Massachusetts Mom of the Month
I am honored to be My Town Tutors’ the first Massachusetts Mom of the Month. They asked me to fill out some questions so here they are
What is your current job of position?
Such a simple question but such a long answer:
- I sit on the Board of Directors of Aquent, a multi-national company that I co-founded out of a Harvard dorm room 25 years ago. I also work part-time here on a project basis.
- I sit on the Board of my kids’ elementary school as Co-Director of the Creative Arts and Sciences Program. We bring in outside programs to enrich our students’ education.
- I blog because I love it and make a tiny bit of money from this on three blogs: PragmaticMom (The Intersection of Education, Parenting and Children’s Books), ILoveNewton (Sharing the great things about living in Newton, MA), and JadeLuckClub (Celebrating Asian American Creativity).
- I do social media consulting for local businesses along with Capability:Mom who is my partner in crime.
- The short answer: WHAM (Work at Home Mom) to 3 kids and a dog.
What is your educational background?
I have an A.B. degree cum laude in History and Science from Harvard. This translates to “I was pre-med but hated it and wanted to take non-science classes so this was a more flexible option that allowed my pre-med classes to count towards my major.” If I had a do over, I would have been an East Asian Studies or English major.
I have an M.B.A. degree from Anderson School at U.C.L.A. in Entrepreneurial Marketing. This translates to “I could not read my own company’s financials so I went back to business school to learn the language of business (aka accounting) and take classes that I was actually excited to learn. I took History of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture and Beginning Japanese with UCLA undergraduates. I loved marketing and was shocked to discover that I loved economics as well. Finance, logistics and statistics were my Achilles Heel.”
My father was a math professor (aka Tiger Dad) by way of Mainland China. This meant a lot of math pop quizzes as a child and also summer math, a program that my father would create himself. My hope is make math more fun for my kids.
Describe your educational philosophy and educational vision?
I am really interested in giving my kids life skills such as teaching them to be lifelong learners, and helping them find their heart’s passion. So, one thing I focus on are teaching them personal finance. m I’m thrilled that my middle child seems to have an entrepreneurial bent that because clear a few years ago at 6 or 7 when she kept asking me if she could own a Staples Superstore.
My oldest child discovered at age 10 that she was RISD or bust (Rhode Island School of Design) after one trip to visit their school museum. We spend time taking her to art museums, finding art teachers outside of school for her, and giving her materials, time and space to explore her creativity. She is 13 and her latest exposure to art is interning at a commercial art studio. It’s been fun to see her take in their marketing efforts and then ask me to help with their social media.
My youngest is 8 and a boy who is obsessed with screens and gaming. I seriously think that he will become a video game developer one day but we still try to limit his screen time. He has a natural bent towards math and art, and we enjoy reading together. He’s just discovered Percy Jackson so I am re-reading the series with him.
How do you grow and engage your professional learning network?
Since I’m not in a traditional workplace, I have to do this on my own and I find social media to be helpful. I have met so many inspirational people through Twitter. I also find Facebook groups to be a great place to share ideas and collaborate. Then, in real life, when you get to meet your virtual friends, it’s such a treat. Reading blogs by discovering links on social media has been my “school” lately.
What is the greatest benefit of your professional network?
Sharing ideas and collaborating. Blogging requires a constant stream of information just to keep up. I liken it to drinking out of a fire hose. It’s been such a thrill to find like-minded mom bloggers who care about education and children’s books.
If you blog, what is the focus of it? How long have you been writing? Who is you audience?
I am just starting year 4 of blogging on PragmaticMom and it’s been a meandering road. I blog on the intersection of Education/Parenting/Children’s Books which is to say that I find a picture book, chapter book, graphic novel or non-fiction book for every topic and occasion. Everything with a book should be my motto. I love, love, love children’s books so that is one core theme of my blog. And I cover the education and parenting challenges I face with my kids.
How do you use social media to connect with other educators? What is your advice to teachers on social media and education?
Social Media makes a small world even smaller. You can pretty much connect with anyone out there with a social media footprint. Twitter is the first step towards reaching out. It doesn’t take a big commitment to follow someone. Facebook is also great but it’s like a second date. You want to know them a little before you friend them. LinkedIn is a great professional networking tool that is like keeping your resume visible. My personal favorite is Pinterest. It’s addicting but also a great way to find and meet people with common interests. It’s especially great for educators to share curriculum ideas.
What advice in general do you have to teachers today?
Don’t be afraid of social media. For those who aren’t so comfortable online, start with Pinterest just to find great ideas for your classroom. Skype is also easy and free and will allow you to open your doors to virtual learning. Think virtual author visits!! Find a teacher friend who has more experience using social media to show you the ropes.
Describe a teacher who has had a significant impact on your professional development?
My business school mentor was a guy who lead a small group of us in Entrepreneurial Studies in the real sense. We got to meet local Entrepreneurs who would pour their heart out to us telling us about their personal lives and the sacrifices they made for their businesses. Sometimes it was worth it; other times not so much.
He also met with us 1:1 to help us articulate and reach our dreams. When my golf clothing business failed and I became depressed, he sent me on an art therapy mission to take a class. I ended up doing consulting for the business owners of an art school in exchange for art lessons. It changed my life. It also made me realize how important creativity was to me. Those business owners because like second parents and helped me heal from my bad experience.
What book would you recommend to teachers?
I think this is the perfect book for a 3rd, 4th or 5th grade Civil Rights Movement Unit. Author Augusta Scattergood is a retired librarian from the Deep South who spent 10 years writing this chapter book. Not surprisingly, the final showdown of Good versus Evil takes place in a public library. She will also do a FREE Skype author visit if 1) the kids read her book and 2) the school buys 2 or 3 copies of her book. See, I told you Skype and Social Media are useful to teachers!!
Glory B by Augusta Scattergood
Former librarian Augusta Scattergood’s first middle grade chapter book tackles racism in Mississippi during 1964 when a small town’s pool faces de-segregation. 12-year-old Gloriana Hemphill’s birthday coincides with the United States and every year she celebrates at the town public pool, but in 1964 the pool stays mysteriously closed. As she tries to make sense of what is happening, her older sister gets involved with a young Freedom Fighter and things start to get complicated.
What is so great about this book is that it puts the Civil Rights Movement into a microcosm that a young reader (4th grade and up) can understand and relate to. Sometimes being a hero is as subtle as showing up to a party at a library.