New/Recent Articles

Since 2013, I have been a contributing editor to American School Board Journal, writing features and a regular column for the National School Boards Association's magazine that is published six times annually. I also write for a variety of other publications in the not-for-profit space. The following articles have been published for clients since January 2017:

2019

Safe Zone (December 2019): Recent large-scale detainment and deportation efforts have a profound impact on the children of undocumented immigrants. But caring school leaders can mitigate trauma through relationships, strong routines, and other measures, as evidenced by the work in Morton, Miss. Written for American School Board Journal. Text or PDF.

A Department of One (December 2019): A one-person communications department is certainly better than having no one in the position, but you need to be realistic from the outset in terms of what can be accomplished. Trust me, I was that one-person department many years ago. Written for American School Board Journal. Text or PDF.

Students at Work (October 2019): A look at CareerWise, the statewide initiative in Colorado that dubs itself “first modern youth apprenticeship program in the U.S.” The program targets middle-skills jobs that require more than a high school diploma and less than a bachelor’s degree. Written for American School Board Journal. Text or PDF.

Everybody’s Job (October 2019): For school districts faced with competition from private schools and charters, customer service is quickly becoming “next-level school communication.” Written for American School Board Journal. Text or PDF.

Play to Your Staffing Strengths (September-October): Staffing companies have a challenge as U.S. businesses face the tightest labor market in 50 years: Finding quality candidates whose skill sets strongly match available positions. But a new study points to ways staffing companies can locate the best fit when talent is scarce. Written for the American Staffing Association.

Southern Discomfort (August 2019): Today, you can’t walk through downtown Durham, N.C., without seeing signs of a huge economic and cultural renaissance. But gentrification has left school board members and administrators facing a complex swirl of issues — some out of their legal and fiscal control — that threaten the district’s long-term future. Written for American School Board Journal. Text or PDF.

When the Unthinkable Occurs (August 2019): A series of mass shootings over the past two years has left parents feeling unsettled about the safety of our schools, despite federal data that shows violent crime, theft, physical fights, and bullying have declined since 2001. If that’s not a communications conundrum, I don’t know what is. Written for American School Board Journal. Text or PDF.

Time After Time (June 2019): Moving start times for middle and high school students is a tough lift for districts, despite medical practitioners saying it can’t happen soon enough. They point to a host of risk factors associated with adolescents who do not get the recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep per night. Among them: increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, car accidents, anxiety, and depression. Written for American School Board Journal. Text or PDF.

Uncharted Territory (June 2019): School districts that embark on one-to-one technology programs face a lengthy and ongoing process of communicating with taxpayers about the benefits of such an expensive — though worthwhile — initiative. Written for American School Board Journal. Text or PDF.

Segregation’s Legacy (April 2019): Sixty-five years after Brown v. Board of Education, Summerton, S.C. — the community where the first of five lawsuits was filed to end segregation in our nation’s schools — remains the town that time forgot. Written for American School Board Journal. Text or PDF.

Key Communicators (April 2019): One way to combat the rumor mill is to develop a group or groups of key communicators to help tell the true story of what is happening in your schools. In fact, developing this cadre of unpaid cheerleaders may be one of the least expensive, most important communications tasks a district can undertake. Written for American School Board Journal. Text or PDF.

History Lessons (February 2019): In a politically unsettled time nationally, history teachers face daunting barriers amid calls to change how students learn about the past. Critics say the “drill and kill” methods that focus on memorization of facts and people are not giving students what they need to be well-informed citizens. Meanwhile, in an accountability-focused era of “what gets tested gets funded and taught,” history is trailing far behind English, math, and science. Written for American School Board Journal.

Communications 101 (February 2019): Given the turnover that school boards see each winter following an election cycle, it’s a a good time to look at the do’s and don’ts of communications. Consider this a how to help your board become educated about the norms and protocols of your governance team. Written for American School Board Journal.

The Packaged Deal (January-February): Small printers are embracing packaging as a new market, taking advantage of technological advances that had once threatened to erode the profitability of commercial printers and specialty graphics professionals. The reason: What previously was a “fairly specialized” set of tasks in dealing with folded packaging and corrugated materials has been made easier with the increased sophistication of digital presses. Written for the Specialty Graphics Imaging Association.

That Staffing Spark (January-February): Violeta “Shaya” De Oleo Medina’s story is a tribute to persistence, maintaining a positive attitude, and having a desire to learn and grow, no matter what it takes. De Oleo Medina was named the 2019 National Staffing Employee of the Year by the American Staffing Association. Written for Staffing Success, ASA’s magazine.

2018

After It All Falls Apart (December 2018): Helping students and staff deal with trauma and grief, whether it is caused by a single event or a series of less dramatic incidents that build up over time, is critical for school districts because of the potential long-term impact on teaching and learning. The story focuses on Santa Fe, Texas, which endured two significant tragedies (Hurricane Harvey and a school shooting that killed 10 people and wounded 13) within nine months. Written for American School Board Journal.

Safe Messages (December 2018): School districts need to have crisis prevention and “postvention” plans in place to prevent the spread of contagion, or copycat behaviors, in the wake of a student suicide. Leaders also need to be trained in what to do and what to say to parents, students, community, and the media. Written for American School Board Journal.

Teachers in Turmoil: (October-November 2018) The nation’s K-12 teachers are not happy—and they’re making their frustrations known. This past spring, they walked out of classrooms in six states to protest years of low pay and poor working conditions. An unprecedented number ran for seats in their state legislatures and for Congress. Add to that a 23 percent decline in the number of people completing teacher preparation programs, and you have a crisis in the making. Written for American School Board Journal.

Old Schools Never Die: (October-November 2018) Closing a neighborhood school is one of the most difficult and controversial decisions boards and superintendents make, even if doing so makes educational and financial sense. Community emotions run high before, during, and after the process, and the blowback is often fierce. Written for American School Board Journal.

Deciding with Data: (September-October 2018) Higher education institutions—large and small, public and private—are increasingly tapping into data to make better informed decisions about their international recruitment efforts. Doing so, however, raises a number of questions, as this story for NAFSA: Association of International Educators notes: Among them: What types of data should be gathered? What customer relationship management (CRM) tools should be used to slice and dice the data? How can international enrollment managers take what is gleaned from their data and use it with internal and external audiences? Written for International Educator. 

Before You Make a Capital Investment: (September-October 2018) More and more small and midsize commercial graphics and printing companies are expanding, thanks to new, business-favorable tax laws and a steady economy, as this story in the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association magazine notes. With three out of four small businesses planning to invest in technology, equipment upgrades and hiring staff, here are some things to watch. Written for the SGIA Journal.

Navigating a Candidate-Driven Market: (September-October 2018) A strong U.S. economy combined with a tough hiring environment has resulted in prolonged job vacancies—which can be very good news for staffing companies that have the right recruiting strategies in place. Written for the American Staffing Association’s magazine. Written for Staffing Success.

Working Vacation (August 2018): Despite what naysayers believe, the idea that summer is just a two-month vacation for educators could not be farther from the truth. While some take on second jobs to make ends meet, others dive into learning more about their profession so they can come back stronger in the fall. Written for American School Board Journal.

All About the Money (August 2018): It’s always a good thing for the public to know how tax dollars are being spent. And, given the struggles many districts have faced due to cuts that date back almost a decade, it is incumbent on school leaders to paint an accurate and ongoing picture of the financial challenges they face.  Written for American School Board Journal.

Education Abroad (July-August 2018): Study abroad programs are going through a slow but steady evolution. Now in almost every college and university in the United States, the size and structure of these programs vary depending on student demand, faculty support, and the individual institution’s long-term goals.  Written for International Educator. 

The Green Evolution: (July-August 2018) Concerns over costs and quality control have prevented printing on recycled plastics from taking hold on a widespread basis. But it is likely coming, thanks to the rapid evolution of digital technologies and retailer demand. For now, companies need to know the issues associated with printing on recycled materials and start educating their clients about the drawbacks and long-term potential of doing so.  Written for the SGIA Journal

Agility Supporting Growth: (July-August 2018) For small and mid-size staffing companies, focusing on generating revenue is critical to success. Some are finding that outsourcing their “back end” office operations is the way to go. Written for Staffing Success.

Generation Why (June 2018): The Valentine’s Day shooting that killed 17 at Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School could represent a tipping point for student activism and civic engagement. No longer content to sit on the sidelines, these students — led by Parkland survivors — are marching and protesting at a rate not seen since the Vietnam War. Cover story and photographs for American School Board Journal; to see more, go to the Visual Storytelling section. 

No More Game of Phones (June 2018): The measures schools have taken to enhance security have evolved greatly in the almost two decades since the Columbine High School shooting. However, internal communications when a situation erupts have always been a sticking point. Solutions that work well and easily often are overlooked and underrated, complicated in part by an ongoing unease about what technology can and should do in crisis situations. Written for American School Board Journal.

Working with Alumni (March-April 2018): As U.S. colleges and universities work to boost international recruitment efforts, alumni who have graduated and returned to their native countries are sought after resources. But working with alumni can present a series of challenges if you don’t have the proper elements—organization, resources, and understanding—in place. Written for International Educator.

Full STEAM Ahead (May 2018): In a small Tennessee community, three schools have been turned into the first K-12 STEAM cluster in the nation, systematically incorporating arts (A) into the traditional science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum. Written for Techniques, the magazine of the Association for Career and Technical Education.

Rogue on Board (April 2018): A rogue board member who hogs the spotlight, constantly stirring things up, can derail even the best-run school districts. Time that can — and should — be devoted to more pressing matters is spent addressing issues raised by a member who has no individual power but uses the position as a bully pulpit. Written for American School Board Journal.

Preschool Push (April 2018): More than a half century after Head Start was initiated, questions persist about how to best serve young children, as policymakers, parents, and school leaders wrestle with the question, “When should a child’s formal education begin?” A growing research base shows that high-quality pre-k programs have both short- and long-term benefits for students, but bringing those programs to scale remains challenging due to long-standing questions over funding and teacher quality. Written for American School Board Journal. 

Student Press (February 2018): Student journalists in 13 states have press freedoms and protections, but administrators in the rest continue to review and censor school-sponsored publications under a 29-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision. But officials say the tide appears to be turning, at least in some areas. Written for American School Board Journal.

Public Comments (February 2018): The public comment portion of any school board meeting can turn quickly into a communications debacle for the board and district. Over time, however, courts have ruled consistently that the public has a right to raise and air complaints during an open meeting, even when individual employees are named. Written for American School Board Journal.

Smooth Transition (January-February 2018): First-year interest groups, commonly known as FIGS, are designed to help college freshmen make a smooth transition into university life through a combination of classroom work and personalization. For international students, most of whom arrive on campus just prior to the start of classes, FIGs can help them learn to navigate the sometimes tricky transitions they encounter when moving to a new country. Written for International Educator.

2017

Lone Star Strong (December 2017): An 11-page spread in American School Board Journal featuring more than 30 of my photographs and reporting on school district recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The package also includes a 3-minute slideshow with a separate behind-the-scenes narrative about the story.  

Clearing a Path (November-December 2017): As growth in the number of international applications to U.S. colleges and universities falls, institutions are widening their recruitment efforts to include more students who may lack advanced English language proficiency. Many have turned to pathway programs to help ease the language transition and create opportunities for students to be successful. Published in International Educator.

Health Tracker (December 2017): Schools searching for ways to curb child obesity rates are turning to wearable devices and software that provide data on student health and fitness. And when the technology is used appropriately, it is working. Published in American School Board Journal.

Federal Shifts (October 2017): As districts become more invested and reliant on high-speed networks and Wi-Fi access to educate students, school board members need to be aware of how shifts at the federal level could affect the funding and long-term effectiveness of their technology programs. Published in American School Board Journal.

Supporting Staffing Success (July-August 2017): For small and midsize staffing companies that work with large numbers of temporary and contract employees, contracting with an outside provider to provide backend support ensures payroll is accurate, on time, and in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. Published in Staffing Success.

13 Reasons Why (August 2017): The popularity of the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why,” which depicts the suicide of a teenage girl and the tapes she leaves behind, caught school districts off guard this spring. This story looks at the phenomenon, the potential legal and ethical ramifications for districts, and what schools can do to help students, families and staff be prepared. Published in American School Board Journal.

Building Up STEAM (June, August 2017): A growing belief for many school districts is that art and science “are better together than apart.” In the June and August issues of American School Board Journal, I looked at how adding an “A” into STEM helps provide children with a well-rounded education, as well as districts that are doing so successfully.

Finding Common Ground Through Art Therapy (March-April 2017): Art therapy is a fast-growing but still relatively new practice around the world, having started in the early 1970s in the U.S. and Britain. This story examines how this type of therapy is moving beyond the visual arts to incorporate dance, music and other forms to promote healing around the world. Published in International Educator.

Simple Logic (April 2017): Today, only 24 states allow students to count computer science classes as part of their high school science credits. While more than a half million computing jobs are unfilled in the U.S., just 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce in 2015-16. The key to solving this problem? Teaching coding and more computer science. Published in American School Board Journal.

Aftershock (February 2017), a story that looks at the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election and its effect on K-12 schools, was published a week before the inauguration. The story looks at how schools dealt with threats to and protests by students, as well as how to ensure traditionally marginalized children are protected in the wake of unprecedented reports of harassment. Published in American School Board Journal.

Apprentice Approach (February-March 2017): How schools in Colorado are adopting facets of the Swiss apprenticeship model, based on what I learned from a 2016 trip to Zurich, provided the basis for this story published in American School Board Journal. You also can see a slideshow of photos from my trip with the delegation in the Events section.

My photos from the trip also are part of the Association for Career and Technical Education's March 2017 issue of its flagship magazine, Techniques. You can see the photos and the stories they accompany here.