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‘No one sugar-coated anything:’ Philly instructors undertake extreme training to enhance compassion and inclusion

Kaila DeFrancesco is 23, a new educator ready to begin her profession as a health and wellness and also physical education teacher at a North Philadelphia primary school.

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Carter Hart’s stock is going up as Flyers training camp winds down

Injuries to Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon have thrust Carter Hart up the goalie depth chart, and there’s a chance he begins the season with the Flyers.

“I haven’t ruled out anybody that’s on the ice with our team right now,” general manager Ron Hextall said after practice Sunday in Voorhees. “They’re here for a reason.”

Regarded as the Flyers’ goalie of the future, the 20-year-old Hart has played well in the preseason, compiling a 1.20 goals-against average and .957 save percentage in 100 minutes, 24 seconds of action.

Brian Elliott is expected to start the season as the No. 1 goalie, but he had abdominal surgery in February and hip surgery in the offseason and is still trying to regain his form. Elliott has played just 20 minutes in the preseason.

Anthony Stolarz (3.00 GAA, .895 in three preseason games), coming off two knee operations that caused him to miss almost the entire 2017-18 season, is also rounding into form. Because he has AHL and NHL experience, he could break camp with the Flyers.

But don’t count out the unflappable Hart, who could get some action Monday in a preseason game against visiting Boston. Coach Dave Hakstol would not reveal his goalie situation after Sunday’s practice.

“Carter’s really conducted himself like a pro, and he is a pro,” Hakstol said. “That’s probably the first thing that stands out. He’s been pretty consistent throughout camp. There haven’t been many huge peaks or valleys in his play, and that’s a good place to start when you’re battling for an NHL job.”

Added Hakstol: “Carter has the ability and he’s shown thus far in this camp that he’s truly focused on coming in and doing everything he can to make our hockey team.”

Asked if he had made a case that he should stick with the Flyers, Hart said, “I can’t really think about that right now. I just have to focus on the daily process, and coming to the rink every day and just competing and going to work. For now, we still have some preseason games left and I’ve gotten in a few already and it would be nice to get a couple more.”

Hart said it’s been good to “play with some of the older guys and experience that NHL pace and speed of the game – and adjust to the difference from junior to pro.”

Defenseman Andrew MacDonald has been practicing with the team and said there’s a “decent chance” he will make his preseason debut Monday.

MacDonald was injured in the offseason and has not played in any of the Flyers’ four preseason games. He said it was a “pretty reasonable” goal to play in the opener Oct. 4 in Vegas.

Neuvirth will likely miss the opener, Hextall said. He added that Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds and Travis Sanheim – three players coming off injuries – are on target to play in one or two of the final four exhibition games.

In another matter, Hextall called hard-nosed winger Carsen Twarynski the most pleasant surprise in camp.

This will probably be the Flyers’ top power-play unit Monday: Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Mikhail Vorobyev, James van Riemsdyk and Shayne Gostisbehere.

Simmonds and van Riemsdyk alternated on the first and second PP units at Sunday’s practice. Simmonds, however, still is not ready to play after undergoing offseason abdominal surgery.

Training teachers like doctors

“Ideas We Should Steal” is a regular feature of the Philadelphia Citizen, which will be holding an Ideas We Should Steal Festival on November 30, 2018.

Several years ago, during a review of the teacher training program at the University of Michigan’s School of Education, Dean Elizabeth Moje uncovered an unexpected—and disheartening—piece of information: The more time her students spent in nearby Detroit schools applying the knowledge they’d been taught, the less confident they felt about using the skills they’d mastered in their own college classrooms.

This was after months of training, at one of the top-ranked teacher education programs in the country. And it remained true for Michigan graduates who went on to work in urban settings. Out of 260 alumnae surveyed across the country, the only ones with less than stellar ratings were the eight who taught at city schools.

Moje’s research hit on an issue that afflicts pretty much every urban district in America, including Philadelphia.The nation is facing a teacher shortage like never before. As school started in Philly this year, Superintendent Bill Hite celebrated the fact that the district only needed to hire 550 new teachers over the summer—a number that has been consistently going down the last few years. But that is still 550 jobs that were vacant in June.Despite their degrees from schools as lauded as Penn, or Michigan, new teachers often don’t know how to manage an urban classroom, with its unique set of social, academic and financial issues. This is a significant factor among the 50 percent of teachers who leave the profession within five years, and in why academic improvement among the city’s neediest students is often slow.

And it’s why at Michigan, Moje has spent the last several years shifting how the university trains students interested in urban education, to give them more time in classrooms, with better and more focused training from mentors and peers—a model based on how medical schools train future doctors. Michigan now sends cohorts of history and social science education majors—who they call interns—on rotations among a select number of excellent professional teachers with whom the school has worked. Together, the students learn particular lessons from each teacher, and learn to apply them in the classrooms.

Now, Michigan is set to take its approach one step further, thanks to a collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Zimmerman, the director of medical education at Beaumont Hospital-Dearborn. A few years ago, Zimmerman visited an apprentice classroom with Moje and pointed out what he saw as a flaw in the design: Each of the inexperienced teachers was working on their own, with occasional feedback from their mentor teacher. None had the chance to learn from each other. Instead, he suggested the university consider “near peer” cohorts, like they have in medical school, where at every level, there is someone just a little bit more senior who can give feedback, suggestions and recognize struggles a little more readily.

Next year Michigan will launch a multi-year apprenticeship teaching program in a Detroit school that will become, in essence, a teaching school—like a teaching hospital, but for educators. Starting with one grade, the school will pair a mentor teacher with a field instructor from University of Michigan; a graduate education student; and undergraduate education students who want to be urban teachers. Eventually, 50 to 60 percent of teachers in the school will be veterans, and the rest interns. This will allow student teachers the benefit of not only their professional mentors, but also their peers.

Once they graduate, the new teachers will then get jobs at the school for an additional three years, allowing them to continue working with their Michigan instructors and mentors for the first few critical years of their career. Only once they’ve completed that internship will they go on to other teaching jobs, by now well-trained and prepared for the rigors of urban teaching. This medical school model makes Michigan’s program more intensive than the types of residencies here in Philly, at Penn, Temple and Drexel, which are mostly one-year teacher immersions.

It will take years of careful study from both the teacher and student perspectives to know if Moje’s plan for Michigan could succeed—if scaled up—in bringing needed change to urban education. But it’s clear that the teacher education system we’ve had until now has failed to produce the teachers we need for the students of today. And the Michigan program speaks to something teachers themselves often say is important to their profession and to their students: Their own learning.

Roxanne Patel Shepelavy is executive editor of the Philadelphia Citizen, where a version of this piece originally appeared.

Jussie Smollett’s Texts, Check Supports Training Fee, Not ‘Attack’ Fee |

Jussie Smollett has hard evidence to support his claim the Chicago Police Superintendent got it wrong when he told the media the actor paid $3,500 to Abel and Ola Osundairo to stage an attack.

TMZ has obtained documents that on the surface back his claim the $3,500 check he wrote to Abel was for training. The check was written to Abel on January 23, 2019, six days before the “attack.” The memo line reads, “5 week Nutrition/Workout program Don’t Go.”  

Sources connected to Jussie tell us, the reference to “Don’t Go” is a song for which Jussie was going to shoot a music video … featuring himself shirtless. The sources say Jussie had gained weight — he was 192 lbs and needed to lose 20 pounds for the shoot, and that’s why he hired Abel … whom he says he calls “Bon.”

There are various texts starting from January 20 between Jussie and Bon. On January 28 — the day before the “attack” — Bon wrote, “I know you’re traveling today, make sure you get at least 45 mins of cardio.”

Another text on January 20 outlines a menu for the day, including chicken thigh, StarKist Tuna, Eggs and Smucker’s peanut butter. And, a text on January 25 reads, “This is the meal plan and the breakdown of macronutrients. Also includes projected fat loss.”

You also see a text showing a calendar where February 23 is marked “Don’t Go.” The sources say that’s the date of the music video shoot.

There’s another screenshot from Sept. 27, 2018, presumably showing Jussie has paid Ola in the past. It’s a Venmo payment of $100 to Bola (Abimbola aka Abel) for “Training.”

Sources connected to Jussie say the $3,500 breakdown is as follows — $600 a week for the workout plan for 5 weeks, and $100 a week for the nutrition plan for 5 weeks.

As we reported, Ola and Abel also told the grand jury the .

This is not proof the , but in a trial, all the defense has to do is create reasonable doubt, and we’re told the Police Superintendent’s pronouncement will become a defense weapon if the case goes to trial.

The Police Superintendent also said during the news conference Jussie himself sent the 8 days before the attack. Federal law enforcement sources tell us they have not concluded who wrote the letter … at least not yet.  

This is one of several videos Abel posted titled “Fat to Fit in 2 months.”

I add colour to Auschwitz registration photos to educate people about the Holocaust | Metro News

I’ve been colourising photos professionally since 2015.

From Lenin to Winston Churchill; from the Titanic leaving port in 1912 to the Battle of Verdun. I have covered hundreds of years and added colour to iconic photos and to those in which the subjects will forever remain anonymous.

But it was colourising the photo of Czeslawa Kwoka in 2016 that had the biggest impact.

Czeslawa, pictured above, was a 14-year-old girl who was killed in Auschwitz. She was a Polish Roman Catholic and was murdered one month after the death of her mother.

The photo went viral in a matter of minutes. The reaction was absolutely incredible and shocking. I was contacted by TV channels, newspapers and magazines from all over the world wanting to know more about the photo and about Czeslawa.

More importantly though, I received messages from teachers asking if they could use the photo in their classes and a 12-year-old girl wrote a poem inspired by the photograph and sent it to me.

That’s when I realised how much people still had to learn about the Holocaust and the potential of something so simple as a colourised photo in helping to educate.

It’s important to share individuals’ stories and photos because it’s very easy to get lost at the sheer scale of the Holocaust.

Six million is a huge number, but when we break down this number and transform it into 6million individual and different lives, pairing a picture of their face when we can, people can begin to understand the impact that the Holocaust had, and still has, on lives.

Six million human beings had everything taken away from them due to pure bigotry and hate.

In the same week as the photo went viral I asked the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum permission to colourise more photographs. They gave me access to their archives, where almost 40,000 concentration camp registration photos are stored.

The photographs were taken between February 1941 and January 1945. The preserved photos, 31,969 of men and 6,947 of women, constitute only a fraction of a vast Nazi archive destroyed during the camp evacuation in January 1945.

The ones that remain were safe thanks to the heroic efforts of Wilhelm Brasse, the photographer, who was also a prisoner, and his colleagues.

They were ordered to burn the entire photo collection during the evacuation of Auschwitz, but instead they covered the furnace with wet photographic paper before adding a great number of photos and negatives.

This prevented the smoke from escaping and made the fire go out quickly. When the SS guard who was supervising left the laboratory, Brasse and his colleagues retrieved the undestroyed photographs from the furnace.

After getting permission from the museum to colourise the photos that Brasse saved I put together a team of volunteers who helped me create Faces of Auschwitz, a platform where we not only colourise these photos, but tell the stories of those in them.

I know that when I am colourising them that this is probably the last photograph ever taken of this person.

Staring at each face for two to three hours is hard, especially since I need to read their death certificates before I start to colourise. I spend the process wondering what was going through their minds while they were being photographed.

It is emotionally draining work but it is important because I cannot forget what they represent and what happened to them, something that really sunk in after I visited Auschwitz and the room in which the photos were taken.

When families of those we have colourised approach us to share the stories and photos of their relatives, it adds to the huge responsibility of our undertaking, but also proves that we are on the right path.

By the end of this year I would like to have colourised at least 200 of the photographs. Ultimately, I hope that our project, and upcoming documentary, reaches a broader audience and we can continue to share the stories and faces of those who so tragically had their lives taken away by hatred.

You can find out more about Faces of Auschwitz here, and Marina’s work here.

Active shooter training for schools: Teachers shot with plastic pellets

Cops, teachers, and more participat in ALICE training.
Staff video by Michael Izzo


An active-shooter training exercise at an Indiana elementary school in January left teachers with welts, bruises and abrasions after they were shot with plastic pellets by the local sheriff’s office conducting the session.

The incident, acknowledged in testimony this week before state lawmakers, was confirmed by two elementary school teachers in Monticello, who described an exercise in which teachers were asked by local law enforcement to kneel down against a classroom wall before being sprayed across their backs with plastic pellets without warning.

“They told us, ‘This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,’” said one of the two teachers, both of whom asked IndyStar not to be identified out of concern for their jobs. “They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times.

“It hurt so bad.”

Now, these teachers and the state’s largest teachers union want to stop this from happening in other Hoosier schools. The Indiana State Teachers Association is lobbying lawmakers to add language prohibiting teachers from being shot with any sort of ammunition to a school safety bill working its way through the Statehouse.

“What we’re looking for is just a simple statement in this bill that would prohibit the shooting of some type of projectile at staff in an active shooter drill,” said Gail Zeheralis, director of government relations for the ISTA during testimony in support of House Bill 1004 before lawmakers Wednesday.

First responders practice ALICE training methods during a hands-on simulation Monday, June 4, at the University of Sioux Falls Salsbury Science Center. (Photo: Rabekah Tuchscherer / Argus Leader)

Sheriff has stopped using pellet gun in teacher training

The White County sheriff said Thursday that his department has conducted similar training before but, after receiving a complaint, will no longer use the air-powered device, called an airsoft gun, with teachers.

Teachers at Meadowlawn Elementary School were supposed to be receiving what is called ALICE training, an “options-based” approach that encourages students and teachers to be proactive in their response to an active shooter and teaches tactics that include rushing a shooter in some situations.

Thousands of schools across the country, including many in Indiana, are using ALICE already. Shooting teachers with plastic pellets is not typically part of the training.

‘This is not normal practice’

“I’ve worked with teachers in other districts who have gone through ALICE and this did not happen,” said Barbara Deardorff, ISTA’s UniServ director for 16 school districts, including the Twin Lakes district and Meadowlawn Elementary. “This is not the normal practice.”

Deardorff said the Meadowlawn incident, which she said she learned about several weeks ago, marked the first time she’d heard of such practices being used on teachers in active-shooter training.

White County Sheriff Bill Brooks, whose department led the training in question, said it has conducted active shooter training with schools for several years and has previously used the airsoft gun. 

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The plastic pellets they used are 4.6 mm in diameter — slightly larger than a standard BB.

“It’s a soft, round projectile,” he said. “The key here is ‘soft.'”

‘It’s a shooting exercise’

Brooks became sheriff in January and said he couldn’t say if or how many times teachers had been shot with it previously. He was present for part of the January training, but not the portion in which the airsoft gun was used. 

“They all knew they could be,” Brooks said. “It’s a shooting exercise.”

Brooks said all the teachers involved signed up to participate. He said the department was told several weeks after the training that one teacher was upset by it. They’ve since stopped using the airsoft gun with teachers, he said. 

“We were made aware that one teacher was upset,” he said. “And we ended it.”

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Both of the Meadowlawn teachers who spoke to IndyStar said they were not warned by the officers beforehand that anyone would be shot. They said they were given paintball masks, which law enforcement said were a precaution for different scenarios throughout the training.

The teachers said the airsoft gun was used in several other exercises as well. Neither of them were hit with pellets during those scenarios, but several other teachers were. 

All teachers in the first scenario were shot, though, where teachers were lined up facing a wall and shot across their backs. 

Teachers whispered warnings to colleagues

One of the teachers said she was waiting in the library with her colleagues as the first small group of teachers was led into a classroom for that first session.

“The firsts group went in and we heard them scream and yell,” she said. “We thought, ‘What is going on?’”

The group came back out and whispered a warning to the next group — the officers had told them not to tell their colleagues what had happened — but she still wasn’t expecting what came next.

“It was like a quick spew of those pellets,” she said. “Most of us got hit several times in our backs.”

She said she had welts and one spot where the pellet broke her skin. It was scabbed over for several weeks.

Both teachers IndyStar spoke to said all Meadowlawn teachers and some cafeteria staff went through the training in January. There were two sessions, with kindergarten, first- and second-grade teachers and cafeteria workers getting trained in the morning and third- through fifth-grade teachers in the afternoon.

Training injuries on the rise

A picture posted to the school’s official Facebook page on Jan. 4 shows teachers sitting around wooden tables with a law enforcement officer standing before them.

It’s captioned: “Thankful for the partnership between our school and local law enforcement. Today our staff received training from The White County sheriffs department. Safety is priority at ML!”

Twin Lakes Superintendent Michael Galvin released a statement Thursday, saying that the district has met with the sheriff’s department and the local chapter of the teachers union about the ALICE training. 

“The Twin Lakes School Corporation is committed to providing a safe environment for its students and employees,” Galvin said. 

Juli Topp, vice president of member representation for Twin Lakes Classroom Teachers Organization, said she met with the Meadowlawn teachers last week and heard the same story from more than a dozen different teachers.

“They voluntarily signed up for this training, however they had no idea they were going to be shot,” she said.

Ken Trump, a school safety expert in Ohio who works with schools nationwide, said he had not heard of another incident in which teachers were shot with plastic pellets but that he’s heard many stories of teachers getting injured during active shooter training.

“Sadly, it doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “With some of these options-based trainings, we’ve seen (training) that’s just really over the top.”

Trump said he’s heard of a growing number of workers compensation claims and even some litigation stemming from teachers injured during these types of training programs. An Iowa school insurance company reportedly paid out more than $250,000 in claims related to active shooter training injuries over a two-year period. 

Oftentimes, these programs are taught in a “train the trainer” model. One or two law enforcement officers will receive the training through an organization and then go back and train others in their department. It can learn room for interpretation, Trump said.

One teacher said the officers told the Meadowlark staff that police had to go through this same training.

“But we are not police officers,” she said.

The two teachers who spoke with IndyStar said they wanted to do the training. Even after getting shot with plastic pellets that left welts, bruises and drew blood, they finished the rest of the training.  

“We didn’t want to quit the training because it seemed important,” said one teacher. “It really was more than it needed to be.”

She said the other training exercises were useful, including one in which an officer pretending to be an active shooter shot the airsoft gun while teachers hid under desks and were given tennis balls to throw at him until he stopped shooting.

One of the provisions included in House Bill 1004 is a requirement that all schools conduct an active-shooter drill at least once a year. However, it does not mandate any specific type of training program. The drill requirement was among 18 school safety recommendations made last year by a committee pulled together by Gov. Eric Holcomb in the wake of the massacre at Parkland High School in Florida and last spring’s shooting at Noblesville Middle School. 

The bill will be up for amendments in the Senate’s education committee next week, and Meadowlawn teachers are hoping language will be added to keep other teachers going from what they experienced.

Sheriff Brooks said that’s unnecessary, though. 

“We don’t need legislation in White County,” he said. “We’re just not going to do it.”

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Wendy McNamara, seemed amenable Wednesday to an addition of some sort. The Evansville Republican is a high school principal in Evansville Vanderburgh Schools. Because the bill has already passed the House, though, McNamara will have to work with the Senate committee to get an amendment passed.

“I don’t believe something like that should take place in an active shooter drill,” she said.

Call IndyStar education reporter Arika Herron at 317-201-5620 or email her at Follow her on Twitter: @ArikaHerron.

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