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Germs Join Students Back in School

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As teachers know, back to school time also often means back to sniffles, colds and shared germs.

The beginning of the school year is a prime time for illnesses to spread. Children who have spent the summer outside in the fresh air are now contained in a small area where germs can easily be passed back and forth. Since the school year is new, parents are also less likely to keep kids home with minor illnesses like colds and stomachaches.

Some of the common back-to-school illness include colds, pink eye, gastroenteritis and strep throat. Fall is when we commonly see the flu virus begin to emerge, all the more reason to get your flu shot early.

The CDC offers the following advice for preventing the flu and other illnesses:

• Get vaccinated
• Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
• Stay home if you are sick
• Try to avoid close contact with others
• Disinfect shared surfaces
• Wash your hands often

Reinforce good hygiene habits in your classroom and post signs about hand washing in bathrooms and hallways. Not all germs can be avoided, but friendly reminders do help.

How do you prevent the spread of germs in your classroom?

After Charlottesville Attack Schools Consider Name Changes

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The brutal, racially motivated attacks that occurred at a rally in Charlottesville, Va. last month have prompted school officials across the country to reconsider the names of their academic institutions.

In 2015, nearly 200 American schools were named for Confederate leaders, including Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Schools in Dallas, San Diego, San Antonio, Jacksonville and Oklahoma City are among the areas where community members have petitioned for a change in school name.

Charges are still being filed against those criminally involved in the violent white supremacist rally that resulted in three deaths. The goal of the protestors was to oppose the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue from a community park. Similar Confederate monuments have been removed over the last two years, sparked in part by the mass killing of nine people in a Charleston, SC church by a white supremacist in 2015.

Has your school made recent changes to its name or mascot based on recent events?

Teacher Shortages Aren’t Going Away

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The new school year is in full swing, but many districts across the country are facing a teacher shortage crisis. Both rural and urban schools are struggling to fill open positions as existing teachers retire or change careers. And with fewer college students choosing education as their major, shortages are only expected to grow. By next year the nationwide teacher shortage could easily exceed 100,000 positions.

According to the US Department of Education, science, math, foreign language and special education are the hardest hit. More than 40 states reported teacher shortages in these areas.
Salary and workload are the driving forces behind this trend. Math and science teacher pay has remained relatively flat over the past 20 years. Many of these educators leave to make more money in the private sector. Special education teacher turnover, on the other hand, is being fueled by increasing class sizes, work demands and stress.

As teachers retire or leave the field early, there are fewer new educators to replace them. North Carolina’s public university system saw a 27% enrollment decline in undergraduate and graduate teaching programs from 2010 to 2014. There was a 24% decline in Colorado during that same time. Nationally, the number of students who plan to major in education has reached its lowest point in nearly five decades.

As school districts move forward with few teachers, the problem isn’t expected to resolve any time soon. Until teachers see a measurable increase in pay and classroom support, the number of them will continue to decrease.

Care Package Ideas for College Students

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If you have been teaching several years, chances are, some of your favorite students are now in college. Why not surprise them with a care package?

Here are some ideas that can help college students settle in and feel at home.

Baked Goods
Nothing says love like homemade cookies or other treats. Be sure to include enough for them to share with their dormmates!

Water Bottle
Most college classrooms allow water bottles, and since college students are always on the go, hydration is a must. Consider a stainless steel bottle that will keep drinks cool throughout a day full of classes.

Scent Diffusers
Shared spaces can get smelly pretty quickly, so a diffuser is the perfect answer to combatting the odor. Most dorms do not allow candles, making diffusers a safe alternative.

Portable Chargers
Some days, college students spend the entire day on campus, leaving no time to charge electronics. A portable charger is an easy way to bring a dead battery back to life.

Restaurant Gift Cards
A break from dining hall food is welcomed by any student.

Prepackaged Food
Send healthy snacks like nuts, granola bars and trail mix that can be grabbed on the go.

Easing Kindergarten Jitters

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The first day of kindergarten is a huge milestone in a child’s life and often a pretty nerve-wracking one. Even the most confident kids may be a little hesitant to leave their parents’ side and venture into such a big and new world.

Here are some tips that can help make the transition a bit easier:

Get to Know Them – If possible, mail out information sheets to your new students a week or two before school starts. Ask them about their favorite things and tell them your favorites, too.

We are a Team! – Send each child an inexpensive yarn bracelet, backpack clip or special sticker to wear on the first day. Seeing other kids wearing the same items can help nervous kindergartners feel like they are all in this together.

Kiss and Good-Bye – Encourage parents to make good-byes short and sweet. Lingering parents often make the transition even tougher on the student.

Pick a Classroom Theme – Find a fun classroom theme and embrace it! Finding their name printed on a bright flower or sports ball is more fun for kids than a plain white notecard.

Set Up a Photo Booth – Have each child pose with their name tag and other themed accessories. Kids will enjoy seeing their silly poses and the pictures will help you remember names.

Time’s Up – From the first day, set expectations on how long it should take for cleanup, to line up for lunch and to get a drink from the water fountain. A short song is a good audio cue that lets students know to keep things moving.

Dismissal – Most schools require parents to provide a transportation plan before the school year begins. Provide each student with a lanyard at the end of the day that lists whether or not they are a pick up, bus number and name. It might be tough for a little one to remember something like a bus number on the first day, but the lanyard will allow other teachers and bus aides to point them in the right direction.

Have a great school year!

Back-to-School Spending Increasing

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Parents, open your wallets. Back-to-school costs are expected to ramp up this year.

The National Retail Federation projects that back-to-college spending will hit a record $54.1 billion this year, due in part to increasing enrollment size and greater consumer confidence. The numbers are a 10 percent increase over last year’s spending.

“Families are now in a state of mind where they feel a lot more confident about the economy,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “With stronger employment levels and a continued increase in wages, consumers are spending more, and we are optimistic that they will continue to do so throughout the rest of the year.”

According to the NRF, parents of college students do most of their shopping online and spend an average of $969.88 per student. Much of that cost includes books and electronics.

Parents of children in elementary through high school plan are projected to spend an average of $687.72 for each child. Most of their shopping is in department stores and goes towards clothing.

What are your thoughts on back-to-school spending?

Quick Ship to the Rescue!

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The start of school is just days away – is your classroom ready?

Fear not, our SCHOOLSin Quick Ship program is here to help! All of our Quick Ship products are guaranteed to ship out from the manufacturer in 48 hours or less. Thousands of products from your favorite brands are a part of the program, so it’s easy to get the school furniture and equipment you need fast.

The Quick Ship program is available anywhere in the contiguous United States. To ensure speedy delivery, order by noon Eastern time. Some colors and larger quantities may be excluded.

Click here to shop our Quick Ship selection today.

Nature is Blooming in our Schools

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Education about the environment has taken a more hands-on approach in schools across the country.

Even in the most urban areas, it is becoming more and more common to see student-maintained gardens, nature habitats and wildlife sanctuaries right on school grounds.

In an attempt to reconnect today’s children with the outdoors, the National Wildlife offers the Schoolyard Habitats program. The NWF partners with over 5,000 schools nationwide and provides tips on how to install, maintain and use a schoolyard garden.

The new outdoor spaces offer a relaxing break from the hectic school day and allow students to observe and take pride in their hard work. For schools that grow food in their garden, there is an added bonus. Studies have shown that children are five times more likely to eat food that they have grown.

Does your school have a garden or wildlife habitat?

Take-Home Laptops Help Curve the Summer Slide

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Summer slide sounds like a fun hot-weather adventure, but it is a real learning condition that teachers know all too well.

The Colorado Department of Education describes the summer slide as, “The tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year.”

Researchers from John Hopkins University tracked a group of students from 1st grade until they were 22 years old. They concluded that most of the 9th grade reading achievement gap could be attributed to the lack of summer learning opportunities during elementary school.

Some schools are hoping to lessen the blow of the summer slide by allowing students to take home school-assigned laptop computers during the summer months. Having a computer available, something that low-income students may not have access to otherwise, allowed students to complete summer studies and stay connected through school-related emails.

As is the case during the school year, students are responsible for lost or damaged computers.

Does your school allow students to take home school-issued laptops during the summer?

Food for Thought

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The food choices you make could help you earn a college scholarship, as reported in the U.S. News and World Report.

Each year, the Vegetarian Resource Group offers one $10,000 and two $5,000 scholarships to graduating U.S. high school students who promote vegetarianism in their schools or communities. Interested students are required to submit an application and essay before February 20, 2018.

Other scholarships are available based on eating challenges and illnesses. For example, the Diabetes Scholars Foundation awards several scholarships to high school seniors who have Type 1 diabetes. Additional organizations offer scholarships to students with food allergies, Crohn’s Disease and more.

What food-themed scholarships would you like to see?

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