Lin-Manuel Miranda just dropped 9 truths about the power of education.

Educators deserve a break. That's just as true for teachers as it is for Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of "Hamilton."

You've heard of it, right? The smash Broadway hit with a talented and diverse cast spitting rhymes about our country's Founding Fathers that's been fetching an average of $1,000 per ticket?

Miranda has been going nonstop for more than a year and a half in the eponymous role of the first secretary of the treasury of the United States — after first, ya know, writing the entire musical — so now the time has come for him to take his own summer vacation.


Miranda, center, at his final performance of "Hamilton" on July 9, 2016. Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images.

But just two days before his final on-stage performance, Miranda also found the time to speak with 200 high school teachers in Manhattan.

The MacArthur Award-winning genius went to the Broadway Teachers Workshop and talked about the power and value of education and the important lessons of youth.

But this conversation was far more than some fun celebrity fluff. As a former high school teacher himself — and as someone who wrote an historical musical that teaches about the founding of our nation in a fresh, new, and delightfully anachronistic way — Miranda had some pretty insightful things to say to those often overworked and underappreciated shapers-of-minds.

Here are a few highlights from Miranda's lecture and the Q&A that followed:

1. Teaching is its own reward, and nothing's better than watching students learn and grow.

2. You might not learn about cooperation and collaboration in a textbook, but they'll carry you far beyond the classroom.

3. Students see the world in ways that grown-ups can't — and that's a good thing.

4. It's one thing to memorize facts and figures. But it's even more important for students to understand and relate to other people.

5. Things like high school theater can help you learn and grow by working closely with other students toward a larger goal. (Even if you don't plan to take it all the way to Broadway.)

6. History books are full of facts and details. But they're also full of real people who lived and breathed and struggled, just like you.

7. Everyone sees the world differently, so it's OK for students to disagree — just as long as they can have a conversation about it.

8. If you hate something, don't shut it out. It might be able to teach you something about yourself or the world around you.

9. And perhaps most importantly: Don't throw away your shot. That goes for teachers and students alike.

In a time of inefficient standardized tests and shrinking school budgets, Miranda's words are a moving reminder of the true value of education — and the arts — in enriching our lives.

If you're a teacher, thanks for all the incredible work you to do encourage kids to keep learning.

And if you're not a teacher? There was probably at least one teacher who taught you how to think — really think — and that's a gift that deserves way more appreciation than it gets.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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