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Tennis legend Andre Agassi is trying to teach kids to read in a new, very fascinating way.

He may have retired from tennis nearly a decade ago, but his passion for education remains strong as ever.

Tennis legend Andre Agassi spent his 21-year career schooling opponents on the court.

In that span, he and his unstoppable backhand shot took home 60 titles — eight of them Grand Slams. It's no wonder he's considered one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.

Andre Agassi during the 1988 U.S. Open Tennis Championship. Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images.


In 1994, he created the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education.

Since its beginning, the group — which began as the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation — has raised more than $180 million to put toward educational endeavors, opening the Las Vegas-based charter school Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in 2001.

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In an interview with People magazine, Agassi explains that his passion for education came from his own lack of one. When he was 13, he was pulled from regular school and sent to a tennis academy. While he found massive success on the court, he couldn't help but wonder what his life would have been like had he not.

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"I didn't have a choice in my life," he told People. "I just focused on tennis. And the thought of what would have happened had I not succeeded was kind of overwhelming."

Agassi during a tour of his foundation's school in 2010. Photo by Sam Morris/Getty Images.

Understanding the basics of language at an early age is key in preparing students for long-term success.

Educators around the world agree: Early years in a child's development are crucial to eventual mastering of language skills. At a young age, children's brains are more sponge-like than ever, making it so important to make the most of the brain's unique ability to develop new skills during this time.

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What we're seeing is that startling number of kids across the country can't read at grade level. And that's why the Agassi Foundation's latest endeavor has them looking to a unique solution to this all-too-common problem by making the most of early brain development.

GIF via Square Panda.

Agassi teamed up with Square Panda, a startup that makes innovative, multi-sensory tablet workstations for students.

Square Panda was founded by Las Vegas entrepreneur Tom Boeckle, who points to his own childhood dyslexia as his passion fuel, inspiring his goal of creating something to save other children from the same embarrassment and frustration he experienced as a child.

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The company's core product is the Panda Playset, and Agassi says he believes it will revolutionize how kids learn to read, telling USA Today, "This is a perfect way to lead a kid into those early years of development that gives them a chance at a much better education."

Here's the Playset interface in action. GIF via Square Panda.

The Playset is what's called an "adaptive system," meaning that it tailors itself to the child.

It grows with the child, helping them learn how to differentiate letters and learn the mechanics of creating words through a multi-sensory experience. It's really cool.

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As various studies have illustrated the benefits of multi-sensory learning — especially during early brain development and especially when it comes to language skills — it seems like there's quite a bit of science to back the Playset's core premise.

Another look at the Playset in action. GIF via Square Panda.

Will this partnership be the education-redefining innovation Agassi hopes? We'll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, it's great to see that there are people seeking out new ways to teach the pillars of education.

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Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

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