America’s Teachers Need More Community And Parental Support

The latest data from the Center for American Progress shows that the average salary for an attorney is more than two times that of elementary and middle school educators. The Washington Post reported last week that nearly 1 in 10 hosts who rent out their apartments, homes and spaces on Airbnb are teachers. Low salaries, compared with other college graduates, may inhibit highly-effective professionals from pursuing a career in education; specifically for people of color who currently make up just seven percent of public school teachers.

I come from a family of educators. My mother, both of my grandmothers and one of my sisters were teachers. However, the family tradition of educating children ended after me. None of my daughters, nieces or nephews decided to pursue a career in education. Data comprised from surveys completed during the NNPA’s National Black Parents’ Town Hall Meeting echoed this sentiment. When asked what they believed is needed to close the academic achievement gap, respondents selected community participation and funding over the acquisition of highly-effective teachers.

Many reasons have led to frustrations with teaching in the United States. Work-to-pay ratio, a lack of resources, and an increased focus on standardized testing has made it increasingly difficult for teachers to be highly-effective.

This year, teacher strikes broke out in several states concerning school funding and teacher pay. Teachers in Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and West Virginia left the classroom for the state house to protest the lack of resources in the profession. NPR reported in April that teachers have begun to seek support outside of the educational bureaucracy; forming “supply shops” where teachers can swap educational materials for free or at a dramatically reduced cost.

A first-year teacher who attended the National Black Parents’ Town Hall Meeting in Norfolk, Virginia, said that she stepped into the role of teaching, initially excited, but found by the end of the year she was extremely drained physically and emotionally. “I stepped into the role, mid-year, with no lesson plan. What can be done to keep teachers teaching and encourage new teachers coming into the program? I really want to teach, but there is very little support.”

Highly-effective teachers require competitive pay, professional support, and access to innovative resources. President Barack Obama signed the current national education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015 with educators in mind. Title II of ESSA provides program grants to states and districts that can be used for teacher preparation, recruitment, support, and continued learning. ESSA also ends the requirement of states to set up teacher evaluation systems based significantly on students’ test scores which should reduce the pressure teachers feel to teach to the test. The Teacher and School Leader Innovation Program provides grants to districts that want to try out performance pay and other teacher quality improvement measures. ESSA became effective this 2018-2019 school year.

With data compiled from 26 school districts, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) found that on average there were small differences in the effectiveness of teachers of high- and low-income students, hiring patterns and teacher transfer patterns were consistent, with only minor differences, between high- and low-income students, and that in three of the 26 chosen districts there was meaningful inequity in access to effective teachers in math. Data showed that access to highly-effective teachers was relatively equal across the board. Yet, inequities in educational outcomes between low-income students and students from wealthier families persist throughout the United States.

As a new teacher, the constant challenge for me was parental engagement. A working parent’s schedule often left little time during school hours to participate in their child’s education and those who were free during school hours, failed to realize the importance of their presence and participation. Today, meaningful parental engagement remains a challenge for educators.

So, this is a call to action for all parents. Let’s listen to teachers. They are calling for more support and increased pay. Let’s attend to school meetings to find out how to provide them additional support. Let’s attend city and the state meetings to advocate for competitive pay. Let’s vote for leaders who support the academic advancement of our children through access to additional resources. We need more teacher support, not new teachers.

Dr. Elizabeth Primas is an educator, who spent more than 40 years working towards improving education for children of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. Dr. Primas is the program manager for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow Dr. Primas on Twitter @elizabethprimas.

Foundation Seeks To Stop Bullying As New School Year Begins

For many children, the start of a new school year can be stressful, especially if they’ve been victims of bullying in the past.

Last year, Baltimore County Public Schools came under fire after parents of a fourth grader at Pine Grove Elementary School in Parkville found their child sitting in a corner inside their home with a note on his chest that read, “Kill me. I mean nothing.”

The youth had been repeatedly bullied at school.

Jane Clementi knows all too well the feeling of having a child who is bullied.

Clementi co-founded the Tyler Clementi Foundation after she lost her son Tyler in 2010 to suicide after an episode of cyberbullying. The foundation works to prevent bullying before it starts and it helps schools around the nation develop policies to deter such actions.

“I would strongly encourage all school districts to implement the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s #Day1 program. It’s an easy, yet highly effective, tool to prevent bullying before it happens,” Clementi said.

Day 1 is a downloadable script that helps leaders to set clear boundaries for acceptable behaviors within a class or team and asks for a commitment to stay within those boundaries.

Clementi says one could imagine how much easier it would be if every teacher in every classroom or every coach on every practice field stood up on the first day and said that it was not acceptable to humiliate or intimidate anyone in the class or on the team because of the color of their skin, where they came from, what language they speak at home, how they dress, how much they weigh, their abilities or lack of abilities, who they loved, what gender they identified as or anything else that made them unique, special and precious.

“It’s such a simple idea, but so very important for that marginalized or different child to hear, that they were welcomed and included in this group or space and no one will be allowed to target them here,” she said.

When attempting to identify a bullying victim, Clementi says it’s important to understand that some young people will have a change in their behavior.

They might exhibit signs like withdrawing from activities and friends they once enjoyed, or show other signs of anxiety, depression or even anger, she said.

“But, it is also important to remember that some people do not exhibit any signs at all. Tyler did not,” Clementi said.

Open lines of communication and age appropriate supervision in the digital world and on social media also are essential.

“We don’t just hand over the car keys to children without teaching them how to use a car and carefully explaining the consequences of poor choices,” Clementi said. “We shouldn’t just hand over mobile phones and other devices to them without careful instruction either.”

Further, digital tools can be used for good or they can be used as weapons of great harm, as in the case of so many young people today including her son, who was publicly humiliated when a private moment was put online.

Tyler died by suicide shortly after he was cyberbullied.

“I would strongly urge educators to teach youth the three steps to safely become an ‘Upstander,’ someone who does not remain a passive bystander, but rather stands up and speaks out when they see someone being humiliated or harassed,” Clementi said.

First, if you know those involved and feel safe, you should intervene and speak up at the time of the incident, she said.

Second, if intervention doesn’t change the situation or if an individual doesn’t feel safe, it’s essential to tell a trusted adult.

Finally, Clementi says, speak to the target to make sure they are okay and that they know where to go for help and support.

Intervene, report and reach out— the three simple steps to be an Upstander, according to Clementi.

It’s also vital that all school districts have strict policies against bullying, Clementi said.

While the Baltimore City School District does have a strict written policy about bullying, the county released a statement, which said they too are committed to putting an end to such behavior.

“Our commitment is providing safe and orderly learning environments for each of our 113,000 students through proactive and comprehensive staffing, policy, equipment, technology, and training,” county school officials said in a statement. “We take safety seriously, and we know that this priority is essential to helping every student grow and thrive.”

Year-Up Is Gearing-Up Young Adults For The Workplace

There is a program in Baltimore serving young adults, whose graduates currently boast a 98 percent success rate when it comes to employment and/or enrollment in postsecondary education. Their students average at least a $17.00 per-hour wage once they have completed the program as compared to the $9.25 local minimum wage. The program also provides their enrollees with the opportunity to earn college credits.

It’s the Year Up Professional Training Corps (PTC). Launched in Baltimore in 2010 on the campus of Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), Year Up’s PTC offers an intensive, one-year program for college students, ages 18-24. Year Up Baltimore is located on the third floor of BCCC located at 2600 Liberty Heights Avenue. The program combines professional coaching, and hands-on skill development.

In addition to the services offered by Year Up, as college students, program participants also have access to the library, tutoring resources, and other services offered by BCCC.

“Our mission is to close the opportunity divide by providing support to young adults with a high school diploma or GED who are unemployed, underemployed, or not in school,” said Roland R. Selby, executive director of the Year Up Baltimore program. “We want to help them change their narrative. Year Up helps to place them in entry level jobs that the larger companies are having trouble filling.”

Year Up also offers internships. Internship partners include CareFirst, Allegis Group, Johns Hopkins University, Exxon, Georgetown University, and Symantec. According to Year Up, 40 percent of their students go from internships to being hired, and they have a 92 percent partner satisfaction rate.

“Some young adults are hired for their skill, but fired for behavior,” said Selby. “A lot of that has to do with showing up on time and doing the work they were hired to do. Year Up teaches young adults how to navigate the corporate culture and how to adapt. There is, a way to conduct yourself in a work environment. Young adults assume they know how to work in a corporate environment. But, how do they know if they have never worked for a corporation? Year Up is taking that gray area away.”

Year Up is built around six core values: Respect and value others; Build trust, be honest; Be accountable; Engage and embrace diversity; Strive to learn; and Work hard and have fun. The program includes six months professional training in IT, Financial Operations, Sales & Customer Support, Business Operations, or Software Development; a six-month corporate internship; up to 25 college credits; a weekly educational stipend throughout the program, and guidance and support from a staff advisor and professional mentor.

“The students work off a contract,” said Selby. “They have to come dressed professionally, they can’t be late, and they have to live the six core values. We help them to understand this is how you show up to work every day. A typical day starts before 8:30 a.m. At 8:30 a.m., they are late. Failure to comply earns an infraction and there is a monetary penalty. They lose money from their stipend. We are trying to reinforce the right behaviors. Punctuality is a lifetime habit, and tardiness is a top complaint from employers.”

He added, “And that’s understanding transportation problems. But that’s not an excuse for being late. Plan for it. Get on the bus stop early until you can purchase a car. You have to work for what you earn. It won’t be given to you.”

According to Selby, Year Up has served more than 700 students.

“We teach our students what it means to be a team member and pulling their weight,” he said. “They learn about the importance of being coachable and taking notes. These are soft skills not tied into certain courses of training, but they are very helpful.”

He added, “Year Up provides an extra layer of support to young adults who are interested and want to do more. They want to make a livable wage, but may need additional coaching and development. That’s where we come in. Year Up trains, mentors them, and opens doors to relationships.”

Classes begin in January and August. Applications are considered on a rolling basis until the class is filled. Space is limited. For more information call 410-919-9530 or visit:

School Gets On-Site Barbershop And Beauty Salon

As students prepare to head back to school, there is something that many believe is as essential as new clothes, backpacks and other necessities. Some youngsters don’t want to go back to school without it. That something is a fresh haircut and hairstyle. But for some students, finances prevent them from going to a barber for a cut or to a stylist to have their hair done. But thanks to a recent grant award, finances will no longer serve as a barrier for National Academy Foundation School of Baltimore (NAF).

The school was the recipient of a grant award from Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation (RBCF). The grant award provided installation of a five-station, full-service barbershop/beauty salon onsite at the school. The barber/beauty salon will offer no-charge grooming services to students who lack access to regular hygienic care.

NAF is located at 540 North Caroline Street, on the historic Dunbar campus in east Baltimore. The Baltimore City Public School serves students in grades six to 12. NAF occupies two buildings on the campus. One building, the historic Thomas G. Hayes building, houses their middle school students. That school is referred to as NAF Prep. The other building, the historic Dunbar Middle School building, houses their high school students. The barbershop/beauty salon will be housed on the first floor of the middle school.

National Academy Foundation School of Baltimore’s barbershop/beauty salon will be housed on the first floor of the middle school.

Courtesy Photo

National Academy Foundation School of Baltimore’s barbershop/beauty salon will be housed on the first floor of the middle school.

Robert Cradle is the founder of RBCF, a full-service, non-profit barber and beauty salon that provides weekly no-charge grooming services to clients.

“The project was created when we assessed that approximately 260 students lacked access to regular grooming services,” said Cradle. “Students will now have the ability to attend school with a neat and clean appearance.”

According to Cradle, the shop will receive an operations manual, supplies, technical support from him until the end of this year, and other resources. Cradle said any agency, shelter, social service agency, or public school can apply for the grant. He is a Master Barber, and formerly owned and operated Rob’s Barbershop Shop.

“At least 23 percent of the school’s clientele live in foster or group homes, in kinship care or similar situations,” he said. “Those types of situations lend themselves to students not getting their hair groomed regularly. Stipends for foster and kinship care does not include grooming. Most of the time, grant applicants need to provide grooming services continually. It’s great when they have the space to accommodate the grooming facility. All of those things are taken into consideration when we review applications.”

Cradle estimated that costs can range as low as low as $2,500 and as high as $25,000.

“Our goal is to always give our donors the greatest impact for their gifts by creating the most cost-effective ways to make grooming services accessible to any population with barriers to regular hygienic care,” said Cradle.

The barbershop/beauty salon marked RBCF’s 12th installation of a barber/beauty shop exclusively for targeted populations lacking access to regular grooming services. The organization also provides pop-up shops, which provides barber and salon services at pre-determined locations, generally during a one-day period.

Master Barber Robert Cradle is the founder of Rob's Barbershop Community Foundation.

Courtesy Photo

Master Barber Robert Cradle is the founder of Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation.

Cradle is the recipient of numerous awards including the Dunkin’ Donuts Community Hero Award for his outstanding work to make his community a better place to live.

Delana Penn, Library Media Specialist for NAF, wrote the grant for the school.

“The key purpose was to increase our attendance and decrease our behavior issues,” she said. “I was so excited to hear we had been awarded. It’s a great opportunity for our students. Data shows that when they don’t look good, they act out or don’t go to school.”

According to Penn, the shop will be open every Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. She said approximately nine barbers and hair stylists will rotate. She said the shop also boasts a flat screen television, DVD player, and a child chair seat. The shop, which had its grand opening on Monday, August 27, 2018, has already started providing free haircuts and hairstyles.

“The shop will also offer ‘Chair Talk Mentoring,’ in which barbers will build rapport with the students and offer good, strong advice,” said Penn. “The shop is fabulous.”

To apply for a RBCF Grant, visit

Labor Day: Deal With Your Stuff

Labor Day Weekend gives Americans across the country a three-day weekend to rest, travel and celebrate our freedom to labor. The number of jobs increased by two million people in 2017 and has continued to climb in 2018. Hourly wages have seen gains and the stock market has seen twenty months of phenomenal growth. Employers across the country need workers and job seekers have options.

Not everyone will be travelling over Labor Day and I would like to suggest an activity of labor that will be mentally good for you and your entire family.

Clean out your closets, basement, attic and garage. For years Americans have been cramming “stuff” into closets, basements, attics and garages. When all of these are filled to capacity, we build storage barns in our yards. Next, we rent storage units to store more stuff.

Have you noticed how many storage units are being built everywhere? They are a big business. People who own storage units make big money because there is such a demand for them. The richest man in Kentucky is in the storage space business. We are talking about a state that has been rich in coal, natural gas and bourbon whiskey. So, this gives you an idea how many people are storing stuff.

I inherited my parents’ old house. After 11 years, I’m still throwing away stuff.

My family took what they wanted years ago, clothes and things were given away or divided up but still there was lots of things that my dad in particular had stored up over the years. Just two weekends ago, I cleaned out another old building of old tools to give and throw away.

My wife’s parents recently passed and left a house with four bedrooms, a basement and garage filled with 76 years of “stuff.” We have given away, held yard sales,

divided among family, given away more and literally still had to throw a lot in the trash. The family sold the house so it had to be emptied.

Emptying a house of an entire life of collected items is not only hard work but emotionally draining. Every item, picture, garment, old gun or piece of china has memories, and it’s tough to just throw it in the dumpster.

Why do we collect and store so much “stuff?” Most of it is socked away in a closet or attic and hardly ever used. Why do we do this? Is it because we think we might want it or need it someday or perhaps our children or grandchildren will want it?

It’s amazing how very little of our things our children want. Most of them want their own stuff. Some people do but by and large more stuff is thrown away and given away than handed down. Often, so much of the stuff we save is junk and no one wants our junk.

Do yourself and your family a favor, start cleaning out your storage spaces now and give it away yourself. Do your giving while you are living and that way you will know exactly where it’s going.

Haul the junk to the dump. Have a yard sale and if you have anything left you will know what to do with it and where to find it. Plus, when you are dead and gone your children will not have to spend their weekends cleaning out all your old stuff that you didn’t take care of yourself.

There is something really nice about having a closet that you can actually see everything that is in it. It’s also nice having a garage or an attic that is cleaned out and organized, and only contains what you really need.

After you have it all done, sit back, drink a cold glass of lemonade and give thanks for the things you have and the “stuff” you really need.

Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column appears in all 50 states. Contact him at: or visit:

Cynthia Word And Brian Ganz Explore Movement In Sound And Space

— Modern dancer Cynthia Word and concert pianist Brian Ganz will perform together in a creative fusion of art and music in “Movement in Sound and Space,” Sunday, September 2, 2018 at 3 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis (UUCA) located at 333 Dubois Road in Annapolis.

Through Ganz’s performance of classical compositions for piano and Word’s dance performance the two artists invite the audience inside the collaborative process, as they explore the dynamic relationship between expressive movement in space and sound.

Both Word and Ganz are award-winning artists in their respective genres and have performed widely both nationally and internationally.

The program includes the choreography of Isadora Duncan set to preludes, mazurkas and etudes of Chopin and improvised movement inspired by works of the Spanish master Enrique Granados.

Cynthia Word is founder and artistic director of the Washington, D.C.-based Word Dance Theater, a cross-disciplinary performing arts company engaging dancers, playwrights, actors, musicians, and media artists in creating original and dynamic theatrical productions and continuing the legacy of Isadora Duncan’s technique and spirit.

Internationally acclaimed classical pianist Brian Ganz has appeared as soloist with the St. Louis Symphony, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Baltimore Symphony, the National Philharmonic, and the National Symphony among many other credits. He is perhaps best known locally for his decade-long adventure to perform the complete works of Frédéric Chopin in collaboration with the National Philharmonic at the Strathmore Music Center in North Bethesda.

The performance is part of the UUCA Arts in the Woods music series offered monthly on first Sunday of each month. Tickets are $15 at the door; free for 16 and under. For more information, call: 410-266-8044 or visit:

Baltimore Teachers Get Help From Other Teachers With Online Resource

More than two thirds of teachers in the United States are heading back to their classrooms prepared to welcome their students, including many in Baltimore where schools are set to open on Tuesday, September 4, 2018.

This year, teachers will again have the help of Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT), an online marketplace for teacher-authored resources that equips educators with lesson plans from a single day’s worksheet to an entire year’s curriculum.

“As teachers continue to try and figure out ways to make the best use of their time and finances while still providing thoughtful lessons for their students, TpT has provided an innovative way to help them and, in the process, has created a virtual teachers’ lounge where educators can connect and share ideas,” TpT officials said in a news release.

Made for teachers by teachers, TpT provides educators with access to classroom materials to ease the financial, time and energy burdens on teachers to create or purchase resources.

The open and online marketplace allows teachers to sell their original lesson plans and other course materials to other teachers, and also share for free. The average price for a resource is less than $5 while a number of the materials are free.

“TpT helps add extra engagement to my units and lessons,” said Courtney Long, a third grade teacher at Timber Grove Elementary School in Owings Mills. “I enjoy using rotations in my lessons to allow for the students to collaborate and move as well and there are many first week resources on TpT which I use to teach routines and establish classroom rules.”

Hayley Donnell is a first grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School in Baltimore City.

Courtesy Photo

Hayley Donnell is a first grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School in Baltimore City.

Hayley Donnell, a first grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School in Baltimore says that TpT has been a big help in getting her organized.

“TpT lets me search for specifically what I need. I sort by grade level, category, and standard, so it’s very simple to find materials that are relevant to what I need,” Donnell said. “It’s a great tool for teachers because we have so many things to plan and so little time to get it all done. It’s a great way to utilize what other teachers have created [to] save yourself some time. Also, I find really great concepts and lessons that I never would have thought of on my own, so it helps me to differentiate and make my lessons more meaningful.” she said.

Baltimore City Public Schools 2nd  grade teacher Jill Schoffler is transitioning to a general education reading position this year.

Courtesy Photo

Baltimore City Public Schools 2nd grade teacher Jill Schoffler is transitioning to a general education reading position this year.

Second grade teacher Jill Schoffler in the city’s school district says she is transitioning from a special education resource room position to a general education reading position and sees TpT as welcome help.

“In the past I’ve used it to help plan lessons, to provide scaffolding support for students, supplement curriculum, and for activities and games,” Schoffler said.

“Because I will be teaching students of all levels this year, I plan to use TpT for enrichment ideas to support my higher-level students as well. “I think TpT is valuable to teachers and students because the resources you are able to find on the website are organized, fun, and useful.”

The materials and resources are designed by teachers and school employees who truly understand the content, as well as how to deliver it to students in a creative and fun way, Schoffler pointed out.

“These resources not only help teachers who need a little extra support but also keep things fun and meaningful to students. There is something for everyone on there, which makes it versatile, all while being easily accessible,” she said.

Former NIST Director Appointed Vice President For Research And Economic Development At MSU

— Morgan State University (MSU) President David Wilson has appointed Willie E. May, Ph.D., as the new vice president for Research and Economic Development for the university.

Dr. May comes to Morgan from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he was director of major research and training initiatives for the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. Before that, he served for three years as U.S. undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), as an appointee of former President Barack Obama.

Dr. May is the second vice president of Morgan’s Division of Research and Economic Development (D-RED),

replacing the former vice president Victor McCrary, Ph.D., who was appointed by President Wilson when D-RED was established, in 2012.

“Dr. May is a welcomed addition to Morgan’s staff. With the establishment of a dedicated division for University research and the State’s designation of Morgan as its Preeminent Public Urban Research University, it was imperative that we tap one of the top scientific minds available to continue our momentum and lead us in the future,” said President Wilson. “He will play a huge role in our success in meeting the goals we have set for Morgan’s research and economic development work.”

D-RED has overseen more than $154 million in awarded contracts and grants since its founding six years ago and guided Morgan to the execution of its first-ever technology transfer licensing contract this year. Dr. May’s plans as D-RED vice president include, among others, encouraging collaborative research across the schools, colleges and institutes of the University; advocating for faculty in research; promoting Morgan to corporations, foundations and government agencies as a source of return on research investments; facilitating increased international research opportunities for faculty and students; and enlisting his broad network to assist Morgan in enhancing its programs and its status as Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University.

School Bus Safety 101

— For millions of school-age children in the United States, each day begins and ends with a bus ride. While the school bus is the safest way to travel to and from school, according to the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT), it’s important for parents to teach their children how to stay safe in and around the school bus as obstructed views, distracted drivers and more can put kids at risk.

These tips from the experts at NAPT and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) provide parents with some

additional measures to take and lessons to teach to increase safety going to and from the bus, and even during the ride.

Before the Bus Arrives

•Ensure backpacks are packed securely so papers and other items don’t scatter as the bus approaches.

•Create a morning routine that puts kids at the bus stop five minutes before the scheduled pickup time. This helps avoid a last-minute rush, when safety lessons are easily forgotten, and ensures kids are safely in place for boarding.

•Encourage children to wear bright, contrasting colors so they can be seen easier by drivers.

•Walk young children to the bus stop or encourage kids to walk in groups. There is safety in numbers; groups are easier for drivers to see.

•If kids must cross a street, driveway or alley, remind them to stop and look both ways before crossing.

•Verify the bus stop location offers good visibility for the bus driver; if changes are needed, talk with nearby homeowners or school district officials to implement changes. Never let kids wait in a house or car, where the driver may miss seeing them approach the bus.

•Remind children that the bus stop is not a playground. Balls or other toys could roll into the street and horseplay can result in someone falling into the path of oncoming traffic.

•Instruct children to stay at least three steps away from the road and allow the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching it.

On the Bus Ride

•When boarding the bus, items can get bumped and dropped. Caution children that before picking anything up, they should talk to the driver and follow instructions to safely retrieve their possessions.

•Teach safe riding habits: stay seated with head, hands and feet inside at all times; keep bags and books out of the aisle and remain seated until the bus stops moving.

•Instruct children to never throw things on the bus or out the windows and to never play with or block emergency exits.

•Remind kids that just like when riding in a car, loud noises are off limits so they don’t distract the driver. That

includes cellphones and other electronic devices; instruct children to put them on mute or use headphones.

Leaving the Bus

•Remind children to look before stepping off the bus. If they must cross the street, teach them to do so in front of the bus by taking five big steps (approximately 10 feet) away from the front of the bus, looking up and waiting for the driver to signal that it is safe.

•For parents who meet their kids at the bus, remember that in their excitement kids may dart across the street. Eliminate the risk by waiting on the side of the street where kids exit the bus.

•Make the bus ride part of your daily “how was school?” discussion. Encourage kids to talk about the things they see and hear on the bus so you can discuss appropriate behaviors and, if necessary, report any concerns to school administrators. As bullying is prevalent and buses are no exception, ask your child to tell you about any bullying they observe, whether against another child or themselves, and talk about how to shut down bully behaviors.

For more information and additional school bus safety tips, visit:

Eight Not-To-Miss Fall Festivals In Annapolis And Anne Arundel County

— In Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, fall means more than back to school. It means fun, fun at a whole host of old and new festivals celebrating the area’s unique culture and cuisine. Where to begin? Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County has pulled together a handy list of fall celebrations the whole family can enjoy. For a more complete listing, check out

Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day, August 25-October 21- Maryland Renaissance Festival

Back for its 42nd year, the second largest Renaissance Festival in the country immerses visitors in the culture of Revel Grove, a 16th-century English village, complete with King Henry VIII and his court. Merriment abounds as guests stroll a 24-acre site featuring more than 250 performers on ten stages. Jugglers, magicians, musicians, comedians and artists thrill audiences at every turn, while 130 craft shops, 42 food and beverage emporiums and a host of games and attractions give festivalgoers every opportunity to dress, dine and celebrate as in the courts of old. A major highlight is watching chivalrous knights bring Maryland’s official sport to life in a 3,000-seat jousting arena. 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., 1821 Crownsville Road, Annapolis. 800-296-7304,

Saturday-Sunday, September 8-9

Maryland Seafood Festival

Let the flavors of the Chesapeake Bay tingle your taste buds during a weekend full of delicious seafood dishes, interactive cooking demonstrations, exciting competitions, kids’ activities and more. Come prepared to identify your favorite crab soup during the 51st annual event’s ever-popular crab soup cookoff. A host of local craft beers and wines will help ensure you end up with perfect pairings – all on the beautiful shores of the Chesapeake Bay! Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sandy Point State Park, 1100 East College Parkway, Annapolis. 410-353-9237,

Wednesday-Sunday, September 12-16

Anne Arundel County Fair

Experience the ‘good old days’ all over again at the 66th annual Anne Arundel County Fair! Learn secrets of the trade from 4H Club members. Master the art of hog calling. Cheer on your favorite sow in the pig races. From camel rides, amusement rides and interactive car racing, to homemade wines, home-brewed beers and wood carving demonstrations, the Anne Arundel County Fair is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to celebrate the county’s rich agricultural heritage. Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, 1450 Generals Highway, Crownsville. 410-923-3400,

Saturday, September 15

Amps and Ales Craft Beer and Music Festival

The popular Amps and Ales Craft Beer and Music Festival is back for a second year at a new location – the Arundel Mills Entertainment District. The event features unlimited samples of more than 40 craft beers from 14 area breweries, including DuClaw, Flying Dog, Heavy Seas, Jailbreak and Monument City. New this year, wine lovers can enjoy tastings in Linganore Winecellars’ Wine Garden. On the music scene, Kanye Twitty, Jah Works and Black Alley will perform live throughout the day. In addition to getting their music fix, concertgoers will have an opportunity to get their fill of delicious eats served by ten popular food trucks, including Mother Shucker’s P.N.B. Seafood, Tiny Brick Oven, Baltimore Crab Cake Company and Anegada Delights. Individuals who love a challenge will be invited to help break the record for the “World’s Largest Flip Cup Game.” Presented by Symmetry Agency, Humdinger Productions, Live! Casino & Hotel and Arundel Mills Mall. 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Arundel Mills Cinemark parking lot near the north entrance of Live! Casino and Hotel, 7002 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover. 443-292-4064,

Saturdays and Sundays, September 22-October 28

Greenstreet Gardens Fall Festival

Experience family fun on the farm! Get lost in a six-acre corn maze, tackle the underground slide and explore the new woodlands. Hop aboard the cow train and enjoy the beauty of a hay ride through the fall countryside. Jump on a pillow and into the corn box. Get your face and hair painted, check out the tire tower, and more. 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Greenstreet Gardens, 391 West Bay Front Road, Lothian. 410-867-9500, ext. 208,

Saturday, September 29

Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival

The rich heritage of Kunta Kinte comes to life in a family-friendly cultural festival celebrating the history and heritage of individuals of African-American, African and Caribbean descent. Featuring live music and dance as well as ethnic foods and wares, the 29th annual event focuses on the life and times of Kunta Kinte, a Gambian slave whose story is captured on the pages of author Alex Haley’s book, Roots: Saga of an American Family. Sponsored by Kunta Kinte Celebrations. 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Susan Campbell Park, City Dock, Annapolis. 240-801-5543,

Sunday, September 30

Annapolis Italian Festival

The fifth annual event honors Santa Madre Cabrini (Frances Xavier Cabrini), an Italian-American religious sister who helped Italian immigrants settle in the United States. Enjoy delicious Italian food and desserts, “exotic” Italian cars, ‘how to’ demonstrations, continuous music and a host of shopping opportunities. Parking is free. 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sons & Daughters of Italy Lodge 2225, 620 Ridgely Avenue, Annapolis.,

Sunday, October 21

16th Annual Oyster Festival

Enjoy food, live music by local artists, unique crafts, face painting and demonstrations highlighting the vital role oysters play in maintaining the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Seafood lovers are invited to feast on raw and fried oysters, oyster stew, fried oyster roll sushi, cream of crab soup, Maryland crab soup, and much more. Hamburgers, hotdogs and homemade desserts will also be available. 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Captain Avery Museum, 1418 East West Shady Side Road, Shady Side. Call 410-867-4486.