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by Del. Ken Plum May 17, 2018 at 1:30 pm 16 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

I can remember the conversation almost word for word even though it occurred decades ago. The counselor in my high school asked me to come to her office, and there she told me it was time for me to start preparing applications to go to college. I was about to fall out of my chair. I explained to her that no one in my family had ever been to college, and there was no way that I could go. Most of my family had never finished high school. She told me that lots of people are the first in their families to go to college and that I could be such a person. I did not know what to answer; it was such a new idea that she proposed to me.

Secretly inside she had set ablaze in me a fire that would never go out. The excitement of the idea that I could go to college and learn about so many new things of which I had been curious was more than I could contain. I was skeptical, however, and I did not go to college the first year out of high school. The next year with lots of fear and trepidation I did start my education at a higher level, and I never have stopped.

From my Bachelor of Arts at Old Dominion College, now University, to my master’s in education at the University of Virginia to a thirty-year career with Fairfax County Public Schools, to the Plum Center for Lifelong Learning being named in my honor, to my teaching at George Mason University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, education both formal and informal has been a fundamental part of who I am. I can still feel the excitement that I have had in being a part of so many different educational experiences.

All these reminiscences about my educational background came back last week as my grandson received his MBA from Virginia Tech. Growing up in a family where the highest educational achievement was a brother who graduated from high school, I now live in a family where I, my wife and our children and grandchildren have among us 14 college degrees with six of those degrees being beyond the bachelor’s level. I am honored to represent a district with constituents who are among the very best educated in the state.

Needless to say, education is among the highest priorities I have as a legislator. I want all students to have access to educational programs that will help them realize their highest potential. Fundamental to me is that our educational system leave all students with a quest for knowledge and the appropriate tools with which to pursue their interests. We cannot afford to have students not like school, nor can we ignore the fact that learning is a lifelong adventure. We have the institutions and the resources to make education at higher levels the best in the Nation. Virginia needs to join the states that are making community colleges free. Can we afford it? The answer is simply that we cannot afford not to!

by RestonNow.com April 23, 2018 at 2:30 pm 2 Comments

A seven-member team from Langston Hughes Middle School has advanced to the final round of the Odyssey of the Mind contest, an international educational competition that aims to develop creative problem-solving.

Students apply creativity by solving problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting an interpretation of literary classics.

The team won second place in the Virginia State Tournament this month, qualifying them for the 39th annual world finals. The championship takes from on May 23 through May 26 at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

As the team prepares for the competition, it has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $14,000 to finance the journey, which includes expenses for housing, tournament registration and travel.

In March, the team won first place at the regional competition at Thomas Jefferson High School, where they were challenged to present a humorous, documentary-style performance based on a classic.

Photo via Kris Gabor

by RestonNow.com April 10, 2018 at 3:30 pm 0

A 12-year-old student from Edlin School (10742 Sunset Hills Road) will appear on the NBC show “Genius Junior” on Sunday (April 15). 

The show, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, airs every Sunday at 9 p.m.. Teams complete challenging brain teasers like spelling complex words backwards, relaying directions to a destination through rote memorization and memorizing the U.S. highway system.

Vinay Ayala, a seventh grader, is playing for the team, “The Fellowship of Genius Schmenius,” also known as FOGS. Other team members include an eight-year-old from Andover, Ma. and a nine-year-old from Kingsland, Ga..

Ayala enjoys building model cities and was part of a team that won first place in the national Future City competition earlier this year. He aspires to become an engineer.

“I love to memorize things,” Ayala said, noting that he can memorize a deck of shuffled cards in fifteen minutes and recite them in correct order.

The winning team will take home a grant that NBC promises will “set the stage for a big and bright future that lies ahead.”

Photo via NBC

by Fatimah Waseem November 15, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Reston-based Federal Contractor Sold to Private Equity Firm — Whitney, Bradley & Brown, Inc., a contractor with ties to defense agencies, was sold to an affiliate of global private equity firm H.I.G. Capital. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but H.I.G. manages $24 billion in equity capital worldwide. [Washington Business Journal]

Parenting Talk Tonight to Focus on Sexuality Education for Children —  Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston and Cornerstones are hosting Dr. Debra Haffner for a talk about sexuality education. Haffner will discuss her award-winning book, “From Diapers to Dating: A Parenting Guide to Sexually Healthy Children.” The book is a step-by-step guide on how to provide accurate information to children and convey values about sexuality to children. [UUCR]

Registration for Reston-Herndon Little League Now Open — Interested applicants can submit registration online. Applications are due by January 1. The league is open to children between 4 and 12. [Reston Herndon Little League]

Discussion on Sue Wrbican’s ‘Well Past the Echo’ Exhibition Tomorrow Night — Molly Donovan, curator of contemporary for the National Gallery of Art, will give a talk on the exhibition and the overlap between surrealism and contemporary art. The event will take place from 6 – 7 p.m. at the Greater Reston Arts Center. [Greater Reston Arts Center via Facebook]

File photo.

by Fatimah Waseem November 9, 2017 at 2:45 pm 4 Comments

Ideaventions Academy for Mathematics and Science, a Reston-based school for gifted children between  grades 4 and 12, received an award recognizing the school’s emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The school is the first in Virginia to receive the certification, called AdvancED STEM, from AdvancedED, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that involves educational professionals around the world.

School officials said the certification demonstrates the school’s commitment to preparing students for future opportunities. In order to earn the certification, the school had to demonstrate it meets STEM standards across 11 indicators. The organization also interview stakeholders to verify the school’s commitment to connecting learning from the classroom to the local community and the world.

In a statement, Ryan Heitz, head of school, said the certification was a boost for the independent school:

This certification is a reflection of Ideaventions Academy’s commitment to preparing students for top colleges and universities and to becoming the leaders of tomorrow. In this age of tremendous technological revolution, struggling educational systems, and changing workforce needs, the STEM certification acknowledges us as an international model for preparing students for the future with real-world skills and experiences to succeed. It also signals the private-sector that we are committed to exceptional levels of student ability and achievement for their STEM pipeline.

Ideaventions Academy is located on 12340 Pinecrest Road. The academy has small class sizes of 10 students per class or less. To learn more about the certification, email [email protected]

Images courtesy of Dee Donavik

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