Monday, June 08, 2009

Admissions agreements guarantee transfer for NOVA graduates

Start at NOVA, finish at GMU, U-Va. or U-decide

Admissions agreements guarantee transfer for NOVA graduates

High school seniors who haven’t yet picked a college should consider Northern Virginia Community College where they can save thousands of dollars by earning an associate degree and then transferring – guaranteed – to a four-year institution.

NOVA graduates are eligible for admissions agreements that guarantee acceptance at dozens of four-year colleges and universities, including all the well-known Virginia schools. That means NOVA graduates transfer as juniors and earn the same bachelor’s degree as students who started as freshmen.

NOVA’s tuition is the best educational value in the area. In addition, all students are encouraged to pursue financial aid to make college even more affordable. During the 2007-2008 academic year, NOVA administered more than $33 million in grants, scholarships, loans and student employment.

Registration is taking place now for the fall semester that begins Aug. 24. Students may enroll at or 703-323-3770. In-person assistance is available at NOVA’s campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge. Students can register now to ensure they get the classes they want and defer tuition payment until July 31.

For more information, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College’s Web site at

# # #

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America’s largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 60,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College’s Web site,


Carlene Mackereth

Public Information Officer

Northern Virginia Community College


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Community Leadership Institute--Class Dismissed

Tonight I graduated.

That sounds strange, considering it has been many years since I have attended a formal class. So when I looked at tonight's Community Leadership Institute's agenda and saw "graduation," I smiled.

And then I saw who would be conducting the formalities--none other than County Executive, Mr. Craig Gerhart, soon to be retired after almost 30 years of service.

The class facilitator, Citizen Participation Coordinator Nikki Brown, an enthusiastic professional, had a tough time holding back the tears as she mentioned Mr. Gerhart's impending career move from PWC to Amtrak.
And while I don't know Mr. Gerhart, I can see why it might be difficult to have him leave.

From hearing him speak, reading about him and just observing his mannerisms, I decided a few years ago that Mr. Gerhart was, if nothing else, honest. He struck me as approachable and human. And after listening to him tonight, my belief is only strengthened that this man must have been an inspiring person to work for.

It's hard to write about perceptions based on gut reactions and instincts. So I will try to substantiate mine at least a little.

Mr. Gerhart said we were the last CLI class he would see graduate. He talked a little about how proud he has been to work in the county. He referred to "people who are smarter than I am." In that one phrase, I heard healthy humility and intelligence. It was like he didn't have to prove himself or be perfect or brag. I didn't get the bloated-ego-alert I get with many higher ups.

But even more laudable, he didn't try to hide the elephant in the room. Mr. Gerhart said the bid rigging scandal was shameful. He didn't have to over-emphasize the words to communicate his disdain. Then he said the county would overcome it in time.

It wasn't so much his words--it was his mannerism that convinced me of his honesty without any attempt on his part to do so. He had no shame, nothing to hide, no reason to even so much as stutter. And it wasn't rehearsed. It was just....I don't know. Simply being? A statement of fact and feeling? Strength? I don't know. But even if he made mistakes, this must be a man plenty of people were proud to work with.

Mr. Gerhart asked what the class had learned. Some said learning how the budget was developed was most interesting. For others, it was economic development. For others, housing.

This was a difficult question because throughout the class, we met county personnel who had more than their employer in common. They were people willing to spend time with a group of about 25 citizens interested in learning more about the place where they live and how that place operates.

We met Elijah Johnson, Director of Housing and Community Development. We met Lisa Marrom, Community Services Board Community Support Division Manager. We met Debbie Carter, Administrative Analyst for Social Services. We met Courtney Tierney, Director for the Area Agency on Aging. They explained what they did and how their agencies operated. They answered questions and addressed concerns. They exemplified public service.

Who else took the time to speak with us?

Melissa Peacor, Assistant County Executive.
David Tyeryar, Budget Director.
Jason Grant, Public Information Speicalist for Economic Development.
Rick Canizales, Transportation Planning Manager.
Pat Thomas, Planner IV from Planning.
Chief Kevin McGee, Department of Fire and Rescue.
Captain Fred Miller, Police Department.
Liz Bahrns, Director of Communications.
Michelle Casciato, Division Chief for Neighborhood Services.

Like Mr. Gerhart, these employees seemed to exude one of the most important qualities a government employee can offer: honesty.

This sounds naive, doesn't it, considering the bid rigging scandal?

Well then, it sounds naive.

But consider I'm not one to say I feel people are honest if I do not believe they are. I have named people I believe are dishonest.

I do not have obligations to any of the people I listed above. I have no reason to say any of this other than because I wish to. That's one of the wonders of blogging.

What's interesting is that government doesn't have to be your thing for anyone to get a lot out of this class. Receiving contact information, learning who does what and where to get more help is well worth the time. Our class ran five Thursday evenings from 6:30-9 at the County Complex on Prince William Parkway. The time passed quickly, so quickly that I didn't even realize tonight was the last night.

I think we should be proud that most of our county employees are dedicated to their jobs and to us. Unfortunately, it only takes a handful to make us all look bad, and the ones who do that do a good job at it.

But the people who presented at CLI are not those people.

For that, I am thankful.

I'm tired.

Seems I've been tired all week. I have a doc's appointment next Friday which is good because my hair is also falling out. I will soon be a tenacious baldy.

Plus, I've been waking up nauseous.

But I've lost 43 pounds and four sizes. So that is good.

When I lose 30 more pounds, I will be temporarily satisfied because I will have returned to the weight I was when I last lost all that weight four years ago. The rest will be superficial, vain gravy.

As it stand now, I can feel the port tube connected to the lap band. The port is where the doc injects saline to tighten the band. Feeling the port is kind of gross, but it's a good sign because it means my ribs have made a comeback.

It's easy to lose lots of weight when you give up bread, pasta, rice, cake, cookies, popcorn and pretty much anything else with bread--especially if you are a bread addict like me.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my friend who was asking me about the surgery. I explained that I had to give up all those things because that kind of food swells and gets stuck. It has been an incredible, drastic, life change. She said she could never do that. A lot of people have said that to me.

But if you get desperate enough, you might decide surgery is the only way to go. For me, I knew if I continued to gain and lose and gain and lose--and I'm talking lots of weight--I would die at an early age. And if I didn't die from a heart attack, I would probably die of diabetes which runs in my family. And I wouldn't be able to walk because my knees have been crap since I was 20 or so. Excess weight doesn't exactly cure bad knees, now, does it?

I've heard you can put the weight back on if you do things like eat tons of ice cream and the insides of jelly donuts. This scares me, and I hope consistent fills will prevent this. Exercise, of course, will also help prevent weight gain. But it scares me anyway because I've gained weight back before. And I've seen people go through more drastic surgeries and put the weight back on. I just cannot afford to be one of those people.

So I sit here, tired, and rather rambling.

Last night's thunder storm was wonderful, though. David and I opened the kitchen windows, snuggled on the couch and just watched it, similar to the way my father used to, standing behind the half-screen door, the kind with metal on the bottom. The rain came through the screen.

We had an aluminum awning and similar siding. It deluged and clattered, and he taught me to watch, listen and marvel and not be afraid.

And last night's glorious sound of pouring also brought me back to tent camping in the rain.

Sure, you get wet. But that sound is worth it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Help a lady out--buy some quilting squares!

Here ya easy, cheap way to make someone's day:

quilt squares for sale

Blogging out flip-flops

One problem with summer is I don't feel like doing anything. Well, not exactly nothing. (Is that a double negative?) I just don't feel like working or thinking.

I feel like sipping sun, swimming drinkless, kayaking close to the treeline, hitting tennis balls too hard, listening to birds who never feel overheated, breathing early moist air and throwing basketballs into a non-compliant net--not necessarily all in that order.

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate my jobs, especially in this economy. And I write every day because I must, not just for my jobs, but because writing is a signature of my soul.

But I don't feel like doing any heavy lifting, as my professors used to put it when we were assigned an easy-to-read piece.

I never felt like doing much over the summer even in college. I recall writing a journal entry that in part said "I don't want to do much more than file my fingernails."

I sympathize with my kids who must attend summer school, even though I know they need to in order to succeed in the forthcoming school year.

These are some of the reasons I am a proponent of year-round school with longer vacations in the middle. We train our children that summer is for lounging, staying up late, and if possible, doing nothing more constructive than having fun. We are conditioned to be lazy in the summer which makes work all the less palatable. We take as much leave as we can, like vacation hoarders.

Just now, Sallie the dog started chewing on Alexandra's flip-flop.

What an odd metaphor.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Window Questions

I haven't had a lot of time to blog, but I'm wondering...

When did curtains become "window treatments"?

Are curtains a kind of spa for windows?

Or do they have medicinal value?

Do they cure cracking panes or heal peeling sills?

I'm just wondering.

Call for Nominations for Special Ed Committee

Call for Nominations for State Special Education Advisory Committee: 2009-2012 Term


Department of Education

The Virginia Board of Education is seeking nominees to serve a three-year term on the State Special Education Advisory Committee, appointed by the Board. The terms will begin in July 2009 and end in June 2012.

Please note that specific categories of expertise or geographic representation are required by state or federal law or regulation. The six current vacancies and their categories are listed below. It is indicated if the current incumbent is eligible for reappointment.

Teacher: incumbent is eligible for reappointment

Parent, Region I: incumbent is eligible for reappointment

Parent, Region III

Parent, Region IV

Parent, Region VII

Parent, Region VIII

Article nine, Section 2, of the Bylaws of the Virginia Board of Education adopted in September 2004, states that advisory committees shall be composed of persons who represent the views and interests of the general public and who are known to be qualified to perform their duties. All appointments to an advisory committee shall be made by the Board upon the recommendations of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Findings and recommendations are provided to the Board of Education in a manner and at a time prescribed by the Board.

Superintendents and other individuals and organizations are invited to recommend nominees to fill current vacancies for each advisory committee as noted above. Nominee qualifications will be reviewed and a slate of recommended members will be submitted to the Board of Education in July 2009.

Nominations may be made by completing the recommendation form available at All nominations must be received by Monday, June 15, 2009.

For more information or to submit a completed nomination form, contact:

Dr. Margaret N. Roberts, Executive Assistant to the Board of Education
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, VA 23218-2120
Voice: (804) 225-2924
Fax: (804) 225-2524


The Virginia Board for People with Disabilities’ ABLE TO CHOOSE campaign is about changing individual attitudes and actions, business practices, community and civic activities, and public policy to make all aspects of community life accessible, inclusive, and welcoming to people with disabilities. This public awareness campaign showcases the personal stories of Virginians with disabilities at work and play, their relationships with family and friends, community and civic involvement, volunteerism and advocacy, and all other aspects of daily living. To learn more about the campaign, about individuals with disabilities living successfully in communities of their own choice, and about how you can get involved and pledge your support visit


For more information about the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, please visit our website at or contact:

Tom Driscoll
Strategic Planning & Marketing Manager
Virginia Board for People with Disabilities
Washington Building, Capitol Square
1100 Bank Street, 7th Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23219
804-786-9380 (voice & TTY)
800-846-4464 (toll-free, voice & TTY)
804-786-1118 (fax)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Kafka's Mouse

I'm still reflecting on Grossman's "Writing in the Dark" and am posting another solar system of thought which I will return to when I have time to complete this entry.

My obsession with words, definition and usage came tumbling back to me upon reading this bit of brilliance:

"Kafka’s mouse is right: when the predator is closing in on you, the world does indeed become increasingly narrow. So does the language that describes it. From my experience I can say that the language with which the citizens of a sustained conflict describe their predicament becomes progressively shallower the longer the conflict endures. Language gradually becomes a sequence of clich├ęs and slogans. This begins with the language created by the institutions that manage the conflict directly — the army, the police, the different government ministries; it quickly filters down to the mass media that are
reporting about the conflict, germinating an even more cunning language that aims to tell its target audience the story easiest for digestion; and this process ultimately seeps into the private, intimate language of the conflict’s citizens, even if they deny it."

"Writing in the Dark"
By David Grossman

Excerpted from Burn This Book
edited by Toni Morrison
ISBN: 9780061774003
ISBN NR: 9780061791338
On Sale: 5/12/09

More later...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Feel the Burn

Driving home from a class, already intellectually stimulated, I thought I would not think again for the rest of the evening--or at least that I would not think deeply about anything in particular.

However, author Toni Morrison sucked me into her interview on the Public Radio show "On Point." Morrison has edited a new book of essays on censorship. The book is called Burn This Book.

Morrison's words expressed the writer's need to write, that writers SHOULD disturb and that writers and artists are always threats to political regimes and traditional institutions.

And then Tom Ashbrook read an excerpt from Burn This Book, part of an essay by Israeli author David Grossman who says:

"In a sense, as soon as we lay our hand on the pen, or the computer keyboard, we already cease to be the helpless victims of whatever it was that enslaved and diminished us before we began to write. Not the slaves of our predicament nor of our private anxieties; not of the 'official narrative' of our country, nor of fate itself.

We write. The world is not closing in on us. How fortunate we are. The world is not growing increasingly narrow."

And suddenly, I remember why I write.

"Writing in the Dark"
By David Grossman

Excerpted from Burn This Book
edited by Toni Morrison
ISBN: 9780061774003
ISBN NR: 9780061791338
On Sale: 5/12/09

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hard workers with tough schedules succeed in a unique ESL program

Special Sauce for ESL

May 27, 2009

AUSTIN, TEX. -- While English as a Second Language courses are offered nationwide, many businesses that hire non-English speaking employees report that those workers can't or won't enroll, and that as a result their opportunities for advancement are limited.

Over the last two years, McDonald's has worked with a professor at the College of Lake County to pioneer English Under the Arches, which the company and the college hope can change this dynamic. McDonald's is taking the program national, and recruiting community colleges to set up branches of the program -- which is paid for entirely by local McDonald's franchise owners. Data from the early test versions of the program show significant gains in English language skills of participants, leading some involved to hope that this could also produce new students for associate programs at community colleges.

The efforts were described here Tuesday at the annual meeting here of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development, a top meeting of community college faculty members and administrators.

McDonald's set up the program after finding that previous efforts didn't work. Some restaurant owners publicized local ESL programs. Some even paid expenses, but participation and completion rates weren't impressive, said Betsy McKay, director of bilingual leadership for the company. Further, she said that no effort seemed "scalable" such that it could be adopted nationwide. Many entry-level jobs at McDonald's go to people who don't speak English and they can do quite well, especially in neighborhoods where the customers are all Spanish-speaking, McKay said.

"Immigrants, whether they have English or not, are going to be the driving force in the economy," she said. "And contrary to urban myth, immigrants are working. They are working more, for less money, than others."

At McDonald's, which has a tradition of promoting from within, the issue of English hits as employees come up for the entry-level manager's position -- one for which English truly is needed even in neighborhoods where the customers don't primarily speak English. Finding "star" employees whose careers were hitting a wall, McDonald's convened a group of language experts and ended up getting referred to Suzanne Leibman, associate professor of English as a Second Language at the College of Lake County, a community college in Illinois.

Leibman has done extensive work with ESL programs, and welcomed the assignment, and so she worked with a group from McDonald's to plan three different courses in English that would be offered through a mix of in-person and online training. When designing ESL for jobs, instructors go to the work site to listen to conversation -- and for Leibman, McDonald's was a new experience. She's an observant Jew who keeps kosher, so while she understood the basic concept of fast food, she's never had a Big Mac -- but now she has seen them prepared and watched workers go about their routines.

The courses cover three categories of skills: shift basics, shift conversation, and shift writing -- as the managerial jobs into which the students want to advance involve them managing a shift, which means supervising employees, responding to customers or vendors, and dealing with whatever comes up. McDonald's franchise owners pay the costs for their employees to take the course, and funds ($130 for the basic course, $350 for the conversational course and $300 for the writing course) go to the community college that hires instructors. The restaurant owners also let the students do the courses while on the clock, so the students receive their hourly pay for the program. For all three courses, three hours of classes are held a week, either in training or office areas of the restaurants, and there is a one hour virtual class as well as practice time on the job.

"These are folks with two full-time jobs. They can’t go to a class on Tuesday night. We needed a design that was going to come to them,” McKay said.

The students must be nominated by their restaurants' owners, who are effectively saying "I want you to be able to be a manager," which is a key incentive, she added.

The skills covered include vocabulary, sentence structure, listening, message taking and writing, and the role that all of these communication skills have on managing workers and dealing with customers who have a range of issues, from basic questions to complaints.

Leibman said that a number of choices were made to reflect the needs of the students. Classes are synchronous so students are always in groups of others with similar language skills. Longer sessions are held about once a month -- with a goal of having at least one of the longer sessions at a community college to get students more comfortable going there. And exercises are all directly related to job duties, so students can see the relevance to their jobs and advancement potential. Leibman and McDonald's designed the course modules and did some test runs in 2007. In 2008, more than 100 students participated, and the company expects more than 300 this year, with the numbers continuing to climb.

Most of the students are women, are over 25 and have minimal formal education. Only about half have earned at least a high school degree.

McKay said that because the decisions to pay for the courses come from the individual franchises, not corporate headquarters, the company asked how these restaurant owners would define success. Most said that they didn't care about averages or any formal grade, but that they wanted measures of on-the-job skills using English.

Here are results from 2008

English Skills Before and After Training

Skill Before After
Talk with supervisor about work 41% 70%
Talk with co-workers about work 50% 74%
Talk with co-workers about myself 39% 72%
Small talk 24% 59%
Read directions or work orders 39% 77%
Call in when sick 64% 92%
Understand how the company works 40% 74%
Answer the phone 44% 89%
Write notes in imperfect English 29% 62%
Write notes in pretty good English 11% 40%

McKay and Leibman both stressed that these skill levels -- while they may seem basic to college professors -- represent substantial growth for the individuals involved, and the difference for many of them between further career advancement or staying stagnant. McKay said that from a business perspective, businesses like McDonald's can't run without people who don't speak English, and that programs like this avoid having a system in which those employees never advance. McKay said that while parts of the curriculum are McDonald's-specific, she would like to share other parts -- and the approach -- with other companies.

Leibman said that from her perspective, this represents the service of her community college, through which the program is run to its residents -- including both the small business owners who run McDonald's restaurants and their workers who don't know much English. On the last day of the program, Leibman said that she gives each student information on how to enroll in other courses at her college and -- for those from other community college districts -- their college.


To me, the basic message here is, give people the opportunity to succeed and they will most likely do so. Bravo, Mickie D's, even though that clown Ronald of yours is creepy.

Friday, May 22, 2009

You HAVE to see this bear!

I am so glad I found this site through Selina at

Selina is an amazing local artist in Manassas...and she's illustrating my children's book. She's a goddess of course, because she will be creating 47 watercolors for Furbily-Furld Takes on the World (copyrighted by yours truly).

Selina has also illustrated Nikita's Journey, a story about loss and hope by Andrea Howard.

Anyway, be sure to check out Bear Bits.

These bears are so cute! Ginger has many more pics on her site. And she is having a give-away.

I'm a little partial because Ginger's blog has a quote from one of my favorite's-- Alice in Wonderland:

"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

-Lewis Carroll

Send condolences to the Ramirez family who lost their son in a hate crime

Luis Ramirez, like all generations of immigrants, came to this country with great sacrifice and courage, seeking to fulfill a basic human need, to work for a better life. Only 25 years old, his life was taken prematurely and violently by a group of young people, whose crime, according to witnesses, was motivated by Luis' national origin.

Take a moment to send a message of condolence to the family of Luis Ramirez today. We need safe and tolerant communities and joining in this effort adds your voice to the growing chorus that is leading to a better America.

Luis Ramirez was born and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico, where he lived with his mother, Elisa Zavala, grandmother, sister, and brother. Ms. Zavala tells that Luis was extraordinarily hardworking and ambitious from a very young age. According to her, Luis worked as a boy to pay for his studies and also to help with household expenses. Ms. Zavala recounts that Luis was so committed to helping her economically that, on occasion, he offered her his small piggy-bank savings. When he grew older, Luis worked 15 hours a day as a supervisor at a local clothes factory. With his earnings, he helped build a home for his family. Luis' ambition was too large for the small economic opportunities in his community. He regularly told his mother that there were better working opportunities "in the north," and that he could realize his dream of providing a better life for his family by going to the United States. His mother finally gave in and reluctantly allowed Luis to pursue the American dream. 

Take a moment to send a message of condolence to the family of Luis Ramirez today. We need safe and tolerant communities and joining in this effort adds your voice to the growing chorus that is leading to a better America.

Luis, at age 19, arrived in Pennsylvania after making the long journey. He worked two jobs at all times, whether in a factory, construction, or agricultural fields, so that he could support himself and his family in Mexico. After a few years, he met and fell in love with Crystal Dillman. According to Crystal, what most impressed her about Luis was how respectful and hardworking he was. During their three-year relationship, they had two beautiful children together and planned to marry.

On the night of July 12, 2009, however, Luis Ramirez encountered a group of high school football players who told him to "go back to Mexico" and shortly thereafter began their brutal assault on Luis. The beating ended after Luis was knocked to the ground, kicked and stomped on by the four assailants, and then kicked in the head, which fractured his skull. As they fled, one of the assailants yelled a warning to Luis' friend, who had responded to Luis' distress call, "tell your [expletive] Mexican friends to get the [expletive] out of Shenandoah or you'll be [expletive] laying next to him." 

The assailants deprived Luis Ramirez not only of his American dream, but of his right to be a son, a husband, a father - of his right to live.

Thank you for your continued support of our petition to the DOJ. While our voices are being heard loud and clear in Washington, Shenandoah, and across the country, we must keep bringing attention to this particular situation and related efforts to demonstrate that such conduct is not and should not be accepted or tolerated.


Gladys Limon

PS. Help us reach our goal of delivering 50,000 petitions to the Department of Justice. Double your Impact by telling 5 more friends and stand up for Luis Ramirez and justice today.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sheffield Manor will still attend Stonewall Jackson HS

At its meeting on May 20, the Prince William County School Board approved recommended boundary plan B1 for the 11th high school and other area high schools.

The School Board approved implementation of the new boundaries in the following manner: Rising ninth and tenth graders residing in the 11th high school's attendance area will attend the 11th high school. Rising 11th graders residing in the 11th high school's attendance area will have a one-time choice to attend the 11th high school or remain at their current high school. There will be no second chance to select. There will be no 12th grade at the 11th high school during its first year of operation. Those 12th grade students in the 11th high schools attendance areas will remain at their currently assigned high school.

With respect to all other boundary areas moved from one high school to another, rising 9th graders only will move to the newly assigned high school in fall 2011.

Further, that the Superintendent establish a specialty program at the 11th high school and that this program accept transfers up to 100 percent of the school's capacity.

Visit Planning Office Web site for details.


The Planning Office recommends boundary Plan B1
Positives (+)
 Achieves the goals provided to the Planning Staff.
 Decreases overcrowding at Battlefield, Brentsville District and Osbourn Park HS.
 Creates a compact and contiguous boundary for 11th HS at Kettle Run.
 Keeps enrollment capacities fairly equal at Battlefield, Brentsville District, Stonewall
Jackson, Osbourn Park, and 11th HS at Kettle Run.
 Minimizes the impact on the attendance boundaries for Stonewall Jackson.
 Avoids splitting neighborhoods. The communities located along the Devlin/Sudley
Manor corridor (i.e., Victory Lakes, Crossman’s Creek, Sheffield Manor, Independence,
as well as Lanier Farms and Barrett’s Crossing) are quite interconnected. The sheer
number of high school aged students residing within these communities makes it very
difficult to move them to the eleventh high school. As a complete group, these
communities are adjacent to one another, connected through existing roads and have been
assigned since their inception to Stonewall Jackson. Plan B1 maintains their present
assignment, keeping these communities together at Stonewall Jackson.
 Keeps the communities along Route 234 (Great Oaks, Mayfield Trace, etc.) together,
assigned to Brentsville District High School.
 Reduces travel time for many children traveling along the Linton Hall corridor.
 Reduces travel time for Coverstone area students assigned from Battlefield HS to
Stonewall Jackson HS.
Negatives (-)
o Many Crossman’s Creek, Victory Lakes, Lanier Farms, Barrett’s Crossing, Sheffield
Manor, and Independence residents expressed a desire to attend the new 11th HS at Kettle
o The assignment of the Coverstone area from Battlefield HS to Stonewall Jackson HS
reduces the demographic balance at both schools.
o The assignment of students from communities along the Linton Hall Corridor to the 11th
HS reduces the demographic balance at Brentsville District & Battlefield high schools.

Free Presentation: "Rebuilding the Afghan Government"

This event is free. Lunch costs $20.00 per person.

Prince William Area MAL
League of Women Voters of Virginia

Annual Meeting & Luncheon
Saturday, May 30, 2009
11:30 AM – 2 PM

Daks Grille
13641 Minnieville Rd.
Dale City, VA 22193


Election of Officers 2009-2011
"Rebuilding the Afghan Government"
A Slide Show Talk by Lee Hendricks,
Former UN Worker

Open to Members, Guests, and the Public!
For those having lunch, the cost is $20 per person.
Please make checks payable to PWA MAL LWV VA and mail with form to:
Annual Meeting, 6010 Wheeler Lane, Broad Run, VA 20137-2201

Or, phone Sheila School (703) 492-4574
Menu Choices: Top Sirloin, Marinated Chicken, Salmon, Cajun Grilled Pork
Soup or Salad, Fresh Vegetable, DAKs Potato & Beverage
Meal Reservation Deadline -- May 26

Name(s) ___________________________________________________________________________

Phone Number & Email________________________________________________________________

Guest(s) ____________________________________________________________________________

No. of lunches ______ @ $20/per lunch = ______________

Total enclosed________

College for Kids

College for Kids at Woodbridge Campus of

Northern Virginia Community College


Several fun, educational day camps for children are available this summer at the Woodbridge Campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

Computer camps include “Multimedia Madness,” “MS PowerPoint for Kids,” “Computer Animation” and “Keyboarding for Kids.”

Children who enjoy performing might like “College for Kids Idol” and “Praise Dance Team.”

Budding artists can practice their craft during “Anime Art,” “Cartooning for Fun” and “Drawing for Kids.”

Specialty camps on math skills and Spanish culture are also offered.

For camp details, go to and look for “College for Kids.” Register by calling the Prince William Regional Workforce Development and Continuing Education Office at 703-878-5755.

# # #

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America’s largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 60,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College’s Web site,


Carlene Mackereth

Public Information Officer

Northern Virginia Community College


Monday, May 18, 2009

What am I actually accomplishing?

Sometimes I wish I had an office. Not one in my house but a real office. And in my office I would have no Internet, no telephones, no fax machine, no nothing except a receptionist who would come get me only if the school called saying, "Your daughter got her braces caught on the playground fence," or "Your husband is in the ER getting his chair unglued from his hiney."

And no blogs--none.

And someone to pick me up and drive me to the office or at least make me drive my child to school so I would feel it's okay to go right to my office instead of sitting here telling myself I will get down to my work shortly.

It's not so much that I don't get my work done, because I do. In fact, I get a lot of work done. But it's so hard to get started. It's like I have this compulsive routine. I have to go through all these steps before I can start my work. I have to check my email accounts. I have to read the newspapers online. I have to check the blogs. I have to, I have to, I have to....

If I started my work right away, I would have two more hours a day. But then it would start all over again. Except this time, it would be laundry or housework. And with housework, I'm in complete avoidance. I hate how messy the house looks, but that sunshine calls me but I know I have more work to do but I still want to go outside, but I don't do it. Then I want to scrapbook or paint and I can't do that either and even if I can do it, I fall into this malaise and end up getting nothing done whatsoever because I have to worry that my hair is falling out (literally).

Then I get scared that I might never do anything at all, that I will waste my day and I will never reach my goals so I tell myself I will work for one hour on x, y or z project. So I do, and then I feel a little better. And once I get started, I will work for more than an hour until I get tired. Then I need a nap because for some reason, I wake up tired in he morning, probably because I still have mild sleep apnea.

Somewhere in the day, I will try to get out for a walk because I need the exercise and it's so nice out and I'm sick of looking at text.

By that time, the kids are home, and I'm in a routine. I greet them, ask them about their day and their homework, go up and cook dinner, talk to hubby when he gets home, get through the early evening chores and then either have nighttime meetings (which I tend to limit so I can spend time with the family) or do whatever I feel like doing which lately hasn't been much because my mother-in-law got me hooked on NCIS. David found this cool computer site where you can watch television shows whenever you want.

He also found the Comcast site on cable that gives you a certain amount of "On Demand" shows for free. Of course, they have CSI, CSI New York and NCIS. I don't like CSI Miami. It reminds me too much of Miami Vice and Don Johnson with his three-day beard growth and no socks with boat shows.

I forgot to add that in between my daily activities, I have to let the dogs out a hundred times to run after squirrels, real or imagined, and throw in loads of laundry because if I don't, I will feel guilty. Then Sallie paws me to death if I don't giver her attention, Shiba comes over and demands petting because she's jealous, the cats take turns meowing at me and jumping on my lap, and I think of the green fish tank and wonder if our two catfish are still alive.

Sometimes I will take a break from the computer and I'll fold laundry. Or I will make a Christmas card (though these have been few and far between lately).

Other days, there are doctors' appointments, mandatory runs to Wal-mart, fleeting moments of self pity and telephone calls.

And of course, blogging.

I am addicted and I hate it. But it's such an interesting connection to the world, if it's not depressing. When it starts getting depressing, I have to avoid the blogs. But it's hard. It's like an illness. Okay, that's probably a little hyperbolic, but it's certainly an addiction. I don't stay up all night doing it or anything, but I wish I could resist the urge to visit the more intriguing blogs at least once...every few hours. Like I do my email accounts. Dang.

That's pretty bad, isn't it?

I wonder if I had more time if I really would be more productive or if I would just get bored because after expending all this mental energy, I don't feel like doing a damn thing.

How much of this is ADHD, how much of this is just working from home and how much of this is just plain old life with its myriad of challenges?

I have no idea.

I just know I have to spill my guts out on blogs for whatever crazy reasons, including my absolute need to write, to self express and purge my brain.

Does that mean my brain is bulimic?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What Your Kids' Mags Can Tell You

Did you know among a dozen of other pets, Theodore Rooselvelt had a one-legged rooster?

Source: Highlights Magazine, January 2009

ADA views obesity as a disability

Having just blogged about bariatric procedures, I find it ironic I was directed by one of my Gmail notifications to the following article via a piece in DiversityInc. The title of Diversity's article is "Can You Get Fired Because You Are Fat?"

Like alcoholism, obesity isn't voluntary. I would argue it is not only a metabolic but psychological disease. Therefore, anyone discriminating against a person for being obese is actually discriminating against someone who has mental illness.

While potential employers might get away with requesting a psychological screening (and I don't know if they could), if the person is physically capable of performing tasks, s/he can't be turned down for a job. However, proving discrimination, as always, is difficult.

ADA views obesity as a disability

The decision to hire an applicant is often made during the first few minutes of a job interview. Potential employers have been known to turn down applicants who are obese because they perceive them as less attractive and inefficient. They may also turn down applicants they consider to be a drain on health benefits and more likely to file workers' compensation claims. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from turning down an applicant based on obesity.

The ADA states that morbid obesity, which is defined as weighing more than 100 percent over the norm, is considered a disability if it substantially limits, has limited, or is viewed as substantially limiting a major life activity. These activities include walking, sitting, lifting, breathing, and standing -- any activity that the average person can perform with little or no difficulty. The ADA prohibits an employer from failing to hire disabled obese individuals if they are qualified to perform the job, with or without reasonable accommodation. Qualified means having the requisite skills, experience, education, and other job requirements.

One of the first individuals to test the employment rights of the morbidly obese in court was Bonnie Cook, a woman who sued the Rhode Island Department of Mental Health in 1992. Cook had worked for the department on two previous occasions for a total of seven years. Each time, she left voluntarily with a "spotless work record." When she applied for a third time as an institutional attendant at a residential facility for the mentally retarded, the 5-foot-2-inch woman weighed more than 320 pounds. A pre-hire physical exam determined that although she was morbidly obese, she had no limitations interfering with her ability to do the work. Nevertheless, the state agency refused to rehire her, based on its assumption that her obesity would prevent her from safely evacuating patients from the facility in case of an emergency. The agency also anticipated that her weight would put her at greater risk of developing serious illnesses, thus promoting absenteeism and increasing the likelihood of workers' compensation claims. Cook sued the state, claiming that her handicap was within the parameters of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, legislation that was the foundation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The employer argued that Cook's condition was voluntary and could be reversed by merely dieting. The Court of Appeals took issue, stating that how an individual became impaired is irrelevant, pointing to other protected disabilities such as cancer resulting from smoking, alcoholism, AIDS and heart disease. The court also cited evidence that it is metabolic dysfunction that causes weight gain in the morbidly obese and that even after fasting or frequently eating less, the physical impairment remains permanently.

The court ultimately determined that Cook was unjustly denied a job and that the employer violated the Rehabilitation Act. She was qualified for the job, stated the court, yet was erroneously perceived to be suffering from physical limitations that would keep her from qualifying for a broad spectrum of jobs.

In a case earlier this year, a federal magistrate judge found that a Texas bus company violated the ADA when it failed to hire an obese applicant to drive a van. The examining physician found that the applicant, Arezella Manuel, had no medical problems, but refused to grant her medical certification because he feared she could not move quickly enough in case of an emergency. The bus company withdrew the job offer and was sued by Manuel.

The court found that the bus company had discriminated against the obese woman based on the recommendation of a single doctor, without proof that the applicant would pose a safety threat. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warns that an employer's responsibility under the ADA doesn't end when it sends the candidate to a doctor. It's important that an employer examine any negative hiring recommendations to be sure that using them to make a hiring decision does not violate the ADA.

This column is not intended to offer or be a substitute for professional or legal advice. If legal advice or assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Write, fax or e-mail ( Haas c/o Atlanta Business Chronicle. Legal Pad appears twice-monthly.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I must be sitting on a torch

I've noticed that if I'm going to get really wound up, it's most likely going to happen in the morning. This doesn't surprise me since I have my best mental energy after I've woken up, had a cup of half-and-half-real-and-decaf, taken a million vitamins (weight loss is 36 pounds, by the way) and started checking emails.

That's when the real fun starts.

My email box can entertain me for hours. Note after note lead me to conversation after conversation, link to link and before I know it, I'm engaging in one of my favorite hobbies--intellectual meandering.

It's easy be an intellectual meanderer when you ADHD because the editorial "we" already have the propensity to wander anywhere--on the Internet, in the mind and/or in body.


The next morning....

See? I wandered so much, I started this post last night, woke up and remembered I hadn't finished.

Actually, I got really tired and passed out on the couch while watching an old Start Trek episode. For the Trekkies, this was a crucial one--"The Doomsday Machine."

It was one of those episodes where everyone else is wearing full blown red and blue uniforms except Captain Kirk who sports a tight medium-green-v-neck that conveniently shows off his muscled neck and upper chest--devoid of hair, I might add. Women stroll around in mini-skirted uniforms that I would never let my daughters wear, and Leonard Nimoy ignores it all, focusing on the logic of speeding away from the planet-killing Doomsday Machine.

Alas, they are detained by another Star Fleet Captain--Captain whats-his-name-- who is shell-shocked because his whole crew was killed by the machine that resembles the interior of a vagina. After Spock relieves the dude from duty (Kirk is off on the dead ship...I know this is all terribly confusing), he tries to get noble Kirk back to the Enterprise. But Kirk needs to save the day, directs his dead ship into the sex-machine and beam back to the Enterprise just in time to save his stupid ass from blowing up.

And there was much rejoicing.

Why I am writing all this is beyond me, but it's morning, and the brain is babbling so why not write it? I have loads of other writing to do, so a brain dump is good before I attack more formal writing. You could say these are my morning exercises. Besides, it's hard to get down to formal writing when you are nagging the kids to get out the door. My older daughter, who has ADHD as well, is especially difficult.

My nephew also has ADHD. So I asked my brother if it's difficult getting his son out the door. He said something like, 'Yeah, we have to nag, cajole, yell, threaten until something works. When that doesn't work, I pour a cup of cold water on him. Now he just sees the cup coming and he bolts to the next stage of getting ready.'

I think I will try that.

We used to use an egg timer to remind both kids when they've been in the shower too long. This worked, but within a few months, the steam from the bathroom mucked up the works and time slowed down. Ten minutes became twenty and then stopped before the bell rang, leaving an endless stream of water to relax and amuse my seals.

We finally got phones with pagers, so I can page them when they are up on the third story, lallygagging around like time really does match broken egg timers. This works because I can nag fr0m the basement, but it doesn't accomplish my more academic goals such as teaching them what ten minutes actually feels like in the shower. I also don't want to nag. It's annoying to all of us.

Their rooms--I'm sure every parent goes through this, but their rooms scare me. They clean them but within three days, I can't find their floors. I used to be like this until I moved out. Then I discovered I love the Zen of having a clean, orderly space. Between all of us, though, I am afraid that Zen died a long time ago, if indeed Zen can die. If it can, mine plummeted into a painful existential pit of despond.

Anyway, since I'm just babbling at this point, I will go up, make sure they are choosing healthy food for breakfast. I will pet the animals, let Sallie run outside to chase squirrels like she does a gazillion times a day and sigh because the coffee hasn't really kicked in yet.

That's pretty scary, isn't it?

I mean, look what happens when the coffee does kick in.



Oh...I went upstairs to nag the kids and remembered I didn't blog about my "fill." So I have to now.

Okay, so here's the schtick.

You go to the lap-band dock, lie down on the good 'ole flat table. He cracks jokes while he sticks a Novocaine needle in your midsection. (He's actually quite funny.) He cracks some more jokes as he pushes down all around to feel for the port which is where the saline is injected where it will travel up through a tube to the band and tighten the band.

When he pushes, it feels weird, like when you're pregnant and the baby is turning and kicking like mad. Then he takes a needle as long as the state of Nebraska and sinks it through your skin and into the port.

It doesn't hurt, but I suggest you avoid looking at the needle.

You go home, stay on a liquid diet for a day, go back to soft foods for a couple of days and start losing weight like mad again.

An voila.

That's it.

Isn't that enough?

Monday, May 11, 2009

First Celebrity Swine Flu Victim

Okay. I know. That was in poor taste.

But my sister-in-law sent it to me.

So we're both sick, I guess!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Unititled

Sometimes it's easy to forget how many good people there are in the world.

It's easy to identify the really bad ones.

But remembering--and appreciating--the good ones....

that's something too often neglected.

Happy Mothers' Day to all the good people out there--mothers and otherwise.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A New Flu

I caught a new kind of flu--Whine Flu.

There's no inoculation.

You sleep a lot in that not-a-pleasant-nap-way. You just get stomach aches, a headache, a sore throat and a persistent whine.

You get very little done and you stare at the television even if it's off.



Milt Johns' "Response to Misinformation"

As with any official letter, this one tackles some recent allegations against the School Board, by presenting evidence rather than pointing out the source of the allegations.

If you haven't been following the education budget setting process, you might have missed BOCS Chairman Stewart's criticism of the School Board's using stimulus money for raises to retain teachers who are already the lowest paid in the region.

Interestingly, the title "Response to Misinformation" is part of the saved document and URL name. "Misinformation" is only alluded to in the actual letter.

Sometimes you can find more of what isn't being said by looking at the document or URL file name than you can by looking in the document.

May 8, 2009

Dear Prince William County Community:

Prince William County Public Schools is fortunate to have a five-year revenue sharing agreement with the county to ensure adequate funding of the Commonwealth’s second-largest school division. As the School Board does each year, a presentation was made to the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) which showed the outlaying five years based upon this funding formula and the tax guidance provided by the BOCS using current tax-rate figures. While expected revenues for PWCS are going down, the costs associated with educating 1,423 additional students next year, and other normal factors for our growing School Division, are going up.

With the county anticipating reduced revenues, the five-year projection originally presented (before the School Division knew what federal stimulus funds it would receive) showed potential deficits over the next five years as PWCS continued its rapid growth. These “deficits” are shown as a forecasted amount that PWCS will have to adjust in order to balance its budget, which is a requirement of law. Showing these realistic and accurate projections — whether they are deficits or surpluses — is a responsible planning method that has never been an issue until now. Every five-year plan remains an estimate and will change. The fact that we can forecast a potential deficit identifies what will need to be addresses to bring the budget into balance, as required by law.

Rather than unrealistically manipulate figures and pretend we don’t face a deficit in the outlying years, we simply pointed out the reality of the situation, as we have done numerous times in the past. There has also been sentiment expressed by the BOCS that the School Board failed to make the “hard choices now,” ostensibly meaning that we didn’t eliminate enough jobs. However, isn’t it optimal to create a balanced budget that saves people’s jobs, even if it is for only a year or two? The economy may improve and those potential layoffs may be negated altogether. How is this not fiscally responsible?

The PWCS five-year budget projection was recently revised to reflect the addition of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Title I low income, and Title VI-B special education monies. Like every one of our budgets, the FY 2010 budget is balanced and reflects what was approved by the Board of County Supervisors on April 28 and then by the School Board on May 6. The federal stimulus funds provided welcome relief but still left significant cuts in place. However, the federal stimulus package is offsetting the funding reductions from the state, not county revenue, and is intended for program improvement.

Over the entire five-year period, the plan is balanced - as indicated by a positive balance of $1.7 million in FY 2014. There are projected shortfalls in the third and fourth years but these are nonrecurring in nature and may be addressed by reducing capital projects or other nonrecurring expenses rather than by reducing a recurring cost, such as salaries or class sizes. The necessary reduction in each of these years is manageable and amounts to about 1 percent of the Operating/Debt Service budget.

Another important point to remember is that in PWCS, approximately half our budget comes from county sources. The rest comes from the Commonwealth of Virginia, with the remaining few percent coming from federal and other sources.

The School Division remains committed to fiscal responsibility, to the principles of sound financial management, and to insuring a balanced budget in any given fiscal year. We welcome and look forward to the open dialogue with the Board of County Supervisors.

Milton C. Johns
Prince William County School Board Chairman-at-Large