Michael G. Sheppard

Low-income, Underserved, & Veterans Gain Educational Opportunities in Seattle

Low-income, Underserved, & Veterans Gain Educational Opportunities in Seattle | Michael G. SheppardLow-income individuals, the underserved, and veterans in Seattle now have access to many more enriching opportunities.

Seattle, Washington’s South Seattle College recently opened the Education Opportunity Center (EOC). The development of the program is an example of efforts being made across the board to better the circumstances of those who served, as well those requiring assistance to become better servants to their community.

Our nation’s veterans require support after they’ve faced countless assaults on the battlefield and personal challenges on the home front, whether it being isolation, trauma, or illness. Likewise, low-income individuals and first-time college students require opportunities, such as those offered to those who’ve recently departed from military culture, due to economic strife and lack of access.  

A small staff has been assembled to assist those positioned to benefit from the federally funded education support program. The staff can work with students, helping them with career guidance, financial aid, and registration, and they can also connect participants with invaluable resources. The EOC, which falls under the purview of a federal program known as TRiO,  is designed to remove barriers experienced by disadvantaged individuals and veterans transitioning back to civilian life.

Please visit read the rest of this blog post. 

from Mike Sheppard


The Polk Foundation Launches The Tennessee Star Constitution Project Featuring September 23 Constitution Bee for Students

FRANKLIN, Tennessee – The Polk Foundation today announced the launch of their initiative to teach secondary school students the cornerstones of American liberty: the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and all the amendments.

Dubbed The Tennessee Star Constitution Project, the effort includes:

  1. The publication and free distribution of an original book, The Tennessee Star Guide to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for Secondary School Students to teachers and secondary school students anywhere in the state who sign up to participate in the 2017-2018 academic year Pilot Project for use as supplementary material for eighth grade Social Studies, high school U.S. Government and Civics, American History, and political elective classes.
  2. The development and distribution of support materials based on the popular Constitution Series by The Tennessee Star for teachers, students, and adult volunteers.
  3. Training on its implementation in the classroom by teachers and in review sessions by adult volunteers.
  4. The first-of-its-kind Constitution Bee for Tennessee secondary school students, to be held in Pleasant View on September 23.

Details about the unique project – including two full chapters of the book – are available for review at the Polk Foundation website:

“For years, educators have struggled to fulfill curriculum requirements to teach our founding documents,” said Mike Sheppard, president of the Polk Foundation. “Often, teachers resort to a patchwork of texts – a solution that is not only costly, but it is also inconsistent, resulting in an unbalanced presentation of the material.”

Secondary school students from across the state are invited to sign up for the September 23 Constitution Bee, which will be held at Sycamore High School, located at 1021 Old Clarksville Pike in Pleasant View, Tennessee from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. here at the Polk Foundation website:

“We selected September 23 as the date for the first ever Constitution Bee in Tennessee because it’s Constitution Week—September 17 marks the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution in Philadelphia,” Sheppard said.

More details about the event, which will provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, including the format for the competition, and the prize for the winners, will be announced in the coming weeks.

As part of the Pilot Project, any teacher in the state who asks will receive 25 to 50 copies of The Tennessee Star Guide to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for Secondary School Students for free.


Please visit Tennessee Star to read on. 

from Mike Sheppard

4 Ways E-Learning Emboldens Learners, Educates Beyond the Classroom

Education and the nature of learning have changed thanks to new technology. What was once systematic instruction within the four walls of an educational institution has becomes so much more. Education and the facilitation of education does a bit more than explore values, beliefs, knowledge, and habits, it embraces numerous methods, including research, training, and discussion.

Guided learners begin their journey as preschoolers or kindergarteners, and they go on to primary school, secondary school, college, and university. In today’s world, education doesn’t stop there. Continued education is compulsory and often required to compete in today’s competitive workforce.

All this is to say that education has moved beyond the classroom. The future of education isn’t exclusively written on chalkboards, but on the screens watched by millions of millions of young students who move in and out of classrooms each day. To facilitate this transition are a few important applications and tools, which help both students and teachers to understand that e-learning is here and where it’s headed

Data Tracking: For a very long time, the best measure of success for a student was testing and grades. However, it’s become more crucial to track students as they excel and struggle. Likewise, it’s necessary to document how students spend their time, how they learn, and how they interact. Those interested in e-learning understand the importance of dissecting how learners digest new information and how they identify their problem areas.

Mobile Learning: Young people are always on the go, and often you’ll find they have their phones or handheld devices in the palms as they venture through the world. A great way to ensure that they keep learning and keep engaging is to take advantage of the fact that mobile usage is continuously on the rise. It’s a prime medium for delivering learning materials. This small, readable screen is perfect for sharing digestible and shareable bits of information. Infographics, quotes, photos, and short passages feed the need for brevity while continuing to supply valuable knowledge to interested students.

Personalization: E-learning’s most brilliant feature is its ability to provide customizable student-focused curriculum and courses. Students respond to customizable products. The more customizable, the better for students. The data that’s collected after a student has taken control of their own education provides educators with a real-time understanding of what contributes to a student’s successes, struggles, failures, and other experiences with learning.

Educational Entertainment: Edutainment isn’t exactly new. It arrived in homes and classrooms more than three decades ago in the form of ‘Carmen Sandiego’. Actually, it dates back as far back as the 1940s with ‘Private Snafu’. In recent times, it’s been further developed to better benefit students through aesthetic appeal and various context. Gamification helps to motivate children, setting achievable goals through active learning and engagement. According to ‘Cone of Experience,’ just 10 percent of learners remember what they read, just 20 percent remember what they hear, and just 30 percent will remember what they say and hear. However, an incredible 90 percent will remember a task that they’ve done themselves –this being the case even when a simulation is concerned.

Automation, big data, augmented learning, clouds, gamification, m-learning, and personalization are among the numerous trends that enhance education in traditional and nontraditional classrooms. Teachers will use these tool to incorporate technology and better improve the methodologies for teaching students in a digital age.

from Mike Sheppard

The Benefits of Embracing Personalized Educational Philosophies

The Benefits of Embracing Personalized Educational PhilosophiesCanyon Lake Elementary, a public school located in Rapid City, South Dakota, is always looking to adjust to the times.

Since the 1980s, the institution has embraced technology and forward-thinking systems, thus the delivery of education to their students has ongoingly changed, drastically. Most recently, Canyon Lake Elementary will be first to adopt the educational philosophy, Mass Customized Learning (MCL) or Personalized Learning.

MCL is an information age learning-based system, which endeavors to connect students with experts from around the world. Contrarily, most public schools within the U.S. utilize the antiquated Industrial Age model, where teachers focus on a particular subject, classroom, or schedule. The newer model offers children choices. They have a decided role in the what they will learn, and they’re able to choose from a catalog of options, with regards to group size, collaboration, and independent, innovative technology.

Canyon Lake Elementary received a $90,000 grant to launch the pilot program. The new teaching method will be able to curate a personalized “playlist” of learning experiences while being supported by teachers. The grant will fund new learning tools, teacher training and development, and access to virtual education, which all goes to create customizable learning spaces that will beneficial to students.

Each member of the staff participates in implementing the MCL program, which is expected to be a reality for all students at Canyon Lake Elementary by the end of 2018. It’s expected that other schools in the district will adopt MCL programming. MCL caters to highly diverse students with learning needs that are equally diverse. According to Education Dive, “it typically focuses on pedagogical opportunities and technologies that modularize, tailor, and pace learning experiences at scale within and across student cohorts. Personalized learning, therefore, contrasts sharply with traditional “one-size-fits-all,” “sink-or-swim” approaches, which often fail to reflect individual student needs.”

The concept of MCL was developed through the understanding that the industrial age learning method yields an assembly line education, rather than a universal notion of the information age, where students can learn anything, from anyone, from anyone, from any time. In a world where coffee and home pages can be customizable, many believe that customizable learning can present information to children in a way that’s desirable. More than that MCL is said to meet children at his or her learning level, granting students relevant skills and concepts and providing opportunities through technology that enables educational success.

If you’re interested in learning more about personalized learning, consider reaching out to schools that implemented the educational style in their classrooms, and seek out presents who offer a variety of information on the benefits of blended and personalized education. While some worry that the transition will be a difficult one, others realize that adopting MCL requires that you embrace the idea of not knowing, co-design educational experiences with students, cultivate early innovators, communicate an open door policy, rethink traditional roles, and make time seek out creative ways for adopting new tools and new techniques.

Check out the report published by the Clayton Christensen Institute, “From the Frontlines: Takeaways from the 2016 Blended and Personalized Learning Conference.”

from Mike Sheppard

A Millennial’s Take on Emerging Higher Education Policy Issues in the 21st Century

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences presents:
“A Millennial’s Take on Emerging Higher Education Policy Issues in the 21st Century”
Zakiya W. Smith, Strategy Director, Lumina Foundation. In her presentation, she discusses the overarching problems found within education and various possible solutions that can help alleviate the success of our future leaders for tomorrow.

Sir Ken Robinson- The Role of Policy in Education

Sir Ken Robinson discusses the importance and value of education. He highlights the objective of education policy and its role in creating and establishing innovation.

The Impact of PTSD on a Soldier

U.S. Army Spc. Justin Towe scans his area while on a mission with Iraqi army soldiers from 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division in Al Muradia village, Iraq, March, 13, 2007. Towe is assigned to 4th Platoon, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway) (Released)

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD, is a mental health problem that can be developed after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening or traumatic event. This type of disorder can provide long-lasting consequences and can oftentimes overwhelm a person’s ability to cope with the on-goings of their lives.


Now with PTSD, the mental health condition can develop at any age. Symptoms most often begin to appear within the first three months following the incident, but can present months or years after said-even. For many military veterans who have experience combat, PTSD has become a leading hurdle for their transition back into civilian life. Much of this alludes to the difficulty they have accepting and understanding their emotions. These American heroes feel detached from those around them, even their loved ones. As much as this can cause problems within their personal relationship, the situation can lead to further extreme measures such as psychological or behavioral problems on both the veteran and their family. In order to help a loved one, it is imperative that you recognize the signs of PTSD.


There are a number of symptoms and signs that can occur following exposure to a traumatic event. The symptoms will vary in severity based on the individual, their current mental state, and their supporting system. One of the symptoms can be the more persistent or invasive emotional signs that are connected to the precipitating trauma. These various actions can be reactions such as distress, nightmares, flashbacks, prolonged emotional distress, and other emotional trauma reactions that are often triggered by specific phrases or images that they experienced in combat. Now, on top of the emotional changes, there are specific avoidance symptoms many soldiers face when coming back home. These behaviors usually entail avoiding specific places, activities, conversations, or other things in order to evade and circumvent specific memories of trauma. Now, we cannot overlook the negative mood symptoms and the specific actions that can result from them. The inability to remember parts of a traumatic event, distorted thoughts, negative mood states, or inability to feel positive emotions can potentially lead to reckless and destructive behavior, self-harm, exaggerated startle response, and sleep problems.


Now when it comes to treating PTSD, it is important that the veteran or person talks about it. Self-coping is not necessarily recommended, especially for this level of diagnosis. The first step is to tell others how you feel. With the right treatment, you can get the necessary help needed to get you back on the path of success. Certain treatments are psychotherapy (oftentimes referred to as counseling) and medication.

from Mike Sheppard

The Fight for Equality, Fairness, and Education


In the world of education, teachers have constantly been overlooked for the incredible work they do in-and-out of the classroom. The responsibility of looking into the eyes of a younger generation and finding the underlying fire and inspiration to spark motivation within a senseless and injustice world is something that I continue to admire each and every day. Instead of simply using the textbook as their artillery, teachers, and educational professionals look to go beyond the obstacles and limitations that education restricts upon them in order to explore and examine the necessary approaches that create the impactful mechanisms for growth and success. For the sake of academia, it is imperative that we continue the good fight for equality, fairness, and, most importantly, education. With just a few more weeks, our educational soldiers will be on the frontlines of a gap that continues to persist today. If we want to make a change, we need to continue fighting now and provide our teachers with the support they need to give our children the opportunity for something greater in their future.

Now with education, accessing and receiving a quality education is simply a universal right as a human being. But as much as it is our right, millions of children in the United States are denied this freedom because of the socio-economic status that continues to hinder their opportunities for an excellent education. While many programs are geared to provide those particular communities with the resources for a quality education, we need to go into education reform with a sense of respect and understanding in order to promote the dignity and full development of transformative change.

To begin, our focus needs to be tailored towards the causes that extrapolate the educational gaps today. For years, we have seen a decline in student success and passing, especially within the core subjects such as reading, mathematics, and science. Living in today’s technologically advanced era, you would think that millions of children are receiving the education that they deserve. But as much as we can be so cavalier with our thinking, we need to understand the complexities of the barriers hindering our children’s access to a complete and beneficial education. Certain impediments that continue to impact this right for an excellent education are the following:

  • Poverty
  • Challenging Geographies and Communities
  • Socio-Economic status
  • Conflict-affected situations
  • Gender
  • Resources
  • Quality Teaching

While teachers and educators will have to wait until there is a dramatic change in education policy, they will have to embrace the limitations and recognize the immediate impact they can have on a student’s life. The continued internal and external resistance will define the overall structure and culture of a teacher. Their willingness to strategize and implement strong, tangible and everlasting lessons will be the game changer and silver bullet for that academic year. But in order for this to happen, that construction of the educational reality that they work in will give them the necessary space to both addresses and overcome the roadblocks to their students’ success.

Now, I am not here to say that this will be done immediately. In fact, it takes a certain amount of time and level of respect and humility to accept the job that is needed by an educator. But once that is all and said, a teacher will be able to empower their students with the ultimate equalizers within our society. So, whether you are a parent, a student, a friend, or a colleague, make sure you show your teacher their support. With everything going on in the world, they need your care and guidance now more than ever.

from Mike Sheppard

Donovan Livingston’s Harvard Graduate School of Education Student Speech

Fantastic convocation speech from Donovan Livingston. Truly inspiring.

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