American Graduate Champion: Rudi Andrus

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KLRU shares the inspiring stories of the people that are making our community a success! As part of our American Graduate initiative, we’re honoring American Graduate Champions that have been submitted by the community.

rudi_andrus.jpegToday’s Champion is Rudi Andrus! Rudi is the Executive Director of Mainsprings School. She works with staff, children, parents and the community at her National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited early childhood school.

Her nominator, Crystal Martinez, says, “Rudi is a champion because she truly is passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and families. She really enjoys walking through her school and seeing the children be happily engaged in learning. Rudi is a great writer, has received grants and is an effective speaker when explaining the devastating effects of poverty on young children and their families to the business community.”

Do you know someone in our community who is working to improve high school success for students throughout Central Texas? Recognize them as an American Graduate Champion! American Graduate Champions can be students who work as mentors, business leaders who serve as role models, school officials making changes to better the system, parent activists, and even struggling students who are overcoming obstacles in order to graduate.

Behind the story | Austin Revealed: Pioneers of the East

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Austin Revealed is an oral history project sharing the stories of Austin’s past and present to encourage discussion and thought around the city’s future. In this series of Austin RevealedPioneers From the East, we profile three of the first families of Chinese origin to settle in the Austin area – the Sing family, the Wong family and the Lung family. In addition, Austin Revealed takes you inside Austin’s Asian American Resource Center, a community center focusing on celebrating Austin’s unique Asian community.

We sat down with filmmaker Tim Tsai, who partnered with KLRU on the project, to talk about his passion for Asian American history, why it’s important to Austin and why he got involved with this project.

Watch the four-part series here:
The Wong Family | The Lung Family | The Sing Family Austin’s Asian American Resource Center

What initially attracted you to this project, and what made you decide to get involved?

Tim Tsai

Tim Tsai

As a filmmaker, I’ve always had an interest in exploring Asian American identities as well as an interest in history. When the funding came through for this project, [KLRU] thought of me as a potential partner. I was completely on board. I didn’t know that much about these particular families’ history, but just knowing how long they’ve been here in Austin was already a surprise to me, and I definitely was curious to find out more, to find out what these families’ experiences were like as immigrants. I was very excited to take on this project and to be able to profile these families.

Why do you think it’s important to tell these stories?

I think these stories, particularly minority history, is overlooked. When you look at history textbooks and the curriculum in schools, the non-majority history is often barely mentioned. I bet if you ask Austinites today when the first Asians settled in Austin, they would maybe think since the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s. Not a lot of people know about the earliest Asian immigrants here. Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act (a United States federal law signed in1882 which prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers), the Chinese population here, most of whom came to work on the railroads, that population was not allowed to grow. We were a small minority here. But a few of these families did come here, did decide to make Austin their home, and so their stories are very much visible when you talk about Texas history in general. Texans love their history, but certain parts of it are often overlooked.

What did you learn from this project?

I had kind of assumed when there’s such a small number of Chinese Americans here, I would have thought they would band together and be very close. Some of these families did know each other for multiple generations, but really, these three families we profiled, one of them ran a laundry, the other one ran a restaurant, the other one ran a grocery store. They were in different businesses. They lived in different parts of town. They had to integrate. There was no way they could survive if they just kept to their own community, so they all integrated very well into Austin.

What’s also very fascinating is that all these different families have a different connection to their Chinese ancestry. I thought it was fantastic that the Sing family, they identify as Hispanic today, and they’re very proud of their heritage. The Lung family, today, you cannot really identify them just by looking at them that they’re Chinese American. The Wong family, who looks Chinese because subsequent generations did marry Chinese, but what’s interesting is that Dr. Mitchel Wong, he married a first-generation immigrant from Taiwan. There was a cultural difference there. Being first-generation versus third-generation is a big difference.

I came into it expecting some of these episodes to maybe be repetitive, that their stories may be very similar, but I found the opposite, that their stories are actually very different, very unique. They all had different ways of integrating into this community and making their lives here.

What do you think people should take away from this project?

Asian American history and Chinese American history is very diverse. We have very different stories. These communities are not all homogeneous. Each family has their own story to tell. And their story is important. The story of how Chinese Texans came here and how they’ve contributed to our community here is important to document and remember and celebrate.

Austin Revealed: Pioneers From the East – The Wong Family

Austin Revealed is an oral history project sharing the stories of Austin’s past and present to encourage discussion and thought around the city’s future.

In this series of Austin RevealedPioneers From the East, we profile three of the first families of Chinese origin to settle in the Austin area. Learn about their cultures, their histories and how living in Austin has shaped their families in these short documentaries.

The Wong Family
Growing up as part of one of the first families of Chinese descent in Austin, Dr. Mitchel Wong “wasn’t looking for prejudice, wasn’t looking for any animosity, and didn’t see any animosity.” In this documentary, Wong recounts his family’s immigrant history as a member of the “Pershing Chinese” and his personal journey from grocery boy to ophthalmologist.

Check out the stories of two other local families of Chinese origin, the Sing family and the Lung family.

Austin Revealed: Pioneers From the East – The Lung Family

Austin Revealed is an oral history project sharing the stories of Austin’s past and present to encourage discussion and thought around the city’s future.

In this series of Austin RevealedPioneers From the East, we profile three of the first families of Chinese origin to settle in the Austin area. Learn about their cultures, their histories and how living in Austin has shaped their families in these short documentaries.

The Lung Family
As an employee at the Texas Capitol Gift Shop, Joe Michael Lung meets visitors from around the globe. But for him, none of those places compare to Texas. In this documentary, Joe and his sister Meiling Lung tell stories of their grandfather, Joe Lung, and their father, Sam P. Lung—beloved restauranteurs in the community and members of one of the first families of Chinese descent in Austin.

Check out the stories of two other local families of Chinese origin, the Sing family and the Wong family.

Austin Revealed: Pioneers From the East – The Sing Family

Austin Revealed is an oral history project sharing the stories of Austin’s past and present to encourage discussion and thought around the city’s future.

In this series of Austin Revealed, Pioneers From the East, we profile three of the first families of Chinese origin to settle in the Austin area. Learn about their cultures, their histories and how living in Austin has shaped their families in these short documentaries.

The Sing Family
Mary Frances Aguallo and her grandson Raul Aguallo Hernandez always knew they were of Chinese descent, but the fragments of their history finally began to come together with the discovery of a lost box in an attic. In this documentary, the two explore their dual identity as Mexican American and Chinese American as part of the Sing family, one of the first families of Chinese origin to settle in Austin.

Check out the stories of two other local families of Chinese origin, the Wong family and the Lung family.

Austin Revealed: Pioneers From the East – Austin’s Asian American Resource Center

Austin Revealed is an oral history project sharing the stories of Austin’s past and present to encourage discussion and thought around the city’s future.

In this series of Austin RevealedPioneers From the East, we profile three of the first families of Chinese origin to settle in the Austin area – the Sing family, the Wong family and the Lung family.

In addition, Austin Revealed takes you inside Austin’s Asian American Resource Center, a community center focusing on celebrating Austin’s unique Asian community.

The AARC
Austin’s Asian American Resource Center, or AARC, truly embraces Austin’s unique community of Asian people from all over the world. Acting as a bridge between the Asian American community and Austin, the center is one of the most utilized in the city. The AARC provides programs for senior citizens, activities for families, cultural and art exhibits and much more.

News Briefs: Tribune reports on Sandra Bland death investigation, Plus the rising cost of school supplies

New details emerged this week in the investigation into the death of Sandra Bland, who died a in Waller County jail last week. This weekend during PBS NewsHour, our partners at The Texas Tribune report on how lawmakers and residents of Prairie View are reacting to her death.

On July 10, a state trooper pulled over Bland for failing to signal during a lane change. She was taken into custody and three days later an officer found Bland dead, hanging in her jail cell. The Tribune’s Alana Rocha reports dash cam video, released Tuesday, raised many concerns about the officer’s conduct and the merits of Bland’s arrest. And now state lawmakers say the agencies involved will be transparent throughout the case, which is now being treated as a murder investigation.

“No one should jump to any conclusions. Wait for the investigations to be completed and then see what the facts have to say,” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said.

Meanwhile, Rocha reports, Bland’s faith community, family, and friends are trying to keep the peace through prayer. But on Sunday, before a packed church crowd in Prairie View, prayer turned to frustration.

“In the county that is known for racial profiling and unjust behavior towards individuals of color, oh yes, I said it today, I want to go on the record,” Lenora Dabney of Prairie View Hope AME Church told the congregation. “They have made it known, but I have to pray for the community today, for hope and for healing.”

On Sunday during NewsHour, our story focuses on the rising cost of back-to-school supplies. Austin non-profit Manos de Cristo hosted its annual Back-to-School drive this week. During the drive the group hands out backpacks, school supplies and clothing to 2,000 low-income children, and many parents line up before sunrise to make sure they get what they need. Manos’ Education Coordinator Karen Green told us they estimate the total cost for each parent would be around $50 per child.

“It has been a trend where the children are asked to bring classroom school supplies,” Green said. “They share them once they get to school and those kids who do not bring them just feel kind of left out. [Parents] wouldn’t stand in line in the heat if they didn’t have a need.”

Austin ISD told us they rely on partner organizations, the business community, and non-profits to help cover the costs of supplies for families who cannot afford them. District officials told us AISD’s current deficit requires them to ask parents to outfit their children with supplies.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning policy research group, told us districts would love to provide supplies like folders and glue sticks for every child, but because state lawmakers haven’t provided enough school funding, districts are forced to push those costs on to parents.

“Texas saw very large school cuts in 2011, about 5.3 billion was cut from our school system,” Chandra Villanueva with CPPP said. “That money has not been fully restored [and] this issue of school supplies is just one example of how we’re not keeping pace with school funding and giving schools the resources that they need.”

KLRU News Briefs air locally during PBS NewsHour Weekend at 6:30pm. Our Sunday story is part of KLRU’s American Graduate initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. American Graduate is aimed at increasing awareness about factors that lead to dropout in Central Texas

Do you have an American Graduate story idea? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at CivicSummit@klru.org, post a comment, or tweet at us using #amgradtx. 

KLRU Summer STEM Resources

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KLRU is a proud partner of many summer STEM camp providers in Central Texas. We have built this collection of PBS and other amazing and fun resources for participants in these camps and for anyone to use!

Audiovisual and interactive resources available through PBS MediaLearning site:

Web platforms and interactive games outside PBS that can be used in learning activities:

Software resources outside PBS that can be downloaded and installed on local computers:

 

What’s happening this weekend: July 24-26

Another Austin weekend chock-full of activities! Whether you’re willing to weather the heat or seeking cool shelter, we have recommendations for you.

Free music at the Bob Bullock Museum

Check out local acts The Octopus Project and Golden Dawn Arkestra for free Friday night at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. The Bullock Museum’s free concert series, Music Under the Star, is presented in partnership with Fun Fun Fun Fest in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Austin festival. Bring the whole family, chairs and blankets! Before you go, watch Arts In Context’s documentary on The Octopus Project, which expresses the meaning of “multi” media by creating lively art through music, film and technology. The band has been releasing joyous party music since 2002, all the while touring the world both on their own and as handpicked support for artists as diverse as Aesop Rock, DEVO and Explosions in the Sky.


Admission: Free. Hours: Friday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Details here.

Free classical music in the park from the Austin Symphony

Pack some water bottles and fans to stay cool and head over to the Hartman Concert Park in front of the Long Center City Terrance on Sunday evening. The Austin Symphony Orchestra presents free ensemble concerts every Sunday evening through August 23. The performance will feature music from jazz and light classical to pops selections and film scores. Bring a picnic, a blanket and the whole family!

KLRU featured the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s annual young composers program on Arts In Context in 2013. Watch the full episode to get in the Austin Symphony spirit!

Admission: Free. Hours: Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Details here.

In 2012, KLRU Collective also told the story of Austin Symphony Conductor Peter Bay. A live 13-piece ensemble of musicians weaved in and out of classical compositions and original music by Graham Reynolds, while Bay conducts in true to life and abstract ways.

Take a day trip with the family!

Our very own Chet Garner, the Texas vacation specialist, has plenty of recommendations for you and your family. From fun activities to do locally to trips to towns in Central Texas and beyond. Visit The Daytripper website for recommendations! For inspiration, watch his trip to San Marcos.

With a month left of summer, teach your kids ‘Smart Screen Time’

KLRU Kids

With just a month left before classes start for Austin-area school districts, and as temperatures rise in Central Texas, it’s important to make sure the time your kids spend in front of their screens is educational and constructive.

ben&cookieBen Kramer, vice president of education for KLRU, started the Smart Screen Time initiative two years ago to develop a set of guidelines for digital media use for children, parents, educators and caretakers. We sat down with Ben to talk about the program and what parents can do with only one month of summer left for many kids.

Download a printable version of the Smart Screen Time guide (pdf): Smart Screen Time™ | La Pantalla Inteligente™ To watch Smart Screen Time videos in Spanish and English, click here.

 

Where did the idea for Smart Screen Time come along and what were the original goals of the project?

The idea first came along because we were starting to get questions about how much screen time is safe for kids, and it turned out to be a much more complicated answer than just a set time limit. In the meantime, what was happening is that in our own outside world, the use of screens was exploding, particularly with kids. Because as tablet computers became more and more prevalent, younger and younger kids could manipulate them in ways that they couldn’t do with keyboards or even with smartphones. The tablets really did make a huge difference for these littlest kids.

So, we embarked on some kind of messaging campaign – we are perhaps the only media company in families’ lives that will actually tell them to turn us off. We know that our educational goals for our programs and our apps and all the work that we do isn’t really complete until the kids can actually do things with what they’ve picked up from the programs or games, like read or solve problems. That was the genesis of it, and what we’ve found is that it’s just really resonated with all walks of life. Everyone you talk to has at least some concern about the amount of screen time that kids are getting in their lives, and what it might mean for their development. So, we wanted to come at it in a way of saying, “We’re a media company, so we’re in the midst of it, we produce, we make stuff, but here’s when you know when it’s too much.” We want to shift the question from a simple quantity question to a more quality question, and that’s how Smart Screen Time came up.

We say that kids know instinctively when screen time is smart and when it’s silly. When it’s provoking their thinking, or when it’s just pure entertainment. And we all have time in our lives where we just want pure entertainment. We all have our trash TV moments, we all have our silly movie moments, we all have our stupid game moments, we have all that, so it would be foolhardy to go to kids and say, “No, we only want your screen time to be smart.” That’s not the lives that we as adults lead. So instead, we think of much more realistic and beneficial conversation among families is, “Well, what’s our family balance between smart and silly?”

Many similar campaigns simply tell parents how much to limit their children’s social media use. Why encourage the parents to use screens along with their children?

It’s the same sort of carryover that you would have if a parent is doing a hands-on activity with a kid, or if they’re reading a book with a kid. The three-way interaction of parent and kid and learning event, be it a book or a tablet or a program, is amplified when the discussion occurs. It really helps solidify learning. So the tendency is for kids to just wander off and do their own thing with the screen, and without this injection of saying talking actually solidifies the learning, and it doesn’t have to be talking right there in the moment, it can be after the fact, we lose this opportunity because it’s too easy for kids to go off and have their screen lives, so we want to bring adults back into this triad.

With only one month left of summer, what can parents do now to help their kids be successful when it comes to using screens efficiently?

The last month is critical, because first of all, the temperature has gone way up, so these kids are going to be spending more time indoors. Secondly, kids are going to be more bored during the summer. Thirdly, the more schools turn to tablets and chrome books and whatever for the main delivery of their resources, our messaging really doesn’t change as we get to the end of summer and into the fall again. The key is to have an honest and open dialogue with your kids and to reach some decisions that all of you can be comfortable with, not just adult dictating to kid, but what screen practices are you going to uphold in your home that apply to everyone? Including the balance of smart and silly, including the determination when somebody in the home becomes a screen zombie, that some decision has to happen at that moment, and that decision is either get active and do something else or go to bed, that’s it. There’s no wiggle room. These problems are not going to go away at the end of summer.

What other resources do you have for parents who want to help their children use screens in a smarter way?

We’ve tried to build KLRU Kids as a safe browsing experience for kids to find stuff they’re interested in. On that, we have a set of screenshots of all the apps we put on our machines, our iPads, so that folks can get a glimpse of what we recommend online through the website itself but then within the website there’s the recommended apps button which will give the list of things we recommend for tablets.