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Our Children. They Are Already Involved

Posted on October 1, 2020 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (1716)

Our Children. They Are Already Involved.


There are arguments, for and against, the involvement of children in the current social justice movement. What we cannot argue is that our children have been involved—whether they wanted to be or not—since the beginning of 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic arrived on our doorsteps. September marks the ninth month of this landmark year--a full mental and emotional gestation period of growth--that has affected and changed us all. Within the uncertainty of the pandemic, our children first became involved in March when schools closed abruptly and sent them home. Most of them are still there--home--with their parents, many of whom have lost their jobs or businesses. Our children have lived this. They are already involved.


Spring and summer found us grieving the staggering loss of life due to Covid-19. Our children have lost friends and loved ones. We gasped in disbelief after the multiple killings of Black citizens went viral--our children saw that; they’ve watched or participated in peaceful demonstrations now being met with violent pushbacks. In late summer, the western wildfires and the eastern hurricanes wiped out entire communities. Many children and their families are now homeless. And social justice warriors, like Rep. John Lewis, Justice Ruth B. Ginsberg, and let’s include Chadwick Boseman for his body of work, all passed away. We have been in a perpetual state of mourning, and it feels like we have been up all year. Our children have been in the mix of all of this. They are already involved.


The labor pains from this societal change are strong, urgent and crowning. Our children are witnessing the birth of a new era—one that they will eventually inherit. What is happening around them should be explained to them, in an age appropriate way, and within the historical context of the true birth of this country that is now more fully exposed. Our children have a “summary” sense of history that comes from schoolbooks—but they are now living this history, up close and personal.

Our children were thrust into the social justice arena and responded with resilience, compassion, innovation and curiosity as this “new normal” unfolds for them and their friends. They are watching us and need to see us involved with the tools of change at our disposal right now--the census, the vote, and community action—all of which can benefit their schools, community, and their future. Lack of our involvement can devastate all three. 

We are all involved. As 2020 plays out, we can tend to and widen the pathways of progress toward equality and justice, and with our children, honor the many foot soldiers who sacrificed their lives while blazing those trails for us.


Timeline for 2019 Summer Programs

Posted on March 8, 2019 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (8392)

Timeline for 2019 Summer Programs: Don't Miss Important Deadlines for Applying!

If you are planning to put your child(ren) in a summer program, this is the time to research options and sign up. Most camps, specialty training/ enrichment programs, and out-of-school activities are planned in the fall, and finalized in December.

Many Summer 2019 dates are posted and programs are ALREADY enrolling. Don't miss great opportunities because you miss the deadline to enroll. Save your space NOW! This includes summer internships, pre-college programs, and employment opportunities for eligible students.

  • The Healing Forest Institute, Inc has opened its Early Bird pre-registration for returning campers.
  • The Maryland National Parks and Planning Commission has posted its 2019 seasonal positions. 
  • The application for summer jobs, through the DC Summer Youth Program, opened last week on January 17th, and will close on February 16th (

Use these cold days indoors to plan for the warm days that are coming. If you check the calendar, we're really only four months away from high school graduations, and five months away from the close of school—even with snow days!

Reading - What's the Point?

Posted on August 27, 2017 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (2422)

To become a proficient reader, you have to---read!

Quiet as it is kept, students’ read all the time,they just don't necessarily read what is given to them in school. Why? Students say the material is not interesting to them; the printed page, itself, may hurt their eyes, they may not understand the words, or the topic has no meaning for them. What’s the point of reading, anyway? Exactly!

Reading should have a purpose, and a point! That part should be explained by the teacher. The other part of reading rests squarely on the shoulders of the student, with parental support.

Students must understand that the same discipline needed in practicing the skills needed for cheer leading, sports or a science experiment is the same discipline needed in practicing the skill of reading. You learn it by doing it, and you get better the more you do it.

So, students should not expect all of their reading assignments to be short and easy.

Students WILL be assigned a variety of novels, classic literature, and non-fiction informational text that will be new and unfamiliar to them. They cannot get mad at the teacher if they become frustrated with the assignments. They should ask for help and practice the strategies that will help them understand what they are reading. And, those strategies may differ depending on the subject matter – and the child. All students do not learn the same way. Some can understand directions that are written on the board; others may need to hear the directions, first, before they understand what is written on the board; some may not even be able to see the board.

As students progress from middle school to high school, the reading assignments become more complex and homework expectations increase. Reading assignments are designed to exposure students to a variety of subject matter on which many of the questions on the standardized tests are based. These tests are less memorization of facts, and more critical thinking, such as, can you read a passage, take a position on the question being asked, find evidence in the text to support your position, and write your response in correct paragraph format. Students must approach the reading of complex text with the same “tenacity” they use to approach a new sports technique. Over time, your vocabulary improves, your reading speed and fluency improves, your conversation improves, your understanding improves, and your test scores improve.

What students learn in Grades 6, 7 and 8 is important for them to be successful in Grade 9 – high school – which is when the real emphasis on “college and career readiness” begins.

Grade 9 is when colleges begin to review students’ academic transcript. Students must start now, at the beginning of the school year, to make a personal commitment to become proficient readers. One way to begin is to attend, the 17th Annual National Book Festival on Saturday, September 2nd at the Washington Convention Center. It is a great opportunity for the whole family to be exposed to fun literacy activities, and find interesting materials, for all ages, to read and take home.

What can parents do to help their children enjoy reading?

  • First, make sure to include a vision screening with their physical exams. Some students may need glasses.
  • Then, provide a variety of print reading materials around the house or take them to a book store, and let them choose something they like.
  •  Monitor their homework, to help with challenging assignments. If the work is too easy, contact the teacher, so that your child is getting the academic stimulation and rigor that they need.
  • Check their written work for correct spelling and grammar. Students tend to write like they speak, and how we write and speak with family and friends, informally (including email and texts), does not usually translate into the required formal academic essay format. This aspect is critical as your child begins to produce personal essays for college admission and scholarships.

Together, we can give our children the tools they need to be successful. Reading is a key tool!!

Document Your Service Learning Hours

Posted on August 25, 2017 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (3117)


As the new school year begins, remember that community service hours are a requirement for high school graduation. There are many students who risk their graduation status because they do not take this component seriously, and, thus, do not have enough verifiable hours by Grade 12.

If students volunteered and completed service learning hours this summer, they should document their work hours and submit the appropriate form to the school counselor---NOW--while it is fresh in their mind! Current high school students, grades 9-12, who have not yet started their hours, or are behind in the recommended, 25 hours per academic year, should start now. DCPS requires 100 hours, beginning in Grade 9.

Both DCPS and PGCPS have verification forms, requirement guidelines, and a wealth of resources on their websites: and your individual school, and other school districts for additional information.

Plan to use weekends and holiday breaks - not just for sleep - but in service to others.Make a list of places of interest and keep a copy of your hours. Students who are in middle school, especially Grade 8, should begin to find opportunities for community service as well, in preparation for high school.

The Healing Forest Institute, Inc supports service learning projects and other "out-of-school-building" authentic learning experiences, because it allows students to use critical thinking skills,practice social skills,and find their voice through immersion in real world situations.Working with organizations on meaningful service learning projects, is also a great way to network. We will be posting opportunities to serve the community on this site.