A Life Well Lived

The last week in August on a very hot evening, a group of Kindergarten parents gathered to attend a Back to School orientation by veteran teacher MaryAnne Mullaney and I was fortunate enough to be one of those in attendance.  Miss Mullaney is a bit of a legend within the community and certainly throughout our school.  With more than 30 years of teaching Kindergarten, Miss Mullaney knows 5 year olds and loves spending time with them.  Her enthusiasm is contagious.

 

My youngest child is now a student in her class and I am most grateful my other two children also benefited from being her students.  I debated going to the meeting given that I had already attended two Kindergarten orientations in years past, but I am quite glad I did.

 

The orientation began in the traditional way, but soon took on a different tone as Miss Mullaney let us know that her beloved mother was in the last stages of life having been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer just a few weeks earlier.  The way in which Miss Mullaney conveyed this information was surprising.  While her sadness was evident and she did tear up explaining this to us all, her overwhelming attitude continued to be upbeat. She explained her mother would be dying soon and was excited about it.  I’ve had a great deal of experience with death having lost loved ones to cancer and accidents, but had never heard anyone say they were excited about dying. Miss Mullaney explained her mother had enjoyed more than 80 years on earth and was looking forward to her time in heaven.  Miss Mullaney was confident that her mother’s death would be terribly sad, but explained that she knew her mother would always be with her. 

 

This level of strength and love continues to impress and inspire me. The grace and faith the Mullaney family demonstrates during this difficult time is amazing.

 

Today Mary (Pink) Mullaney’s obituary was published and it truly explains how one person lived life to its fullest.

 

What does living life to its fullest look like for you?

 

 

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School Fundraisers: Just Say No to the Sales Pitch

Let’s be honest. My 6-year-old and 8-year-old don’t need to worry about résumé building.
The school year has just begun and already the children’s backpacks are full of school fundraiser information that presumes my little ones would be effective salespersons.
I understand that schools are in greater need of additional funding today than perhaps at any other time, but I refuse to spend my very rare free time hawking over-priced items I wouldn’t willingly buy on my own.
We are bombarded by pleas to buy products and have our children sell them to benefit PTAs, home and school associations and athletic or social clubs. No one disputes that school programs need additional funding, but acquiring these funds selling overpriced products that people often do not need or want is easygoing extortion. (Not to mention that in the end, I will be the one selling the wrapping paper, cookie dough, pizza, candy and magazines.)

The guilt factor is huge and, really, how many times can you hit up the grandparents, neighbors and family friends before they start to cringe? (Many employers are banning solicitations of all types from the workplace, including fundraisers, so co-workers are no longer easy-target buyers.)

The pressure for children to sell products is even more intense when incentives are offered for the biggest sales. This complicates matters even more for parents who don’t want their children to sell the products. Even if you can convince your child the prizes are of marginal value, school-wide and individual class rewards further entice participation. What if your child’s class doesn’t get the pizza party or the school misses out on pajama day because you haven’t allowed her to participate in the fundraiser? Welcome to peer-group pressure by proxy.
The fundraising industry is a booming business, and car washes and bake sales aren’t cutting it anymore. The most popular fundraisers sell products, many of them of questionable value. Shockingly, schools (and other nonprofits) only get 20 percent to 50 percent of profits from these sales. Most of the money goes to the fundraising company itself, which makes the case that children involved in these efforts benefit from boosted self-esteem, a sense of teamwork, and even an enhanced résumé. Even if that were so, I wouldn’t want the trade-off of seeing my preteens selling goods door-to-door.
I have another plan: Opting out. I will make a cash donation directly to the school and not participate in the fundraisers. For those who want to follow suit, attach a letter to your check explaining that your family opposes the fundraising method but not the cause. With a cash donation, 100 percent of your money goes directly to the source, eliminating the middlemen and all the time wasted on the sale, pickup and delivery of products. It also safeguards important relationships and allows your family to focus on other activities like school work, athletics or just spending time together.

A version of this piece originally appeared on Politics Daily’s Woman Up.

Today on Critical Thinking in the Real World

We’ll talk about two of my favorite topics-politics and education.  With the midterm elections rapidly approaching, I’ll speak to Israel Vasquez who is running for U.S. Congress. He’s hoping to represent the 4th district of IL.  Why is he running?  What’s it like to run a campaign today?  Israel will answer those questions and more.  Then since it’s almost back to school time, I’ll speak to Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis, author of Midlife Crisis Begins in Kindergarten.  She will tell us how to make this school year the best one for your children and for you.  Mariaemma will explain the Learning Success Model of Education and how focusing on the unique needs of each student leads to real progress in the classroom and success in life.

Please join the discussion on the Facebook fan page, call 877-864-4869 and share your thoughts during the show, listen live from 1:00 to 2:00 pm CT at http://www.toginet.com or later via podcast.  

It’s Back to School Time for Adults

The 4th of July has just passed, yet most stores are now promoting Back to School sections. It might seem too early, but now is actually a great time for adults to consider a return to the classroom. In today’s economy, it’s important to refresh your skills, beef up your resume and possibly finish that degree you began many years ago. 

 TV, radio and billboard advertisements bombard us with options of returning to school.

Can these programs really work and fit into an already busy life? Are there means available to help pay for them? Yes, not only do these programs work, they are much more beneficial to the working adult than the traditional student.

Online programs are one option available to the working adult. These programs appeal to many because students are only required to meet in a physical classroom minimally if at all. This is quite attractive for those who frequently travel or would like to learn during odd hours. Don’t be misled, however. Online programs can often be much more demanding than traditional classes. You are not guaranteed immediate or in some cases even timely feedback from instructors. This may be frustrating and detrimental. You will be free to learn from the privacy of your own home, office, car or even while traveling overseas.

Accelerated programs are a fantastic option for those who are highly motivated and want to complete their degree as quickly as possible. Students may only need to commit to going to class one night a week and could complete an entire course in just five to eight weeks. Accelerated programs like these often require group collaboration on projects and move at a very rapid pace.

Blended programs offer the best of both the traditional and online classes. Many universities are including this hybrid as a way to entice would be students.

So if you have considered going back to school, now is the time.

It’s Back to School Time for Adults

The 4th of July has just passed, yet most stores are now promoting Back to School sections. It might seem too early, but many adults are also considering a return to the classroom. In today’s economy, it’s important to refresh your skills, beef up your resume and possibly finish that degree you began many years ago.

President Obama is hoping to make that easier with his new American Graduation Initiative which he announced on July 14. He’s asked every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training and set a new national goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

There are more adult education programs today than there have ever been and that’s great news to anyone considering a return to college. TV, radio and billboard advertisements bombard us with options of returning to school.

Can these programs really work and fit into an already busy life? Are there means available to help pay for them? Yes, not only do these programs work, they are much more beneficial to the working adult than the traditional student.

Online programs are one option available to the working adult. These programs appeal to many because students are only required to meet in a physical classroom minimally if at all. This is quite attractive for those who frequently travel or would like to learn during odd hours. Don’t be misled, however. Online programs can often be much more demanding than traditional classes. You are not guaranteed immediate or in some cases even timely feedback from instructors. This may be frustrating and detrimental. You will be free to learn from the privacy of your own home, office, car or even while traveling overseas.

Accelerated programs are a fantastic option for those who are highly motivated and want to complete their degree as quickly as possible. Students may only need to commit to going to class one night a week and could complete an entire course in just five to eight weeks. Accelerated programs like these often require group collaboration on projects and move at a very rapid pace.

Blended programs offer the best of both the traditional and online classes. Many universities are including this hybrid as a way to entice would be students.

So if you have considered going back to school, now is the time.

Here’s the link to my segment on the Morning Blend discussing this topic:
http://tinyurl.com/m6zgf8