Clearing the Hurdles


The federal government defines homeless children as those lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate night time residence to include those living in shelters, transitional housing, cars, campgrounds, motels, or sharing temporary housing with others.”

I recently accepted a consulting position as a school homeless liaison (update: I didn’t take the promotion as it wasn’t my calling. I did, however, work with the staff and residents to help them find a candidate.) for homeless and foster kids. The gist of this position is “Initiate and coordinate local efforts that bring communities together to help homeless families regain their housing, their independence, and their dignity.” The question that I am asked the most is “How do I help the homeless child in my classroom?” These are the moments I wish I had multiples of me, as I would like to sit down with these concerned people one on one and answer the question- I know they differ slightly per community. Though, then again, the world having one of me is enough! Therefore, I share with them this article (To succeed in school, you need a home by Stephen Norman, Susan Enfield and Mark Okazaki) That gives a firsthand account of a homeless student and the following bullet points of a lecture I have given on the topic. I am the first to admit it won’t yield to a simple solution. It requires an integrated approach that reaches beyond immediate needs.

Know the rights of homeless children: All staff  needs to be aware of the federal law and state policies starting with The McKinney-Vento Act. Renewed in 2002 as part of No Child Left Behind, McKinney-Vento allows students to enroll immediately in school without proof of residency or other paperwork.

Provide transportation: Having this transportation in place so that highly mobile students can stay in the same school—a place of familiar faces and constancy in a shifting personal landscape is a blessing of stability in what may be an otherwise chaotic life. Arrange for children to be able to attend the school of origin if in the student’s best interest. Setup bus stops to pick up kids at the shelter first and drop them off last, to ease the embarrassment of living at the shelters.

Know the local community: Make standard forms and information available about key school programs at each shelter. This includes materials on the school calendar, lunch, and breakfast programs, and admission/withdrawal. This way, you are in a position to make referrals for the family in areas like housing, food, clothing, and counseling.

Treat them the way you want to be treated: Don’t bring any special attention to their homeless condition. Assist parents in filling out forms. Be sensitive that some may lack skills to do them. Discuss privately with the student what accommodations exist for doing homework and make necessary arrangements or adjustments. Tutoring can also provide an opportunity for supportive counseling.

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Coach Cries Foul

I am a high school teacher and fifth-grade basketball coach.

I was recently coaching a fifth-grade practice when a disgruntled parent walked into the gym with 10 minutes left to go and started harassing me. He got into my face and started yelling at me with foul language. The parent was a rather large individual, and I did not want to start a physical altercation, so I handed him the ball and walked away.

I did not want to try and negotiate with him because I didn’t know how he would react.

The children’s safety was not at stake, but I felt mine was.

I left the gym and sat in my truck because I didn’t have access to a phone inside the gymnasium.

There were about five or 10 parents and children who were on the sidelines who witnessed the event.

Afterward, the parents told me that the disgruntled parent just yelled at the kids to go home. No one was hurt.

The school superintendent charged me with leaving the kids unsupervised for a period of 10 minutes. I felt I handled the situation best by walking away, keeping my distance from the parent and not trying to negotiate.

Do you feel that this is how most reasonable people would have reacted? Does the school have the right to charge me with leaving the children unattended for 10 minutes, when my own personal safety was at stake? Upset Coach


I rarely find myself disagreeing with my favorite advice columnist, but this one left me on the fence. I read this several times, and my heart goes out to the poor coach .He was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. I also had more questions. For example: “Why did none of the other parents step up and yell ‘Hey buddy, I am calling the cops!’”, “Why did no parent try to safely usher the fifth graders out of the gym?” Obviously the children’s safety was also at stake. “What happen to this bully of a father and his child?” “Should a child be punished for his parent’s actions?” “Did parents speak up later on behalf of this coach?”

I raised this question to my students as a “What would you do?” To quote a student of mine “This is fucked up on so many levels.” I informed them that the world of social work is rarely black and white. What Would You Do in this situation?

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The Power of Mindfulness


{Preparation 10 (Passion +Persistence)}


{Connection 10 (Compassion +Courage)}


{Excellence 10 (Achievement + Wisdom)}


{P110 (P2+P3)} + {C110 (C2+C3)} + {E10 (A+W)} = Power

Follow your passion with persistence, magnified by intense preparation. Use compassion and courage to weave a strong web of connections. Use focused excellence to drive achievements and gain wisdom. It is through the combination of all these things that your power will reveal itself. The magnitude and reach of your power is up to you. You must be prepared; you must commit the time, energy and effort required. – Shirley Ann Jackson

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Collard Greens Meet White Beans

I spotted these beautiful collard greens at the market for $3 bundle. The freshness of them made me smile as I placed a bundle in my cart, knowing exactly what I wanted to do with them. I wanted to make a beautiful soup as fall is clearly upon us.


  • 4 cups finely shredded collard greens
  • 1 can garbanzo beans drained
  • 1 half of a jalapeño seeded (omit if you don’t like heat)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper (really any color will do)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 Herbn’ Farm NW: Pike Place Herbs (You need to get some of this)
  • 2 teaspoons  fresh thyme
  • 4 cups of chicken broth

Preparation: Collard greens involve a bit of prep work. First unroll them and then cut them as close as you can to the stem. Give them a quick ice bath and rinse them, then rinse them again (grit is not your friend). Place them in the food processor for a quick mince.


Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In a food processor, pulse the , onion, garlic, jalapeño and bell pepper; sauté for five minutes in olive oil and wine. Stir occasionally, until tender five to 10 minutes. Add the greens, thyme, broth and Herbn’ Farm NW: Pike Place Herbs. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer eight to 12  minutes or until greens are tender. Add beans; simmer five minutes or until thoroughly heated. Top with goat cheese. Bon Appétit!


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New Rules for College Financial Aid Accounts

“How should I decide what account to use for a financial aid refund?”


Real life moment- if someone asked me what the first word that  pops in your mind that described life after college I would say student loan debt . This phrases is  often unavoidable, but just because it is  doesn’t mean one needs to be nickeled and dimed. If you’re a student, or just a caring person who knows a student, then you will also find this article  (New Rules for College Financial Aid Accounts by Ann Carrns)  informational and one to pass on. I have found it is never too late to have candid conversation about budgeting and to head off any financial problems. I am also curious if  someone asked  you word that  pops in your mind that described life after college what would you say?

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