2016 marks our 5th year in business. Over this time we have helped thousands of people learn how to keep their brains healthy. We are deeply honored to be a part of this revolution in the way we think about our mental health.
In 2015 we spent over 1000 hours doing volunteer work both by ourselves and in partnership with many non-profits. Our work with The Dear Wise Elders Foundation has helped connect older adults with schoolchildren for the enrichment of both groups. This collaboration led to our entry in this year's XQSuperschool challenge.
As we rush headlong into 2016 we at Purplearn and The Dear Wise Elders Foundation would like to pause and give thanks. A very big and grateful thank you to everyone whose lives we touched in 2015. We love you all.
Perhaps the biggest thanks of all go out to the children and especially those children at the New Brunswick Middle School. Some children of immigrants, with nothing themselves, were not stingy with their love and warmth in their cards and letters. To all those kids who gave the beautiful gift of a smile to our older adults, you really are the best.
I burst through the
double doors back at the top of the stairs. I mean to stop and open the door
for what will hopefully be the arrival of a merely late, not absent sub next
door to me, but I see a large, dark head in front of the classroom. His stylish
goatee, almost regal bearing, and dark blue uniform mark him as a man among the
boys even before I can see the actual word, security, stenciled across his
back. Ahead of him a group of tightly packed minor trouble makers whisper to
each other and walk quickly past me to get out of his line of sight.
The variations continue with the kids’ footwear. Boys whose shirts look like they haven’t been washed in a week sport brand new $300 Jordans, or one of dozens of other sneakers, often in ludicrous color combinations. The girls are mostly wearing brand name boots like Uggs or Frye or some knock off designer thigh high monstrosities. The style for socks this year seems to be that, if they can be seen, they mustn’t match any other article of the wearer’s clothing. I must confess that even I am caught up in the wild sock trend and I am wearing a pair of brightly colored, tribally patterned knee highs under my stretchy khaki slacks.
As I looked back at my blog posts I noticed that I never finished posting chapter 1 of my one-day-to-be-published book. Ironic that it was about a year ago that I last posted a piece of it.
Behind the fading
whistling comes the staccato drum of alternating light and heavy, running
footsteps. “First!” yells Damarcus, a skinny, light-skinned and light-hearted black
kid who punctuates it with a joyous whack of his bony knuckles against his
“You cheated,” puffs
Jose, a short, heavy Dominican kid who is a little too out of breath for a
twelve year old who has just run up only one flight of stairs.
It's much harder than I thought it would be. Teaching public school and running my business, Purplearn, was a lot. Now, adding in starting up a non profit, The Dear Wise Elders Foundation, I am up to optimizing my showers to save time in the morning.
I miss having the luxury of time to write. Of course I write all the time but most of it is paperwork either for school or for the businesses. I can't remember the last time I wrote a story.
After meetings in Miami and NYC, I am at least succeeding in spreading the word.
Early yesterday morning I had to wear my long woolen overcoat over my dark suit with purple shirt and tie. The downstairs party room where we meet opens to the outside when it is warmer and the chill was seeping through the large closed windows. My friends, the original wise elders, were not happy with the current temperature and everywhere was heard loud grumbling coming from under blankets and sweaters.
I had a fresh batch of letters and short replies from the schoolchildren to read to them so I just began over the racket.
My class had run out of steam. Once, in early August, there had been four full tables of more than six people each. I
needed a valet to help park the walkers that had to be lined up at the door.
When we compared our answers we often had people trying to talk over each
other. Today we sat sparsely spaced around two tables. I addressed the ten
older adults. Doing my best not to show my exasperation, I asked, “No stories?
It wasn’t their fault and it wasn’t my fault. Well,
actually it was my fault.
My basic point system works in multiples of 5,
making tallying point totals easy even for the mathematically challenged. Small
tasks and demonstrating positive behavior are worth the minimum 5 points. Bonus
tasks and something you want to recognize as especially good are worth 10
points. Group completion of large assignments and homework starts at 25 points
and goes up from there, but nothing is ever worth more than 100 points and
there should be very few 100s. At the end of every class, the group points are
tallied and the totals written in sharpie on the scoreboard in the back of the
Teachers – What if I told you there was a single
system that could handle most discipline problems, guarantee high student
engagement in classroom activities, and ensure most, if not all, of your
students turn in their homework every day? Read on, because all of this and
more can be yours for one low price.
No, I’m not going to charge you for the information.
However, the first thing you have to do is spend about $40. Every year I
patiently wait for sales on games like Connect 4, Jenga, Monopoly, and