OLSAT upon us

We are now knee deep in OLSAT / BSRA testing.  Parents are emailing/texting me that they are ill on the appointed day from all of the stress – ready to vomit.  I have a few words of advice – Chill Out! Drink a scotch or do whatever it takes to  keep the stress inside you and away from your child. They are only going to meet a teacher to show them what 4 year olds know.

We had our own little crisis on testing day! Our daughter’s test was on the Lower East Side. We were greeted by a male security guard that told us we should be going to school in our own neighborhood – not there. This made my daughter upset, asking us why they don’t want us – she did not feel welcome to say the least. While waiting, we saw many parents faced with the dilemma of asking to make sure the teacher giving the test spoke some resemblance of English (many teachers did not have this gift of language skill at our location) – we did the same and felt on guard because of this request.  Instead, they gave us a person,  sadly, crippled with an affliction that was scary to our 4 yr. old child. While we can all understand wanting to be politically correct, this is not the time to introduce your child to the unfairness of physical impairments.  A child with no separation issues suddenly began to cling to her mother even as this person promised lollipops afterward – straight out of a witches story in my daughter’s mind. We were forced to ask for a replacement and met with consternation. Another person finally came out asking for my daughter and abruptly took her out of the waiting area. With my stomach in knots, I could only imagine what could happen next?

A friend had told us that a week ago, she was upset that her child had come out from the testing after only 25 minutes. She asked if her child had finished all of the exam and was given the standard reply that it is impossible for the teacher to skip anything, so of course the child had finished. This mother insisted that they check the exam – which they did – to find that indeed, two pages had been skipped over. The only thing this mother could tell us about her testing experience is that if your child comes out sooner than 35 – 40 minutes, then make sure the test was completed. For the most-part, the teachers giving this exam are not well trained and do not care that their input affects the future of the child entrusted to them.  So what happens next to us? … our child comes out after 25 minutes!  … complaining that there are no lollipops!

1. Stay calm, no matter the opposition you face

2. Keep your child free and clear of the stress you feel

3. Bring two books; one to read to your child and then one for yourself

4. Tell your child to show the teacher how smart a 4 yr. old can be

5. Bribes can’t hurt this one time – so promise a treat (lollipop?) afterward


A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with One Step…

I have been a member of the Wall Street community for over 15 years. A past member of the American Stock Exchange, trading equity and fixed income derivatives for clients and my own account. I co-founded an investment strategy research group called The Alpha Generation (www.thealphageneration.com). I privately coach Wall Street traders to help them stay on top of their game and to help them master the risk – reward scenario.

I have been involved in educational research from the time I was a graduate student working on my M.A. in Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, until today, helping children navigate the gifted and talented programs of New York.

My journey began many years ago, when my youngest brother showed signs of “special” talent. He could read at 3, taught himself Spanish at 4 and to play the piano by 6. He entered kindergarten and was labeled a trouble maker by first grade. He explained, to anyone who would listen, that school was boring. Our family did not know what to do. He was finally tested in third grade and moved into a special program 3 days a week. It was too late. He had already lost 4 years of motivation and viewed school as dull and unfulfilling. Over time, seeing my family’s disappointment in our educational system, I studied the academic research on “giftedness” and learning challenges for children. I saw the potential to apply these strategies as well as solutions for the problems of ADD (attention deficit disorder)to dilemmas affecting “adult” life challenges. I eventually used the literature to develop motivational strategies that I applied to my trading business. Trading is laden with disappointment and fertile ground for individuals in need of motivation. This approach proved to be successful and left me wondering what other problems could be solved in this manner.

This brings us to the present day. I now have children ranging from preschool to college and one presently in a G&T program in NYC. I almost lost this child to the boredom of the NYC school system. I applied the motivational program for traders to her. It was fun. She loved it and loved the challenge the program created. As a father to this pre-tween girl and having been through this process with a son a few years ago, I understand the challenge facing us as parents to help them balance their educational needs with those of being apart of the rest of the world. I mean, Miley Cyrus needs fans, right? They are growing up in an entirely different world than we faced or our parents dealt with when raising us. Being able to rely on our schools, whether public or private, to educate our children is a fictional story we read long ago. Which brings me to the reason I started this blog and this company. We are sharing this program with others to motivate them to seek success. I believe we need to give our children the best education possible for their skill set. The answer starts with us, as parents, to keep them motivated and to eliminate the negative thoughts that prevent them from reaching their potential. I am very passionate about this curriculum to motivate youth to reach that potential. I will be writing about some of my findings and thoughts on the challenges of educating our children that can help us all excel in life. I am a life long researcher on how we can use education to advance our life’s ambition and I will try to share as much as possible to those of you who care to improve your own lives, as well as those of your children.