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Fans of the “Goodnight Moon” classic children’s book are in for a treat, as there’s a new Goodnight Moon Room installation at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

The project in Studio 9 is led by longtime Torpedo Factory artist Lisa Schumaier, who said she wants to give visitors a literary hug.

“When your parents get you on their lap or at night when you’re ready to go to bed, they’ll read a book to you, and it just gives you this cozy feeling,” Schumaier told ALXnow. “For me, when I have something bad happen, I can pick up a book and I feel that snuggle from my parents. I feel that snuggle from the book.”

The installation, based on the book by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd, includes the painting of the cow jumping over the Moon, the bunny, the red balloon, and even a fake fireplace.

“I have this weird love of fake fireplaces,” Schumaier said. “People just give them to me.”

As a mixed media artist, Schumaier said that she ordinarily gets odd gifts from friends and art fans.

“People give me weird stuff,” she said. “Like, I recently got a kimono. And bottle caps. Most people just give me bags and bags of bottle caps.”

The paintings in the installation were created by Torpedo Factory artists Marcel Artes Deolazo, Judy Heiser and Chris Cardellino. On the bookshelf are banned books, including “The Catcher In The Rye”, “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “Beloved”.

The installation opened on Saturday, Dec. 4, and closes on Sunday, February 20.

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Earlier this month, Alexandria City High School senior Abdelraman Aboud Abdelsadig received life-changing news. After submitting all his paperwork and waiting a month, Abdelsadi was awarded the competitive QuestBridge Scholarship to attend Colby College in Maine.

The scholarship is worth about $300,000, and Abdelsadig found out about the award at school on Dec. 1.

The 18-year-old was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Sudan, and he and his mother and three siblings moved to Alexandria when he was in the first grade, where he attended Douglas MacArthur Elementary School.

“I’ve always been one to keep myself busy,” Abdelsadig told ALXnow. “I always like filling my time up with either an activity or a club or study time, but if I’m bored, like in middle school, I would just stay after school to have conversations with my teachers for like an extra hour. Or even in high school. I started joining a lot of clubs just to fill up my time.”

It was that same restlessness that turned Abdesadig onto QuestBridge. Tired of sticking around at home over the past year, he decided to get a job at Duck Donuts. It was through his coworkers that he found out about the scholarship.

Eglal Salih said she was ecstatic to get the news from her son.

“Oh my god, I was so happy,” she said. “I was so proud of him. He’s always been a good kid.”

Abdelsadig says he’ll be going in the sciences, but hasn’t made up his mind about the specifics. For the time being, he says, he is focused on human anatomy.

In his scholarship essay, he wrote about the digital divide between cultures, and how his background of living in a third world country created a thirst for knowledge.

“Basically, I gave a small insight into my history and how I was not from here, and how I didn’t always have access to large swaths of knowledge, like the internet or Google or anything like that,” he said. “When you don’t have something and you’re curious about certain topics, when those things become available to you, you can’t get enough of it. You just continuously want more and more and more. And that’s exactly how it was with anatomy, just learning in general. I was a giant sponge.”

Abdelsadig plans to first visit Colby College next summer.

Via ACPS

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The Alexandria Tutoring Consortium has chipped away at its $25,000 goal set in August, and can now offer literacy tutoring to students in 11 of the city’s 14 elementary schools for the remainder of the school year.

The most recent donation was made by the AT&T foundation for $16,000, which will help fund one-on-one “Book Buddies” tutoring sessions for 30 first graders at John Adams and Ferdinand T. Day Elementary Schools.

“After a year-and-a-half of interrupted learning, we’re seeing more demand for reading tutoring than ever before,” said ATC Executive Director Lisa Jacobs. “We’re trying to help more kids this year, and it’s donations by community supporters like the AT&T Foundation that put us in a position to run our programming now through May. We could not be more grateful for this investment in Alexandria’s children.”

During the 2020-2021 school year with kids studying attending virtual schooling, there were more than 7,600 “Book Buddies” tutoring sessions.

“We are delighted to be able to support ATC in its efforts to teach Alexandria’s kids to read,” Garrett McGuire, regional director of external and legislative affairs at AT&T, said in a statement. “Getting students on grade level before third grade has been shown to result in better graduation rates and a better chance for lifelong success.”

Via ATC

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Ashley Simpson Baird says widespread unfinished learning within the Latino community is a result of the pandemic, and the District B candidate for the Alexandria School Board wants the city’s school system to refocus its attention to get kids back on the ball.

“We are still very much living in schooling in a pandemic, and so I would really like to see ACPS have a stronger plan for how we’re addressing unfinished learning,” Baird told ALXnow. “We need to make sure that we are giving school leaders and educators the resources to implement that plan.”

Baird, who is married with three young children, was an ESL and bilingual education teacher for six years. She’s now the founder and principal of Merit Research, Policy, and Evaluation, a private firm that provides data-driven research and solutions to educational organizations around the country.

The pool of District B candidates is crowded. Baird faces six other candidates for the three open slots: Deborah Ash, Kelly Carmichael BoozTammy S. Ignacio, PreeAnn JohnsonBridget Shea Westfall and Ricardo Roberts.

Baird was the captain of the women’s varsity soccer team at Pennsylvania State University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in arts, letters and sciences.

“I think people trust me,” she said. “I’m really good in emergency or high-stress situations. You want me to take your penalty kicks. I probably won’t make that many penalty kicks in practice, but if it’s in a game or a shootout, like I will make my penalty kick every time.”

Baird spent two years in Bolivia in the Peace Corps, and received a master’s degree in teaching at the School for International Training and a doctorate in education from the University of Virginia.

“The pandemic shed a light on some disparities for these ESL students in particular, like how they were served during remote learning,” she said.

Baird has known since she was a teacher that she was going to run for a School Board.

“It’s just a pretty great way to make an impact on your community,” she said. “I feel like there’s a great alignment with my knowledge and skills and what I can offer.”

Like many candidates, Baird says the school system should have opened to full-time instruction sooner than August 24. She also says ACPS has had communication problems for years.

“I think it was brought even more to the forefront during the pandemic when a lot more of our community started paying closer attention to the schools,” she said. “In December, ACPS put out this survey that asked parents if they’d like their kids to return to hybrid or stay virtual, and the messaging around it was that the results were non-binding, just to do a pulse check. But then it ended up being binding when they went back hybrid in March (2021).”

She says Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr.’s performance has been mixed, and supports the current Board extending his contract through 2025.

“Continuity in the superintendency is very important at this time,” Baird said. “We we are at a time where we need a lot of things to get done. It’s better to have that continuity instead of a gap or to go with an interim for a period of time.”

Baird says Board Members should have staggered terms so that future situations don’t arise where a mass exodus of members end up leaving at the same time.

“That would be a good solution and provide more continuity for our board in terms of the learning curve,” she said.

Unlike many of her fellow candidates, Baird supports limited colocation of affordable housing on ACPS grounds — provided that it’s for educators.

“The possibility for co-location cannot be dismissed outright as libraries, recreational facilities, and other educational services with smaller footprints can enhance educational programming when they are co-located with schools,” she wrote on her website. “I would support programs that assist ACPS employees with down payments and/or lower rate mortgages (such as Landed).”

On school resource officers, Baird says people are asking the wrong question.

“The right question is how do we keep students and staff, emotionally and physically safe when they’re in our school buildings?” she said. “I think we need to take a step back and say what does safety and physical and mental well being in our schools look like and create a plan from there.”

Election day is Tuesday, November 2.

Via Rachel Larsen Weaver

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(Updated at 425 p.m. Tuesday, October 19) Alexandria has reached yet another grim milestone, as the city surpassed 14,000 reported cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

As of today (Monday, October 18), the number of cases has climbed to 14,070, up 171 cases since this time last week.

The number of cases for children under 12 is “unexpectedly” high, accounting for 287 cases in August and September, according to the Alexandria Health Department.

“Children under 12 years old are not yet eligible for vaccination, which is likely a contributor to this result,” AHD reported.

The death toll remains at 148.

The seven day average of daily new cases reported is 22, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 people is 13.9, down from 15.8 last week. There have been about 197 cases reported in the last two weeks, and the seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests is 3.1%, according to the the Virginia Department of Health.

In the meantime, 100.5% of Alexandria’s 12-17-year-olds (7,376 kids) have gotten at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 88% (6,462) have been fully vaccinated according to VDH. Just over 69% (90,310) of residents over the age of 18 have been vaccinated, a have about 80% (15,551) of seniors.

How is 100.5% possible for Alexandria’s 12-17-year-olds? Natalie Talis, a population health manager with the Alexandria Health Department said that VDH uses National Center for Health Statistics population estimates, and that the vaccines administered exceed the population estimates.

“We have heard that VDH will start to use 2020 census data, but we are not sure when,” Talis said. “Any time population estimates are used, there is a risk of a discrepancy.”

There have also been 41 cases reported in Alexandria City Public Schools in October. There were also 64 cases reported last month in ACPS.

Alexandria has experienced high transmission since mid-August, while Manassas Park is the only locality in Virginia seeing moderate transmission. Arlington County, Fairfax County, Fairfax City and Charles City have moved from high to “substantial” transmission.

Find vaccine providers in Alexandria here. If you feel sick, get tested.

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Morning Notes

Alexandria announces $7.1 million in funding for first-time homebuyers — “The City of Alexandria is pleased to announce the availability of Sponsoring Partnerships & Revitalizing Communities (SPARC) funds to provide eligible first-time homebuyers with permanent financing for their home purchase. SPARC is a special allocation to local governments to reduce first trust mortgage interest rates.” [City of Alexandria]

Six ways to celebrate Oktoberfest in Alexandria — “Port City Brewing Company’s Hefeweizen brew is a Bavarian-style wheat hale pouring hazy golden with fluffy white foam, tinged with aromas of clove and spice with a softer note of ripe banana. Pick up a four-pack via curbside pickup or Port City On Demand, or sip at an outdoor table at the West End headquarters.” [Visit Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Showers likely along with a possible rumble of thunder in the morning, then partly cloudy late. High 72F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%… Partly cloudy skies (in the evening). Slight chance of a rain shower. Low 53F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Play expert — “Play Experts provide engaging and educational services to children in their homes. A step above a typical caregiver, our Play Experts are trained in child development as well as positive-behavior systems. They understand the importance of developmentally appropriate and engaging play, as well as consistent structure and boundaries.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria Police have been dispatched to Alexandria City Public Schools three times to respond to students fighting since school started on August 24.

The most recent incident occurred on Tuesday, September 14, just before 1 p.m. at the Alexandria City High School Minnie Howard campus at 3801 West Braddock Road. The student victim was not transported to the hospital.

“The call came from the parent of a juvenile, and was received after the event occurred,” Alexandria Police senior public information officer Amanda Paga told ALXnow. “This is an ongoing investigation involving juveniles.”

ACPS did not comment on the incident.

There have been a number of fights within Alexandria City High School since school started, including a brawl that was filmed by a student during the first week. In the video, security guards and staff are shoved around in the cafeteria of Virginia’s largest high school.

Some say the violence is due to the absence of school resource officers.

The Alexandria City Council voted 4-3 in May to redirect nearly $800,000 in SRO funding toward student mental health resources, a move that was decried by the School Board. The reallocation took away a police presence inside Alexandria City High School, Francis C. Hammond Middle School and George Washington Middle School.

School Board Chair Meagan Alderton says that ACPS and the police department need to get creative in preserving its memorandum of understanding with the police department.

“I think it’s important for our students to have access to our police officers, not just when they’re out in the community,” Alderton told ALXnow. “I do want our police department to stay in touch with our schools. It is an important connection, and I’m sure we can come up with some good ideas.”

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(Updated at 8 p.m. on September 16) Alexandria Police are reporting that the toddlers have been returned to their mother.

“Thanks to the assistance of everyone in the community the toddlers have been returned safely to their rightful custodial parent,” police said on social media.

The twin two-year-olds, Mariah and Bailey Fostion, went missing with their non-custodial father on August 29. No word as to whether the father, John Gaddy III, will face charges.

Via APD/Twitter

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There are dozens of volunteering opportunities in Alexandria.

“We need hundreds of people per week,” Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken told ALXnow. “More people are in need now than ever.”

Here’s Volunteer Alexandria’s list of new and upcoming opportunities.

  • Assist with the Halfway to Saint Patrick’s Day Festival — Help the Ballyshaners celebrate Irish Cultural Heritage on Saturday, September 18 with live music, Irish dancing, food and beverages. Volunteers are needed for 3-hour shifts, starting at 9am and ending around 8pm, to help with set up, entrance and exit monitoring, ID checks, and bartending (must be 21 and older). Click here to sign-up.
  • Crossing guards needed help children get to school and home safely — ACPS need your help getting our kids to and from school safely. Volunteers will control traffic at already designated crosswalks to allow families to cross streets safely to and from school. Times would be 7:15 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. and 2:25 p.m. to 3:05 p.m. at various schools across the city. Click Here to sign-up.
  • Deliver Meals to ACPS School Children — Senior Services of Alexandria is looking for volunteers to support school lunch delivery to families who have children learning virtually this fall. Volunteers are needed to pick up and deliver meals on Mondays and Wednesdays. Car and valid driver’s license required. Click HERE to express interest.
  • Event support needed for Living Legends of Alexandria reception honoring volunteers — Living Legends of Alexandria is seeking volunteers for the event. Tasks may include assisting with live screening set up, crowd control, parking lot assistance for anyone needing help, and much more. The event is at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 30. Click HERE to sign up.
  • Help with a 5K race — Run! Geek! Run! is a 5K race held each year with the proceeds going to the Child and Family Network Centers. Ironisitic is looking for volunteers to help our runners, assist with the water station, support the finish line, register individuals, cheer our runners along on the route, and clean-up after the race on Saturday, September 26. Click Here to sign-up.
  • Kids games and card making for first responders – Join us at Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library on Saturday, September 25 from 10 a.m. to noon to make cards for first responders, police officers, and firefighters. We will also be playing a few games to learn about fire and earthquake safety! Click HERE to sign up.
  • Prepare for a hurricane – Learn how to navigate disasters through an interactive tabletop exercise on Saturday, September 18. Join our Volunteer Reception Center core team that will organize volunteers ready to assist with community recovery efforts after a disaster. To sign up, click HERE.
  • Provide input for Dari and Pashto reading materials – Help translate common city materials and educational pamphlets for incoming Afghan refugees. During this virtual focus group on Wednesday, September 22, 7 – 8 p.m. we will discuss and identify potential needs and resources for refugees, identify reading materials that could be translated, and how to have them translated and then disseminated into
    the community. To sign up, click HERE.
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Kristin Carpenter’s services are in demand.

This month, she and her team opened The Linder Academy at the corner of S. Washington and Gibbon Streets in Old Town, joining their smaller McLean location, which opened in January.

Right now, she’s got 24 students in McLean and 52 at the Alexandria campus, and when the latter is built out it will have 13 classrooms and be able to hold just over 100 students.

“I never thought I would want to run a private school,” Carpenter told ALXnow. “But as a research specialist and a teacher, it was nice that there was no bureaucracy and we could just teach the kids. We don’t have curriculum contracts, so we could just pick the best materials and the best methods and teach with super small class sizes and problem-based learning — things that just aren’t options at big schools, and we really had a great time with it.”

Still under construction, the Old Town school is located at 601, 607 and 609 S. Washington Street and 710 Gibbon Street. New murals of famous authors and civil rights icons with quotes have been painted on the exterior walls to show the essence of the school’s philosophy.

Carpenter launched Linder Educational Coaching in Arlington in 2008, and focused mainly on interventions outside of school with tutoring and after-school programs.

“But when COVID hit, we just realized there were a lot of parents that needed support,” she said. “My biggest concern was early childhood literacy. Even with the best teacher in the world, you’re just not going to learn on an iPad.”

The school, which costs more than $28,000 a year in tuition, specializes in working with students who struggle with learning disabilities and traditional school settings. Children spend the early part of the day with the most cognitively demanding classes, like math and English, and they day becomes less regulated in the afternoon for electives.

There are six-t0-nine students in each class, Carpenter said.

“I would say weaknesses in social skills is one of the biggest things that we are seeing,” she said. “Outside of that, I think overall that their writing skills are very weak, and that wasn’t helped by being able to type or do voice-to-text this past school year. You know, the actual act of being able to write is important.”

Carpenter said she had no plans to open additional schools in the future.

“God, no,” she said. “I can’t think about it right now. I’m very tired. I just want to sleep for years.”

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