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University of Iowa News Release


University of Iowa Media Tip Sheet

Aug. 11, 2008

Back to school story tip sheet

Here are some back to school story ideas for which University of Iowa experts can provide comment and analysis.

PREPARING STUDENTS FOR TEST-TAKING: It's the night before a big test and your son or daughter is stressed and complaining of a stomachache. How do you calm your children's fear and help them feel more confident? What tips could help them better prepare for taking a test with confidence and calmness? Sam Cochran, clinical professor in the Counseling Psychology Program in the UI College of Education and director of the University Counseling Service, shares tips for helping students prepare for test-taking and empowering them with the skills they need to do their best. Cochran's special area of interest is in academic skills counseling. He can be reached at or 319-335-7294.

BULLYING IN SCHOOLS: Bullying is a serious problem in many classrooms and on playgrounds. Malik Henfield, an assistant professor in the Counseling, Rehabilitation and Student Development Program in the UI College of Education, has expertise in how to prevent -- and handle -- bullying in constructive ways, offering tips for parents, students and educators. Henfield wanted his counseling master's students to gain experience working with diverse populations early in their educations, so he arranged for his group counseling class to present anti-bullying curricula to students at the Mark Twain Elementary after school program in Iowa City. For more information, contact 319-335-5942 or

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM: More students are entering K-12 schools with different levels of abilities, whether due to learning disabilities, physical disabilities, visual impairment or autism, among others. With both on campus and mobile demonstration labs, Jim Stachowiak of the Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research (ICATER) in the UI College of Education, helps parents, counselors, teachers and administrators determine the best assistive technology solutions to help these students access the curriculum. He can share insights and tips that will help educate parents, teachers and the general public about simple technology solutions as well as the cutting-edge technology developments and how they can help students with differing abilities achieve their full potential in the classroom.
For more information, contact Stachowiak at 319-335-5280,

TEACHING, COUNSELING AND GIFTED EDUCATION: Working together, school counselors and gifted educators can do amazing things for gifted students and their families. Susannah Wood, an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation and Student Development in the UI College of Education, teaches and trains current school counseling students to work with gifted students and collaborate with gifted educators. She is also pursuing her interest in how K-12 school counselors are serving their gifted populations and discovering innovative strategies and opportunities for school counselors and gifted educators to collaborate. For more information, contact Wood at, 319-335-5050.

LEARNING DISABILITIES AND READING: Did you know that more than 5 percent of the school-aged population in the United States has a learning disability, and that 80 percent of these students have identified needs in reading? Bill Therrien, special education assistant professor in the UI College of Education Department of Teaching and Learning, says "poor reading performance is by far the most common reason students are referred for special education services." Fortunately, much is known about how to help students with learning disabilities succeed. Therrien says, "With intensive reading skills instruction, the majority of students with learning disabilities can become competent readers who are able to read just as well as their non-disabled peers." Contact Therrien at 319-335-5606 or

STUTTERING: Early stuttering in preschool and kindergarten children is a concern that can be addressed. Available to discuss the condition and treatments is Tricia Zebrowski, associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Contact her at 319-335-8735,

TEACHERS AND VOICE HEALTH: One of the most important tools teachers use daily in the classroom is their voice. Vocal health for teachers can be discussed by two experts in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Ingo Titze, professor,, 303-893-6080 (after Aug. 25, e-mail Titze at; and Julie Ostrem, program associate,, 319-335-6602.

'FIRST-DAY' TEARS/TANTRUMS: What's a parent to do when a child has tears or tantrums going off to their first day of school? Available to address "detachment" issues for preschoolers or first-time students is Linda J. Cooper-Brown, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of pediatrics and a specialist at University of Iowa Children's Hospital. Cooper can be reached at 319-353-6976; (Note: Cooper is not available for interviews after 3 p.m.)

CHILDREN AND ASTHMA: What considerations should parents and teachers make to ensure the health and wellbeing of a child with asthma? Miles Weinberger, M.D., professor of pediatrics and an allergy specialist at UI Children's Hospital, can discuss physical activity, exposure to dust and other substances, asthma medications and other related issues. For more information, contact Weinberger at 319-356-3485,

THUMBSUCKING: A child who continues to suck his/her thumb (or a pacifier) beyond age 4 may risk developing an overbite or other oral health complications. For details and tips on how to help a child break this habit, contact John Warren, D.D.S., associate professor in the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry, UI College of Dentistry, at 319-335-7204 or

TOO SICK FOR SCHOOL: Sniffles, sore throat, fever and fatigue are relatively common symptoms for schoolchildren, especially during the cold and flu season. But how sick should a child be for a parent to keep their youngster at home? Jerold Woodhead, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and a specialist at UI Children's Hospital, can offer advice and discuss illnesses that often affect school-aged children. Contact info: 319-356-4964,

SCHOOL NURSES: An Iowa law passed in 2007 reinstated the requirement that every school district in the state have a school nurse, and that school districts must work toward a ratio of one school nurse for every 750 children. Ann Marie McCarthy, a professor in the UI College of Nursing, can discuss the availability of school nurses in Iowa and how the college is helping school districts meet this requirement. Contact info: 319-335-7087,

KIDS AND EYESIGHT: Vision problems can have a devastating effect on a student's ability to learn and participate in school activities. Arlene Drack, M.D., associate professor in the UI Department of Ophthalmology, can discuss the importance of eye exams, how to choose a pair of frames for the classroom or sports, and related topics. Contact info: 319-335-8270,

KIDS AND HEARING: Children who have difficulty hearing may have more trouble following and comprehending instruction. Hearing problems can also translate into poor classroom behavior including inattentiveness, talking loudly and a lack of participation. Catching hearing difficulties early is key. To learn more about the causes and signs of hearing loss, and hearing tests, contact UI Department of Otolaryngology faculty members Richard Smith, M.D., professor, at 319-356-3612 or; or Jose Manaligod, M.D., associate professor, at 319-384-5895 or

BATHROOM BREAKS: During the school year, children spend about half their waking hours at school. Thus, having access to trips to the bathroom can become an important part a child's school-day routine. Christopher Cooper, M.D., professor in the UI Department of Urology, has studied children's bathroom needs and practices, and can offer advice on how to avoid "accidents" and other pediatric urination problems. Contact info: 319-335-8435,

SPORTS PHYSICALS: In Iowa, a physical exam is required before a student is allowed to participate in school-sponsored athletic events. Ned Amendola, M.D., professor in the UI Department of Orthopaedics and director of UI Sports Medicine, can discuss what is included this exam and offer insight as to whether a patient with a particular condition or history of a specific injury should be given the opportunity to participate in a given sport. Contact info: 319-356-4230,

IMMUNIZATIONS: Children attending school in Iowa are required to have proof of immunization for a number of diseases. To learn more about the requirements, and what parents need to know, contact Jody Murph, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and a specialist with UI Children's Hospital, at 319-356-3986 or; or Paul James, M.D., professor and head of the UI Department of Family Medicine, at 319-384-7500,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Lois Gray, 319-384-0077,; or David Pedersen, Health Science Relations, 319-335-8032,