Browsing category: Education

‘Safe’ teen drinking? Here’s why parents shouldn’t facilitate it.

Originally published in the Washington Post's online version on Apr. 1, 2019. “Well, we did it when we were their age.” This common refrain, popular among parents with a permissive attitude toward underage drinking, is often coupled with well-intentioned efforts to keep adolescents safe while consuming alcohol: Think encouraging alcohol-imbibing teens to take advantage of ride programs like Uber, to spend the night at a friend’s house, or to drink in one’s own home as opposed to unknown settings. Referred to by social scientists as “harm reduction,” this strategy is more than just ineffective, say experts. It’s helping to fuel an epidemic of teenage binge drinking. Although many parents of today’s teenagers drank when they were young, data shows important differences between teen drinking then and now. In 1991, about half of high school students reported consuming alcohol, according to the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). In 2015, less than 18

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Rejections hurt. Here’s how to help your child during college-application season.

Article originally published in the On Parenting section of the Washington Post on March 5, 2019. Anita Walia’s daughter had always been an overachiever. She made the girls’ varsity soccer team as a high school freshman, earned good grades in the most challenging courses at the private school she attended and received high marks on standardized tests. So, when it came time to apply to colleges in fall 2017, she felt ready. But she wasn’t prepared for what happened next. Walia’s daughter was rejected from her top two college choices. That both of the highly selective institutions accepted fewer than 10 percent of applicants did little to alleviate her feelings of dejection. “For my daughter, it became, ‘I’m not good enough,’ ” recounted Walia, who lives in Baltimore. It’s a scene that will play out in countless homes across the country from now through the spring, as high school seniors learn that, despite their best efforts, they did not get into their dream college. Often,

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UMD Students Deserve Better

Originally published in the Baltimore Sun on December 13, 2018. Like countless other parents of college-bound high school seniors living in Maryland, I started steering my daughter toward her state’s flagship university last year, when we began talking about college options. The

University of Maryland, College Park, with its strong academic reputation — it touts itself as “one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities” — and reasonable price tag, seemed like a no-brainer. But in light of recent preventable student deaths there, I’ve begun to feel that by pushing for my daughter to attend College Park I’m leading her into the path of a formidable safety hazard. It is almost impossible to live in Maryland and not have heard of the tragic death this summer of

Jordan McNair, a former College Park student and football player who collapsed during a routine practice and died two weeks later. Had the adults in charge of the players’ health at that

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Two-Sport Wonder

Originally published in the Towson Times on September 5, 2018. Of the nearly 8 million high school athletes in the United States, only a small fraction — about 2 percent — will earn a college athletic scholarship, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Then, there’s Towson native Julia Dorsey, a rising 12th-twelfth grader at McDonogh School. She falls into a category of high school athletes so unique that statistics reflecting her circumstances don’t even exist. Dorsey has been recruited to play both lacrosse and soccer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Division I athletic powerhouse. Extraordinary talent and commitment on two different playing fields have earned her this rare place in the world of collegiate athletics. That she’s managed to navigate the youth sports culture on her terms, not succumbing to the push so many young athletes feel to “specialize” in a single sport, makes Dorsey’s feat even more remarkable. Her parents,

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How We Get ADHD Wrong

Originally published in Education Week on February 13, 2018 Today, more than 10 percent of all children ages 5-17 in the United States receive a diagnosis of ADHD, despite the American Psychiatric Association’s estimation that only 5 percent actually have the disorder. The disparity is even starker for boys, 14 percent of whom end up diagnosed with ADHD. My son is one of those millions of boys who have been diagnosed with this greatly overused label. My 15-year-old son has been dubbed a “slow processer”—the kind of kid who tends to stare out the window during class as he gathers his thoughts or daydreams. His reading has hovered slightly below grade level since teachers began assessing it. His organizational habits are less than stellar: Homework assignments, school clothes, sports equipment tend to land where they fall. So, a few years ago, when my husband and I took our son to an educational psychologist (at the suggestion of his middle school’s learning specialist) for

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UMBC professors are navigating the startup economy – and finding harmony between research and commerce

Originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of UMBC Magazine. UMBC professor of music Linda Dusman found herself sitting next to UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III at a UMBC Orchestra concert in 2010. Between movements, she whispered snippets of background information about the music to one of the orchestra’s biggest fans. Because Dusman is a musical composer with a deeply ingrained respect for the traditions of classical concerts, the experience provided a rare “aha” moment. What if there was a way to convey real-time information about the music and its meaning to audience members in an appealing yet unobtrusive way? “I was looking at it as a way to give audiences the backstory, a fuller palette of information, so they can re-engage with a symphonic piece,” Dusman explains. Around the same time, Dusman observed how her adolescent son and his friends quickly became enraptured by Apple’s new iPad, which had just come onto the market: “Watching how the entire

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Caroline Blatti Takes Over as Head of All-girls’ Roland Park Country School

Originally published on October 11, 2016 in the Baltimore Sun. On the first day of the 2016–2017 academic year, as students at Roland Park Country School filed into the building, they were greeted by two contrasting figures: bagpiper musicians, a longstanding "first-day-back" tradition at the school, and new Head of School Caroline Blatti, the first in 25 years and only the seventh in the school's 100-plus-year history. Blatti, who was formally installed on Oct. 7, succeeds long-term former head and alumna Jean Brune, who led the school to growth and expansion over a 24-year period. Following Brune's departure, Blatti is tasked with a delicate balancing act: equipping the student body of the all-girls' independent school with the complex tools demanded by a 21st-century education model while respecting decades of enduring tradition and expectations that have come to define the school. "I feel like she's just ready to go," said Jenny Hovermill, a 1985 graduate of Roland

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Meet Julian Baron, weather forecasting wonder-boy

Originally published in, April 21, 2014 Wondering if you’ll need to rent a tent at an outdoor event you’re having next weekend? Worried that your upcoming travel plans will be interrupted by storms? Just ask 14-year-old Pikesville resident Julian Baron. Plenty of other people do, from his classmates at Gilman School who want to know if the weather will impact their baseball schedule to the 300-plus people who follow him on Facebook for the local weather forecast. Since birth, the high school freshman has seemed destined for a life of weather watching. His mother insists that when he was an infant, Julian would stop crying as soon as she put him in front of the Weather Channel. At three years of age, he began watching it in earnest. “I was interested in what the people had to say. I liked to see where the storms were, even without the scientific knowledge to understand it,” said the slight, bespectacled boy who possesses a Harry Potter-esque quality about

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model united nations conference celebrates 15th anniversary

Originally published in Johns Hopkins Arts & Sciences, Spring 2012 Clad in business suits and high heels, flocks of young men and women hurry down Baltimore’s Pratt Street toward the Renaissance Hotel on a breezy February evening. Soon, all 1,650 or so individuals gather in the hotel’s ballroom for opening ceremonies of the much-anticipated four-day event for which they’ve traversed 14 states and two countries to attend. If not for the barely repressed giggles and high-energy vibe pervading the room, the gathering might be mistaken for a United Nations conference. It’s close. This congregation of highly motivated, politically astute high school students is here for Johns Hopkins 15th Model United Nations Conference (JHUMUNC). Role-playing as actual UN delegates, each high school participant engages in one of 30 UN committees to discuss and debate complex world affairs, including international security, human rights, and world health. Perhaps the only aspect of this event

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baltimore-area college seniors entering unstable job market

Originally published in the Baltimore Business Journal, April 22, 2011 Zach Parkinson feels fortunate. Even in a stammering economy, the Johns Hopkins University senior knows his entrance into the job market is better timed than the class of 2010. The international relations major astutely sums up the sentiment of countless Maryland graduating seniors as they search want ads and email resumes. “We’re thankful that we weren’t searching for jobs last year. It’s not a great time, but it could be worse,” he said.  Even the thickest of college’s “ivory towers” couldn’t shield Parkinson and fellow college freshmen in 2008 from news of the recession that began raging just weeks after they started their undergraduate studies. Now, as these students prepare to launch the next stage of their lives, they face the best job outlook since the start of the recession, but one that remains challenging nonetheless. Soon-to-be graduating job seekers are being greeted by an improving economy,

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