Kyras Blog

Summer Adventures

This summer has been full of amazing adventures so far. Some of these include my incredible internship at the University of Washington’s Experimental Education Unit and my tour around the country to learn about many of the prestigious universities it has to offer.  However, my love of reading has provided me with hundreds of additional adventures.

This summer, take an adventure of your own by reading one of the 6 selected books for our Summer Adventure Essay Contest. Tell us how you were changed by the book’s characters and the message of the story. I look forward to reading all of your submissions. Remember, you could win $1,000 for you school library and a Kindle Fire for yourself. Look for more info on the Kid’s Corner web page.

“Teacher Kyra, Teacher Kyra”

Hi, Everyone! I hope you are all having a relaxing summer while keeping up with community service in your area.

This summer, I have been staying with Jennifer Vertetis, the Charles Lafitte President, in Washington State. Even though I miss my family back east, my best friend always says “West Coast, Best Coast”. So it has been fun seeing what this side of the country has to offer.

I currently have an internship at the Experimental Education Unit (EEU) at the University of Washington. There, I am working in project DATA with 7 adorable special needs children. In this program, preschoolers work on goals to improve skills such as body language, knowing the difference between thoughts and feelings, expressing those thoughts and feelings, and more. It is great to watch these preschoolers excel in their goals.

To start the day, I stop at a Starbucks (They are on every street here!), and head off to the Haring Center located on the campus of University of Washington. The two head teachers and I set up for the day. Once the students arrive, we have “circle time”. During this activity, we read a book about one of the goals mentioned above, talk about our schedule, and set up a reward system for good behavior. Next, we do a small group activity that pertains to our daily goal. An example of this is designing an obstacle course as a class which links to learning to compromise and work together. Pretend play is next.  This activity is similar to acting because we create, plan, and go through a scene. This helps in learning team work, playing with others, and following directions. After pretend play, we have free choice. During free choice, it is a time for the kids to choose their activities but play with each other to work towards their individualized goals.  Throughout the day the kids earn a reward that is due by the end of the day. The kids either receive a painting party (my personal favorite), play-dough party, movie party, popsicle party, popcorn party, or dance party. Once the reward party in complete, the kids change into swimsuits and we go outside and splash around. Then sadly, it is time to put them back on the bus to go home.

It has been an amazing experience. I expected to learn a lot about behavioral teaching, but I never expected to miss each child when they miss a day of school or to create such profound relationships with these young minds. As I go into my last week at the EEU, I can’t wait to see what the kids have in store for me.

Adventures Galore

There’s no better time to read than during Summer Break! Even though some schools give out one or two required readings, I never personally connected with the stories my school chose for me. Some of you might think, “If it’s not required reading, then what?” Well I have a few suggestions.

Select one of the books listed below under your grade level and participate in the CLF Summer Adventure Essay Contest. Write an essay focusing on how the main character’s experiences helped you learn something new about yourself. You could win $1000 for your school library and a personal Kindle Fire. All entries are due by September 15th, 2015 and must be emailed to

Hole in One…MILLION

I am absolutely speechless by the generosity from everybody who donated to the 2015 CLF Golf Classic. With help from our sponsors, CLF has raised $1 MILLION! This money will enable young students  to experience the bus-in musical education programs provided by Count Basie Theatre. These donations will also give music teachers the opportunity to learn new skills for teaching their students through the Professional development program. In addition, Count Basie will be able to expand its outreach programs to provide instruments and classroom materials to at-risk-schools.

Count Basie is comprised of a talented staff, who consist of civic and community leaders who generously volunteer their time and receive no compensation for their efforts. Our goal is to increase the resources and tools for the staff so they can continue to make a difference in the lives of those partaking in Count Basie’s educational programs for the arts.

We would like to sincerely thank everyone who participated in the event by donating, volunteering, and attending. The day was filled with beautiful golfing weather, wonderful food, and fantastic music. The Charles Lafitte Foundation and Count Basie Theatre could not have asked for a more successful event. None of this would have been possible without support from all of our sponsors. THANK YOU!


Summer, Summer, Summer Time!

Hey Everyone! Have you seen our latest essay contest? The Summer Adventure Essay Contest is a great way to journey through mystical lands, help your school, and travel without leaving the comfort of home.

Read a book from the list under your grade level and tell us how the main character’s experiences helped you change and grow. One winner will be selected in each category. You could win a Kindle Fire for yourself and $1,000 for your school library. Don’t miss this chance to help your school while reading a great book!

Essays are due by September 18th, 2015 and must be emailed to I look forward to reading your essays.



Are you excited?

I am looking forward to our upcoming 12th Annual CLF Golf Classic on June 29th! Our 2015 beneficiary is the Count Basie Theatre. This event will increase the number of underprivileged children that will experience their music education programs. These programs help kids develop creative and critical thinking skills, to last beyond the guitar and into their life.

The event will be at Baltustrol Golf Club in Springfield, NJ. Check out all the sponsorship info! It should be a fantastic afternoon of golfing for the arts. I will be there to personally thank all of our sponsors and donors. Stay tuned for updates regarding the outing!

CLF’s Newest Program

Summer is almost here, which means more time to help out your community! Check out our BRAND NEW initiative, The Champions of Change program. CLF has made helping your community even easier with a step-by-step guide on how to run your own book drive!

We have also provided pictures, videos, and blogs by kids just like you that have participated in the program. Colby, Phillip, Mary, and William have kicked off this program off with great energy and enthusiasm. I encourage you all to participate!

If book drives aren’t your thing, modify the guide to collect canned foods, winter coats, school supplies, or anything else you might think kids in your area might need. CLF is happy to assist you in locating a non-profit organization who can distribute the goods to others.

Bridge of Books’ New Home

Congratulation to Bridge of Books!
Bridge of Books is a wonderful organization that I have blogged about in the past. It is an organization based in NJ that provides books to underprivileged kids who can’t afford books. The children (which can range from preschool to high school) may never have owned a book before this. They recently moved into their new space at Vonage. This space allows them to have more room, better accessibility, and a steady stream of volunteers from Vonage. Vonage employees have already been organizing books and reading to children for over a year. They have now taken it to the next level by welcoming them into their home.
This past week I was able to go to their official opening (You can check out a picture from that on the kids corner Instagram!). It has been a privilege to see this organization grow and see their amazing work in action.
It is great to see them move into a new home!

Hunger in America

I can’t wait for the Boots and Bling Humanitarian Gala to support The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The FoodBank continues to help alleviate hunger. Here is an interesting video on hunger in America:

What are you reading?

Hi everyone! Just wanted to talk about a book I am currently reading called Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I am about half way through it now and so far really enjoy the topics covered.
The title of this book drew me in because I related to it. Being a feminist means believing in equal rights for for everyone regardless of that persons gender. Even though I know the definition of a feminist, I sometimes feel like a bad one. For example, I like wearing dresses. I think that it’s nice to dress up sometimes. I enjoy getting ready for an event with friends because it makes me feel good. But is that what a feminist does? The answer is a feminist does whatever that person wants to do.
The media generally has a very poor and inaccurate portrayal of what a feminist is. This makes the public think that being a feminist means hating men. That could not be more false. This books breaks down some of the stereotypes and makes references to what it is like being a minority group women in the work place and in her personal life. Gay talks about how the media has influenced her growing up and how she has changed.
I am not through with it yet but I would recommend it for all to read.

If you’re looking for other good books to read, check out CLF Kid’s Corner’s Spring Essay contest.