In the summer of 2006, I was selected as one of four newsroom interns at USA Today. While there, I wrote feature stories, news and briefs on deadline, including two pieces published on the front page. I also secured post internship freelance work with the company.
Science teacher Randy Cook developed a water-testing program that now involves students in 18 schools monitoring lakes and streams across Michigan. English and job-development teacher Mary Hinson has brought $1.45 million in grants and partnerships to her Tucson high school, including $100,000 to build a mock AutoZone store on campus.
And math teacher Luajean Bryan used hot air balloon flights to get her calculus class off the ground in Cleveland, Tenn.
HOWARD CITY, Mich. — Sixteen years ago, Randy Cook returned to the one-stoplight town where he grew up to bring usable, practical science home. The environmental science, chemistry and physics teacher at his alma mater, Tri-County High, has students create models for oil spills and develop their own cleanup strategies and learn techniques to measure levels of carbon and oxygen in the air. All the while, he shows students how science is a part of their everyday lives.
"There's nothing in the world that doesn't involve one branch of science or another," Cook says. "If anything, (science) challenges them to think logically to solve problems. Name one area in life where that isn't beneficial. "Besides, where else do you get to blow stuff up and have fun?" he says, chuckling.
Azure Warrenfeltz is fluent in Japanese and Spanish. She also can understand bits of French, German, Arabic and Italian, and she soon hopes to learn some Mandarin Chinese.
Azure is 4 years old.
"I'm smarter than my father. He can only speak one language. Muchas gracias!" she says playfully.
In today's globalized world, Azure is one of many young American children whose parents insist her education include foreign languages. "It's such a global environment now, you never know what you might need," says Azure's mother, Julie Warrenfeltz, who started schooling her daughter in foreign languages when she was 6 weeks old.
As demand for low-cost textbooks increases, college administrators, bookstores and faculty have been forced to re-examine how their students get books.
With more students shopping online for used textbooks, making course book lists and ISBN numbers available before the semester starts is crucial, says John Pease, a University of Maryland sociology professor who helped students establish policy asking faculty to publish lists early.
Getting orders early also enables college bookstores to seek out used copies and buy books back from students at a higher price. "The more books we can keep here, the better off our students are," says Dave Wilson of the campus bookstore at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
While parents can't control what their children are eating at school, they can control what they eat before school. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for both the brain and body.
"Think outside the box," says Marilyn Tanner, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and a registered dietitian. "Even a piece of frozen pizza in the morning can be OK. Just get breakfast in."
When Kristina Helbig's 15-year-old half sister ran away from a drug rehabilitation center in Florida in July, her parents turned to the police. She turned to the Internet. Helbig enlisted the help of Tim Caya of Brookings, S.D., who uses his page on the social networking service MySpace to help find missing persons.
Caya, 38, helped Helbig create an online bulletin that she circulated to Caya's network of more than 18,000 other MySpace users, who can relay it to other users around the world. Within three days, Helbig says, she got e-mails from her sister's friends and even strangers who had spotted her.
Hundreds of abortion-rights advocates and abortion opponents rallied in Jackson, Miss., on Sunday for the second day of a planned weeklong battle over attempts to shut down the state's last abortion clinic.
Police tightened security around the clinic, Jackson Women's Health Organization, and stationed officers throughout the city for the duration of the rallies that began Saturday.
Operation Save America (OSA), a national group that opposes abortion, targeted the Jackson clinic this year. The group said that a statewide "victory" in Mississippi would send a message to activists everywhere that the battle to end abortion can be won.
College graduates, shaped by such events as Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are applying to service organizations such as AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps in record numbers.
"I do think that recent world events have heightened awareness among college students and their desire to do good," says Elissa Clapp, vice president of recruitment at Teach for America.
Many service programs are reaping the benefits:
Applications to Teach for America, which recruits graduates for underserved urban and rural areas, hit almost 19,000 this year, nearly triple the number in 2000.
This year, the Peace Corps took 7,810 volunteers — the largest number in 30 years — from more than 11,500 applicants in 2005, up more than 20% over the year 2000.
AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), which pairs recruits with non-profit organizations, has had a 50% jump in applicants since 2004.
As the country grapples with controversial subjects such as immigration, gay marriage and a war on terror, we asked several Americans from different age groups, races and backgrounds to share their thoughts on what it means to be American today.
Ricky Gonsoulin, 38, a sugar cane farmer in New Iberia, La., endured hurricanes last year and is dealing with drought this year. "To me, it means to stay in business, to feed America, and to make a profit. In agriculture, we're having a hard time doing this right now."