November 8, 2016

Words Matter

There has been a lot said these past few months here in Iowa–about the election, the Flood, the national anthem–no shortage of hot topics to pick from in 2016.

In the era of Twitter handles, blogs & Snap stories, careful rhetoric & thoughtful conversation can sometimes be neglected in favor of negativity, put downs & ignorance.

Lately, I’ve made a conscious effort to find the opposite–positive, constructive & engaging dialogue that takes place all around us here in Cedar Rapids.

Last month was America Reads Day at area schools, where community volunteers spent part of their day sharing their favorite story with students.  Yours truly was a dynamite Grant Dragon in our annual puppet show, if I do say so myself!

I recently attended  the Corridor Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 event, where awardees were given only 3 words to work with in their acceptance speeches–they were witty, inspirational, & gracious.  It was refreshing to hear how simple sentiments can be so powerful.

The Kids On Course staff spent two days last week at a training that detailed effective strategies to use while engaging with students in stressful situations.  Not only did we come away with a better idea of what to say (and what NOT to say), but also how kids react to sarcasm, inflection, & volume.

So while today marks the end of political attack ads (at least for the time being), I challenge each & every one of you to practice having meaningful conversations, to choose your words wisely, & recognize and celebrate the good in others.

“Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.” -Buddha



January 8, 2016

Brain Food

Upon returning from my latest epic holiday adventure, I found myself looking down at the ‘Tofu-rkey roast sandwich’ that greeted me as I attempted to get back into the swing of the new year.

After multiple eggplant parm dishes, a 7 fish meal, & various types of cheesecakes, the meat substitute sitting in front of me just didn’t seem to live up to my holiday eating standards.

Food has always played an important part in my life, which is part of the reason why I’ve been so excited about the innovative work being done in the Cedar Rapids community centered around healthy lifestyles.

I’ve been impressed to see new restaurants featuring farm to table menus, the large scale Blue Zones Project (can’t help but mention that 2 KOC schools have achieved the coveted Blue Zones Designation), our vibrant Downtown Farmer’s Market, and the Cedar Rapids School District’s Wellness initiatives.

It’s no secret that a healthy mind & body are crucial ingredients (see what I did there!) to our students’ success & overall well-being.  I’ve seen how much of a difference it makes when teachers allow students to take brain breaks throughout the school day, the excitement & curiosity that comes with exploring the school garden, and how appreciative families & kids are when they receive a bag full of weekend food from HACAP’s Operation BackPack.

So here’s to a delicious & heart healthy 2016.

And with that, I’m off to Sushi House :)

– David Savino, Grant Site Manager

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April 21, 2015

Masterfully Done–A Thank You to ZJ and Country Inns & Suites

On the heels of Zach Johnson’s more than impressive top 10 finish at the Masters, Kids on Course feels compelled to extend a huge THANK YOU to our favorite pro golfer, our Foundation, and to ZJ’s latest sponsor, Country Inns & Suites.

Country Inns & Suites recently donated literally thousands of children’s books to our program, which we promptly handed out to students to take home:

“This year, we’re continuing our partnership with Pro Golfer Zach Johnson. In support of the Zach Johnson Foundation’s Kids on Course program, today we were happy to donate 4,500 books to Grant Elementary School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.”

Check out the full post in its’ entirety on the Country Inns’ Blog here!

February 6, 2015

The Birds & The Pigs

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Surface Pro’s, enthusiastic young minds, & Angry Birds.  Top that off with a field trip to a brand new, hi-tech building in CR on a Wednesday, and as you can imagine we didn’t hear too much complaining from our students.

With the gracious help of Geonetric and Iowa Startup Accelerator, a select group of students from all three Kids on Course schools had the opportunity to participate in a global movement called the Hour of Code.

As a part of Computer Science Education Week, students of all ages around the world began their quest to catch those elusive Pigs.  Their critical thinking & problem solving skills firing on all cylinders, students traveled from level to level using the Angry Birds platform while exploring the basics of computer programming.

I personally had the pleasure of taking thirty 4th & 5th graders from Grant Elementary to this unique experience, and the expressions I saw on their faces as soon as they walked through Geonetric’s door spoke volumes.  As they whipped through the Hour of Code in what must have been record time, I was most impressed by the sight of engaged & motivated students in a tech rich environment, surrounded by adults who facilitated teamwork & conversation.

Keep an eye out for more collaboration between IowaBIG, Geonetric, the Cedar Rapids Community School District, Kids on Course, and numerous other community partners in the future, as we help pave the way for growth, innovation, and achievement.