Retirement Thoughts

By Melissa

Everyone has some words of wisdom that they want to impart after 20 or more years of service.  The problem is, sometimes those formations get so long, that no one is listening to you anymore, they’re just thinking about how much their back hurts and waiting to eat.  I have thought a lot over the last several years about what I would say during my retirement speech.  These are in no particular order, because I have ADD.

  • In February of 1997 I came home from Garden City High School, and my dad was waiting for me at the front door.  This was something that never happened, because he worked the afternoon shift at Detroit Diesel.  He had a letter in his hand, and it was from The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps inviting me to audition.  I don’t know if I had ever seen my dad so happy or proud at that time.  My mom brought me home early from a church retreat so I could practice for the audition, and my parents bought me a new fife to use for the audition.  Thank you to my parents for everything you did for me, and I love you so much!
  • Thank you to my friends and coworkers who have helped me through the years, you guys are literally the best.
  • Years ago we had to go to an NCO Induction at Spates Hall, and the guest speaker said something that always resonated with me.  He said, “How in the hell are you going to tell your Soldier to polish his shoes when yours look like shit?”  It’s a great point.  Try not to correct people when your house isn’t clean.
  • On that note, it’s always best to go into scenarios such as the aforementioned NCO Induction or Friday afternoon NCODP’s with an open mind.  Being in FDC, 99% of what the people are saying probably won’t apply to you, but there is always some kind of takeaway.
  • Be wary of taking hope away from your Soldiers.  Once they lose hope in the future of their career and the future of this organization, you’ve lost them forever.
  • Remember as leaders that your Soldiers are first and foremost PEOPLE.  It is important for leaders to think about the “big picture”, but you’ll never get your big picture if one of your Soldiers commits suicide.  Know your people, and when they’re in trouble get them help!  Sometimes you have to stop thinking about the mission for 2 seconds and think about the lives of the people involved.
  • When I joined the unit we were pretty much all E6’s, and it was a beautiful thing.  There were maybe 9 E7’s and 2 E8’s.  Our section leaders were E6’s with more time in service than us.  When we received all of the E7 and E8 rank that we have now, it was also a beautiful thing.  It was good for FDC because we were finally getting recognized as the special band that we were.  However, I somethings think that this was also one of the worst things that ever happened to the unit.  It was so divisive.  This is an organization that used to be one of the most loyal places in the world, and we just don’t have that anymore.  You can see it happening every time a promotion is coming up.  People will push their friends in front of a bus just to look better for the promotion.  But that loyalty is so important.  We can’t be an effective unit if we’re constantly stabbing each other in the back.  So instead of stabbing each other in the back, consider having each other’s backs.
  • In the fife section there are people who have a flute background and people who have a fife background (the “Ancients).  When I came to FDC it was easy to feel superior as an Ancient, because I had already been playing a fife longer than a lot of my peers who had been in the Army longer than me.  However, it is important for Ancients to realize that it is easy for college-trained flute players to feel superior to Ancients, because they have a lot of knowledge about music and professionalism.  I’m here to tell you that no one is superior.  You should all be careful when you are sitting on audition panels that your selections don’t sway too far in one direction.  It should be as close to a 50/50 split as possible, because both Ancients and college-trained flutists bring something necessary to the table, and that is a great thing for the fife group in general.
  • Try not to be too judgmental after promotions.  What is a good leader?  Everyone has their idea of what a good leader is, and the common idea in FDC has been a very specific leader type. I would challenge you to think outside that box sometimes.  If everyone who got promoted in this unit had the same leadership style, what a huge weakness that would be.  There are leaders in this unit who meet the common ideal of leadership perfectly. They have their shit together, they are organized and professional at all times, they always know where their people are and what is best for the group.  I would challenge you to think outside the box.  Just as the fife group thrives with fifers from different performance backgrounds, the corps thrives with different types of leaders.  We need leaders who are the best musician on the field, but not all leaders are going to be the best.  I remember doing a Pentagon arrival ceremony when Lonnie Johnson pulled me off the bus and asked me to help him play through the new sound off.  He was the best leader I ever had, but he knew who to ask for help in an area of weakness.  Leaders don’t have to be the best at everything!  That’s why you have such a diverse squad, put those Jimmies to use!  Some of your leaders might seem flaky when it comes to running a section, but they might be the best person for the job as far as moral integrity or creativity.  This unit is amazing and hires amazing people, and we’re all different, and that’s ok.  Stop worrying about becoming a Stepford Wife for promotion, and start celebrating your differences and taking advantage of each other’s strengths.  Support each other through your weaknesses (this goes back to loyalty and not stabbing each other in the back).
  • When I joined the corps, they were concerned with hiring better musicians.  A lot of the old timers were “school of music dropouts”, and they wanted a new caliber.  Those “dropouts” were some of the best marchers I’ve ever had the pleasure of performing with, and I learned a lot from them.  Additionally, they were a far cry better from the infantrymen and draft dodgers who made up FDC before them.  That’s the point.  If we’re doing our job properly, we’re going to continue to hire and train people who are better than us.  When today’s old timers were younger, we were among the best musicians.  However, we did nothing but honor and respect those old timers who trained us.  If we had disrespected our “elders” (so to speak) then we would only be training the newer generations to do the same thing to us.  The corps gets better and better with every audition, and if you’re doing your jobs the way you should, it will continue to do so.
  • Pro tip:  Add a contact into your phone called “Driver” and whenever you’re NCOIC of a mission change the phone number to the driver’s number.  Then when you’re done with the mission, you’ll always be able to reach the driver.
  • Be kind to one another, because sometimes your buddies at FDC are the only friends you’ve got.
  • THE absolute hardest part about working in FDC is watching your best friends leave year after year.  I’m sorry to all of the new people who I haven’t allowed myself to get to know, but I really just couldn’t take that much loss anymore!  When Teddy left in 2001, it was so difficult.  My friend was retiring!  After that, it was a series of difficult losses.  Saying goodbye to Andrea, Susan Brockman, Lonnie, Glen, Cece, Rich-a part of me died each time.  I call it the “Circle of Fife”.  But I will tell you, it is almost like a death.  The friendships are NEVER the same once someone leaves the corps.  I only hope I can maintain my relationship with John once I retire (haha!)
  • Speaking of loss, I loved Susan Moser.  Sometimes we fought at work and sometimes we had our differences, but she had my back during a time when my friends at FDC were the only friends I had (see above).  I will forever be thankful to her for helping me through that difficult time (and then some), and she will be a part of my heart forever.
  • When Karl Sauter retired, he said that he gave the best years of his life to the Army.  This is true.  When I was 18 I used to be able to do a Special GO ceremony after a can of Dr. Pepper and some Cheetos for lunch.  Can you imagine feeling that good? Take care of your bodies, because this job is physically demanding.  If you’re sick or hurt, go to the doctor.  Don’t ‘walk it off’ because that makes you look tough.
  • Try not to discount (all) new ideas from new people.  It is true, there are times that they will come up with a “brilliant” idea that has been tried, tested, and failed already, but that is not to say that they don’t come up with winners.  Was it Jeb or Dave Loyal (or a combination of the two) who came up with a better way of doing flags in than we’ve been doing for decades prior?  We never thought there might be an easier way to do it, we just did it the old hand-blistering way because that’s the way it’s always been done.
  • Don’t agree with the President?  Doesn’t matter.  He’s your president.  Respect the office if not the man himself.  Same goes for your entire chain of command.
  • There are some of you that I really wish I got to serve with longer, because I think we could have had such fun back in the day.  Frankie Frank, Casey, Brooke Stevens, Brian Hublar-you guys are fun, keep at it!
  • Try not to let your passion for this job overcome your passion for life.  If you learn anything from me at all, learn from my mistakes.  When I was a kid I had a poster of TOG FDC hanging over my bed because it was a dream for me to come here.  I wanted to look at my goal every night before I closed my eyes.  The corps was the last thing I looked at at night and the first thing I saw in the morning.  I got here and I lived it.  I gave 200% of myself to this organization, but it really isn’t healthy.  When you are giving that much of yourself to something else, there is nothing left over for anything or anyone, including yourself.  I shut down almost completely, and lost my will to live.  John came home and found me laying down in the shower, where I had been for hours unable to get up.  I wasn’t eating or sleeping, and I lost about 10 lbs in a week.  I ended up admitted into the hospital for extreme anxiety and major depressive episode.  After going through a long outpatient treatment, I almost became the polar opposite of myself and started giving 200% of myself to my family.  And let me tell you, after the way I treated them before I was lucky that I still had them.  Before, they came second always.  There was never a question.  I am so blessed that my family is still by my side.  But I think in order to be successful here, you can’t let yourself sway too far in either direction.  I guess the theme here is balance.
  • Go to school.  How lucky am I that the Army paid for me to get a Bachelor Degree?  Go to school!  Make it a priority.
  • If you think that you’re too good to make a mistake, then you have primed yourself to make a mistake.  One time we were doing a ceremony and when we rounded that last turn before the chute and started marking time, I was feeling great.  When the drum major came up with the stick and we started half stepping, I felt even better.  I was on top of the world!  Then I came up with TUSAB’s 7-count…
  • When I got here the corps was made up of two corps, Corps I and Corps II.  I was in Corps II at first, and then the whole fife group moved to Corps I.  I’ve always served in building 231.  There were no awnings over the seats on Summerall Field.  We played a McDonaugh 11-Hole fife, and later a Cooperman Concert 10-Hole before switching to the Healy.  The fire station was next to Caisson, and we didn’t have cell phones.  After a few years I got a pager, haha!  C-Hall was covered in homasote and repainted blue maybe monthly.  We used to march with a 5-man front in ceremonies indoors and out.  The fife and drum corps completely changed after 9/11.  Before that, we were a peacetime Army.  When I joined the Army, I joined under the “Be all that you can be” slogan.  Since then, I’ve seen “Army of One”, “Army Strong”, and whatever else.  When I first saw the corps perform in 1989, it was a Twilight Tattoo ceremony on the ellipse in DC.  They sang, “When we were needed, we were there.”  I was disappointed that they don’t have that song in Twilight this year.  The daycare center and library used to be in that field where the TUSAB building is allegedly going to be built.  My first barracks room was in a building that doesn’t exist anymore, and is now the education center/library.  They used to make fresh waffles with a waffle iron every day to order at the chow hall, and they were the whip.  Delta Company used to have an actual dog that lived at their company.  He was dirty and kind of gross, but very sweet.  If I had a dime for every time we watched “Tombstone”, “Face Off”, and “Con Air” in the bus, I’d be rich.  When I got here, Spirit of America was on hiatus.  It came back around 2000, and we did it at the MCI (now Verizon) Center, and they did a horse show with the caisson horses which was incredible, with figure 8’s and all kind of stuff.  After their show, they had a couple of Jimmies came out dressed like clowns to clean up the poo, with crazy music playing like Yakkety Sax or something, and after that got the crowd pumped, FDC came out and did our show.  Interesting career bookend:  doing Staff Duty at the beginning and the end of my career.  We used to submit our Sergeant’s Time schedule to the Regimental Sergeant Major so he could go around post and make sure we were where we said we would be doing what we said we’d be doing.  We spent a lot of time in our super secret hiding places down at the bottom of the hill and in Rollo’s van.
  • If you know me, you know that I have a lot more to say, but I’m trying to get out the door for my last DA ceremony ever.
  • I love John and my girls more than I can even say.  Thank you for being mine.

Source: Melissa  

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Portfolio School

By Yuanjing

Portfolio School actively engages students in intellectual inquiry and creative design. Immersed in collaborative, interdisciplinary project-based learning, high quality academics, and thoughtful self-reflection, Portfolio students delve into the sciences and humanities, literature and math, technology and the arts, not just as memorizers, but as thinkers and creators.

In Portfolio School’s website, there is a Project-based Learning video which reminds me of the two papers I read before: Brown, A. L., & Campione, J. C. (1996). Psychological theory and the design of innovative learning environments: On procedures, principles, and systems and

Bruckman, A. (2000). Situated Support for Learning: Storm’s Weekend with Rachael

I am especially fascinated by the magic happened over the weekend in MOOSE. Reading Bruckman’s 2000 paper is like reading a beautiful story. Isn’t Storm and Rachel lucky to meet each other? The project they built are fun and the description they write are amazing. I have read some research about how online Massive Player Game (Minecraft, Quest Atlantis) can be used for learning. But none of the paper touched me so deeply as this one. 

After I finish reading the paper, I realize that it is too good to be replicated 100%, which is mentioned by the author too. This paper does not intend to be something that can be generalizable but is a in depth record of a unique case. In reality, it is pretty be hard to find a person “with whom the learner has a positive personal relationship, ubiquitously available, richly connected to other sources of support, and richly connected to everyday activities.” 

However, this paper still has generalizable parts that can be taken away and be useful in many settings.

Above all, Storm’s multiple sources of learning is enlightening. In the paper, Storm learned from the system’s tutorial, her own trail and error, other’s project, and support from peers. In 2017, we should effectively utilize different learning source. 

Secondly, when designing learning systems, we should try to adopt the “HTML leaning model on WWW” by making the source of knowledge sound friendly, ubiquitously available, richly connected to other sources of support, and richly connected to routine activities.

I think great teachers, researchers, together with the development of technology can help us design better learning communities, which can probably one-day transform education drastically (like what MOOC is trying to do).

Source: Yuan Jing  

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Entrepreneurship education needed in China

By Yuanjing

Entrepreneurship education seeks to provide students with the knowledge, skills and motivation to encourage entrepreneurial success in a variety of settings.

Variations of entrepreneurship education are offered at all levels of schooling from primary or secondary schools through graduate university programs.

Many countries in the west have pinned their hopes on start-ups and family-run enterprises to help kick-start the economy. China is no exception. Indeed, it was China’s Premier Li Keqiang, who recently pledged more policies to encourage entrepreneurial activity and support start-up business across China. In particular, the premier promised more effective support for student entrepreneurs facing a very difficult employment market in China. Creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship are considered key to easing the mounting job-search worries of China’s university graduates. Yet entrepreneurship education remains a relatively new concept and practice, particularly in China’s university sector. Currently, precious few hold academic entrepreneurship titles in China and fewer still have experienced an entrepreneurship education.

The fact that entrepreneurship education in China is a relatively new concept comes as no surprise. The first MBA programme at a mainland Chinese university, Tsinghua, was not launched until 1991 and it was not until the mid-1990s that regular exchange programmes with leading US and European business schools began to emerge.

Furthermore, traditional Chinese culture, still influenced significantly by Confucian values such as “obedience”, “respect for authority” and above all “emotional control”, is not naturally compatible with typical entrepreneurial values. In addition, China’s education system, a product of Confucian values, is also incompatible with the approach needed for effective entrepreneurship education.

So what is the way forward for Chinese universities and business schools and the teaching of entrepreneurship?

Recent research points to the significant impact that good entrepreneurship education can make towards entrepreneurial success and the promotion of an entrepreneurial culture. Hence the plethora of entrepreneurship academics and academic programmes at UK and US universities. A mainstay of many of the more successful entrepreneurship programmes at business schools around the world is the involvement of successful entrepreneurs from various business backgrounds whose business careers provide an invaluable part of any university student’s entrepreneurship education.

Contrary to popular myth China’s economic miracle has not been driven solely by state capitalism and the might of China’s mega-sized, state-owned enterprises. Entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial flair have also contributed significantly to China’s spectacular economic transformation since the start of China’s Open Door policy in the late 1970s. Prime examples of the most successful entrepreneurs are Jack Ma (Alibaba), Ma Huateng (Tencent), Robin Li (Baidu), and Lei Jun (Xiaomi smartphones). However, none of these individuals appear to feature in the promotion and implementation of Chinese universities’ emerging entrepreneurship programmes.

China’s business schools need to adopt the tactics of their western counterparts and have entrepreneurs in residence and start-up laboratories so that students can experience at first hand lessons in entrepreneurship.

Although China may have arrived late to the table when it comes to entrepreneurship education, it may provide the country with a key advantage. In more developed nations entrepreneurship education is often still very much a “bolt on” to existing business and management courses.

In China, where entrepreneurship education is still very much in its infancy, Chinese universities have a real opportunity to construct programmes that include input not only from typical business school academic areas such as finance and marketing, but also from the social sciences such as psychology and sociology.

It is also vital for Chinese universities to appreciate the importance of a localised approach to entrepreneurship education where course development should be built around national and regional cultures.

Educating tomorrow’s entrepreneurs must also involve constant reference to and discussion of specific national and regional cultural environments. Entrepreneurial success in the US will not be repeated easily in China without an acute insight into many aspects of Chinese consumer culture.

Now it the time to launch cross-faculty entrepreneurship education at Chinese universities. It is the year of the horse BUT budding Chinese entrepreneurs will only learn to gallop under the whip of China’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Source: Yuan Jing  

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Multifunctional Mathematical Mastery Desk

By Yuanjing

At early semester, we designed a math room for student to have a better math learning environment. Through the semester, I’m thinking about why we don’t have a specific math desk in a math studying room?

Therefore, I think about to design a math desk for middle school students.

The instructional product I designed, 3M Smart Desk, is a multifunctional mathematical mastery desk for middle school students to use in a classroom setting. It’s an integration of school desk and math-learning tools. It has a removable white-board surface which serves as an erasable scratch paper for drawing graphs, charts, creating models and calculating. Under the surface, there is a working section with scale lines printed on, and hidden storage sections which contain the calculator, ruler, protractor, compass and other geometric tools, markers, and pencils. It is also a height-adjustable mobile workstation as locking castors are under the desk. This desk is designed to improve and motivate effective and efficient math learning.

This Multifunctional Mathematical Mastery Desk is designed for middle school students, aged between 11-13, in a departmentalized-instruction classroom setting, in NYC Public Schools. Students of these ages, are experiencing social, emotional, and metacognitive growth. And there is a huge number of language learners, such as immigrants and refugees in New York’s public school systems. They require more developmentally appropriate practices and instructions, to achieve an engaged, independent learning, with self-accessible learning tools, as they are developing their social identity, which, according to Erik Erikson (1968) is psychologically the central task of adolescence, and academic ability. In public departmentalized-instruction middle schools, students travel to different classrooms for different subjects. In a common classroom, there will be around 25 students, sitting in their own desks, while the sitting might be arranged in rows or in groups. Students enjoy independent learning interwoven with group working. Math has always been a tough cookie, even anxiety, for American students, especially in middle school. According to the Common Core Mathematics curriculum published by New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), math learning is moving onto a more abstract and advanced stage, compared to elementary curriculum, and it requires more appropriate tools to support math learning.

Source: Yuan Jing  

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LA LA LAND

By Yuanjing

I spent my spring break in Los Angles last week. This was my first time to travel along which was also the best travel experience in my life.

I did a lot of traveling. I went to Hollywood: Hollywood sign and Walk of Fame. I went to Griffins Observatory where was the La La Land shooting location. My friend also rent a car and took me to San Diego. We visited Old Town in San Diego, Kissing Statue, and UCSD.

Because of I have friends who are studying in USC and UCLA. I deeply visited these two schools. UCLA gives me a more academic, quiet and precise impression. However, USC gives me a diversity, socialized, and active impression. Although UCLA’s campus is much huge and safe than USC, I love USC’s learning environment more. The key decision about the USC is better than UCLA in my opinion is because of there is a huge live screen in USC’s communication and journalism department. As a communication major student, I was so excited when I saw this. And then, my friend as a host interviewed me some thought of USC. This is so cool. I think this technology definitely helps lots of students who wants to be a host or a journalist. No one is prefect good at something. We all need to practice again and again.

IMG_5266 (Click the link to watch my interview)

There is widespread opinion that technology is neutral. How to manage the technologies to improve students’ learning skills in a appropriate way is an important course in nowadays. How to use technologies to motivate students’ potential is also worth to discover.

Source: Yuan Jing  

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Why MakerSpace?

By Yuanjing

Two weeks ago, we visited a makerspace very close to school and discovered variety kinds of tools and technologies. This was my first time to visit a makerspace. Schools in China don’t have don’t have makerspace in most cases. To play in a makerspace costs money to some extent, some of families can’t afford their children to go to the makerspace to create something by their creative. Having a makerspace in schools is a necessary and helpful thing to help those children who do not have chance to access the makerspace. “The maker education approach to learning is highly individual yet lives within certain boundaries. It recognizes that no two students will learn the same concepts at the same rate. It even recognizes that some peripheral concepts may not be learned by all students. Yet students faced with a common challenge to design their own unique solutions will naturally come to some common understanding” (Kurti, Kurti, & Fleming, 2014, para 4).

The makerspace in a school could be in the library, a designated room, or part of a classroom. Setting aside a dedicated makerspace in a school, demonstrates for students that using this area for creating, making, tinkering, and exploring is a valued practice that is available for them.

Why we need a makerspace in schools? Here are some my opinions:

Makerspaces provide creative time and, well, space for people of all ages to build prototypes, explore questions, fail and retry, bounce ideas off one another and build something together. These spaces don’t always include technology, since some prototypes and designs can be built out of anything or may include various stages of design that move from analog to digital and back again, but many do include technology.

Makerspaces can be the spot that encourages a whole new generation of creative minds to explore and solve the big problems. It gives students a chance to see what they can do when they aren’t limited by four multiple choice answers. Creativity is a valuable resource — and a makerspace is the perfect tool to enhance and harness it.

Source: Yuan Jing  

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To be a pilot

By Yuanjing

Unforgettable Experience

I know a lots of people wants to be a pilot, especially males. I had no interesting on plane and never thought about flying a airplane by myself. However, last Friday, one of my friend told me there was a Columbia Sky Club they

Source: Yuan Jing  

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Final Project

By Chris Grau

Welcome! First off, I’d just like to say thank you for an incredible semester. It’s been a lot of work but with the amount of new skills I’m walking away with, it’s certainly been well worth it. Heads up, the layout of my final project is set up in the left-hand menu bar to be navigated through from top to bottom, starting with the Introduction and finishing up with the post titled “A Final Word(le) about WWII”. Thanks again and hope to see you all around campus! Now, without further adieu, let’s begin.

WWII Memorial @ Night

Source: Chris  

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Sustainability of Digital Information

By Chris Grau

I suppose growing up in an age where just about any and every piece of information is right at our fingertips has its benefits and downsides. On the one hand, whenever I have a question or (as is the case with my job) need to figure out an on-the-spot excel function tutorial, I can quickly bring up Google and keyboard mash. Sometimes, when I’m feeling witty or trying to make a point, I’ll do this: Let Me Google That for You. Anyway, I suppose my point here is that information is readily available. However, I think we (at least I definitely do) tend to take this ease for granted. What would happen if the power grid was threatened by some form of cyber attack and shut off? How then or where, rather, would we find the means to access all the information we have saved or stored in our computers?. I think the assumption is that what we have now will always be there. After all, how vulnerable are we really? What with all the cyber-attacks taking place lately, I’m starting to think we are far more at risk than ever before.

Source: Chris  

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Charts and Data Mining

By Chris Grau

Here are a few different versions (start to finish versions) of my playing around with text mining on different sites, as well a Google Ngram included in my final project.

WordItOut-word-cloud-1324145

wordle 2

Source: Chris  

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