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FSU Football recruit is special on and off the field

Bo Paske, a 6th grade student at Montford Middle School in Tallahassee, is autistic.  He’s a sweet child with a smile and hug for everyone.  For whatever reason, he almost always sits alone at the lunch table.  His mother thinks his autism in some ways shields him from noticing he does not get invited to birthday parties, and that he eats lunch alone.  But one special day last year was different.  Travis Rudolph, then a junior and a wide receiver at FSU, was visiting the school, saw Bo sitting by himself, and so joined him for a slice of pizza.  The impact on Bo was huge.

“I’m not sure what exactly made this incredibly kind man share a lunch table with my son, but I’m happy to say that it will not soon be forgotten,” said Bo’s mother. “This is one day I didn’t have to worry if my sweet boy ate lunch alone, because he sat across from someone who is a hero in many eyes. Travis Rudolph thank you so much, you made this momma exceedingly happy, and have made us fans for life!”

“He’s a cool person, I’ll hang out with him any day,” said Rudolph.  The two have remained in contact for the past year.  Rudolph has sent tickets for Bo and his mother to come to FSU games, and he gave Bo a personalized jersey.   Rudolph recently signed a pro contract with the NY Giants, and among those in attendance at the draft party was Bo Paske.

 Do you remember middle school?  That some students can be mean and others can be lonely.  Did you have friends?  Do you remember anyone sitting by themselves in the cafeteria?  What can we all do today to combat bullying?  To help all have good experiences and good memories of school?  And we all need to teach our kids how a small act of kindness can make a big difference.




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  • Published in Sports

Student earns a bachelor’s degree before receiving her high school diploma!

Raven Osborne is the first student in the history of Indiana to earn a bachelor’s degree before receiving her high school diploma!   A week before she gets her diploma in May, she’ll be graduating from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in early childhood education.


Raven is a senior at 21st Century Charter School in Gary, Indiana, and has been taking college classes since she was 14.  The charter school pays college tuition for students who earn admission to partner colleges while still in high school.  Most students are able to receive credit for a few college courses while in high school, but Raven accomplished a whole bachelor’s degree of college credits.  Each semester, she took five classes, or 15 hours, at Purdue, while simultaneously taking classes at the charter school.


Raven never told any of the college students she met at Purdue that she also was a high school student. She doesn't drive so her mother and the charter school took her back and forth to university.  “It was very hard,” she said.  “At one point, I also tried to work a job.  I was working a midnight shift at a day care center.  I just had to watch the children while they were sleeping, then feed them breakfast when they woke up.  It was a daycare for parents who worked a night shift.  Eventually it just got to be too stressful, and I had to resign.”


Kevin Teasley, president and CEO of Indianapolis-based GEO Foundation, which runs 21st Century Charter School, explained: “Frankly, we’re breaking the cycle of poverty.  That’s what it’s really all about.”   The charter school pays the college tuition for the high school kids, so Raven is receiving her college degree unburdened by student loans.  She already has a job lined up for after graduation as she has been hired to work at 21st Century’s elementary school as an early interventionist.


What if most (or even all!) high schools were able to give this opportunity to their students.  All students can achieve beyond expectations if they’re given opportunities, guidance, encouragement, and assistance.  School districts have to decide priorities and how they can have the maximum impact on our children.


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11 Year old starts “Books N Bros” book club

Sidney Keys, an 11-year old African-American, noticed that his St. Louis school library had very few books about kids like himself.  So he started Books n Bros, a book club for 8- to 12-year-olds who get together and read African-American literature.  Sidney also wanted to improve literacy among his peers, as he saw many of them stop reading by age 8 or 10.


There’s a St. Louis-area bookstore that focuses on African-American culture, and they’ve been a big help with suggested readings.  After seven months Sidney’s club has over 30 members who get together once a month to read out loud and discuss what they are reading.


Sidney’s mom has seen a real difference in her son.  “He's more confident,” she said. “He speaks up for himself more.  He's a different kind of kid than he was before the book club.”  Sidney's school has decided to diversify the literature on its bookshelves.  And Sidney explained, “What makes me really happy is seeing all the happy faces of all my members – so happy about reading.”


How about encouraging other young school children to start book clubs based on shared interests, whether those are cultural or sports related or whatever!  Parents can provide snacks for meetings, school librarians can help pick out books, and perhaps a local business would be willing to donate a set of paperbacks for the club members.


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The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program is making a difference

One of the most difficult things about leaving prison is getting back on your feet and not ending up back in prison.  It is estimated that two-thirds of people released from prison in the U.S. are rearrested within three years.  After serving time, people are routinely discriminated against when trying to find housing or jobs.  They are denied fundamental rights and dignity.  In many states, after serving time for felonies, people are never again even allowed to vote or serve on juries.  The result is a devastating cycle of incarceration, homelessness, poverty, and recidivism.


The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program is making a difference.  The motivating belief is that paid work and personal responsibility can turn lives around.   To enter the program, applicants must pledge to abstain from using drugs and alcohol, and forego entitlements (with the exception of Medicaid).  Once accepted, they move into a dormitory-style residences, receive a month of counseling, and then are put to full-time work starting at $7.40 an hour, which gets raised to $8.15 after six months.  First assignments are to cleaning crews working city streets (over 150 street miles in New York City and Philadelphia!).  All participants take classes in life and computer skills, job preparation, and financial management.  After three months, they move from cleaning streets to occupational training in fields that include culinary arts, green building maintenance, and pest control.


The Doe Fund is a ground-breaking transitional work program and one of the nation’s first large-scale social undertakings.  It was founded in 1985 in memory of a homeless woman known only as “Mama” Doe.  Stressing the importance of community service and supporting those who are less fortunate, this program has made a huge difference in the lives of its participants.  Over 22,000 people have now participated, and their rate of recidivism is far below that of the general population of those released from prison.  A wonderful model for solving some of our nation’s greatest challenges: poverty, homelessness, mass incarceration, and recidivism!  We all need to be less frightened by people coming out of the prison system and more aware of the problems they face in trying to become contributing members of society again.



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