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Paulette Parker

Digital Journalist - Blogger

Paulette is a blogger for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously interned as a reporter in the Michigan Radio newsroom.

Before working at Michigan Radio, she was the news editor of The Washtenaw Voice at Washtenaw Community College. She has an associate degree in journalism from WCC. And she is currently a junior at Eastern Michigan University, pursuing a bachelor's degree in media studies and journalism.

When she isn't working she is spending time with her husband and two young daughters.

young girl playing in the snow
Clintus / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When the school bell rings on Friday afternoon, most students in the U.S. will be headed home for two glorious weeks of winter break.

But as that time off is around the holidays, the long break can also be a recipe for restless children and parents at their wits' end. 

To help parents stay sane into the new year and avoid hearing "I'm bored" for two weeks straight, we compiled some ideas for winter break activities to do as a family. 

school bus covered in snow
ThoseGuys119 / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Most of us here in Michigan started our week digging out from the first widespread snowstorm of the season. And many kids across the state enjoyed their first snow day of the school year.

For some families, a snow day means an extra day of rest. But unexpected days off aren't always a cause for celebration for low-income families, whose resources are already stretched. 

Dr. Seuss Books
EvelynGiggles / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Earlier this week I told you about school districts that are hiring virtual teachers to fix teacher shortages.

Not having enough teachers to fill classrooms can have a big impact on schools and the students who attend them - especially high-poverty and high-minority schools.

A pea on a plate. With a fork and knife.
Steven Tyrie / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The National School Lunch Program helps keep low-income kids from going hungry while they're in school. Over 21 million K-12 students in the U.S. received free and reduced-priced school lunches during the 2014-2015 school year.

But what happens to these same kids when they go off to college?

A recent study found nearly half of college students across the country are food insecure. That means they struggle just to get enough affordable, nutritious food.

three kids using a laptop
Lucélia Ribeiro / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

America needs teachers. The country is facing its first major teacher shortage since the 1990s, according to The Washington Post.

people in graduation caps and gowns
Will Folsom / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Nationwide, each school guidance counselor is responsible, on average, for about 500 students. Their job includes providing students with academic skills support and helping with goal setting and academic and career plans.

And the help students receive can have a major impact on their lives even after high school graduation, according to a recent analysis by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Researchers analyzed data from a longitudinal study that follows 23,000 students who started 9th grade in 2009.

Girl reading book
Personal Creations / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0 / www.personalcreations.com

I love reading paper books. The process of perusing bookstore and library shelves. The feeling of turning pages and the way they smell.

A few years ago, my husband bought me a Nook from Barnes and Noble so I could download e-books and have them at my fingertips. But I must admit that after a few uses, it now sits unused on my nightstand.

Why? Because reading books in print gives me an experience reading e-books doesn't.

And I'm not alone. Over half of kids ages 6 to 17 prefer to read in print, according to a recent report from Scholastic.

Kid hanging upside down at playground
Virginia State Parks / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

By the time they are just 18 months old, kids from low-income families and those from higher-income families display significant differences in their vocabularies.

Studies suggest that by age three, poor children hear roughly 30 million fewer words than their affluent peers. It's a disparity that researchers in the early 1990s coined the "word gap."

smoking a cigarette
Julie / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Lighting up may become a lot less convenient for smokers who live in public housing.

That's because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a sweeping rule this week that prohibits smoking in all federally subsidized public housing developments in the U.S.

Pictures of Money / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When people talk about poverty, the conversation typically revolves around the economic condition of a household.

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