Jul 31 2014

Son’s road test sends dad down memory lane

‘Because I Said So’ column for The Commercial Appeal

July 31, 2014

McQueen

Son’s road test sends dad down memory lane

The moment my first child was born, I stood for a moment in disbelief. “I’m a father,” I said over and over in my head. There were other thoughts going through my mind as well; it was a virtual white-noise machine of worry and elation and wonder in there.

Walking the hallways of Baptist Hospital-East, I nodded at other new fathers in recognition and wide-eyed amazement at what we’d just witnessed and at what we’d suddenly become.

There have been other milestones over the years, of course, now having four children in the stable. There were first days of school, where the parents looked more frightened than the kids. There was the first time riding a two-wheel bike when pride swelled us up to near bursting. There was the first trip to the emergency room and the fear that we’d somehow damaged our child.

Last week was another milestone as I took my son to get his driver’s license. It was, like that first day of kindergarten, a moment when I wanted to take his hand and usher him through each step. But I was only there to sign any necessary paperwork. He filled out forms, answered the examiner’s questions and, finally, took the keys from me and went out to the car, alone.

I waited in the lobby. I could see him there, behind the wheel, awaiting the examiner to join him. I looked away, unable, or unwilling, to watch him back out of that tight spot and begin the road test. When I looked again, the car was gone. Somewhere, out on Summer Avenue, he was driving — nervous, anxious, excited — as the stranger beside him checked off boxes and made notations on her clipboard. Such anxiety and expectation is a rite of passage in itself.

Meanwhile, I stood in disbelief as I had that day in the maternity ward where it had all begun. The other parents and I raised our eyebrows in acknowledgment that we, too, were experiencing a sort of rite.

“I’m a father,” I thought again. In the time he was out on the road, my mind flew back to the beginning and his birth, that first trip down the block on his bicycle, that visit to the emergency room and his first days of school. I saw him again as a baby, a toddler, a little boy running with his siblings and frightened at night of the dark. That government building on Summer — that cramped, nondescript bunker — is not much of a place for an emotional slideshow, yet I’m sure it’s had its share.

It wasn’t too long before Calvin and his examiner returned. His poker face is such that I couldn’t read him at all, had no idea how it had gone and, once again, I wanted to take his hand and ask if he was OK. But this was his moment and embarrassment need not be a box checked off the road test.

It wasn’t until the examiner told him to step in front of the blue cloth to have his picture taken that he exhaled and the color returned to his face.

I’m wondering when I’ll be able to exhale. It’s been 16 years of worry and elation and wonder, and every day I’m amazed at what these kids are capable of and where, on the road of parenthood, they’ll drive me next.

Link to The Commercial Appeal


Jul 17 2014

City of Memphis, I feel your budget pain

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

July 17, 2014

Genevieve's invoice

Genevieve’s invoice

City of Memphis, I feel your budget pain

Kids really do say the darndest things, don’t they?

In the 1950s and ‘60s, entertainer Art Linkletter built an empire off the silly things issued forth from the mouths of babes.

I’ve been saying it in my own way right here in this column for six years. My oldest son, as a toddler, once referred to the plumber my wife had called to the house for a middle-of-the-day emergency as “different daddy.”

Such a delightful scamp.

Linkletter had other grand ideas beyond asking earnest questions of unassuming children. In 1960, he, along with business partner Clyde Vandenburg, proposed a redevelopment of the Mid-South Fairgrounds to include such amenities as a new arena and a 700-foot-long lagoon to stretch along East Parkway. Of that plan, the Mid-South Coliseum was the only feature to see the light of day.

Recently, the city floated a plan for a Tourism Development Zone in and around the Fairgrounds in an effort to pay for redevelopment of the property. The city is also grappling with ways to pay for the pensions and benefits of firefighters and policemen.

I don’t claim to have all — or any — of the answers to such issues. Nor do I have any plans as outlandish as a Memphis blues lagoon. I have my own issues at home with budgeting the cost of four children who continually redevelop the landscape of my days and bank account.

Among these kids is an 8-year-old daughter who doesn’t yet have a job or a pension. Occasionally, though, she’ll complete a chore around the house and, once finished, will then tell me how much I owe her. And with Genevieve, there are no negotiations.

She recently presented me with an invoice — an actual paper bill — for having rolled the garbage can to the curb for pickup. According to her cryptic handwriting, she’s owed fees in the amount of $10 for the weight of the can and $5 for the “stink.” Despite already being charged for the odor, she tacked on $20 because she had to hold her breath. There is a $100 balance that has been carried forward; from what, I have no idea.

In all, I owe this child who lives in my house and eats my food $135, essentially for walking 20 yards down the driveway.

I think she may be on to something.

Fiscal matters matter, even to children. They won’t stay kids forever, and the things they say and do won’t be all that cute, or profitable, for too long. They need to be taught early about budgets and bank accounts and the dangers of overextending oneself. One day, Genevieve will need to manage her own pension and may even, heaven help us, administer that of an entire city’s worth of employees.

When that day comes, she’ll need to know how to spend wisely and when to save. These darned kids will have to understand when it’s imprudent to purchase a new television or car, and that it’s good business to honor all promises of payment. And they’ll want to know when to prioritize the cost of a plumber over a new lagoon.

Link to The Commercial Appeal


Jul 17 2014

Bleak House: What’s going on with the Mid-South Coliseum

High Ground News

July 9, 2014

Elvis sang there. The Beatles played there. Professional wrestler Jerry Lawler pile-drove comedian Andy Kaufman there in 1983 in an infamous match that landed the two on national television with “Late Night with David Letterman.”

For several generations of Memphians, the Mid-South Coliseum was the center of the entertainment universe. Despite this status as a pop culture altar, its future is bleak. The Coliseum most certainly faces destruction, either quickly, by wrecking ball, or slowly, by neglect.

The Coliseum sits among the Mid-South Fairgrounds, a 168-acre former horseracing track, Montgomery Park, that was purchased by the city in 1897. The area was considered for wholesale revision in 1960 as the Linkletter-Vandenburg Plan, created by entertainer Art Linkletter and business partner Clyde Vandenburg, recommended vast changes to the property. Among such visions as a 700-foot-long lagoon was the plan for a multi-use arena–the Coliseum–the only portion of the plan to see the light of day.

Built in 1964, it was closed for good in 2006 after being determined too cost prohibitive to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since then, it has sat empty, neglected, a tomb to the memories and milestones of thousands–first concerts, Monday Night Wrestling, graduations, monster truck shows.

Another plan, one with a bit more traction than Linkletter-Vandenburg, is currently being touted. A Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) is proposed by the City of Memphis and destined for a vote in Nashville later this month. The 3-mile-wide zone would encompass the nearby Cooper-Young business district, burgeoning Overton Square and the Fairgrounds, and use excess sales tax from those areas to repay bonds used to fund the $233 million project. A far-reaching plan for the Fairgrounds calls for a complex of athletic fields, retail space, a hotel and residential units.

If the TDZ is accepted, the Coliseum most surely will be demolished. Regardless, though, the city disconnected utilities to the building three years ago, leaving it at the mercy of Memphis’ wide seasonal swings in temperature and humidity.

The entire area of the Fairgrounds falls under the jurisdiction of the City’s Division of Parks and Neighborhoods, operated by a management company, Global Spectrum . . . (read more)


Jul 3 2014

Beach vacation is time for family, renewal

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

July 3, 2014

Blue Mountain Beach

Blue Mountain Beach

Beach vacation is time for family, renewal

As mandated by my membership in Club Memphis, I loaded up the van and drove to the panhandle of Florida for a week this summer. It’s an annual drive that can take anywhere from eight to 11 hours. This year, it was unbearably the latter.

I don’t mind most of the drive too much. For me, the vacation begins in that van. Where the kids used to complain and whine, they now sit still, (mostly) silent and mesmerized by the glow of the screen on their hand-held devices.

With the kids strapped in and unable to move about the cabin, and with my only responsibility, great as it is, to deliver them all safely to the beaches of South Walton County, it frees my mind to wander.

For 11 hours I was able to dwell within my own thoughts. Well, 10 hours. That last hour was spent thinking, “Why is this taking so long?”

As with the start of any road trip, my first thoughts turn to this: these kids are whiling away the hours watching movies on handheld devices. Do they even realize their good fortune to watch “Frozen” again and again as Alabama whisks past? Do they know that I spent hours on the road as a kid — these very same roads — wishing for just such a device?

My sisters and I dreamed of a day in the future — far in the future, the 21st century — when we might be able to watch our favorite television programs as the distance dwindled. Instead, we read books and doodled, stared out the windows and napped. And we argued, which is the one holdover of childhood from the last century to this.

But the focus of our week this summer wasn’t all electronic devices and self-absorption. Once we hit the emerald green waters and sugar white sand of Blue Mountain Beach, we gave ourselves over to relaxation and socialization. Attention turned to family as my sister, her husband and their kids arrived to join us.

A friend once said, “Man should put his feet in the sea at least once a day.” There is something healing about the water, isn’t there? It’s therapeutic, renewing.

We bobbed in those waters as a family out beyond the second sandbar, the current carrying us lazily to the east and the sun dazzling our eyes. The kids asked questions and we answered honestly and openly as our feet grazed the sandy floor below. We spoke of hopes and dreams in a way that we just aren’t able during our day-to-day lives with their schedules and demands.

This is what vacation is all about. This suspension of reality, the suspension of gravity and the time to just float in each other’s company. Those moments are worth the hectic days throughout the rest of the year. Those saltwater conversations are worth every minute of the very long drive.

I’m already looking forward to putting my feet in the sea again. I’m ready for next year and the renewal that can only be had from a long drive, quality family time, Disney films on the go, and the water.

Permanent link to The Commercial Appeal


Jun 23 2014

Collaboration changes the future of Frayser

High Ground News

June 18, 2014

The community of Frayser, just north of Memphis proper and across a wide alluvial plain from the Mississippi River, began as a suburban town built around a railroad depot. It was annexed by Memphis in 1958, and industry, in the form of International Harvester and Firestone, moved in to churn out giant red cotton pickers and automobile tires.

Those companies would eventually move out, taking jobs–more than 2,000 in the case of Harvester–and people with them, and leaving gaping holes in the landscape. Over the years, those who stayed or have moved in since have weathered loss of jobs along with a recession and real estate woes. It is one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of Memphis, with some of the highest crime rates. The butt of jokes for years, it’s a community made up of still-proud people, many looking to rewrite its narrative from the ground up, from among its boarded-up homes, crumbling infrastructure and struggling educational institutions.

According to the 2010 census report, the 20 square miles that make up Frayser are home to just over 40,000, with a makeup of 84 percent African American. Nearly 20 percent of residents–the largest group–made $15,000 to $25,000 per year, and almost half of the population rent their homes. Forty percent live below the poverty level.

In answer to such problems, the Frayser Community Development Corporation (CDC) was founded in 2000 to act as a nonprofit revitalization engine for the area. In 2013, through a community-wide election, the Frayser Neighborhood Council was created.

The Frayser CDC has been buying up houses for renovation and resale or lease, and currently owns close to 75.

“We sell everything we can, but we rent and lease what we can’t sell,” says Steve Lockwood, Executive Director. “We work with families to try to get them in a place where they can get a mortgage to where we can sell them the house they’re already living in.”

The CDC recently received $495,000 from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, which will help buy and renovate 11 houses designated to be rented or sold to very low income families.

“We’ve tried to learn to be as strategic as we can about how to invest in housing,” Lockwood says. “My board, after years of discussion, we’ve been investing in the middle-ground neighborhoods, the tipping point neighborhoods in Frayser.”

In such areas, the CDC will typically buy the worst house on the block, putting resources and about $45,000 into renovations.

“It becomes the best house on the street, and then we put a strong working family in there, and we think it changes the whole street,” Lockwood says. “We can prove that it changes the tax base for the whole area because an abandoned, blighted house hurts the value.”

Even in this deflated market, Lockwood says they’re able to sell houses for $60,000 in a neighborhood where the average sale price is around $27,000 . . . (read more)


Jun 19 2014

Bridge Builders teaches kids unity, teamwork

‘Because I Said So’ column for The Commercial Appeal

June 19, 2014

Bridge Builders Madison, Somerset and Simone

Bridge Builders Madison, Somerset and Simone

Bridge Builders teaches kids unity, teamwork

As our children grow older, they grow closer to each other. They’re more willing to get along and coexist harmoniously in the limited space of our home. It’s a wonderful feeling; it’s all that we’ve hoped for as parents from the very first days.

Still, though, they backslide. They bicker and argue over things as inconsequential as a spot on the sofa or a difference in perspective.

Memphis, too, grows and ages and, hopefully, matures. Yet even as it moves forward, becoming more progressive on issues of growth and development, we backslide. In past weeks, interest groups and Memphis Zoo leaders have been bickering over land the way my kids argue over that spot on the couch.

Other groups have become embroiled in the most inane argument of all: Who is the most minority? It’s like my children discussing which of them is my favorite (I’ll never tell). This public discussion has devolved into public name-calling, water-throwing and an arrest.

It was against this civic backdrop that we sent two of our kids, Somerset and Joshua, rising seventh- and eighth-graders respectively, to Bridges last week for the summer Bridge Builders COLLABORATE program. In a building that acts as a bridge itself — on the edge of Downtown, Uptown, the Medical District and North Memphis — 114 young people from 32 ZIP codes came together to learn how to work as one.

The issues of the day weren’t the focus, not in so many words. No one read them headlines from the newspaper or a long list of acerbic statuses and comments from Facebook. Instead, the college-age facilitators led groups of kids through exercises meant to instill confidence, leadership qualities, unity and teamwork.

My kids didn’t want to go, be sure of that. They’re preteens and only recently finished with school, so they were looking forward to long summer days spent lounging on the couch, arguing over who sits where. “Why do we have to go?” they asked up until that very morning.

“Because you’ll like it,” I said, again and again. “You’ll meet new people, it’ll build character and it will give you something to do all day.”

This was one of the few instances of my being right; they loved it from the first day. They loved the people in charge, the kids in their groups, the games and workshops, and the lunches.

I picked them up that first day and, as they described the activities, the themes of the week shined through — they worked together to complete tasks, they had to choose leaders, they had to select a workshop of their own interests to focus on throughout the week.

There was a day of community service when the kids went into the surrounding neighborhood to pick up trash. The trash wasn’t theirs, but they cleaned anyway. These future leaders will one day be cleaning our messes. Because of Bridge Builders, they’ll be better equipped and more eager to do so. They’ve learned the skills at a time when current leaders have trouble putting petty differences aside to work toward a common solution.

As Cynthia Ham, president and CEO of Bridges, said to the crowd of kids and their parents at the induction ceremony on the last day, “No matter what you end up doing, I hope you will hold sacred what you learned this week at Bridge Builders and know that you can make a difference, especially in Memphis.”

Permanent link to The Commercial Appeal


Jun 5 2014

Tour Le Bonheur to see the heart of the city

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

June 5, 2014

Le Bonheur

Tour Le Bonheur to see the heart of the city

I spent a recent morning taking the Le Bonheur 101 Tour. My group of eight was given breakfast, lunch and guided access to the children’s hospital.

In the 40-bed emergency room, relatively quiet at 9 a.m., Dr. Barry Gilmore, medical director of emergency services, assured us that it would fill up multiple times over the course of the day. Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital is the only nationally certified Level 1 Trauma Center in the state.

We were shown operating rooms with equipment costing millions. Dr. James Eubanks, medical director of trauma services, demonstrated computers so technologically advanced that I was sure we could launch a moon mission from the corner of Dunlap and Poplar.

In the cath lab, a days-old baby underwent a procedure as we looked on from a control booth where nurses monitored every action, giving feedback to the physician and his team while tapping a keyboard the way my teen does his phone.

And mixed in and among the gadgetry, the LED lights and a seemingly endless nervous system of fiber optic wire, was another complex, yet simple, piece of equipment. So important is it to the patients and their families, the doctors and nurses, that, when the new building was completed in 2010, they capped it off with its image.

It is the heart.

A big part of Le Bonheur’s philosophy on treatment of the body is the support that is offered to patients and their families; there is talking, physical and emotional interaction, and bonding.

The doctors and nurses, department heads and marketing team each took time from their day to explain to us every floor, ward and piece of equipment. They answered our questions unhurried and at length. They even took time to point out the art on the walls and explain its significance and what it means to them. There is beautiful art everywhere, made by and for children, and it appears as integral to the day-to-day functioning of the institution as an MRI or EKG.

I toured the hallways, operating rooms and waiting rooms of Le Bonheur the other day and, as thankful as I am that it’s there, I hope I never have to see it again.

At the beginning of the tour, we were asked to share our own Le Bonheur stories. A few of us had them. For me, it happened about 14 years ago when my son, then only 2 years old, stood up in his high chair at Pete & Sam’s restaurant and went over backward, landing on his head. As a parent and Memphian, when something like that happens, the first thing that comes to mind is “Le Bonheur.” He was examined and released soon after we arrived.

Other stories aren’t so simple and don’t end as quickly. We heard some of those stories during our tour, saw others being played out in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and operating rooms. It’s for those children and those parents that I’m grateful for the institution.

June 15 marks the 62nd anniversary of Le Bonheur opening its doors, and the 4th anniversary for the new facility. You’ve toured Graceland and Sun Studio, the Stax Museum and Brooks Art Gallery, and they all make Memphis the unique city it is. If you want to see what makes us great, what makes our heart beat, be sure and take the Le Bonheur 101 Tour.

Permanent link to The Commercial Appeal


Jun 2 2014

$250 million infrastructure makeover keeps UTHSC competitive

High Ground News

May 21, 2014

The Johnson Building Photo by Richard J. Alley

The Johnson Building
Photo by Richard J. Alley

In 2007, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) completed construction on the 90,000-square-foot, $25.2 million Cancer Research Building at the corner of Madison Avenue and Manassas Street. To say that the facility, or any improvement to the campus at all, was long overdue would be an understatement–it was the first new building for UTHSC in 17 years.

It was also the impetus for a formalized, five-year, $250 million master plan by the century-old institution.

Now at the midway mark, the plan includes numerous completed, underway or planned projects. The $49 million, 135,000-square-foot Translational Science Research Building is under construction at the corner of Manassas Street and Union Avenue and will be a mirror image to the Cancer Research Building that sits immediately to the north. The buildings of the Historic Quadrangle, a tree-canopied oasis that insulates students from the heavy traffic noise just to the south on Union Avenue, are due for a $68 million upgrade, with the Mooney Memorial Library being converted to administrative offices, reception area and meeting spaces, and the Nash Research Building and its annex renovated into research space. The Crowe Building there will become the College of Nursing.

The Shelton Feurt Pharmacy Research Building is across Dunlap Street from Health Sciences Park and will come down to make way for a $24.1 million Multi-Disciplinary Simulation and Health Education Building.

Upgrades and overhauls planned include the fourth floor of the Cancer Research Building for $4.8 million, $9.5 million on expanded research enterprises and office space in the Pharmacy Building, and retrofitting and renovating the medical library in the Lamar Alexander Building for $6.1 million.

Growth and upgrading are necessary to any institution of science and learning as technology is in constant flux, and as the recruitment of students and world-class researchers becomes increasingly more competitive.

“The infrastructure was very, very challenged,” says Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operations Officer Kennard Brown of his first exposure to the university campus.

Such infrastructure could be seen as a liability, unimpressive as it is to potential medical students. With 165 new enrollees per year, UTHSC is competing against several programs nationwide, including Duke, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and Washington University among others, many of which can offer scholarships that a state school without a comparable endowment just can’t afford. In such an atmosphere, the facilities, the campus, whether or not the environment is conducive to learning and living, become all that more important to a student and his or her family.

“All of them are medical schools, we all graduate kids at the 98th, 99th percentile, we all have our standards, they all have to pass national boards to be physicians,” Brown says. “So academically we’re probably comparable, but what appeals to the kid, what appeals to mom?”

If the technology and infrastructure aren’t keeping pace, there is a greater chance UTHSC–and Memphis–won’t make the cut . . . (read more)


Jun 2 2014

Respecting our elders: the Plough Foundation’s aging initiative

High Ground News

May 14, 2014

Katie Midgley, Program Associate for the Plough Foundation, was hired in 2011 to help figure out how the foundation might be more proactive in the funding area of aging.

“I think there were several reasons why aging was selected as our area, to really get our feet wet in being more proactive instead of reactive,” she says. “Number one is because of the numbers. People are hearing a lot about baby boomers and the ‘silver tsunami’ and Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and what are we going to do about it?”

Midgley looked at past grants that Plough had awarded and saw an increase in funding related to aging.

“The numbers reiterated what our board already suspected. Memphis is no different than the rest of the country in that we are getting older and we will stay older, people are having fewer children and they’re living longer, so that’s really a population paradigm shift. I think that’s why we selected this issue as a foundation.”

As a result, the Plough Foundation Aging Initiative was created, and a request was put out for proposals among the area’s non-profit organizations and public and private sectors. It is the foundation’s first RFP in its 50-year history.

Plough completed more than 70 interviews of individuals and organizations with expertise in all aspects of aging, and commissioned a survey of more than 500 seniors aged 65 years old and up within Memphis and Shelby County. Based on the survey and in-house research on the topics of aging, two task groups were convened, one Aging in Place and Mobility and the other Elder Abuse and Maltreatment.

Finally, a speaker series was convened to educate the public. “We wanted to really sound an alarm bell,” says Mike Carpenter, Executive Director of the Plough Foundation. “We wanted to end that (speaker series) with this call for proposals to say, ‘We’ve rung the alarm bell, now we want to be partners with you in doing something about it.’ This is a way for us to engage the not-for-profit community, because with the RFP we’re able to be very specific about the kinds of things we’re looking for, the kinds of things we’re willing to fund. It has also allowed us to bring these interested groups to the table and have some pre-discussions about their ideas and to help direct them in ways that we’ve determined would be best for the community all around this issue.”

The total grant amounts are being left open-ended, which is also a first for Plough. Not wanting to limit the focus on this complex issue is one reason. Another, Carpenter says, is that “We don’t want to be put in a position where we get proposals that are maybe subpar and feel that we need to fund those to meet some arbitrary amount that we had set out. We feel like our commitment to this is going to be larger than any single grant that we’ve made in our history.”

While the amount may not be written in stone, it is expected to be larger than the typical $12 to $13 million that Plough awards each year, an amount which won’t be affected by these grants . . . (read more)


May 22 2014

Make summer a season of creativity, discovery

‘Because I Said So’ column for The Commercial Appeal

May 22, 2014

DSC_0060

Clang!

There it is, the school bell. The last one of the semester and another year is in the books. It was the first for a unified Shelby County School system, though “unified” may be an optimistic adjective.

Still, the ground didn’t open up. Hell fire didn’t rain down. Teachers taught and students learned. Parents signed papers, made lunches and purchased a tree’s worth of poster board.

Next year the municipal schools depart the mother ship for what they believe to be a better universe. Good luck to those teachers and administrators; it will be another new and unknown frontier, another testing ground.

But that seems a world away because after tomorrow it’s summertime and there is no testing. So let’s turn off the alarm clocks, pack away the uniforms and prepare for hours spent doing nothing. It’s a glorious time for lounging about, running the neighborhood, eating lunch at a normal hour and maybe staying up just a bit past bedtime. Read what you want, kids, talk loudly and at will, make up games and go fishing.

At a recent end-of-school year ceremony, White Station Middle School principal Shawn Page made a point to mention two people he admires. They aren’t titans of industry. They aren’t politicians. They aren’t celebrities, not in the contemporary sense. They are a composer and a poet — Ludwig van Beethoven and William Blake.

Mr. Page told the assembled students and parents that he admires the men for their work ethic and perseverance at creating something that comes from within.

Though he didn’t say so, art is woefully undervalued in public school systems, unified or otherwise. So this summer, let’s take a page out of the principal’s book and read up on the old masters of arts and letters. Let’s put that page down on a flat surface and spend some time painting or drawing on it. Write a story, a poem, an essay just for you. Write and direct a film on your mother’s iPhone. Noodle with that dust-covered piano or your dad’s guitar.

Indulging creativity is a pathway to learning, but don’t let that scare you away. You won’t even notice it’s happening at the time, trust me. You won’t necessarily be learning about the landscape you’re painting or scales on sheet music or metaphors and similes. The lesson you learn will be far more important.

You’ll be learning about you, who you are, what you’re capable of and where your talents lie.

There is no test at the end. Unlike the proposed Common Core Curriculum or the brain-scrubbing TCAP exam, there is no way to teach to the test of summer. It’s not a season for standardization; no good climbing tree or firefly swarm is quite so common.

The summer break from school seems shorter and shorter every year, so soak it up while you can. Don’t let the idle hours go to waste, but learn what you like simply because you want to know more about it. There is no grading, there is no standard. There is only good music and the poetry of days that stretch on and on.

Permanent link in The Commercial Appeal