Thursday, June 28, 2007

Landmark Education News has MOVED

Due to it's suprisingly huge popularity, we have moved Landmark Education News to it's own website and completely re-designed it.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Valerie Bocage a Landmark Graduate who Lost Everything in Hurricane Katrina Sets Out to Empower Women

Founder and CEO of Powerful Women International (PWI), Valeri Bocage, tells her story of losing everything in Katrina to inspire women not to worry about things, but enjoy life.

Weathering the Storm
From: The Bay Area Business Woman
By: Julia Dodge

Valeri Bocage was visiting a friend in Bay St. Louis, Miss. — 40 minutes away from her hometown of New Orleans — when the governor appeared on TV and warned sternly “This is very serious — get out.”

“They tell us that every year!” Bocage recalls saying to herself at that time, as hurricanes are all but uncommon in the South.

A day later she found herself sitting alone in her friend’s house — her friend having packed her bags and headed for Colorado with her fiancĂ© — having stayed back with the hope of reconnecting with her family. She didn’t know anyone in town, and had only $30 cash. There was no way to get out, no way to get to her daughter and grandchildren in New Orleans, and now she was watching people boarding up their houses on TV, preparing for what would be one of the worst storms in recent U.S. history.

She started to pray.

Perhaps it was divine intervention, but her co-worker, Steve, whom she hardly knew, came and got her at 11am the day Hurricane Katrina hit. Two hours later, Bay St. Louis was nearly underwater, and Bocage was off to Florida in Steve’s truck, and all her possessions at home in New Orleans were lost.

This all would be a sad story, if she would just stop laughing.

“I’ve been through much in my life, however, I always find the silver lining in the darkest clouds and worst situations,” says Bocage, who cannot tell this tale with a straight face.

She recalls a few weeks after the storm arriving at a friend’s house in Austin, TX. Her friend had cleared out a room for her, even the closet for her things. Laughing hysterically, she reenacts hanging her only three items of clothing, which she had acquired from church donations, in the closet. “I just have this!” she exclaims.

It has been almost two years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, and Bocage has found herself thriving somewhere she had never thought she’d be: San Francisco. “I created the story that Katrina threw me into the Land of Oz, and I don’t want to go. I landed in the right place,” she says.

Originally arriving in San Francisco after accepting a position with her current employer, Landmark Education, Bocage is now the CEO of Powerful Women International (PWI), a networking and empowerment organization dedicated to empowering women into achieving their goals. “I just want to see people happy. Whatever I can give, whoever I can connect them to, I’ll do that,” she says.

And her positivism is contagious — since PWI began in October 2006, there have been numerous networking breakfasts and luncheons, creating a comfortable atmosphere for women, and some men, to share their feelings.

“What I find out from stories and testimonies of people is that [our events] start to open the eyes of people, through other people sharing,” she says. “And through the networking part where they pass their business cards — they start to get to know people personally. The atmosphere is for professional people to be comfortable, relax.”

And Bocage plans to take this feeling of acceptance and comfort all over the world, as similar PWI networking events pop up in Texas, New Orleans, New York, and beginning next year, Africa and Isreal.

PWI doesn’t offer financial aid or business plan classes, and its events aren’t limited to businesswomen — just women, according to Bocage, who are searching for something in their lives. She believes that by a woman getting support and becoming empowered, she will naturally proceed on a prosperous and business savvy road that will lead to her success — and the empowerment moves along like a domino effect.

“They bring that passion to their mates, and their family, and it brings more power to help the community, and then that spreads worldwide,” she says. “And with that we can change the world. That’s my vision. Everybody should live their dream.”

“I’m inspired what people take on and what they accomplish,” says Alison Laytham, PWI’s technical director, of the organization’s participants. “The journeys they have made are remarkable.”

And women are encouraged to pursue whatever it is they want, whether it be starting a business, writing a book, or becoming a public speaker. “I had a guest who said she would like to be a guest speaker, to share her positive experiences from the networking group, but was afraid to go up in front of people,” says Bocage. “And now I can’t keep her off the podium.”

Sandra Acevedo, the host of One World, One Voice, a talk show on Marin Public Access, says Bocage helped her set her goal. “I wanted to do a talk show in my life, but I had never took it on,” she says. “She made me set my date. Part of the training is you don’t leave your goals up in the air.”

Cheryl Fidelman, the Editor-in-Chief of PWI, says that Bocage’s love and support is truly authentic. “She won’t accept any less from women than the goddesses that they are,” she says. “She brings that out in all of them, and she has dedicated her life to that. It’s so contagious.”

Recently, PWI combined a networking breakfast with an afternoon of workshops, at the request of attendees, with topics such as “Working in Confidence” and “Living in Abundance.” Bocage is also looking to do a black tie gala.

However, with a team of seven committed women practically running the show, Bocage would like to eventually hand off PWI. “I want to travel around the world doing speaking engagements,” she says. A genie in a bottle can dream, too.

For more information on Powerful Women International and its networking events, visit

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Landmark Graudate Creates Benefit Concert Where Kids Raise Money for Kids

Young Band Members Raising Funds for Kids"

From the Grove Examiner, Calgary Alberta Canada

Six local kids - united by their passion for music - are looking beyond their individual and collective dreams for rock stardom, using their musical prowess to help needy kids their ages.

The Descendants - a local group of young musicians who have been playing together for more than three years - features six musically talented youth ages 10 to 13. Together with The Connection - a band formed by six local recording artists, many whom are family members of The Descendents - the group will perform at the Kids for Kids, Families for Families Benefit Concert.
Organizers hope to raise $50,000 for two charities which provide education and food for children in need: CAUSE Kids and E4C Alberta.
The event is the brainchild of Lennore Huddleston, mother of The Descendants' keyboardist and drummer. She came up with the idea while enrolled in the Self-Expression and Leadership Program offered through Landmark Education. As part of the course curriculum, students were required to develop a community project. With her family's extensive musical talent and experience, Huddleston accepted this as the perfect opportunity to plan an event her whole family could be involved in and passionate about.
"Education is vital to breaking the cycle of poverty. When children are hungry, trying to learn becomes even more difficult," Lennore says. "When I had the opportunity to create a project that would make a difference to the communities by providing food and support for educational programs, it seemed a natural thing to do."
Huddleston became aware of CAUSE Kids - a Canadian-based organization operating education programs in Sierra Leone , West Africa - through a friend who worked with the agency. Huddleston contacted CAUSE to see if her idea would fit with the agency's goals. The organization immediately and enthusiastically embraced her vision.
"CAUSE...very much appreciates people who want to raise money to assist communities where we work," says CAUSE Kids' Canadian program manager, Travis Wilkins.
"It is great The Descendants are choosing to make a difference in Sierra Leone . Even more inspiring - these are young people working to make our world a better place. The concert is going to be amazing, and CAUSE appreciates all the hard work being put into it."
According to the UN, Sierra Leone is rated as one of the most disadvantaged countries in the world. From 1991 to 2002, the country was engaged in a horrific, civil conflict in which a small band of rebels held the country hostage. Characterized by child conscription, rape, amputations and other methods of brutal torture, the conflict resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians, causing a third of the population to become refugees.
CAUSE Kids' first phase of its program focuses on the Koinadugu district - the largest and poorest district in the country. More than 50,000 school-aged children - many whom are orphaned - live in the area.
"Without some form of intervention breaking the poverty cycle, a unlikely to have access to formal education, is quite likely to be impoverished and will probably not live beyond his or her '40s," Wilkins says.
"CAUSE provides many direct and tangible opportunities to communities in the Koinadugu district. Children get a quality education and adequate nutrition, local people are trained and employed, water and infrastructure projects are undertaken and social and economic spin-offs are seen throughout the region."
Although Huddleston was excited about helping kids overseas, she could not ignore the starving children within her own community. She decided to use the concert as a means to raise funds for local kids as well.
"Our kids are very fortunate to live in Canada and to have all privileges that come about as a result," Huddleston says. "While I wanted them to be grateful for what they have and where they live, I also wanted them to understand poverty is not something that only exists overseas; it's here, in our own backyards. This is an opportunity for our kids to use their artistic abilities to help others less fortunate."
Huddleston approached E4C Alberta (E4C), and the agency immediately jumped on board.
"We are delighted to be part of this exciting event," says E4C executive director, Michael Farris. "The fact it is kids helping other kids makes it even more meaningful for us."
EFC Alberta - a non-profit, human services organization operating 15 programs to fight poverty - started Edmonton 's School Lunch Program in 1993. The program offers hot meals in 13 inner-city schools. In 2006, the program served approximately 404,950 well-balanced meals to students from kindergarten to grade six.
"The program continues to grow due to the great need in our community," says Farris, adding one in five children in Edmonton live in poverty.
"Our goal is to help provide children with nutritious food so they can concentrate on school work and not on their hungry tummies."
Kids for Kids, Families for Families will feature a 45-minute set by The Descendants, followed by a collaboration of songs performed by The Connection. Proceeds from the event will be split evenly between the two charities. Those who attend the festival will also have the opportunity to sponsor children in Sierra Leone through CAUSE Kids.
The two bands collaborated to produce a CD of original songs, written and produced specifically for this benefit. The CD - released in May - will be on sale at the concert. Proceeds will be shared between CAUSE and E4C.
The Descendants is so-named because all band members are offspring of highly musical parents with extensive song-writing and performance histories. The band, which is coached by the members' parents, was one of the finalists in the 2007 Futures Fest Battle of the Bands Competition.
Kids for Kids, Families for Families takes place at 8 p.m. at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton on June 22. For tickets ($20), call 470-4236.
Information about CAUSE Kids and E4C is available at the agencies' websites - and To learn more about The Descendants and The Connection, visit

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Landmark Graduate Scott Bedall Creates "Wellness Challenge" to Promote Healthy Habits For Kids

When Scott Bedall began the Self Expression and Leadership Program he wanted to make a difference in the health of kids.

Kids take fitness in stride, and then some

From: Times Colonist, Victoria Canada
By: Jeff Bell

The collective energy of a bunch of eight- and nine-year-olds goes a long way.

At Cloverdale Traditional School (the name has officially changed now that the elementary facility has the go-ahead to follow a "traditional" school model in September), students in Gale Penner's Grade 3 class and Ian Macpherson's Grade 3/4 group are two weeks into the Victoria School Wellness Challenge -- and have already charged past one of their major goals.

Wellness Challenge creator Scott Beddall, whose godson Logan Diamond is one of Mrs. Penner's students, said all of the children have been given pedometers to keep track of how far they walk and run each day. The hope was that they would make it across Vancouver Island by the time the program wraps up June 12.

Logan Diamond and Tasmin Laal show off the pedometers they've been putting to good use at Cloverdale Traditional School.

"The original goal was just to cross Vancouver Island in 30 days," Beddall said. "But these students are doing so well we've had to shift it up to crossing Canada because they've already walked so far. They did 904 kilometres in four days."

Fresh from an in-class striding-and-exercise session led by Mrs. Penner, nine-year-old Solan Baragar said he knew just how far he and his friends had already travelled.

"We've walked across the Island and halfway back!"

He said his classmates are using their pedometers every day and having fun keeping track of how far they go.

Mrs. Penner said the students are full of enthusiasm for the Wellness Challenge, which also emphasizes healthy eating.

"It's fantastic," she said. "They love it. They're actually moving."

The students have even taken to doing high-step walking in the halls to maximize their movement, she said.

Beddall said the Wellness Challenge is a full-fledged community effort. Several businesses have given their support by supplying all of the pedometers and healthy snacks the program requires, and the Greater Victoria school board has been supportive since it was all just an idea.

He said a leadership program he was taking in Vancouver through Landmark Education inspired his plan.

"It centres around building a community project that makes a difference. I wanted to set it up in a way that kids could really stay interested and get motivated about physical fitness and nutrition."

The program comes at time when health issues and their relation to diet and exercise are very topical, Beddall said.

"Diabetes rates are flying up, and childhood obesity is tied right in with that."

The Wellness Challenge also fits into the goals of the province's two-year-old ActNow B.C. initiative, which promotes a range of health- and fitness-related issues, Beddall said.

He said he had a lot of help getting the program up and running, particularly from Winona Pugh, and is hoping to do more in the future.

"We're going to look at ways next year that we can build this up and include more schools."

Leadership Victoria is teaming up with Rob Reid from Frontrunners to make the annual Mad Hatter Fun Run on June 2 an event to remember.

The three-kilometre run, started by Reid in 2003, takes place on the Oak Bay Tea Party parade route just before the floats, bands and other parade entries head out from Windsor Park. With the help of the Leadership Victoria "Street Feet" team, this year's run will be raising awareness of the needs of Victoria's homeless, as well as giving participants a chance to donate personal-care items to the Victoria Cool Aid Society's shelter program.

Cost of entry in the run will be $5, along with an item for Cool Aid. Socks, underwear, toothbrushes and hygiene products are among the needs.

Registration forms can be picked up at Frontrunners' Victoria and Langford locations, or Bellla on Johnson Street. Entry fees and donations can be dropped off at these sites, or at the registration desk on run-day.

Organizers are hoping the special cause being supported at this year's event will help double the field of runners, which usually numbers about 100.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Landmark Education Graduate Project "Genesis at the Crossroads" has Been Bringing The Arab and Jewish Communities Together Since 1999

Quilt communicates--One Peace at a Time

From: Sun Times News Group
December 4, 2006
The seventh-grade class from Nettelhorst School was as diverse and patchwork as the peace quilts its students were meticulously creating colorful, cotton squares for.

The kids were participating in the humanitarian project, One Peace at a Time, which will ship bright and vibrant, handmade children's quilts --created by American kids-- to Iraq children, through Operation Iraqi Children.

A square of the peace quilt being crafted by students at Nettelhorst Elementary School. The quilt will be sent to children in Iraq.

"It's such a fun project," said Lincoln Parker Wendy Sternberg, founder of Genesis at the Crossroads, the nonprofit organization responsible for the concept. "It's not just their visual artwork that needs to go down in history, but ideas on how to communicate peace through words, colors. It's a project to grow philanthropic kids, because I think that is what's going to change the world."

The project is part of a larger effort coordinated by Sternberg, who in 1999 founded Genesis, which is dedicated to bridging cultures in conflict through the arts as well as creating innovative arts education programs around the world.

With One Peace At A Time, Sternberg said she wanted to give kids an opportunity to think about world peace and show those emotions in a creative, artistic way. She asked the children to reflect their individual thoughts on peace through color and fabrics, thinking outside the box as they work.

"You guys are ambassadors of peace," Sternberg, a doctor with a private practice in Evanston, told the group. "Your message about peace in the world is actually going to be taken around the world."

This is the ninth school and the 12th workshop Sternberg has held locally, and she has run the gamut, she said, of nationalities. Sternberg -- who is Jewish -- said she started the project with the ideal of, "acceptance, appreciation, and a celebration of diversity." Each quilt takes about 10 hours to make, and the squares are meticulously put together by a team of professional quilters.

"The quilts are a nice medium," Sternberg said. "Everyone associates warmth and comfort in a quilt."

En route to the Iraqi children, the exhibit will be on display at the Merchandise Mart's One of a Kind Show and Sale from Dec. 7 to 10, and will then stop at the Chicago Children's Museum and other museums of peace and tolerance across the nation.

In conjunction with exhibit, Concert for Peace, featuring actor Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band, will be held Dec. 10 at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza. The concert will benefit Genesis' children's humanitarian peace programs, and One of a Kind Show artists will also submit squares for an original peace quilt that will be auctioned off at the Sinise show.

At Nettelhorst, 3252 N. Broadway, students clearly got into creating their squares and promoting peace Nov. 21.

Julliannah Muyiwa's quilt showed a sunset on the water, and hands and hearts. "I'd like to see no wars and everybody getting along and no violence," Muyiwa said.

Yamonie Noy said peace means, "People living, loving and laughing, and coming together as one with no war, and happiness," while Michelle McDaniel, said it made her happy to know she's helping other people and making them happy.

Sternberg said she chose Iraq because, "There's a war going on and there's no end point, and that leads to a lot of death and destruction."

Meanwhile, as they put the final touches on their squares, the students continued to reflect about peace.

Constanza Caal, drew a sunset, because it's "peaceful close to the water," and Miranda Davis drew both an American and Iraqi flag, with a peace sign in-between, so "the USA can have peace with Iraq." Marie Mungenast said she hoped the Iraqi children, "Will be happy to know we're thinking about them," with her drawing of peace signs and trees creating a "peaceful environment."

To Sternberg, who was tearful at times discussing the project and checking out the artwork, these children are the future peacemakers of the world.

"I love the spirit in little kids," Sternberg said. "They have so much verve and fight, it's endearing ... and it's going to take a fight for world peace.

"They have tenacity," she added. "They can make a huge difference."

For more information on Genesis at the Crossroads, visit