The Kids are All Right
- Category: Parenting
- Published on 19 November 2014
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
We recently had a reunion dinner of the "train ladies" from the 7:58 am Metro North train from Scarsdale to Grand Central. When I first moved to Scarsdale I became a part of this informal group of moms who commuted together and formed our own mobile coffee klatch and support group.
Five days a week, we arrived at the platform breathless from the race to make lunches, tell the babysitter who was going where, and put ourselves together in professional attire. On more days than not, one of us would have our skirt hem jammed into the waistband, (rear exposed), had a run in a stocking or realized that we'd left the house wearing shoes from two different pairs! All this before the workday had even begun.
When the train pulled in to the station, we elbowed the men for the seats and jammed in together for a solid 35-minute download on whatever was going on at home. One train lady used the time to apply her make-up, another to munch on an energy bar. My specialty was balancing an uncovered cup of coffee -- that more days than not-- would end up overturned on the floor, sending a stream of hot liquid trickling beneath the seats into someone's briefcase. Conversation focused on the kids, failed tests, scary teachers, bullies and sports team tryouts. As the years passed the discussion about the playground yielded to woes about middle school house placements, advanced math, the SAT's, tutors and finally to college applications.
Through it all, we wondered silently and out loud if our kids were suffering from our absence. It was a commonly held belief that the kids of working moms got the worst teachers as we were not there to buddy up to the principal or "get in good" with our children's current teachers. The same thought applied to the highly competitive youth soccer teams where our kids were often told they didn't make the grade. Were they "on the bubble" and not on the team due to the fact that we were not there to befriend their coaches?
The situation posed daily challenges. When our kids forgot their homework or their lunch – there was often no one at home to bring it to school. So on top of bearing the guilt of not being there to help, grades suffered and stomachs growled. But since we had mortgages, tax payments, camp fees and even our own student loans to pay off there simply was no choice but to buy our monthly passes and keep the trains running.
And then there were the stay-at-home moms who could have helped out but realized their efforts would never be reciprocated. At times they didn't invite our kids into the carpools because when it was our turn to drive, it was the babysitter behind the wheel. On half days, when moms would make plans to take their kids to lunch, our kids were not invited. No one could blame them –the disparities came with the territory.
But getting back to the main question: would there be long-lasting effects for the children of working moms? Would they turn out to be less confident, less successful, or even worse, unhappy?
As I was enjoying dinner with my former train buddies the other night I started to reflect on that question – and inquired about all of their children. As it turns out, for the most part they were doing well, in fact very well. Most had graduated college, or graduate school and were gainfully employed at jobs they actually enjoy. After work they play on teams, play in bands and party hardy. If they lost out in anyway because we worked when they were young, it is difficult to see the impact now.
Though memory has cast a rosy glow on the time my three kids were home, it now seems that perhaps the children accrued some benefit from being children of working moms. They learned self-sufficiency and people skills, as they had to adapt to a series of babysitters who took the place of their moms. When they had a problem with a teacher, they couldn't call on us to step in so had to find a way to resolve it themselves. Maybe they also saw that work had its rewards and modeled their own professional aspirations on their parents' success. Whatever the reasons, as parents, our decision to work does not appear to have adversely affected our children's lives.
I asked a few of the "train moms" for their thoughts on this issue and here is what they said:
"It was quite the challenge jugging motherhood with a demanding career. And certainly, I had moments when I ruminated on whether my absence from the girls was harmful to them in any way. I simply didn't know. There were no studies, no longitudinal data surrounding this issue. We were on uncharted ground. Here's what I know now. I have two, healthy, loving children, each prospering in their respective careers. They have made it clear that my path influenced theirs, for which they are grateful. So am I." (P.N.)
"My working gave my son and daughter the freedom to develop their individuality without worrying about my reactions to their missteps. Had I been a stay at home mom I would have been overly invested in my children's every action. This would not have been good for my kids or me. So my job gave us the distance we needed to develop and maintain our authentic selves." (M.F.)
"Finding work/life balance is essential. My sons understood that my career was part of who I am and respected me for it. They knew what I was working on and showed interest in it. Over time, they had as many opinions about my projects as I had about their homework. What worked for my family was spending a lot of time together – both quality time and just time." (A.S.)
"There are many paths to happiness. We chose the one that was right for our family. My work has always been an important part of who I am. When you feel good about what you do and what you have accomplished your kids feel it and flourish. Oh, and having a great husband and babysitter doesn't hurt either." (S.D.)
Of course this is not a scientific study and the sample size is not statistically significant. But anecdotally, it does appear that the children of the working parents are thriving along with their friends whose mothers were home. All of us might tend to congratulate ourselves and we did. After all those frenzied train trips, moments of apprehension and panic, we can now safely say the kids are all right.
Joanne Wallenstein is the Publisher of Scarsdale10583.com and a former train lady who worked in the city when her kids were at home – and now works at home while her kids work in the city.
Petra: The New Greek Restaurant in Scarsdale
- Category: Local Finds
- Published on 20 November 2014
- Written by Cynthia Roberts
My Greek grandmothers are cooking for Scarsdale. Or at least when I closed my eyes during dinner at Petra I imagined they were.
If you have traveled to Greece you will be transported back to the Aegean Islands via your fork. This is authentic Greek food. A wide variety of hot mezedes (appetizers) include keftedakia (spiced meatballs), saganaki (flamed Greek cheese), and steamed mussels with garlic, wine and cheese. Charcoal grilled octopus is my personal gage of quality in a Greek restaurant and it was perfect--tender with a light charring.
Cold mezedes include creamy tzatsiki the classic yogurt, fresh dill and cucumber dip served with grilled pita bread, dolmadakia (grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs), and a roasted eggplant garlic and spice dip, among many others. While there are six lovely salads on the menu from which to choose, we enjoyed the Petra house special salad-a traditional Greek salad of vine ripe tomatoes, cucumbers and feta amended with grilled zucchini, peppers and onions.
Having opened only a few weeks ago, dinner time is already busy at Petra.
My mother chatted in Greek with Mike, the head waiter and charming Zorba look-a-like, who made us feel right at home.
We shared a plate of mousaka, a hearty dish for a cold night. The eggplant and meat filling were topped with a lightly browned, yet fluffy béchamel topping. Having attempted mousaka at home, I know the topping is the challenge. The grilled baby lamb chops were cooked to order and tasty. My husband insisted on trying the grilled jumbo shrimp marinated in lemon, garlic and olive oil and we were all happy that he did.
We spoke with friendly co-owner Philip Varis who hopes that families will come to Petra. While the menu has all of the traditional Greek foods many of which are kid-friendly, they also offer a $6.95 hamburger.
We couldn't resist tasting a homemade dessert. The karidopita, a walnut cake, had just enough honey syrup to moisten, yet not overpower the taste and texture.
We look forward to working our way through the menu and especially want to try the homemade loukoumades (fresh Greek donuts), a favorite of the children of all ages in my extended Greek family.
I hope you enjoy Petra as much as we did.
Petra is located at 66 Garth Road directly across the street from the Repertoire Dance Shop. To help commuters rushing home from the train they provide both take-out and a clever curbside pick-up so you don't have to park. Delivery will be offered shortly and they are awaiting their liquor license.
Phone: (914) 874-5674
Library Invites You to Share Your Story
- Category: People
- Published on 19 November 2014
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
Most people come to the Scarsdale Public Library to learn about people, places and things or to get a good book. Now, the library wants to hear your stories and learn about your library experiences as it embarks on a Story Project this month. The Scarsdale Library Story Project will explore the role the Scarsdale Library plays in the life of residents. The interviews with photos will be part of an exhibition about the library and its role in the community in the Scott Room in January.
Patrons are invited to come in for a brief 10-15 minute interview with a librarian and tell us about the connection the library has to them and their family or relate any human interest or funny experience. Did you come to children's programs as a child and now bring your own son or daughter. What is that experience like? Did a librarian assist you with a tough to research term paper? Did you come as a family to films or other programs? Was the library a haven during Super Storm Sandy? Tell us about your experiences or just the joy of coming to the Dickinson Room and sitting down with a favorite mystery author on a cold winter's afternoon.
"This is an exciting program inspired by the national oral history project StoryCorps," said Michelle Lichtenberg, Library Board President. "It is an opportunity to discuss the role the library plays in our lives and for those who read the brief profiles to share the experiences. Don't be shy."
Interviews will be held at the library from Thursday, November 20, thru Saturday, November 22, during library hours. For more information and to schedule an appointment, contact the Reference Desk at 722-1302.
"We're here to listen," Lichtenberg said.
Center for Innovation Wows Board with Design Thinking and Game Based Learning Initiatives
- Category: Neighborhood News
- Published on 19 November 2014
- Written by Melissa Hellman
What makes the Scarsdale educational experience so exceptional? There are many elements that comprise Scarsdale's success and the recent addition of the Scarsdale Center for Innovation (CFI) is an important ingredient. Within the CFI construct are incredible examples of our district's administrative leadership, passion and engagement of our teachers and collaboration among all the various parties required to make innovative changes within a public school district.
At the November 17 Board of Education work session, Lynne Shain, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction/Co-Director, The Center for Innovation and Jerry Crisci, Director of Technology/Co-Director, The Center for Innovation presented a progress report highlighting several CFI projects that have had impact in the classroom.
CFI was founded three years ago with the following mission statement:
In order to be better prepared for the future, Scarsdale graduates must:
• Think critically and creatively in order to solve complex, non-standard problems
• Understand their role in an interdependent world
• Use evolving technologies for research, communication, and innovation
The Center is focused on reimagining education for all students. It is empowered to develop, nurture, and provide feedback for innovative ideas relating to teaching and learning. The Center links educators throughout the community to develop, test and implement, and evaluate innovative ideas and methodologies in order to imagine a future that has yet to be invented. By focusing on large-scale educational change and partnering with members of our community, CFI intends to demonstrate how public education can be transformed to prepare students for the future.
CFI projects are being implemented in all grades and schools throughout Scarsdale. One of the examples presented on Monday evening was the use of "game-based learning" at the Middle School. Research shows that play stimulates the tenacity and persistence required for effective learning. Games give players permission to take risks that would not be permitted in a traditional academic setting, and inspire students to create, share, mix, modify, curate, critique, and comment on content to which they might otherwise be indifferent. Game-based learning includes group work, interaction and a high degree of student engagement. This approach was contrasted against the idea of a teacher standing in front the classroom providing information. SMS Librarian Sharon Waskow and SMS Social Studies Teacher Meghan Troy led the members of the Board of Education through a lesson that was used in class this year. The BOE members were tasked with finding the meaning of a political cartoon from the Civil War. They were broken down into teams and given the rules of play. Individual players were given playing pieces for wagering on their ideas as well as limited veto powers in case of disagreement. Board members were fully engaged and the audience could easily picture how a group of 7th graders would be very excited to explore history in this fashion.
Christine Boyer a fifth grade teacher at Heathcote, presented another example of innovative teaching. She talked about the concept of Design Thinking (rudimentary definition: design-specific thought processes that designers apply during the process of designing) and applied it to her class rocketry module. Many parents who have had a child attend fifth grade in Scarsdale will remember the rocketry lesson and launch fondly as it is considered a highlight of the fiifth grade year. In the past, students were given very specific instructions about how to build the rocket and each student came to school with an identical rocket. Instead, Ms. Boyer provided students with design parameters so that the rockets would launch, but let the students use their creativity to make them. No two rockets were alike. Another change was that instead of just one launch where some rockets worked better than others, students had the opportunity to evaluate the results of the initial launch and make modifications for improved outcomes at a second launch. Finally, the students created animated books to document their processes. Ms. Boyer wrote "These books represent their learning, not only of rocketry, but of non-fiction narrative writing, the writing process, design thinking and Google presentations." Click here to see the student's books:
A third example of innovation was provided in a short video of Edgewood kindergarten school students learning about circuits with music and art. If you do not watch any other piece of the presentation, find three minutes to watch this inspiring video! Go to the Board of Education Video-on-Demand site and watch at 0:49:41 "A Short Maker Movie" at :49:41 minutes.
Other schools districts in the U.S. and abroad are using Scarsdale as a model for creating their own Centers for Innovation. Shain and Crisci stated that they are inundated with tour requests from other schools.
The Board of Education members and audience were impressed by the passion and creativity on display. It was evident that CTI sets Scarsdale apart as a leader in educational innovation.
Bye Bye Birdie On Stage This Weekend at SHS
- Category: Bulletin Board
- Published on 19 November 2014
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
The Scarsdale High School Drama Club will present Bye Bye Birdie this weekend at the SHS auditorium on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 pm and on Sunday at 2 pm.
The show features big and exciting musical numbers including Honestly Sincere, Telephone Hour, Lot of Living, One Last Kiss, and Kids. Director Sarah Robbins has put her heart into the production and will put on a great show.
Choreographer Jason Summers, has been working with the cast on their dance routines while Music Director Jonathan Cuk is leading the cast and orchestra through the show's complex music score. Stage Crew Manager Steve Bogardus and his team have constructed a beautiful set for the show.
Tickets are $15.00 for students and seniors and $20 for adults and are available at the door.