You might say that education is Nashad Warfield’s family business. His mom is the principal at an elementary school in Plainfield, and he has been doing motivational training for high school and college students for years.

Although Warfield’s mother was heavily involved in his education, she had to struggle to complete her own, and didn’t get her bachelor’s degree until age 44. "She was in school when I was," he says, "raising me and my brother. She had one full and two part-time jobs and was going to school at the same time." She taught elementary school for five years, then got a master’s degree from Teachers College at Columbia University and became a technical coordinator. After getting a second master’s degree, in educational administration from Kean University, she became vice principal and then principal.

Warfield’s exposure to his mother’s focus and perseverance in achieving her educational goals fueled his interest in becoming a motivational speaker in academic settings. He worked for six years with Making It Count, offering free presentations to high school and college students on how to be successful, and he now has his own company, New Jersey Student Success. Two years ago he was certified as a trainer for Dale Carnegie, an international program that has been teaching adults the skills to be successful for 80 years.

The Carnegie training is based primarily on two books written by Dale Carnegie: "How To Win Friends and Influence People," in 1936, and "How To Stop Worrying and Start Living." Warfield read Dale Carnegie’s book the first time when he was 20 and "got fascinated."

The Dale Carnegie company has also created a Generation Next program for teens, to teach the principles it has taught to adults for decades, and the program just became available this year in New Jersey. Warfield will be leading its third iteration, for teens entering ninth through twelfth grades, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, August 28, 30, and 31, at 9 a.m. at Dale Carnegie’s Bordentown office at 243 Route 130. The cost of $895 includes books, materials, breakfast, lunch, and a snack. For more information visit www.centralnj.dalecarnegie.com or call 609-324-9200.

The program uses simple exercises to teach teens five major skills. In Dale Carnegie lingo these are "drivers of success." They are building greater self confidence, enhancing communication, strengthening interpersonal relationships, developing teamwork and leadership, and effectively managing attitude. Each exercise usually develops multiple skills at the same time.

Meeting and conversing with new people. "Most people don’t know what to talk about past the weather," says Warfield. This exercise, called the conversation stack, remedies this by using a series of pictures, linked together, each representing different parts of a conversation.

Picture a rock with a bright gold nameplate (representing the person’s name). Behind it is a large house (where the person lives and is from originally); through the windows you can see family members (relatives), and inside are a cat and dog (pets). Covering the chimney is a huge textbook (schools and careers), with an airplane on top (vacations), which has tennis rackets as propellers (sports and hobbies). Bounding off the rackets are flashing yellow light bulbs (ideas on current events and other topics).

Warfield says that once students have mastered the conversation stack, "they can hold a conversation with anyone they ever meet for the rest of their lives." Asking questions can always get a good conversation going, he says, because "most people love talking about themselves."

Giving and receiving compliments. Warfield explains that compliments come in three flavors: about things, like hair or clothes; about achievements, like awards or grades; and about personality – who the person is. It is best to give "strength-centered comments," he says, "about who people are and where they have showed they are strong, courageous, and giving."

As far as how to take a compliment, a simple "thank you" is most appropriate. "We don’t take compliments very well," says Warfield, "because we’re always taught not to show braggadocio or puff ourselves up."

Focusing on past successes to learn self confidence. The teens give persuasive talks that highlight a moment of achievement or a time of overcoming stress. Acknowledging past achievements readies a person to move forward with greater confidence. "If you have achieved in one area," explains Warfield, "you have that same ability to achieve in other areas."

Knowing how to correct others’ mistakes. "Never tell somebody they are wrong," says Warfield. But if you do need to point out other people’s mistakes, be sure to point out your own first. "That puts the attention on you, not them."

In addition to the three-day format for the Generation Next program, Dale Carnegie also offers an eight-week program where students work on concrete changes in themselves and their relationships with others. In that course students pick a person with whom they want to strengthen a relationship, as well as the principles they will use to make changes. These principles, for example, could be the three c’s – never criticize, condemn, or complain – or maybe the principles could be encourage other people to talk about themselves and become a better listener. A couple of weeks later they report back to the group.

Students also make commitments about where they will be more enthusiastic in their lives – whether in extracurricular activities, practicing for a team sport, learning to be more cooperative with parents and family, doing homework or chores, not turning on the Instant Messenger, not procrastinating, or winning people to their way of thinking.

More enthusiasm can work wonders, says Warfield. "I’ve seen kids get As in chemistry or a foreign language for the first time."

He starts off this quest with an exercise: "I have them demonstrate `how I’ve been before and how I will be – the old me and the new me.’"

On the left side of a line of tape on the floor, they will be gloomy and in the dumps. When they cross the line, they act out a more enthusiastic self. If on the left side they hate a class, don’t want to go to it, and don’t ask questions. On the right side they will begin to ask questions and talk to the teacher about how they can do better. "It reflects in their performance on tests and their relationships with teachers," says Warfield.

"The whole emphasis of the program is taking the focus off yourself and putting it on other people," he says. "As you become a stronger people person and reach out to other people, they feel better about you."

Warfield lived in Plainfield through high school, graduated as valedictorian of his business class at Morgan State University in Baltimore in 1997, and got his master’s degree from New York University in speech communication. After working in sales for Proctor and Gamble and for Black Enterprise magazine, he became a motivational speaker for Making It Count, which is now owned by Monster.com.

The talks he gave, sponsored by corporations, were free to students. The program encouraging success in college, for example, focused on the importance of freshman year, getting internships, time management, and how and when to study.

"I wanted to have an avenue to help students be successful," says Warfield, who has reached about 400,000 students around the country in close to 500 presentations. The company he now owns, New Jersey Student Success, also offers motivational keynotes and programs: being successful, finding your passion and your dreams, how to be effective leader, dealing with peer pressure, and diversity, among others.

People often don’t want to push the envelope, but to be the person you were meant to be, says Warfield, "you have to break out of the box and be yourself."

In his workshops for teenage students, he observes major transformations. After the training they talk about a major benefit they have gotten from the class, for example, greater confidence talking to people. Kids who had very bad relations with their parents may talk about being able to communicate with them parents for the first time in a cooperative rather than an argumentative spirit.

For many parents, that alone is worth the price of tuition.

– Michele Alperin

What It Takes To Become a Paralegal

Being a paralegal is not for everybody, but for those who don’t mind the stress and have the interest and ability, benefits can include interesting work, lots of autonomy, and a decent salary – with starting pay in Mercer County in the $25,000 to $30,000 range, rising to $60,000 with experience. Pay in New York City can be twice that amount.

"A paralegal," says Eric Perkins, coordinator of the paralegal program at Mercer County Community College, "is a person who works either independently or with a law firm or the State of New Jersey and provides support to an attorney." The areas of law most likely to use paralegals include real estate, to prepare for closings; worker’s compensation; civil litigation; personal injury work; trusts and estates; and bankruptcy. Paralegals function with more and less independence depending on the field in which they work.

Perkins offers "Role of the Paralegal," the introductory course in Mercer’s paralegal program, on Monday evenings, beginning on Monday, August 28, at 5:40 p.m. The program runs through December 13. Tuition is $294.50. To register, call 609-570-3311.

The class introduces the field, explaining how a paralegal works in different areas of the law: family, real estate, contracts, wills and probate, civil litigation, and bankruptcy. It also provides an introduction to legal research. "The class serves a dual purpose," says Perkins. "It is an opportunity for students to decide if they are interested in the program, and it gives me a chance to see if they are likely to succeed in it."

The students are also required to take a course in legal research and writing – learning about the citation system used in legal briefs as well as the computerized programs used for legal research – and to complete an internship, the last course in the program.

For law firms, employing a paralegal often makes economic sense. "It is an extension of the attorney’s ability to work," says Perkins. For example, paralegals may assist an attorney in drafting divorce complaints and foreclosure papers, each of which retain much of the same language from case to case. They also do legal research. For example, in a large class-action lawsuit, paralegals may help to compile information on the class to see if it is usable in the case or not.

In terms of charging clients, says Perkins, "it is legitimate to bill for a paralegal’s time separate from the attorney’s time." Although real estate closing generally go for a fixed price, it is common to see a paralegal’s hours split out if the attorney is charging on an hourly basis.

Why do people choose to become paralegals instead of attorneys? "Some people like the diversity and excitement," says Perkins about the paralegal profession, "and it’s fairly decent paying." And there are good reasons why people may not be able to become lawyers: their grades or LSAT scores may not be high enough, they may not want to take the three years required to complete law school, or they may simply not be able to afford a legal education.

"We get students out of high school or coming back looking for skills to get employment," says Perkins. "We have had students in the past who have gone on to law school, but it’s relatively uncommon, and there is no transfer of coursework."

Perkins says that some of the stress of the legal profession is passed on to paralegals. "We are trying to handle more work than is humanly possible," he explains. "It is more fast paced with the advent of computers and fax machines." For example, real estate closings, which used to take 60 to 90 days, can now be done in two weeks – or less if absolutely necessary. But when large sums of money are involved, attorneys and their paralegals want to make sure everything is done right.

Born in Trenton, Perkins went to Princeton High School and graduated from Ohio University in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics. He received his law degree from Rutgers Law School in Newark

Perkins got started in education with the state’s now defunct department of higher education, where he did regulatory work, lobbying, testifying before the state legislative, and drafting laws. Then for two years he ran the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, an advocate group. In 1986 he was hired as Dean of Planning at Mercer County Community College, and in 1990 became a vice president.

Mercer’s paralegal program, one of the first in New Jersey, celebrated its 25th anniversary a couple of years ago. At present New Jersey has one four-year paralegal studies program, at Montclair State, and Pennsylvania has two. All of Mercer’s instructors are lawyers and all courses are offered in the evening. "Many of our students work in other careers, or law firms send them to us to enhance their skills," says Perkins. Some students who complete Mercer’s two-year program go straight to work in a law office and others transfer to Rider or Rutgers.

Perkins tries to give his students a taste of how the law works by having them analyze a case that has already been reported. They might be asked to determine who is responsible in an automobile accident, using three decisions that have been rendered with similar circumstances. The students decide which facts are appropriate for the fact pattern they are given, and how the law may or may not be applied.

According to Perkins, law is now a very vibrant field, and one thing he preaches to his students is the changing nature of the law. He cites, for example, a recent front-page article in the New York Times on how Florida has changed its self-defense rule; now, instead of being required to retreat and try to get out of the way if assaulted, people who have behaved aggressively have not been charged in cases that would previously have been murder. And, after bankruptcy law changed a year ago, all of the paralegals in the field not only had to change the way they worked, but they also saw their workloads greatly increased.

In our increasingly litigious society, the paralegal field is full of opportunities. Perkins reports that Mercer County firms have been actively looking for paralegals this summer.

This is often mentally challenging work, and it is work that career changers can prepare for without quitting their current jobs. Like every other job, however, it has drawbacks, including lots of paper shuffling, and, at most firms, very limited opportunities to move up. (No matter how talented and hardworking, a paralegal will never be promoted to attorney.) This introductory course offers an excellent opportunity to ask Perkins hard questions about the realities of the paralegal profession.

– Michele Alperin

Monday, August 28

Quelling Computer Phobia: Winston Maddox

`It is a dumb device that we have glorified and filled with complexity and fear." With this initial description of the personal computer, Winston Maddox, computer science instructor at Mercer County Community College, sets his students at ease. The problem is that marketers and our own innate technological awe have petrified our curiosity and given us a skewed view of the now-ubiquitous putty-colored, gently-humming boxes.

To help replace fear of computers – and especially of their innards and their propensity to flash mysterious messages – with knowledge and confidence, Maddox leads "Introduction to PC Hardware and Software," a 13-session course beginning on Monday, August 28, at 5:40 p.m. on Mercer’s West Windsor campus. Cost: $244.50. Call 609-570-3311.

Maddox’s course provides far more than finger-tapping familiarity with the computer.

During the first session students take a machine apart and analyze its guts. They later learn how to disassemble, reassemble, insert, and troubleshoot new elements. By course’s end, students can build a system, install software, and even design a simple network.

Maddox himself shifted his sails toward the technical when he felt the winds of change coming through his own corporation. Growing up in East Norwalk, Connecticut, in a not overly geeky household, he attended the University of Hartford, earning a liberal arts degree in l972. He then proceeded to Bowling Green State University, where he gained a master’s in higher education and administration. Upon graduation, Maddox became a manager, first for General Electric and then for Digital Inc.

About midway through his tenure with Digital, Maddox was offered a 12- month intensive computer training course to prepare him for a technical sales position. "Many of my fellow managers urged me to keep fast tracking in management," he says, "but I could see that this tech stuff was sweeping around me everywhere." So he studied the computer for a solid year, 40 hours a week, in addition to his full-time job and ended up with 10 very happy years in technical sales.

Probably one of the biggest misconceptions about the computer Maddox sees is the sense that the machines are delicate, short- lived complexities requiring replacement at least every two years. Part of this is a marketer’s ploy. Why limp along with the repaired and serviceable computer when you can shell out for the newer and glitzier model? But equally at fault is the zero-maintenance attitude we give our machines.

What this country needs is a computer that lasts as long as your auto. Even as long as your dad’s old auto. While computer owners moan about the expense of replacing computers, Maddox finds that few do any maintenance at all on their machines.

Upgrade versus buy a new computer. "If your car’s fuel pump breaks, you don’t buy a new auto," says Maddox. But when the old computer begins to slow down a bit, too many of us head straight for the Circuit City showroom.

Before doing so, says Maddox, conduct a time-motion study on yourself and your computer use. Is it games, graphics, word processing, or storage that you seek? Evaluate the kinds of software that your system needs to accommodate these needs. While assembling these software requirements, try to find out if your system will be able to handle the newer versions, which will inevitably come out in the future. This takes a bit of prognostication, but often such expertise can be found in the local computer users’ group.

Frequently, it’s merely a matter of memory. New functions and old archives just add baggage and make your once-slick machine sluggish. The solution may be a memory card. Or you may want a new hard drive to handle the new functions. These can be added at minimal cost.

If a new computer really is the answer, Maddox suggests that students ask themselves which, among those on display, runs the programs they want, is it fast enough, and does it offfer all of the internal and external communication that they need.

Cleaning outside. Remember all that dust covering the old sock that you pulled out from the bed? Such is the monthly blanket that accrues on the modem and major electronic units placed under the desk, on the floor. This inhibits the fan’s cooling and may substantially slow the speed of the machine. Hitting all floor items weekly with one of those feathery, multicolored dusters will work wonders.

The monitor and keyboard only require such attention if they sit in a shop environment. In offices, Maddox says that monitors need attention. He suggests that moist, static-free wipes do a good job of keeping the monitor clean, and help eyes handle the strain of the magnetic screen.

Cleaning inside. Most of the computer’s speed-hindering baggage, however, occurs electronically – and within. In addition to dumping old files and E-mails periodically, Maddox suggests hitting the "empty cache" key regularly. This will not slow site-to-site connectivity and will speed up everything else. Also, most important and most ignored, click on your hard drive, go to the C-drive, and look for the list of all the cookies in your machine.

Certain cookies, for websites used constantly, may be worth saving. Others are necessary to the system and a warning comes up if you try to delete them. But all the rest can and should be deleted for the sake of your computer’s health.

Then look at your files. Do you really need the full text and notes of last year’s novel and the photos of the Altoona vacation right at your finger tips? By developing a dump-and-backup regimen, your computer is free to shuffle only through a short list of current files.

Put the older files on CDs or zip drives, label them, file them away, and watch how much faster your computer will run.

As a final maintenance caveat, Maddox advises that every PC be armed with a separately purchased spam filter, firewall, and virus software. Invariably, the ones that come with the machine are never quite adequate, and your information needs top protection. In selecting from the many available brands, make sure that the software is automatic, is constantly checking, and offers continual updates.

With Maddox’s computer manifesto, "you are in charge," ringing in my ears, I turned from the interview and began tapping out this article. Midway through, PSE&G decided to cut my power and, upon its return, everything came back up except my computer. I jiggled all the plugs, tried other sockets – all the recommend steps. Finally, Jack at Creative Computing ordered me to lug it over to his shop on Nassau Street.

Huffing it up the stairs, I plunked it on Jack’s desk. He smiled sympathetically at me, plugged it in, and viola! It worked instantly. "It will be O.K. now," he said. "Take it home." I did as I was told, plugged her in and, true to prophecy, all was fine.

While Maddox doesn’t mention this in his course, it appears that some computers also need a little fresh air, a chance to sit among other friendly computers for a few moments, and the knowledge that they are not being taken for granted. I fulfilled its wishes and the article got finished. One of us is truly in charge, but I’m not so sure it is I.

– Bart Jackson

New Flight Options At Mercer Airport

Delta may soon alight in Mercer County, offering flights to two popular business and vacation spots – Boston and Atlanta. Central New Jersey and Bucks County travelers, thoroughly sick of big-airport parking and security line hassles, will rejoice if the airline actually does what so many airlines in the past have failed to do and carves out a permanent home in central New Jersey. But some Ewing residents, enjoying the peace in their still-somewhat-rural corner of the country, do not share the joy, and are united as PLANE (People Limiting Airport Noise and Expansion) to fight the latest big-airline incursion.

When it comes to natural resources, it is impossible to please everyone. People who live in Princeton or Yardley and have to fly to Boston or Atlanta, or to connect to other cities through those hubs, are probably very glad that the Mercer County freeholders unanimously voted to approve Delta Airlines flights from Trenton-Mercer airport at a Friday, August 18, meeting. People who are trying to put babies to sleep or enjoy the pennant race in their Ewing homes are considerably less happy.

The fact that numerous airlines have tried, and failed, to find a customer base in central New Jersey, doesn’t mean that the airport near their homes is sprouting weeds. Far from it. It is one of only three commercial airports in New Jersey, averages approximately 150,000 aircraft operations each year, and is home to one commercial air carrier, the aviation units of numerous Fortune 100 companies, one corporate terminal and repair base, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey National Guard, and the U.S. Marines.

Now Delta carrier, which will operate flights through its Comair subsidiary, is free to start flying as soon as it obtains approval from the FAA. The airline plans three flights a day to both Boston and Atlanta.

In welcoming Delta, the county freeholders pointed out that the planes Delta will use, Bombardier CRJ-200s, are quieter than most of the corporate jets and helicopters that now buzz in and out of the airport all day long.

Meanwhile, Pan Am Clipper Connection, a subsidiary of Boston-Maine Airways, which already services Trenton-Mercer Airport, is to add flights from the airport. It will soon fly to the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport in New York and to Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Maryland.

The new service will begin with two daily non-stop flights to Elmira, starting on Tuesday, September 12, and one daily non-stop flight to Baltimore-Washington beginning on Tuesday, September 19.

Pan Am currently provides five nonstop, round-trip flights to Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachussets from Trenton-Mercer Airport Monday through Friday, and one connecting flight to Portsmouth, New Hampshire from Bedford. The Trenton-Mercer to Hanscom route, the airline’s most successful to date, will continue uninterrupted.

While the airlines are celebrating and the freeholders are giving their blessing, residents are fuming. A look at the airport’s website, www.mercercounty.org/airport/faq, provides some insight into their ire. It states, for example, that the airport is open 24 hours a day, that any noise abatement procedures undertaken by air craft using it are entirely voluntary, and that it is neigh onto impossible to identify any pilot reported by residents as flying very low.

On the subject of possible actions against pilots who might be buzzing homes surrounding the airport, the airport, via its website, has this to say: "There is no way to be sure. Federal law does not require TTN (Trenton-Mercer Airport) to keep records on the identity of those pilots departing or arriving here. If you happen to see the aircraft’s tail number, we may be able to research it further; otherwise we can only put your complaint into our database for general noise report analysis. While the Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) does maintain certain pertinent records for a limited period of time, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will not allow the release of such information to the public, due to aircraft security concerns.

"Please remember, Federal law calls for the greatest possible access to public airports. Anything that inhibits access, or invades the expectation of pilot privacy, is greatly restricted."

Not much joy there for the airport’s neighbors, but, on an up note, the airport, quoting studies untaken in 1996 and 2001, assures them that its presence will not decrease the value of their homes. It also states that noise is basically in the ears of those barbequing or gardening below. "One individual can be greatly bothered by aircraft noise," suggests the website, "while another individual may hardly notice the same noise."

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