Books to help you “Choose Kindness” inspired by the book WONDER, by R. J. PALACIO,

Envision a world where all people are accepted for who they are and not how they look.

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April, one of my girlfriends from college whom I have always looked up to as a sweet blessing to our world, is mother to a super hero with Crainiofacial syndrome. Together they are working very hard to raise awareness of Craniofacial Acceptance Month.

Inspired by the book Wonder by R. J. PALACIO, a #1 New York Times Bestseller and listed on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, Random House launched an anti-bullying initiative called the Choose Kind Campaign.

In an effort to help children understand the wonder of our differences and importance of choosing kindness over bullying and ugliness, April and her friends have put together a Choose Kind Wish List for their school library. Families are invited to donate any of the books listed to help build the library. Each donated book has a nameplate for dedications and the books are even marked as “Choose Kind” books! This is such a brilliant idea.

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Here is a list of children and young adult books that celebrate differences and encourage understanding, compassion, acceptance, empathy and inclusion.

The CHOOSE KIND Library Book List

  1. Monday is One Day Levine, Arthur: (p-k) Working Parents; Family Differences
  2. Mama Zooms Cowen-Fletcher, Jane: (p-1st) Wheelchairs
  3. Moon Rabbit Russell, Natalie: (p-1st) Self-Acceptance; Unlikely Friendship
  4. Just a Little Different Mayer, Mercer: (p-1st) Differences; Interracial Families
  5. What’s Wrong with Timmy? Shriver, Maria: (p-1st) Down Syndrome
  6. Skin Again Bell Books: (p-2nd) Race; Identity
  7. Howie Helps Himself Fassler, Joan: (p-2nd) Cerebral Palsy
  8. Clifford Vista el Hospital Bridwell, Norman: (p-2nd) Hospitalization
  9. The Name Jar Choi, Yangsook: (p-2nd) Cultural Diversity; Self-Acceptance
  10. Night Shift Daddy Spinelli, Eileen: (p-2nd) Socioeconomic Difference
  11. How Kind! Murphy, Mary: (p-2nd) Good Deeds
  12. What Can You Do?: Inspiring Kids to Play Haring, Kevin Arnold: 9p-2nd) Spina Bifida
  13. I Accept You as You Are! Parker, David: (k-2nd) Acceptance of Difference
  14. Dotty the Dalmatian has Epilepsy Peters, Tim and Epilepsy Foundation of America: (k-2nd) Epilepsy
  15. Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed Pearson, Emily: (p-3rd) Kindness;Social Responsibility
  16. Lost & Found Jeffers, Oliver: (p-3rd) Friendship
  17. Alex & Lulu: Two of a Kind Siminovach,Lorena: (p-3rd) Friendship Despite Difference
  18. Frog & Toad are Friends Label, Arnold: (p-3rd) Unlikely Friendship
  19. How Full is Your Bucket? Rath, Tom: (p-3rd) Behavior, Emotions, Self-Esteem
  20. Will You Fill My Bucket? McCloud, Carol: (p-3rd) Behavior, Emotions, Self-Esteem, Cultural Differences
  21. My Mouth is a Volcano Cook, Julia: (p-3rd)Behavior, Emotions, Self-Esteem, Respecting Others, Manners
  22. Diana Estubo en el Hospital Givaudan, Diana C.: (p-3rd) Hospitalization
  23. Let’s Talk About It: Extraordinary Friends Rogers,Fred: (p-3rd) Disabilities
  24. My Princess Boy Kilodavis, Cheryl: (p-3rd) Unconditional Love; Gender Roles; Acceptance
  25. Zoom! Munsch, Robert: (p-3rd) Wheelchairs
  26. I’m Just Small,That’s All Braithwaite, Karalee: (p-3rd) Dwarfism
  27. Lee, The Rabbit with Epilepsy Moss, Deborah M.: (p-3rd) Epilepsy
  28. No Fair to Tigers Hoffman, Eric: (p-3rd) Courage; Standing up to Injustice
  29. Mixed Blessings Cosman, Marsha: (p-3rd) Interracial Identity; Multicultural Differences
  30. The Lemonade Club Polacco, Patricia: (p-3rd) Cancer; Friendship and Support
  31. My Brother Charlie Robinson, Holly and Ryan Elizabeth Pete: (k-3rd) Siblings of Difference; Autism
  32. Ballerina Dreams Ferrara, Joann: (k-3rd) Overcoming Obstacles; Determination; Hope;Courage
  33. My Brain Won’t Float Away Perez, Annette: (1st-3rd) Hydrocephalus
  34. Stand in My Shoes Sornson Bob: (p-5th) Behavior, Emotions, Self-Esteem
  35. Rosa Giovanni, Nikki: (p-5th) Differences; Race; Civil Rights; Courage
  36. Imagine Me on a Sit-Ski! Moran, George: (1st-4th) Cerebral Palsy
  37. What is Dyslexia? Hultquist, Alan M.: (1st-4th) Dyslexia
  38. Nice Wheels Hooks, Gwendolyn: (1st-4th) Wheelchairs
  39. Make Way for Dymonde Daniel Grimes, Nikki: (1st-4th) Self-Acceptance; Race
  40. Children, Just Like Me Kindersley, Anabel & Barnabas: (k-6th) Cultural Diversity
  41. Stretching Ourselves: Kids with Cerebral Palsy Carter, Alden R.: (k-6th) Cerebral Palsy
  42. Can I Tell You about Dyspraxia? Boon, Maureen: (1st-6th) Dyspraxia
  43. The Goodenoughs Get in Sync Kranowitz, Carol Stock: (1st-8th) Sensory Processing Disorder
  44. The Barn at Gun Lake Tuitel, Johnny and Sharon Lamson: (3rd-6th) Cerebral Palsy
  45. The Great Gilly Hopkins Paterson, Katherine: (3rd-6th) Fostercare
  46. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson Lord, Bette: (3rd-6th) Race; Immigration; Cultural Diversity
  47. The Lemonade War Davies, Jacqueline: (3rd-7th) Sibling Rivalry; Pride; Values
  48. Hey World, Here I Am Little, Jean: (3rd-7th) Self-Awareness; Emotions
  49. The Thing About Georgie Graff, Lisa: (3rd-7th) Dwarfism; Self-Confidence
  50. Rules Lord, Cynthia: (3rd-7th) Autism; Siblings of Difference
  51. Liesl & Po Oliver, Lauren: (3rd-7th) Depression; Friendship
  52. The Great Unexpected Creech, Sharon: (3rd-7th) Friendship; Forgiveness
  53. Bridge to Terabitha Paterson, Katherine: (3rd-7th) Friendship; Loss
  54. Wringer Spinelli, Jerry: (3rd-7th) Peer Pressure; Character; Gender Roles; Bullying
  55. Jacob Have I Loved Paterson, Katherine: (5th-9th) Self-Knowledge; Sibling Rivalry
  56. Eleanor and Park Rowell, Rainbow: (7th-12th) First Love; Self-Acceptance; Individuality
  57. Stargirl Spinelli, Jerry: (7th-12th) Individuality; Popularity
  58. Maniac Magee Spinelli, Jerry: (7th-12th) Race; Orphan Identity; Defining Family
  59. King and King de Haan, Linda and Stern Nijland: (3rd-5th) Diversity
  60. The Sissy Duckling Fierstein, Harvey: (K-3rd) Diversity

Educating Boys: What We Learned from a Year of Co-education

The percentage of boys going on to college has dropped precipitously over the past 50 years—from 70 percent to 42 percent. That alarming number from the book Boys Adrift maintains that the decline has taken place even while the ratio of boys to girls has remained about the same: 51 percent to 49 percent.

Recently, a growing chorus of voices among education experts has advocated the need to refocus attention on boys’ academic performance as its decline has become too great to ignore. A lengthy but fascinating article in The Atlantic magazine by Christina Hoff Sommers details what she dubs the “war on boys.” As a community, we are seeking answers as to what has caused the drop and how to bring boys back from the brink.

As an educator at an all-boys school, I am often drawn into a debate about the merits of single-sex education. At Saint Stanislaus, we have had an unusual opportunity to witness both single-sex and co-educational settings at play.

Post-Hurricane Katrina, our campus became a real-life lab as we hosted students from our neighboring sister school. Our Lady Academy suffered total devastation of its campus in the storm surge of 2005. We opened our doors wide to welcome them to Saint Stanislaus and for one year, we were “two schools, one spirit.”

It was an instructive experience. The good news was that our boys started to comb their hair and use deodorant regularly, mindful of their status with the girls. As we have always known, women certainly have a civilizing effect on men – and that is important. However, the downsides in the classroom were all too apparent from the outset.

Where once our young men would focus in class on the material, they were distracted and less likely to participate or pay attention to the teacher; where we had a thriving group of school leaders who took the initiative in Student Council and other formal organizations, the girls dominated and boys lost their gumption.

Our faculty quickly noticed that, although the boys were better behaved and smelled nice, they were missing much more critical components of their formation – active participation and willingness to engage in the classroom, strong leadership and involvement in extracurricular activities and the bright-eyed ambition that our boys had been known for.

I was happy to have the girls in my classes because they were smart, interesting and almost always prepared, but I grew frustrated at how reticent even my most talented boys had become. In a private conversation with a student I had previously recognized for his intellect and insight, he confided that he was simply petrified of “looking stupid in front of the girls if I say the wrong thing.” His calculation seemed to follow Mark Twain’s advice that it is “better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

When the challenging year came to a close, the consensus among both faculties of Saint Stanislaus and Our Lady Academy was that this experiment had been necessary and instructive (and had its own moments of fun), but was not a situation we wanted to continue. The faculty and the kids all learned some important lessons about co-existing happily with our neighbors, but they also poignantly understood, both practically and intellectually, the clear value of giving both adolescent boys and girls the space they need to grow academically and emotionally.

school admissions, tuitions and deadlines.

Complete the form below to download the 2013-2014 List of Schools and Nursery/Preschools

Now that your feet are planted firmly on the ground and you’ve brushed off the holidaze, it’s time to start planning for the 2013-2014 school year. Whether you’re new to town, thinking about making a switch or about to send your little one off to school for the very first time, we’ve put together two handy little spreadsheets for you to use as you navigate New Orleans’ school admissions, tuitions and deadlines. Yay, fun.

A few things to note about these lists:

We included the most notable schools and early childhood programs. If your school is not included, please email us so we can add them.

Other things to ask about on tours that are not included in the spreadsheet:

  • Student/teacher ratios: We felt like each school determined this number differently and the numbers can change throughout the school day depending on the subject. For example, an 18:1 ratio might make sense in a P.E. class but may not work for your child in a math class. Just be sure to ask the question if this is important to your family.
  • Girl/boy ratios: Again, these numbers can change within a school year and/or classroom. Depending on your child’s personality, this breakdown could be important to ask about.
  • Here’s an overview of eleven education models available in the city.

Hope this helps!

Complete the form below to download the 2013-2014 List of Schools and Nursery/Preschools.


Your Name*

Your Email *

Zip Code *

Number of children in household *

Gender and Birth Year of Children

Child 1GenderBirth Year

Child 2 GenderBirth Year

Child 3 GenderBirth Year

Child 4 GenderBirth Year

How did you hear about this?*

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Select the form(s) you wish to download.


School Admissions, Tuitions and Deadlines (Jan 2013)
Nursery/Early Childhood/Preschools (Jan 2013)

sandy hook: 20 mindful moments.

On the morning of Friday, December 14th, I kissed our girls goodbye as my husband tucked them in the car to go to school. He stood in the crowd of parents and listened to Imagination Mover Rich sing happily to a crowd of enthusiastic children at Morning Meeting. Such days are typical at their school – celebrating community through music and the creative arts. After the children recited the Number One Rule – “Be Kind” — my husband held the small little hand of his kindergarten child, walked her to her classroom, gave her a kiss and sent her off for a day of exploration and discovery with her friends. It was like any other day.

Until it wasn’t.

Monday I drove our girls to school and listened to the steady rhythm of the guitar at Morning Meeting playing “You Are My Sunshine.” The mood was somber, the sky was gray and this time the children and parents wore different expressions. The students waved their hands and sang along, most of them unaware of the heaviness of the day. The parents choked back tears, stared blankly or held on to younger siblings in their arms a little more tightly.

The days will turn ordinary again, but I hope that 12/14 will be a day we never forget. I hope that we look into the eyes of a teacher with gratitude and humility, and acknowledge his or her bravery and servitude. They have and they will die for our children.

I hope that in the pictures of the beautiful children who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary, we see our own children and realize that we have “firsts” with our children, not “lasts”. I hope that instead of being plagued by “what if’s”, that we will ponder “what now?” I hope that 12/14 will be a call to action, not for politicians, lobbyists or healthcare executives, but for parents.

Maybe, we’ll be more mindful.

My “what now” is simple. I am committing to twenty mindful moments in memory of the twenty children who died in Connecticut and you can join me. Being emotionally available and present with our children builds positive relationships, secure attachment, social competence and emotional intelligence. The best thing we can give to our children is time, attention and affection. I hope. Because it’s the only thing that will keep us moving forward, believing in the inherent goodness of all people.

Dedicated Parent: An innovative early childhood education program

Your child is considered capable and intelligent, a born learner, a student of his and her environment (both inside and outside the classroom), an explorer, a problem-solver, and member of and contributor to a larger community.

This is the foundation of a Reggio Emilia-inspired learning environment.

This is Little Gate.

Through the Little Gate: A Reggio Discovery Day Video

Parents of children ages 1-3 are invited to an Open House on Thursday, October 11, from 4:30-6:30pm at 1538 Philip Street, to learn more about the Little Gate program and how your children will benefit from a Little Gate education. For more information, visit the Little Gate website or call (504) 523-9911 to schedule a personal tour.

Sponsored post.

Getting Our Children the Education They Deserve

My wife, Erin, and I moved to New Orleans with our two young children in July 2009, to be a part of the historic education reforms and improvements happening all over the city. We are both teachers and were drawn by the opportunity to contribute to what many said was the center for public education reform nationally.

We were quickly smitten with New Orleans (once the humidity broke!). Our neighbors regularly convened at a nearby playground. Our house of worship was warm and welcoming. We even found great friends in the families of our kids’ pre-school classmates. We had found our family’s home.

But after one year in New Orleans, we realized that the very thing that initially attracted us here also presented a most daunting challenge: public schools. Both Erin and I grew up attending public schools, spent our career working in public schools, and moved to a new city to work in the public school system. Now it was time for us to navigate the various school options and find an elementary school that was a good fit for our daughter. We were overwhelmed. Even as career educators, we found the process challenging. Every night we found ourselves asking the same questions:

What should we value in a school?
Does small class size really matter?
Is [insert private school here] really worth [$8,000 – $14,000] a year? I mean, I know it’s a good school, but is it that much better than the public options out there?
What does it mean to be arts-based? Does that even matter?
What is a community school?
How should I evaluate a school’s literacy program?
How important is diversity?
How should I interpret test scores?
What about foreign language instruction?
…and it went on and on.

These questions led me to start talking with other parents about what they wanted in a school and eventually motivated me to start working on what would become Bricolage Academy. It’s a journey that I have been on for 18 months and one that I hope to be on for a long time.

Early on in the process, I read a book called The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Children the Education They Deserve, by Peg Tyre, a nationally known education reporter and author who also wrote the NY Times Best Seller, The Trouble With Boys.

In The Good School, Peg breaks down education research in a way that is easy for parents to understand and act upon. The book answers some of the questions above and many more. I found it incredibly informative, even as a teacher. It is a must read for any parent choosing a school for their child.

It turned out that Peg was a friend of a friend and I jumped at the chance to bring her to New Orleans to speak with parents and families. I am excited to invite any parent in the New Orleans area to Loyola University this Saturday for a conversation with Peg. She’ll talk about her research, the contents of the book and engage in a spirited Q & A session.

This is a free event, and it is open to the public. If you have a child entering Kindergarten next year, or if you are re-evaluating the school options for your child, The Good School is a must read, and I strongly encourage you to attend this Saturday.

The details:

What: A Conversation with Peg Tyre, author of The Good School
When: Saturday 3:00 – 4:30.
Where: Loyola University’s Miller Hall (corner of Loyola and Calhoun), room 112
Register:  http://goodschool.eventbrite.com

Sponsored by: Bricolage Academy of New Orleans

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