Sunday, December 16, 2012

Collaboration ~ Shan Boggs

December is a time to reflect.
Photograph by Shän Boggs.

It has been an amazing year of great blog interviews – from Mark Kirkpatrick with his wonderful mountain home designs to Debbie Arnold a multi-talented artist of stunning nature paintings; dancer Luo Yi preserving ancient Chinese dance to Jim Masterson with his amazing gift for healing horses; Matt Haugland and his fascinating work with microclimates to storm chaser and tornado researcher Robin Tanamachi; Ford Roosevelt with his educational scholarships to at risk kids through Project GRAD LA to Aaron Gentry Boggs who volunteered to work with refugees in Uganda, teaching art and computer classes; Lidewij Niezink on the importance of empathy and creating a culture of kindness to Howard Glasser and his significant work with ADHD children; educational pioneer, researcher and author Dr. Franklin CampbellJones on his work in Cultural Proficiency to science educator Arthur Beauchamp and his new science curriculum that uses tabloids to teach students about “critical thinking”; the amazing artist and writer Linda Vallejo with her stunning art and comments on creativity to new writer David Hall, a former street kid nurtured by a group of concerned adults that helped raise him to adulthood; Exploratorium Director Dennis Bartel on his amazing experiential museum in San Francisco to Dr. Jeffrey Basara and his climate research and special interest in flash drought.

When I started this blog, a friend asked me why I wasn’t journaling and providing reports on my thoughts and activities. Well… I’ve been so fortunate to have been introduced to or know so many interesting people doing interesting things that I really wanted to write about them. The response to my requests for interviews has been wonderful.

Throughout the blogs, I was left with a sense that many of the people I interviewed held a deep feeling of gratitude for others that had helped nurture their talents along the way - people who saw something in them or rallied round them to accomplish great things. Whether it was a parent, mentor, friend or an entire team of people – few worked in isolation to accomplish their goals or dreams. There was a form of guidance or a support system of like-minded people that set them on a course to success.

So it is with me, I am happy to share. I have had an amazing year, with the publication of three cookbooks for people with food sensitivities – the Fast and Fabulous Gourmet Cookbook series – Mediterranean, Pacific Rim and Diet editions. Old friends came to my aid to guide me and provide me with the advice I needed. And new friends came into my life with amazing skills and abilities.

  e-Book designs created by Jim Bunte. Photographs by Geoffrey Nelson.

Anyone who knows me is aware that I have struggled for years with food allergies and that I became very ill a few years ago. Happily, I was able to change my diet and improve my health significantly by returning to a Mediterranean diet. It is my hope that these e-cookbooks will also help others seeking healthy and delicious food.

My gratitude goes out to Suzanne Tripier, who taught me how to cook when I lived with her family overseas in Mallorca, Spain; Dr. Carmen Arriola, who shared with me the link between diet and my illness; Naomi Renbarger for her edits and recommendations; writer/editor Jim Hollander for his wonderful Foreword; photographer Geoffrey Nelson, who I knew in Mallorca (and reconnected with here in California) and took the beautiful food photographs for all three books; Wei Wong for her inspiring book cover designs; and last, but not least, Jim Bunte an extraordinary e-book designer and web designer, who shared in the vision of what these cookbooks could be and took them to a higher level.

As December winds down, may you take joy in reflecting on all that you have accomplished this year and may you have a Wonderful New Year full of exciting opportunities. ~ Shän Boggs

 Cover designs by Wei Wong. Photographs by Geoffrey Nelson.

For those of you who want to try out some recipes, please see me on Pinterest.

Shän Boggs is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. Her interests include science, technology, the environment, health, education, multimedia, art, and gourmet cooking.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Flash Drought ~ Jeffrey Basara

Figure - Extended periods of drought can lead to other hazards including wild fires.

Photos and images provided by Dr. Jeffrey Basara.

The U.S. heat wave of June 2012 saw 2,284 record-breaking temperatures. In October, the New York Times reported that the worst drought in 50 years is currently gripping the Corn Belt from Nebraska to Illinois, driving up food prices. Texas wildfires ravage that state in 2011 and 2012. Oklahoma is presently experiencing exceptional drought.

How do these events compare to the climatic events of the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression years when a heat wave gripped the country in 1936 and impacted Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, and New Mexico causing crops to fail?

This and other questions are of interest to hydrologist/ hydrometeorologist Jeffrey Basara, Director of Research for the Oklahoma Climatological Survey and Associate Professor in the School of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. In his work, Dr. Basara looks at real time data for the Great Plains and Oklahoma, in particular. While meteorologists primarily look at atmospheric conditions, hydrologists examine the complex interactions of water between the surface and the atmosphere and how the processes relate to weather and climate.

SHAN: What attracted you to the field of hydrology?

JEFF: It was not my first choice. My education was in meteorology. When I was a graduate student working for Ken Crawford, Director of the Oklahoma Climatalogical Survey, we were installing soil moisture sensors into the Oklahoma Mesonetwork. I was asked to attend an American Meteorological Society Hydrology Conference in Long Beach, California in 1997, and it seemed as if the entire symposium was focused on how soil moisture effects climate. Everything was about modeling. Every presentation.  They didn’t have a way to validate the results, which we did because of our network of sensing stations.

It was then that I realized how fortunate I was to have this opportunity to work in hydrology. Ken Crawford was my Master and Ph.D. advisor and he said to me, “You will be an expert in your field.” He was right. He has a legacy of providing opportunities to young researchers that turn into great careers.

Flux Tower Figure - Instrumentation deployed near Marena, Oklahoma, used to collect observations of soil, vegetation, and atmospheric conditions valuable in land-atmosphere interactions and drought research.

SHAN: How have deliberate man-made changes improved weather and climate in some regions – as for example, the building of man-made lakes?

JEFF: There is little doubt that a reservoir can effect soil moisture and weather. However, there are other examples. The winter wheat belt in Oklahoma creates a mesoscale atmospheric phenomena. It effects moisture content in the boundary layer and actually makes the weather cooler and more moist during the spring. One of my favorite thunderstorm/atmospheric events occurs along the wheat belt. We actually know squall lines form in the winter wheat belt area, which then impacts precipitation for the whole region.

There are other examples that have the opposite effect. The urban area of Oklahoma City shows a man-made heat element – an urban heat island. It is hotter and dryer than the surrounding areas. This doesn’t just effect the urban area itself, but also produces a warmer, dryer impact downstream.

We are using the Mesonetwork for studying land-atmosphere interactions, feedback mechanisms that can impact moisture above and below ground. These measurements from the Mesonetwork are not only important for understanding the real-time weather, but also showing climate impacts. When you think about hydrological events – none are more devastating than drought and now we have data like never before.

One topic we are now studying is called “flash drought,” the rapid onset of drought in certain areas. In 2005-2006, and then again in 2010-2011, it was dry in the spring, summer and through the winter - over three seasons. But there are times when drought occurs in a very rapid way, in a matter of weeks, and that is called flash drought.

Marena Figure July 1, 2012 - Vegetation conditions at the Marena, Oklahoma, research site.

In 2011, we came out of that drought with a very wet fall and winter season that took us completely out of the exceptional drought category. In fact, most of Oklahoma was removed from drought classification of any kind. But then we had a warm spring with limited rain and within 45-60 days during the summer, we were in exceptional drought again. What had taken months before – we experienced in 6-8 weeks.

Marena Figure August 17, 2012 - Vegetation conditions at the Marena, Oklahoma, research site following the rapid development of flash drought in the region.

Using the network sensors, we were able to see in May that a flash drought might be occurring. Monitoring the weather and soil moisture, the soil moisture was telling an interesting story. We had real time data information, where as in the past it was nearly impossible to predict. We were able to alert people that needed to know, like farmers and producers.


SHAN: What are the present areas of your greatest concern and focus with regards to weather and climate?

JEFF: The biggest concern is drought and its impacts. The Southern Great Plains, which is comprised of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, is an area of drought concern. The precipitation is never normal. It’s more like a pendulum that swings back and forth between periods of drought and above normal precipitation (pluvials). There are reasons for this – storm tracks, ocean currents, and land-atmosphere patterns – that develop and persist.

In this region there are also large urban areas with a growing population base – Oklahoma City, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. How is that population going to deal with the increasing challenges of water resources? When we get into periods of drought there are socio-economic impacts that are a big concern.

I recently flew into Dallas and had the opportunity to see that the reservoirs are not at capacity. Water resources are becoming stressed due to human demand and natural drought. Another issue is the overall water budget. What changes have we seen? Evaporation, transpiration, storage changes of water have occurred. The Ogallala Aquifer (an underground water reservoir that spreads from Texas to Nebraska) is being depleted. It has been treated like a fossil resource, like oil, with no regulation for drilling and pumping. By some estimates, it is at 20% of its original capacity. Lakes that once existed have completely vanished in the region.

There is another reserve of water, the Arbuckle/Simpson reservoir, that has strong regulatory controls. It’s being used with a more conservatory fashion. But places, like Dallas and other populated areas, would like to get their hands on this water.

Figure - Land-atmosphere interactions played an important role in the redevelopment of Tropical Storm Erin over central Oklahoma and excessive rainfall during August 2007.

SHAN: What are some of the socio-economic benefits that come from improved hydrological models?

JEFF: Mark Twain once said, “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.”

Water is becoming a contentious issue. Better models, including soil moisture, are going to be critical in helping us address all the needs of the region. The Oklahoma Mesonetwork is providing a half million observations per day real time and an archive of approximately 5 billion. That is a lot of data. Along with models, this gives us a much better handle on water resources and how to address what we’re seeing now in the Southern Great Plains.

Figure - Water is a critical resource to the Southern Great Plains of the United States.

For more information contact the Oklahoma Climatological Survey:

Shän Boggs worked with Dr. Kenneth Crawford and others during the early development of the Oklahoma Mesonetwork. She is a writer and editor, and now lives in Los Angeles. Her interests include science, technology, the environment, health, multimedia, and art.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Broken From Within ~ David Hall

Cover design by David Hall and Thom Renbarger.

David at football camp with coach Barry Switzer.

Photos provided by David Hall and Ann Hall.

Difficult pasts are no less relevant with the passage of time. Broken From Within is a poignant testament by first time writer, David Hall. David was a street child, living in a broken family where food and love were often sparse and abuse was often abundant. When his mother left his life, a circle of adult friends stepped in to feed and clothe David. While not always the best examples, their lifeline kept him from being a casualty and helped him survive and eventually overcome his situation with a very positive outcome, unlike his brother.

Broken From Within, though considered fiction, is substantially a memoir. David, who has struggled with dyslexia, has a beautiful writing style. His words evoke vivid images and touch on deep emotions of pain and joy.

David's mother Dorothy Hall, David Hall (David's uncle), Nancy Hall (David's aunt).
David’s uncle, David Hall (above), was governor of Oklahoma from 1971-1975 
when David was very young - before David’s family life began to unravel.

SHAN: What made you write this book?

DAVID: When I started writing, I lived in China. I had no experience. In some ways, I taught myself. I didn’t get the basics when everyone else did because I am dyslexic. I really thought I had something to say. There is a lot of truth in the stories. It felt like I needed to get this pressure off me and relive some of my childhood - things about my brother. His name was actually Jamie. I felt I had to tell the story about our life together.


SHAN: What challenges did you encounter as you delved into your past?

DAVID: There was a lot of emotion that I thought I had gotten over, but I really hadn’t dealt with it. Some of the things I wrote about the father character – were actually things that my brother had done. He was almost two years older than me and he was a really abusive guy.

There are a lot of people in my past that made my life easier. They helped me through the situations I was going through. A lot of them became my foster parents when I went into state’s custody, but I’d known them all before through the streets where I hung out.

David's mother, brother and David.  The first time David had seen his mother in two years.


David's fifteenth birthday at the home of foster parents Gary and Betsy McVean.

David playing football in high school.

SHAN: What was your most memorable experience with this project?

DAVID: I learned a lot writing this book. My reading skills were so limited because of my dyslexia. But after writing my own stories, I could understand and read so much better. The stories gave me a schedule and a passion.

One afternoon, I started a story and I wrote for 27 hours straight. I had to just keep writing. I was so excited. In general though, I would write for weeks at a time and when I wasn’t writing, I was editing.

SHAN: Is there any advice you can give to others who would like to write about family, friends, or especially challenging experiences?

DAVID: When I wrote the book, I knew I would probably burn a bridge with my brother. But we hadn’t spoken in 12 years, so there wasn’t much of a bridge there. The truth is he died before he got to read the book. I’m kind of sad I didn’t get a chance to show him my work or have him see how I felt about what happened in our lives. After I finished writing the book, it really gave me a chance to forgive him.

When you’re writing your life stories, you need to be charged up. Otherwise, it’s going to be hard to write. Everyone has a story worth telling. Be patient with yourself. Writing about my life was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done, too.

David attending the wedding of foster parent Jack Crawford.

SHAN: What are you working on now?

DAVID: I actually finished another book and need to get it edited and do the cover art. It was amazing how easy it was to write the second book. And I’m now working on a third book, which is a totally different genre – science fiction.

David Hall is a special education teacher and lives with his wife Ann who is also a teacher. For more about his book Broken From Within visit:

update on 12/30/15

Congratulations to David Hall on his latest book, Jack.  

Jack is a magical children's story with wonderful illustrations that demonstrate that David is not only a talented writer, but a very adept artist as well.

Jack can be found on



Shän Boggs is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. Her interests include science, technology, the environment, health, education, multimedia, art, and gourmet cooking. When she was in journalism school, her friend Jack Crawford was one of David Hall’s foster parents.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On Creativity ~ Linda Vallejo


Much has been written about the artist’s journey, but not so much about successful artists who are also successful writers - simultaneously. Linda Vallejo is probably extraordinary in this respect, as she has won awards for her sculptures and paintings (1st Place Prize for California Sculpture Slam at the San Luis Obispo Museum, Durfee Artist Completion Award, Comisión Femenil Latinas Making History Award; Brody Arts Fellowship; and a Distinguished Recognition Award from the National Association of Chicano Studies), and also wins grant awards for non-profits that transform the lives of others (PUC Schools, Pacoima Beautiful, Project GRAD Los Angeles; Self Help Graphics, The Los Angeles Classical Ballet, and many others).

Linda’s dedication to her life, in its many forms, and her community are inspiring. From her prolific work as a painter to her significant contributions as a grant writer, she has established a scope of work that extends from operas to prisons, as well as raising over $30 million in grants for great projects that benefit everyone from children to the elderly. Linda also teaches her course A to Z Grantwriting in over 2,400 colleges and universities nationwide on the Internet.


Images provided by Linda Vallejo, the artist.




SHAN: How do you accomplish all that you do as an artist and a writer?

LINDA: I’ve never had a full time job, but I work 80 hours per week. I’m very specific about my schedule. That’s the best advice I can give anybody. I work with my writing and art businesses in the morning. Then I paint in the afternoon and quit about 6 p.m. to cook dinner. I go back to writing until 10 p.m or so. It is a pretty strict schedule. I work pretty much hands-on in writing, art, motherhood, and in life.

I believe that you must do what comes naturally to you. That’s how I’ve built my life. I think it’s important to pick a lifestyle and career that matches your personal skills and abilities. If you choose something that doesn’t come naturally to you, it will become difficult. If you pick what comes naturally, however, it will be easier to dedicate yourself to and more likely that you will be accomplished and successful.

Being an artist is wrought with difficulty. I don’t actually recommend it to everyone. You need to be driven and tough-skinned.  If being an artist isn’t something that you have to do, believe me you’re going to suffer through it. Being an artist is a hard row to hoe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful life, but it’s wrought with challenges, disappointments, the search for true creativity, and hard work.

To be a good writer, you must be a good listener, able to translate peoples’ thoughts onto paper, and be well organized. You also have to care about the people you are writing for and what you’re writing about. I found out very early that I am a natural writer and that I enjoy the intricacies of completing complex proposals and applications.  My abilities in grantwriting have been a wonderful gift and have made it possible for me to take good care of my family and support my art career.

SHAN: What are the challenges in choosing such a varied life?

LINDA: Sticking to it. Not getting sidetracked. Personally, I spend a great deal of time working on my projects and plans.  I’m a starter and a finisher. I don’t go out too much these days except for art or grantwriting business. I stay in communication with my friends and family by phone, email, or FaceBook. You can stay in touch without having to leave the office these days.


SHAN: What are the projects you are most proud of?

LINDA: I’m proud of my 28-year-old son, Robert, a successful lawyer and my 26-year-old son, Paul, who is in medical school. I’m very proud to be there for them and be a part of their lives. Just to get into grad school takes some doing. Oh, and I have always believed in mentors and tutors.

My next favorite thing is that I’ve been married to my husband Ron for 35 years. There’s a lot to commitment, but there’s so much joy in having a family.

The next thing I am proud of is that I’ve been an artist all my life. I first started painting when I was four years old. I love my new series “Make ‘Em All Mexican.”  The work is traveling all over the nation and it’s been great fun, a lot of work, but great fun.  A show of this work is opening at CSU San Bernardino Fullerton Museum this Saturday, September 29th.

Then I’m most proud of my work as a writer with non-profit organizations. I enjoy the work a great deal. I’ve worked with many organizations since 1980 and raised a lot of funds for wonderful
organizations and projects. 

El Vis

"Make 'Em All Mexican" art exhibit

I also teach grantwriting to about 5,000 individuals annually via the Internet.  I believe that by teaching I am making positive change for others, their communities, and individuals and families in need.


"Make 'Em All Mexican" art exhibit 

SHAN: What advice do you have for others?

LINDA: Everything you are going to dedicate yourself to, whether it is art, marriage and children, or business – takes dedication.  Make careful and wise choices for yourself.  Find out what you’re naturally good at, make a strong commitment, and then “abandon” yourself to it. Abandon yourself to the choices you have made. Abandon yourself to your life.

Give it all you’ve got and follow through with plans regardless of your expectations. The outcome is important, but more important is to throw yourself into your life, to experience it all, and to enjoy every minute.  I love that I am completely abandoned to my life as a wife, mother, artist and writer. I have a very full life. I am surrounded by the love of family and friends, by good work, and of course, by art and creativity.

California Oak, 2005

You can see Linda’s art work at and her work in grantwriting at

Linda Vallejo is represented by the George Lawson Gallery in Culver City, CA.

California Horizons, Boney Ridge, 2000

Shän Boggs is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. Her interests include science, technology, the environment, health, education, multimedia, art, and gourmet cooking.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Engaging Science ~ Arthur Beauchamp

What does a diet of tapeworms or designing your own roller coaster have to do with engaging students in successful science? Actually, these may have a whole lot to do with keeping their interest, as researcher, educator and author Arthur Beauchamp has found. Using what he learned from his preliminary research in classroom science curriculum, Beauchamp has developed a science literacy framework to help teachers engage the previously unengaged student, as well as those who already love science – by challenging their critical thinking skills to develop an ability to analyze data like a real scientist.

 “When students get to talk about their own understanding, the nature of the classroom changes. It becomes a far more engaged setting for students.” – Arthur Beauchamp

Photos provided by Arthur Beauchamp


Beauchamp, along with co-writers Judi Kusnick and Richard McCallum, have just published Success in Science through Dialogue, Reading and Writing, with a grant from the California Postsecondary Education Commission and the Improving Teacher Quality program. In their book, they help teachers to help students work from data, focus on phenomena, make student thinking visible and audible, utilize stance and argumentation, and strategically use dialogue, reading and writing. By structuring their curriculum, teachers learn how to create a more engaging science experience for students and guide student intellectual development through purposeful reading, productive dialogue and meaningful writing.

SHAN: Why is a book like yours needed?

ARTHUR: A book like this is needed because as we looked around at secondary science classrooms there was something lacking in the learning and understanding of science. It seemed there were some good tools in the English Language Arts that could be used to help students understand science better.

This book addresses two challenges science teachers face. The first challenge is how to use a framework to put Language Arts tools into use with science instruction. Second, is how teachers can select the most appropriate techniques for their particular science instruction.

So the book provides a framework and provides tools within that framework.  Also, when we took a look at who was doing the talking in science classrooms, a great deal of teacher talk was occurring and not nearly as much enough student dialogue or student thinking was taking place.

This book also helps teachers with techniques to manage student talk. For example, when we look at student writing in science, we find very few instances where student thinking is prevalent in the writing. And this book gives techniques in the context of science to help teachers design writing tasks for students. So overall it fills the need of helping science teachers to use English Language Arts techniques to teach their subject.

SHAN: How would you suggest teachers use your book?

ARTHUR:  I’d suggest teachers use it as a lens to look at lessons and a design framework as they construct those lessons. It gives teachers two things. First it gives them a road map they can keep in mind in the design of different aspects of the lesson – and then it gives tools to use within that framework.

For example, by using this book a teacher would be assisted in how they could move through a lesson – drawing on dialogue, reading, and writing as very robust ways of helping students understand science.

There are other payoffs – in addition to greater science understanding – student reading improves and student writing improves.

For more information about Success in Science through Dialogue, Reading and Writing, and associated professional development please visit:

Shän Boggs is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. Her interests include science, technology, the environment, health, education, multimedia, art, and gourmet cooking.

October 8, 2013
National Science Teachers Association recommends "Success in Science through Dialogue, Reading and Writing."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Transformations ~ Howard Glasser

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) almost one out of every ten children, in the United States, has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).  Behaviors include inability to focus, inattention, hyperactivity, and challenges in controlling impulsive behavior.  A higher percentage of boys are diagnosed with the disorder than girls. (

Scientists do not know what causes ADHD, though studies have focused on everything from genes to environmental causes. Treatment often includes medication, psychotherapy, education and /or a combination of the above. There are currently over a dozen medications used to treat the condition, according to the National Institute of Mental Health ( For parents and teachers, as well as the children diagnosed with ADHD – there are daily challenges.

A significant advocate for innovative techniques to address behavioral problems in children, without the use of medication, is therapist Howard Glasser, M.A. Glasser has gained a sizable following from parents, teachers, and therapists, and is author of the bestselling book on ADHD, “Transforming the Difficult Child.”


“The difficult child has been assigned many labels depending on current symptoms, current fads in diagnostic thinking, who is doing the labeling and the labeler’s frustration with the child.”
– Howard Glasser

Photos provided by Shan Boggs.

SHAN: You are regarded as something of a miracle worker with difficult children. How did you find this mission in life?

HOWARD:  I feel my mission was given to me. In my practice, I came to the realization that the methods I learned in school – basically treating behavioral problems in children with medication and therapy – were not working. In fact, these seemed to be contributing to the problems I was seeing in patients.

It took getting out of my own way and really listening and observing to see what was actually happening with children and their parents and that certain techniques were energizing bad behavior. Once I had this realization, I turned things upside down and was able to help people understand immediately that not focusing on the “problem behavior,” but on new patterns of behavior was what was needed.

SHAN: What are some of the everyday challenges difficult children face in the way they relate to their environment, whether at home or in school?

HOWARD: The biggest challenges for children with behavioral problems are the people in their environment – the well-intentioned traditional responses they receive. Adults learn to respond to kids by having been a kid and from reading about parenting. Most adults have a lot of power and can have very “charged” responses to a child, even when a child does mildly wrong things. Yet, when children make right choices this rarely elicits more than a little response from adults. So, the biggest obstacle for children is how people respond to their choices. They generally receive more responses when they’re tripping up.

SHAN: What are some simple tips you can share with parents and teachers?

HOWARD: Help children feel cherished. Refuse to give the gift of yourself that energizes the relationship with a child through long-winded lectures. Turn the world upside down – praise the child when he/she is being responsible, when not arguing or bothering a sibling or classmate. Notice a child’s choice when they are getting along and tell them, “How thoughtful of you to be respectful to others, kind, and collaborative. I appreciate the great choices you are making.”

Children not only deserve to hear this – they need it. When they begin to trust, they fall into a new pattern. When they break a rule? Turn away. Then praise them when they get back on track. It’s very simple.

SHAN: The word “nurture” comes up a great deal in your teachings and writing. Can you explain its significance?

HOWARD: Nurture is a key word. It refers to a quality of giving and receiving by an adult to a child. “Good job” doesn’t completely capture it. It has to be genuine and specific. Compliments are like food to the soul. When children get nurtured, it tells them on a deep level who they really are.

If you have a child who does argue, fight or get disrespectful you know how great it is when that is not happening. That’s a wonderful and inspiring indicator for parents and teachers to create an ability to truly appreciate the child for any and all things that could be happening that aren’t. Let them know how great their choices are and how grateful you are.

Managing behaviors is about transformation - transforming kids into their full potential. Then they will want to do well in school and fulfill their purpose and dreams.

“Anyone who has experienced the glory of focusing his energies and accomplishing a goal or a project or mastering a skill knows that energy is a gift.”
– Howard Glasser

Howard Glasser is the author of “Transforming the Difficult Child”; “The Inner Wealth Initiative: The Nurtured Heart Approach for Educators”; “All Children Flourishing: Igniting the Greatness of Our Children”; “Transforming the Difficult Child: True Stories of Triumph”; and other books. His books can be found on or on his website.

For more about Howard Glasser and The Children’s Success Foundation, please visit:

Shän Boggs is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. Her interests include science, technology, the environment, health, education, multimedia, art, and gourmet cooking. She is the author of a cookbook series for people with food allergies.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cultural Proficiency ~ Dr. Franklin CampbellJones

“The increased diversity in schools raises numerous questions about how teachers teach, students learn, and leaders lead.” – Linda C. Tillman, PhD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

SHAN: What is cultural proficiency?

DR. CAMPBELLJONES: The best way to describe cultural proficiency is that it is a state of mind where we respond to each other in a way where we appreciate one another’s culture. There is reciprocal space, where people look to understand one another.

Photos provided by Dr. Franklin CampbellJones and S. F. Renbarger.

Teachers and students play a game together.

SHAN: How did you become involved in this kind of work?

DR. CAMPBELLJONES: Growing up in the South, I had the experience of being one of the first students to attend an integrated school during the desegregation era. During this time, Dr. King was assassinated. I had the opportunity to witness the ugliness of hatred in our country.

I wanted to know why people do the things they do. What’s behind all those behaviors? I felt if you went deep enough, people would realize there is more to these discussions that could move us beyond initial fears. Maybe we have to deal with morality.

My work in this area slowly evolved.  I moved to California and went to work in a school system where I was asked to write a unit on diversity for the Beginning Teacher Support and Assistance (BTSA) program. Then I was asked to present to teachers. From there I was asked to do workshops and began working with the California Leadership Academy. Eventually, I went to WestEd where I worked with some very heavy-duty people like Delores Lindsey, then I began working with Randall B. Lindsey. A whole number of people were having this conversation (surrounding equity in our schools) – so I joined the conversation.

SHAN: How do you create a transformative experience for participants in cultural proficiency workshops?

DR. CAMPBELLJONES: It’s a journey. In a learning seminar, you use tools to create a safe space for open and honest discussion and exploration.  You look at barriers to cultural proficiency. There is also a cultural proficiency continuum that lets us know where we are and we can see our progress and growth.

There are certain ways we can assess our progress. First, we look at language. The way we communicate is a huge clue as to how well we are doing. When you hear someone use language like “those kids” versus “our kids,” you become aware that there is work to be done in coming together as one. What you want to hear is ownership and inclusiveness – empowering words (that can also empower kids).

Next we look at guiding principles for cultural proficiency. These are philosophical statements that help shape our vision toward the appreciation of others. These help to expand our horizon for a larger perspective.

After that the individual can reach a level where they grasp a perspective of inclusivity, the essential elements are employed to help us monitor our behaviors.

Then finally, we see an individual embrace the best of all worlds creating a stronger bond within relationships.

“I was reading this book and I thought it was about others – then I discovered it was about me.– a teacher

“The cultural proficiency framework represents a foundation for gaining knowledge and skills that will help teachers and leaders not only to become culturally proficient, but to view cultural proficiency as integral to good teaching and effective leadership.”
– Linda C. Tillman, PhD 

Most educators really want to do a good job working with kids. But what we see is what they know to do at a Skinnerian level. They’re reacting without thinking. Sometimes you get the impression teachers don’t want to get involved with their students. So you flip the relationship and you amp up their experience. You practice an inside-out approach. You help them reach a level of awareness so they can move forward. The “cultural proficiency journey” cuts across all the barriers we create to separate ourselves from one another. 

Drs. Franklin and Brenda CampbellJones.

I work with my wife, Brenda, who is one of my co-writers along with Dr. Randall B. Lindsey and Dr. Delores Lindsey. When we do professional learning sessions together, I always ask, how can I take the energy of the group and use it in a way that enhances their learning? One of the keys to working with people is to focus on the group before you begin attending to their needs. It isn’t about you. It’s about them.

SHAN: What are some of the success stories you can share?

DR. CAMPBELLJONES: In one school system, we were hired to work with a school board. Then we were asked to get the community involved. Soon we were developing administrative teams and working with teachers and administrators. Before long an entire department for cultural proficiency was created. The school system eventually institutionalized cultural proficiency into the teacher and administrative evaluation system as a formative assessment option.

We thought we’d be done in three years. It has now been seven years and we have taken on the whole school system of 85 schools.  Every staff member has gone through the training including bus drivers, janitors, and school secretaries.

Cultural proficiency is something everyone should get involved with in some sort of way. Ultimately, all organizations that care for people need awareness – whether you work in education or medicine or any other kind of work with the public – you should seriously consider it.

Special thanks to Dr. CampbellJones for making this blogspot interview possible.

Dr. Franklin CampbellJones’ bestselling book, The Cultural Proficiency Journey: Moving Beyond Ethical Barriers Toward Profound School Change, is published by Corwin Press ( and on Amazon.Com (

Shän Boggs is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. Her interests include science, technology, the environment, health, education, multimedia, and art.