Welcome to the LEF Quarterly Newsletter
In this Issue:
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Alumnus Ben Solomon to Speak at LEF Breakfast
"Ladue was the most important and formative time for me to become a journalist," says Ben Solomon, Ladue Horton Watkins High School Class of 2006. It's a magnanimous statement from a recent Pulitzer Prize winner. Ben and his team at The New York Times were awarded the prize in April of this year for International Reporting for their coverage of the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Ben also received the George Polk Award for health reporting this year, and he is nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in a News Magazine. The Ladue Education Foundation is thrilled to have him as our speaker at the Annual Community Breakfast on September 25.
Ben explains, "Both of my parents were local journalists, but it was only through the guidance and freedom I got at Ladue that I put my creative storytelling abilities to the test." Ben was involved in the broadcast journalism program at LHWHS and went on to study at DePauw University. In 2010, he was hired by The New York Times, eventually becoming one of their first foreign multimedia correspondents. He has covered uprisings in Egypt, Syria and Libya, as well as the Ukranian conflict, ivory poaching in Africa, and numerous other issues in the Middle East, Africa and the former Soviet Union.
In addition to his resolute and dauntless reporting, Ben writes, shoots and edits documentary features for Times Video. He is taking a break from his globe-hopping to return to St. Louis for this special appearance to benefit the Ladue Education Foundation. He is generous enough to credit his time as a Ladue student as being a significant factor in his success. "Mrs. Box and the Ladue education system gave me the courage to see a career in filmmaking and journalism as a possibility."
Inspiring Fundraiser for Charlie Glik
You don’t have to be around long to leave a legacy. Charlie Glik was only sixteen when he was killed in a car accident in 2006. But nine years later, the kid who was loved by so many is still bringing people together. A new “Click 4 Glik” campaign being run by former classmates enables people to donate to the Ladue Education Foundation in honor of the popular Ladue Horton Watkins High School student. The GoFundMe campaign was conceived as a way to give back to the Ladue School District by raising sponsorship money for the LEF’s Annual Breakfast on September 25.
The “Click 4 Glik” campaign has already raised almost $2000, with three weeks still remaining to accept donations. That’s no surprise, given the impact Charlie made on people of all ages. “He knew just about everybody in every school in the area. A lot of younger kids would look up to him, and the older ones liked him too,” says close friend and classmate Sean Jameson. “That’s why it hit everybody so hard.” In the wake of Charlie’s death, students from LHWHS and Clayton High School rallied to raise awareness about seat belt safety. The push to honor Charlie’s memory was seen by many as a way to move beyond the bitterness that had been developing in the rivalry between the schools. In addition, a fund set up by the Glik family continues to provide scholarships to graduating LHWHS seniors.
The GoFundMe campaign was conceived by LEF board member Timothy Cowhey, who remembers Charlie fondly as “the kid that would get the whole class laughing at something, even if it meant a trip to the principal's office.” Charlie’s parents, Bob and Zoe Glik, certainly know that their son’s impact was about even more than making people smile. The current campaign in his honor is a reminder that he also inspired the generosity of spirit for which he was known. It’s a legacy that is still going strong.
Donations of amounts large and small can be made at http://www.gofundme.com/fn266kuk.
Teacher Profile: Becky Jones
When Becky Jones was a teenager, the families for whom she babysat always told her she’d make a great teacher. But it took a year of college and an initial trajectory toward business before she realized she would only be happy if she were pursuing her passion of working with children. Now, as one of Spoede Elementary School's reading specialists, Becky is what colleagues eagerly refer to as ‘a game changer.’
“At times, kids can come to me simply feeling defeated or hopeless as learners,” Becky says. “At that point, I say to them, 'I promise you will learn. I am a great teacher, and I know we can find what will work to help you learn. It may take us a little time, but you will learn to do this.'”
Though she initially taught third and fourth grades at Spoede Elementary, she was soon asked if she’d like a position in Learning Lab. “While I loved having my own class and building a community with my young students,” Becky explains, “my true passion was with Special Ed or helping struggling students.” She later returned to her college alma mater, Fontbonne University, to pursue a Masters in Teaching Reading and to work toward her Reading Specialist Certificate.
In 2014, Becky reached out to the Ladue Education Foundation with an idea. “For a number of years,” she explains, “I have witnessed students who made great gains in their reading during the school year, but when summer arrived, they fell victim to the ‘summer slide’—regression in their reading skills because they didn’t continue the reading life we established and embraced at Spoede during the school year.” Becky decided to write a grant and teamed up with Maggie Eisenbeis, a Reading Specialist at the Fifth Grade Center, who also had a similar vision for summer reading.
Thirty students (ten from each of the first, second and third grades) were selected to participate in the program. Families were asked to sign a contract. Students “shopped” for their selection of twenty to thirty books, which they took home, along with a resource folder to provide help for parents if their children got stuck. Students logged their books, and depending on how much they read, they received prizes for their hard work.
“The success of the ‘My Summer Reading Life’ program was stellar,” Becky relates. “Of the 29 children participating in this program last year, 25 of them maintained or improved their reading skills.”
Becky is quick to share credit with the Ladue Education Foundation. “Not only did they provide the financial means to support this dream, but Cindy Follman and Jodi Minkler helped us establish a partnership with Booksource (owned by the Jaffe family) to purchase books and to provide guidance with the "My Summer Reading Life" initiative. Representatives from Booksource shared the structure and results of a summer reading program they had supported and used reading data from our students to supply appropriately leveled texts. The result of the collaborative effort was outstanding. But Becky points out, "Even if we help one child from falling victim to the ‘summer slide,’ we have made a difference.”
As the mother of two young girls, Becky feels deeply the impact of both reading and education on children. She finds inspiration in the saying, "You are the author of your own life story. Make it your best piece of work." She admits that she is still a work in progress: “There are always moments on a daily basis that I wish I could go back to edit or revise. . . but as the author of my life, at least I know where I can take my story.”
Parlor Meetings: A Casual Setting to Talk Capital Campaign
Bigger isn't always better. As the Ladue Education Foundation engages the community in support of the Ladue School District's proposed high school renovation, it has turned to small-scale gatherings to connect with those interested in learning more. These 'parlor meetings' of ten to twenty people, hosted at private homes, provide a warm and informal setting to ask questions and get information regarding the impact of the potential capital campaign.
Jonathan and Jennifer Deutsch, who held a parlor meeting at their home last week, embraced the opportunity to encourage their friends and neighbors to support the proposed renovation. "Jonathan and I have three students in Ladue Schools and strongly believe in the need for first class public education, which includes not just the best teachers and curriculum but also top-tier facilities," says Jennifer Deutsch. "Our recent home party to introduce this project was filled with enthusiasm and the belief that the time is now for Ladue School District parents, alumni and all of the district community to support this much needed renovation so our children and future generations are provided the very best educational environment."
It's a sentiment shared by many in the community as they await the October survey to determine whether the bond referendum will go on the ballot. Ladue Horton Watkins High School, which was built in the 1950s, has been an important focus of the district, as it attempts to "provide students with the educational background they will need to succeed in post-secondary education and careers."
With its mission of advancing the excellence of the Ladue School District, the LEF has already raised over a million dollars in pledges toward the renovation. Though the amount needed for the project will be far bigger, the LEF's engagement of the community is vital to show support of the project and recognition of the impact that quality facilities have on being able to implement best teaching practices.
Four additional parlor meetings are scheduled at various homes during the months of September and October, each of them attended by Dr. Donna Jahnke and LEF board members who are eager to provide information and answer questions. If you're interested in attending or hosting a parlor meeting, we welcome your involvement! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (314) 983-5334.
We encourage you to visit the district's website for details of the proposed renovation. You can also attend the Community Forums on September 24 and 30 at the Ladue Horton Watkins High School cafeteria (presentation and tours begin at 7 p.m.) Or just take the tour of the high school any night between 6 and 8 p.m. from October 5 to 9. Seeing is believing!
CogMed Helps Students Improve Working Memory
Working memory is a crucial part of learning. It’s the brain’s system for managing and storing information needed to comprehend and reason. Deficits in working memory can lead to difficulty in school, as vital information that is stored temporarily must be accessed and used for the task at hand.
Ladue School District Psychologist Maggie Travers observed that some students struggling academically also had poor working memory capacity. She thought that these students could benefit from a working memory intervention, and turned to the Ladue Education Foundation for funding. Using CogMed, a computerized program designed by neuroscientists to improve working memory, Maggie implemented the program with 39 students over the course of two years. Students showed significant improvements on their Discovery Ed tests.
More than that, the program seems to have boosted the confidence of the kids who participated. Maggie Travers reported in her Pearson Ed Success Story, “I’ve had kids who have become better learners by completing the program. They get up early, come, and do the program before school. It’s very rewarding to see the investment that they end up making and the payoff it has for their success as a student.”
For the complete report, see Pearsoned.com.