your career interests, goals and pull relevant resources to guide your next steps. Also, don’t forget your University library– a gem right in front of you with books and online resources at your fingertips!
Connect with your Professor’s or Alumni to provide additional guidance on career options based on your major. The have the experience and knowledge to guide you on things to consider when selecting an internship, job or setting career goals. This is also a good time to shape a relationship with your Professor or Alumni and start building your network.
Internships are important!! Having an internship is a foundation to framing your work experience and building your skills. During your internship, you’re able to experience what that ideal role looks like, entails and it helps determine if you actually want to go into that specific role or industry. And again, you also build your network.

To continue this conversation with Ms. White, MBA and or receive her professional services, please contact:

Provided Services: Career Development and Growth Strategy, Resume and Cover Letter Consultation

Resume – it is important as a professional, you have a resume and a cover letter that demonstrates your knowledge and skills of your career cluster. Your resume should be detailed yet short as it highlights your professional objective, qualifications, skills, education and your professional accomplishments.
The resume and cover letter will be your voice before you able to physically explain why you are the best candidate for the position. As a recent graduate and or young professional, you should focus on a functional resume. The resume will allow you to list: contact information, professional objectives, education, professional capabilities, valid work experience and accomplishments.

Cover Letter-  a well crafted cover letter will go over information on your resume and expand on your qualifications for the position. Many have called a cover letter a “motivation letter” as it will motivate the employer or the HR Specialists to read your resume.

The cover letter should not restate your resume or have a general salutation. It should be directed to someone (Ex. John Smith) as you demonstrate your experience and how it relates to the open position. It should also include accomplishments and knowledge as it pertains to the company and or the company’s industry.

I would suggest using the following format when constructing a cover letter:
First Section: Introduction of self and why you are interested in the open position. Discuss your knowledge about the company and the skills you have that match with the open position in which you are applying for.

Middle Section: Prove why are fit for the job (discuss skills and experience that are directly related to the open position) How do you meet the requirements?

Last Section: Let them know how and when you will follow up (email, telephone etc.)

Before Interview: after your professional resume and captivating cover letter has scored you an interview, you should begin preparing for your interview.  You should make sure that you are familiar with the company’s goals as well as the duties and responsibilities of the position that you are applying for. You should be researching the company as well as practice questions that relate to the position you are being interviewed for. You can find practice questions by googling. For example: practice questions for assistant principal interviews.

Day of the Interview:

1. Stay Calm and Focused

2. Use GNAP with a firm handshake –  (Greeting Name Association Purpose). Make sure you are making eye contact with the person.

3. Dress Professionally  

4. Listen to questions carefully to ensure you understand and answer all parts of the question.