No school! At first, kids were very excited. But then they became frustrated and bored. Then sad. And now we're all scared that they may never catch up.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: According to history, tutors have been around for centuries; in ancient Greece, the children of the wealthy were educated individually or in small groups by masters or tutors, and through the ages, nobility has always used tutors.
And while wealthy people have always used tutors, during the last decades more and more students have been able to enjoy the benefits of private tutors (vs. parents tutoring their children) due to the growing number of tutoring companies and free online services. It's a quickly growing "industry" and offers learning systems for a wide variety of subjects and learning challenges. So, that's all great, yes? Well, not necessarily … as Black recently explained to Red,
Often students who need tutors the most are the ones least likely to have access to them, either because of cost and/or internet access. And for those that might suggest that parents step in, the pandemic has shown that not all parents are created equal in terms of being able to tutor their children, whether because of lack of time, lack of knowledge, or just not having the "ability" to teach.
So, as if this "equation" wasn't unbalanced enough, then you have a pandemic which led, unbelievably quickly, to the majority of schools throughout the United States closing. Schools were totally unprepared, and while they tried their best to offer online learning combined with in-classroom instruction, millions of students were rapidly left behind.
Red, being first and foremost a mom, wondered what could be done? Could anything be done? Or would these kids, ultimately, be one of the greatest "casualties" of the COVID-19 pandemic? And when she posed these heartbreaking questions to Black, her sister let her know that there might an unexpected, yet logical, answer to the problem,
While politicians are trying to figure things out, the nonprofit sector is doing what it does best – being creative and nimble. For example, Sal Khan of the Khan Academy recently created Schoolhouse World, which he believes is a scalable blueprint for matching knowledgeable tutors with students in need. Another idea, touted as a Tutoring Marshall Plan, comes from the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University and proposes training recent college graduates to become tutors.
Once Red read (ok, skimmed) the articles, it became obvious to her that although a national network of tutors might be an unusual remedy, the concept of tutoring was ancient. It merely was being updated for today's times.
P.S. – Black knew not to "bore" Red with New Research Shows That Even Lightly Trained Volunteers Drive Academic Gains.
Empowering girls – one cookie at a time. Ok, maybe one box of cookies at a time.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It’s that time of year when many people’s New Year’s resolution of eating better is challenged by the arrival of Girl Scout cookies; something that poses a problem for Red, while for Black, it's an opportunity.
Red remembers growing up with Girl Scout cookies, with her favorite being shortbread (now known as the Trefoil), while hating (yes, it’s a strong word, but that’s how she feels about anything flavored with mint) Thin Mints. However, what she finds interesting is that as an adult, she’s been far more tempted by all the flavors (excluding anything mint, of course) even though she doesn’t consider herself a cookie person.
She bought last year’s “new” cookie, Adventurefuls, but was able to resist the brownie-based cookie with the center of caramel-flavored cream as she’s a brownie purist, but this year’s a very different story,
I’ve been doing so well getting back on track with healthy eating, but with the arrival of the Raspberry Rally, I could be in real trouble. A thin, crispy cookie infused with raspberry flavor, dipped in chocolaty coating, this is going to be almost impossible to resist. The good news is that it’s only available online as I always find it hard to resist all the Girl Scouts who “camp” out, pun intended, in front of my grocery store.
Black, who isn’t a fan of cookies or even sweets (unless you count sweet potatoes), buys a box of each flavor and immediately delivers them to the break room at her high-rise. Of course, she’ll ask the staff to let her know their favorite, but she won’t even try one cookie, not even in the interest of market research.
Black has always been fascinated by the history of the Girl Scout cookie and how a simple idea of selling cookies to finance troop activities has grown over 100+ years into an iconic and extremely successful way to raise funds. But, more importantly, it’s a powerful (and delicious) way for the girls to have fun while at the same time learning valuable business skills and life lessons. Which explains why Black always buys cookies, even if she doesn’t eat any,
Each year I seem to buy more cookies than the prior year since our local Girl Scout council has a program where you can buy cookies to be donated to military and first responders. It is a part of my “calorie free – for me” plan, as it is a great way to support the Girl Scouts and show appreciation for others because everyone loves Girl Scout cookies.
Whether you buy them as “thank you” gifts or just sweet treats for your family and friends (or yourself), please support your local Girl Scouts!
Two years ago, on MLK Day, Red learned the power and inspiration of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And the power of dreams. And as long as there's social unrest and social injustice in the United States (stop and think about the first word … as we’re supposed to be united), the more we can learn from him … as not only did he fight for equality for all, but his approach is proof of the power of peaceful protests.
For most of us, writing and delivering one powerful and/or inspiring thing would be a very difficult task. To be remembered for hundreds is truly amazing.
We grew up in New York, where bagels are almost sacred, but even though they may have started as a Jewish food in Europe, they’re now enjoyed by everyone everywhere (including Red and Black, but in very different ways) – why else would there be a National Bagel Day?
National holidays aren’t the time to count calories.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We both agree that happiness has a hole in it, although one of us may only eat one bagel a year while the other tries to keep it to only one bagel when she does indulge.
Red admits that although she knows bagels aren’t a healthy choice, she’ll occasionally treat herself, not only because they remind her of growing up in New York when almost every town on Long Island had at least one bagel shop, but because she loves whipped cream cheese almost as much as the fresh, squishy bagel on which she smears it. And while she was a fan of both cinnamon raisin and onion bagels as a kid, the introduction of the “Everything” bagel was a turning point. However, her all-time favorite is technically not a bagel, as it’s a bialy.
On the other hand, it only takes one look at Black’s “selfishly svelte figure” to know that she has the willpower to resist bagels (including her favorite, sesame) as well as all the other carbs that she loves, but when it comes to National Bagel Day and the “health” issues of bagels, she has an interesting perspective,
Bagels are one of life’s true culinary pleasures, often tied to wonderful memories, so you cannot always measure their value in terms of nutrition. But, when it comes to healthy eating, it might be interesting to remember that bagel-cutting injuries are common and result in thousands of people having to go to emergency rooms or urgent care centers … so, celebrate carefully.