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By Gillian Granoff

Twelve-year old Adi Altshuler was looking for a way to make a difference in the world when she began volunteering at the age of 12 at ILAN, an Israeli NGO for children with physical disabilities. She became a personal tutor to Kobi Kfir, a three-year-old child with cerebral palsy.

Kfir's mother, Claudia, had watched her son struggle with social isolation as he was unable to speak. He was longing to connect with the outside world. The moment Adi met Kfir, their connection was instantaneous. They quickly learned to understand each other, and the acceptance and love between them transformed both of their lives. Kfir's confidence soared.

Claudia and Adi were so inspired by Kfir's change that they aspired to replicate the experience for others.

In 2002, Adi joined LEAD, a leadership development program. With Claudia and LEAD's support, the amutah (nonprofit in the Hebrew language) Krembo Wings was born. Named after the popular winter Israeli version of the Moon Pie and Mallomar, Krembo Wings is the country's first inclusive youth movement that connects children with and without special needs, in an environment free of fear, stigma, and judgment.

Krembo Wings began humbly with four members in Hod Hasharon, Israel. Nowadays, the organization has dozens of branches and serves thousands of people ages 7-22 from all cultural, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds throughout Israel.

This growth is attributed to the Solomonic leadership of Krembo's management team past and present. Following Adi's departure in 2009, Ofira Roten became CEO. Talia Bejerano, before becoming CEO in 2016, developed and helped implement an intensive counselor training program as well as modernized procedures that allowed Krembo Wings to expand the number of communities it serves. Krembo's Senior VP, Merav Boaz, has spearheaded the aumtah's expansion by working closely with a multitude of municipalities to transform not just the minds and hearts of its members but to change public perception of disability in each community.

Entrusting its members with the responsibility for leading the activities is a critical component of their leadership training. Each branch has a youth manager who oversees activities, matching two members with one with special needs youth. Together they participate in arts projects, musical activities, and educational games, all centered around a theme selected by members of the Krembo staff.

In intensive trainings, members learn to manage challenges of working with the special needs population, in particular how to create activities that will engage them and their strengths. Krembo's members face a range of cognitive impairments including Autism or Asperger's, severe mental and sensory disorders, and physical impairments like cerebral palsy.

For participants the experience has been life changing. Kiara moved to Israel from Brooklyn with her family. "Krembo showed me ... no matter where you are from, or what your gender, background, or (dis)ability is, you can always accept and treat them equally. You shouldn't fear them."

Gali, a 7th grader, says: "The experiences at Krembo have helped (my) self-esteem and taught me to care for others. I have learned to understand and be more accepting of (people with) disabilities."

In a world where special needs are segregated from mainstream communities, Krembo gives people the space to work, play, sing, and dance in seamless interactions. For people with disabilities, the acceptance receives from the Krembo community gives them confidence and normalizes their differences.

Shirelle, 17, is in her 3rd year at Krembo. "We are not here to take care of the special needs kids. We help them, have fun with them, and work with them. The first time I was here, I realized that I had made the greatest decision of my life."

The success of Krembo Wings gained the recognition of UNESCO which, in 2018, honored the organization as a special advisor to the United Nations in matters of disabilities. Its success "as a world leader in the integration of children and youth with and without disabilities is in empowering social activities" regardless of differences in the communities it serves. It doesn't matter if the community is secular or religious; rich or poor; black or white; Druze, Muslim, Christian, Bedouin, or Jewish. Acceptance and inclusion as well as partnership, not patronage, are the guiding principles.

Despite Kfir's passing, his impact lives on. "Kfir was my greatest teacher," remarked Claudia, who continues to sit on Krembo's board of directors. "He taught me to love and accept myself and go beyond my dreams."

Krembo Wings is relentless in its commitment to fulfill Adi and Kfir's dream to create a world that sees only the humanity each person, able-bodied or severely disabled, brings to the world, one in which children of any background or ability can collaborate to fulfill their hopes and dreams. #

Best Practices Based on Brain Science

By Rebecca Mannis, Ph.D.

What makes for best practice in education?  The answer to this question can differ depending on who you ask and whether that person's lens is more 'wide-angle' lens or specialized. Best practice vision can change when considering classroom needs or an individual student. The Educational Opportunity Association (EOA) best practices directory for 2018 offers methods and materials that are 'promising, validated and exemplary.' Fluency, the ability to efficiently access information and skills, impacts learning at various ages and stages and serves as a case study in considering K-12 best practices. 

Recent brain research provides insights about learning as a life-long process. Learning happens against the backdrop of two brain processes. Children's brains grow in the number and size of synapses, or brain cell connections. At the same time, a pruning process nibbles away at those brain cells to create stronger, more efficient pathways. University of Washington researchers reported structural changes in the white matter of school-aged children after eight weeks of intensive reading instruction. 

These neuroscience findings align with our understanding skills development in grade school. Fluency was one of the skills which particular gains and increased brain development. Professor Jeanne Chall discussed these skills in her classic Stages of Reading Development, which just marked its thirty-fifth anniversary of publication. She wrote that systematic, phonics-based instruction fosters accurate and fluent reading, the building blocks for reading comprehension and thinking critically about text. Dr. Chall shaped 1970s and1980s best practices, demonstrating that that 'learning to read' in the early grades enables students to effectively and confidently 'read to learn' new subject matter in middle and upper school. This helps youngsters process and access information for use in new contexts. Karyn Slutsky, Assistant Director of Queens Paidea School notes, 'Fluency of component skills is the basis of a firm foundation of any competency, whereas a shaky foundation leads to instability, insecurity, and anxiety.' 

Fluency is relevant to best practices discussion about 'personalized learning,' the trend toward computer-based delivery of instruction. While technology can play a role in practicing facts, the way that we incorporate digital information differs from how we process print content. UCLA Professor Dr. Maryann Wolf's Reader Come Home reports that college students who read digital content were less able to draw conclusions and connections from digital content than peers who read the same texts in print form. Although the research 'is in' about fluency shaping later learning, popular press decries the lack of consistent reading instruction in public and private schools. 

We can all get on board to address this, with an eye toward the culture of each school and the needs of our diverse students. The EOA notes that best practices can be modified to particular programs, the children in them, and the content being taught. Dyann Kaufman, learning specialist at The Avenues School notes that Avenues teaches fluency in the lower grades by systematically introducing skills in different formats, with individual or group work that brings in various senses. In grades 3-5, Avenues reinforces fluency with selected independent practice and small group 'buddy reading' activities. Other schools pride themselves on high levels of customization per individual learning style and goals rather than adhering to one methodology or one tech tool. To Dr. Manju Banerjee of Landmark College, we start by engaging students to be self-determined and have agency over whichever strategy will work best for them. Skill development is personalized and students feel supported in their learning approach."

We parents and professionals can help our children develop the fluency skills they need to learn and grow. This happens with committed, well-trained teachers who implement systematic techniques. These teachers can be supported to monitor children's growth in varied, consistent ways and to adapt instruction to those findings. Children's fluency grows with consistent independent and guided practice and when students are encouraged to develop insights about using skills across their coursework. Best practices in fluency provide our children the techniques and tools to learn efficiently and effectively as they progress through formal education to ultimately explore their passions beyond the classroom. It enables them to then be well-informed and curious members of society. Let's use what we know about brain science and best practices in learning the basics to help our children become digital citizens and citizens of the world who shape our society for good. #

Dr. Rebecca Mannis is a graduate of Harvard and can be reached at her private practice, rebecca@ivy-prep.com

By Jan Aaron

"My city lies between two rivers -- on a small island. My city is tall and jagged -- with gold + slated towers. My city is cut + re-cut + slashed by hard car-filled streets.

My city chokes on its breath, and sparkles with its false lights -- and sleeps restlessly at night. My city is a lone man walking at night down an empty street watching his shadow grow longer as he passes the last lamp post, seeking no comfort in the blank dark windows, and hearing his footsteps echo against the building + fade away." 

Thus Jerome Robbins, noted dance-choreographer describes New York in "Voice of My City", an extraordinary exhibit at the Performing Arts library, honoring this extraordinary human being. His story is best enjoyed by leisurely strolling and savoring the posters and videos (my favorite: Robbins instructing the young Mikhial Baryshnikov leaping in red tights).

Briefly: Born Jerome Wilson Rabinowitz in New York on October 11, 1918 into a family of Jewish immigrants and a world recovering from the devastation of World War 1, the Rabinowitz family arrived with cash but worked their way to stability. His parents Harry and Lena worked in a Manhattan deli, moving with their two small children across the Hudson to manage a corset factory.

Encouraged by his mother, young Jerry followed in his older sister's footsteps, investigating a range of artistic activities, from music to drawing to dance. By the end of high school, he sensed [that] more choices lay across the Hudson River. Indeed, by the time Jerry died at home on July 29, 1998, he and his enduring accomplishments had been recognized with a National Medal of the Arts in 1988. New York City Ballet staged a Robbins' festival in 1990.

He ferried to New York to attend college for a year (he studied chemistry at NYU), but finding a job was a dim possibility during the Great Depression, and he immersed himself in the Arts. He enrolled at Gluck Sandor's Dance Center, where Sandor and his wife, Felicia Sorel, introduced him to modern dance, character acting, and dramatics. Here he also changed his name to Jerome Robbins, performed on Broadway, choreographed and directed at a Poconos summer camp, and danced with Ballet Theater (now the American Ballet Theater) as well as in roles choreographed by Agnes de Mille, Michel Fokine and Anthony Tudor -- and looked for opportunities to choreograph. Robbins was fascinated by a common sight of the early 1940s sailors on leave in the city, a common site in the midst of war. Finding just the right collaborator in the conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein, Robbins was also searching for his place in the music world by defining American style. Their collaboration? Fancy Free debuted April 18, 1944 and prompted over 20 curtain calls. (Fancy Free's movie version -- my introduction to Robbins --starred Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Vera Ellen.)

Now famous, he was hired as Associate Artistic Director of the New York City Ballet, choreographing such obras maestras as "Age of Anxiety," (1950) and "Afternoon of a Faun" (1953) and hit musicals such as "The King and I" (1951) and "Peter Pan" (1954). Strolling the exhibit is the most satisfying way to experience it. Galleries are filled with marvelous visuals projecting his dancers performing.

We learn and see evidence of his sketching, photography skills, and journal writing. The exhibit is thoroughly engaging for its minutia. But I'm willing to bet that most compelling to visitors will be one of his masterworks, "West Side Story." Choreographer and director Robbins, composer Leonard Bernstein, and playwright Arthur Laurents first conceived a contemporary version of Romeo and Juliet as a conflict between Jews and Catholics at a New York street festival on the Lower East Side as their parents might have experienced it. But when they looked at their New York of the 1950s, their conflict between New York gangs became "West Side Story." See excerpt in the exhibit.

Consider my observations your appetizer to a Robbins banquet at the museum. Stroll to experience film clips of dancers interpreting Robbins choreography, and Robbins instructing dancers. See posters from his Broadway shows, and other memorabilia.

And there's more! 

Another exhibit salutes City Center with "The Peoples Theater", a major dance showcase for 75 years. Savor a trove of memorabilia and especially fine photographs of Melissa Hayden and other beautiful ballerinas and handsome male dancers like Herman Conejo. Dancer Twyla Tharp created her own distinct style. Another City Center innovation "Encores" is dedicated to the revival of beloved long-ago musicals. Vitrines outside the main exhibits are a trove of odd and touching memorabilia, and the Al Hirschfeld exhibit upstairs salutes the Center.

Robbins and City Center exhibits have listening stations where visitors can hear Robbins Voice of My City until March 30 and The Peoples Theater until March 2. #

By President Thomas Bailey, Teachers College

Since being named Teachers College's president this past spring, I've been repeatedly asked two questions.

"Why did you want this job?" and "What are you planning to do?" The answers to the first question are easy:

Because of TC's extraordinary history of inventing new fields and guiding the nation and the world through key periods of change. Because our College has always been a powerful, finely-tuned instrument for creating better lives and life chances for all people.

Because we have the breadth of expertise to tackle the world's most complex problems. And above all, because of the remarkable graduates that we produce. There are countless examples of people who came to the College with a passion to change the world, learned essential skills and made essential contacts here, and have since gone on to fulfill their aspirations. They run the gamut from young to old, and they represent a vast diversity of backgrounds and cultures
To share the stories of just two who have been much on our minds lately:

Samuel Totten (Ed.D. '85), Professor Emeritus at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, is one of the world's leading genocide scholars. He would deserve mention here simply for his groundbreaking scholarship documenting atrocities in some of the world's most afflicted regions. But in "retirement," Dr. Totten, who is 69 years old, has gone a step further: He makes periodic trips to Sudan to personally deliver truckloads of food to villagers in the Nuba Mountains, where the nation's government has been conducting a scorchedearth campaign.

Or take Sayu Bohjwani (Ph.D. '14). She is the founding director of New American Leaders, a nonprofit that recruits and trains first- and second-generation Americans to run for political office. On Election Day this year, 50 candidates recruited by NAL are appearing on ballots nationwide. Dr. Bhojwani, who previously served as New York City's first commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, is also author of the recently published book People Like Us: The New Wave of Candidates Knocking at Democracy's Door (The New Press).

Again, that kind of commitment to creating a more just and equitable world is part of TC's DNA. Like all great universities and colleges, we are home to brilliant people doing fascinating work. But what truly sets us apart is that - from shaping more effective teaching to getting entire communities to embrace healthier lifestyles - we directly apply our knowledge in the here and now.

And that leads to the answer to the second question I'm frequently asked - "So, what are you planning to do?" On one level, the answer is simple: everything I possibly can to increase that impact. In reality, of course, that's a complex challenge. One thing I have learned from my previous work, which has focused on improving America's community colleges, is that advancing ideas for reform is not enough. We need to change institutions so that there is a pathway for each student and each person, at every phase of life. At TC, then, we must ensure that we attract and support the best students, increase our research funding, and assure the coherence of our programs and course offerings. We must take a comprehensive and holistic view of our own students' pathways. And ultimately, we must work with each other and with practitioners to create solutions broad enough to address major societal issues yet sufficiently nuanced to work in different cultures and contexts.

I'm proud to say that we are currently applying just such a comprehensive approach to helping American colleges and universities better serve students from poor, minority and immigrant backgrounds. With the United States on pace to become a majority non-white nation by 2045, these students literally represent the future of our country. "They" are us, and - as visionaries at TC have always understood - if we fail them, we fail ourselves. #

By Robert Atkins, Chief Executive Officer, Gray Associates, Inc.

A labor shortage in science and technology-based fields has led U.S. institutions of higher learning to put greater emphasis on their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs. In some instances, institutions are emphasizing STEM at the expense of their liberal arts programs. This is shortsighted.

While solid technical skills are a must for students looking for careers in high-paying, specialized fields such as health care and technology, they aren't likely to lead to good jobs by themselves. Increasingly, employers are also demanding that candidates have strong business and office "soft skills."

A foundation in the liberal arts helps job seekers acquire these skills and can give them an edge. Schools that produce well-rounded candidates are likely to have higher placement rates, which, in turn, will help them attract more - and better-prepared - students.

For example, the primary work activities that fit best with jobs in computer science are "design data processing systems," "write computer programs or code," and "design data security systems." These work activities are all technical.

But, when speaking with potential employers about the skills gap for computer science grads, they cite weak soft skills as the main reason a candidacy is discontinued. An employer who hires 1,400 computer science grads annually stated that candidates and schools tend to "brush the soft skills aside in pursuit of technical skills...candidates need more of the good old liberal arts."

Our consulting work focuses on helping colleges and universities evaluate their portfolio of academic programs to make decisions about which programs to Start, Stop, Sustain or Grow. Having helped dozens of institutions go through this process, we have found that the most successful schools are those that can provide the right mix of technical and soft skills training.

Even as colleges start and grow technical and career programs, they need to sustain their portfolios of liberal arts and communications courses. Technical training needs to be augmented with a foundation in the liberal arts as well as courses that develop the skills needed for success in the workplace.

Job placement rates influence enrollment. That is why successful schools highlight them on their home pages. They know that if their students are hired soon after graduation for good jobs in fields they have studied, they will attract more - and better qualified - applicants and improve their yield rate (percentage of admitted students who enroll).

Therefore, institutional leaders and faculty need to take a holistic approach to assessing their program and course offerings. A class in philosophy, for example, a program with few majors, could help students develop analytical and critical thinking skills needed to succeed in the physical sciences, engineering or mathematics.

Before applying, prospective students, their parents and guidance counselors should research what skills the student will develop as well as what programs the school offers. They should make sure the school provides adequate preparation in the soft skills in addition to solid technical training. Together, these fields of study make the student more marketable and better prepared to get ahead in the workforce. #

Gray Associates, Inc. (www.grayassociates.com) is a higher education consulting firm.  We help clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies to maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.  Gray uses proprietary analytical techniques and an industry-leading database combining information on inquiry volumes, demographics, competition, and employment, to help faculty and school leadership develop institutional strategies, select programs, pick locations, and prepare curricula.


By Stephen Spahn, Chancellor of Dwight School

I recently had the opportunity to stand center stage in the iconic Stern Auditorium where Tchaikovsky raised his baton to conduct Carnegie Hall's inaugural concert in 1891. The occasion was Dwight Schools' 2018 global concert, bringing together 340 performers from around the world.

While Dwight students have performed in Carnegie Hall for nearly two decades, this was the first time they took to the grand Perelman Stage. The majestic 2,800-seat venue hosted the largest sold-out audience of parents, faculty, staff, and alumni in Dwight's 146-year history. It was a magical event that brought our global community together, which as Chancellor celebrating my 50th year in education, was especially gratifying.

Spark of genius is an interest or passion that is unique to every student -- whatever captures the heart, head, or hand. It is our job as educators to work individually with students to tap into what excites them, opening the door to all other learning. I have dedicated my career to igniting that spark in every student and to utilizing those talents and interests to create a personalized roadmap to a meaningful future for each one. It remains my calling and mission to this day.  

I have also dedicated myself and Dwight, as a frontier IB school, to bridging boundaries and preparing students to be global leaders who can make our world a better place. That is why the cross-campus collaboration and months of extensive preparation for the concert are equally as meaningful to me as the evening itself. It takes a global village.

Last fall, students on every campus auditioned locally and our team of music directors shared audition tapes to select soloists, duettists, and ensembles for an evening's program that ran the gamut from classical, jazz, and pop to traditional Korean and Chinese music, showcasing the unique cultural contributions from each Dwight campus. After several months of preparation at their home schools, all the performers come together in New York for an intensive week-long rehearsal period during which they fine-tuned and blended their individual pieces into one glorious tapestry.

During this immersive experience, students connected with their peers from different continents, embraced each other's cultural traditions, and forged friendships that will last a lifetime, underscoring the benefits of being part of a global family of schools.

When the performers walked into Stern Auditorium on their big night, it brought back a flood of memories -- countless moments when I have been in awe of the talent, gifts, and unique sparks of genius of countless Dwight students over the years. Ultimately, my greatest legacy will be all the students who become heroes of their own journey. My story will be the collection of all of their stories -- my symphony will be the collection of all of their symphonies. #

huntergates.jpg(L-R) Bill Gates, Hunter College President Jennifer Raab, Lin-Manuel Miranda, & Melinda Gates

By Lydia Liebman

Recently, Hunter College hosted an exciting and informative Q&A with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and philanthropist power couple Bill and Melinda Gates. The lively discussion was held at the Kaye Theater at Hunter with a full house of excited students present. Hunter College president Jennifer Raab gave a glowing introduction to the event stating that their work aligns with Hunter's goals. "We believe as you do, Bill and Melinda, that society can level the playing field through education," said Raab. Miranda, a Hunter High School graduate, asked Bill and Melinda an array of questions from Hunter College students, audience members, those watching live on Facebook and even Mark Zuckerberg. Throughout the wide-ranging interview, the Gates' answered questions that ranged from personal to policy.

In the early part of the program, Ms. Gates spoke of the importance of education. She said: "...when you get a good education in the United States, it changes the trajectory of your life. We want to make sure students in this country have a chance." The Gates' focus much of their philanthropic efforts around education. They currently contribute over a half a billion dollars to this cause yearly.

In addition to their work bettering education, the Gates' are passionate about improving global health. When asked what advice he could offer to a future entrepreneur, Mr. Gates stressed the importance and necessity of innovation in science and programming. "We need better tools to cure these diseases," he said, adding that with the rising cost of healthcare, the only solution is innovation. Other questions were more specific; Ms. Gates was asked how to promote sound birth control choices in Africa without being seen as a second-wave colonialist. In her answer, Ms. Gates explained the importance of educating women about their body and choices in cultural and local contexts. She explained that the Gates Foundation works only with local partners in these communities.

Other questions focused on the future of technology. "What do you think will happen to human civilization with further development in Artifical Intelligence technology?" asked Miranda, on behalf of one of the audience members. "AI will bring us immense productivity," Gates responded before elaborating that AI will help fill in the gaps in industries that are experiencing worker shortages.

Perhaps one of the greatest surprises was a question from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. By way of a Facebook live stream, Zuckerberg asked Mr. Gates: "if you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?" Mr. Gates said, "...know that it takes many skill sets on a team to solve some problems. Smartness alone doesn't solve everything."

Bill and Melinda Gates spoke at length about the Trump administration and did not hold back their criticism of the president's proposed budget that slashes foreign aid. Mr. Gates pointed out that the biggest increase in global aid was during another Republican administration; that of President George W. Bush. Now, following a steady increase of global aid during the Obama administation, this kind of aid is, in the words of Mr. Gates, under attack. He went on to explain that even a ten percent cut would mean 5 million deaths over the next decade. Current spending for global aid is less than one percent of the entire US budget. "It makes absolutely no sense to us," said Ms. Gates of the cuts. She went on to say that stability in Africa is indeed an essential part of the America First ideology; the lowered risk of a health crisis is beneficial for Americans (and all people of the world).

The dynamic conversation at Hunter College came on the heels of the release of the Bill and Melinda Gates Annual Letter. In their tenth annual letter, the Gates' answered ten questions that relate to their philanthropic work and ideology.#

The 2018 Annual Letter can be read here: gatesnotes.com/2018-Annual-Letter.

By Richard Claflin

A Doctor's very first patient: The most important teacher you've probably never thought about.

Many years ago I found myself sitting in a doctor's waiting room with a sore throat. Perhaps influenced by a parenting magazine on the coffee table, suddenly an odd thought occurred to me: How do gynecologists and urologists learn to do invasive exams? Who do they practice on? Manikins? Is that even helpful? I thought, how do you practice a prostate exam? Does some unlucky patient wind up being the first attempt for a new doctor just out of school?

And...wouldn't it be awful to be that first patient?

To make a long, circuitous story very, very short, I find myself now training instructors to address that challenge. As I discovered, the problem of how to practice these sensitive exams creates a lot of anxiety for medical students, and hadn't been given much attention. I've spent the last several years committed to changing this.

Historically, it has been next to impossible to get anyone to volunteer to act as a "guinea pig" for untrained hands learning how to do the invasive, stigmatized, and emotionally complicated gynecological, urogenital, and prostate exams.

No surprise there.

Professors, understandably, won't allow their own bodies to be examined by students who need to practice. Likewise, students should not be required to practice on each other. Plastic manikins simply don't work: Their hard components don't accurately feel like the delicate structures, and manikins don't provide any immediate feedback. This is a huge drawback for a student who wants to learn how to perform these exams without hurting a patient in the process.

Some students have been made to practice on anesthetized patients. Some students still are. (Note: Always read the small print when you sign consent forms before going under general anesthesia.) To their credit, students and professors have strong moral objections to this practice...and, just like manikins, there is no feedback from an anesthetized patient.

But even if there was a willing volunteer, would that really work? There is so much emotional discomfort and social baggage involved when it comes to the private areas of the body, so much anxiety for the students, such a great possibility for injury to the volunteer, so little direction about what to say to a patient to make them comfortable, so much inconsistency in the methodology...and, aside from all that, no guarantee that an untrained volunteer will provide constructive feedback to the student. From the standpoint of a school, such a volunteer creates more problems than they solve.

The result is that many students get no hands-on training when learning to perform "bathing suit-area" exams. The thinking too often is that this whole area of instruction is too complicated, too embarrassing, too stigmatized, and too traumatizing. And therefore nothing is offered and nothing is done.

So, yes...you very well could be that first patient for a new doctor with inexperienced hands.

But there is a solution. What schools need are highly trained specialists who can instruct students as well as use their own bodies to allow students to practice the techniques. These specialists are called Gynecological Teaching Associates (GTAs) and Male Urogenital Teaching Associates (MUTAs). They are substitute professors, if you will, who teach the necessary exam skills and then also act as "patients" to guide the students as they practice those exam skills on that same instructor. Equally important, GTAs and MUTAs teach the students essential communication skills that help make the patient feel comfortable during the exam.

I didn't invent this idea; here and there schools have trained GTAs and MUTAs "in-house." But most schools don't have the wherewithal or the kinds of resources to recruit and train such high-level instructors. Most schools need an outside group to come to them with excellent GTA and MUTA instructors to provide standardized training for their students. Such outside groups have been rare or non-existent, until now. After many years of experience as a GTA, one of my current colleagues formed a company about a year ago to address this need. I quickly joined her to help develop a MUTA program and act as Managing Director and Lead Trainer for the company.

Finding instructors willing to do this was -- and is -- a challenge. Being a GTA or MUTA is hard work, physically and emotionally. In addition, there was virtually no information on how to train instructors. As we expanded our reach over the past year, I wound up having to write the only available curriculum to train MUTAs. My colleague, Isle Polonko, developed the curriculum to train GTAs. Our company, Clinical Practice Resources (ClinicalPracticeResources.com), now provides instructors to dozens of teaching hospitals, schools, and institutions throughout the country. We now have over 20 highly trained male and female instructors doing this important work, and we are the largest independent company in the world providing this kind of educational instruction. And yet, we barely feel we have scratched the surface.

The response from students and teaching institutions has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are continually getting referrals, requests to expand our program, develop new programs, and start programs in other areas of the country. There is a huge need for this kind of instruction. Over the last several years I have been invited to give presentations at international conferences by the Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE), and have been invited again to give a number of presentations about my work at ASPE's annual conference this June. What started out as a random musing in my doctor's office one afternoon has certainly led me on a fascinating journey.

The most rewarding aspect of this work, though, was something I hadn't expected at all. Most of the students we teach are in the middle of medical school, and have spent their entire education up until that point immersed in books or interacting only with plastic manikins. When I teach a class, I am often the first real human "patient" they have yet to come in contact with. Students start the class filled with anxiety, terrified. By the end of my class, they are filled with confidence. This is, after all, what everything has been about for them: working with people. Because I've provided them with an anxiety-free way to conquer the scariest challenge so far in their medical training, they emerge fearless about the challenges that lay ahead for them...and excited to meet their future patients with care and empathy. It's a momentous transformation, and I am continually grateful to be a part of that accomplishment.

So, as it happens, I was wrong. For me, being that first patient for a young doctor turns out to be a wonderful experience.

For more information about his work, Richard Claflin can be reached at richardcprte@gmail.com. Or, through the website at ClinicalPracticeResources.com

By Peter A. Eden, Ph.D.

Landmark College was built on the belief that neurodiversity is a strength. The kind of neurodiversity commonly seen in our students (whether on our Vermont campus or elsewhere in the U.S. through our summer short-term programs or growing online programs) include LDs such as dyslexia, ADHD, executive function challenges, and ASD.  No longer seen as a deficit, neurodiversity is justifiably gaining long-overdue recognition across industries. Corporations are actively recruiting neurodiverse individuals, recognizing that they often have an approach to learning and problem-solving that can lead to innovation.

Landmark College has, therefore, always functioned as a "center for neurodiversity" - and today we have established a Center for Neurodiversity (CND). The CND allows us to better promulgate the research- and evidence-based practices in teaching and learning for those with an LD, and facilitates efforts to develop and apply new methodologies, technologies, and modalities for success in learning, living, and career readiness.

Among the CND's primary goals:

Thought Leadership and Social Justice: The CND will operate as a think tank, and will generate white papers and opinion pieces that shape the global conversation about neurodiversity, with input from neurodiverse individuals. To that end, author and advocate John Elder Robison - who refers to himself as "a proud Aspergian" - serves as visiting lecturer and advisor to the CND.

Innovative Programming: The CND will support research, development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of models that support neurodiverse learners in living, learning, and workplace environments.

Resource Development: The CND will build online resources to support neurodiverse individuals, parents, educators, and employers related to neurodiversity issues.

Partnership Building: The CND will facilitate dialogue and partnerships, both internally and outside campus, to create synergistic opportunities. One example is our work to soon establish Landmark College as the first Neurodiversity Hub in the United States, through partnership with DXC Technology and the Dandelion Program.

Community-Building: The CND is creating activities and events, including guest speakers on campus, to allow opportunities for neurodiverse individuals (and anyone with an interest in neurodiversity) to share perspectives and participate in action plans.

Closely related to the establishment of the CND are Landmark College's growing relationships with forward-thinking corporations such as SAP, Hasbro, and JP Morgan Chase, to name just a few, which have created new opportunities for neurodiverse individuals to bring their unique talents to the workplace. Also in line with these efforts is the College's establishment of the Landmark Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (LEAP), which, through the support of the Morgan Le Fay Dreams Foundation, awards up to $10,000 per year to Landmark College student entrepreneurs who create and then pitch business plans for novel ventures including a social justice-inspired clothing line and virtual reality software.

As neurodiversity is increasingly recognized as a strength by business leaders, Landmark College, the preeminent college for neurodiverse individuals, aims to help large companies understand the minds of people with LD, and change the way the public thinks about truly innovative educational models. In years to come, when people think of neurodiversity, they will no longer think of stigma or a deficit, but instead simply a different way of thinking and operating. Landmark College is proud to lead the way.#

Peter A. Eden, Ph.D., is president of Landmark College in Putney, Vermont.

A free 50-minute program, During the Field Trip, student reporters Maceo Carney and Mizani Ball will take viewers on a cross-country journey through documentary-style interviews with WWII survivors, giving middle and high school students the opportunity to listen to firsthand accounts from WWII Home Front worker Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest living National Park Service Ranger, and Tuskegee Airman George Hardy. Students will also have a chance to look inside two historic WWII sites - the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial and the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.

"Our mission at The National WWII Museum is to tell the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world," said Chrissy Gregg, the Museum's Distance Learning Manager. "In order to fulfill this mission, we're taking education beyond our physical campus and into classrooms - a space where students may not get the opportunity to hear firsthand accounts about pivotal times in history. We are proud to host this Electronic Field Trip, especially as we look at how African Americans heroically fought to preserve freedoms abroad at a time when they did not have those freedoms here at home."

Central to the Field Trip's discussion is an examination of how throughout World War II, African Americans pursued a double victory - one over the Axis abroad and the other over discrimination at home. Major cultural, social and economic shifts amid a global conflict were changing American lives. Although President Franklin Delano Roosevelt banned discrimination against African Americans in the defense industry in 1941, segregation in the armed forces remained. Nevertheless, more than 2.5 million African Americans registered for the draft during World War II, and over 1 million served.

Broadcasting during Black History Month, the Electronic Field Trip is influenced by The National WWII Museum's signature special traveling exhibit Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II, which is currently on view at the Dallas Holocaust Museum through January 26, 2018. In addition to student reporters and WWII survivors, the Field Trip will feature Rob Citino, PhD, the Museum's Samuel Zemurray Stone Senior Historian, and Damon Singleton, WDSU-TV Meteorologist and retired US Naval Commander. Both will lead a live Q&A and polling with students around the country as they discuss the vital roles African Americans played in securing our nation's freedom, and the postwar fight for equality during the Civil Rights Movement.

The Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II Electronic Field Trip is produced in partnership with the National Park Service and with generous support from Paul and DiDi Reilly in honor of Paul J Reilly, US Marine Sergeant, WWII; The Dale E. and Janice Davis Johnston Family Foundation in honor of Dr. Earle R. Davis and his service aboard the USS Tranquillity; the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation; Alan and Diane Franco; and the C. Jay Moorhead Foundation.

Additional support provided by Fabenco Founding Fathers Foundation and Anonymous.

Learn more about how your classroom can participate in the Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II Electronic Field Trip or visit www.nationalww2museum.org/electronic-field-trips. Send questions in advance to distancelearning@nationalww2museum.org.

The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America's National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. The 2017 TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice® awards ranks the Museum No. 2 in the world and No. 2 in the nation. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit nationalww2museum.org.



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