July/Aug. 2011 - Does Your Family Have An Emergency Plan?
Part of a parent’s job is to prepare children for the uncertainties of life. And while you may not be able to bubble wrap your child or outfit your teen with a tracking device, there are steps you can take to prepare your family for emergencies ,such as natural disasters, terrorist threats or outbreaks of violence.
To stay safe during an emergency, all families should put a plan in place ahead-of time to ensure the safety of each family member, according to experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Children often feel safer when they know their parents have a plan to protect them.
“Families need to be adequately prepared to meet their children’s physical, medical and psychological needs,” says Deborah Mulligan, MD,FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on Communications and Media. “Planning ahead increases the likelihood of securing the safety of your family, and provides peace of mind for parents and children alike.”
Dr. Mulligan says parents should involve their children in disaster planning. The AAP offers instructions for a Family Readiness Kit to help families prepare for hurricanes and other events. These instructions, along with information about preparing for different emergencies, are available at www.aap.org/disasters.
Also families should also establish “rally points”, places for family members to regroup if they are separated during a disaster or evacuation. Designate one rally point for each location where family members spend significant time: school, work and the neighborhood.
Part of any disaster preparedness plan is anticipating the emotional toll an emergency can have on children, so parents also need to talk with their children to help them put things in perspective. And kids need to know how their school is prepared to help them in various kinds of emergencies.
“Adults need to help children cope with fear, loss and in securities before and after an event,”says David Schonfeld, MD,FAAP, also a member of AAP Disaster Preparedness Advisory Council.
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July/Aug. 2011 - Hot Topic: New Evacuation Guidelines For Local Area
CEMA Explains New Evacuation Process and New Flooding Maps
So, it’s the time of year to review your family’s evacuation plan and think about at age is it appropriate to engage your children in the process? How many boxes will actually fit in your car beyond your family and essential food and water supplies? What can they each take of their important memories – a memory box.
According to CEMA, the longer a person has lived in a coastal area, the less likely it is that they will evacuate. And, if you and your family evacuated in 1999 for Hurricane Floyd, the memory of that horrible two days on I-16 may still haunt.
Add to the fact that a hurricane's path is difficult to predict. They provide advance warning time compared to most disasters we experience, but that means that officials must make decisions in sometimes sunny weather conditions. If evacuation orders are given too early, the hurricane can change course and leave the evacuated area unscathed – and local residents questioning CEMA’s call to leave.
So this year CEMA has developed new evacuation guidelines that explain more about the process they will go through to call for ‘recommended’ or ‘mandatory’ evacuations. And they have released new maps that provide significant new detail on how much of Chatham will be underwater even at a Level 1 hurricane due to storm surge data. Unfortunately, the coast off of Savannah is flat and shallow which means that the storm surge will be significant and will push water inland many miles including up all of the Coastal Georgia rivers. Even portions of Effingham County will be underwater as marshes, rivers and storm drain systems fill up and back up.
For a Category Three storm heading towards Chatham County, a mandatory evacuation of the entire county would begin 30 hours from the forecast arrival of tropical storm force winds. Nursing homes and special needs resident evacuations will begin 48 hours out; voluntary evacuations of islands and low-lying areas will begin six to 12 hours prior to the mandatory evacuation.
Also in new information just released, CEMA will evacuate their own facility and go inland to Georgia Southern University in Statesboro from a Level 2 or higher storm. This includes police, fire and department of public works leaders. The roof on CEMA’s new command center on Chatham Parkway will not survive a Category 3 storm. The roof on the Old Court House that used to serve as the command center will not survive a Level 1, though shutters have been added to that building in recent years to try to minimize wind damage to the building that serves as the heart of the Chatham County Commission and county management team.
The bottomline according to Clayton Scott, director of CEMA, is to leave early and to have done individual family planning well in advance. Start now scanning and making CD’s of family photo albums. Do tests of how many plastic containers and suitcase will actually fit in your car. Buy your containers in advance – there will be a complete run on all storage containers at local stores.
All families should bring an emergency supply kit when they evacuate that includes food, water, a first aid kit, flashlights and extra batteries.
WHEN A WATCH IS POSTED
CEMA Student Essay Contest
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April 2011 - Georgia Democrats Continue to Push for “Original Intent” of HOPE
Seek Full Funding for Next Year
By Lou Phelps
And, they have not given up lobbying the governor to change his mind, even at this late date, for more funding for the academic year that begins July 1.
Sen. Jason Carter (D) from Decatur has led the Democratic effort to fully fund currently enrolled college students. "I believe we owe it to the current college students who have come in with the promise of HOPE, who have worked hard, who have upheld their end of the bargain," he said in an interview with Coastal Family magazine during an April 6 interview in Savannah.
Rep. Stacy Evans (D) from Cobb County, part of the team out talking with parents, says their primary goal is to raise awareness of the changes. “Our view is that for years it became the model that it was the most effective way to insure that people in our state could go to college,” and they’ve found that students and parents either don’t realize that HOPE has been changed for this coming fall or don’t have all the facts. She serves as House Minority Leader and is backing an effort to increase the Hope program, adding low-interest loans program for students who come close to the required 3.0 GPA.
Also traveling the state is Savannah’s Senator Lester Jackson (D).
Georgia has 318,000 students in Georgia’s 32 colleges, with 223,000 of the students receiving HOPE funds. The majority of all students at Georgia’s state colleges are in-state residents, unlike other state college systems which have higher populations of out-of-state students in attendance who pay higher tuition rates and help fund total costs.
Starting in the fall, entering freshmen and all current students will have their HOPE grant cut from $4,000 to $3,600 a year, receiving only 90 percent of the cost of the tuition set by Georgia’s colleges and university system. And all funds for books, fees and remedial classes have been eliminated. Books can run hundreds of dollars each semester.
In future years, the funding for HOPE will change every year – tied to whatever comes in through the Georgia Lottery, versus being increased annually to cover the cost of tuition at one of Georgia’s 32 public colleges, universities and technical colleges. The changes pit the General Assembly against the Georgia Board of Regents which sets annual tuition levels, and pits the parents of college students against the parents of young children about to enter Pre-K programs. One third of all Lottery funds go to fund Georgia’s Pre-K programs.
Starting last summer, with the state budget clearly in trouble, Democratic leaders began to work to protect as much of HOPE funds by advocating for a return to the original intent of the HOPE scholarship.
In 1992, a majority of voters amended the Georgia Constitution to allow state-sanctioned gambling – The Georgia Lottery – to provide money to pay some costs for higher education for Georgia’s high school graduates.
The original intent of the HOPE scholarship was to make higher education affordable for bright, hard-working Georgia students who could not afford a college education. Family income had to be below $66,000 per year to receive HOPE grants – 600 percent below the federal poverty limit, wherever that was set.
What the GOP did was, “rather than consider whether people need it or not, they just cut it,” explains Carter.
The Democrats support a different approach: “By setting the family income limit at or below 600 percent of the federal poverty level, it would ensure that the program would remain financially solvent and able to carry out its original mission. These new limits would be effective July 1, 2011; students and those currently receiving HOPE would not be affected,” he explained.
“The lottery funds are not tax dollars; we tolerate the lottery because we believe in this state that it’s better to have more college graduates,” said Carter.
Pre-kindergarten programs and computers in classrooms were the other parts of the original bill that Georgians voted on when they approved the lottery.
Currently, a third of all HOPE funds still go to support Pre-K programs, to help all students to have an opportunity to succeed when they enter first grade. Gov. Deal originally cut out the Pre-K funds in February, as part of his approach to changing HOPE, shortly after being sworn in, but Democrats held Town Hall meetings all over the state. After the public outcry, including from teachers, school administrators and some school boards, he reversed his position.
Deal’s approach would have cut the Pre-K day in half, which would have significantly increased busing costs and “you would have cut out food and meals for needy children,” explained Carter. All implications of cutting out the Pre-K program were not thoroughly analyzed.
One third of HOPE funds are grants for technical students, a major emphasis in Georgia to create a workforce that is attractive to potential companies looking to move to Georgia, in a state where many students graduating from high school are not ‘college material.’
State college tuitions have risen, and funds from the General Assembly for colleges and universities have been slashed, and the lottery funds have been unable to keep up. The system was nearing financial collapse.
There are no projections on how many students will not be able to pay their tuitions bills come the fall, according to Carter. Members of the General Assembly voted without those facts. “It’s apparently impossible to quantify it,” he added.
Since the GOP plan passed, they are now calling on the governor to use available Lottery funds for all current seniors and students now already enrolled in college.
Another change in the GOP bill is the amount of money that the lottery must hold in reserve. The new bill lowers the required reserve to $ 440 million. “That means that there is $240 million just lying around, it’s excess reserve,” he said.
According to the governor’s office, the cost for fully funding current students and those set to enter in the fall is $180 million. The Board of Regents says it would only cost $58 million. Somewhere in there lies the truth,” he added. The Democrats want more time to analyze impact on students and their families.
”We’re breaking our promise to them. We don’t have to break the promise, we have the money,” Carter summarized.
“The governor’s plan is now focusing to insure that a very small number of students go to Georgia (UGA) and Georgia Tech,” they said, versus every student that was HOPE eligible.
Changes in the new legislation include that by 2014 students are required to take more advanced courses – a college preparatory curriculum, which they did not appear to object to.
Each year, the Georgia Student Finance Commission will look at lottery revenues and make a determination on the funding level for the next year versus the current plan where the HOPE grant is tied to tuition rates. That group is appointed by the governor.
The rules of HOPE have historically been simple: receive a 3.0 grade-point average and the State of Georgia would pay your tuition at state schools. Instead the GOP-led new legislation cuts the amount that HOPE will fund per students, adds a plan for low-interest loans, eliminates payments for books, fees or attendance in remedial classes.
One worry by Democrats about the plan is that Georgia’s job picture needs to improve so that graduating students can find a job that will allow them to both live and repay the loans, a concern with high unemployment. And…
• The new plan calls for a full scholarship for students who achieve a 3.7 GPA, a 1200 on the SAT or are the valedictorian and salutatorian at their high school.
• No matter their grades, high school students would have to take more difficult classes to qualify for a HOPE scholarship.
• Students whose grades slip while in college would have only one chance to win the scholarship back.
• High school students will need to take more rigorous classes to qualify for HOPE, at all.
• And technical college students who receive HOPE grants would for the first time need to demonstrate they are earning good grades.
• The bill caps how much retailers can collect from selling winning tickets and limits the bonuses given to Georgia Lottery officials.
Created in 1993, Georgia’s HOPE scholarship program has helped more than 1 million students attend college, and been replicated by more than 12 other U.S. states.
Editors Note: Brianna Quarterman, CF reporter intern, contributed to this story.
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April 2011 - Chatham’s Work-Based Learning Programs Provide Real World Experience
By Brianna Quarterman
The program’s goals include helping college-bound students with future course choices, and insuring that the students are more marketable for future jobs.
Chatham County offers WBL programs at all eight high schools with students attending school through 1:15 p.m. Monday through Friday, and then going on to work at their internship position most afternoons as unpaid interns, working approximately 15 hours a week.
One of the key elements of the program is that students learn about a particular industry, but are also gaining an enhanced education through the internship process. This includes instruction and activities in occupational and academic workplace competencies, practical skills and broad instruction.
In order to be admitted into Work Based Learning, the student must be in either 11th or 12th grade, have a defined career goal, and demonstrate a great deal of personal initiative. They must be enrolled in a Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) tract related to the students career goal, have a good attendance and discipline record, obtain three teacher recommendations, have reliable transportation and health insurance, have defined their career pathway, taken three business courses and be on a college preparatory track.
Linda Graham is the WBL Coordinator at Jenkins High School, overseeing the program for the past nine years. Each of Chatham’s high schools has its own coordinator who are part of the CTAE department.
“Here at Jenkins, we have 10 students enrolled in the Work Based Learning program. Each of these students has been placed at a work site based on their careers of interest.
“It is up to the students to find their own internships for their career plans. They then have to set up the times and dates they will be attending their internships.”
Along the way, each step of the internship is approved and overseen by the coordinator.
In addition to working in the community, all WBL students have to complete a portfolio along with several projects. These include Interview Tips, Career Research, Dress for Success and Work Ethics. The projects help the students gain more skill and preparation for their careers.
“From past experiences with students in the program, I do believe they have benefited greatly. I have had several students bring back success reports on what a great experience WBL was for them and how it opened several job opportunities. I highly recommend it to students who are interested in learning outside of the classroom,” said Graham.
Malissa Smith, a senior from Jenkins High School, is an example of student participating in the program this year; she feels she is learning a great deal. “My mom heard about the program and told me to look into it and see what teacher was over the program. The next day, I went to the work based learning coordinator, Mrs. Graham, to see if I met the requirements to get into the program.”
“I wanted to join Work Based Learning because I really wanted the opportunity to intern at a newspaper to have the experience and learn more about the career I am interested in. Currently I am interning at the Savannah Tribune and what I enjoy most is meeting new people, as well as keeping others informed with what is going on in the community.”
She has attended a press conference and had the opportunity to meet the mayor of Savannah. “I am very excited to have written an article which was published in the upcoming issue of the Savannah Tribune. Once I graduate from high school, I plan to attend Armstrong Atlantic State University and major in mass communications and minor in journalism. By being apart of Work Based Learning, I hope to gain the knowledge and skills for my career, a future journalist, as well as the fundamentals of writing – learning what it takes to write a good story, how to write news stories, what key details to include, and overall how to become a better writer,” she added.
The WBL coordinators meet with the managing supervisor of each intern in their work place, and students complete update reports during the process of their semester as a intern.
The local businesses commit to provide a safe environment, teach the student about the job, and provide objective feedback.
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FEB. 2011 - Coach Wayne Makes Gymnastics Fun for Everyone
By Laura Gray
It was that goal – to make gymnastics fun for all kids – that led Evans to launch his own program, first in Hilton Head Island, S.C., before moving it here to his native Savannah in 2009. The main facility is located inside Savannah Mall with off-site classes offered at Fort Stewart, Charles Ellis Elementary School, SouthBridge, Savannah Country Day School, Savannah Christian Preparatory School, the Jewish Educational Alliance and in Bluffton, S.C.
Evans, 44, who began training as a gymnast in 1977 at the age of 11, offers students aged 2 to 12 a wealth of experience and expertise. He has taught lessons and led gymnastics camps and clinics across the United States and Europe. His instructional videos, including a top-selling seven-video set called Better Back Handsprings, motivational audio tape, and syndicated column, TumblingTIPS, have been enjoyed by gymnasts around the world.
Evans began training Slovakian gymnast Zuzana Sekerova in the late 1990s. She went on to compete at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia in 2000 and in Athens, Greece in 2005. She now serves as an assistant coach at Coach Wayne! Gymnastics.
In 2001, Evans became head coach of the cheerleading team at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He held that position until 2007.
Along the way, he performed as a cheerleader and a dancer for several years.
“I want kids to feel very confident with the capabilities of their body,” he says. “Gymnastics helps them know their endurance limits and makes them courageous with exercise. It builds character and self-respect, as well.”
Amy Baker has seen that play out in her children’s lives. Daughter Kristen Arnaud, 12, and son Cole Baker, 6, are students at Coach Wayne! Gymnastics. They also play sports – Kristen is in soccer and Cole plays basketball.
Before they moved to Savannah, Baker says Cole competed in gymnastics in Tennessee and loved it. Although he no longer competes, Cole is happy working with Evans, she says.
“I don’t care if he competes, but I want him to advance,” she says. “They do that here at Coach Wayne’s. They work with the individual.”
Gymnastics can boost academic performance, too, according to Evans. “Students are better able to stay focused and work toward a goal,” he says.
His students learn the Coach Wayne philosophy – and recite it often during class – of “Have fun, be safe, push hard!”
Unlike competitive programs, Coach Wayne! Gymnastics accepts all students, regardless of their abilities. Most preschoolers attend one 35-minute class a week while school-aged students attend one 55-minute class weekly. Babies younger than 2 can attend parent-and-child classes in which Mom or Dad participates with their little one.
“I’ve seen some kids start gymnastics with no athletic skill at all and, at the end of the year, they’re first in their class,” Evans says.
Dr. Harry Collins was definitely amazed at his daughter’s progress. Isabella, 7, takes classes with Evans at her school, Savannah Christian Preparatory, where she is in the second grade.
“We’ve been so surprised by what she can do – splits, handstands, cartwheels,” Collins says. Since she began gymnastics two years ago, Isabella has become more flexible and enjoys the exercise.
“She always wants to go to Coach Wayne’s gym,” he says. “We even had her birthday party here.”
When Evans comes across a student with potential, he meets with the parents first. He advises them to start competitive gymnastics training early – as young as 4 years old – and he gives them advice on how to choose the right school.
“I tell them to look at each school’s safety record, check out the facility, check the qualifications of the coaching staff and take a look at their competition history and their success record,” he says.
But the reality is, most children are not Olympic material.
“Competitive gymnastics is inappropriate for most students,” Evans says. “It’s hard on the body, it’s hard on your social life. It creates an enormous economic burden and a lot of social stress.”
“Our pricing is typical at the introductory level, but we deliver so much more,” he says.
Classes range from $55 to $75 a month, depending on the options you choose. There is a one-time registration fee of $50 per family. You may register online at www.coachwayne.com or call 800-548-4545. Walk-ins are always welcome.
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