All posts by omaha

I am Youyou's daddy.

Junior Achievement Volunteering at Northview Elementary Jennings

Today I had opportunity being a Junior Achievement Volunteer at Northview Elementary School (Jennings). This is the first time I volunteer for JA, also my first time really being a teaching position at school. Almost 18 years I did some brief teaching (Abaqus finite element analysis) for some civil engineering graduate students. More recently I started volunteer for Math Facts Scholars at my daughter’s school, but this is mostly testing and some one on one tutoring.

Back to topic, JA is a program teaching kids about community, business, jobs, work readiness and entrepreneurship. It reminds me of this Warren Buffett SMC program this evening after I came back from the school, and cooled down a bit. The day went by fast, and we (my partner, myself and classroom teacher) did the best we can, considering all the factors: the classroom is a bit crowded, 28 kids for 2nd grade. I also started appreciating the hard work of teacher, in the beginning of afternoon session, because I felt my knee is really sore, and I just feel like to sit down. It’s also very interesting to see the teacher got many tricks (gestures, rhythms, and routines) to help calm down the kids. Also there are bright and hard working kids everywhere, despite the fact they may not have the latest and greatest facility or equipment. For example, I noticed they have Windows, and small Dell laptop (chromebooks?). While in many area private school and the public school my daughter goes, they have macs.

For me this is quite an eye opening moment for me, as I listened to the morning announcement in the broadcast, from pledge of the allegiance, to birthday annoucement.

PS, I was quite nervous before the event, as I said earlier I did not have much teaching or public speaking experience. One thing I try to remind myself: as Woody Allen said, 80% of the work is to show up. So just show up and we should be mostly fine. Also, I try to set my expectation low, as long as I have impact one student, I will be happy. It seems from the students response, I wildly beat this low expectation: as I was leaving, students gave me hugs and high fives.

Also, it’s interesting some of them were very curious about China, they asked me questions on China. I never have similar experience like that in my daughter’s school, probably because I never got to talk, and they have many Chinese kids in school (not as curious).

Fund raising at non-for-profit orgnizations

(Update 28-Feb-2017) Just got back from the book fair in Spoede school, camp read a lot. It’s a lot of efforts from the volunteers and the teachers. At the same time a lot fun for the little kids and the families. Part of the profit goes to the SSA (the parent association of the school).

(Original) I have some experience on this topic, when I was a new graduate student at Rolla, I worked on the phone asking the alumni for donation during phonathon. That’s from the asking end.

When I started to working, I listened to local NPR station (KWMU) for news and english learning, I know from time to time they also have the fundraising campaign. During that time they pause the program, and ask people to call in and give money. After a few years, finally I pulled the plug and called them.

Nowadays as my daughters started attending schools and they usually have parents association that support the schools. The St. Louis Children’s Choirs my old daughter participated is a non-for-profit organization too. There are a few common ways to raise the money: silent auction (or not-so-silent-auction), trivial/bingo games, the affiliation programs such as scripts program at Schnucks, Amazon shopping, and box-on-top. There are also some events like eating out night (restaurant donate a part of revenue/profit to school). So really it’s whatever it works: bring money from multiple revenue streams. For the trivia night/silent auction or live auction, usually people bring own drink (alcohols), unless it’s a family friendly event in which alcohol is not allowed. It seems to me sometimes the bidding become more intense with all the alcohols :-)

This year my daughter’s school did something different, they did a raffle. I think raffle (sweepstakes) is not uncommon, except in this case I think the each entry is a bit too costly ($100). I think $100 is not small money in many families, also keep in mind in some culture or religion sweepstakes (gamble) is not a good idea :-)

So here is my 2 cents. I think small non-for-profit organization fundraising is a bit like a small business trying to survive, again I feel this is one reason the multiple revenue streams. Some passive (affiliation); some active (trivial/auction/eat out). Coming from China which does not have this sort of thing, I feel this is interesting.

Remembering my middle school teacher 姚仁汉老师

昨晚在初中群里面惊闻我的初中物理老师姚仁汉老师,因病去世,年仅56(虚岁)。这里有相关的介绍, 还有这里, 和这里



Worst flu in recent memory

So here in Missouri, around February, is also the worst of the flu season. This year is the worst for a long time. I knew I got it at the New Year’s eve, and about 4 weeks later, I am not fully recovered. The problem was I had to work in the Saturday night/Sunday morning after new year (Feb 4/5 weekend), though it did not made my situation worse, it did not made my life any easier either. My two daughters also got it. They were off school in the week of Feb 6 for 3 and 4 days, respectively. I had to work from home, and did some juggernaut, and tried stay in the game. I did get flu shot, but my girls did not. I had some fever on Feb 3 and 17. My old daughter got fever again this week, started Sunday night/Monday morning. My wife think one reason was we did not dry her hair after swimming. Oh well, this is the worst flu season I have seen for a while. I heard many school kids and teachers got sick, naturally due to their environment. Work place may work better if we can issue a work from home memorandum.

My coworker also mentioned the V8 and advil to fight this off. Not sure whether this is effective or not, as I am not a V8 fan (tomato juice).

Montessori, Reggio and Waldorf schools in St. Louis

Those schools are considered speciality schools, because they have their own philosophy, which is NOT exactly the same as other private schools (both sectarian and non-sectarian).

Schools that care and educate the younger ones, some even have infant class.
A growing place: it’s located at Forsyth and Big Bend road, next to Washington U. Danforth campus. It’s a small school, but I heard very good things about them from two people (one montessori teacher, and one parent).

Faith Academy of Montessori: Housed in a historic 19th century train station in the heart of Webster Groves, Faith Academy is a Montessori preschool and kindergarten serving children and their families since 1982.

Hope Montessori: they have many campuses but our favorite is the original one Creve Coeur. Also noted the infant toddler community. My old daughter attended there for 3 years (from 1.5 years old to 4.5 years old; from toddler to preschooler). The only downside I can see is the cost, the environment and teachers qualify is the best in STL.

Kirkwood Children’s House: founded by Florence Kramer in 1985, is a Montessori preschool dedicated to the care and education of children ages 18 months to six year old.

Visitation Academy: Viz is an independent, Catholic school offering a co-educational Montessori program in Grades Toddler through Kindergarten…

RainTree school: emma reggio themed pre-school. I heard from my coworker. It’s a fairly new school, and they emphasize the outdoors (if you don’t mind wash kiddo’s clothes). Also they have some discount if you pay the whole year tuition in advance.

The Waldorf School of St. Louis: the only Waldorf school in St. Louis, located in a Webster Groves neighborhood (residential area). They also have elementary school.

Elementary schools
Schools have elementary schools (or higher grades).
Chesterfield Day School: Beginning in our Toddler program through First Grade, Chesterfield Day School’s premier Montessori School bridges to a strong and distinctive secondary school preparation program with personalized methodologies woven throughout.

Chesterfield Montessori: “Chesterfield Montessori School was founded in 1981 as a private school serving children ages three to six. Today CMS is a well-established, non-profit school recognized by AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) offering authentic Montessori programs at all levels from toddlers (16 months) through 15 years…” Six years ago I toured the school on a sunny day after snow, a gorgeous view of the school, and wonderful facilities. I learned the “mixed ages kids in same class” from that visit.

St. Michael’s School (about us): reggio approach is used. This may sound a bit surprising to some but note Visitation academy (catholic school) offers Montessori (see above)

Which school to choose?
This is very personal (individual family has to make this decision). Note there are many excellent public (Ladue, Clayton, Lindburgh, Kirkwood etc.), and private schools in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Also see the link here, here and here.

To be continued…

Remembering my middle school teacher 周国夫老师



我说美国大选: II

这可能是我写博客以来隔得最久的两篇相关文章。我说美国大选: I在这里。时隔八年,从上一次Obama”Yes We Can”到这一次Trump”Make America Great Again”. 从Google Search Engine Optimization(打败希拉里的主要原因之一,当时Facebook只是起步阶段)到这次Trump基本上垄断Twitter(参考12)。引用第一篇文章的一句话:

But if the presidential election was a Twitter popularity contest—and thank God it’s not—one thing is clear: Trump would win by a landslide.

其实Internet和Web从2004年就被采用,当年HOWARD DEAN用的Tool是Meetup,这个网站有点不温不火,现在还是一个IT User Group常用的聚会工具。


Fitbit is losing momentum

Why I am saying that?

I am the only active person among my “Fitbit friends”. So I assume it could means a few things:
1) All my friends stopped wearing Fitbit;
2) All my friends did not sync (or their Fitbit could not sync, which I admit is a real problem for Fitbit);
3) All my friends got Apple watch (or something nicer, good for them :-)


The stock (NYSE:FIT) has been absolutely horrible YTD, or to be more exact since its IPO about 15 months ago. I am glad my trades worked out this year though :-)


I am speculating one reason is Apple Watch is taking off. Although I tried to stay away from that $300+ “need to be charged daily, always on” gadget, it seems it’s the inevitable with the so called “series 2”. I feel the nike+ version with the swimming is the way to go. Now if I could offload a few items on ebay to make the $300 bucks…

Transition to first grade

Serenity started 1st grade this fall. Same school. I have some ideas on first grade, mostly around the homework, “more serious school” vs. the kindergarten which has more play time. I learned from fellow parents last year when they talked about it after MFS (I volunteered there).

Seeing is believing. Serenity now has been in 1st grade for over a month. Some impressions:
1) More work, either schoolwork or the work we gave her.

2) More seriousness, definitely, she got a tardy slip (her first) because we were late in the morning, we were probably late for 2 or 3 minutes (but still late, no excuse here), as I saw we were the only car in the car pool lane which is the only time like this.

3) More pressure, or expectations, besides on time, they were expected to listen more carefully when the teacher talks, and follow directions quickly, etc.

Those are my initial impressions, after a bit over a month school.