Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stewards of Children Prevention Training available in Durham

On March 16th, adults can make a difference in the lives of children by taking Stewards of Children Training through Durham's Child S.A.F.E. from 2:00-5:00 at the Durham Center at 414 E. Main Street.  Stewards of Children is an evidence-based prevention training program that teaches adults how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.   I have taken this training myself and found it completely enlightening in my role as a parent, as a community advocate, and someone who works in an organization that also serves children and youth.  I highly recommend it to every adult and parents with children at any age.  I really knew very little about this topic and recent news events remind us that most of us simply don't know enough.
The statistics are shocking with 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys experiencing some form of sexual abuse by the age of 18.  Stewards of Children is for anyone who wants to make a difference in their community by educating themselves about the protection of children.  
You will see the contact information for registration and details at the link below.  This is also a training that can be offered to adults in the community, at your school or church on request.  Nancy Kent’s contact information is on the flyer if you are interested in bringing the training to a group you are involved with.
Here is the flyer to learn more....

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Budget Time Comes to Durham

It is time for the annual discussion and debate around the DPS budget.  What do we know?  We know that we face yet another year of shrinking resources and great demands on our local system.  Durham Public Schools launched their 2012-2013 Budget Page on their website:

You will see several documents, including one called Transportation Savings Suggestions and another with budget suggestions.  We will write more about this in the next few weeks.  Some of the transportation suggestions emerged during a portion of the conversation around magnet schools, so some may be familiar. There will certainly be additional information posted on the budget site in the weeks to come.

You are asked to give input into the budget process.  There is form for budget suggestions on the page at  You will also see some budget cutting suggestions listed on the website.   It will be important for parents and community members to get involved and share what is most important to you.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Summer Camp for Kids with Special Needs

February starts the long process of figuring out summer camps for many families.  For families with children with special needs, determining the best camp experience for your child is sometimes a bit more difficult.  On March 1st from 5:30-8:00PM there will be a special presentation on inclusive summer camps.  This program is sponsored by the Family Support Network and Durham's Local Interagency Coordinating Council at Greystone Baptist Church, 2601 Hillsborough Road.  A light dinner and childcare are provided.  They ask that you register.  You can do this by contacting Beth Hutson at 560-3000 or

Here's a flyer about the event...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

NC High School Accountability Testing Changing in 2011-2012

In talking with parents, we have found that many are unaware of the changes to the accountability and testing systems for high school students in North Carolina.  Some are aware that the state eliminated many End-of-Course (EOC) tests last year, leaving English I, Algebra I, and Biology as the only EOC tests that high school students take.  What many don't know is that the state is piloting the use of the ACT, PLAN, and WorkKeys tests for high school students this year.  Next year, 2012-2013, these tests will become part of the North Carolina Accountability system. 

The PLAN will be given to all 10th grade students and is supposed to assess students' current academic development and help plan for the remainder of high school.  Parents may be familiar with ACT as one of the primary college entrance tests; this will be given free of charge to all 11th grade students.  It is designed to assess student skills in English, math, science, and reading.  Both of these tests are connected to the Common Core standards being adopted by NC and 44 other states plus the District of Columbia.  WorkKeys will be given to students in career/technical training in the 12th grade to assess work skills and readiness. 

These tests are expected to provide additional information about how well schools are educating students and to address gaps for students in terms of what they still need to learn. They are planned to be used for assessment and accountability, but will not be part of a grade or an exit requirement for high school.

Here is a synopsis of the change in a pdf format.

And a comprehensive website including resources for parents. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Youth Legislative Assembly Opportunity for Youth--Applications due 2/23

The Youth Legislative Assembly (YLA) is now accepting applications. YLA is a mock legislative session where high school students voice their opinions and vote on issues concerning local, state and national government. The three-day session is patterned after the N.C. General Assembly. The 42nd session of the Youth Legislative Assembly will be held March 23-25, 2012. Application deadline is February 23, 2012.  Individual students can attend and groups can attend with a chaperone.  There is a cost and scholarships are available.  See the application package at the link below.
YLA 2011

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sensory Friendly Films for Durham Students....Next one on 2/18

Northgate Stadium 10 Theater and the DPS Exceptional Children's Department have teamed up to present a monthly series of "Sensory Friendly"  films at the theater.  These films are for any child who has a difficult time attending a traditional movie theater show because of the noise or lighting.  For these films, the lights are on at a low level and the noise is turned down.

February's Sensory Friendly Film will be Big Miracle  on Saturday, Feb. 18th at 10:00AM at Stadium 10 at Northgate
The cost is $5.50 for package (ticket, popcorn and drink) OR $4.00 for film only, cash only.

Please call Karen Carr at 560-2881 for more information. If you would like to know more about this film series and  check out future dates, go to:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

DPS Lottery Applications are Due Friday, February 17th

Durham Public Schools wraps up the application period for magnet and year-round schools this Friday, February 17th.  If you are planning to apply, your application must be submitted online or in-person to the Office of Student Assignment by 5pm.  You can submit BOTH a year-round and a magnet application.  Here are the applications and info online:

A few of my favorite tips for navigating the choice/lottery landscape:
  1. If you are satisfied with your existing school options, don't feel like like you have to apply because everyone else is.  Choice doesn't necessarily mean a school is better.
  2. Know the needs of your child and family.  A school may have a great reputation, but may not quite fit your child or family.  It may not be the best choice for you, even if it is for someone else.
  3. The DPS lottery looks at 1st choice selections first, so what you put first is most important.  For some schools, a second choice may not give you much chance, if any, of getting your selection.
If you are thinking about applying for a public charter school, their deadlines vary, so you need to check with the specific school you are considering as soon as possible.  I have noticed application deadlines ranging from various dates in February through April. 

If you are really struggling with these decisions or the process, please call us at 560-0538 for a parent coaching session and we can help you work through this process and your concerns.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Special Opportunity for 4th to 6th grade Girls at Duke on February 18th

There is a great free opportunity for Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Durham Girls to participate in the capstone event of  Duke's FEMMES (Females Excelling More in Math Engineering and Science)  program on Saturday, February 18th.  FEMMES is a free one-day outreach program introducing young women from Durham (4th through 6th grade) to math, science and engineering.  The registration period has been extended and there are more spaces for girls to participate.
The goal of FEMMES (Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering and Science) is to give girls hands-on experience in the math, science, and engineering fields where women are often greatly under-represented. By using female volunteers and faculty members, FEMMES hopes to demonstrate that women can and do excel in these fields. Each faculty volunteer directs a hands-on activity that shows something interesting and fun about their area of expertise (for a list of this year’s faculty volunteers and their activities, please visit the “Faculty” link). Student volunteers lead groups to the activities and act as mentors for the day to our program’s participants.  The events take place on the campus of Duke University and include lunch.
They have extended their registration deadline from the February 8th deadline marked on the forms due to available spots.  Here are the registration forms in English and Spanish:

FEMMES Registration English

FEMMES Registration Spanish

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Free Opportunity to Visit Durham Museum of Life and Science

This Sunday February 12 is Durham Appreciation Day--a free opportunity to visit the Museuem of Life and Science!

On this day the Museum invites Durham residents to visit the Museum. No admission fee; please consider a donation! Experience the tropics in the Magic Wings Butterfly House, go back in time on the Dinosaur Trail and fossil dig site, explore new exhibits and visit old favorites. Bring the whole family.
For free admission on February 12, please bring ID (drivers license or utility bill) that shows Durham County residency.  For more information, call 919.220.5429

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

PFAST & LPFAST Help Parents Navigate the Public Schools-Starts February 7th

Starting Tuesday, February 7th , we will offer our popular Parent & Family Advocacy and Support Training Series (PFAST) and Latino PFAST (LPFAST in Spanish) series for parents who want to better understand how to navigate the public school system to help their children succeed.  There are English and Spanish sessions starting on the 7th .  This is a helpful workshop series for parents, grandparents, foster parents, guardians, and anyone else interested in building  positive relationships with their schools.  We also have many professionals who want to learn more about schools take the training as well. Find the flyer and registration form at

PFAST and LPFAST takes place on six Tuesdays, February 7, 14, 21, 28, & March 6 & 13 here at Durham Cooperative Extension, 721 Foster Street from 6:00-8:00PM.  Dinner and childcare are included.  Facilitators for the Spanish sessions are bilingual.  Please Spread the word to parents and others who would be interested.

Topics covered include:

o   Parent Involvement and Advocacy
o   Building a Positive Parent – School Relationship
o   School Choice and School Lotteries
o   NC Standards and No Child Left Behind
o   Improving Parent-School Communication
o   Maximizing Parent-Teacher Conferences
o   Testing / EOGs & EOCs
o   High School Requirements
o   Exceptional Children’s Programs
o   Gifted Education /AIG Programs

The first half of the school just ended.  This is perfect time for families to get better informed and equipped to make the rest of the school year a success.  Please share with those you know who might be interested.