July 16, 2018

Summer Reading Recommendations from Squirrels

Whether you choose to do your reading poolside or in a frosty air-conditioned room, lazy summer days are the perfect time for catching up on some reading. Once again, the Squirrels team has compiled a list of its favorite summer reading recommendations. This eclectic list of books (and podcasts) is sure to have something for everyone.

Happy Summer!

Summer Reading Twitter Cards

Becky Shiring, Director of Professional Development and Continued Learning

“A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness and a Trove of Letters Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression” by Ted Gup

This book shows how the smallest acts can counteract some of the greatest problems. This true story takes place in Canton, Ohio, and includes a ton of historical information about my new town!


Emily Carle Hafer, Alpha Squirrels Program Manager

“Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling

It's never a bad time to read the Harry Potter series. You can read it in tandem with Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, the mobile role-playing game. 

“Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom” by Monica Burns

Monica creates amazing resources for educators implementing technology in their work. She includes personal experiences from her work in education as well as her travels around the world. This book allows educators to start with a strong foundation and build up to effective technology integration. 

“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

A powerful message to provoke meaningful conversations in and out of the classroom. It's been a must-read for over a year now, but this fall you'll see the book come to life as a movie.


Erica Betz, Admin/HR Rep

“Anya's Ghost” by Vera Brosgol

This graphic novel is a sweet and spooky coming-of-age story. I got the digital version and read it on my phone in just a few hours. Great for traveling and car rides!

“The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot” by Kathy Hester

This book is full of really simple, healthy and DELICIOUS recipes. I love the lentils and rice recipe, but there are a variety to try!

“When You Are Engulfed In Flames” by David Sedaris

This collection of essays will have you lost in thought and laughing aloud as you read. Sedaris is famous for witty, dark humor and anecdotes that leave readers wanting more. I loved all his books, but this one is my favorite. Perfect to pick up and read one essay at a time or all in one sitting!


Matt Elsey, Director of Web Technologies

“The World According To Mister Rogers: Important Things To Remember” by Fred Rogers

Few people have the ability to encourage and uplift like Fred Rogers. This book is a great collection of quotes, thoughts and reminders of what's important. It's a quick and easy way to get perspective in your daily life.


Jon Zelasko, Senior Developer

“The Old Man and The Sea” by Ernest Hemingway

Though brief, this book is meant to be consumed leisurely like a fine whiskey. Its plain language disguises deeper meaning that changes over time. And like all classics, it tells a story that somehow captures a moment in time perfectly. I recommend enjoying it by an ocean as a way to escape a world filled with too many distractions.


Mike Bruin, Junior Developer

“Locke And Key, Vol. 1” by Joe Hill

This is a great graphic novel that combines horror, interesting art and a story that you can't help but follow. If you aren't familiar with graphic novels, this is a good one to start!


Jon Bishop, Creative Director of Marketing

“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

A book that'll make you think twice before playing Candy Crush or tuning in to 24-hour news.

“1984: New Classic Edition” by George Orwell

This book is full of eerie correlations to current affairs: demagoguery, authoritarianism, information control, deletion of government records, the list goes on. I deleted my Facebook!


Nate Wendell, ClassHub Support Specialist

“One Second After” by William R. Forstchen

An extremely grim look into life after a catastrophic failure of the power grid. You will cry at several points, but you won't be able to put it down either. 


Christina Lamanna, Implementation Specialist

“Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly

The book was inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine. The story revolves around three women who experience life in unimaginable ways. It's one of those books you feel bounded with after reading.


Joseph McCulty, Business Analyst

“Frasier: A Cultural History” by Joseph and Kate Darowski

This book provides an excellent overview of the greatest sitcom of all time. Whether you are looking for a guide as you watch Frasier for the first time, or you’ve already watched it in its entirety five-plus times like I have, it offers a lot of great insight.


Alissa McGill, Developer Relations Engineer

“Limited Resources” (Podcast) by Marshall Sutcliffe and Luis Scott-Vargas

I love this podcast because it is the perfect combination of funny and deep strategy for the best trading card game to ever exist - Magic the Gathering.


Alisha Pero, Sales Administrator

“Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where The Hell Are My Keys?” by Billy Crystal

I love hearing about his life. He is hilarious, thoughtful and keeps you engaged throughout the whole book. I like the audible version because he actually reads it himself! Try it. It is fantastic!


Connal Kelly, Account Executive 

“In the Dark” (Podcast) by Madeleine Baran

A true crime podcast about the failures and cover-ups of two county sheriffs' offices. The first season investigates a well-known child abduction case. The second involves a man who has been tried six times for the same crime and has remained in prison for the past 21 years even after winning appeals. So mysterious and engaging!


Aaron Rinier, Director of Support

“They Call Me Supermensch: A Backstage Pass to the Amazing Worlds of Film, Food, and Rock'n'roll” by Shep Gordon

Shep Gordon is an amazing storyteller and a very interesting man. Pretty easy, fun read.

 

Those are just a few of our favorites we’re taking to the beach. What are your favorite summer reads? Comment below or tweet us @Squirrels with your own recommended page-turners.

February 9, 2018

#SquirrelsChat Recap: Creating Startup Culture in the Classroom

Ping pong tables in the lounge. Free sushi and Red Bull in the fridge. The latest toys and gadgets littering the office.

You’ve likely heard these nauseating clichés about tech startups more times than you can count.

While those amenities may appear in startup culture, it’s critical to understand that the success of your team, colleagues or students does not derive from pool tables and free snacks. A true startup culture embodies growth, innovation, openness, experimentation, positivity and most of all, collaboration.

The February #SquirrelsChat laid the groundwork for developing a startup culture. Participants brainstormed ways to apply that cultural framework to educational environments.

What elements of startup culture can be found in education?

Start by looking at the physical attributes of modern classrooms. You’ll notice the parallels between innovation and education. Teachers and schools are becoming more intentional about creating environments that are conducive to collaboration and creativity.

What does a people-first mentality look like in classrooms & schools?

Simply put: a people-first mentality is looking at people beyond data, requirements and to-do lists. Focus on building relationships with your colleagues, students, admins, parents, etc. because ultimately, people are the foundation of any organization or culture.

What are ways to encourage collaboration in your environment

When we place value on collaboration, we need to find a way to cultivate it and make it part of the active culture.  

What impact does a culture of innovation have on student learning & achievement?

The term “future-ready skills” can be found across education today. It is difficult, if not impossible, for students to acquire future-ready skills with an educational mindset stuck in the 20th century.

What can you do to shift towards a culture of innovation?

In the words of Sir Ken Robinson, change happens from the ground up. Movements do not occur because someone in charge says it should happen. We should all feel empowered to make change happen, regardless of where we are.

Join #SquirrelsChat for the best education tips, strategies and ideas
Join #SquirrelsChat every first and third Thursday of the month at 8 p.m ET. You can stay up to date on chat topics and moderators by following us on Twitter (@Squirrels). 

Don’t miss the next #SquirrelsChat on February 15: Student Engagement with host Billy Spicer.

November 23, 2016

Where's the Beef?

Squirrels Chili Cook-off

If there is one thing you should know about us, it’s that we take chili very seriously.

Squirrels celebrated its fourth annual chili cook-off last Friday. Seven unique employee-made chilis were entered into the contest. We’re just now coming out of the food coma, and we have absolutely no regrets about the amount of food we consumed. We’ve learned that it’s best to view the chili cook-off as Thanksgiving preparation. Although it was 70 degrees and sunny outside, that didn’t stop us from enjoying the chili utopia and copious amounts of deserts that employees graciously made for the day.

Also, we are forever thankful to whoever provided the cornbread.

After sampling all of the goodness and tallying up votes, the “Jons” continued their Squirrels chili cook-off dominance.  Reigning champion Jon Bishop was crowned the winner once again with his “Cornquistador” chili. Cornquistador is a thick, spicy pork and corn chili with a cheesy base and a lasting–but bearable–heat. It contains three types of meat (bacon, chorizo and ground pork), six different spices and six kinds of veggies, all sliced to perfection.

Here’s the complete recipe:

VEGGIES:
1 yellow onion, diced small
1 bag of small sweet peppers (yellow and red), deseeded, diced small
1 shallot, minced as finely as possible (it’ll basically dissolve overnight)
4 jalapeños, chopped, seeds in
2 serrano chili peppers, thinly sliced

Veggies go into the crockpot first.

MEAT:
1lb. of ground pork, browned in Sriracha, salt and pepper
1lb. of chorizo, crumbled, browned in the same skillet
9 strips of thick-cut bacon, cut into bits, drizzled in honey and seared in the same skillet

Throw all of that into a bowl, drain the fat. Add to chili after the veggies and before the sauce and spice.

SAUCE:
1 can of Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese sauce
1 6oz can of tomato paste
1 can of Rotel diced tomatoes with lime and cilantro

SPICE:
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
Spread the sauces over the meat, add spice and stir. Cook on low for 6 hours.

AFTER 6 HOURS ADD THIS:
2 cans of corn, drained
2 extra jalapeños, chopped
1 extra Serrano chili, thinly sliced
1.5 packages of tex mex shredded cheese
The juice of 1 lime
Season to taste (I added a little extra salt, paprika and chili powder)

This is Jon’s second consecutive win, following two-time champ Jon Zelasko. Will anyone ever dethrone the “Jons?”

Sam Coffman came in second with her “Give Thanks” chili, which was an all turkey, Thanksgiving-inspired recipe. This sure gave us all the warm, cozy feels with Thanksgiving just days away.

Squirrels Chili Cook-off

Although only one chili was crowned champion, we couldn’t have made this day happen without the rest of the amazing chilis that are all winners in our hearts: Coco B. Crisp (Ashley Swinehart), Wine Chili (Andrea Sommers), Chili – by name only (Mike Bruin), Burnt Nose (Aaron Rinier) and Membabeans N’ Meat (Jessica Chevalier and Kyle Gritzan).

Squirrels Chili Cook-off Winner

 

June 8, 2016

Squirrels Creative Team Attends HOW Design Live Conference

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One of the perks of being a member of the Squirrels team is the opportunity for professional development. We believe professional development is vital to the growth of our employees. Plus, it’s always refreshing to meet and learn from new, creative-minded individuals.

Our entire creative team took advantage of this ideology to travel to the hot city of Atlanta to attend the HOW Design Live conference. Yes, the rest of us were jealous.

The HOW Design Live conference is a five-day event that gives attendees the chance to network with industry leaders, join breakout sessions to learn tips/tricks to apply to their work and hear from keynote speakers who challenge conventional thinking.

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The conference thrives on creating positive energy through outside-the-box ideas and events including a 5k run through the streets of Atlanta, a costume-themed closing party and many other opportunities to allow people to explore what they're passionate about.

When reflecting on which sessions were a home run, it was hard for our creative team to pick just one. Here are a few that stood out:

  • David Lesue – 7 Things Every Designer Should Know Before Becoming a Creative Director
  • Stefan Mumaw – Storybuilding: Using Story to Connect Brands with Humans
  • Von Glitschka – Seek, Hustle and Create

These sessions gave our creative team a new outlook on how to manage a team of highly creative people, engage consumers by creating a brand storylines and how to pursue a graphical design career in small, practical steps.

If you’re wondering how to sum up the work done at a creative conference, we’ll leave you with this quote by graphic designer Chip Kidd:

“The design has to work when I leave the room.”

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About Us

Squirrels is a software development company based in North Canton, Ohio. We create high-quality, budget-friendly screen mirroring and device management software that’s compatible with today’s most popular devices. To date, our software can be found in hundreds of thousands of classrooms, businesses and homes. Follow our blog for all the latest product updates, Squirrels news and technology insight!