Graphic of book with dollar sign on the cover against a red, polka dot background.

Economic barriers to book fairs inspire teachers to take charge

Scrolling through the feed of a millennial Twitter user, it’s hard to deny the trendiness of nostalgia. One account titled “90s Girl Problems” reaches over half of a million followers, with the popularity of other “throwback” themed accounts and posts following closely behind. Yet amidst all of the tweetable references to hair scrunchies, Nirvana and Lisa Frank, the remembrance of one educational event seems to repeatedly evoke fond memories from today’s young adults – Scholastic Book Fairs. “When the revolution comes I hope they let us keep the Scholastic Book Fair,” one tweet reads. “Marry someone who makes you feel the way you felt during Scholastic Book Fair week in grade school,” says another.

Assumptions vs. reality: Classroom budgets leave teachers to cover deficits

Instead of the harsh white light of the fluorescents, the light pouring from Alexa Weatherwax’s second grade classroom is the soft glow of old-fashioned incandescent string lights and paper lanterns she purchased for her classroom. This year, the only money Weatherwax spent out of pocket was on a travel Q-tip container for her students’ vocabulary words.

Weatherwax’s experience, however, is atypical and illustrates the starkness in realities between suburban and urban public schools, mostly White versus mostly Black school districts. According to the non-profit’s national survey, 91 percent of teachers purchase school supplies for their students. The report goes on to say, on average, teachers in the United States spend $600 out of pocket each year on classroom supplies.

Photo by Alexa Seeger

Pioneering place- and project-based learning

The lights from the Mackinac bridge winked through the haze. The drizzle coursed down the students’ plastic ponchos as they walked Lake Michigan’s shore with one of their teachers, Charlotte Hagerman. Hagerman showed a group how to skip stones, since many had never done so before.

“Then this little guy, now he was a tough kid,” Hagerman said. “He comes up to me, ‘Ms. Hagerman, Ms. Hagerman,’ and he holds a shell up. And he says, ‘my first shell.’”

In order to build community and reach students at multiple grade and ability levels, Hagerman and Bobo looked to supplement lecture style teaching. After attending conferences and a chance meeting with another teacher pioneering place-based learning in Frankfort, the two teachers implemented project-based and place-based learning in their classroom.

Evolving classrooms: How children’s books combat gender norms

Cheryl Greene is the Deputy Director for Welcoming Schools, a program that assists elementary educators with professional developmental resources for their classroom. The mission of Welcoming Schools is to provide a safe environment for all types of families and children. One of the best ways to educate children on gender norms in a more subtle way, Greene says, is through books. “Books are one of the most effective ways to educate students,” Greene says, “Books that portray diverse families and characters that don’t fit gender stereotypes are an important tool in creating respectful and welcoming school environments.”

Books like “Made by Raffi” and “Ballerino Nate” may not be household names yet, but they are inspired by real-life stories of children who felt they did not conform to gender norms.

“Made by Raffi” author Craig Pomranz got the idea to write a book after his godson, Raffi, asked him if there was such thing as a ‘tomgirl.’ Raffi did not enjoy rough play and loud noise, and began to question himself for not being interested in ‘boy’ activities. In the book, a boy named Raffi enjoys making scarves, but is teased at school for being different than the other boys.

Nearly two decades after a published study showed teachers factor in proximity to their hometown, job availability and district financial resources before choosing a school district, the results hold true, according to a handful of teachers in Michigan, Oklahoma and Virginia.

Why teachers choose and stay at their school district

Nearly two decades after a published study showed teachers factor in proximity to their hometown, job availability and district financial resources before choosing a school district, the results hold true, according to a handful of teachers in Michigan, Oklahoma and Virginia. In the early 2000s, Harvard Professor Susan Moore Johnson and Doctoral Student Sarah E. Birkeland set out to discover why teachers choose certain districts to begin their careers. After following 50 teachers for four years, Johnson and Birkeland found several factors were important, including basic support and respect from administration, opportunities to work with other professionals, the ability to improve skills and general school culture. These findings from Massachusetts underscore trends still present today. Returning home

For Katie Alsup, a seventh-grade geography teacher at Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School in the Oklahoma City Public School District, choosing a school was as simple as going home.

Watch Focal Point: Coping with anxiety, recap of the Black Power Rally and more

Our reporters tackle how students who suffer with anxiety overcome the issues that come with it. We have a recap of the recent Lansing election and a preview of the upcoming firearms season. MSU held its 45th annual Black Power Rally. How is different this year? The Spartan Marching band has a special global performance planned for Saturday’s football game halftime show.

Williamston High School partners with Michigan State University on research project to improve science program


On Sept. 5, five doctors who specialize in education gathered to discuss the future of Williamston High School’s science curriculum. Two of the doctors were research associates from Michigan State University’s Education Department. MSU is working with the University of Helsinki in Finland on a research project called PIRE. The school wants its students to enjoy learning and thanks to the PIRE program, it now has a way to measure that enjoyment.