Author Archives: Lindsey Bridwell

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Kinderkool: College Prep


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Get ready for dorm life with decorative designs from Dormify.com.

Online retailer, Dormify.com was founded in 2011 by mother/daughter team, Karen (right) and Amanda Zuckerman of Potomac. After shopping for dorm supplies prior to her freshman year at Washington University, Amanda and her mother discovered that it was challenging to find fashionable home products for younger consumers. They founded Dormify.com to create unique, fashion-forward design options for teens, college students and first-time apartment dwellers.

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iCarpool

081514_carpoolFive work deadlines, four kids, three schools, two cups of coffee, one tired parent.

From crawling in traffic to sprinting to afterschool pickup, busy working parents never get a break. Luckily, the digital world makes their lives a little easier. With new phone and computer applications, many parents are indulging in modern technology to deal with the stresses of carpooling.

“The combination of phone, email and text keeps my carpooling schedule in check,” says father of two Aaron Mannes. “My carpool involves several children in several locations. There needs to be a lot of technological communication going on to make it all work. Some of my biggest questions of the day include, ‘Do I take the minivan?’ and ‘Which child has a doctor’s appointment today?’”

Serving as a researcher at the University of Maryland’s Lab for Computational Cultural Dynamics, Mannes strikes a balance between work and carpool life. With flexible hours, he is frequently responsible for afternoon pickup.

“Often, I’ll get an afternoon email from working parents asking if I can pick their child up,” he says. “I have run carpools where my kids are not even involved.”

Mannes shares his carpooling adventures in a parenting blog, “For Fathers Only.” Under the pen-name Father Goof, Mannes reveals the comical ins and outs of the everyday dad.

“I’m not going to lie; talking about carpooling is good material for a blog,” says Mannes. “I try to make it both funny and sweet. It is a great way to cap off my day.”

While some parents use technology to decompress, others use technology to help their carpools run smoothly. A number of new smart phone mobile applications are geared at carpooling parents. Free applications such as Carpool: School Edition, Karpooler, Car Pool Party, Looptivity, and more, allow stressed parents to organize their carpools directly from their smart phones.

Android and iPhone application Toogether, for example, connects drivers offering rides to passengers needing them. The application also displays how much the driver wants to be compensated, provides suggestions for local carpools and links different drivers together via social networking.

“I don’t use any technological applications, but maybe I should,” says Baltimore mother and Jewish religious school educator, Zahava Kimelfeld. “With six children, everything has to run smoothly. If we are even one minute behind schedule, everything falls out of place.”

As the mother of six, Kimelfeld must remember all of her children’s schedules by heart.

“Our entire schedule is based on transporting the children and making sure everyone is ready,” says Kimelfeld. “From my husband driving back home to switch from the car to the minivan, to staying up until 2 a.m. preparing school lunches and Friday night dinner, my life is a juggling act. It can often be a lot for one person to remember. Staying organized is the best way to take care of my big family.”

With mobile applications such as Cozi, parents like Kimelfeld can program all of their children’s timetables into their mobile phones. With close to 12 million users registered, Cozi comes to the rescue of busy parents.

“We got started because we saw that families had literally no tools to help them manage the chaos of day to day life,” says Cozi cofounder and CEO Robbie Cape. “The Cozi family organizer includes family calendars, shopping lists, to-do lists, family journals and meal planners. The mobile application integrates all parts of family life and helps families with everything they have to do.”

While Cozi sets up the calendar, KangaDo is a parent organizer. The application allows parents to chat and coordinate schedules with their friends. From carpool planning to daycare pickup, the application is equipped with private, free messaging that can share photos and current locations. In addition, users can turn a chat into an event on their iPhone calendar.

As great as the new technological wonders are, fathers like Mannes joke about wanting more.

“Through technology, my children always know where I am,” says Mannes. “I am always getting texts asking how close I am, and I can tell them instantly when I am stuck in traffic. I am still waiting for the day when Google makes those self-driving cars. That would make my carpooling life so much easier.”

Allie Freedman is a local freelance writer.

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Merchant of Words: The Life of Robert St. John

081514_mishmash-bookBy Terry Fred Horowitz
Rowman & Littlefield, 412 pages

Terry Fred Horowitz has written one of the most riveting and entertaining books of an unsung giant of American journalism, Robert St. John. For more than half a century, St. John traveled the world in search of breaking news long before the onset of 24-hour news cycles — in an era in which some of the most incisive reporting was done by lone wolf, on-the-ground freelance writers who, in search of an unfolding scoop, were frequently required to dip into their own pockets for international airfare.

But it was not always a hand-to-mouth existence. At the height of the London blitz in 1940, for example, St. John shared pride of place with Edward R. Murrow in reporting, in awesome detail, the air war over London between the Royal Air Force and Hitler’s Luftwaffe. Despite a close relationship with St. John, Horowitz never allowed himself to become a sycophant for his subject.

A very slight stumbling block to the book were the rare inaccuracies. The author wrongly attributes Hubert Humphrey’s decision to publicly break with President Johnson over U.S. conduct of the Vietnam War as sometime in August 1968. That event, in fact, took place on Sept. 30, 1968 in a widely covered Humphrey speech in Salt Lake City. But such blotches should not prevent you from reading “Merchant of Words.” Horowitz has done himself proud.

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Another Wartime Aliyah Airlift

081514_mishmash_IsraelDespite tensions surrounding the war in Gaza, 338 new immigrants from the United States and Canada departed John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Aug. 4 on an aliyah charter flight to Israel. The special Nefesh B’Nefesh flight was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel, JNF-USA and Tzofim Garin Tzabar.

Included in the group of olim were 108 young men and women who will be serving in the Israel Defense Forces.

The large group included 37 families with 107 children. The passenger list also included 65 immigrants moving to Israel’s periphery as part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh and Keren Kayemeth L’Israel Go North and Go South programs. Altogether, the group will be settling in every part of Israel, from Ma’alot in the north to Eilat in the south.

They hail from 27 states and three Canadian provinces and range in age from a 6-week-old baby to a 93-year-old great-grandparent in a family of four generations making aliyah together.

“I find it profoundly inspiring that we have a 747 jumbo jet filled to capacity with people from the North American Jewish community making aliyah, especially at such a challenging time,” said Nefesh B’Nefesh co-founder and executive director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. “To see that Jews everywhere, young and old, religious and secular, are determined to fulfill the dream of helping to build the Jewish state is truly amazing.”

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New and Notable in Baltimore

With autumn just around the corner, Baltimore parents are spoiled for choices when it comes to their children’s educations. Baltimore schools provide an array of programs — far too many to cover in one article — catering to students’ individual needs. From mastering modern technology to conquering learning disabilities, Baltimore schools are creating innovative curricula that enhance and stimulate their students’ learning. Here, iNSIDER takes a look at some under-the-radar schools, and others that while well-established, have undergone recent changes.

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Students at Arts and Ideas Sudbury School choose how and what they learn.

Arts and Ideas Sudbury School:
Sometimes, school can feel like a dictatorship. At the Arts and Ideas Sudbury School in Baltimore, power is given back to the students. Schoolchildren live out their educational dreams at the school, where they are able to choose how they spend their days and study only what peaks their curiosity.

“When students have an authentic say in how the school is run, they feel ownership and want to take care of their community,” says founder Caroline Chavasse. “Our school philosophy is based on how human beings learn. Other schools are wrapped around the idea of how to teach. We give students more freedom.”

With a democratic system of education in place, students learn on their own timelines, based on their own motivations. While one student is mastering the art of algebra, another might be devoting his time to music. Attending Judicial Committee meetings, students at Arts and Ideas make decisions on how the school is run, vote on school rules and even elect staff members.

“Our school believes that children should not be denied the rights and freedoms that adults enjoy,” says Chavasse. “We observe that children are capable decision-makers and by providing a school where they can practice independence and responsibility in a safe community, they become independent, responsible and successful adults.”

For more information, visit aisudbury.com.

Talmudical Academy: 

Almost a century old, Talmudical Academy has been teaching young Jewish men Torah since 1917. Offering programs for preschool through Grade 12, the longtime Baltimore institution packs a rigorous curriculum of general studies and Jewish religious education into each full day.

This year, a new elementary school general studies principal is joining the team as TA brings Rabbi Zev Silver back to Baltimore to strengthen the core curricula after a 21-year absence. Devoting the past 19 years of his career to Akiba Academy in Dallas, Texas, Silver is delighted to bring his talents to TA in a quest to improve the program even further.

“I find TA to be a very engaging school and very child centered,” says Silver. “There is a strong commitment to excellence in education, and it is truly a happy place with happy students and exceptional educators who care deeply about each and every student. My objective is to reach and teach every child. I want them to get beyond their comfort zone. I don’t want any child to plateau.”

As the general studies principal, Silver will incorporate his passion for education into enhancing the school’s core academic subjects.

Already a fan of TA’s work, he looks forward to overseeing classrooms and working directly with students and staff.

“The teachers are empowered and want the students to learn and grow. I’m looking forward to improving an already strong program,” says Silver. “In addition to strong academics, I am impressed with the school’s inclusion of children requiring special education. The Shemesh program has really helped cater to students with special needs. It is just a privilege to be a part of such an incredible school.”

For more information, visit Talmudicalacademy.org.

Gateway School:
Have you heard about Google Glass? At the Gateway School, students use it every day. The head-mounted computer that displays information in a hands-free format and responds to voice commands helps students with a variety of communication disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders, developmental delay, hearing loss and speech-language challenges. Gateway School will utilize the technology to help students with both interpretive and therapeutic work.

Part of the Hearing and Speech Agency (HASA), Gateway is one of five schools selected from 1,300 applications to win Google’s prestigious Google Glass grant for the 2014-2015 school year.

“It’s very gratifying to be recognized by Google for our innovative spirit and we look forward to using Google Glass in the year ahead,” says executive director Susan Glasgow.

In addition to Google Glass, the Gateway School is expanding to accommodate children as young as 24-months in its Little Learners program. Younger students have already taken advantage of the school’s one-on-one speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and audiology. Now, educational director Jill Berie looks forward to inviting little learners into the classroom.

“Our mission at Gateway School has always been to establish a base for lifelong learning for children with special communication needs related to autism, speech-language delay or hearing loss,” says Berie. “Opening our doors to children at age 24 months allows us to establish that base as early as possible.”

For more information, visit hasa.org/school.

Legacy School:
Located in Sykesville, the Legacy School, which opened in 2011, focuses on students with language-based learning disabilities. The school provides students with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other language processing difficulties with an environment in which to flourish.

“When I founded the school, I was working with several families that needed a place for their child to go to school,” says founder Jamie Caplan. “These families were essentially out of options because their children could not thrive in the public school setting.”

Accessible to students all over the Baltimore metropolitan area, the Carroll County-based school currently offers bus transportation to and from Baltimore County. The Legacy School’s many offerings include daily one-on-one tutoring, a 2:1 student/teacher ratio and a thematic multi-sensory curriculum.

“We create a safe environment for students with daily one-on-one reading and language tutoring to remediate their learning weaknesses,” says Caplan. “This way, students can succeed and learn at their own paces.”

Baltimore resident and Legacy School parent Elizabeth Malis says that more Baltimoreans should know about this institution. When searching for a school for her now nine-year-old daughter, Miranda, she struggled to find a fit in the Baltimore area and was thrilled to discover the Legacy School.

“When we adopted Miranda, she was a 4-year-old girl living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe,” says Malis. “It took years for us to realize she has language based learning difficulties, since English is not her native tongue. As we desperately searched for schools, we came across the Legacy School with help from a therapist. With one-on-one tutoring and in school speech therapy, Miranda comes home every day learning new words. We cannot believe how much she is learning and how much her vocabulary has grown.”

For more information visit legacyschoolmd.org.

At the Auburn School, students receive lots of individual attention from staff.

At the Auburn School, students receive lots of individual attention from staff.

The Auburn School:
The Auburn School’s Baltimore Campus is all about social interaction. The Lutherville-based school offers small class sizes and personalized instruction. Auburn specializes in improving communication, organizational skills and behavioral support for children with Asperger’s syndrome/ASD, PDD-NOS, NVLD, ADHD through social skills training and pragmatic language development. Auburn has high educational standards and is geared for students with normal or above normal intelligence. Students who may have felt ostracized in their public schools will benefit from the close-knit and accepting community environment at Auburn.

For more information, theauburnschool.org/Baltimore.

Baltimore Home School:
Homeschooling doesn’t always mean learning at home. Located in Pikesville, the Baltimore Home School is sort of like a home away from home, providing a gathering place for home-schooled students where they can enroll in classes, take part in group activities, interact with adults other than their parents, and perhaps most importantly, get to know other children and teens. Courses at the Baltimore Home School include creative writing, taekwondo, music, Spanish, English, science, wellness and more. From $1 movies to field trips to “homeschool” dances, folks at the Baltimore Home School are kicking the “home” out of homeschool.

For more information visit baltimorehomeschool.org.

Allie Freedman is a local freelance writer.