Good morning all:

Weekly Wisdom:

“The Indian Summer, the dead Summer’s soul..” — Mary Clemmer, Presence

”Hot coffee in a clean white mug…..” are the words the crystal voice of Vienna Teng is currently crooning into my ear-buds (Homecoming, from her Warm Strangers disk). This tune and other from my Pandora station are getting me ready for a pleasant Saturday morning. In case you haven’t explored Pandora Internet Radio, you should. I am amazed how advanced the internet radio genome projects have become. Whatever mood I’m in they’ll provide a radio mix that meets it head on. Now, best listen to Teng and sip my “hot coffee in a clean white mug” before it cools down.

Education – Is critical to the future generation, to a community, to a nation. Basically I am a curmudgeon. People hanging around me will quickly discover that, especially with publicly funded entities; I basically see a “dark cloud.”

Here is a bit about three local schools, three stories—three successes. I am about to surprise you.

North Avondale Montessori – walking distance from our home is Marin’s brand new school has a wonderful and rich history. Actually it’s not new; it’s been around since 1927, this is just the third remake. An integrated school from a time when this was something seldom found in our nation. It was rebuilt in 1949 and became a standout example of Art Deco styling. This year was the ribbon cutting of the city’s first totally “green” school.

Two students from that 1927 3rd grade class were speakers at the ribbon cutting—one black and the other white and now best friends. Since their paths had gone in differing directions they were unaware that one had become a fighter pilot and was one of the Tuskegee Airmen. The other had become a bomber pilot flying over Italy. The time was WWII. Forty years later they discovered the fact that the one had provided the air cover for the other; a book was written about their story: Black and White Airmen: Their True History.

However, what has impressed me most is the level of education. In your youth did you ever join a Science Fair? I did, but it was in high school. A week or so ago Marcia and I walked over to see what the 1st through 3rd grade science projects looked like—including Marin’s. Marin’s topic was based on the premise that possibly bugs are larger in areas near the equator due to the fact that the atmosphere’s oxygen content is a bit higher. Three jars of fruit flies volunteered to see whether or not his supposition was correct. We were so impressed. And I urge you to give the little guy a call and ask him about the results yourself.

Taft High School – is a place buried in one of the worst sections of the city. For most of my memory it didn’t disappoint anyone’s perception of being a horrid inner city school, worst not just in the city, but in the state! Here is the proof: for the school year 2000-2001 Graduation rate 20%, Disciplinary actions per 100 students 78.7, Seniors proficient in Math 25%, Seniors proficient in reading 42%.

Meetings were held to start proceedings to close the place. It would have happened except for some citizen push back. As the old saying goes; a fish rots from the head down. A new head had to be recruited, Anthony Smith, a Taft graduate became Principal and brought a new slogan for the school; “Failure is not an Option”. With his new focus and expectations the school started on a path with a technology focus, but that’s not all.

Smith built a major relationship with Cincinnati Bell. Bell provided mentors, volunteers, scholarships, and provided high tech tools such as laptops. From painting the building to tutoring kids the relationship not only stuck, but grew. Now, renamed the Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School the results are astounding; from a slum, fight ridden, place to in 2010 winning the Excellent rating on its Ohio Report Card and to winning a prestigious National Blue Ribbon award. So how big is the change? The 2010 stats; Graduation rate 95.2%, Disciplinary actions per 100 students 7.3, Seniors proficient in Math – over 95%, Seniors proficient in reading – over 95%.

School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) – is the school our Kirstin graduated from. This year it too has moved into new quarters—a stunning, almost college like campus on the edge of downtown. It’s the world’s only, audition to enroll, K through 12 performance arts school and has over 1400 students. This place has always been a jewel for the city—these days it just sparkles a bit more.

Last weekend Marcia and I joined friends and attended the premier production; The Wizard of Oz. Totally professional it was some production. I have no idea how difficult it must have been to bring together a cast of over 80 grade and high school kids to have them all perform and be on “the same page.” Oh yes, there were 50 more kids in the choir and orchestra and I was told another 100 behind the scenes. Wow!

Changes – Guys are basically boring; at least when it comes to clothing, hair style, etc. I am no different. I prefer the old and true clothing; the stuff that totally understands my body and therefore “fits” to perfection—i.e., the older it is the better it is. Marcia might disagree, but I know I am right.

Over the last few weeks it had dawned on me that I was way overdue for a haircut. Day after day there was something in the way and the growth on top and in my neck continued relentlessly.

Years ago I’d get my hair cut by Mr. Bob. Bob would always end up with me looking the way he wanted it to look and it was always a bit too short and the part just a smidgeon off for my liking (truth be told, he just had a single style in his repertoire). Also, I had a sneaking suspicion that Mr. Bob smoked while I was getting my trim and would sneakily pull his collar open a bit further and blow his smoke into his shirt as a way to hide the fact, for it was always like a cloud around me. Finally I’d had it and went elsewhere. It became a long litany of Good Cuts, Cheap Cuts, Great Cuts, and even Perfect Cuts. Over time I realized that the in-and-out-of-the-chair time was constantly shrinking and that I had become the ‘vehicle’ for some sort of a race.

Now I have found a husband and wife couple. The shop is a little run down but comfortable. I love the antique chairs and the conversation—oh so easy. Anyway, on Tuesday I walked in with my grey mane and advised that possibly the time had come to explore a new look. They obliged.

I have read that some people approach the future as if drifting on a raft while others scream towards it as if on a power boat. The ancient Greeks, I am told, spoke of the future as “what is behind us?” Since what is in front is an unknown and therefore a void. This time, in that barber shop, I faced the future as if on a serious power boat! Voila, my new haircut!

Make it a great week everyone.

Cheers,

Dirk

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