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15 Best Public School Districts In the U.S. You Need to Know

15 Best Public School Districts In the U.S. You Need to Know

Do you have school-aged children? Are you trying to find the school districts in the U.S. where they will get the absolute best education possible? If it seems like your kids aren’t getting everything they should from their schools, there are districts where they will not only get the best education, but where they can also get into sports, community-based activities, and other family-friendly activities. Here are the 15 best school districts in the U.S. based on 2015 Niche Rankings.

1. Edgemont Union Free School District, Greenburgh Town, New York

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    • This school district ranks among the top in academics, and the teachers work with the students to ensure that they receive a top education.
    • When it comes to activities, kids can participate in a variety of clubs, music, art, community groups, and much more.
    • The sporting program is one of the best around, and students can take part in all of their favorite sports, from volleyball to football and more.

    2. Jericho Union Free School District, Oyster Bay Town, New York

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      • Parents and pupils surveyed on their experiences in this school district gave it a ranking of 4.4 out of 5.
      • The education offered in this district is second-to-none, and students graduate fully prepared for university or the work force.
      • This district is rich in family-friendly activities for learners and parents, and there are many school-based extra-curricular activities to take part in.

      3. Tredyffrin-Easttown School District, Tredyffrin Township, Pennsylvania

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        • Ranked 4.3 out of 5 by parents and students, this school district provides kids with the education they deserve, as well as other activities to help them grow into well-rounded adults.
        • The teachers in this school district are among the best in the country, and receive high grades from students and their parents.
        • Extracurricular activities are highly encouraged, as well as fitness, and there are plenty of sporting activities learners can take part in.

        4. Lower Merion School District, Lower Merion, Pennsylvania

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          • If you are looking for a school district that is welcoming to pupils of all cultures and backgrounds, this district has what you want, with plenty of student culture and diversity.
          • Resources for learners and parents are numerous, and each school has resources and facilities to meet the needs of all students.
          • Health and safety of all pupils is a priority in this district, and the teachers and school administration staff take this aspect of education very seriously.

          5. Scarsdale Union Free School District, Scarsdale, New York

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            • Pupils receive the highest level of education, and the teachers are always willing to go that extra mile for their students.
            • There are plenty of resources for students who need tutoring, counseling, and other important services.
            • This is not a district that is rich in sports, although there are plenty of activities students can take part in.

            6. Great Neck Union Free School District, North Hempstead Town, New York

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              • Parents who want their children to study in schools where academics are on the highest end of the scale should consider this district.
              • The teachers were given a high score for their knowledge, sensitivity, and ability to relate to the students on their level.
              • Extra-curricular activities, sports, and community service are highly encouraged by district teachers and administration staff.

              7. Pittsford Central School District, Pittsford Town, New York

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                • Parents and students gave the district a ranking of 4.4 out of 5.
                • This school district provides learners with the education they need to get into the best universities in the U.S. and around the world.
                • Culture and diversity are encouraged, and you will find kids from many cultures studying side-by-side.

                8. Rye City School District, Rye, New York

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                  • This district gets one of the best rankings from kids and parents, with 4.6 out of a possible 5 points.
                  • You will find many resources to cater to all pupils, as well as numerous facilities for sports, recreation, and more.
                  • There is not as much student diversity and culture as with other school districts, but it more than makes up for this with the high level of student activities that are open to all students.

                  9. North Allegheny School District, McCandless Township, Pennsylvania

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                    • Ranked 4.3 out of 5, the district offers students an educational atmosphere that is challenging yet fulfilling.
                    • Kids graduate knowing that they have received one of the best educations in the country, and they are prepared for their lives as adults.
                    • This school district receives an A+ in just about all categories, from academics to extracurricular activities.

                    10. Chappaqua Central School District, New Castle Town, New York

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                      • Students are fully prepared for their SAT examinations, and often get some of the highest marks.
                      • Enjoy a rich variety of sports, clubs, and other activities that are geared to make all pupils feel welcome.

                      11. Dresden School District, Hanover Town, New Hampshire

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                        • Not only does this school district offer the highest standards for education, it is located in one of the most beautiful parts of the U.S.
                        • Parents and learners can expect to find teachers who want to see their students succeed, and go above and beyond to make sure that they do.
                        • Outdoor activities such as skiing in the winter and swimming in the summer are popular in this area, and New England is known for its amazing school sports teams.

                        12. Adlai E. Stevenson High School District No. 125, Vernon Township, Illinois

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                          • This district receives straight A’s all the way around, with some of the best resources for students and parents in the state.
                          • This district offers a great blend of academics, sports, and other activities so kids are well-rounded and learn many skills.
                          • Students enjoy a huge variety of extra-curricular activities, including sports (as players and spectators), student council, and more.

                          13. Manhasset Union Free School District, North Hamstead Town, New York

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                            • Teachers and administrators go out of their way to provide the best educational services possible, including tutoring and counseling.
                            • The health and well-being of students and teachers is of utmost concern, and you can be sure that any and all accommodations will be met for particular health needs.
                            • If the U.S. is a melting pot, then NYC is its capitol, and pupils in this district enjoy plenty of cultural diversity, and acceptance for all cultures, religions, etc.

                            14. San Marino Unified School District, San Marino, California

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                              • This isn’t an inner-city school district, and teachers are there to really work with your kids to ensure that they are fully prepared for life after high school.
                              • Sports and fitness are a priority, and there are plenty of sporting teams to join, as well as events to watch.
                              • If you are worried about the dangers of sending your kids to California schools, you should take a look at all this district has to offer, including a safe area to live and attend school.

                              15. Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, West Marlborough Township, Pennsylvania

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                                • This district offers a good blend of academia and activities, and kids and parents alike give this district a 4.2 out of 5 overall ranking.
                                • As far as academics go, your kids will have the highest level of learning possible when they attend schools in this district.
                                • Resources for pupils are abundant, and students can enjoy tutoring sessions, life counseling, career counseling, and much more.

                                Featured photo credit: Tom via flickr.com

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                                Last Updated on April 17, 2019

                                10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

                                10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

                                What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

                                Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

                                They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

                                1. Communication Skills

                                Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

                                To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

                                Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

                                Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

                                After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

                                2. Flexibility

                                Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

                                Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

                                Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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                                Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

                                3. Being a Team Player

                                Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

                                What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

                                This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

                                Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

                                4. Positive Mental Attitude

                                There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

                                Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

                                Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

                                It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

                                Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

                                5. A Strong Work Ethic

                                People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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                                If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

                                Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

                                • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
                                • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
                                • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
                                • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

                                For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

                                6. Public Speaking

                                Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

                                Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

                                If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

                                For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

                                Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

                                7. Integrity

                                From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

                                • Always doing what you say you will do
                                • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

                                …even when no one is around to check up on you.

                                There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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                                Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

                                8. Managing Your Time

                                Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

                                A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

                                Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

                                Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

                                These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

                                9. Assertiveness

                                In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

                                • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
                                • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
                                • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
                                • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

                                Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

                                How do you use this information for yourself?

                                It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

                                Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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                                How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

                                10. Creative Thinking

                                LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

                                Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

                                How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

                                Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

                                These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

                                You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

                                What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

                                Final Thoughts

                                The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

                                So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

                                The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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                                Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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