This popular college major is coming to high schools and preparing kids for any career.
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Picture a classroom. In some increasingly modern schools, you might be surprised how things have changed.

Many schools still operate on the old models of textbooks and paper homework. But as we move forward into the future, some more innovative classrooms are adapting with the times.

More and more, educators are realizing that traditional curriculums don't always prepare kids for the challenges of the modern world.


Photo by StockSnap/Pixabay.

Slowly but surely, classrooms are beginning to change. And the results are interesting, to say the least: Coding is becoming as important as calculus. Environmental justice, sustainability, and intersectional politics have started to be incorporated into history class. Many educators are now looking to update their teaching methods to compensate for how society is changing.

In other words: Innovation in education is the future. And schools are finding lots of ways to work it in.

Some schools have begun innovating their approach by assigning projects that tackle lessons from multiple subjects. Instead of doing math problems and writing biology reports, a teacher might ask kids to plan, design, and execute a sustainable vegetable garden, like at Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Bronx. As students measure out plots of land and pick out the optimal crops for their garden, they learn not just about algebra and biology, but also about nutrition, sustainability, and food justice — all pressing issues in the real world today.

Photo by K-State Research and Extension/Flickr.

But some educators still struggle with the reality that whatever hard skills they imbue, no matter how cutting-edge they seem at the time, they might be outdated by the time graduation rolls around. How do educators prepare kids to do well in a future that they can’t predict?

For many schools, the answer has been an unusual one: teach entrepreneurship.

You may think of entrepreneurship as the training that students need to open their own businesses, which isn't necessarily a goal all kids have. But entrepreneurship includes tons of individual lessons and life skills that will help kids adapt to changing environments in any industry.

One such curriculum, launched by the National Federation of Independent Business' Young Entrepreneur Foundation, is broken into three parts: foundations of business theory, developing business ideas, and the logistics of running a business. However, graduates of similar courses say it taught them much more than that.

Photo by Negative Space/Pexels.

"[It] taught me how to create something from nothing," says Anthony Halmon, a graduate of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship program. "I learned that I can create my own opportunities and I can be an innovator."

And when kids use their skills to start their own businesses, everyone benefits.

Though students don't have to go on to become startup founders, many want to do just that. A 2011 Gallup survey indicated that 45% of pre-college students polled said they planned to start their own business — a decision that has positive effects on the individual and on society as a whole.

This outside-the-box thinking taught in entrepreneurship classes has benefits, especially for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, where training in overcoming obstacles can benefit them as they’re often granted fewer opportunities than people from more affluent backgrounds.

It also shows promise when it comes to increasing social justice and stimulating lower-income economies, as high school graduates with entrepreneurship skills are more likely to find and take advantage of local business opportunities.

For those who become entrepreneurs, the flexibility that comes with creating one’s own business could have great implications for women and parents. Not only does an entrepreneurship class stand to benefit kids in the present, it could also equip them for brighter futures.

At schools already implementing entrepreneurship programs, the reviews are glowing.

Some schools might be hesitant to try out a pilot program in entrepreneurship, but the proof is in the positive results that early adopters are already beginning to see.

Kempsville High School in Virginia tried out an entrepreneurship academy, and students, parents, and teachers all agreed that it had positive outcomes for everyone involved, whether or not the kids intended to start a business.

“No matter what you do in life, you have to sell yourself,” academy leader Meghan Timlin told local newspaper The Virginia Pilot. “We’re going to give you that set of skills.”

It might be time for more schools to consider adding entrepreneurship to the course list.

It's become evident that there's really no way to predict what the world will look like even a few years down the line. If there's a subject that can teach kids how to create opportunity out of uncertainty, that's something worth exploring.

When we educate a class of innovators, we invigorate society with a whole generation of fresh ideas, plans, and solutions to problems. And that's something we can all look forward to.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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