Teachers Spreading Love in the Classroom

Teachers aroud the world ae trying to spread the love to their pupils. Here are four ways this has happened in the USA.

In the amount of time teachers have with kids, they’re expected to help their students learn and prepare them for the coming years. But many go the extra mile to make sure their students also feel welcomed, accepted and heard.

Some teachers have done this with inspiring songs. Others have used messages of support to fight back against the recent spate of hate crimes and hateful political rhetoric targeted at marginalized communities. Inspired by these acts, HuffPost Parents reached out to teachers (both former and current) across the country to learn what they’re doing or what they have done to help their students.

Here are 14 teachers on how they spread love in the classroom:

1. “When we see a kid being kind to others … or being a helper we give them a pom pom and they get to drop it in the warm and fuzzy jar.”

I’m a preschool teacher and myself and the other preschool teachers have created a “warm and fuzzy jar” and we talk about being kind with friends and with ourselves. When we see a kid being kind to others, being gentle with their bodies (walking inside, not hitting themselves, etc.), or being a helper we give them a pom pom and they get to drop it in the warm and fuzzy jar. When our jar is full we get to celebrate and the kids get to work together to choose what our goal will be (wear pajamas to school, extra outside time, making popcorn). As teachers we all were affected by this election, and it really lit a fire in us to make sure the children are as kind and accepting as can be.
― Krista Mashburn, a preschool teacher in Arcata, California

2. “We go around the circle and say a compliment to the person sitting on your left.”

I teach music to students ages 4 to 15 in a rural public school. Many of my students lack strong verbal communication skills, so we practice through songs and activities. One class opener my first- and second-grade students love is the “Compliment Circle.” It’s simple ― at the beginning of class, we go around the circle and say a compliment to the person sitting on your left. It’s amazing to see the tension melt off a 7-year-old’s face with a simple, “You’re nice to me in class,” or “I like your shoes.” To be seen and appreciated for their choices ― it’s so important for kids, but we can lose sight in the pressure of lesson planning, test scores and data.
― Camille Loomis, a public school teacher in Clarksdale, Mississippi

3. “[I got the class involved in] a fun activity while teaching teamwork and patience with the other person.”

During one activity, the students sat with their back to the white board and their classmates were able to surround them with messages. I didn’t place any stipulations on the messages and the students wrote very positive characteristics of that person or compliments, even with people they don’t necessarily get along with. Many students were anxious about sitting there without being able to see what was being written or by whom. In the end when the student turned around to read their board, many became emotional. One student said, “I’ve never felt more a part of a group, I didn’t know you guys even liked me.” This was definitely successful in giving students a confidence boost and spreading love to students that normally keep to themselves.

A second activity I used was a fun teamwork game called “Sole Mates.” Each student chose a partner and had to work together in any position they could come up with as long as their two shoe soles were together at all times. I then challenged them to race from one side of the room to the other. This was a fun activity while teaching teamwork and patience with the other person.
― Kristin Harris, ninth-grade history and humanities teacher in Phoenix

4. “As a man teaching a rigorous science (physics), I felt it was important to be emotionally expressive.”

It’s been a couple years since I taught full time. I have always believed learning requires emotion. The idea that your mind will become invested in a subject that you have no emotional connection to was always absurd to me. I used to spend the first five to 10 minutes of class just talking to the students. I used their thoughts to form the day’s theme, recurring joke or compelling problem to emotionally connect with content. I was reprimanded for not teaching content bell-to-bell, despite demonstrating the efficacy of my methods.

I taught high school, and I found it important to model “adult” behavior. As a man teaching a rigorous science (physics), I felt it was important to be emotionally expressive. I loved my students and told them so. I loved hard problems, good questions and clever solutions, so I would get excited and emote as visibly as possible. When kids appeared upset or distracted, I’d ask if they were OK, but respected boundaries if they didn’t want to talk to me. I let the students engage with my emotions as a model for being open about feelings. In short, I was openly human to my students, which let them know my expectation of them: Be yourself, it’s safe here, we’re all human.
― David Galatzer-Levy, who has taught many levels of education, though most of his work involved teaching 10th- to 12th-grade physics and mathematics in Fall River, Massachusetts

Little Girl And Orphaned Calf Are The Very Best Of Friends

Lacey Rae Gray may not have known quite what to expect when she made the decision to adopt an orphaned calf, but she probably didn’t realize she was providing a new sibling for her almost-2-year-old daughter Kinley.

“It’s kind of like having a sister,” Gray told The Huffington Post. “If I were to have a baby, that’s what that would be like.”

Gray is a 25-year-old photographer in Michigan City, Mississippi, and the whole thing started when friends wouldn’t stop tagging her on Facebook in another photographer’s photo shoot with a baby and calf and suggesting she try something similar. Finally, Gray called up her husband’s uncle, who keeps cows, to ask if she could borrow a calf for a day to take some pictures.

“He started laughing at me, and said, ‘No, you can’t take a calf away from her mama, because the mama is gonna be one mad cow,” she said.

But the very next day, she received another call, this time a tragic one. The calf’s mother had suffered a fall and wasn’t going to make it. Did she want the calf, who would require bottle-feeding?

“I immediately said yes. I was at the bank and I was like, ‘I’ll leave right now and come get her. I’ll take good care of her.’ Not even having pictures in mind, I just thought ‘I’m gonna rescue a calf and I’m gonna be her mom. I’ll do it,” Gray recalls.

But it was her daughter Kinley who ended up connecting the most deeply with the calf, whom the family named Molly Moo Moo, when she came to live with them that evening.

LACEY RAE GRAY
Gray and her husband told Kinley about an hour before Molly’s arrival that they were going to get a “real moo-cow.”

“She didn’t really get it until Molly actually showed up, and then she was like ‘Oh, oh, that’s my moo-cow,” says Gray. ”She was very hands on. She wanted to walk her, she wanted to feed her, she read a book to her the first night. It was a Dory and Nemo book that makes noises and so she was pushing the buttons and playing the noises and telling Molly, ‘Listen, it’s Dory.’ She did that all on her own. I thought, they’re gonna be best friends, and sure enough they are.”

Now, Kinley cries when she has to leave Molly at home and joins her parents for every feeding. The two walk up to each other without hesitation, and Kinley sits next to Molly and talks to her, rubs her feet and kisses her ears and nose.

But it wasn’t until Gray got out her camera that she saw the true strength of the connection.

“The moment I really noticed the connection between the two, we were doing a trial photo shoot. It was muddy and Molly wouldn’t sit down, so we put Kinley next to her and she just plopped down and started licking all over Kinley. I couldn’t stop taking pictures because of that connection, that friendship. You could just see that Molly trusted her.”
“I couldn’t even really explain it, “says Gray. “The pictures explain themselves.”
Gray estimates that Molly will live with the family for about a year while they prepare her to return to the pasture she came from. The calf had to be taught to suck and swallow and other basics, and will still need to learn to eat on her own before returning to live with other cows.

Luckily, the farm is just a few minutes down the road, so the family is already planning to visit and come over for nighttime feedings. With Kinley and Molly’s sweet relationship, it’s obvious the cow is going to be part of the family for life.

Cuba is opening up to the World

OK, let’s begin by saying that this might not be considered good news. Will Cuba opening up to the World be good for locals and visitors?

cuba

From a tourist perspective

There are arguments that Cuba is special because it’s been untouched by the modern world. There is no Mcdonalds or Starbucks, internet is still in it’s infancy and the country could be viewed as one being in a time warp!

So if Cuba is to change, then will this be good for the tourist experience, or will Cuba just become another sun and sea destination.

From the locals perspective

Cuba is likely to be very over run, very soon. Corporate America is lining up to steam and make things, well American!

If you look at other countries that have opened up to the west, perhaps Vietnam being a good example, then will every local stand to benefit from this massive change? It’s hard to say, Cuba is so unique, and we can only guess as to whether the locals are keen.

Could Cuba become the Vietnam success story of the Western Hemisphere?
Could Cuba become the Vietnam success story of the Western Hemisphere?

Here are some views from around the web on the potential good news coming Cuba’s way. By the way, Don’t be left with huge medical bills if you have not taken out travel insurance for the over 80s for any trips to the Caribbean.

Cuba, open at last

Are you a bit curious as to what Cuba is really like, now that we Americans can get there more easily since the U.S. embargo has been somewhat lifted?

Having been to Cuba “illegally” a few times – my first in 1989 – my recent trip in December 2015 was done legally, and I’m pleased to let you know all about this captivating island.

In December I flew from LAX on the first direct charter flight from the West Coast to Havana. The American Airlines charter had 133 passengers, mostly Cuban Americans, and leaves every Saturday from AA gate 41 at 12:30pm.

This flight is arranged by CubaTravelServices.com, a Los Angeles–based company that’s taken Americans to Cuba legally for years. You can arrange airfare, visa and fees through CTS. Including all taxes the total comes to $960 for a week, Saturday to Saturday. Arrival into Havana is 8:30 p.m. EST.

What to expect

Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, is more than just cigars and 1950s cars. It has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, along with some of the best fishing, diving and music culture in the world. Its countryside is green, fertile, and welcoming to all.

I would suggest you visit Cuba sooner than later, though; as many as 10 million Americans are projected to visit yearly once the embargo is lifted totally. That number might overwhelm Cuba’s infrastructure… which it’s working on, since an estimated 700,000 Americans visited Cuba in 2014. New upscale hotels are going up to accommodate more travelers.

Havana has 3 million of Cuba’s 11 million inhabitants, and is the hub for its number-one industry: tourism. It’s also Cuba’s center for commerce, music, dance, and the theatre scene. Havana has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba; you’ll see some beautiful historic buildings being restored in the capital.

Cuba was the #1 tourist destination in the Caribbean for Americans in the ’40s and ’50s, so if you’re curious as to why, and what to see once you’re there, here are a few ideas.

If you go

Cuba is as safe as any country I’ve been to, and I’ve been to 130. You can walk around at night without fear, and its streets are cleaner than Tijuana. Some buildings look dirty just because they’re so old.

If you are travelling to Cuba you should always take out travel cover such like  seniors cover 85 because medical bills will be very expensive, and while Cuba has a good level of medical care, as a tourist you will not have a right to this.

After my recent visit, what touched me most were the Cubans themselves. Friendly and happy despite being poor by world standards, and welcoming towards Americans. They look forward to getting to know us better.

As one Cuban told me, “we like America, it’s our government that doesn’t so we hope you come and enjoy our warmth”.

Cuba, USA 

The Obama Administration took another step in implementing the change in US policy toward Cuba that the president announced in December of 2014. Specifically, the administration again loosened sanctions and export restrictions related to trade with and travel to Cuba through amendments made by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR), respectively. These amendments, which took effect on January 27, 2016, reflect the Obama Administration’s continued commitment to reduce US sanctions against Cuba in areas that encourage US engagement with, and empowerment of, the Cuban people.

While the changes make it easier for individuals and entities subject to US jurisdiction to trade with and travel to Cuba, significant restrictions on these activities remain in place, particularly where the activity is unrelated to furthering the needs of the Cuban people. In some areas, the administration has reached the limits of what it can do to remove restrictions on Cuba without Congressional action, and such action remains unlikely anytime soon.

The amendments can be divided into two broad categories: trade-related and travel related. The implications of each are outlined below.

Trade-Related Amendments

OFAC and BIS have significantly eased trade-related restrictions involving Cuba through the following changes:

Financing

OFAC has eliminated payment and financing restrictions for most types of authorized exports and reexports to Cuba other than agricultural commodities and items. Previously, payment and financing terms for authorized exports were restricted to cash-in-advance or third-country financing.

The current limits on travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba and what they can do once they get there, as well as restrictions on U.S. businesses that want to do business in Cuba, are regulated by both the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Behavior by travelers is largely regulated by the Department of the Treasury’s Cuban Assets Control Regulations which were enacted on July 8, 1963, under the Trading With the Enemy Act.
This Is Happening: U.S. Eases Cuba Travel Restrictions, Drops Many License Requirements

The actions today do not completely open Cuba to travel from U.S. nationals, they just remove some of the red tape and pave the way for bigger changes later. People are still not legally allowed to travel to Cuba if they don’t fall into one of twelve categories, and those that are allowed to travel are still technically not allowed to engage in tourism.

Interestingly, while it is permissible to travel to Cuba for professional meetings, the new regulations specifically state: “Travel-related transactions are authorized, provided that the purpose of the meeting or conference is not the promotion of tourism in Cuba.”

The complete text of the new Treasury regulations are available here, while the complete text of the Commerce regulations are available here. They’re also embedded, below.

Below we’ve paired common questions with text from the regulations in order to answer the most frequently asked questions about travel to Cuba.

Julie Weiss Completes 52 Marathons!

Julie Weiss is the Energizer Bunny of marathon runners. For 52 weeks, she kept on going and going and going.
On Sunday, she finally stopped. As she crossed the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon, she reached her goal of running a marathon every week for a year to raise awareness for the disease that killed her father.

“Pancreatic cancer is my only competition out there and I intend to beat it,” she told TODAY.
The 42-year-old California mother of two started her year-long journey after her father passed away in November 2010, only a month after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The experience stunned her.
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“People don’t know what we’re dealing with here,” she said. “It’s almost like a death sentence.”
She started her mission with a marathon in Rome and followed with a race every weekend throughout the United States and Canada. She would work her 9-to-5 job during the week and then immediately hop on a plane. She finished each race with a huge smile and arms raised — and then head back home Sunday.
“We have never had anybody do what Julie Weiss has done,” said Pam Marquardt, founder of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Weiss and her dad, who died a month after his diagnosis.
So far, Weiss has raised $177, 378 for the charity, according to her website www.MarathonGoddess.com, a play off the nickname she’s been dubbed by fans.
David Levine, her fiancé, acknowledged it has been a hard journey.
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“Psychologically, it was taxing, difficult, tiring,” he said.

Completing 52 marathons in 52 weeks means that Weiss has run 1,362.4 miles. That’s roughly the distance between St. Louis to Boston.
Although Weiss runs each race in memory of her father, she dedicates each marathon to a cancer victim.
“In memory of Lydia Jack, she passed at only 52, so Lydia 52 is also for YOU!” she wrote on her blog.

Weiss now plans to take a break, but she said she plans to pick up her race pace again soon. Her next goal is to run another 52 marathons in 52 weeks by 2020 to reach her ultimate goal of raising $1 million dollars for pancreatic cancer research and awareness.

Downs syndrome Man sings at ballpark

Many people dream of singing the national anthem at a major sports event, but few can do it with a spirit rivaling Michael Mullins.

Here is a video of him here…

http://vimeo.com/93660175

Mullins, a 38-year-old die-hard Red Sox fan, has Down syndrome. Last week, he realized a dream he’s had for nearly a decade: Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Fenway Park, capacity 37,400, to open for the Red Sox.

According to the Metro West Daily News, Mullins has spent the last 10 years singing the national anthem for a minor league team, and four years lobbying the Red Sox for a chance to sing at Fenway. He’s been helped along by the Michael Lisnow Respite Center in Hopkinton, Mass., where he lives.

“Nope, I’m not nervous,” he told Boston’s WCVB in an interview before the big day. “Piece of cake.”

“He is so excited. This is the biggest day of his life,” added center director Sharon Lisnow.

Mullins really is becoming the talk of Beantown. News of Mullins’ performance tonight is quickly getting around, according to Alex Dunn, liaison from the Center who’s assisting Mike on his big day.

“We’ve been walking around, and he’s in a Rex Sox shirt, and people keep asking him if he’s going to the game,” Dunn says. “We tell them, ‘Oh, he’s not just going to the game, he’s singing the National Anthem!’ Everyone wants to shake his hand.”

For Mullins, the gig is also an opportunity to raise awareness for a cause dear to his heart.

“I like doing disability awareness,” Mullins remarks, as he’s performing on the park’s Disability Awareness Day.