Monthly Archives: November 2013

New Arts Programs for Chicago Public Schools


Reggi HopkinsThere has been a lot of change in schools today.  Curriculums have been reevaluated, focuses changed, anything that be done to possibly better the students’ education is looked at.  However, in many schools, areas of education are being neglected.  Some of these areas include languages, arts and music.  A recent event in Chicago aims to change that.

The National Guild for Community Arts Education, an organization dedicated to education through creativity and the arts within community settings, held their annual meeting in Chicago on October 31.  This meeting is not just a one-day deal.  Over four days, the upwards of 500 individuals who will be a part of the meeting will discuss ways of increasing art instruction in schools- an area that they have recently seen lacking.

The meeting will center its focus on Chicago’s new arts education plan, which will ensure all forms of learning through the arts are incorporated into classrooms.  One of the contributors to the construction of this new arts education program for the public schools of Chicago is Paul Sznewajs.  He feels that, although more funding is needed to bring the program to its fullest potential, the future looks very positive for these schools.  “We have the potential of more time the school day for arts education.” Sznewajs says.  That, combined with community support, will help this new initiative to thrive.

It is always exciting to see the Chicago’s people coming together for a greater good.  This new art plan, along with all of the incredible community and organizational support, has the ability to make big changes within these schools and educate children in a creative, constructive manner.  It will be wonderful to see the growth and development of this arts education within Chicago Schools.


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Plan for Animal Abuse Registry to Protect Pets

Reggi Hopkins’ Blog Post

Reggi HopkinsAnimal abuse is a cause that often goes unnoticed.  Thankfully, animal rights groups are working to change this and make people aware of animal cruelty and abuse.  A California animal rights organization is working on putting together a database that will cover the entire nation in order to protect animals from vicious, abusive owners.

This project is looking to create an official “Animal Abuse Registry,” which would ensure that anyone convicted of animal cruelty would be forced to register with criminal justice services, thus prevent them from ever owning pets.  This system would also send out alerts to the general public as well as law enforcement as to where these registered animal abusers live, along with give animal shelters the ability to screen anyone who may be looking to adopt a pet for any past charges against animals.

The goal of the animal legal defense fund is to make people aware of animal cruelty and welfare, and to bring this issue into the light.  However, a good number of states are concerned with the costliness of creating this database.

As far as animal shelters are concerned, this registry would be of great assistance to them.  They want to find homes for the animals at their shelter, but they want to be sure the animal will be getting the proper love and care they need. Diane Lammerts, the director of operations at The Animal Foundation, says they often see terribly sad cases of unwanted animals neglected or turned lose, which often leads to them getting hit by cars.

This animal abuse registry would not only prevent pets from going to unsuitable homes, but would also allow others to easily report abusive behavior and have it taken care of by authorities.  Hopefully this registry takes hold and begins to grow across the U.S.  A lot of innocent animals could survive and enjoy their lives by way of this protective measures program.

via Reggi Hopkins: Animal Rights Activist and Environmentalist

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Effective Interviewing for the Employer

Reggi Hopkins’ New Post

Reggi HopkinsHiring employees is a difficult process.  You are assessing a person on whether or not they would be a good person to work at your business in a matter of 30 minutes to an hour, when, if they get the job, you and your coworkers will be spending much more time than that with them.  More recently, employers have been realizing that hiring someone who fits their ideal employee perfectly on paper is not always the best decision.  Focusing solely on the skills of an individual can be a big mistake when hiring.  Skills are important, yes, but they do not automatically make a perfect employee.  One is also looking for employees who work well with others, are high in productivity and much more.

This is why it is important to have good questions ready when you sit down to interview a potential employee.  If you are asking someone to interview, you already know that their skill set is a match for what you are looking for.  You have already reviewed their resume, letters of recommendation, and any other documentation you may have required.  The interview is the true test of whether or not this person will be a cohesive component of your business.  In order to find this out, it is important to go about the interview the right way.

  1. Make the Questions Open-Ended-  Ask about how they have dealt with confrontations or any issues in their previous area of employment.  If the examples they give are all centered on how they could do no wrong or always had the best way or knew better than their boss, chances are this person will not be able to work very well in a setting that is already well established and functioning well.  This type of attitude indicates they do not take direction well and may cost you more time and energy than they’re worth.
  2. Multiple Interviews- Have other people in your business interview them.  Getting a few opinions on a potential employee can help a lot, especially if you will not necessarily be working directly with them.  Someone already in the department they are looking to join may be able to offer better advice on how they would fit in.
  3. Reference Check the Right Way- When getting in touch with previous employers or coworkers about a potential hire, be sure to ask about them as a person- how they operate in an office setting, what their attitude is like, etc.  These “soft skills,” can give you a good idea of how this person really is.

These three tips can help employers give better interviews and thus hire and retain better employees that can help build and develop their business.

via Reggi Hopkins: Entrepreneurship and Business Development

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Women in the Music Industry are Making Some Noise!

Blog Post by Reggi Hopkins

Reggi HopkinsChicago has always been a force in the music industry.  Countless independent record labels, pop-up venues, and popular record stores have been a strong foundation for artists looking to make it, and Chicago is always looking to support and promote its own artists.

Lately though, which may come as a surprise, is the number of strong female artists up-and-coming on the Chicago music scene.  Record labels, music stores, and various other music-related businesses are being run by females in Chicago.

The director of “Girls Rock! Chicago,” which is a music camp for young girls ages 8-16 is directed by Melissa Oglesby, and is meant to teach girls to express themselves creatively, trust their instincts, boost their self esteem and make them aware of their community needs by way of rock music.  Oglesby says the program is incredible in that these young girls uplift one another and are able to find themselves as musicians and as individuals.  Not only that but they area also given female role models by way of their camp counselors, who teach them music and mentor them.

Melissa Oglesby acknowledges that the music industry can be a tough place for young women to get involved in, but through programs like Girls Rock, young women are able to come together and learn from one another- learn music, learn strength and learn to collaborate with one another.

With a bunch of strong women in the community, such as Nan Warshaw, the co-owner of bloodshot records, Kelly Nothing, of Animal Kingdom (an up-and coming music venue), and Heather West, the owner of Western Publicity, the women of the Chicago music scene are a force to be reckoned with.  They are driving the business today, and in the future we can only expect to see these women continue to develop and grow the industry.

via Reggi Hopkins Music Page

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Video Technology Helps Nebraskan Music Students

Reggi Hopkins’ New Blog Post

Reggi HopkinsMusic should be accessible to all students.  However, for those living in extremely rural areas, it can be very difficult to find the quality of teaching needed to guide them in learning an instrument, not to mention a wide variety of instruments that students may be playing.   Areas of Nebraska have recognized this problem and have come up with a solution to begin to help these students by video conferencing their students with specialized music instructors at the Manhattan School of Music in New York.

In a small town called Neligh, the school band was able to have one of their students qualify to make the all-state band, something that has not happened in 12 years.  Along with school band practice, this gifted young clarinet player took weekly 50-minute video sessions with an instructor at the Manhattan School, enabling her to take her abilities to the next level and succeed in her goals.

At another Nebraska school, Kearney High School, eleven of the students in the band made the all-state band, a whopping double the number of students as in previous years.  The band teachers say they owe it to the specialized, direct instruction.

The video technology that is connecting these students and instructors is called Polycom.  These machines are made for videoconferencing and have an omnidirectional microphone built in, which helps for eliminating background noise and allowing the focus to be completely on the music instruction, with little interruption.  The sound is crucial because of the nature of the lesson- focusing on fine-tuning and perfecting musical sound and ability.  Other video-chat programs cannot offer this same quality.  Similarly, an HD camera allows instructors to zoom in, so they can better instruct students on their physical technique with an instrument.

The dean of distance learning and recording arts at the Manhattan School of music said it best, “We’re able to leverage 21st century technology to keep music alive.  This is a phenomenal way to do it, and the folks in Nebraska get it.”  Thanks to this technology and the coast-to-coast camaraderie, students are able to better themselves at their instrument and become the musician they had always dreamed of being.

via Reggi Hopkins Tech Page

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