Fifteen years ago, Mildred Rugur was a literacy volunteer tutor and Elaine Lu was her Chinese student. Mildred is now 99 and they have become very good friends. Mildred sees their unique friendship as a gift.

Elaine married an American librarian and has since moved to the States, and Mildred retired as a school teacher and has since tutored English. Elaine spoke zero English but the language barrier eventually broke and their language learning experiences even paved way for great friendship.

Last month, Mildred and Elaine went to Paris and London together where Elaine realized firsthand how convenient it is to know how to speak English. They both encourage everyone to volunteer teaching at Literacy Volunteers.  Personalized children’s books can also be a benefit.

Tutors don’t really need a special degree in English to help. The Literacy Volunteers program director, Nancy Esty states that, “The program offers basic literacy or English as a second language skill and is in desperate need of tutors. The demand for instruction seems to increase each month with learner applicants. She adds that, “The only degree you need is a degree of caring.”



99-year-old literacy teacher is making a difference


This is a new development in improving teachers’ ability to help children learn. Several research have shown that teachers who know more about emphatic teaching and understanding students’ grief are more able to help their students learn or improve the children’s ability to learn. This new stock of knowledge is a great means for teachers who really want to improve their students’ test scores. Several studies reveal that neighborhood stress and depression from the loss of a loved one for instances, have great effect on a child’s ability to be receptive to his teacher’s lessons. Teachers then are encouraged to provide emotional support to their students as well, aside from giving them just plain/technical educational guidance.


   Why We Should Teach Empathy To Improve Education (And Test Scores)

    Teaching teachers about students’ grief

‘Molecules Gone Wild (Bio Style)’. A high-school teacher in Shaker Heights, Ohio teaches a lesson in science in a video – Gangnam style. It’s actually a fun parody on the viral sensation music video of the song by Psy “Gangnam Style.”

The guy behind the very cool educational video ‘Molecules Gone Wild (Bio Style)’ is Mr. Hsu who has adapted the title and lyrics to teach about biomolecules, carbohydrates, lipids, glucose, protein, nucleic acids. He himself is also the guy behind the singing and dancing. He even performed the song live to his students before their test. Now that’s fun learning! (PS: He also included an mp3 and Power Point version of his lesson in the video.)

Here’s the lyrics:


Molecules Gone Wild!

Bio Style!


Carbohydrates provide the energy for your life!

The simplest form, like glucose, is known as a monosaccharide

Combine two, and make a larger sugar called disaccharide

The largest is a polysaccharide!


Lipids are the fats!

3 fatty acids with a glycerol make up the fats:

Triglycerides with only single bonds are saturated fats,

But if there’re double bonds they now become unsaturated fats

Don’t eat too much fat!


Monomers build to polymers filled

With C, H, O! Hey!

Molecule’s macro! Hey!


One with HO, other with H, so

Bond and go! Hey!

Release H2O! Hey!


Dehydration Synthesis is underway!!!


Molecules Gone Wild!

Bio Style

Mol-Mol-Mol-Mol Molecules Gone Wild!

Bio Style

Mol-Mol-Mol-Mol Molecules Gone Wild!


Many Polymers-mers-mers-mers:

Molecules Gone Wild!

Many Polymers-mers-mers-mers!


Proteins: the building blocks that make up your whole body

Your skin, your hair, your muscles – need protein to get the hotties!

Break down polypeptide to amino acids in your body

Nitrogen comes to the party!


Nucleic Acids!

The famous one is DNA that’s known by all you kids

With 2 polynucleotide chains linked to make it valid,

Which breaks into single nucleotides when it’s digested;

Phosphorous added!


When you eat food, to get in the mood (to study),

Molecules will flow! Hey!

Straight down your throat! Hey!


Need to break those big polymers, so

Here’s H2O! Hey!

Splits to H and O! Hey!


Hydrolysis is what I just now displayed!!!


Molecules Gone Wild!

Bio Style

Mol-Mol-Mol-Mol Molecules Gone Wild!

Bio Style

Mol-Mol-Mol-Mol Molecules Gone Wild!


Many Polymers-mers-mers-mers:

Molecules Gone Wild!

Many Polymers-mers-mers-mers!


Food deforms

Into its simplest forms!

When you eat it, break it down,

Then it reforms!


Now you’re informed!

So please study more!

Study, Study,

Read your notes and textbook


You know what I’m saying?


Molecules Gone Wild!


Many Polymers-mers-mers-mers:

Molecules Gone Wild!

Many Polymers-mers-mers-mers!


Molecules Gone Wild!

Teachers are now being given incentives to keep performing better and get rewarded for efforts.  Charleston County Schools will be given $23.7 million Teacher Incentive Fund (federal grant) around the year 2015 but teacher evaluations will start next year. This is a performance-based compensation system that rewards exceptional teachers based not only on their students’ test scores but also on how the teachers actually perform in their jobs most especially in the classroom.

This will greatly improve the quality of education most especially in high-poverty schools like Matilda Dunston Elementary where the best teachers are needed.

The teachers will not get disadvantaged financially as the program awards monetary funds excluding the teachers’ basic salaries. If a teacher’s evaluation result doesn’t fair well, for instance, then she still gets her salary, but without a bonus of course from the incentive fund. The teacher too will be encouraged to keep her scores up as a negative evaluation may still cost her her job .

Included in the program though are training programs for the teachers to increase their competence to meet the new standards.

Read the full  story here at: Post and Courier

Good teachers will always be remembered. Her bond with her students will remain forever.

Last Spring in La Porte, Indiana, four former Mill Creek High School students, Sandy Moyer Bertolan, Judy Daniel McPherson, Phyllis Jones Hanna, and Beverly Peterson Woodcox reunite with their teacher Eunice Conrad after 54 years.

Bertolan has been recently in contact with Ms. Conrad sending her letters and Christmas cards for the last 9 years and she thought it would be fun to gather her friends and visit their former teacher in Fort Wayne. She then contacted Ms. Conrad who was thrilled with the idea.

Fresh out of college, Ms. Conrad took the position as an English teacher at Mill Creek High School even though it meant she had to teach physical education as well.

“It was certainly a learning experience,” says Ms. Conrad, “… I taught everything I know today.” Conrad says that looking back, believes she had taught her students well. She was very fond of them. Conrad shares that she had some very good students while there were also some that pushed her to the limit.

She relates one story in which students put a sparrow in her desk drawer. But of course “Being a country girl, I didn’t scream,” says only Conrad laughing.

Their class of 1958 only had 19 students and “it is kind of like a family… We still stick together,” says Bertolan. She also adds that “[Ms. Conrad] was about 10 years older… She was not that much older than us.” This probably explains the special teacher-student friendship bond.

Over at their lunch reunion, Ms. Conrad surprised her former students by showing them old editions of The La Porte County Herald-Argus she has kept throughout the years. It included the individual pictures of the graduating Mill Creek 1958 class as well as clippings of Bertolan’s wedding picture. She even had a license plate with the print “Mill Creek Wildcats”.

Ms. Conrad said that she hadn’t seen her former students in 54 years and “It was as if I had never left them.” Although she has already retired from teaching since 1995 (at age 65), she says she hopes they would stay in contact.

Bertolan also hopes so, “It was fun… We might meet again next year.”


Read the story here:


Erin Reichert, Bluffton High School teacher, was teary-eyed, speechless, and un-expecting when she came up to the stage to receive her ‘Teacher of the Year Award’ for the Beaufort County School District.

Reichert teaches social studies, sociology, U.S. history, and courses in ‘Youth in Government,’ a national YMCA chapter which she has helped create in Bluffton. Her favorite class is Youth in Government and has been teaching kids about all levels of governance, and even leading students’ mock elections and voters’ registrations in their school.

Reichert says that it was her passion for social studies and civics that drew her to the teaching profession. She also says that her most favorite part about her job is connecting with her students  including those who have already graduated (some of whom have already assumed positions in politics.)

Fellow teacher, Jessica Phillips says that the kids love Reichert – they know she is amazing. She also adds that the teacher cadets always mention Reichert when their discussion is about ‘what makes a great teacher.’ “She pushes them to be better people, not just better students,” says Phillips.

Reichert’s award comes with a one-year free of charge chance to drive a new BMW car lent by Hilton-Head Automotive-BMW Tom Ditzig. She also gets to lead the Beaufort County district’s Teacher Forum for one year.

Reichert now qualifies to compete for the next state Teacher of the Year award.

The Teacher of the Year nominees were evaluated based on their interviews, contribution records, and videos of themselves while teaching.


Island Pocket

School accountability is a sure fact, but we shouldn’t rely too much on the kids’ test scores to determine a teacher’s capacity.

For instance there are kids that perform outstandingly in school even if the teacher only has average skills; and on the other hand, some kids would still perform on average no matter how great the teacher is.

Not all kids who do well in school also do well in life, but here’s a fact: great teachers can 1) make kids show up in school, and 2) help the kids perform to the best of their abilities.

Teachers who nurture their students and teach them ‘life skills,’ seem to have more impact on the lives of their students, not only with their academic education. Good teachers don’t just teach to the test so that their students can pass; best of all, they help encourage the kids to show up in class and help them learn the skills to succeed – in life – not only so that the kids can graduate, but most of all so that wherever they go (whether they go to college or not), they can still have a bright future.

Read also:

Teaching to test doesn’t reflect good teaching

Teach to the test — or how to think?

August 2012 in Watertown, Somerville MA, Breakthrough Greater Boston honored one of their teachers, Noah Jefferson, with the first ever Elizabeth D. Hodder Award. This is to recognize Jefferson’s strong passion and commitment to teaching and great dedication to improve his craft as an educator in the Breakthrough teaching community.

Breakthrough is a non-profit organization that aims to prepare under-served kids to attend college, and at the same time to train the ‘next generation of urban teachers,’ which includes Jefferson.

Noah Jefferson teaches Math to second-year students at Breakthrough, and also works as a mentor to the kids as well as his colleagues. He graduated in the Tufts University Class of 2012 with a BA in Mathematics and is now currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Teaching High-school Math. He once held a National Merit Scholarship and is a recipient of the Robert Noyce Teaching Fellowship at present.

He has great enthusiasm and exceptional teaching skills inside the classroom (according to Ms. Hodder) and is very much dedicated to aim of ‘closing the achievement gap.’ He was presented with the Elizabeth D. Hodder Award during Breakthrough’s “Celebration” end-of-summer event.

“I am honored to have received the Hodder Award and to have had the opportunity to learn and teach at Breakthrough.. The program has been exceptionally rewarding and I hope to use the award to grow as an educator so I can give back to the Breakthrough community and students elsewhere.”


Wicked Local

These days everyone is already familiar with teachers being on the picket-lines. There’s just too little government support for teachers. The wage is too low and they are seldom recognized for their efforts. Even some parents don’t appreciate their kids’ teachers. It is really a tough profession, so why do teachers still continue to teach despite all of this?

Five teachers themselves reveal why they love what they do – teaching.

Reading books from can help young children learn to enjoy reading books.

Ryan Thompson shares why teaching is the best ‘family job’ (he previously had a high-paying corporate job before deciding to become a teacher), Daniel Levi-Sanchez delights in helping kids and guiding them to become confident and passionate individuals, Mary Lynch best of all likes seeing struggling kids succeed (although non-union teachers receive much lesser financial support), Allie Griffin is driven by her deep love for kids, and Renee Longshore had always dreamed of becoming like her own teachers, who had helped her become who she is today and who had inspired her all her youth. These five amazing individuals all have inspiring stories and experiences as teachers. Despite being undervalued and unappreciated, they still take pride in what they do best – helping kids! And that’s very noble.

Read more about them and their stories here: 

Why they teach despite it all (CNN)

Second week of September 2012, Ro Schreiner was honored in a school board meeting for her fifty years of teaching at the Manhattan Beach schools. In that fifty years, Ro didn’t only teach, she served.

As she walked in the door, she was greeted with a standing ovation surprised mostly by her former students.

Everything just started with a 21-year-old’s 1962 graduation dream of working in cities at the beach and becoming teachers with her girl friends in the same school district. That was a promise she made with her friends and now she’s 71 and still happily serving!

Ro’s long-time friend Tracy Windes, former school board member and also a teacher, comments that,

“… the reason Ro got a standing ovation is not because it’s 50 years, it’s because of the quality of the 50 years… “The way she runs her classroom is so inclusive… “She makes the students feel so valued, so loved, so appreciated. More than a teacher, she’s a student. She doesn’t have any judgment. She feels she can learn from a 12-year-old as easily as she can learn from the president of the United States.”

Ro believes in Einstein’s quote that, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

She delights in finding out what everybody has and is great at, appreciates everybody’s strengths and always tries to encourage that.

She also trains her students to share their blessings to others. She often tells the kids, “Being born here, growing up here, having your parents be so generous with their time and money, you guys have been given everything. When you’ve been given everything, it’s your job to give back.”

Ro has been teaching Social Studies to 7th graders and since then has seen the joining of the Begg and Center Schools, it’s evolution into Manhattan Beach Middle School, and frogs in the classroom!

She also serves a mentor to the ASB student government and gets herself involved in the Manhattan Beach Community Church scholarship program and the Manhattan Beach Coordinating Council. Her leadership class hosts lunch with special-needs children and donates to the Redondo Beach food pantry. They also foster families in need at the Richstone Family Center.

Ro says that, “Being a teacher is as good as it gets.” Whenever she is asked when she will retire, she only giggles and says she can’t even imagine it. It would be the last thing she’d ever consider. Kudos to you, teacher!


The Daily Breeze