Prevent Summer Brain-Dead Syndrome

Beware of the dreaded summer brain-dead syndrome!

Thank goodness for New York State Senator James Sanders Jr. of NYS District 10. He consistently shows how elected officials should serve the people who entrust them with public office. Especially when it comes to helping save his youngest constituents from the toxic effects of “Summer Brain-Dead Syndrome.”

Even though the summer vacation is almost over, you still have a chance to help your children avoid the dreaded “Summer Brain Dead Syndrome.”

What we did every summer

Every summer after her mom died, Ashley and I would go to either the Park Slope or Court Street Barnes and Noble to buy Summer Bridge Course books for her summer learning. Her principal, Dr. Beverly Ffolkes-Bryant, would provide insight into which subjects she should focus on to build the skills she’d need to prepare for the next grade. And every one of her suggestions was on point. McGraw-Hill’s Spectrum Series was my favorite.

A beautiful little Black girl doing what comes naturally – reading.

One plus one is . . . two?

So, every fall, while teachers were bemoaning how “…even some of the top students forgot two plus two is four over summer break,” Ashley was ready for Advanced Calculus.  Well, maybe regular calculus. Okay, okay, every required exam she would take during the school year.

She and every other child who read during the summer.

Studies consistently prove children who participate in summer learning programs always perform better the following school year. Why, because they don’t have to relearn study discipline, and the summer programs prepare them for academic challenges they’ll face during the coming school year.

No reason for summer brain-dead syndrome in our family.

Or yours.

Back to Senator Sanders

I receive one email every other week about some program or another NYS residents should be aware of. Last summer his office sent information about the New York State Senate’s Summer Reading Program. All you have to do is register your child at, and when they read just three books,  your child will receive a Certificate of Achievement from Senator Sanders. This year’s submission deadline is September 1, 2023.

A young Black scholar reading a book.

Here’s how you can participate

You’ll find the Summer Reading Form at

You still have time to enter this program.

If money is tight, and your child doesn’t already have a library card, now is the time to get what is likely the best access card you can possess. Your child will be able to check out and read three, ten, or even 25 books over the summer.

You can get more information about summer reading from New York’s libraries at and Scholastic’s Kids and Families Reading Report at

What he’s not fixing to do

Why didn’t he send a certificate to every child in the State of New York or the country for that matter? Because, at least in New York State, everyone votes for, and is represented by their own State Senator. So, if you haven’t heard about this great summer program from your own State Senator, get on the horn and ask why not. Senator Sanders and his staff put their all into serving the people of New York State’s 10th District, and so should your State Senator.

After all, isn’t that what being a true public servant is all about?

So, a huge thank you to Senator Sanders and his super-dedicated team for keeping us aware and informed.

And I’ll tell you what. If you live in New York State and have to call your State Senator to ask about this program, drop me an email at [email protected]. I’ll choose three (3) families who will receive three books for their home libraries.

We still have time to fight the dreaded summer brain-dead syndrome.

About the author

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF, is an NYS-licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker. He has 41 years of experience, 28 of those years as the owner of Bridge Insurance Agency and Greaves Financial Services.

Like to speak with Eustace?

Eustace wants to assist you with your home, life, flood, disability, renters, auto, cooperative, condominium, and wedding insurance needs. You can reach him at his mobile number,  718-489-2218, his office number, 718-783-2722, or by email at [email protected]. You can also go to his website,, and complete any of the available “Contact Us” forms.

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Wash Your Hands and Your Face Too!

There’s More To Life Than Just Washing Your Hands

If there is one thing we will all take from the experience of surviving (hopefully), COVID-19, it is this:

We all learned the simple act of washing our hands properly and often is key to disease protection.

Well, to quote Derrick Coleman, “Well whoop dee ding dang do.”

No matter where you look during these Covid-19 days, you are reminded of the importance of handwashing. There are signs, videos, I mean, did most of us fail kindergarten? When I attended P. S. 129K for kindergarten, my essential education included education in the proper use of rhythm sticks, marching in a circle,  zipping up your pants before leaving the bathroom, and the correct way to wash our hands.

Oh, and eating pretzel sticks layered with enough giant salt crystals to give a bull elephant high blood pressure.

With all the hullabaloo about washing our hands, there is one important procedure no one is talking about.

What, pray tell, could it be?

Don’t Touch It. It May Be Filthier Than Your Hands

How about washing your face?

You know, the thing you’re not supposed to touch with your hands as you might transmit disease through the mucous membranes around your eyes, or into your mouth.

How many times do you wash your face each day, I mean really get your rag and soap it up and scrub your face until your skin glows? Not the glow from the makeup layered on your skin, but the healthy glow from facial pores saying, “Hallelujah! We see the light!”

Then, scrub your neck until there’s no dirt left to stain your collar.

Get Behind Your Ears, Too

And don’t forget to get the crud from behind your ears, and the surface wax and filth from the surface of your ears. It would be a shame for someone to actually want to nibble on them, only to gag and spit out whatever lives there.

So take the time to scrub your face, ears, and neck at least two or three times a day.

If nothing else, you’ll be touching a clean face with clean hands.

And you won’t be like Shrek, pulling enough earwax out of your ear to make a candle.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is a New York State licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker who tends to look at life way differently than most people.

You can reach him at 718-489-2218, 718-783-2722, or by email at [email protected] for home, renters, life, disability, flood, coop condo insurance coverage quotes, and policy reviews.

Get Irritated, Get To Work, Be Greater!

Hard? This year the Prep For Prep program will probably test another four to five thousand kids for the vying for the opportunity to occupy one of those 225 seats.
Look, the world is not your oyster. Even an oyster doesn’t excrete the nacre which creates it’s pearl until it’s irritated. So, get irritated, and get to work. And as my young friend, Qadir Forbes, a brand-new graduate of Williams College now working in finance for Disney says, “Be Greater!”

Get Irritated, Get To Work, and Be Greater

James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers set off a firestorm of controversy this past summer when he made his son return summer camp trophies they’d received basically for just showing up.  Mr. Harrison took issue with this concept of “Everyone is a winner, whether you win or lose.” Why not be greater?

In my humble opinion, this culture of “Everyone is a Winner,” and, “There are no losers,”  created the crybaby culture we suffer with in this nation. And these crybabies are toddlers, pre-teens, teens, and 20, 30, 40, and 50 year olds.

I mean, Tee-Ball? One day these little ones will learn you don’t hit home runs in life from a stable stand. You’d better learn how to hit that pitch down and away over the fence. Those guys are the  ones who earn, not make, earn, the big bucks. And guess what, they fail more than they succeed. But when they succeed, entire stadiums stand as one to watch a little white ball land in the seats.

Children learn by playing games of every kind – Monopoly, Scrabble, Chess, Tag, sandlot football and baseball and basketball. When I played games with my daughter, she lost all the time.  At first, she’d get upset as only little ones can, dragging one fuzzy doll or another to complain to her mom. Sometimes she’d even act like she didn’t want to play when I’d set up a game board. Thing is, she kept coming back for more punishment until she figured out a way to win. And she did win, dang it. Beat me at chess when I wasn’t giving the game my complete and undivided attention. Her attention, and will to win caught up to and passed me.

The child crowed about that win for a week. Or two.

I won’t even tell you how she finally beat me in one of our nightly foot races. I will simply say, she cheated, sort of.

But the way she did it made me so proud. Also let me know that the thought of having more sneaky children was definitely out of the question.

When she and her dear departed mother played Monopoly, it was akin to blood sport. They would cheat each other, accuse each other of cheating, secrete caches of Monopoly money, hide property cards, I mean blood sport.

But win or lose, by the end of the game, (and their discovering I’d snuck out so I wouldn’t have to referee), they laughed about the game.

They’d enjoyed competing against each other. Even better, her mom, by this time, had adopted my mantra of “Win, or keep trying”, so Ashley knew it was no quarter asked and none given.

Children must learn that in this life there are times when you will be the  winner,  and others when you will be the loser. The trick is enjoying more of the former, and less of the latter.

If you don’t like the taste of losing, then work harder, learn everything you can about your passion, think about it, strategize about it, devote your life to the mastery of it. Then, if it’s a sport, practice until they have to drag you off the field or the court. School – study until your eyeballs bleed. Turn off the television, don’t even buy the Wii game. 

Did you know the kids who compete for the chance to win the Scripps Spelling Bee every year don’t waste time watching unnecessary or foolish television? They are engaged in increasing their personal vocabularies with words I never even knew existed. Talk about a great use of one’s time.  There was one two-time winner from Brooklyn whose family didn’t own a television. But books, the walls and floors were covered with books.

Real Housewives of Where? Grey’s What? The Bachelor?

I will never forget people from both sides of the family telling me I was mean and cruel for making Ashley spend two summers and Wednesday nights and all day Saturday in school with the Prep For Prep program. Even my Bajan father said I was cruel, and her maternal grandmother told me her book bag was too heavy for her.

“Good,” I told her. “The heavier the books, the smarter the brain.”

 She finished and attended Poly Prep Country Day School. From Poly Prep to Yale. The future? Bright, because she knows life gives you nothing. You work for what you want, and you’ll get it.

She knows that luck is nothing more than good fortune made manifest by opportunity meeting a mind prepared to take full advantage of all that opportunity contains.
And that program continues to this day. In late August, the latest survivors, the kids who cried but didn’t quit, commenced before attending some of the nation’s top private schools for middle and upper school. Fourteen months of what I once deemed academic hell, all for a glorious opportunity.

Opportunity. There goes that word again.

Hard? This year the Prep For Prep program will probably test another four to five thousand kids for the vying for the opportunity to occupy one of those 225 seats.
Look, the world is not your oyster. Even an oyster doesn’t excrete the nacre which creates it’s pearl until it’s irritated. So, get irritated, and get to work. And as my young friend, Qadir Forbes, a brand-new graduate of Williams College now working in finance for Disney says, “Be Greater!”

Thank you Mr. Harrison. I just hope more families follow your lead. Our nation, and our world, will be better for it.

And when your team loses to my NY Giants in the Super Bowl, I am sure you will work even harder.

Coach Tomlin hates, just hates, to lose.

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