Veterans transition from war zone to classroom
Todd Kennedy and Holly Shaffner both retired from the Marine Corps in 2011 and now are student veterans at San Diego State University.
December 14th, 2011
11:28 AM ET

Veterans transition from war zone to classroom

By Sally Holland, CNN

San Diego (CNN) - "When I got out of the Army, I did not want to talk about my war experience," said Angela Kozak, currently a speech pathology student at San Diego State University.

The transition from war zone to classroom was not easy for the 30-something-year-old veteran.

"The first semester I came here, I was kind of stand-offish. I didn't get involved in anything. I wasn't really clicking with the people in my classes. They were 19, 20, 21 years old," she said.

Things changed when she discovered the SDSU Veterans Center, where she met men and women with similar life experiences.

"It's made my college experience a hundred times better," she said.

San Diego State University is one of the first in the country to provide a single location on campus where veterans can access their benefits, meet others with common military backgrounds, and even relax and play Xbox. The staff at the Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center does everything from helping coordinate psychological counseling for veterans who might need it, to managing the nation's first on-campus housing reserved exclusively for veterans.

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Filed under: After High School • College • Practice
December 14th, 2011
10:15 AM ET

Minnesota's largest school district examines pros and cons of new 'controversial topic' policy

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) A new proposed policy regarding how teachers should address the topic of homosexuality sparked a debate at Minnesota's Anoka-Hennepin School District's meeting on Monday. The current policy, adopted in 2009, directs teachers to avoid discussions about sexual orientation. That neutrality policy is the subject of a lawsuit brought by several students. They say that school officials cannot effectively respond to bullying and harassment of gay students because of the district's current rules. The school district says it has a separate, and comprehensive, bullying prohibition policy.

Supporters of the neutrality policy say that discussions about homosexuality do not belong in schools. The new policy, known as the “controversial topics curriculum policy”, could allow conversations about homosexuality, but prevents teachers from expressing their personal views. The final vote on this proposal may happen during the school board's meeting in January.

Filed under: Issues • Policy
At the University of New Hampshire, students throw the stress of final exams to the dogs
Dimond Library at the University of New Hampshire
December 14th, 2011
07:26 AM ET

At the University of New Hampshire, students throw the stress of final exams to the dogs

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) For students at the University of New Hampshire, dogs, home-baked cookies and even an organized scream may be part of the college finals experience.

To help reduce exam stress, the university brings dogs into its Dimond Library to interact with the students. The dogs are from ElderPet, a volunteer service organization that began as an Applied Animal Science project at UNH in 1982. The group helps to promote the human/animal bond through animal therapy and assistance for senior and disabled members of the community.

Having dogs available for students is part of the university’s “Frenzy-Free Finals" this week. The dogs are not allowed in some areas of the library like the Special Collections section, but they will find a spot to sit and students will go and sit next to them. Assistant dean for library administration Tracey Lauder says that last year, students were coming up to the desk and asking ‘Are the dogs here yet?’ She says that the dogs are great with the students and provide a study break for them, a chance to ‘let go’ and forget about the pressures of exams for a few minutes.

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Filed under: College • Practice