2014, july, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews, westerville

‘Center for Inspiration’ takes shape

Wednesday July 22, 2015 4:32 PM

With three weeks until school starts, Walnut Springs Middle School’s new media center, called the Center for Inspiration, is getting close to completion.

The contractor, GHM Inc., is working hard to finish up the drywall, painting, sealing, flooring and furnishings.

The $374,538 renovations were approved by the school board Feb. 9 and when finished, the space will be a multimedia center for art, music and literature.

The multimedia center will have a “coffee-shop, Panera Bread type feel,” according to school district Director of Facilities Jeff LeRose.

Students can opt to sit in pub-style chairs, couches, booths or even inside a round bookcase.

LeRose described the space as a successor to the popular Academic Enrichment Center, 336 S. Otterbein Ave., which received the prestigious 2015 Apex Learning Award of Excellence this spring.

“We are piloting this coffeehouse-style media center and we hope it provides more options for facilitating learning,” said LeRose.

A smartboard plus six monitors will be incorporated into the space, with one monitor being in a fireplace-type setting.

Connected to the center is a Maker Space, which is like a fabrication laboratory where students can design and build almost anything.

The design of the Maker Space features a sharp diagonal wall and on the ceiling of the Center for Inspiration is an outline of a guitar.

“We want to provide visual interest in the space so it becomes a vibrant and exciting space for learning,” said LeRose.

He explained by going beyond the usual rectangular classroom and incorporating curves and angles, it was possible to create more visual interest.

Additionally, in the back corner will be a small room for a television studio and a green screen so students can star and produce WOLF-TV.

In the back, a glass garage door from the multimedia center opens into a classroom. The classroom features large glass windows, to help “bring the outdoors indoors,” according to LeRose.

Bookcases will be along the perimeter walls and in the middle will be a cybercafe.

A glass door opens up to a new outdoor learning environment that will feature brick wall seating, tables and chairs.

“We want to make spaces that students can embrace and feel inspired by,” said LeRose

2014, dublin, dublinschools, dublinvillager, hourofcode, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Hour of Code event teaches computer coding basics

Tuesday December 30, 2014 2:57 PM
Students throughout the Dublin City School District got to try their hand at coding and learned some of the basics of computer science, as part of a national Hour of Code initiative.

Dublin participated by having students complete a one-hour introductory course which was designed to take the mystery out of computer science and show that anybody can learn the basics.

During computer science education week, Dec. 8-14, More than 15 million students from 180 countries participated in the Hour of Code, according to the program’s website.

Students in advanced-placement computer science classes participated by traveling to elementary schools and helping students learn coding.

About six Dublin Jerome High School students traveled Dec. 12 to Glacier Ridge Elementary School to teach coding to 25 Latchkey students in grades 1-5.

Dublin Scioto High School students went to Chapman Elementary School Dec. 13 to teach fifth-graders.

The elementary school students could select a project to work on, such as using Javascript to control a knight, build a pong game or animate their name.

Kimberly Clavin, manager of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiatives for the Dublin district, said it was interesting to see what the elementary school children were able to build.

Clavin said students went beyond building simple games and started doing more advanced coding.
Some students were able to make an interactive holiday card, with moving characters, that they could send to family members.

“A lot of people don’t realize that there is a mix of art and computer science in coding,” Clavin said.
“When the students do it for the first time, they realize, ‘hey this is pretty cool,’ ” she said.
Clavin said having the high school students teach the elementary school students benefited everyone.
“The high-schoolers learn by teaching and the elementary school students tend to take to the high school students more than adults,” she said.

“It’s a pretty neat pipeline for students of all ages to get involved in coding and computer science.”
This kind of “learning by teaching” is important to Anne Fuller, a computer science teacher at both Scioto and Jerome.

“I thought my AP students needed something more and so I suggested the idea to them and they were very excited and enthusiastic,” Fuller said.

She said high school students now want to continue helping the elementary school students and she is planning on how they can do that in the second semester.

“We hope to encourage all the students to explore the world of computer science through the use of Scratch and other programs to promote learning,” she said.

Rhonda Luetje, a Dublin technology support teacher, took the lead on this year’s Hour of Code.
For Hour of Code’s sophomore year in Dublin, Luetje worked to make it easier for teachers to incorporate into their classrooms.

She created a website that housed engaging computer science activities that students could do as a warm-up, during the Hour of Code, or as extension activities.

Luetje said she was very impressed by the authentic learning and deep engagement that took place.
“They just blew me away,” she said.

“When they were solving difficult puzzles, they didn’t give up. They would work together and ask each other, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ to try and figure it out,” she said.

The Scioto Math Club also stayed after school on Mondays and Wednesdays to share with other students various computer programming resources and teach basics.

Other school districts such as Hilliard, Pickerington, Worthington and Bexley participated in the Hour of Code.

Even though the Hour of Code is over, teachers are still excited about it and are continuing it in some of their classrooms, Clavin said.

The Hour of Code makes it easy for teachers to incorporate coding into the curriculum by offering free lesson plans and ideas. 

2013, 2014, clouds, copenhagen, copenhagenclouds, cphclouds, creative, denison, english, senior, writing

First chapter of Copenhagen Clouds

(This is the first chapter from Copenhagen Clouds which was my year-long senior writing project in college. It’s a YA novel about a college student who studies abroad in Denmark, falls for her host sister’s boyfriend and struggles to find her independence.)

Chapter 1

Today was finally here. In less than sixteen hours, I would be in Denmark. Instead of travelling to Indiana University for the second semester of my sophomore year, I would be spending it studying abroad. I had stuffed my suitcase with so many clothes that it did not stand a fighting chance of ever being less than 50 pounds. My parents repeatedly assured me that they would help check it in at the airport and that I wouldn’t have to re-check it in Chicago. The bag would follow me there through airport magic. My dad tried to help me pack some things into my carryon backpack. Taking his time, he folded a couple of long sleeve shirts into flat squares. He put two pairs of tennis shoes on top. He was not an expert Tetris packer like I was. As soon as he walked away, I threw out what he had packed. I tightly rolled my shirts and shoved them inside my shoes. There would be no wasted space in this bag, so help me God.

        My dad returned from the bathroom and dragged my obese suitcase downstairs. I did a final check to make sure I had everything. On my desk, I consulted a post-it of my last-minute checklist. “Cell phone, charger, passport, backpack, wallet, camera, suitcase, gift for host family and important document folder.” Check! I looked around my room, trying to engrave the scene into my memory.

My queen-sized bed was neatly made with my bird stuffed animals resting on the pillows. In the corner, my wooden desk was scattered with old textbooks and various Copenhagen guidebooks that I had decided not to take with me. Even my white carpet was littered with boots that did not make the final packing cut. The canary yellow wallpaper that I’d thought was a good idea in middle school now gave the room a slightly eerie vibe. In high school, my dad had let me add a border so now the walls were topped with scenes of assorted songbirds sitting in trees. I looked in the mirror that hung over my door and threw my dirty blonde hair into a high ponytail. I unbuttoned my grey cardigan (which had little yellow finches on it) because it clung too tightly to my arms and chest. My grandmother gave the cardigan to me for Christmas but bought me a small instead of a medium. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and not wear it ever. Maybe I’d lose weight in Denmark from all of the adventures I’d go on and then the cardigan would fit better. Hurling my heavy backpack onto my shoulders, I flicked off the lights and shut the door. I let out a small sigh and whispered, “See you in four months” to my room.

        I trotted down the carpeted steep stairs. Our Christmas tree was still set up in the den. My dad was downstairs in the kitchen with my bag. His face was flushed and beads of sweat trailed down the side of his face. My mom was there too with the bathroom scale, helping him check the bag’s weight.

        “Sweetie, why are you taking bricks with you to Denmark?” my dad joked as he placed the bag onto the scale. The block red lights of the scale blinked 49.5 lbs.

        “I have to stay warm somehow. Bricks are good insulation,” I told him. My dad raised an eyebrow. “Seriously. I need all my sweaters.”

        “Are you sure there is nothing in here that you can live without?” My mom asked.
        “Yes, I am sure, mom.” I rolled my eyes, “I need all of it. It’s not that much.” My mom crouched down on the floor, zipped open the mammoth suitcase and pulled out two blue sweaters.
She may have thought they were identical, but one was from Gap and cobalt blue, while the other was from Banana Republic and cerulean blue. Completely different, right?

        “Come on, Amber. You only need one,” she held both of them up to me, “Pick one.”
        “No, I need them. They’re different enough that it’s fine. Put them back, please”
        “Come on, Sue. Let her keep them. It’s not like her bag is over the weight limit,” my dad chimed in. “It’s fine.”
        “No, there is no reason for her to bring two of the same sweater. She needs to pack less.”
        “Honey, we need to go,” my dad pointed to the clock on the oven.
        “You always do that. You make excuses for her. She needs to learn.”

“It’s fine, don’t worry about it. Come on.” I said. My dad reached for both sweaters but my mom threw the cerulean sweater. She stuffed the other one back in the suitcase. The sweater landed on top of Sunny, our family’s old yellow and white beagle, who was sleeping on the couch. His tags jingled as he woke up. He looked around confused, with a blue sleeve covering his eyes. My mom zipped up the suitcase and pulled out the handle.

        “Say goodbye to Sunny, Amber,” she said, not looking at me. I went over to the couch, taking the sweater off of poor Sunny. I looked over my shoulder and as my mom’s back was turned, stuffed the sweater into my backpack. Sunny looked at me with his big brown eyes. It looked as if one eyebrow was raised in confusion. I sat down next to him and embraced him around his chubby neck. Since I was an only child, Sunny often played the role of my little brother. He had a magic ability to know when I was about to cry and would without fail trot up to my room to console me. He was always there, in my bed, if I needed to talk without someone else talking back.

Like me, he was getting older. We had adopted him from the humane society and estimated that he was now close to twelve years old. His muzzle was beginning to turn grey. He struggled to climb stairs. He wasn’t the same crazy playful puppy he used to be. But then again, I was no longer the hyper child who constantly wanted to play with him either. We had both matured.

I hugged him hard, breathing in his salty soft fur. I kissed his forehead and gave him a final pet and scratch behind the ears. Several of his white dog hairs clung to my cardigan. I didn’t bother wiping them off. Again, Sunny looked at me, confused. I hated not being able to tell him that I wouldn’t be back for a while, but I would definitely eventually be back.

“Okay, your monster suitcase is in the car,” my dad called. “Amber, we need to go.” I turned away from Sunny, fighting back the tears I felt forming in my eyes. I looked around at the kitchen I had grown up in one last time, sucked in all the air I could until there was none left and departed. With my backpack, I headed out the door.

My dad accelerated onto the highway despite the frosty January roads. To him, the highway was the same thing as the Indy 500 racetrack. I tried to relax during the car ride but I felt nauseous and my mind kept racing. What had I forgotten? How could I forget that? Did I have my passport? What if my host family hated me? What if I can’t find my flight? Why didn’t I learn Danish?

The leather in the backseat of the car felt cold underneath my jeans. My dad had the radio turned up obnoxiously loud. The local oldies radio station was still playing stupid Christmas music. I tugged on my seatbelt, trying to loosen its tight grip over my chest. We were on I-270, driving past the familiar fast food restaurants, factories and outlets. I rummaged through my backpack to triple check I had my passport. It was sealed in a plastic baggie on which my mom had Sharpied: “Amber’s Passport.” I pulled out one of my paperback Denmark guidebooks, both Christmas presents from my aunt.
Curled up on the couch, hiding under a blanket, I devoured both books last week. My favorite section had been the “Culture” one. Now, I flipped to that chapter where it started off: “Danes are often seen as being very direct and at times even rude, because they say what they think instead of disguising their views in polite euphemisms.” I was intrigued. So, would my host family tell me if I had a huge pimple on my forehead? If they didn’t like me, would they say it to my face? Oh, man. I wasn’t ready for that. I’m not a confrontational person at all. I can’t even watch confrontations. When my parents fought, I just hid upstairs in my room with Sunny. Plus, I hated hearing criticism, even it was masked under the term “constructive criticism.” I skimmed down the “Culture” page to find a more comforting sentence. “The Danes are very open to dating. Danish women can sometimes play ‘hard to get’ whereas the men are ‘eager to please.’ They are very informal and liberal with their dating ways.” I pictured myself bar-hopping every weekend, making out with guys and returning to America with a gorgeous Danish boyfriend to Skype with and write love letters back and forth. Now that I could handle.

I flipped a few pages ahead within the chapter. “Hey mom?” She nodded and looked up from her Stephen King novel.

“My Denmark book says, ‘Denmark is a small, quiet country, located far away from the international centers of tension.’ Does that make you feel any better?”
“A little bit. I’m still going to worry about you every day.”
“Even if it’s a safe country, don’t join any protests in the streets if you see them. That’s how kids get shot,” my dad chimed in. My mom opened up her book again and looked down. He continued, “Just last month, the news said an American college boy was shot in Egypt during a protest. Damn shame.”
“Dad, I’m not going to Egypt.”

“Doesn’t matter. Always be safe, Amber. Use your head,” he grunted. I thanked him for the heads up and told him I’d be sure to buy him a little pyramid figurine from Denmark. He didn’t get the joke.
I alternated reading my Denmark book and texting my friends from Indiana University a final goodbye for the two and a half hour drive. We reached the airport a full three hours before my plane departed, thanks to my dad’s lead foot.

“Do you want to have a farewell lunch?” My dad turned around and asked. I nodded. “Okay, how about Chi Chi’s?” He pointed to a brown building with a neon green sign and a picture of an oversize margarita. It had an enclosed patio area where colorful mini flags were strewn across the ceiling. Only five other cars occupied the parking lot. My dad pulled into a spot upfront and the three of us went inside.

“How many today?” A curvy Latino girl wearing a black T-shirt said. My dad held up three fingers to her. She waited for us to say something. He just kept his hand up. It took the girl a minute but then we followed her back to a booth. My mom rolled her eyes. She sat on the opposite side of my dad.    
“It wouldn’t have been that hard just to tell her ‘three.’”
“It was fine. She understood it, right?” My mom ignored him and picked up the menu.
“What are you going to get, Amber?” my dad said.
“Something small probably, I’m not that hungry.”
“Do you want to share something?” my mom said.
“No, you can each get your own things. We’re not poor,” my dad said.
“I realize that, but maybe Amber and I would be happier just sharing nachos.”
“Nonsense, just each get your own nachos.” My mom didn’t respond. She turned the menu over to look at the drinks.

The waiter appeared at our table. He was a tan adolescent with high cheekbones and jet black hair. His eyes were a faint greenish glitter, like a forest.
“Hola, amigos. Welcome to Chi Chi’s.  I’m Juan and I’ll be taking care of you guys. What can I start you guys off with?”

“I’d like a margarita and we’d like to share an order of nachos, please,” my mom said. My dad rattled off his order to Juan then shook his head in disgust at my mom. Juan scribbled into his pad, took our menus and left.

“Are you ready for this, sweetheart?” my dad turned his attention to me. When he faced me, all I could notice was his unusually sharp pointy nose. My grandmother had the same nose. It was the type of nose that could probably cut through glass. Thankfully I mostly had my mom’s small nose.
“Yeah, I think I’m ready. But I’m still really nervous. What if my host family doesn’t like me?” I played with the paper Corona coaster, spinning it on the table. I needed to have something in my hands.

“It’s natural to feel nervous. And of course they will like you. Why wouldn’t they? You’re a very nice girl.” Even though I had reminded her of my age countless times, my mom still talked to me like I was a little kid. Sometimes it was comforting, but other times it was annoying. In this moment of my anxiety, it was comforting.

“Thanks, Mom, I’m going to miss you a lot.” I fought the tears that were forming.
“If things get bad, remember you can always come home,” my dad said.
“Dad! No, if things get bad, I’m going to tough it out.” I slammed the coaster back down on the table and opted to just sit on my hands.
“Okay, that’s fine you can do that too if you want.”
The waiter brought us our drinks. Even though it was only 1 pm, my mom gulped down her margarita. I took a sip of my sweet tea. Ewwww! It tasted like regular unsweetened tea. I added three Sweet n Low packets, stirring them with my knife. It wasn’t worth complaining to the waiter about. He seemed nice and everybody makes mistakes.

  My mom changed the subject of the conversation. She flipped her short light brown hair to the side and fiddled with her wedding ring. Her silver Mickey Mouse earrings reminded me of the annual trips to Walt Disney World we took together. When I was 12, we power-walked through Epcot, holding hands, and she joked that we were superheroes called “Super Mom” and “Super Daughter.” My dad never came with us on those trips so that meant it was a whole week of no fighting.
“Did you like last night’s episode of ‘The Office’?” my mom said.

“Yeah, it was another good one. Jim cracks me up every time,” I said. My mom gazed up at the ceiling for a moment and I imagined her picturing Jim shirtless. She had confided in me a while ago that she thought he was good looking.
“I’m telling you, they based that show off my work,” my dad said, “I bet Jim was inspired by me.”
“I don’t think so. You guys look nothing alike,” my mom told him in a monotone.
“We both have brown hair.”
“And that’s where the similarities stop.”

Juan brought our nachos and my dad’s sizzling fajitas. Our orange nachos came in a big red bowl and were loaded with jalapeños, cheese, chicken, onions, beans, and tomatoes. It appeared impossible to pick up a chip without my hand being covered in something. I usually liked nachos but these ones tasted dry and stale. Even adding more salt to the nachos didn’t help. The irony that my last meal in America for four months was at a crappy Mexican restaurant sank in. I crunched the chips in my mouth worried about what my first meal in Denmark would be like.

2014, dublin, dublinschools, dublinvillager, heart attack, scioto, ThisWeekNews

Staff members save Scioto custodian’s life after heart attack

(Originally published in ThisWeek News)

Tuesday December 23, 2014 9:30 AM

From left to right: Heidi Wess, Chris Martin and Brian Nimmo 

Heidi Wess, the school nurse at Dublin Scioto High School, was preparing for another normal Tuesday morning Nov. 25.

Suddenly, on her two-way radio she heard the words “emergency in the cafeteria.”

She and Brian Nimmo, the school resource officer, rushed to the cafeteria.

Chris Martin, the head custodian at the school, was on the floor and moaning.

Nimmo ushered students out of the cafeteria.

“Does your chest hurt?” Wess asked him. No answer.

Scott Mollette, a custodian, told Wess that Martin said his chest hurt before he fell to the floor.

Wess told her clinic aide, Cindy Anson, to go get the automated external defibrillator.

Nimmo called for paramedics and relayed information to the emergency radio dispatchers.

Martin gasped for air and then stopped breathing.

Wess took a deep breath, applied the AED pads and delivered the shock to Martin.

Still nothing. Wess shocked him again.

On the front page, bottom right

The cafeteria workers huddled together holding each others hands.

Nimmo performed chest compressions on Martin.

Wess noticed Martin’s breathing was slow and shallow.

She knew she needed to increase his oxygen intake.

Wess performed a rescue breathing procedure, in which the rescuer basically is breathing for the person in distress, blowing air into the victim’s lungs and helping to prevent brain damage and death.

The medics arrived, shocked Martin a few more times, and took him to the hospital in an emergency vehicle, accompanied by Bob Scott, Scioto’s principal.

Wess, whose husband is a firefighter, knew she needed to call Martin’s wife, Krista.

“I wanted to be the one,” Wess said.

“I knew that if I was in her shoes, I’d want to know right away,” she said.

Wess told Martin’s wife she saw her husband in distress and that when she was beside him, he quit breathing and did not have a pulse, so she had to initiate cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

“I told her he was going to be transported to the hospital and she needed to meet the medics,” Wess said.

“I offered to pick her up or give her a ride if she needed.

“I assured her that the medics were with Chris and they would assist him,” Wess said.

Front page text

A few hours later, Scott called to tell them that Martin was alive.

He had suffered a type of massive heart attack with only a 10-percent survival rate.

Martin spent two days in a medical-induced coma in Riverside Methodist Hospital.

When he awakened, he did not recall what had happened.

A week later, Martin requested to see Nimmo, Wess and Scott.

Wess said he hugged and thanked them.

“I couldn’t rest until I made eye contact with him again,” Wess said.

“I needed to see for myself that he was okay,” she said.

“When we saw him, he and his wife kept thanking me over and over,” Wess said.

Nimmo said Martin was a little hoarse but that he was “coming back strong and his energy was recovering.”

Martin went to Dodd Hall Inpatient Rehabilitation and went home Dec. 12. He is continuing to do outpatient rehabilitation.

At the school board meeting Dec. 8, Nimmo and Wess were recognized for their exemplary service in a medical emergency.

Martin attended Scioto’s staff breakfast Dec. 19 and said it was good to see everyone.

“I want to give a very big thank you to my extended Dublin family for all their prayers and support,” Martin.

“I would like to give a special thank you to Brian Nimmo, Scott Mollette, Cindy Anson, Heidi Wess, and the EMTs. They saved my life.”

Martin said he is looking forward to getting back into the normal routine of things when he returns to work probably in February.

Wess said Martin has lost 30 pounds and “looked fantastic.”

Wess described how after the experience, she will always have a connection with Martin and his wife.

“It’s like I’ve gained another family member,” she said.

Nimmo agreed his background in the U. S. Coast Guard prepared him for the situation.

“I’m just so blessed that the CPR worked,” he said.

From page A5 12/25 edition

Deb’s Details:
This was such a wonderful article to write because it felt like something straight out of a movie. With such an amazing story, I didn’t think it felt right to give it the traditional just-the-facts approach. I used my creative writing skills to emphasize the drama of the situation by putting the reader in real-time with Wess and Nimmo. Everything is still accurate in the article, I just chose a different story telling approach. It was a risk but I think it paid off to write the article like that. I’m so thankful Chris is alive and doing well.

2014, article, barrel, baskets, magazine, signatures

Baskets, Barrels & Longaberger

(I wrote this article for the Fall/ Winter Signatures magazine for Longaberger. I went out to The Homestead and interviewed both Ahmad and Christy about the barrel basket. I enjoyed researching the history of barrels and learning how a basket evolves from being just an idea to a real basket. I’m proud of how factual this article is and the playful tone it has when referring to how much wine barrels can hold. I have included scanned images of the article from Signatures.)

Barreling Traditions

Barrel making is a centuries-old craft rooted in tradition, just like basket making. We’re proud to honor the tradition of barrel making with our new Barrel Basket.

For nearly 2,000 years, barrels were the most convenient method of shipping because of their round shape. They held a wide variety of items, just like baskets carry diverse things.

Techincally, a barrel is a hollow cylindrical container, traditionally made of wooden staves bound by wooden or metal hoops.

Archaeological research has found barrel making tools dating from as early as 100 BC. Even the Roman empire used barrels in the 3rd century AD. When the Romans began to spread their empire across the globe, they wanted to take their wine with them so they used wooden barrels.

After transporting their wines in barrels, for some time, the Romans and other societies after them, started to realize that the oak barrels imparted new, pleasant qualities to the wine. The contact with the wood made the wine smoother and sometimes it also made it better tasting.

Traditionally, the barrel was a standard size of measure referring to a set capacity or weight of a given commodity. For example, in the United Kingdom, a barrel of beer referred to a quantity of 36 gallons. That’s over 300 pounds!

The talented designers at Longaberger have perfected the art of creating timeless beautiful baskets exclusively for Collectors Club members.

Ahmad Takouri  was excited about the Barrel Basket for Collectors Club members.  He has been a Basket Designer for 16 years with Longaberger. Ahmad works on the Collectors Club baskets and the Master Studio baskets.

“I like trying to make something that looks like a barrel and putting the Longaberger signatures weave into it. We’ve done that a lot with previous shapes and it’s always neat to take a shape your used to seeing and making it into a Longaberger basket. That’s my favorite part,” Ahmad said.

“It makes sense to produce a Barrel Basket because barrels have a similar construction to baskets because of their bands, up splints and construction,” said Ahmad.

Barrels also relate to baskets because they require skilled artisans called “coopers” would manufacture them.

Coopers were once independent craftsmen, whose craft was economically vital and physically demanding. Until a century ago, many villages had at least one skilled cooper, plus younger recruits serving a seven-year apprenticeship.

“I think Collectors Club members will appreciate that we’re honoring an age-old craft, especially an older hand-made craft and such a historical shape. It’s who we are,” Ahmad said.

The purpose of the barrel and basket are very similar, but barrels carried larger quantities of goods and were used in shipping.

 “Sauerkraut used to be fermented in the barrels. They also stored dried meats, fruits, and of course, whiskey,” said Ahmad. “It also carried a lot of fragile things like eggs and pottery which would be packed among layers of straw.”

Barrels were additionally used to transport wine and most barrels could hold 55 gallons of wine. Now we’re talking.

Christy Flood is a weaver of the Barrel Basket and loves “making something that people can pass onto generations.”

The Barrel Basket is unique to weave because it uses a breakaway form where small pieces can be taken out as the basket is woven from the bottom to the top.

Flood said that she has several Longaberger baskets and she “will pass them onto her boys when they grow older.”

She joked that when she goes to garage sales and sees Longaberger baskets, she checks the bottoms to see if any of them have her initials.

It was only fitting that Longberger honored the rich heritage of barrels with a Collectors Club Barrel Basket.  The Barrel Basket is available through the Fall/ Winter WishList.

The Barrel Basket is made of Soft Gray maple weaving and Rich Brown accent chain. It has a small black band on the top and bottom with a Pewter trim.

The Barrel Basket has a soft gray board bottom. Unlike other baskets, it is not signed and dated on the bottom because it has a WoodCrafts board bottom. It is signed on the inside once it is completed.

It is marked with the Longaberger logo that authenticates our proud tradition of quality and craftsmanship.

2014, article, dublin, dublinschools, dublinvillager, education, news, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Parents hear draft of gifted program revamp

Tuesday December 23, 2014 9:28 AM

Page A2 of 12/25 issue

The Dublin City School District presented a Gifted Service Delivery Draft to community members recently and then listened to their feedback.

About 60 community members gathered Dec. 10 in the Wyandot Elementary School Library to listen to Kimberly Pietsch Miller, the district’s chief academic officer, present the draft and answer questions.

In the fall, the school district convened a task force to review the current gifted service delivery model.

The district is responding to new and more rigorous content standards for all students, Miller said. In addition, the community provided feedback to the district during the 2013-14 school year indicating Dublin should review gifted services for possible improvements

In addition to reviewing the current model, which has been in place for eight years, the task force studied the research about service delivery, reviewed the ability and achievement of the current student population and considered the needs of different groups of students.

One of the goals of the task force is to ensure all students reach calculus by 12th grade.

In the draft, students in grades K-3 would receive group testing and gifted intervention specialists would visit classrooms to offer extension activities.

Students who are high achievers in math or reading in grades 4 and 5 would receive differentiation in the classroom.

Differentiation is an approach in which teachers give slightly different assignments to groups of students to best fit their learning needs.

For high achievers in math, numeracy coaches would be available and so would single- and double-accelerated options in sixth grade.

Miller assured parents the district “doesn’t want to accelerate students too quickly and risk them missing out on foundational skills.”

The task force also took into consideration students’ maturity levels when thinking about when to begin acceleration.

“In this model, we would bring the high school math classes to the middle school so students can stay in their building and be with students their own age,” Miller said.

The draft stated that fourth- and fifth-grade students who are identified as having superior cognitive skills would receive more “pull-out” and “cluster grouping in the regular classroom.”

From the 12/25 issue

Pull-out instruction is when students are taken out of their usual classroom for a period of time so they can work on different material.

Cluster grouping refers to placing small groups of superior cognitive students in each classroom.

In middle school, superior cognitive students would receive “social-emotional skills support.”

The current draft does not address gifted high school students.

The state of Ohio requires school districts to identify students who score above the 95th percentile on standardized testing. However, the state does not mandate service, once students are identified as gifted.

In Dublin, 22 percent of students scored above the 95th percentile in math and 16 percent scored above the 95th percentile in reading on standardized tests.

About 8 percent of Dublin students have been identified as gifted in the area of superior cognitive ability, Miller said.

During the meeting, parents asked questions about the current middle school gifted delivery model, whether test scores from elementary would be taken into consideration and what changes they should expect next year.

Miller reminded parents the only time a child would “fall out of the gifted education program is if a parent, teacher or principal suggested it.”

The first part of the service model plan would be implemented next year, Miller said.

This first stage would likely include name changes (for example, LEAP would be renamed) and changes in the elementary schools.

The task force will meet in early January to revise the draft, taking feedback from the meetings into consideration.

Additional community meetings will be held in January to gather feedback on the revised draft, Miller said.

A final plan is expected to be reached by March.

Sara Hallermann, a parent of three gifted students, said the meeting answered her questions.

“I think the Gifted Education Task Force is doing an excellent job in revamping the service model to better meet the needs of gifted students,” Hallermann said.

She said the meeting was positive and helpful, even though sometimes the content was controversial.

Hallermann appreciated that Miller explained the rationale of each decision and assured parents that everything is grounded in research.

Another parent, Rae Kroger, said the meeting was informative.

“They did a really good job at answering diverse questions,” she said.

Kroger said the district is moving in the right direction.

At the end of the meeting, community members were given an opportunity to write down what components of the service model they liked, components they want to see included, any questions they had and any additional input.

“We don’t want to glaze over anything,” Miller said.

“I want all students to achieve at high levels.”
Deb’s Details: This article happened during a crazy moment in my life. I was on my way to where the meeting was held when I was rear-ended! I’d never been in an accident before. I was a little late to the meeting because of that but I don’t think it affected my ability to get the facts. At the meeting, it was clear that the parents were very concerned and passionate about the gifted education program. The meeting lasted almost three hours.
I wanted this article to explain to those who couldn’t attend any of the three meetings what was discussed and emphasize how it’s not too late for them to give their suggestions to the school board.

2014, article, dublin, dublinschools, dublinvillager, organ donor, ThisWeekNews

Student’s organ donation honored on parade float

(originally published in ThisWeekNews)

Wednesday December 17, 2014 3:37 PM

Tom, Kathy and Reilly Harrington look at the
 floragraph of their daughter and sister, Lindsay Jones
(photo from ThisWeekNews)

To honor the late Lindsay Alyce Jones, her family invited students and staff to help decorate her floragraph, which will be displayed on the 2015 Donate Life Tournament of Roses Parade float.

Floragraphs are memorial portraits created with floral materials. They are recreations of a favorite photo submitted by family members.

Jones attended Dublin Scioto High School until she died from a brain aneurysm 10 days into her senior year in September 2002.

The floragraph of Lindsay Jones
(photo from ThisWeek News)

The event took place in Scioto’s cafeteria at 12:15 p.m. Dec. 12, during lunch, so students and staff could have an opportunity to view the completion of the floragraph.

Upon unveiling Jones’ floragraph, the family had the privilege of finishing the portrait by completing the decoration of Jones’ eyebrows.

The image of Jones was printed, applied to foam board and decorated in a method similar to “color by numbers” with flowers and organic materials, including seeds, grains and spices.

Bob Scott, Scioto’s interim principal, said he was honored to have the event at Scioto.

“This building loved Lindsay and the Jones family and to host this event for them and for Lindsay is the least we can do,” Scott said in an e-mail.

Jones’ family will travel to Pasadena in late December to attend the 126th Tournament of Roses Parade Jan 1.

Jones is the first person from Dublin to be honored in this manner during the parade.

“To have a program at school promoting being an organ donor and the impact it can have on others is clearly something we need to support and celebrate,” Scott said.

Scott said Jones will forever be a hero.

The decorating of Jones’ floragraph began in Pasadena by volunteer transplant recipients and donor family members under the direction of experienced float artists.

Jessica Petersen, media and public relations coordinator for Lifeline of Ohio, said it was a sweet moment to see the floragraph come to life.

“Kathy Harrington, Lindsay’s mom, was very anxious before it was unveiled. It looked so beautiful and lifelike. It was heart-melting,” Petersen said.

“Kathy has been volunteering at Lifeline of Ohio for 11 years. Her passion for organ donation has now led her to Pasadena.”

The 12th Donate Life Rose Parade float — with the theme “The Never-Ending Story” — will symbolize the enduring power of organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation.

Jones’ floragraph will be one of 72 on the float.

The float will feature 60 butterflies emerging from an open book, representing the number of lives transformed by a single donor.

Walking alongside the float will be 12 living organ donors whose stories have become intertwined with those of their recipients.

The overall theme of the parade, which will be seen by an estimated 80 million TV viewers, is “Inspiring Stories.”

Since its debut on New Year’s Day 2004, the Donate Life Rose Parade float has become the world’s most visible campaign to inspire people to become organ, eye and tissue donors.

Deb’s Details:
This event was covered by some of the bigger news outlets in Columbus and I read their coverage of it before writing mine. That gave me perspective on how I could make mine stand out from their articles. I did this by interviewing Bob Scott and Jessica Petersen. I’m an organ donor myself so it was neat to see how that little heart on my license really can mean a lot.

My article on the front page 😀 
2014, article, baskets, magazine, porch, signatures, writing

Front Porch Memories

(I wrote this article for Longaberger’s Fall/ Winter Signatures magazine. Lynn and Gary were nice enough to invite me to their home and I interviewed them on their front porch. I’m proud of the descriptive details I included in the opening and how I used quotes that make the voice of Lynn and Gary come alive.)

Front Porch Swinging with Gary and Lynn Longaberger
Things in the village of Dresden, Ohio move at a slower pace. The hustle and bustle of big city life is replaced by the casual swoosh of a comfy porch swing. Cars pass by slowly and the sounds of friends chatting fill the cozy porch.

Surrounded by brightly colored flowers potted in warm brown Longaberger baskets, Gary and Lynn Longaberger take time to enjoy each other’s company (and some wine, of course) after a busy day. They gather with friends, laugh together and wave to the people passing by. 

Taking in a breath of autumn air, Lynn turned to Gary and said, “Feels like you’re back home again, doesn’t it honey?” Gary nodded.
It’s a simple porch with a white and grey rug that fills almost the whole space, a sturdy gray swing, a few small tables and Grandma Bonnie’s dark green and white patio furniture that she passed down to her 10th child.

 “We eat dinner out here sometimes,” Gary said. “On the weekends, we drink coffee in the mornings and almost every evening we dink our wine out here.”  

Gary and Lynn chat about their grandkids and what’s going on that week.  Gary is more or less retired. He joked that he is “on-call for Longaberger events.” Lynn is Senior Project Coordinator at the Home Office and celebrated her 22nd year with the company in November. 

Lynn grew up just outside of Zanesville and Gary grew up, of course, in Dresden. Their two granddaughters currently go to Tri-Valley High School, while the other is in college. They also have a younger grandson and granddaughter in nearby Reynoldsburg.  

 “The grandkids can spend the night whenever and even a few members of the Sales Field have stayed over,” Lynn said.

About a year ago, Gary and Lynn had been looking for a new house in Dresden. A friend mentioned that a home on Main Street recently went up for sale.

“We called the owners that evening. Gary went through the house at noon. The next day, I went through it at four. We called them at six to say it was perfect. We will take it!” Lynn fondly remembered.    

The house has a separate garage that Gary has turned into a workshop or “mancave” as Lynn lovingly calls it.

Gary and Lynn agreed that it was fun sitting out on the front porch, especially during special events like Halloween.

“Remember, they told us we would have 500-600 kids come by? But, it was raining and cold that night. So Gary ended up eating half of the candy himself,” Lynn said. “One piece for the kids. Two for him.”

A favorite porch memory took place before the Bee, this year. A couple of Home Consultants from California came to Ohio a few days early and came to Gary and Lynn’s house. The Home Consultants took turns riding Grandma Bonnie’s bicycle through Dresden as Gary and Lynn showed them around. They rode down to Wendy Longaberger Little’s house and chatted on her front porch for a bit. Then, they went to Grandma Bonnie’s old house and took a few pictures there. 

“They were thrilled to death. One woman said that riding Grandma Bonnie’s bike was her favorite Bee experience,” Lynn said.

During the Bee, about 30-40 people stopped by Gary and Lynn’s house.

“We talked about how excited we were to have them and how they couldn’t wait to stop back by again,” Lynn said. “So many people were here, that we had to get extra chairs and we had people sitting in the front yard.”

Lynn gave tours around the house and showed them the baskets that J.W. and Larry had made for Gary. 
“Some people you only get to see once a year, but they feel like your best friend,” said Lynn. “Thank goodness for Facebook so you can keep up with people and see what’s going on in their family.” 
In Dresden, Main Street comes alive in the evenings. Best friends go on power walks together. 

Parents ride bicycles while their children ride tricycles a few feet ahead of them. Young couples walk their dogs. Trucks give friendly honks. Gary and Lynn wave to everyone who passes by.

“Even if we don’t know them, we’ll wave. But, usually we know them and say hi,” Lynn said.
So many different people stop by the porch and such wonderful memories are made that Lynn and a few friends joked that they were going to start a blog to chronicle their porch adventures.

Most nights, Lynn reads her Kindle outside and Gary solves Sudoku puzzles.

“I do one easy puzzle and then one hard one. Sometimes I’ll do a ‘very hard’ puzzle,” said Gary, “And, I always do the Sunday Sudoku in the paper.”

Gary and Lynn like being so close to local sports events. They attend nearly every Tri-Valley High School sporting event. Whether it’s supporting their daughter, who coaches the varsity volleyball team, or cheering on the Scotties at a Friday night football game, Gary and Lynn are there.

Best of all, their house is located very close to the high school. Lynn said, “It’s great being able to just walk to the football games and not worry about parking.”

The location of their home also comes in handy during parades. There is the Dresden Homecoming parade at the end of June, the Tri-Valley Homecoming parade in early October, and the Christmas parade on the first Saturday of December.

“Tina Smythe and her family, Anita Rector, and Gary’s sister, Wendy Little with her husband Bob will bring lawn chairs and sit in our front yard and all of us will watch the parade go by,” Lynn said. 
As the evening went on and the sun started to set, Lynn said “Only thing that could’ve topped this would be if Grandma Bonnie was still here to sit on the porch with us. She was a good mother-in-law”

Gary chimed in that Grandma Bonnie was a mother and grandmother “to a lot of people.”

They remembered her sense of humor and how much fun she was. Gary noted that his sister, Wendy, is a lot like his mom. Wendy and Bob are frequent visitors to the porch. 

 In the future, Gary and Lynn hope to add a ceiling fan and improve the back porch so it can be used “for times when the front porch overflows with people.” They are always looking up Main Street to see who will walk down the sidewalk and who they can invite on their porch. 

2014, baskets, layout, longaberger, magazine, pets, signatures, work

Furry Friends in Baskets

Longaberger has a magazine called Signatures, that is exclusively made for their Collectors Club members. In the fall of 2014, I organized this collection of Home Consultant’s pet pictures to be in the Fall Winter issue.
First, I asked Home Consultants on social media to send photographs of their pets in Longaberger baskets. I was overwhelmed by the response. Sometimes I had to ask them to send me higher quality photographs to ensure the pictures looked good printed. I wrote captions for the photos (using their name and pet’s name) and a paragraph explaining the pictures. Using old Signatures as inspiration, I suggested to the graphic designer that pet toys be incorporated into the layout. Together, we laid out the pages. I’m happy with how it turned out and it was such great experience learning how magazine information can be gathered and laid out.

Pages 22-23 from the Fall Winter Signatures

I asked Home Consultants to submit pictures of their pets in baskets, organized the responses, sent thank you e-mails, wrote captions and helped plan the page layout for this page. 

I wrote this short paragraph that accompanied the pet pictures.

From page 24 of Fall Winter Signatures.
2014, dublin, dublinvillager, education, schools, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Students learn about giving back to community


By DEBBIE GILLUMWednesday December 10, 2014 8:59 AM

Photo from Janet DiSilvestro
For the fourth year, Olde Sawmill Elementary students are learning the importance of helping those in need through a year-long service learning project.

It’s called the Penny Harvest and it is a three-phase program from the organization See Kids Dream, which integrates community service into education.

This is the seventh year that See Kids Dream has been involved with central Ohio schools.

It’s grown from seven schools to now 40 schools, according to Laura Grindle, one of the co-founders of See Kids Dream and the director of programming.  

“We wanted to give the opportunity to all kids to volunteer and get involved in their community so that is why we reached out to schools,” she said.

Grindle said the most important thing about the program is that kids have the ability to make decisions themselves.

“Student voice is such an important part of service learning. They get more engaged and excited about learning when they have a say in how the money is spent,” she said.  

The Penny Harvest at Olde Sawmill started when students charted their ideas onto a “Symphony of Concerns” bulletin board that featured a musical instruments for each issue. Then they voted on issues that they felt were important in their community.

Next, the students spent four weeks raising money. The grade level that raised the most won a pizza party.

Photo from Janet DiSilvestro
Instead of doing fundraising projects, all the money came from students finding loose change, like in couch cushions, floor of the car, etc.  

In the past three years the students have raised around $2,500 each year.

Janet DiSilvestro, Gifted Instruction Specialist at Olde Sawmill and LEAP teacher, said this year their goal is $3,000.

LEAP (Logic, Enrichment and Pursuit) is a class of identified fourth or fifth grade students who receive extended training in academic content and thinking skills. They must have scored at the 95th percentile or higher in their academic area of strength.  

Students and parents were invited to Whetstone High School for a Purpose For Our Penny assembly on Dec. 10.

It was a kick-off of the research phase of the project and also a celebration of their fundraising efforts.

Non-profit organizations were invited to set up tables and talk with students.

This was a great opportunity for students to collect business cards and start initial inquiries about the organizations.

“During the event, parents came up and told me, ‘I had no idea my child could do this’ or ‘I had no idea my child was so passionate about this,’” Grindle said.

Starting in January, student leaders will research the various philanthropic organizations that address the problems that students have mentioned on the “Symphony of Concerns” bulletin board.

They will deeply research the issues and try to understand the factors causing the issues in their community.

Representatives from the organizations are then invited to come to the classroom and meet with students.

“This gives the students an opportunity to learn how to meet and greet, ask questions that are not already answered in the flyers and websites and how to take good notes as the person is being interviewed.” said DiSilvestro.

Grindle said that organizations are often impressed by the tough questions the kids ask them.

“The kids really want their money to make the most impact and so they aren’t afraid to ask lots of questions,” Grindle said.  

The last phase of the Penny Harvest is to choose who to give the money to and how much they should receive.  Every student in the school gets to vote on the one organization they want to give our money to.

“In the spring, we invite those winning organizations to our school and we have a school wide assembly to present our big checks to them. It is a very moving, amazing time and the students all feel such a part of the decision making process,” DiSilvestro said.

The assembly is organized by the students, which teaches them event planning and logistics skills.  

Through this year long project, the students become community leaders- who just so happen to be children.

On May 20, there will be a Power of the Penny event where students can share with other community leaders what they have learned and work together to make a difference.

“Helping others,” Grindle said, “is just inherent in all of us, no matter what our age.”

Deb’s Details:

I’m so impressed that elementary school-age children are doing such a mature project. We did a similar project in college where we chose a charity to donate money and volunteer hours to. It’s a big process. I think this project sounds so beneficial and I was happy to give it some press.
Talking to Laura Grindle on the phone was a highlight of my day because she was just such a positive sounding woman and one of those people who reminds you that the world can be a good place.
It would have been nice to have gotten a picture of their project or to have spoken with one of the children.