By Taylor Smith

Produced in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the New York Public Library (NYPL) at 476 Fifth Avenue (at 42nd Street) presents an evening of performances and conversations centered around Toni Morrison, the American icon, writer, and intellectual, on Wednesday, March 18 at 7 p.m. more

Princeton University’s New Director of Creative Writing

By Wendy Greenberg | Photography by Andrew Wilkinson

Jhumpa Lahiri takes a framed sketch from her office wall. It is a drawing of a library in her Rhode Island hometown. “This made me a writer, being around books,” she says. “It was so crucial. I believe that reading was the most important thing.”

In addition to being an ardent reader and celebrated author, Lahiri is a teacher, lover of languages, translator, and now college administrator. In her life and in her writing, which seem to be inseparable, she straddles different worlds.

Born in London and raised in Rhode Island by Bengali-born parents, she now divides her time between Rome, where she does most of her writing, and Princeton, where she was named director of the Princeton University Program in Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts in August.

Teaching has helped Lahiri explore new worlds, and new words. “When I teach, it inspires me to re-read an author, like Kafka,” she says. “I read the familiar and the unfamiliar. Reading is ongoing, infinite. I like being in environments where reading leads to conversations.”  more

By Taylor Smith

Images Courtesy of Morristown-Beard School

Morristown-Beard School (MBS) is an independent, coeducational day school serving nine counties and more than 85 communities in northern New Jersey. The school motto, Ad Astra Per Aspera, can be translated as “To the Stars Through Adversity,” a phrase that embodies the essence of the MBS experience. more

By Taylor Smith

Images courtesy of Agnes Irwin School

Following a nationwide search, the board of trustees of The Agnes Irwin School, a private girls school in Rosemont, Pa., recently announced the appointment of Sally B. Keidel as the school’s 14th head, effective July 1, 2020. more

Students at Hopewell Elementary School display bags they helped pack for underpriviledged children.

Helping Children in Need One Smile at a Time

By Laurie Pellichero | Photography Courtesy of Christine’s Hope for Kids

Christine Marie Gianacaci

Every child deserves the chance to be a kid, regardless of their circumstances. That’s the philosophy behind Christine’s Hope for Kids, a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by John and Jean Gianacaci of Hopewell in honor of their late daughter, Christine.

In January of 2010, 22-year-old Christine Gianacaci and several of her classmates from Lynn University in Florida were in Haiti on a mission to help children in need and feed the poor. It was a cause to which Christine was deeply devoted, especially after a transformative first trip to Jamaica in her sophomore year where she had seen the poorest of the poor and helped to build houses, feed sick children, and deliver clothes and toys.

She was doing the same in Haiti when a catastrophic earthquake struck on January 12. The Hotel Montana in Port-Au-Prince collapsed and Christine, along with three other Lynn students and two professors, was killed.

In the wake of this tragedy, Christine’s Hope for Kids was created to continue the legacy and generous spirit of Christine, and her desire to help underprivileged children and kids with difference.

Through raising money, collecting item donations, and working closely with other area nonprofit organizations, Christine’s Hope is dedicated to giving disadvantaged children in the community a better life. They are also helping to create the next generation of community leaders by teachings kids how to help other kids. more

Photo Credit: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

By Taylor Smith

The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia, founded in 1805, is the first and oldest art museum and school in the United States. In a unique partnership with area medical schools, PAFA provides humanities-based training for medical students, nursing students, university faculty members, and practicing physicians. more

Dana and Christopher Reeve (Image Source: https://www.christopherreeve.org/about-us/christopher-and-dana)

By Taylor Smith

This year’s gala benefit for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation took place on Thursday, November 14 at Cipriani South Street in New York City.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation grew out of the community-driven Stifel Paralysis Research Foundation, which was founded in 1982 when Henry Stifel, a New Jersey high school student, was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed at age 17. The organization evolved into the American Paralysis Association (APA). When actor Christopher Reeve was injured in a horseback riding accident in 1995, the APA was one of the first places that Reeve and his wife, Dana, sought support. By 1999, the APA and Christopher’s foundation united as the Christopher Reeve Foundation (Dana’s name was added to the moniker after her death in 2006). more

Image Source: https://wilderchild.com

By Taylor Smith

Winter often signifies a challenging time of year for birds to find adequate food and sustenance.  Decorating an outdoor tree with edible ornaments is a way to attract winter birds, providing them with shelter and a wide range of foods. more

Image Sources: The Center for Contemporary Art

By Taylor Smith

Registration is underway for winter art classes for adults, teens, and children at The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster. With more than 35 offerings to choose from, classes begin in January 2020. more

Miller Library at Colby College

By Taylor Smith

Ecology concerns the analysis and examination of the varied systems of interaction between humans and their environment. The trans-disciplinary subject matter relates to topics of anthropology, psychology, environmental management, engineering, biology, animal science, agricultural economics, geography, and sociology, among others. more

By Taylor Smith

 American poet Walt Whitman has been honored with a new United States stamp.

The stamp is intended for domestic first-class mail weighing up to 3 ounces, and is priced at 85 cents. USPS Art Director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with artwork by Sam Weber, who previously illustrated the Flannery O’Connor stamp in 2015 and the Henry David Thoreau stamp in 2017. more

Area Nonprofit Believes Children Should Hunger for Knowledge — not Breakfast

By Taylor Smith | Photos courtesy of SHUPPrinceton

Ross Wishnick, chairperson of the Princeton Human Services Commission, remembers a meeting that was held in 2012 to address the problem of hungry kids in the Princeton School System.

Of the Princeton school population, an estimated 14 percent of students receive free or supplemental lunches. Of particular concern to Wishnick and his fellow community members was the fact that these same children who receive supplemental meals during the school week often find themselves food insecure on the weekends and during summer vacations. Studies have proven that improper nutrition negatively affects a child’s ability to concentrate, learn, and ultimately retain information.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 12 million children in the United States live in “food-insecure homes.” The USDA’s annual report on Household Food Security in the United States indicates, “In 2017, the typical food-secure household spent 23 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition. About 58 percent of food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest federal food and nutrition assistance programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps); Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the National School Lunch Program.” more

With a 70-year history, it’s at the forefront of today’s educational challenges

By Wendy Greenberg | Photos by Shutterstock

In 1947, a small nonprofit organization with a mission of advancing equity in education began its work in a brick building at 20 Nassau Street in Princeton. After more than seven decades, Educational Testing Service (ETS), located since 1964 on a scenic campus off Rosedale Road just outside of Princeton in Lawrence Township, still adheres to its original mission to “advance quality and equity in education” and “measure knowledge and skills, promote learning and performance, and support education and professional development for all people worldwide.”

But since the early years of ETS, the testing and assessment landscape has evolved. The topic of standardized testing has been in the news, both heralded and under scrutiny, with debates focusing on the importance to college and graduate school admissions, and whether the tests are indeed equitable to all.

Even with its long history, ETS is facing forward, and has evolved as the needs of learners have changed. While it is considered the epicenter of research in and development of tests like the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and development of test questions used on the College’s Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATs), ETS is also immersed in conducting research to improve quality and equity in education. more

PU Wrestling Coach Chris Ayres Builds a Winning Program

By Bill Alden | Portrait by Frank Wojciechowski

Settling gingerly onto a couch in the living room of his Princeton home this July days after undergoing a hip replacement, Chris Ayres laughs through the pain, recounting the beginning of his wrestling career as a fourth-grader.

“I lost my first 14 matches, but then I won my last four,” says Ayres with his face creasing into a grin before he chuckles at the memory. “I wasn’t good at it right away but I loved it.”

That rough debut proved to be a harbinger of things to come as Ayres has gone on to fight and win a number of uphill battles in his wrestling career, fueled by his passion for the sport.

After not medaling in the New Jersey state championships during his career at Newton High, Ayres spent a year competing as a postgraduate at the Blair Academy and then walked on the Lehigh University wrestling team. He ended up as one of the greatest wrestlers ever for the Mountain Hawks, setting a program record with 120 victories and twice earning the school’s Outstanding Athlete award.

Ayres, though, failed in his bid to make the U.S. team for the world championships, and turned to coaching as an assistant at Lehigh. He spent five years learning the ropes and preparing himself to guide a college program.

In 2006, he undertook a massive challenge, becoming the head coach of a moribund Princeton University wrestling program that was mired in the cellar of the Ivy League. The Tigers went 0-35 in Ayres’ first two seasons but, true to character, he kept plugging.  more

Mike Bloomberg

By Taylor Smith 

“Philanthropy gives us a competitive advantage, we think, in recruiting and retaining talent. And I can tell you from personal experience, it is also good for the bottom line, as good a thing a company can do.” —Michael R. Bloomberg

Headquartered on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Bloomberg Philanthropies was founded in 2006 with the purpose of directing funding and research to five major areas: the environment, public health, the arts, government innovation, and education. By “using data in new ways,” Bloomberg Philanthropies routinely shifts policies and advances progress, legislation, and public opinion. As an example, the organization has potentially saved countless lives by creating solutions proven to curb global tobacco use. According to bloomberg.org, “If left unchecked, tobacco use will kill one billion people this century.” more

Image Source: The Psychoanalytic Institute of the Contemporary Freudian Society

By Taylor Smith

Adolescents and college-age men and women are statistically at a high risk of experiencing the onset of a psychotic episode, particularly if they are genetically predisposed to mental illness. more

By Taylor Smith

In The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years, authors B. Janet Hibbs (psychologist and marriage therapist) and Anthony Rostain (psychiatry and pediatrics/Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania) write that today’s students “experience the very real burdens of constant striving on behalf of uncertain futures, amidst swiftly changing political and economic landscapes. They’re also stressed by the 24/7 availability of the internet, by social media pressures, and the resulting metrics of constant comparisons, whether social or academic.” more

Image Source: Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute

By Taylor Smith

Many veterinary schools are now offering education tracks in wildlife medicine, which is an interdisciplinary study that involves work in wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife medicine, and conservation medicine. Conservation medicine is concerned with looking at the interplay between environment and health. more

By Taylor Smith 

On Thursday, October 10 at 8 p.m., former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will deliver a talk at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark. The event is presented by Fairleigh Dickinson University and is part of the New Jersey Speaker Series at NJPAC that has previously hosted former FBI Director James Comey, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, journalist and political activist Gloria Steinem, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ian Bremmer, founder of the Eurasia Group. All events take place at NJPAC’s Prudential Hall.  more

By Taylor Smith

Monmouth University in Long Branch (www.monmouth.edu) is the first private institution of higher education in New Jersey to join businesses across the state on the New Jersey Sustainable Business Registry (http://registry.njsbdc.com). more