Sending Your Kids to the Right School in 2014 (Editor’s Letter)

A word from Hudson Valley Editor in Chief, Olivia J. Abel

Later on this year, my daughter will begin full-day kindergarten in the City of Beacon public schools. Like countless parents through the years, I will likely mark this major milestone with a new book bag, lots of photos, and more than a few tears. I expect that I will have all the normal anxieties floating around in my head: How will she manage — both academically and socially — as she begins her formal education?

Still, one thing that previous generations of parents did not have to face is the new “Race to the Top” state and national initiatives that, apparently, require standardized tests for kindergartners in their first few months of school. Yes, kindergartners! Of course the vociferous debate over the “Race to the Top” continues to dominate media headlines. Not really sure exactly what it is all about? As part of our education cover story, we clarify what this initiative means to public schools in the Hudson Valley — and which local school districts have opted out.

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In our education package we also cover a range of innovative local programs and professionals — at both public and private schools — that are helping high school students succeed and prepare for college. Did you know that the Millbrook School houses the only zoo in the country found on a high school campus? There, students have the one-of-a-kind opportunity to work directly with wildlife on a regular basis. Another interesting trend is the change in the study of foreign languages. When I was growing up in Westchester County, there was only French and Spanish to choose from. Language studies began in the seventh grade, and virtually everyone I knew studied French. While I continued studying French throughout college (it was one of my two minors), once I got out into the real world I sometimes wished that I had opted for Spanish instead; it is simply more useful. With an eye on the global economy, some local students nowadays are lucky enough to be able to study Mandarin in high school, or even, in some cases, in lower grades. For example, the Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School in Croton-on-Hudson offers Mandarin for students in grades five through eight. I will certainly encourage my daughter to learn a foreign language — maybe even two!

Naturally, before I send my daughter off to school each day I want to ensure that she has had a good breakfast that packs a powerful nutritional punch. But that is just one of the reasons that I am completely obsessed with oatmeal. I grew up eating lots of oatmeal, although in my house we called it porridge, thanks to my British mom. It was pretty simple stuff back then; we used Quaker Oats, and I don’t recall putting anything in them except a splash of milk or cream and a little bit of sugar. But it was creamy and warm and I was always happy to have it, at least during the winter months.

But these days, I am certainly not the only one obsessed with oatmeal. Everyone now knows just how good oats really are for you, and the steel-cut variety — the favorite du jour — is helping to convert a whole new generation of oatmeal enthusiasts. Steel-cut oats are chunkier than the traditional rolled oats that most of us grew up with and really do make for a completely new dining experience. But the main reason I love oatmeal so much is that I can stuff it full of other wonderful, healthy ingredients — and my daughter happily eats it all up. While she loves her dried cranberries, and likes to pour them in by herself, she doesn’t need to know that I’m putting flax seed powder, chia seeds, walnuts, and a host of other good-for-you goodies in there too.

We tell you about the world’s first oatmeal bar in Manhattan (road trip!), while the owner fills us in on all the different ways you can make a delicious bowl of oatmeal — for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Forget about sowing your wild oats — it’s time to eat your wild oats instead.


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Olivia J. Abel
Editor In Chief

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teacher lisa reeceWarwick Valley High School science teacher Lisa Reece is just one of many making waves in education nowadays
Photograph by Ken Gabrielsen

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