Caring Author Changes The World One Child At A Time

MoreHeavenbookcover(PCM) When a young, determined special education teacher takes on the impossible task of teaching six so-called “unteachable” children, she not only transforms their lives; she also opens the doors for all future exceptional students who followed.

This is the premise of “More Heaven: Because Every Child Is Special,” the riveting new book, by International Bestselling Author, Dr. Jo Anne White, a noted motivational speaker, TV & radio executive producer and host of “Power Your Life.”

The book, published by Outskirts Press, has won numerous honors, including the Mom’s Choice Award Honoring Excellence and the Best Ever You Books Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence. It’s also an Amazon top 10 International Bestseller in three categories.

In 1975, the federal government mandated that all children, regardless of disability, be given the right to a public education.As a result of this historic mandate, this young pioneering teacher – with heaping doses of pluck and perseverance – stepped into a Philadelphia classroom of exceptional learners and transformed their world.

This “true life” experiment took place when Dr. White was hired by the Philadelphia Board of Education as the first teacher and program coordinator for children who were either expelled or had never entered the hallways or classrooms of a public school.

The cutting-edge program, which initially was not embraced by the typical education teachers, parents or by the administrators,began slowly. Its success paved the way for more special education classes to open in the public arena. “Not only did we persevere,” Dr. White explained, “we conquered skepticism and won victories for these children to live and thrive in society.”

Dr. White says that she fought hard, alongside the children and their tireless parents, “to restore dignity in their lives. This dignity, the birthright of every human being, had been denied them. The time had come to make things right.”

This pioneer has crucial lessons for all of us today: to learn that despite tremendous obstacles, each of us can use our compassion to bring out the best in our children. By using her common sense, imagination,sheer will, and a caring heart, she truly changed the lives of these formerly“unteachable” students in her class.

Dr. White still vividly recalls the first day of school when a little girl named Eva, who had autism, arrived for the new program.“There was great skepticism on the part of the faculty and the administration,of the notion of educating Eva. The girl’s driver echoed those sentiments to the young teacher, ‘Believe me,’ he confides, ‘I wouldn’t want your job for nothin’ in the world.’”

Q: How will your book, “More Heaven: Because Every Child is Special,” positively impact parents, teachers and the greater community?

DR. JO ANNE WHITE: I’d like people to understand how wonderful these children are, instead of seeing them as strange or approaching them with great apprehension. We need to be able to co-exist and embrace our differences when it comes to everything: ethnicity, culture, learning,and neurological differences. So, it has always been very important for me that everyone understand the richness and beauty of each child. That is the way to truly embrace humanity.

Q: Please tell me a little bit about your history as a teacher.

JW: I was planning to go to school for English literature and writing, until I became involved in an inclusive camp program. When this visionary director of the program created a division for children with special needs, it opened my eyes and I changed my plan to study education and special education.

Q: That sounds like a life-changing moment.

JW: Yes. When I walked into that camp program I completely fell in love with the children there.

Q: What do you recall from that experience?

JW: I remember working with one little girl who would bite her arms and bite the insides of her cheeks with sores that wouldn’t heal. She hummed and had ritualistic behavior. I immediately took her under wing, and sang to her, and massaged her cheeks, when no one else wanted to go near her. She blossomed under my care. This was such a beautiful life-altering experience and it shaped my future. I thought to myself ‘this is important.’

Q: Did the text books prepare you for that first special education classroom?

JW: No, not with these children. What I learned in school was important and served me; but I also had to bring something else to these kids. I had to reach them with unconventional methods, by getting into each of their worlds and being extremely resourceful, imaginative and creative.

Q: Please talk about being a young special education teacher, what was that like?

JW: I didn’t know what to expect. There were so many unknowns; and the truth be told, not everybody, including the faculty and many parents, wanted this to happen. It was new territory; people were afraid and misinformed. This was a case of sink or swim; I didn’t know what to expect.These children were labeled as more disabled than some of the previous groups of children I had taught. The first girl, who had autism, came to school in a taxi because it was thought ‘how could she function on a bus or relate to other kids.’

Q: But you say you never considered giving up even on the toughest days. So what about you personally made you stick with it, no matter how overwhelming this was?

JW: Something that has served me well over the course of my life is perseverance. I have patience, perseverance and an understanding that the time has to be right for everything. I also know that in life you need to take chances.

Dr.JoAnneWhiteQ: What is the most important life lesson for each of us who work with and care for children?

JW: My book gives you a front row seat where you get to know these six children up close and personal. It’s important to understand that despite the many challenges and mannerisms each child faces and family,each child has special gifts we need to nurture and celebrate every single day.

Q: How is all of this relevant today – some 40 years later?

JW: There are many reasons. One major reason is about bullying, and the way children with special needs are still judged, as opposed to being accepted by their communities. My book, “Bully Free,” which also won awards, ties into “More Heaven.” It focuses on my interviews with parents about their children with autism and special needs who were victims of bullying at school and in the community, and the deep emotional scars left on these families.

Q: How did you know how to teach these so-called“unteachable” children?

JW: I knew that I had to reach these kids, so I did whatever I could do, as long as it was ethical. With the first child, I used play, movement and dance since she was never still for long. Much of this was not a part of typical classroom lessons. I was literally utilizing whatever I could to make that connection, and for each child it was different. I knew I had to reach them and had to figure out how to enter their different worlds so they would eventually embrace and accept the world of learning and socialization.

Q: What was the result?

JW: Each of my students slowly started to accept their surroundings and felt ‘wow, this is okay. My teacher is not telling me I am crazy or ridiculous.’ I was able to get them to trust me, open up to their individual worlds and join our world.

Q: Why are you so proud of this book?

JW: I am repeatedly told that “More Heaven,” captures people’s hearts. It allows the reader to see what went on back then, and to understand that despite the strides we have made we are not there yet. Many parents at that time were told that their children could never learn or would best be served by an institution.

Q: What are the vital life lessons for all of us?

JW: People need to recognize the struggles, the passion and determination from families who have done so much to create change. We need to say to the world ‘stop putting blinders on and let’s teach these kids and not hide from it or ignore it.’ All these years’ parents have fought and pushed for change, and there are parents today who are continuing to fight for acceptance, inclusion and dignity for their children.

Q: What makes you believe we need to keep pushing for acceptance?

JW: As an example, in 2014 there was a lawsuit in California involving an autistic boy who was considered to be a trouble maker. Neighbors sued and were also worried about their reduced property values. This action eventually drove the family from their home of seven years.

Q: So is your message that history will keep repeating itself if people don’t step up and make the change?

JW: Absolutely. It’s happening on the playgrounds, in the schools and the communities. There was bullying, judgment and disapproval at the time I taught these children. Unfortunately, it still happens a great deal to children who act or appear different in social or educational settings today.

Q: Ultimately, what do you want your book to accomplish?

JW: I’d like professionals to be open to work with these children even if at times the techniques seem unconventional. I wish for all families and parents to learn to accept their children and guide them to express their talents. And I’d like families, neighbors and the general public to see these children in a warmer light after reading my book and interface with the special needs community. I frequently say that ‘this book reaches in from the heart outward to all children – they will be heard!’

For further information, please go to: http://www.drjoannewhite.com/more-heaven/

The post Caring Author Changes The World One Child At A Time also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Start The Summer Off Right With New Books From Both Stephen King And J.K. Rowling!

King-Rowling1

(PCM) The summer time is already just about upon us. For some, they look forward to the big summer blockbuster movies that will be hitting theaters. For other’s, like us, we will be hitting the beach with a book in our  hands. We are certainly in luck this summer, as two absolutely fantastic authors will be releasing new books right around the same time.

First up, is an author who really needs no introduction, as it has been announced that Stephen King will  be releasing his new book titled, “End of Watch (Scribner, fiction) on June 7th. “End of Watch” will see the return of Brady Hartsfield aka the Mr. Mercedes killer, and gumshoe Bill Hodges. This book will be the third and final one in King’s best-selling noir trilogy. The first one was the excellent book “Mr. Mercedes” followed up by “Finders Keepers”.

Harry Potter fans should be overjoyed at the announcement that  J.K. Rowling will be releasing an eighth book in the “Harry Potter” series titled, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child-Parts 1& 2 which is also co-written with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne (Arthur A. Levine Books, fiction). The new book will be hitting bookshelves on July 31.  The story will follow the boy wizard who is all grown up and has a son, Albus, who struggles with the family legacy.

We are really looking forward to reading these summer books and just think, wouldn’t it be truly amazing if these two master storytellers ever got together and created a new series together?  Hey, we can dream, right?

The post Start The Summer Off Right With New Books From Both Stephen King And J.K. Rowling! appeared first on The World Of Pop Culture.

Albert Einstein Born March 14, 1879

Albert-Einstein-quotes-famoAlbert Einstein was born in Ulm a part of Wurttenberg Germany on March 14, 1879.   He did not live there long however as soon after his birth, his parents moved to Munich,

It was in Munich that Einstein began his studies.  His for school was the Luitpold Gymnasium.  In central Europe a gymnasium is not a place to keep up your physical fitness or a class that you try to get out.  In central Europe and especially Germany a Gymnasium is an Academic High School.  So much more of the brain is used that brawn.

He did not stay in Munich however and his family moved to Italy.  Einstein however continued his education in Aurau, Switzerland.  In 1896 he entered to Swiss Federal Polytechnic School to be trained as a teacher in physics and mathematics.  He graduated in 1901. 

Einstein was unable to obtain a teaching position so he ended up working for as a technical assistant at The Swiss Patent Office.  He was not Idle during these times as he obtained his doctorate degree is 1905.

During his time at the patent office Einstein also achieved much of his remarkable work.  He did do this not as a job but in his spare time.  Einstein began to get noticed and he climbed the ladder of academia.  In 1914 he was appointed Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute and was a professor at The University of Berlin.  That same year he became a German citizen and remained so until 1933.

!933 there was much political unrest in Germany, and for political reasons Einstein renounced his German Citizenship and moved to the United States.  He took a position as a Professor of Theoretical Physics in Princeton.  He became a citizen of the United States in 1940, and retired from work in 1945.

Einstein’s contribution to science and especially to physics is known by most school aged children.  His name has come into American slang as when we call someone an “Einstein” meaning they seem to have more intelligence than we may have given them credit for.  Of course we also use the name for the opposite effect we say “You’re no Einstein” meaning that the person does not have as much intelligence as he or she may be giving themselves credit for.

Some of the best works of Albert Einstein are as follows; Special Theory of Relativity, The Evolution of Physics, Investigation on Brownian Movement.  Outside the realms of Physics Einstein wrote About Zionism and Why War.

As the quote at the beginning of this article shows, Einstein saw the potential for problems with technology when the technology become more important to us than other people.  He saw the future that we now must fight before his thoughts become our reality. 

Albert Einstein died on April 18, 1955.

Albert Einstein Born March 14, 1879 was contributed by Pop Culture Fun Facts.

My Journey To Health, Books

BooksBooks are the probably the most important item that I use in my journey to health.  I have mentioned several books while working on this column since the beginning of the year, I have never talked about their importance.

When I was in first grade my teacher Sister Joan Marie was worried about how badly I was coming along in my reading skills.  She encouraged my mother to buy me comic books.  My mother took that advice and in so doing opened up to me world after world of adventure, science, history, romance, horror, mystery, discovery and the list could go on forever.

Comic books back in the 1960s had gotten a bad name mainly because of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s unrelenting scare tactics to rid the world of the communist threat in the 1950s.  Slowly the industry would regain its good reputation, but not in suburbs of Philadelphia in 1967.  Letting comic books into the house was almost equal to pornography, but a nun had made the recommendation, my parents had no choice.  And I thank the good sister to this day.

It took a long time for my reading level to get where it should be, but by the eighth grade I was moving a long quite nicely and I had a collection of comic books to prove it.  For me, though, comic books would be a stepping stone to a world that I would begin to find more and more fascinating.

Comic books would regularly refer to classic literature.  There were many references to Shakespeare, Lewis Carol, Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, Jules Verne, and Mark Twain.  There were even some comic books that told some the great novels in such a way that a kid could understand them.

It was while reading the quotes from various classics that I began to get interested in where those quotes came from. So I began to read.  I read all kinds of things.  I found delight in Barrie’s original Peter Pan.  I tried to understand Hamlet and Lewis Carroll and many others.  Before he was really popular, I got lost in Roald Dahl’s Chocolate Factory, and wanted to run away and live in a tree with the hero of My Side of the Mountain.  I was hooked and it never left me.

Because, of the writings of John Eldredge, amongst others, I found that fictional stories can have great truths in them.  And so I saw the deeper lessons of The Wizard of Oz and The Lord of the Rings.  I found many hidden truths in, perhaps my favorite book of all time, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  I went so far as to write my final project for my psychology degree on using fiction in therapy.  A Christmas Carol figured prominently in my paper.

In fact I want to take a moment here to say thank you to my favorite and my best English teacher as well as one of my home room teachers, Mr. David O’Connell.  I do credit him for much of my delight in reading because when he taught on a book he taught with passion.  I may never have learned much about diagramming a sentence, but I did learn that books could take you anywhere.  I also learned being passionate about reading didn’t make you different.  Mr. O’Connell was the football coach, and he had his feet firmly planted in two worlds, sports and literature, I never thought the two could be united, but he did it.

So books help me find my way through some of the hardest paths that this journey toward health has put me on.  I can draw on Dorothy and Frodo and many others to gain the belief that that hard things can be done.  In looking at a story I can see myself in it and I identify with it and the story becomes part of who I am.  I also find that in helping others I can draw references from story after story to help shed light on their paths.  It is wonderful what a good story can do to transform ourselves and others.  In the film version of Shadowlands one of the characters states that “We read to find we are not alone.”  This is a great truth.

I was going to go through a couple of books that hit the mark in helping me and how and why, but I have changed my mind.  Instead I am going to list books that I feel should be read and let them teach you the lessons that they have for you.  NOTE.  It is cheating to watch a film version of anything except those books that are plays.  One does not simply read Shakespeare, one must experience him onstage or screen as his work is only complete when it is performed.

Here is the list, A Christmas Carol, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Hamlet, Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Secret Garden, The Shell Seekers, The Harry Potter series, The Berlgariad, The Wind in the Willows, Sherlock Holmes, My Side of the Mountain, Peter Pan, Tom Sawyer, The Stories of Damon Runion, Anna and the King of Siam, Little Women, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Once and Future King, All Things Bright and Beautiful, And The There were None, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, The Stories of Hans Christian Anderson, The Phantom Tollbooth, 101 Dalmatians, John Son of Thunder, Greek and Norse Mythology and perhaps the most important book of all, if you believe in God or not, The Bible, yes the whole thing.  Most of our society is based on it’s pages it is worth the time to read.

I think that is enough to get you started.  If you have a book that I have not mentioned that has influenced your life, of if you have a story about reading something I have mentioned, please leave a comment here or on the Facebook page that you found the link to this column on.  I would love to know what you are reading and, or what, has helped mold or shape you.

The post My Journey To Health, Books also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” Author Harper Lee Dead At Age 89

Harper-Lee

(PCM) It is with great sadness that we have learned that Harper Lee, author of the famed novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” has passed away at the age of 89. The novel earned the Alabama native author numerous accolades over the years and became one of the most well-known and loved stories of the 20th century. To date, “To Kill A Mockingbird” has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and has become a staple in American classic literature. It has also been translated in 18 different languages.

In a statement, Lee oldest nephew Hank Conner says “This is a sad day for our family. America and the world knew Harper Lee as one of the last century’s most beloved authors. We knew her as Nelle Harper Lee, a loving member of our family, a devoted friend to the many good people who touched her life, and a generous soul in our community and our state. We will miss her dearly.”

“To Kill A Mockingbird” earned Lee the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1961 and up until July of 2015 it was the only novel that Lee would publish. She rediscovered a manuscript for “Go Set A Watchmen” which is essentially a sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird,” although it was finished earlier and it was finally released in July 2015 much to the delight of fans.

After the initial release of “To Kill A Mockingbird”, Lee chose to live her life out of the spotlight, almost to the point of being a recluse, turning down multiple interview requests and leading a very private life at her home in Monroeville, Alabama.  She never married and little is known about the later years of her life.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” was adapted into a screenplay in 1962 and the film version of the story starred actor Gregory Peck, who would go on to win the Academy Award for his portrayal of “To Kill A Mockingbird” protagonist Atticus Finch. Lee became very good friends with Peck and his family during the filming and called the adaptation “one of the best translations from book to film ever made”.

Lee claims that she never expected “To Kill A Mockingbird” to receive the kind of praise it has over the years and was amazed when “Go Set A Watchman” quickly became a best-seller as well, selling over 1 million copies the week it was released.  Our sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of Harper Lee during this difficult time!

The post “To Kill A Mockingbird” Author Harper Lee Dead At Age 89 first appeared on Movie News & Reviews.

Mardi Gras

Alexandria-Mardi-Gras-ChildMardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday.  It refers to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday when many Christians begin to fast for the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday.

The feast of The Epiphany or The Three Kings closes the Christmas season and opens up a season of carnival.  In some countries these carnivals are ongoing with parades dances, feasts and other forms of merry making.  The last day of Carnival is Mardi Gras where feasting goes into full swing.  In England Mardi Gras is known as Shrove Tuesday, shrove means to confess.

Mardi Gras has always been a time of excess.  Rich and fattening foods have always been consumed, but in recent years it has become more of a party than the beginning of a religious time of self denial.  Here in America it has become a huge celebration in The City of New Orleans, where for several days of drinking eating and even lewd behavior is seen on the streets.  The Christian aspects have all but faded in these environments.

One tradition that was moved from one holiday to another is the king’s cake.  Originally this cake was made for the Feast of the Epiphany.  The cake is usually made with puff pastry with an almond filling.  A small plastic baby doll or coin or a ring is placed in the cake before baking.  The person finds the ring, doll or coin is made king of the feast.  

The kings cake was undercoated for The Epiphany but for Mardi Gras, the cake is usually decorated with colored icing or sugars.

In many places the food star of the day is the donut.  Specific types of filled donuts are made for the day and consumed.  These types are generally only made for that day, and so are a special treat, much like The Candy Cane at Christmas.  Some really great co-workers may show up with a dozen assorted to mark the day.

Mardi Gras in the past was celebrated with much more formality.  In her book The Story Of The Trapp Family Singers Maria Von Trapp speaks of Mardi Gras before the second world war as a time of formal dinner and balls.  There would also be masquerades, but these too would be formal and at midnight everything would stop, the music, the dancing, the feasting would all end as the clock struck twelve.  The people would then gather and pray the Our Father and go home.  The party was finished and the fasting begun.

Mardi Gras was contributed by Pop Culture Fun Facts.

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