By Maureen Mancini Amaturo

Rebecca Zook, musician and fairy godmother of math who works with kids all over the world, will be at The Rye Free Reading Room November 9 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. She’ll present, “Making Math Magical: How to End the Math Freakout and Raise a Math-Confident Daughter,” a program that is just as effective for boys. Her mission: to conquer math anxiety. Because of her unusual way of guiding all those who say, “I’m not a math person,” there are a lot more people out there adding to their potential.

“I work with girls and boys, but the majority of my students are girls. There is lots of research on girls and math. From my own experience, I find that the reason is not that our intellect is an obstacle. It’s emotion. There is a larger shift in our culture now of women coming more and more into positions of leadership and in fields not traditionally slated for them. There is greater awareness of where women are underrepresented and a lot of positive energy going into changing that.” 

Rebecca is a musician, really, with a self-designed interdisciplinary degree in Music and the Humanities, and she performs around the globe. “I find that because I am a creative, artistic person, I understand what creative, artistic people need to feel comfortable with math. This helps me connect with kids having a hard time.”

When Rebecca heads out to tutor math-phobics, she arrives with her cello. Memories of struggling with math as a young girl motivated her to find a way to help others avoid that stress and discover the skills they <think> they don’t have. “A big part of my work is hearing, ‘I wish I worked with you when I was growing up.’  I say I wish I had worked with myself!”

Her students have shown incredible growth. “Many think once you have a hard time with math it’s game over. You work hard, and it’s not clicking. You think something is wrong with you. Over time, you disengage and give up. I am amazed at how much transformation is possible.” Rebecca has perfected a process to subtract the anxiety and add confidence. “I work with students to eliminate the negative emotion — the nervous feeling, anxiety, fear­, and help them slow down.”
So, what’s the key to unlocking math phobia? “There are three fundamental pieces,” she says. “One: have a growth mindset about math which means to understand that math ability is something you can cultivate and grow with comfort, and it’s not something you either have or not. It’s such a toxic mindset to think that you’re either a math-science person or humanities-language person. I’m living proof you can be both. 

“Two: Stay in the sweet spot where it’s not so hard you are overwhelmed and not so low you get bored. Break it down into pieces that are small enough for you to handle.

“Three: Take a mastery orientation approach with math. We have an understanding in our culture with athletics and art that you practice, and it’s enjoyable. With math, we think if we just do what we are told, that’s enough. Mostly, the curriculum doesn’t identify that, and kids give up and opt out. Practicing math in a way that is pleasurable and customized is crucial.”

Rebecca is the magician that dispels the fallacy that if you are working with a tutor, you’re bad at math. “If you want to bring your dreams and vision to the world, you have to support that desire. All winners have coaches, trainers, guides, mentors, and teachers. Support is not about dependency. It’s about facing new challenges and growing.” 
Hear more about Rebecca’s unorthodox approach to developing a successful relationship with math at the Rye Free Reading Room, visit or contact her directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 617-888-0160. 

Hundreds of curious families headed to the Playland Boardwalk for the Westchester Children’s Museum’s annual all-day EXPLOR-A-THON. Members new and old came for the interactive activities and stayed for the storytelling.

Proceeds from this very special day go to support education programs and amazing exhibits to come.

Photos by Melanie Cane 

By Annette McLoughlin

About lice… no wait, hear me out. You’re already cringing (and maybe scratching) but if you have young children, it’s information you may one day need to know. And best to learn now, rather than on the fly.

Lice have been around for as long as mankind, and few vermin have gotten under our skin more. They are legendarily irksome, and the facts about them characteristics and their capacity to spread tend to get distorted and irrational. And with good reason: the idea of having bugs crawling around your child’s head is enough to drive the most rational among us, well buggy.

Fortunately, the Rye City School District recently held an informative presentation on head lice, and, if you were unable to attend, I’m itching to pass on what you need to know.

<<The Spotters Guide>>

Lice are usually found on pre-school age and young children.

Those infected almost always show symptoms (the tell-tale itch).

Treatment is recommended only if a person has live lice or viable eggs (nits).

Nits are oblong-shaped and attach to the hair shaft.

Live (unhatched) nits are generally found within 1mm of the scalp.

It takes 7-10 days for nits to hatch and 1-2 weeks for a bug to mature.

They live about a month and lay about 6 eggs a day.

They live anywhere on the scalp but are easiest to spot behind ears and at the back of the neck.

<<Scratchy Facts>>

They require human blood to stay alive.

They cannot survive more than a day without it.

They cannot survive more than a day in room temperature.

Only bugs can be transmitted, not nits.

They do not fly or jump, but do move very quickly.

They don’t carry disease.

The important part – and what the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, the National Association of School Nurses) maintain – is that lice are transmitted primarily from direct, head-to-head contact. Therefore, most transmission happens at home, on sleepovers, and at camps. Not school.

Schools no longer conduct school-wide checks. If a child is found to have lice, parents will pick him or her up at the end of the day and expect the student will be treated at home.


Pesticide shampoos should be used <only> when the presence of live bugs or viable eggs is confirmed. And, while the whole business of nit-picking is tedious and time-consuming, it’s the only sure way to eradicate them. It requires a special lice comb, patience, and a fair amount of fortitude.

That said, having the phone number of a salon that treats lice can be worth the small fortune it can cost to have a professional’s help, and there are a few around Westchester County should you find yourself on the other end of “that call” from the school nurse. The one my family has used (more times that I care to count) has a sign on the wall that has comforted me every time I’ve had to walk through the door: “This too shall pass.”

Fire Safety and Prevention Week is always one of busiest for the Rye Fire Department. But members always find time to visit Rye’s preschools and elementary schools to teach the very youngest citizens what to do in case of a fire.

On October 11, students at Little House Day Care were given the opportunity to visit the Fire House.


Jay Soiree co-chairs Kelly Bakshi, Angie Nadler, Kingsley Carson Rooney, and Kathryn Schnaars threw a superlative party in celebration of the Jay Heritage Center’s 25th Anniversary October 21. They illuminated the landmark Jay Estate with vibrant new friends, ideas, and thousands of twinkling lights from portico to pediment.

During the cocktail hour, over 400 celebrants mingled in the 1838 home and marveled at new acquisitions, from 18th-century engravings of New York harbor to silver monogrammed cups. Next, everyone stepped into a crystal tent in the meadow, where they dined, danced, and popped confetti cannons in recognition of the treasure that has been preserved in our town.

Numerous descendants of John Jay also joined the festivities and marked the occasion with a historic donation of original paintings, photos, and antiques from the Jay, Pierrepont, and Constable families of Rye, Brooklyn, and Connecticut.

Photos by Pedro Garcia Photography


By Maureen Mancini Amaturo


When you scan the hundreds of lists naming the most haunted cities in America, you will see Gettysburg, Savannah, Salem, Charleston, and New Orleans on every list. You probably won’t see Tarrytown, Bronxville, Purchase, Yonkers, Irvington, or Rye. But maybe you should. Our neck of the woods seems to be in-demand real estate even in the spirit world…according to paranormal investigators and those who have experienced unexplainable activity.


The haunted lore in Westchester goes back centuries. I asked paranormal investigator Barry Pirro what makes Westchester a hotbed for hauntings. “Off the top of my head, the big answer is that cities and towns that are near large bodies of water seem to have the most amount of activity. The Hudson towns/cities of Tarrytown, Dobbs Ferry, and Yonkers are all active. On the other side of the County, places like White Plains, Harrison, and Rye that border or are near the Sound are also active.” Pirro added, “Likewise, places near large lakes or reservoirs, like Katonah and Pound Ridge, seem to have more activity than the surrounding 'drier' areas.” Even ghosts prefer waterfront property. 


Hauntings were so imbedded in Westchester’s culture that Washington Irving actually satirized local lore in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Speaking of Irving, the town named for him, Irvington, is home to one of Westchester’s reputedly haunted sites, Church of St. Barnabas, located at 15 N. Broadway. This church just happened to have been owned and built by Irving’s dear friend, Rev. John McVickar. Irving spent much time there, and he ended his time there. This church hosted his funeral. Occupants today say they’ve seen the ghost of both a woman, who sits in a rocking chair, and of William McVickar, a family descendent.


Staying in the area, when you visit Washington Irving’s home, Sunnyside in Tarrytown, ladies beware. According to reports, Irving’s ghost likes to pinch women. Some have seen the spirits of his nieces, also, who linger after the museum closes.


If tuition costs weren’t enough to scare you, the fact that so many Westchester colleges are reputedly haunted might – Manhattanville and SUNY in Purchase, Marymount in Tarrytown, and Concordia in Bronxville, to name a few. While we’re talking schools, Port Chester High School has a story: Supposedly, its tower is haunted by a freshman boy who fell to his death from the tower in the late 1940s after what might have been a hazing incident by seniors.


So what are the most haunted Westchester towns? “I’ve done quite a few investigations in Harrison and White Plains, but it would be hard to pinpoint a single town or city as being more active than others,” said Pirro. If you haven’t heard about Buckout Road in White Plains, forget I mentioned it. 


In Bronxville, the library seems to be home to the spirit of a young man, maybe in his 20s, and that of an older woman. Pirro did investigate this one, and you can read the case file on his website,


Not all haunted locations are old. Witnesses have documented a less-than-50-year-old house in the Nutley Circle development in Yorktown Heights as being haunted. Since the early 1970s, the kitchen furniture has been moving on its own. 


Begs the question, when buying a house, how do you know if it’s haunted? The inspection doesn’t cover that. Well, there is such a thing as “seller’s disclosure,” but really, who’s going to voluntarily warn a potential buyer about spirit activity? Believe it or not, there is also a service you can hire to investigate a property for you, 


As for Rye…if you find a copy of “America’s Haunted Houses” by Hans Holzer (Longmeadow Press, 1991), turn to page 126. There is a haunted Rye home featured, and you can read all about it. Clue: it’s walking distance to CVS. 


Do respect private property and no-trespassing rules when scouting out haunted locations. If you want to check out local haunting investigations, go to




Page 126 of “America’s Haunted Houses” by Hans Holzer

Church of St. Barnabas in Irvington