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Education Notes: UW-Sheboygan spotlights Rachel Rice for February

UW-Sheboygan spotlights Rachel Rice for February

Name: Rachel Rice

Age: 19

Hometown: Oostburg

Major: Dietetics

Career Goal: Registered Dietician

High School: Homeschooled, 2016

Why did you choose UW-Sheboygan? I chose UW-Sheboygan because the quality of education is comparable to any other four-year university and more affordable. I also liked the size of the campus and the fact that students are able to form a relationship with their professors.

Outside of being a college student, what takes up your free time?  I am currently a member of the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra, where I play first violin. I also play for other various gigs around the area. Right now, I have two violin students who I give lessons to every week. Eventually, I would love to expand the number of students that I teach. I also work for the Town of Wilson.

Favorite professors? Dr. Christy Talbott (Music) and Dr. James Kabrhel (Chemistry)

Plans after UW-Sheboygan? My plan is to transfer to UW-Green Bay next year, where I hope to complete my Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology with an emphasis in nutrition. 

Advice for incoming UW-Sheboygan students: Get to know your professors as well as students in your classes, and never be afraid of asking questions. I am continually working on staying on top of homework, and keeping a positive attitude about it. After a long week, the last thing I want to do is study, but I know that it will benefit me in the end! My goal is to finish this year strong and earn an associate degree in the process!

Involvement with Student Government Association (SGA): Currently serving as an Executive Senator, Rachel notes that “SGA has been a great learning experience for me.” I have been able to get to know many of the students on campus as well as many of the staff members. I joined SGA for the sole purpose of being able to help make our campus better. One of SGA’s goals this year is to get more students involved on campus.

Sheboygan Area School District welcomes new administrators

The Sheboygan Area School District is pleased to welcome three new Administrators for the 2018-19 school year. Kathleen Hoppe has been hired as the Director of Student and Instructional Services. James Renzelmann has been hired as the Coordinator of Student and Instructional Services. These two positions have been filled as part of the realignment of roles and responsibilities within the Student and Instructional Services Department. For more details, visit the Sheboygan Area School District’s website, email Nicole Sondalle’s, or call the school office at 920-459-3500.

Plymouth High School FBLA nab 2nd at regionals, 30 students qualify for State 

The Plymouth High School chapter of Future Business Leaders of America took second at the recent Region VI Leadership Conference and qualified 30 students in 17 events for state. Students from 24 schools competed in a variety of business events during the event, held Feb. 3 at Hartford Union High School. The top eight students in each category were recognized during the regional awards ceremony. For more details, please visit Plymouth School District’s website

Plymouth Riverview Middle School math club student qualifies State MathCounts

Five members of the Riverview Middle School math club participated in a regional MathCounts competition, where eighth-grader Matt Sheridan placed fifth overall to advance to state-level competition. Other Riverview students who participated in the event, held Feb. 3 at Acuity in Sheboygan, include Erynn Kletzien, Forest Olsen, Nick Shircel and Reed Gahagan. The Riverview Math Team is coached by teachers Jessica Barrington, Billie Rau, and Judy Dykstra. For more details, please visit Plymouth Riverview Middle School’s website

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2 days after surviving school shooting, Florida teacher gives advice to NJ school

Jim Gard recognized the sound of gunshots as  Nikolas Cruz opened fire on Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, eventually killing 17 people. Just a few weeks before, the teacher had been through a drill to prepare for a moment like this. 

Less than 48 hours after Gard survived the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., he recounted the terrifying ordeal on Friday to a group of 50 educators in N.J. at the request of lifelong friend, Mount Ephraim Superintendent Leslie M. Koller-Walker.

Koller-Walker said the two grew up together in Pennsylvania and have known each other since they were five years old. They went to school together from kindergarten until they graduated from Mount Carmel High School in 1978. The duo even followed the same career path, both selecting an occupation in the education field.

When Koller-Walker learned of the shooting on Wednesday, she feared for her friend who had moved to Florida after college and taught in the state for 36 years. 

Gard spoke to 50 teachers and paraprofessionals at the district’s building Friday through a video call to share his experience of what occurred Wednesday. Gard was in lockdown with six other students while Cruz committed the shootings, which killed 17 students and faculty members at the school.

Koller-Walker said the district initially had planned to use the in-service day to go through PARCC data, but those plans changed after the shooting occurred. She reached out to her friend and asked if he could share his experience with the members of the school district Friday.

“I likened it as if they are in their classes with their kids,” the superintendent said. “They are always trying to come up with lessons for students so they can make a personal connection because we all know that that is what they will learn and retain the best. My goal (Friday) was to have them make a personal connection to something that was very timely in our society this week as well as connect it to our superintendent as well as a teacher. They were pretty riveted.”

According to Koller-Walker, Gard told the teachers he recognized the sound of gunfire was real because he had gone through training just a few weeks before in which a police officer played a video of different gunshot sounds – sounds that helped him identify the shots being fired Wednesday were real.

Gard said someone had knocked on the door of the room he was in, which he did not open because of prior training the teachers had received. Some of the victims he knew well, including another teacher, three students who, he taught, as well as two other district employees. 

When asked by the teachers in Mt. Ephraim what he would do differently, one thing he said was to never leave a door propped open. 

“When you close that door folks, just keep it closed. Keep it closed and be quiet. You might lose a couple of kids, but if you have a room with 30 you might lose 30 kids,” Gard told them, according to 6ABC.

Besides the school staff, Mount Ephraim Police Chief Brian Conte, as well as the head of the S.W.A.T team, were in attendance for the Skype session. Koller-Walker said the two come twice a year to observe the lockdown procedures and recommend changes that will help the district.

“It is important to have these conversations,” she said. “That is why these communications are important. We do a lockdown once a month. I invite them at least twice a year to go through our weaknesses. I take no offense, and I want them to tell we what we are doing wrong.”

The superintendent also added the school had recently changed the doorknobs as a result of a drill after seeing some of the teachers have trouble locking the doors from the outside, taking approximately 30 seconds to complete the task, time that can be vital. The school board also approved the installation of a new communications system to alert students in case an emergency arose.

Chris Franklin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @cfranklinnews. Find on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us.

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Council plans free school meals all year to tackle ‘holiday hunger’

North Lanarkshire proposal comes as teachers report seeing more malnourished pupils

Fri 16 Feb 2018

Last modified on Fri 16 Feb 2018

The plan would cost about £500,000 a year.
Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

A Scottish council plans to provide free meals to children who need them 365 days a year, in a scheme that will be the first of its kind in the UK if approved at a council meeting next Tuesday.

Labour-controlled North Lanarkshire council will pilot the “Food 365” programme in Coatbridge during the Easter break, with the expectation of expanding it to cover the whole of the council area in time for the summer holidays.

The syndrome of “holiday hunger” is an increasingly familiar one, with teachers observing a significant rise in recent years and charities reporting that pressure on food banks doubles during the school holidays.

Describing the plans as “the most ambitious in the country”, the council education convenor Frank McNally told the Guardian: “This goes beyond ‘holiday hunger’ to cover the weekend period too, because what teaching staff were picking up is that some children were leaving school on a Friday and not having another substantial meal until they came back to school on the Monday.

“Both research and our own anecdotal evidence shows that children regularly skipping meals has a massive impact on behaviour, concentration and cognitive development.

“It’s horrendous to think that in 21st-century Scotland children are coming to school malnourished, but it’s the sad reality that some families face the choice of heating their home or feeding their children.”

Noting that North Lanarkshire has one of the highest concentrations of deprivation in Scotland, with 21% of children living in low-income households, McNally also expressed his concern that these pressures would only be exacerbated by further Westminster reform of the benefits system.

The expansion of school meals entitlement, which has been costed at £500,000, will be provided in community centres and local leisure facilities at weekends, with the express aim of playing down the stigma of children having to head into school to be fed on days off. There are also plans to link the meals to activity and sports projects for young people, and also bring in welfare officers to offer informal advice to parents, for example to ensure that they are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to.

In a survey carried out last April by the National Union of Teachers in England, 80% of teachers noted a rise in “holiday hunger”, with a third saying pupils were returning to school with signs of malnourishment. Almost three-quarters of teachers said this was negatively affecting children’s education.

Last month, the Westminster government refused to support a draft bill put forward by Frank Field, who chairs of the all-party parliamentary group on holiday hunger, that would have placed a duty on local authorities to make sure disadvantaged pupils were fed during school breaks.

While other councils in the UK already provide holiday programmes, these do not include weekends, so North Lanarkshire’s aims to be the most comprehensive in the country.

The proposals will be discussed by councillors at a meeting of the education committee on Tuesday.

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UT professor offers advice on how to talk to your kids about school violence


Teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School continued to express shock at Wednesday’s shooting rampage that left 17 people dead and more than a dozen others wounded.

David Dupper has spent a lot of time in recent months wondering how he would handle being a parent in today’s climate, one constantly choked with violence and media around the clock. It wouldn’t be easy, he said.

On Wednesday, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and Dupper, a professor and interim dean of the University of Tennessee’s College of Social Work, wondered again.

When talking to kids about difficult things like school violence it is important to realize their emotions could fall anywhere on a wide spectrum.

They may be terrified and have reoccurring nightmares about going back to school, or they may be quiet and be unaffected. No reaction is wrong, he said.

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Creating a space for them to talk to a trusted parent or adult who will listen is important too, he said.

“I think the major issue for me is to try to as a parent go into speaking to your kid and be prepared to hear whatever your child has to say, but sometimes that’s difficult because sometimes they say things that are unexpected,” he said.

“It (can be) highly emotional, that’s one of the big issues, I think,” he said. “You just don’t know how it can impact children in different ways, especially in middle and high school.”

Dupper said parents should be sensitive to the environment their kids are growing up in and realize how scary it could be.

“I think the frequency of the actual horrific shootings is new,” he said. “We’ve never really had something like this in our history … I lived through the Cold War, but that fear was obviously something very distant and not real. This is very real. Extremely real. Even though the probability is very low, there’s still such an emotional reaction.”

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Several dozen students from South Broward High School took a public stand against gun violence Friday and for gun control. (Feb. 16)

Nikolas Cruz, 19, is facing 17 counts of premeditated murder for the attack in Florida. 

It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

Authorities say Cruz triggered a fire alarm in a building that normally serves freshmen students, then roamed the schools’ corridors — from the first floor to the third — opening fire on students pouring into hallways.

The 17 dead include students and adults, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. At least 15 were injured and taken to local hospitals.

A sheriff said the bodies of 12 of the dead — including a beloved coach and security guard, Aaron Feis, who stepped in front of one spray of bullets to protect his students — were found inside the building.

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Baseball Day at Union Ridge: Former big-league pitcher Mitch Stetter pays a visit

Hari Anagnostakos has plenty of baseball-obsessed students in her kindergarten class at Union Ridge School in Harwood Heights, so she decided to design a day around their interest.

She hit a home run! Feb. 13 was officially declared “Baseball Day,” she said. The classroom was decked out in a baseball theme, right down to the pencils you might use on your scorecard.

“We played baseball subtraction against each other,” Anagnostakos said. “We read, watched videos on how to make a baseball. It was awesome.”

And the undeniable cherry on top? Anagnostakos’s best friend is married to former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Mitch Stetter. She got Stetter, now a coach in the Kansas City Royals system, to stop by her classroom, a week before he was due to leave to spring training in Arizona.

Andrew White says ‘large’ number of Texas schools don’t offer sex education

Houston businessman Andrew White, a Democratic aspirant for governor, said that when he’s elected, he’ll step up sex education in schools.

White, speaking in January 2018 to David Martin Davies of Texas Public Radio, declared: “There is a large number of schools in Texas that don’t even offer sex education. Now that, to me, it’s bizarre. So we have to make these investments. If you really are serious about reducing the demand for abortion, there are some really simple ways to do that — sex education and access to contraceptives.”

We wondered if a large number of Texas schools don’t offer sex education.

After emailing White’s campaign to ask how he reached his conclusion, we noticed that the Austin-based Texas Freedom Network, which describes itself as the state’s watchdog for monitoring far-right issues, estimated in 2017 that 25.1 percent of the state’s school districts in 2015-16 didn’t teach sex education in their secondary schools–when just 2 percent weren’t doing so in 2007-08, the group previously found.

Broadly, the group’s February 2017 report states that in 2015-16, about eight in 10 Texas school districts taught abstinence alone “or nothing at all when it comes to sex education.” Abstinence-plus programs, including information on contraceptives, showed up in nearly 17 percent of districts.

The results were reached starting from a survey sent to 138 of 976 Texas school districts that had high schools that weren’t also charter school districts–plus the state’s 10 highest-enrollment districts. Districts were “representative of the diversity in geography, enrollment, racial demographics and district type (rural, urban or non-metropolitan/smaller cities) in Texas public schools,” the report says.

The report concedes that it didn’t pin down precisely what’s taught to students in each district.

Rather, the group asked which textbooks, third-party programs or curricula and/or speakers that districts had obtained and/or used to teach sex education in middle and high schools. Also, the report says, “we asked specifically for materials districts had obtained from crisis pregnancy centers or other alternative-to-abortion organizations, any materials that cover sexual orientation, gender identity/expression or abortion, and copies of class schedules and district policies.”

To our inquiry, a network spokesman, Dan Quinn, listed the 35 sampled districts found not to be teaching sex education–nearly all of them rural.

Health class in high schools

Quinn also told us by email: “A key factor in the increase in the percentage of school districts not offering sex education appears to be the Legislature’s decision in 2009 to drop health class as a high school graduation requirement.”

The 2009 Legislature and then-Gov. Rick Perry advanced House Bill 3 into law. It directed the State Board of Education to spell out the classes students would have to pass to fulfill different kinds of graduation plans. Yet the law barred the board from specifying electives, such as health, as classes that had to be taken to graduate.

Quinn wrote: “Health class is often where students get sex ed. Many school districts either continue to offer health as an elective or make it a local graduation requirement, but a substantial number of school districts appear to have dropped health classes since 2009.”

The network’s 2017 report states: “We found that districts with no health class were more than four times more likely to offer no sex education at all (as compared with the overall distribution of districts). Conversely, school districts with health classes were more likely to offer either abstinence-plus or abstinence-only sex education. This finding suggests that the decision to remove health education as a state graduation requirement has contributed to the rise in the percentage of districts that teach students nothing at all about human sexuality in high school,” the report says.

Health classes don’t necessarily cover sex education

We further learned that just because a district offers a health class doesn’t mean its students take the class or that the class covers more than the state-required emphasis on abstinence alone as the best practice.

The state’s curriculum guidelines for the one-semester health class call for students to analyze the “effectiveness and ineffectiveness of barrier protection and other contraceptive methods.” They otherwise say each student is expected to analyze the importance of abstinence from sex as the only method that’s 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases.

But Lauren Callahan, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency, cautioned against presuming the guidelines show what’s being taught because, she noted, that’s up to individual districts. State law requires each district board of trustees to establish a local school health advisory council to “assist the district in ensuring that local community values are reflected in the district’s health education instruction.” Also, the law says each board shall choose course materials related to sex education with the council’s advice.

Notably too, not all students lately take health classes. Callahan pointed us to annual school health surveys undertaken by the agency. Per the latest results, nearly 52 percent of districts and charter schools in 2015-16 indicated they weren’t requiring all high school students to take “health education” to graduate–with 48 percent replying that they did require every student to take a class in health education.

Study: Abstinence-plus instruction isn’t widespread

The study estimated that 58 percent of districts offered abstinence-only sex education. In contrast, the study says, nearly 17 percent of districts were taking an abstinence-plus approach by having medically accurate information on condoms and other forms of contraception. Quinn noted that in 2007-08, the network previously found, about 4 percent of districts took an abstinence-plus approach.

Quinn, asked to identify the districts in its 2017 sample that were found to have abstinence-plus teaching materials, listed 30 districts, including eight of the state’s 10 highest-enrollment districts–such as the Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin districts. But, Quinn wrote, determining “how those ab-plus materials are used in classrooms — whether teachers use them as suggested, skip portions, or whatever — was beyond the scope of this project.”

Similarly, David C. Wiley, a Texas State University education professor who worked on the study, told us by phone: “There’s no guarantee that teachers are actually teaching that information.”

Upshot: “Texas kids don’t get much information about contraception,” Wiley said.

As we completed this research, Desi Canela of White’s campaign said by email that White reached his conclusion about schools not offering sex education based on the network’s 2017 study.

Our ruling

White said a “large number” of Texas schools don’t offer sex education.

In fact, most districts offered sex education in high school in 2015-16, according to a statewide analysis, though nearly 60 percent were teaching abstinence alone. The study estimated that 25 percent of districts didn’t offer sex education.

On balance, we rate this claim Half True.

HALF TRUE – The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context. Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.

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National Teacher of the Year visits Bay Path, offers advice for other educators

LONGMEADOW –   Annually one educator from across the United States is chosen to be the “National Teacher of the Year” following becoming the teacher of the year in their state, a formal written application, extensive interviews and speeches.  The current reigning National Teacher of the Year is Massachusetts’ first: Sydney Chaffee of Boston.  On Feb. 13, Chaffee traveled to Bay Path University in Longmeadow to give her presentation: “Come Outside: The Future of Education.”

Chaffee didn’t know that she wanted to be a teacher when she went away to college.  In fact, she went to college to become a poet.

“That was my dream, I was going to be a writer.  I realized I wasn’t meant to be a poet,” she chuckled. “I realized that because my poetry professor told me I wasn’t meant to be a poet!”

Chaffee decided that she wanted to do what her professors were doing: teaching. A colleague gave her a book to read about education, which in turn made her realize she wanted to teach kids at the high school level.  She spent a summer between her junior and senior year of college working with kids, and the experience further enforced her desire to become an educator.

“It was an incredible experience. I realized I loved teaching, and I stuck with it,” she recalled.

Chaffee was first nominated to be Massachusetts teacher of the year for 2017, which then put her into a cohort of educators from each of the 50 states as well as the U.S. territories and Washington D.C. Each of the teachers were then required to submit essays in order to choose four finalists.  The finalists then traveled to meet in Washington D.C., where they conducted an in-depth interview process to choose the 2017 National Teacher of the Year.

“It was absolutely intimidating. It was a huge honor to be selected for Massachusetts, then to be a finalist; I never thought I’d be selected.  The group of finalists was an amazing group of people.  I’m really grateful I was chosen,” Chaffee said.

For the past nine years Chaffee has been a humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Boston.  Since being named National Teacher of the Year, Chaffee took a yearlong sabbatical to fulfill the duties that come with the title.

“I travel around the country and world to talk about teaching. I’m playing the role of an ambassador.  There’s a misconception of ‘being the best teacher in the country,’ no teacher would call themselves the best,” Chaffee said. “I basically get to go around and talk to folks about all of the great things happening in education.”

Chaffee has been traveling since last summer talking with other educators and future teachers about the significance of education as well as the important role student’s play.

“I had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia in September and represent American teachers, and they asked me to talk about the future of education. I was scared and intimidated by that topic because I had no idea.  I realized the future of education is that we’re doing more of the beautiful things that are already happening in school; more student-centered learning, empowering and honoring students,” she explained.

The best advice that Chaffee can give fellow educators is to recognize that they do not have to complete their job alone, there is no need to isolate themselves from one another and that teachers have so much more in common in regard to education than there is separating them.

“You don’t have to be perfect. So many teachers think we close our doors and we do this as individuals, but actually, we learn to work with one another and are vulnerable enough to collaborate, reach out, get ideas.  We’re so much smarter when we work together,” she continued. “A popular narrative in education is that we’re all arguing with each other, whether it’s charter schools, traditional schools, private schools, equity, social emotional concerns, testing, arguing about this and that.  There are so many more things that we have in common that we agree on, and if we can start there, we will get so much more done.”

“It’s been so exciting to go to so many schools and to see again and again there’s that thing again that so many of us agree on: we have the heart of our work,” Chaffee explained.

Starting on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 until Feb. 21 teachers across the nation are celebrating “Love Teaching Week.”  This week, explained by Chaffee, was created by several Teachers of the Year to celebrate and highlight the reasons why teachers enjoy and value the work that they do.

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Edinboro education student emphasizes STEM in early childhood classroom

EU’s Porter adds STEM certification to early childhood/special education cert.

February 15, 2018

When you hear the phrase “STEM” tossed around in education, you immediately think of biologists, chemists and engineers who use science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their careers.

But how does a student develop a love for their STEM fields at an early age? Enter Edinboro University student Jessica Porter, who focuses on STEM concepts and skills in her pre-service classroom.

A native of Pittsburgh, Porter is currently a senior at EU, where she’s pursuing a dual degree in Early Childhood and Special Education. Additionally, she has added the STEM certification to her official transcript.

Why did you choose to participate in a STEM program?

I chose to participate in a STEM program at Edinboro University because, courtesy of my undergraduate classes and field experiences, I have learned the importance and emphasis of STEM in early childhood education. I was eager to learn how to incorporate STEM across the curriculum and develop engaging, hands-on STEM opportunities for my students.

How did you decide which STEM field was right for you?

I am currently a senior at Edinboro University studying early childhood and special education. I decided to add a STEM certification in education to help improve my teaching instruction and ability to help students tap into their natural and innate curiosity of the world.

What is a typical day like in your STEM experience?

 A typical day integrating STEM into an early childhood classroom could simply be allowing students to investigate and explore, while encouraging them to ask questions about the real world. STEM can be found across multiple content areas in education, including literacy. An important component of STEM is the 4 C’s: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. It is vital for students to develop these 21st Century skills throughout their education.

What was the most memorable moment of your STEM program?

The most memorable moment of my STEM program was when I was given the opportunity to present my STEM box to my peers and other professionals at Edinboro’s Academic Festival. A STEM box is a standards-based educational resource that covers multiple content areas while engaging and inspiring students to explore. My STEM box was pumpkin themed and included a wide variety of materials such as stories, gourds, unifex cubes, measuring tape, pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, scales, etc. The activities inside the box ranged from comprehension to measurement. This experience assisted me in discovering my passion for STEM and my love of education.

What advice do you have for students looking at STEM career paths?

My advice to teens exploring a career path or degree in STEM is to research all of the different opportunities available and once you find something that sparks your interest or passion, then go for it. STEM is broad and there is something for everyone, what ties it all together is the focus on creating new knowledge, solving problems, and learning about the world around us. Awesome stuff.

To learn more about Edinboro University’s School of Education and STEM certification, visit

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Education agent charged for unlicensed immigration advice

A 47-year-old Auckland woman has appeared in the Auckland District Court on February 7, 2018 charged with unlawfully providing immigration advice and taking fees for the advice from seven Chinese nationals.

The Charges

The Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) has charged Hanfang (Helen) Liu, from Headsun International Group Limited, under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 with four counts of asking for a fee for providing immigration advice while not being, and knowing she was required to be, licensed.

She has also been charged on three counts of providing immigration advice while not being licensed, and knowing she was required to be licensed. The charges related to advice provided on student, visitor and work visa applications.

Ms Liu has been remanded on bail until 10 May 2018.

Vigilance needed

Immigration Advisers Authority Registrar Catherine Albiston said, “Our message to international students seeking immigration advice in New Zealand is to check if the person is a Licensed Immigration Adviser or exempt, such as a New Zealand lawyer.”

Immigration Advisers must be licensed by the IAA, a New Zealand government body set up to protect individuals and families looking for immigration advice or be an exempt person.

“Visa information is available on the Immigration New Zealand website. If students need personalised immigration help, it is important to only seek it from people who can legally give New Zealand immigration advice,” she said.

“Holding an immigration adviser licence means the individual has met competency standards and must be professional. You can find a Licensed Immigration Adviser on the IAA’s register of licensed immigration advisers.

About the Authority

The IAA investigates all complaints made by the public about unlicensed immigration advice. Individuals found breaking the law can face up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to NZ


Anyone can talk to the IAA about their experience without their immigration status being affected.

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Fitness advice: What to look for in a personal trainer, from education to a adaptability

There’s a reason all the top sports stars have a coach. Having a professional with you throughout your fitness journey should give you the motivation, accountability and education to push further than you could by yourself.

I say “should” because there are some truly terrible personal trainers out there. Every time I go to a new gym I keep an eye out for what other trainers get up to with clients, and what I see is often unintentionally hilarious, staggeringly inept or, occasionally, downright dangerous.

So what should you be looking for in a trainer? First up is passion: without this, you can probably write off getting the results you want. The most successful trainers love being a part of the health and fitness industry. You can spot these men and women a mile off – they’re the ones enjoying themselves, pushing their clients, congratulating them when they put in extra effort. Being a PT is more than just a job: you have to live it.

Listening to your client

This is something many trainers do badly. The client-trainer relationship should begin at the initial consultation and be a constantly evolving dialogue. A trainer should be trying to find out as much as they can about a new client: why they’re there, what they want to achieve, how they measure “progress” and “success”, what they don’t like, in what time-frame they want to see results, do they have any injuries… If a trainer meets a client and immediately sits them on the rowing machine, alarm bells should start to ring.

Being Adaptable

The best trainers are the ones who adapt. They will all have their specialist areas or go-to exercises, but they need to tailor their routines for the individuals. If a trainer specialises in boxing, and the client wants boxing training, great. But if a client wants to lose weight and the trainer loves Olympic lifting, they will need to adapt their repertoire or they’re setting their client up to fail.

A program that works really well for one person, may be terrible for another, and a trainer needs to quickly identify this, and come up with solutions. I have one client who flat-out refuses to go on the rower, so I adapt his regime to suit that. A trainer is there to help the client, not torture them!

Getting Results

People usually hire a trainer to achieve something specific. Only about a third of clients will actually hit these targets, however, which is pretty abysmal. When I’m interviewing new trainers, one of my first questions is: show me proof you can get results. A good trainer will have before and after pictures of clients they have worked with. They will have breakdowns of weight-loss, strength gains, improvements in sleep and concentration. Results are key, and the more evidence they can show you, the more trust you can put in them.

Caring and connecting

The best trainers care about their clients. They enjoy making a difference in people’s lives. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your PT – four or five hours a week if you’re doing an intense transformation – so you have to make sure you can put up with them for that amount of time. A trainer can have all the knowledge in the world, have the best looking body, but if they don’t show any interest in you, you’ll find your motivation drops rapidly. Look out for things like your trainer sending a text during the week to see how you’re getting on with your training, or congratulating you on an achievement.

There needs to be a level of trust so clients will admit when they’ve had drinks, or over eaten or not trained. People shy away from this because they feel they’re letting the trainer down, but you can only come up with solutions if you have all the facts.

Good personal trainers play a much bigger part in a client’s life than just telling them to do some push-ups. They need to set an example, which can include their appearance, social media usage, lifestyle and education. I can’t stress the latter enough: there’s so much research out there to process and apply, especially when it comes to nutrition.

So if you’re looking for a personal trainer, have a think about some of these points and you should bag one of the good ones.

To book an appointment visit or call 0207 621 1312. For information about becoming a trainer visit

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