Meet Greg Faulhaber

We are excited to introduce you to another one of our outstanding team members, Greg Faulhaber.

Greg grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, and he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Math Education from Indiana University of PA. He then went on to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching from Miami University.

At age 7 , Greg started working at his family’s business, Gary’s Superette, which is a small convenience store.  After college, he taught math at Winton Woods High School for 6 years, and then moved on to Colerain High School for 4 years. Greg is currently in his 11th year at Cincinnati Country Day School where he teachers math, and is also the Math Department Chair and 10th grade Class Advisor.

How long have you been tutoring with Connections and what subject do you tutor in? 

I’ve been tutoring for about a year and a half.  I do mostly ACT/SAT prep, with some other high school math courses as well.

What's your favorite thing about tutoring? 

My favorite part is the one-on-one with the students.  It allows me to pinpoint their weaknesses and work to improve them. Whether it’s a specific subject, topic, pacing for standardized test, or building confidence, working with them individually lets me support their strengths while finding room for improvement.

What is the best book you've read in the last year? 

Star Wars: Thrawn, by Timothy Zahn.  I’m a real Star Wars geek!

How would you spend a free Saturday afternoon? 

That’s a tough one. If it’s the spring, I would most likely be coaching one of my sons’ baseball teams. If it’s summer, I would be on the golf course, and if it’s a lousy weather day, I’d be falling asleep on the couch watching golf.

You've just won an all expenses paid vacation! Where are you going? 

I’m playing 18 holes at Augusta National Golf Club!  Any chance you can set that up for me?

Thanks, Greg! We’ll see what we can do about that golf outing!

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Written by Joy Becker, Mentoring Coordinator and Author of Joy A. Becker.

This Is How We Prepare for Finals

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It is hard to believe that May is already here. The end of the year brings mixed emotions and a long to-do list, with one of the most crucial tasks being: study for finals. This month we are talking with parents to find out how they help their high school students stay organized and prepared for these exams.

Meet Tom.

Tom is the dad of two high school students. His son is a junior and his daughter is a freshman.

What’s the vibe like around your home this month? How do your kids feels about final exams?

Everyone is definitely getting excited about summer, but May is pretty busy around here. My son doesn’t really stress out much about finals. It is still newer for my daughter, so I think she makes a big deal about. She also likes staying organized, so she is on top of all her studies.

What study strategies work for your children?

My son definitely likes to study alone, and he uses the study guides and his classroom notes. He is a good student, so I don’t worry too much about his preparation. In the past, some of his teachers have hosted review sessions after school, and he finds those to be helpful.

Like I mentioned earlier, my daughter is especially organized and plans out what she’ll study in advance. She uses notes card, study guides, practice tests, whatever she can get her hands on. She likes to study with people, and her tutor is really helpful to review with. I think it is beneficial for her to talk through the material.

Do you help your children prepare for finals?

I mostly leave it up to them to study, but we talk about what different teachers are expecting and what review guides they’ve been given. I ask them about their study plans and how they feel about each exam. I don’t want to make them any more anxious so I stay pretty relaxed about it all. I focus on how hard they’ve worked all year and not put too much emphasis on one test.

Meet Julia.

Julia is mom of three boys - a 7th grader, a freshman, and a senior.

What’s the vibe like around your home this month? How do your kids feels about final exams?

May has an exciting vibe because summer is just around the corner. My boys are involved in baseball and track, so we stay extra busy with all that. Finals can cause stress in our home because I can tell they are feeling done with school, especially with the nice weather. I have noticed that the homework assignments die down, so they do have more time that should be used for preparing for exams. (But I don’t think that happens as it should.)

What study strategies work for your children?

One of my boys is more independent when it comes to studying. He uses study guides, his classroom notes, and practice tests. My other son has a harder time organizing his time and starting early. They will both cram right up to the last minute.

Do you help your children prepare for finals?

I always offer to help quiz them or go over anything. Sometimes they take me up on this, and other times it is easier to study on their own. I do my best to create quiet time and space to study with phones and TV off. I also make sure they get to bed early and have a good breakfast the morning of exams.

Thank you, Tom and Julia. Best of luck to all our students as they prepare for finals and finish off another great school year!



Written by Joy Becker, Mentoring Coordinator and Author of 44 & Oxford

10 Great Podcasts for Kids

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If you’re anything like me, you have a podcast library filled with favorite shows ready to tune into the latest episode as you drive, fold laundry, cook dinner, or go for a walk. There is such great variety in the world of podcasts - everything from crime mysteries to politics to hilarious pop culture banter. And recently, I’ve been checking out some podcasts for kids and was blown away by all the outstanding options. I love being able to listen to something we all enjoy and many of these podcasts lead to great discussion. Bonus: this is a great way to pass the time on long car rides, so check some out and find a few favorites as you gear up for summer road trips.

WOW in the World Podcast guides curious kids and their grown-ups on a journey into the wonders of the world around them. For example, they go inside our brains, out into space, and deep into the coolest new stories in science and technology. Recent episode include, Horsefly Don’t Bother Me! - The Dazzling Mystery of Zebra Stripes and My Asteroid is Blowing Up.

Brains On! is an award-winning science podcasts for kids and families. Each week, a different kid co-host joins Molly Bloom to find answers to fascinating questions about the world. According to their website, their mission is to “encourage kids’ natural curiosity and wonder using science and history…but there’s no age limit on curiosity, and episodes of Brains On can be enjoyed by anyone.”  Here are some of their recommendations for getting started.

But Why, is a show led by curious kids! Kids ask the questions and find the answers to topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world. And your child can be part of it! Have a question? Record it with a smartphone and send the recording into the show to have your question answered! Recent episodes include, “Do Skunks Like Thier Own Smell?” and “Why is There a Big Patch of Garbage in the Pacific Ocean?”

The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian is a serialized science-fiction story for kids and told in 15-20 minute episodes. It is perfect for parents to put on when driving around town, or on those marathon road trips, or to bond over before bed. The story centers on Finn Caspian, an 8-year-old boy aboard The Famous Marlowe 280 Interplanetary Exploratory Space Station. He and his friends Abigail, Elias, and Vale are Explorers Troop 301, taking off from the Marlowe to explore uncharted planets. The website recommends this podcast for ages 5-10, stating it “contains no violence, a little bit of suspense, and some aliens who are real chuckleheads.”

The Book Club for Kids is a podcast geared toward middle grade readers to meet and talk about a book. The show includes a celebrity reading from the book, and as an extra special bonus, the author joins to answer your questions!

The Past & The Curios is a history podcast for kids, and I smile each time I say the name. Their mission statement is “to share true stories of inspiration, humor, and the incredible achievements of all types of people, many of which are sadly under-shared, and to do so in an easily accessible and diverse manner.”

The Dream Big Podcast is a family-friendly podcast inspiring kids (and adults!) to pursue their passions in life and take action to make their dreams a reality. The hosts, 9-year-old Eva Karpman, together with her mom, Olga Karpman, interview world-class performers who do what they love and live their dreams each and every day.

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel is an award winning serial mystery story for middle grade students and performed by middle grade kids. It is described as “Goonies, meets Spy Kids, meets Stranger Things for 8-12 year-olds.” Listen along as eleven-year-old Mars Patel and his pals JP, Toothpick, and Caddie set out on an adventure in search of two missing friends.

The Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl is a weekly, two-hour program of music for the entire family to enjoy. This isn’t simply kids music; it’s two hours of some of the best family music you’ve ever heard. So sit back with the kids and enjoy!

On the What If World podcast ,there is no question too silly! What if popcorn could talk? What if kids like chores? What if my lunch lady was an octopus? These topics are all fair game, making for an incredibly entertaining listen for parents and kids alike



Written by Joy Becker, Mentoring Coordinator and Author of 44 & Oxford

Meet Nicole Bouldin

We are excited to introduce you to another one of our excellent team members, Nicole Bouldin!

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Nicole was born and raised in Cincinnati. She is the oldest of three and the only girl. She grew up playing sports and went to McAuley High School where she played basketball. Nicole graduated from Miami University in 2010 with a Middle Childhood Education degree and began her teaching career with Cincinnati Public Schools. She taught 5th grade Language Arts, and has now been teaching for 9 years with CPS. Currently, she teaches 4th grade Language Arts; however, next year she will be moving to a reading specialist position to work with teachers and students in grades 4-6.  


How long have you been tutoring with Connections?

I have been with Connections Academics for 5 months.

What's your favorite thing about tutoring?

My favorite things about tutoring is the positive relationship I have built with the little girl that I tutor. I love seeing her grow and become more confident as we continue to practice together. Her sense of humor and personality always keep me laughing and is among the many reasons I look forward to working with her each week. 

What is the best book you've read in the last year?

The best book I've read in the last year is "Wonder" with my students.

How would you spend a free Saturday afternoon?

I would spend it with my one and half year old dog, Bear. I enjoy taking him on runs around the neighborhood and to dog parks.

You just won an all expenses paid vacation! Where are you going?

I would go to Fiji! I've never been and I love beach vacations!

Thanks, Nicole!

We love your enthusiasm for teaching and tutoring! Connections is lucky to have you!



Written by Joy Becker, Mentoring Coordinator and Author of 44 & Oxford


This Is How We Finish Strong

The end is in sight. It’s been a great year, and our students have so much to be proud of. It is not uncommon for students to hit a slump this time of year and lose motivation. This week we are asking our families just two simple questions to gain some insight about how to finish strong.

Meet Jessica.

Jessica is the mother of three children - a girl (15) and two boys (13, 10). She says she definietly sees a decrease in drive and work ethic this time of year, but extra communication and organization is the key to keeping her busy family motivated.

Do you notice your children struggling to stay motivated this time of year?

Definitely! I can tell they are getting tired of school and especially as the weather turns nicer, we all just want to be outside. Spring sports have also started, so this takes up a lot of time on our nights and weekends. In order to stay on top of school work, I feel like we need to be extra organized. And if I’m being completely honest, I’m kind of over it all too.

What do you do at home to help them finish strong?

I stay positive. I remind them of all the hard work they’ve done so far, and celebrate that summer is near. Like I said, with soccer and baseball starting up, our schedule is extra busy. We always go over our calendar before the week starts, and this includes talking about tests or school projects. Sometimes we even add “Homework Time” into our daily schedule, so we all know when the work is getting done. My younger son does better to get everything done as soon as he gets home, but my daughter is a night owl and can be more productive after she gets home from late practice. We work together to find what works for each of them .

Meet Vanessa.

Vanessa is the mother of two boys, ages 10 and 7. As soon as the nice weather hits, she uses it to advantage!

Do you notice your children struggling to stay motivated this time of year?

I notice it more with my older son, especially around the time of state assessments when he starts complaining more than usual about school. My seven-year-old is in first grade and really loves it, so I haven’t noticed him struggling to stay motivated. He also doesn’t have all that much homework.

What do you do at home to help them finish strong?

We love being outside, and as soon as the weather gets warmer, I get them outside to run off energy. In the colder months, we usually try to complete school work as soon as I get home. But when spring comes, we change that, and I first send them out to shoot baskets or ride bikes. I think the fresh air and exercise helps them when it’s time to come in and work.

Thank you, Jessica and Vanessa! It’s great to hear how commuication, scheduled homework time, and getting outside can help your families!

Check out our other This Is How We posts:

This Is How We Start the New Year

This Is How We Do Morning Routine

This Is How We Do Parent-Teacher Conference

Written by Joy Becker, Mentoring Coordinator and Author of 44 & Oxford

Third Quarter Slump

Third Quarter Slump

This time of year can bring challenges for our students because it is difficult to stay motivated and complete work to the best of one’s ability. It is not uncommon for a restlessness and complacency to set in during these last winter months. This “third quarter slump” is often defined as the time of year when students’ grades drop, and unfortunately, this can happen rather quickly.

Meet Lee Honig

We are continuing our Meet the Tutor series this month and are excited to introduce you to Lee Honig.

Lee grew up in Brooklyn, NYC and attended Hofstra University, where he graduated with a B.S. in chemistry and minors in math and community health. After college, he worked as an industrial chemist at a vinyl plastic manufacturing plant.

In 2019, his grandmother passed away due to complications in Type II diabetes, and he decided to radically change his career trajectory and pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in Manhattan. His dissertation focused specifically on diabetes research.

I wanted to make a difference in the field of diabetes.

After he graduated in May 2018, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow, until he and his wife, a Cincinnati native, move to Cincinnati to plant roots in a smaller city. Since moving to town, he has been working as a contract scientific writer, a substitute teacher at Seven Hills Middle School, and an academic tutor with Connections. 


How long have you been tutoring with Connections?

I've been tutoring in math and science since November.

What's your favorite thing about tutoring?

The most rewarding thing about tutoring is the experience of making a difference, small or large, in the lives of the students I work with. I've always had a passion for math and science, but I know that not everyone feels the same. However, when I see a student's light bulb go off after struggling with a particular concept, or have the opportunity to share some of my own personal anecdotes from my training as a scientist, I know that I'm making a meaningful difference in how the student approaches the subject or how the student thinks on a global scale about the material. I love introducing real-life scenarios to my students, whether its architecture during a geometry lesson, or walking a student through the process of how scientists collaborated over decades of time to understand and treat Sickle-Cell Anemia. My ultimate goal is to demonstrate to my students that the concepts they learn in class are used by scientists and real-world professionals every today to change people's lives for the better. 

What is the best book you've read in the last year?

The best book I've read in the last year is undoubtedly Stephen King's, IT. I'm a huge fan of horror fiction and absolutely love King's work.

How would you spend a free Saturday afternoon?

On a free Saturday afternoon, my favorite thing is bringing my family together for brunch. I call everyone up the week before, create a menu, shop, and cook up a delicious meal to bring everyone together. That's what food is all about at the end of the day! My wife and I will either make a play date with our niece and nephew, hit the gym, watch something new on Netflix, go to the Cincinnati Nature Center for a walk, or spend time with each other baking our favorite treats to share with friends and family. I always try to make time to play my guitar and learn new songs, listen to a favorite album, or read a book. If all else fails on a Saturday afternoon, my wife and I love to dream about our next big traveling adventure.

You just won an all expenses paid vacation! Where are you going?

My wife and I went to Hawaii for our honeymoon and would love to go back to see other islands. But, from the first day that we met each other, we talked about going to the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu together. 

 
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Thanks, Lee! We love having you on our Connections Team!



Written by Joy Becker, Mentoring Coordinator and Author of 44 & Oxford

This is How We Do Parent-Teacher Conferences

For many schools, another round of parent-teacher conferences is just around the corner. This face-to-face meeting with your child’s teacher is a valuable time to find out what happens during the school day and how you can best support both your child and the teacher.

This week we are hearing from both a parent and a teacher as they prepare for spring conferences. Hopefully their insights can help you maximize your time with the teacher.

Meet Kristy.

Kristy has thirteen years of experience as a middle school math teacher. She has sat across the table from many parents and is thankful when parents make it a priority to come to conferences.

“When parents stay in communication with a teacher, it shows the child that we are all on the same team, working together to make school the best place possible for that child.”

Why are conferences important?

There is only so much I can communicate through newsletters, memos, emails, and report cards. Sitting down with parents gives me a chance to go into more depth about their child’s school experience. I also like being able to ask them more questions and hear what questions or concerns they have. I have worked in schools where conferences, particularly spring conferences, are optional and only for students who might be struggling. I didn’t like that idea. I think parents should grab any face-to-face time they can with a teacher, and I like to have face-to-face time with them, too. It’s helpful for me to know things like what your child says about school and how he/she handles homework.

What should parents do to prepare?

Be on time and respect your time slot. Teachers are trying to squeeze in a lot of conferences, and when parents are late or keep talking long past the conference time, it can affect a lot of people. I also tell parents to have a few questions ready to go, and it helps to write them down so you don’t forget. Bring in report cards and progress reports, especially if you have a specific question.

What questions should parents ask?

Be sure to find out about your child’s strengths and challenges academically but also with social-emotional skills. Going over grades is obvious, so be sure to speak up and ask questions like:

  • How is my child getting along with others?

  • Does he/she help other students?

  • How does he/she handle frustrations and disappointments in class?

  • Does he/she ask for help?

Also, don’t be afraid to ask if a teacher says something you don’t understand. It is easy for teacher jargon to slip it, so ask for clarification when necessary.

Meet Colleen.

Colleen is a mom of two girls, ages 9 and 12. She plans to attend both her daughters’ parent-teacher conferences next week. In fact, her 9 year old will be present during the conferences and even taking the lead.

Why are conferences important?

Overall, I feel like l have a good handle of how my girls are doing academically in school, but I still think it is important to meet with their teachers to hear about other things like peer relationships, work ethic, and just to gain insight into other strengths and weaknesses that come through in the school setting. My children spend nearly every day with their teachers; I want to know them and be sure they know I care about what happens at school.

What do you do to prepare?

I usually jot down a few questions ahead of time so I don’t have to think on the spot. I will also ask my daughters what they think their teachers will tell me, and when we get home, my husband and I will sit down with the girls and go over all we talked about at the conference. We want the girls to know we support their teachers.

What questions do you ask?

I don’t usually have as many questions about grades. Most of my questions are about behavior and friendships. Are they participating in class? Are they being overly exclusive with certain friends? I also ask what we can do at home to help.

Tell us more about how your daughter will be leading her own conference.

The fourth and fifth graders at her school not only come to conferences, but prepare in advance to talk about their strengths and challenges. She has already completed some notes she’ll be sharing with us. I love this idea! It really teaches her to reflect and think about goals.

Thank you, Kristy and Colleen.

Check out our other This Is How We posts:

This Is How We Start the New Year

This Is How We Do Morning Routine

Written by Joy Becker, Mentoring Coordinator and Author of 44 & Oxford