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Gig: A Book for Students & Parents Curious to Explore Unique Careers

Gig Book coverGig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs, edited by John Bowe, Marisa Bowe, and Sabin Streeter, is a tremendous resource that I wish I’d had as a kid growing up and thinking about what I wanted to be one day. For me, as it is with many people, the job market from my perspective as a high schooler was simply College. It had nothing to do with actual jobs. And when I was queried about what I’d do with my college degree? I’d just shrug and rattle off the usual suspects: teacher, activist, artist, etc.

And, while there’s certainly nothing wrong with this line of thinking or focusing on these (great!) jobs as possible careers, it was an incredibly limited view of the world and all that it can offer young, creative minds.

Thank goodness for books like Gig! Now, we don’t normally plug specific books here, but this one caught our eye as especially useful for both students and parents who may be dreading or just plain avoiding the topic of college majors and job opportunities altogether. This book is one of those rare finds that not only discusses unusual and “usual” jobs, but which actually provides honest (sometimes hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking) first-hand accounts of what it’s like to work these jobs from people who have been working them for years. As soon as I came across this book, I knew it was perfect for both students (of all ages) and parents as a tool to not only expand their thinking of their own potential but of the potential of jobs/careers that are not often thought of or considered desirable (such as long-distance truck driving or hatter work).

But, of course, more than jobs–this is a book of passions. Finding and practicing one’s passion in a career can be hard to accomplish–after all, it’s hard enough to even recognize the face(s) of one’s “true” passion(s) (especially at so early a stage in life as high school or college).  This book includes narratives of some workers who are thrilled with their work and of others who are consistently disappointed in it. What’s most impressive, however, is that these narratives don’t leave things at “I don’t like it” or “It’s great!” These narratives truly explore the ins-and-outs of different careers and why they’d work for some and be nightmares for others. If you’re looking for nuanced views of wild and varied jobs, then this is definitely a book to check out.

Even Ira Glass (the guy with one of the coolest jobs in the U.S. as host of This American Life), raved that Gig was “…surprising and entertaining and makes the world seem like a bigger and more interesting place. Gig manages to document everyday life and give pure narrative pleasure at the same time. One feels proud to live in the same country as the people in this book.”

And, having read the book and felt both relief and envy at the many tales captured within, I couldn’t agree more. In other words, it’s a book that can help students begin learning about careers that require and don’t require college degrees, jobs that could take them all over the world, jobs that they may have misjudged for better or worse, and jobs that they may have never even known existed.

As Andrew Ross, Director of the American Studies Program at New York University, said of Gig: “In the age of advanced spin, this book accomplishes a very rare thing. It actually lets workers speak for themselves. . . . The result makes for a fascinating read.”

So, if you’re having trouble getting your students/kids excited about college or their career potential (or considering a new career move for yourself whether you’re a parent or child), this book is definitely a great way to spark a more nuanced and thoughtful conversation regarding the whole wild craze of career building and job searching.


The Versatile Blogger Award: Spotlighting Innovative Blogs on Tutoring, High School, College, Studying, and Much More!


We are very honored to announce that we’ve recently been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by Writing Reconsidered!

For those of you who don’t know the details of the VBA, allow me to borrow some information from the VBA’s About page to further explain:

When you consider nominating a fellow blogger for the Versatile Blogger Award, consider the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the subjects covered, the level of love displayed in the words on the virtual page. Or, of course, the quality of the photographs and the level of love displayed in the taking of them.

Honor those bloggers who bring something special to your life whether every day or only now and then.

The rules of the VBA and how to respond to one’s nomination:

  •  Include a link to the blogger who nominated you.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. (I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award in your post and let them know of their nomination.
  •  Finally, include in your VBA post 7 interesting things about yourself/your blog work.

We are thrilled to have been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award, because it gives us the opportunity to spotlight those blogs and bloggers for you who have thus far impressed us with the quality of their advice and enthusiasm regarding tutoring, school, studying, and so forth. However, we would also like to point out that just because we have decided to nominate these blogs for the VBA does not in any way mean that we endorse or agree with all of their opinions, ideas, advice, and/or articles.

Now, on with the nominees!

Ready for the big reveal? Our nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award are:

1. The Ridgewood Tutor

National Board Certified and state certified by NJ and NY,  I’ve had 10 years teaching experience full-time in the classrooms of middle and high schools.  At the same time, I’ve been tutoring for over 15 years.  I have a Masters in Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University.  I’m currently specializing in mastering the art of SAT Jedi instruction.

I grew up in Ridgewood and graduated from RHS.  My husband and I wanted to raise a family in my hometown, so in 2011, we moved back with our two pre-schoolers.  At that point I took my education career in a new direction with “The Ridgewood Tutor”.

2. Saint Mary’s University: The Writing Centre

The Saint Mary’s University’s writing centre (Halifax) provides free academic support for students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

We offer in-person, one-on-one tutoring, as well as workshops, in-class presentations, and online support.

3. Science Questions with Surprising Answers

SQSA is a terrific blog wherein Dr. C.S. Baird, a physics researcher and instructor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, takes in your science questions (whether in biology, physics, earth science, health, space, society, or chemistry), and provides considered and thoughtful answers that any layman could understand. It’s a truly fascinating and useful resource for students and life-long learners of any age and interest.

4. Tenure, She Wrote

Tenure, She Wrote is a collaborative blog devoted to chronicling the (mis)adventures of women in academia, from undergraduate to Full Professor. We’re a diverse group representing  many walks of life, career stages, institutional affiliations, disciplines, and opinions.

5. Tracking Change

Tracking Change is an advocacy platform to turn data into action.

Through collaboration and crowd-sourcing, we can more effectively influence public policy and ensure issues of importance to African Americans are addressed. The issues include STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), job creation, entrepreneurship, access to capital, education and voting rights.

By harnessing the power of technology and social media, activists can more effectively influence public policy, solve problems and bring about social change.

Tracking Change promotes data-driven models of civic engagement, transparency and accountability.

6. Tales of the 4th Grade Wonders

We will provide a moral and rigorous education to a diverse student body, accomplished in a hands-on, technology infused educational environment that embraces differentiated instruction and individual attention that will allow our students to attend college, while developing a commitment to global citizenship, environmental sustainability, and personal virtue.


Fourth Grade is such an important and special year for everyone involved. Students will be given the gift of knowledge, organization, and confidence. Teachers will be given the gift of patience, laughter, and determination. And parents will be given the gift of growth, communication, and pride. My mission is to work together to ensure these gifts are felt and appreciated.

7. Life and Write

Life and Write is a fabulous blog that gives you everything you could ever want to improve your writing skills creative and otherwise (except for providing an actual tutor, of course :)). Whether you’re interested in learning more about pre-writing, journaling, or avoiding distractions, Life and Write has answers and ideas for you.

8. The Electron Online

The Electron is a student generated publication created at Franklin Community High School, through the efforts of The Electron newspaper class. …

The purpose of the publication is to inform students, faculty, subscribers and community members of news, information and issues that influence or affect them. The Electron accepts news releases, guest columns and sports information releases.

The news organization, which provides an open forum for students, faculty, subscribers and community members, encourages letters to the editor, as well as comments that adhere to the comment policy. Letters can be sent to the publication at the previously mentioned address or dropped off in room C100. Below each article, a comment section can be found.

9. Teaching: Leading Learning

I am a Deputy Headteacher at Chew Valley School near Bristol, responsible for curriculum, assessment, reporting, monitoring, engagement with parents, and a whole raft of other things. I am a teacher of English and Media Studies. I am passionately committed to state education, as blogged about here. I love teaching.

This blog is a place for me to reflect on aspects of my job, on education in general, and to collect my thoughts.

10. High School to Harvard

Hi! I’m Ruby Mirza. Welcome to High School to Harvard. Let me get you up to speed…

For my first four years of high school (I live in New Zealand; we have five years) I chased engineering…and then, through studying for a quiz competition, I rediscovered biology, specifically the brain. Now, I want to go to Harvard Medical School and specialize with neurosurgery residency.

This is my journey, from high school to Harvard.

11. Inspiring Women

… We are running a women’s campaign to help young women from all backgrounds broaden their horizons and raise aspiration. …

Through our Inspiring Women campaign, we aim to link up women in a range of professions at a range of levels with girls throughout England. By giving women the opportunity to sign up, for free, to a simple online portal, where teachers can invite them to come in and talk to young women about their careers, we hope to be part of a culture change where young women and girls, regardless of socioeconomic background, can have access to the career insights they need.

12. The Savvy Student @ SBU

The Savvy Student @ SBU is the official blog of Money Smart Seawolves.  While Money Smart Seawolves is committed to assisting students in developing superior financial skills, helping you establish behaviors and habits that will make you a better saver and investor, and equipping you with the necessary knowledge to make sound financial decisions, the Savvy Student @ SBU is going to help you apply all that jargon to your life.

Our articles will help you keep up to date with current events and happenings in the financial aid community, provide tips and tricks for saving money and cutting college costs, and will share some great DIY’s that will (hopefully) make life easier.

13. Woman of Science

This blog is meant to help people, especially women, navigate the system of academic science. I am helping by setting an example. I am hoping that others will join in and offer their examples. These are strictly my opinions and others are welcome to add theirs.

I am a professor of hard science in a research intensive university. I have a husband who is an academic. We solved the two-body problem. We also have two children (elementary school age and infant).

14. ESL Tests for Primary Kids

Here you’ll find ESL online tests for primary children (grades 1-6).

There are 3 types of tests:

Test your skills – Grammar&Vocabulary

Test your listening – Listening practice

Test your reading – Reading comprehension

You can do the tests right away by pressing the round button and get your result at the end of the test.

Let your kids be the best at English!

15. Pleasure in Learning

pleasureinlearning.com is the work of several Hopkinsville Community College instructors who hope to enhance their students’ learning experiences by using the brain’s pleasure circuit.

… We are amazed by what neuroscientists can tell us about how and why we experience pleasure. However, we are surprised and disappointed by how little of this great information has been considered in deciding how we might teach more effectively.

Seven Cool/Interesting Things About Tutoring 101:

1. Tutoring 101 is a small (staffers and tutors total), family-owned and operated business based in Allen, Texas.

2. We were founded in 1997 — that’s right! We’re a ’90s child.

3.Our founder, Tanya Donaghey, has three children and is a certified teacher as well as a small business owner.

4.We offer a truly unique curriculum and variety of workshops during the summer months all designed to get students ready for the coming academic year.

5.Our one-on-one tutoring sessions are tailored specifically to focus on topics requested by the student.

6.Tutoring 101 provides services not only for high and middle school students, but for those still in early childhood working their way through the wild worlds of Kindergarten and other elementary grades.

7.“A small investment in test prep can save you an average of $30,000 at many of the most popular colleges that students from Allen, Lovejoy, and McKinney choose.”

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Extracurriculars at Lovejoy High School: Resume Building, Career Building, & Interest Building

That’s right! Lucas, TX’s very own Lovejoy High School was recently named one of the best high schools of 2012 by US News (based on 2010-2011 data).


And what helps set a high school apart from the rest besides its teachers, courses, and test scores? That’s right: its extracurriculars. That’s part of what makes Lovejoy’s recent buzz such a puzzle.

According to NICHE, although Lovejoy High School can lord an A grade over Allen’s current A-, judging by reviews provided by recent alumnus, it seems as though Lovejoy still has quite a way to go when it comes to standing toe-to-toe with Allen on extracurriculars.

Of course, regardless of what’s currently or not currently available for Lovejoy students, all a weaker extracurricular offering means is that there are plenty of opportunities for students to become the founders and leaders of brand new groups and clubs. So, if there’s a niche missing at your school or if there’s something you want to see changed, then it’s up to you to change it; it’s up to you to fill that void. After all, colleges aren’t only interested in what clubs and organizations you joined, but what clubs and organizations you helped fuel, change, or begin. It’s important to show that you can and are learning to be a team-player by joining and supporting the efforts of others, but it’s also vital to personal development and college readiness that you take charge at times, that you let your burgeoning leadership skills shine through for the betterment of yourself and your classmates. So, when considering what clubs and organizations to join, support, or spearhead, ask yourself what skills you want to develop, what courses you most enjoy, what types of people you want to work with, what types of goals you want to work toward, and how you can channel all of these things to better yourself, your peers, your community, and your world.

Also, don’t forget to think of extracurriculars as a part of your education — always try to keep in mind and think about how these can connect and interact with new electives and courses, whether in the arts or the sciences. Don’t forget that extracurriculars are an important part of not only self-development, but in exploring new possibilities, subjects, and skills. So, if you aren’t taking a science course or elective this semester/year, why not join or start up a robotics or astronomy club? If you weren’t able to fit in an art or music course this time around, why not see if there are any extracurricular choirs or art clubs you could join? Or, if you find you need some extra help studying your mathematics or in getting your bearings in the wild world of economics, why not go seek out support from people involved in related clubs and organizations?

(Quick disclaimer: this is meant to give an overview of the diversity of clubs and organizations available at LHS, but is not comprehensive. Also, for a list of ideas regarding types of clubs to begin at your own school, check out our previous post regarding Allen High School’s clubs and student orgs, and be on the lookout for upcoming posts regarding extracurriculars offered by other schools in the Collin County area.)

Music & Arts:

-Guitar Club

-Spotlight (Women’s Ensemble)

-A Cappella

Education & Academics:

Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE)

-Lovejoy High School Students’ Council

-PTSA-Parent Teacher Student Association


-Texas High School Bowling Club


-Basketball (Women & Men’s)

-Cross Country


-Golf (Women & Men’s)


-Soccer (Women & Men’s)




-Track & Field

  • See Cross Country for club information


-Wrestling (Women & Men’s)



-Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA)

Community Service and/or Advocacy:

-National Honor Society

-Peer Assistance and Leadership (PALS)


-Mock Trial

-Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA)

-American Sign Language Club/Honor Society

-Sport of the Mind: Competitive Chess Club

-Engineering and Robotics Club

-Extreme Engineering and Robotics Club Meeting (for parents!)

-Model UN

-Leopard Speech/Debate Team

Of course, a great service that Lovejoy HS also provides its students is this great list of other extracurriculars and clubs that are available to students beyond the school’s doors.

Here are just a few from this list to pique your interest:

-Technology Student Association

-Duke TIP, Talent Identification Program, 8th-12th

-Allen Library, Young Adult Writers’ Alliance

-Metroplex Math Circle

-New Conservatory of Dallas (comprehensive music program)

-North Texas Youth Orchestra (NTYO)

-Key Club

-Collin County 4-H Club

Extracurriculars at Allen High School: Resume Building, Career Building, & Interest Building

According to NICHE, Allen High School currently boasts a grade of A-. On the NICHE website, Allen High School alumnus gush fondly about their opportunities to join clubs as diverse as the Peer Assistance Leadership program (wherein students are able to mentor elementary students around the district) to the Ping Pong Club to the Junior World Affairs Council. And who hasn’t visited, seen, or at least heard of Allen High’s new football stadium and fine arts auditorium?

Well, if you’re a current or soon-to-be Allen Eagle, you should definitely check out some of these options. Colleges, after all, aren’t simply interested in your sterling grade point average, and careers aren’t built out of A’s and B’s alone. Getting involved in various extracurricular activities and hobbies is a great way to build up your resume, and make yourself more attractive to college admission counselors and future employers. Of course, taking on new extracurriculars is also an important step in isolating your true interests and personal goals while simultaneously exploring possible jobs and career paths for yourself. What skills do you want to develop? What types of people do you want to work with? What types of tasks and goals do you most enjoy working toward?

(Quick disclaimer: this is meant to give an overview of the diversity of clubs and organizations available at AHS, but is not comprehensive)

Music & Arts:



-Poetry Society


Animation Club

Art Appreciation Club

-Film Club

-Just Dance

-Fine Arts (department)

-National Art Honor Society

-Hip Hop Club

-Music Composition Club

-International Thespian Society

Education & Academics:

Academic Decathlon

-Community of IB Scholars

-UIL Academics

-Eagle Depot (“a group of student tutors recommended by teachers at Allen High School”)





-Basketball (Women & Men’s)

Cross Country, Golf, Soccer (Women & Men’s)


Swimming & Diving


-Track & Field (Women & Men’s)






Lacrosse (Women & Men’s)

and Rugby


-German Club

-Science Club

-Newspaper & Journalism

American Sign Language Club (also see their official website at: http://aslclub.webs.com/)

-Junior World Affairs Council

-FFA (Future Farmers of America) (also see their official website at: http://www.allenffa.ffanow.org/default.aspx?ID=3275)

Anime Club

-Speech & Debate Club

A-Team Robotics

Bangrigami Club (“formed to spread awareness and knowledge of origami”)

Business Professionals of America

-League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

-D.O.L.L.S. (Daughters of Our Living Lord & Savior)

-Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps

-Quill & Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists

-Totally Crafts Club

Community Service and/or Advocacy:

-Key Club

-Peer Assistance Leadership

-Environmental Awareness Team

-Gay Straight Alliance

-Health Occupations Students of America

-Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America

-INTERACT (a “Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 14-18”)

-National Honor Society

Also a shout-out to Allen High School’s academic culinary arts work: