Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
Edited by Emily Cook
The search for ghosts and ghouls begins Sept. 1 as a 50-minute carriage ride through historic downtown Fredericksburg unveils the haunted past of this Virginia city. / Through Oct. 31
Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
“You’ll need rulers, crayons and a selfie stick.”
Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
Edited by Emily Cook
1 Brad Paisley, Justin Moore and Mickey Guyton Live
Jiffy Lube Live hosts guitarist, singer and songwriter Brad Paisley for more than three hours of infectious energy, reverberating acoustics and all your favorite chart-toppers. Cozy up to your significant other as the artists who brought you “She’s Everything,” “Perfect Storm” and “Til My Last Day” create a seemingly intimate ambience amidst an audience of 50,000. / Sept. 26
2 25th Annual Rosslyn Jazz Festival
Arlington Cultural Affairs presents The Funk Ark, Sonny Knight & The Lakers, Debo Band and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band live in Gateway Park. Feast on fare and style at one of many food and fashion trucks, and grab a refreshment (or three) in the beer and wine garden. / Sept. 12
Starting Sept. 10, Robin Rose exhibits a fusion of his background in visual art and music at McLean Project for the Arts. In addition to Rose’s encaustic paintings and interactive sound drawings, guests can expect a series of performances. / Through Oct. 24
Witness the transformation of Old Town into an open-air art gallery. A six-block promenade featuring paintings, sculptures, jewelry, photography and ceramics for purchase will allow guests to mingle with the artists behind the pieces. / Sept. 19-20
Celebrate the edible craftsmanship of the commonwealth. Sip Virginia wines while getting to know local winemakers, savor artisanal bites from cheeses to pies and relish live demonstrations by executive chefs from Market Table Bistro, Willowsford Conservancy, Family Meal and Salamander Resort & Spa. / Sept. 4-6
Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
‘This Muslim American Life’
On shelves Sept. 18
Author Moustafa Bayoumi, English professor at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, brings light to life as a Muslim-American, exposing the effects of increased surveillance and racial profiling following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
‘Mad Max’ for PS4
Play Sept. 1
Players will fight to survive as Mad Max in a post-apocalyptic world known as The Wasteland. In search of the peaceful Plains of Silence, gamers will come face-to-face with dangerous bandits and vehicle combat.
‘Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine’
In theaters Sept. 4
Director Alex Gibney brings viewers a dramatic, in-depth look into the complex personal life of tech guru Steve Jobs.
In theaters Sept. 25
Robert de Niro and Anne Hathaway star in this comedy about a widower who reenters the workforce as an intern at a fashion e-commerce site.
Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
McDonnell gets reprieve from prison.
Hudson Trail Outfitter stores closing down.
Manassas teen arrested for impersonating officer after pulling over real officer.
The path to benching RGIII.
Posted by Editorial / Monday, August 31st, 2015
Virginia has a payroll problem, costing $28 million a year.
Wes Craven, 76, creator of Freddy Krueger, dies.
Not You’re Average Joe’s to take over Macaroni Grill spot on Fountain Drive.
Mount McKinley to be renamed Denali.
Posted by Editorial / Friday, August 28th, 2015
Technology isn’t taking over, but it’s transforming students’ education.
by Cynthia Long
Flipped classrooms, blended learning and one-to-one programs are changing the way students learn and think.
When Aidan Shaw designed his dream house on Autodesk Homestyler, he decided to go with a spacious one-story layout, with a swimming pool and playground outside where he could do cannonballs or swing on the monkey bars. Unlike most users of the site, who are planning home remodels, Aidan experimented with floor plans and design ideas to learn about area and perimeter for his fifth-grade math class.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation website accomplished what graph paper and rulers never could—it got Aidan, 11, and his classmates at Mount Vernon Community School in Alexandria so excited about geometry that they actually worked on the project during their free time.
Manipulating floor plans to design a house has a high whiz-bang factor for fifth graders, but technology in the classroom isn’t just about bells and whistles. It offers students hands-on projects with real-world applications rather than more abstract—and, let’s face it, more boring—lessons using traditional tools. It gets them excited about what they’re learning, and perhaps most importantly, it gets them to think in new ways.
“They learn to collaborate, brainstorm, inquire and then apply what they’ve learned,” says Ruth Brannigan, Aidan’s math teacher. “I see them talking about projects during lunch and recess and then telling each other what they tried at home the night before.”
Across Northern Virginia, schools have moved away from the 20th-century model of education, where teachers passed on knowledge to their students, to the 21st-century model, where students take charge of their own learning. With broader, more experiential projects, today’s students learn to think critically, to filter, to come up with arguments, find evidence and be more thoughtful rather than passively receiving information. In a 21st-century model, it’s not what you know that’s important; it’s what you can do with that knowledge.
Digital technology also breaks down boundaries of time, place and pace of student learning, giving students more control over where, when and how quickly they learn new material while letting teachers offload some instruction to technology and focus class time on hands-on activities that are more engaging than traditional lectures.
It can take place in a “flipped classroom,” where students watch video lectures at home and work on projects and interactive lessons in class, or in a “blended learning program,” where a portion of traditional face-to-face instruction is replaced by web-based learning. “One-to-one” initiatives, which provide every student with access to a digital device, and “BYOD” or “BYOT”—bring your own device or technology—make it all possible.
Does this mean pencils and papers are going the way of the abacus and technology is taking over?
“We don’t see pen and paper as extinct,” says Timothy Flynn, director of instructional services in Loudoun County Public Schools. “There is always a place for books, reading and writing. Technology is not a substitute but an enhancement. Our emphasis is always on instruction and how technology can improve it.”
Loudoun County students regularly have Twitter conversations or video conferences with authors of books they’re reading in class or with a researcher who works in the field of their science project. Sometimes they Skype with classrooms across the globe for geography, language, history or cultural lessons.
“We have projects exploding with creativity because of the incredible access technology can provide,” Flynn says. “Some of our middle school students were studying fresh water usage within the Colorado River. They connected with local scientists who talked to them about ways they conserve water, what some of the problems are and possible solutions, and then the students started to examine how they can conserve water in their own communities and homes. They tackled a real-world problem, and when a project is real, when it comes to life, it’s more engaging and meaningful.”
Too much screen time?
Even though their kids are often brimming with excitement at the dinner table about how they’re using technology in school, many parents have very real concerns about screen time. It’s hard enough to limit screen time at home, so most parents don’t want to worry their kids are getting too much of it at school, too.
“The biggest fear of parents I hear is that we’re going to replace teachers with technology and have students sit in front of a computer all day to digest information, but that’s not where we’re going,” says Derek Kelley, coordinator of instructional technology integration at Fairfax County Public Schools.
In fact, the opposite is true. Many classrooms in Fairfax County Public Schools are flipped, so students watch video lectures at home and spend class time working in teams on “homework” projects while the teacher floats around to answer questions and provide individual attention when it’s needed.
“This gives the students more control over how, what and where they learn,” Kelley says.
He says when he talks to parents he explains that the focus isn’t on replacing traditional tools with computers but on determining how they can use technology to influence the best instructional practices.
Empowering students to direct their own learning
Kelley also tells parents that flipped classrooms let kids collaborate more by working in teams to solve problems face-to-face rather than with their heads bent over their own computer screen, and that teachers get help creating engaging digital projects with an FCPS school-based technology specialist.
“When there’s project-based learning in class, we’re seeing excitement across the curriculum,” he says. “One example is a class of third graders who studied the declining bat population in Fairfax County and presented their findings to the community. Their neighbors can actually use their research, and that’s extremely empowering for kids.”
The class met with experts from the Fish and Wildlife Federation in person and through Google Hangout then began their research online, searching for everything they could find on what causes the declining bat populations and what can be done about it. They created online videos, mock newscasts and public service announcements and posted them to YouTube, but they also printed brochures, recognizing that more low-tech solutions can be just as effective. They wanted something they could pass out to communities affected by declining bat populations so that people could hold on to and refer back to them. The class collaborated to come up with the best way to deliver their messages.
Kids are used to getting answers from their teachers or their parents, but technology-facilitated project-based learning asks them to get the information themselves, to become experts in the field and to share their answers with an audience that goes beyond their parents and teachers.
When they use technology to perform research at home, they collaborate with their peers in the classroom, work in teams, brainstorm face to face and learn communication skills they’ll need for college and career.
For a flipped classroom to work, students need access to technology in their homes, and FCPS has a Technology@Home program that allows students and staff to purchase products directly from vendors at discounted rates. To help bridge the digital divide between affluent and low-income students, the district has also partnered with Cox Communications and Comcast to offer high-speed Internet to qualifying families for $9.95 per month and a refurbished computer for $150.
Using technology responsibly
The digital divide isn’t an issue at Flint Hill School, an independent prep school in Oakton that was one of the first in the area to implement a schoolwide one-to-one program. Every student from junior kindergarten to 12th grade is provided with an iPad or MacBook Air. But educators are careful to make sure that students, and parents, know how to use the technology responsibly from day one.
“We start talking to them about their digital imprint in junior kindergarten,” says Emily Sanderson, dean of faculty and director of online and blended learning at Flint Hill. “We educate all of our students that what they create digitally will represent them, now and in the long term.”
Sanderson says there’s a yin and yang approach to technology at a school with a one-to-one program, and Flint Hill is doing a lot of work in mindfulness with their students. If a school is going to provide students with the devices, it’s part of their responsibility to teach them to use them responsibly and to guide them in knowing how to unplug.
“It may sound hippy dippy and kumbaya, but in this uber-connected world, we need to help our students find balance, unplug and connect with other people,” she says. “It’s also necessary for parents to model this for their kids.”
Once they strike that balance, they’re off and running, and Sanderson says it’s fascinating to see how technology offers different ways for students to meet curriculum expectations and how that drives engagement. In history, for example, students might have a research project. One student could write a traditional research paper, while another could produce a Ken Burns-style documentary with a storyboard and citation of images. It’s still a research paper, but when you call it a script, it sparks imagination.
“They have to perform the same level of writing and citations, but the fact that they get to speak into a microphone and create it in iMovie makes it a whole new ball game,” Sanderson says. “Technology allows us to really get into what drives and motivates different kids.”
Pacing and practice make perfect
Technology also allows students to take ownership of their learning by working independently at their own pace, like fifth-grader Aidan Shaw.
“Aidan is a quiet, thoughtful child who likes to mull things over and really give concepts his full consideration,” says math teacher Ruth Brannigan. “There’s a given pace in our class, but he’s able to set his own pace within that. That’s important. Not everyone can go in lockstep.”
Brannigan’s class uses Khan Academy for a blended learning curriculum. Through Khan Academy, students access YouTube video lectures and interactive practice exercises across the disciplines, with content covering everything from history, civics, art and music to math, biology, chemistry, physics, economics and computer science.
“I think it’s helpful because you can choose what sort of subject and what grade level you want to work on,” Aidan says. “So I can work in sixth-grade math, and in that category I can learn more about the area of triangles or negative numbers. Instead of having to go to some website and find a worksheet to print, I can search on Khan Academy and do the exercises there.”
When he’s not moving up grade levels in math or designing his dream house, Aidan creates video games in Brannigan’s computer programming class.
“I made a game where you’re like a ninja and have these weapons, and you attack a punching bag,” he says. “I just to like mess around with stuff. With technology, you have almost unlimited possibilities.”
Posted by Editorial / Friday, August 28th, 2015
By Laura Fox • Photography By Erick Gibson
Shelia Newman, president of New Editions, a consulting firm in Falls Church, didn’t set out to create a business recognized as one of the best places to work in Washington. Her employees nominated New Editions Consulting because they know how fortunate they are to work for an employer who has found business success while creating an atmosphere based on achieving a work-life balance.
Across the Washington area, employees know firsthand the complexity of trying to create a semblance of work-life balance. Whether it’s the commute, a new baby, aging parents, continuing education or squeezing in time for relaxation, finding a flexible and challenging work environment isn’t easy.
Newman, 61, a soft-spoken executive, remembers what it was like to balance work and family responsibilities after the birth of her first child, Spencer, in 1984. She and her husband, Ford, were in living in the Washington area when Spencer was born. Their families lived seven hours away in West Virginia. She was not sure she wanted to leave Spencer with someone else but ultimately decided to go back to work and found a woman to watch him. For Newman, the breaking point came when Spencer was 8 months old. “He was going through a stranger-anxiety phase,” she says. Newman was shocked when she became the stranger that Spencer reacted to from the arms of his day care provider. “I went to get him, and he was just hanging on to her and couldn’t see that it was me.”
Newman thought working part time might be a solution to the problem. But her boss, who happened to be a woman, did not approve of part-time schedules. “So I quit and started New Editions. I was doing editing and any kind of work I could get using the journalism skills I had,” she says. Newman, who grew up in Wayne, West Virginia, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Marshall University and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from West Virginia University.
Newman says she is sometimes surprised by her success. “I knew I was doing a good job for the other people I worked for, but it is really scary being out on your own and doing it by yourself because there is a lot I didn’t know about business,” she says. “I don’t have a business degree. You need to know who you need to complement your skills. The best decision I made was making sure that I didn’t think I could do everything.”
For the next several years, New Editions grew, and Newman took on larger communications projects while working from home. In 1987, there was another new addition to the Newman family, Chelsea. When her children were older, Newman decided to put New Editions on hold and found positions working for government contractors. Newman says these employers provided her the flexibility to leave early to pick her children up from school and finish her work in the evening. “I had flexibility because I insisted on it,” she says.
Reinvigorating New Editions
In 2003, Newman decided it was time to give New Editions a fresh start. Her experience working for government contractors led her to believe her business could succeed by focusing on the niche area of providing services related to disability and accessibility to government agencies. Newman’s interest in rehabilitation programs stems from her own family experiences. “My brother was in a serious motorcycle accident, and 80 percent of his body was burned,” she says. “My mother developed Parkinson’s disease when she was 42. All of the sudden I had an interest in disability.”
Winning government contracts meant New Editions would have to increase staff to deliver. Newman had concrete ideas about the personnel practices she planned to implement based on her work experiences. She goes the extra step to put into practice at New Editions the accessibility and flexibility that she teaches her clients about. “I knew from the get-go that I wanted New Editions to be a place where you could have the talents of young women and people with disabilities because you offered flexibility,” she says. “If all of my contracts are about improving the quality of life for people with disabilities, the No. 1 thing that can accomplish that is a job.”
About 20 percent of New Editions’ 60 employees have disabilities that require a flexible and accessible work environment. Flexible work schedules allow some employees to telecommute or to commute using public transportation. On the job, New Editions provides assistive technology such as screen reading technology and text enlarging software for employees who are blind or have low vision and a voice entry system for employees who have dexterity problems. Even common office copiers are low enough for people who use wheelchairs to operate. The flexible work environment also includes preparing materials such as newsletters, employee manuals and information on benefits in accessible formats.
New Editions has contracts with the federal Departments of Homeland Security; Education; Health and Human Services; and the Agency for International Development. In the private sector, New Editions has contracts with Booz Allen Hamilton and IBM. Newman’s work-life balance policies have not affected the company’s bottom line. How does she know this? “If the clients are happy and I don’t get a call from a client saying you’re not doing a good job, then I am going to assume that people are doing what they are supposed to do,” she says.
New Editions is part of a growing trend of businesses that provide a flexible work environment. The 2014 National Study of Employers found “options such as working remotely saw an increase to 67 percent from 59 percent in 2008,” says Kenneth Matos, senior director of research at the Families and Work Institute and the lead author of the report. “This study is a reflection of the changes occurring in our nation.”
“Technological advances and demographic shifts in the workforce are impacting where, when and how work gets done,” says Lisa Horn, director of congressional affairs at the Society for Human Resource Management. “Organizations must adapt to remain competitive. Creating an effective and flexible workplace can help organizations meet the business needs of today and adapt to rapidly changing needs.”
Newman is proud of the Best Places to Work awards New Editions has received from The Washington Post (2015), Virginia Business magazine (2015) and Washingtonian magazine (2013). “Those are all based on employee surveys. It’s not like you can just go nominate yourself,” she says. As a business owner, embracing a work-life balance is a matter of trust, says Newman. “While they are working at home, I don’t care if they throw in a load of laundry, if they are on the phone or if they are cooking dinner. You’ll know if the work is done or not,” she says.
As chief financial officer at New Editions, Tracy Mills, 47, follows the bottom line. From her perspective, Mills believes giving employees the latitude to balance their work and family life results in employees with an incredible sense of loyalty who strive to get the job done. “If people want to balance home and family, they should be given the opportunity to do it and to shine as employees,” she says.
A Babymoon Boom Takes Hold
Newman says a turning point in her company came when her business manager told her she was pregnant. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do? She’s my business manager,’” Newman says. She immediately realized that was not the reaction she should have. Thinking about it, Newman realized she wanted to do something special for her business manager, so she created the babymoon, a weekend away for the employee and spouse paid for by the company. “We’ve kept that tradition every time a woman or a man in the company is going to have a baby,” says Newman.
Anna Lenhart, 31, a project manager at New Editions, remembers the babymoon she and her husband enjoyed at the Homestead. “It wouldn’t have occurred to us to take a babymoon,” she says. “Having that time was really lovely. You have a weekend when you are not at home trying to put together a dresser or crib.”
Lenhart had just completed graduate school when she was hired by New Editions in 2007. She thought the culture of the company fit with what she was looking for—a place to learn and grow. At that time, Lenhart didn’t realize New Editions would become recognized as one of the best places to work in the area.
What sets New Editions apart from other businesses? “People are valued,” Lenhart says. “You have the ability to balance your professional and personal life. The entire company goes out of its way to help you become the best professional you can be and also give you opportunities to meet your goals on a personal level.”
Among moms with young children she knows, Lenhart says a flexible work schedule is hugely important. “The company is generous in our pay and benefits, but what is even more important than that is the amount of paid leave, vacation, work flexibility and telecommuting. That is paramount,” she says.
The challenge of balancing work and family can be more difficult as children grow up. Lenhart works full time and telecommutes on Fridays. If her daughter gets sick or there are snow days at school, Lenhart knows having a flexible schedule means she doesn’t have to worry.
At New Editions, trust and accountability are two important company principles that are voiced by both managers and staff. Lenhart says: “As long as what I am doing for a client is done and it’s high quality, if I have to leave early for a doctor’s appointment there is never any problem here. I don’t feel like I am asking for a favor.”
A Flexible Work Environment from the Top Down
Newman believes telecommuting is an important tool in a flexible work environment, even at the senior manager level. Vice President Elizabeth Tewey lives in Pennsylvania and commutes to Falls Church one day a week. Tewey began working for Newman at a previous business. That company offered Tewey a telework option when she moved to Pennsylvania. When Newman hired Tewey at New Editions, the telework option was part of the deal. “I’d love for her to be here every day because I like her, but it isn’t feasible for her to drive two hours a day from Pennsylvania. She is so good. I didn’t want to lose her,” says Newman.
Newman recognizes the role she plays in fostering a work environment that removes obstacles to getting the work done and encourages flexibility. It is not unusual for Newman to make suggestions to employees such as splitting the work day between home and office to avoid commuting during the morning and afternoon rush hours.
Kevin Marvelle has been a senior research associate at New Editions for six years. He works from home full time and comes into the office once a month. He began working from home when his wife was hospitalized for an extended period of time. “It made my life easier to work at home. Folks trusted me. And that’s an important element in the workplace,” he says.
Marvelle, who is in his early 60s, says the culture at New Editions was apparent when he interviewed with Newman. “Shelia is really interested in having people work as a distinct part of life but recognizes they do have other responsibilities,” he says. “She ensures that people don’t overcommit their time, that folks take vacations and don’t become workaholics.”
Creating a Flexible, Fun and Charitable Business
What advice does Newman have for other employers who aspire to be one of the best places to work? “Work-life balance benefits employers because you get longevity and loyalty from the employees,” she says. “I’ve had employees get job offers, [and they] say, ‘You can’t match what my company does.’ We offer really good benefits in addition to creating a work-life balance.”
At New Editions, the word fun is also used liberally. From holiday parties and picnics to walking contests, Newman believes that fun activities build camaraderie and reduce turnover, which can be an added expense for a business. Many New Editions employees are in specialized fields and are not easy to find, so it is in Newman’s best interest to keep them as long as possible. She wonders why a company would not want to create a fun environment. “People who are happy make their clients happy—that means good work, and you get repeat businesses,” she says.
Newman has received many awards throughout her career including the 2015 Falls Church Chamber of Commerce Humanitarian Award at the chamber’s gala in March. She was nominated by one of her employees and was unaware she was winning an award. She had not prepared anything to say, so she relied on advice her mother had given her as a child: “My mother used to say: ‘You get back what you give. If you are good to people, that’s what you’ll get back.’ I always think of that. You get back what you give. So I try to give, and I feel very fortunate, financially, to be able to do so.”
New Editions supports the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless and other local charities. The company also encourages employees to volunteer, and when an employee is selected as employee of the year, New Editions donates $1,000 to a charity in his or her name. If hardship hits one of the New Editions employees, Newman has established a “hardship fund” that provides up to $15,000 for an emergency situation.
Newman’s life has come full circle. Although her children are now grown, she too has the need for flexibility in her schedule. Newman takes off one day a week to care for her granddaughter, Effie, who was born last November. “I love it. I can stroller her over to the office, which is near my home, if I need to come in and sign something. She’s been in the office with me just like my kids were in the office with me,” she says.
Newman also strives to create a work-life balance for herself. “I love to travel, read and walk,” she says, though she admits she is never completely away from the demands of business.
Posted by Lynn Norusis / Thursday, August 27th, 2015
The latest tomes from local authors. —Lynn Norusis
‘The Color of Light’
Many often neglect to remember those who are in a position to council on faith—priests, ministers, etc.—sometimes have struggles of their own. In Emilie Richards’ latest book, minister Analiese Wagner is put to the test not only with helping her congregation open their hearts to a homeless family, but also with her attraction to Isaiah Colburn, a past mentor and current holder of her affection who also happens to be a Catholic priest. (July 2015)
‘The Mystical Backpacker: How to Discover Your Destiny in the Modern World’
With inspirations such as “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Wild,” Arlington resident Hannah Papp took to travel to find life’s offerings. In her book “The Mystical Backpacker,” she chronicles her three-month adventure of quitting her job, buying a EuroRail ticket and traversing different countries in order to find out what was missing in her life. More than just a memoir, the book offers tips, how-tos and more. (May 2015)
Posted by Editorial / Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Metro-D.C. area fifth most expensive place to live for singles.
TopGolf Loudoun set to open Sept. 3.
Loudoun students on quest to end Lyme disease.
New “Comfort Level Map” launches to ease cyclists routes.
U.S. Solicitor General says McDonnell should not be set free.