Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.
The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.
Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.
When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.
The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.
A gold medal is priceless.
Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.
Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.
It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.
"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."
The Olympian got some good news on June 7 when the Anaheim Police Department formally charged Jordan Fernandez, 31, for the crime. According to the New York Post, Fernandez has a “lengthy criminal history” and was charged with residential burglary, vehicle burglary, identity theft and possession of narcotics.
Sadly, the police did not retrieve the missing medal.
On Monday, June 27, Maria Carrillo and Noe Hernandez, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, reported finding the medal in a heavy bag outside their shop to the Anaheim Police Department. They must have been astonished to open the bag and to find, of all things, an Olympic gold medal. People dedicate their entire lives to winning Olympic gold, so they must have been flummoxed to find one dumped on their property.
Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo.
Local residents praised the couple on Facebook for being honest and turning in the medal to the police.
“Noe is an Amazing man! He owns his barber shop on Lincoln. My kids go there. They love Noe! He’s been cutting my boys hair for years! This is a great story to tell my boys to congratulate him next week when they go in for their haircuts!" Sylvia Sanchez wrote.
“How refreshing to see honest people are still around,” Madelyn Valdés-Vásquez added.
\u201cThe stolen \ud83e\udd47 has been recovered!! So happy for @Jordyn_Poulter!!\n\nhttps://t.co/i4dvgZeQUP\u201d— USA Volleyball (@USA Volleyball) 1656591161
The barbershop owners’ decision to do the right thing is a beautiful gesture, especially because an Olympic gold medal is priceless. According to NBC News, Olympic gold medals contain at least 92.5% silver, plated with at least 6 grams of gold, which is about $750 worth of precious metals. However, the sentimental value to Poulter cannot be accurately translated to dollars and cents. She earned that medal after countless hours of training and years of hard work. To lose it after leaving it in a car had to be absolutely heartbreaking.
The Anaheim Police Department says that it is in the process of returning the medal back to Poulter.
"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."
For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.
And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.
This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.
In a video carried by Fox5 Atlanta, 2022 Gwinnett County Public Schools Teacher of the Year Lee Allen breaks down what he sees as the overriding problems in the county's school system. While his comments are specific to that of Gwinnett County, it's virtually impossible to not see the overlap across all of America and how the problems have become exponentially more challenging as students have migrated back to in-person learning.
"At the end of this year, I will be leaving Gwinnett County Schools, leaving behind the opportunity to submit for state teacher of the year, roughly $10,000 in salary, and most importantly, the students and colleagues I've built strong relationships with," Allen, a math teacher at Lawrenceville's Archer High School, says at the beginning of his remarks. "I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."
Normally, one might assume teacher pay is the overriding issue for educators like Allen. But he makes it clear that he is, in fact, leaving money on the table to avoid what he deems as unacceptable changes to the student body and how the district manages its teachers and the learning environment. Here are his main grievances, in order:
While Allen points fingers at administrators and student behavior, he also says that the pressures put on both students and teachers alike by COVID-19 had a catastrophic impact on learning. "The pandemic has acted as a catalyst and turned a slow negative trend into an exponential crisis," he says.
But he also offers some solutions, stating, "I won't list complaints without offering ideas for improvement."
"We all want the same thing and we cannot accomplish this without supporting one another," he says near the end of his remarks.
With more than 400,000 views already, it's clear his remarks resonated with people not just inside his school district.
There's almost nothing more important than how we educate our children. And while the national political debate centers on areas of far less importance generated to gin up controversy and campaign fundraising, it's families and local leaders who will need to do the heavy lifting of reprioritizing the fundamental principles of learning and leadership if we want an American educational system that can compete on the global stage in 2022 and beyond. After all, when literal award-winning educators like Allen are walking away, it's clear something more needs to be done.