The Manigault Institute

(540) 720-0861   


This August we will feature two special workshops for adults.  
August 5th we will feature LEGACIES - a Memoir Writing and Healthful Eating Workshop for Women only.  The hours are from 9:30 AM - 4 PM.  
August 12th we will feature an abstract painting workshop for adults.  Please call for details and locations. This workshop will run for 2.5 hours.  Hours TBA.  Both will be taught in Stafford, VA.


Summer and fall are rapidly approaching and the SAT is right behind.  
If you are a rising senior or junior this is the time to get ready for this very important test.
Our fall group course dates have been set and appear on this site.  This fall we will offer group prep courses for the October SAT as well as for the November SAT.  These courses will contain the same material and instruction.  HOWEVER, the formats of these courses are completely different.

The OCT SAT Prep course will run for 3 weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, not consecutively.
This course will begin on August 26th.  The dates are Aug 26, 27, Sept. 9, 10, and Sept. 23, 24.
Please see our SAT Prep page for all the details.

The NOV SAT Prep course will begin on Sept. 23rd and run for 6 consecutive Saturdays.  The hours for this class are 8 - 2: 30. The location for both courses is Stafford, VA.

Please email us for a brochure or call us with your questions.  We look forward to seeing you this August and September.  Additionally, we are going to be working one-on-one with a few students who wish to prep for the SAT or ACT in the summer.  We will also do ACT one-on-one prep in the fall.  Please let us know if we can be of assistance to you. 


News  (From the winter)

With everything that is going on we felt you would be interested in knowing what is going on 
with our calendar.  We completed a very successful fall SAT season and  have heard from some people (so far) who were thrilled with our program.  One was a student who wrote us the most complimentary letter we have ever received from a student.  She was inspired not only to study diligently for the SAT, but in addition, to take on a pro-active leadership role at her high school. She attributed her new outlook to the inspiration she received, from Donald Manigault, in our student orientation on the first day of class. Her letter of gratitude was an inspiration to us!
We also heard from a mother whose athletic son scored a 1310 on the SAT!  She asked us, "How do you do it?"  With responses like that we recognize that we are continuing to change lives and help our students continue to reach their goals and beyond.

Additionally, Sandra Manigault has successfully published her first novel, VANESSA - a Love Story. This is her fourth book. But she recognizes that writing non-fiction is one thing.  To pen a novel is quite another!  Two of her "Math Empowerment" books are available on this site.  However, all of her books can be seen in their entirety on her new site:  She is also offering some spectacular discounts on her new site!  

As one might expect when an author publishes a new book there are usually an array of book-signings to accompany it. There are two more book-signings, open to the public, scheduled in February in the Stafford - Fredericksburg area. They are being held in conjunction with the CRRL Fredericksburg/Stafford libraries as follows:
    February 23, after "Our Story" panel event, 7 p.m. at Headquarters Branch, Fredericksburg, VA
    February 25, from 1 - 3 p.m. at the Porter Library, Stafford, VA.

Featured at each of these will be Sandra's new novel VANESSA.  Along with VANESSA she will make available two of her earlier books Fragments of a Woman's Life - a Memoir and The Children's Book for Math Empowerment.  Her four books also are offered on her new website:

In conjunction with Black History Month, the Headquarters Branch of CRRL is hosting a special event in celebration of the new book and movie "Hidden Figures."  This event, entitled "Our Story: Post WW II through the Civil Rights Era,"  will take place on Thursday, February 23, at 7:00 p.m., at the Central Regional Library (CRRL) on Caroline Street in Fredericksburg.  This program will feature a 9-person panel discussion on which Sandra and Donald will be participating.

In addition to these exciting February events, on March 18, 2017 two more special events will take place.  The first is the beginning of our spring SAT Prep Course.  It will be taught at the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Jefferson Davis Highway in Stafford beginning Sat., March 18th through April 29th. Seats are still available for this class.  (See full details on our SAT Prep page.)

The second event is the annual conference for The Women's Forum of Fredericksburg at which Sandra will be giving two very special (non-academic) workshops, one of which is aptly titled "Is There a Book in You."  This conference will be held on Saturday, March 18th, from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at James Monroe High School in Fredericksburg.  If you have ever wanted to write, you will not want to miss this exciting workshop or the many others that will be featured at this event. Registration forms/information are available at the information centers of each CRRL library.

If you have questions about any of these activities, please send us an email.
Thank you.  We look forward to seeing you there.

For Adults Only!  
by Sandra Manigault

Have you ever wanted to do something different?  Travel to a different place?  Try on a new hobby? Learn how to paint or write a novel?  Most of us spend decades doing what we "should," never making the time to do what our hearts really desire.  I should know.  For years I wanted to be a visual artist. It took many years, but I finally realized that goal when I began to do my own art.  In our home there are now three paintings on display that are mine, in addition to the dozens that are Donald's.  Many are abstract, colorful, and wonderful to look at.  In addition I am adding a new phase to my art in my designer card collection.

As many of you know three of my books have been around for some time.  The Book for Math Empowerment and The Children's Book for Math Empowerment were written as tools to help students of all ages overcome their math anxiety.  As a math teacher I could never quite understand why people had such an aversion to mathematics.   In my teaching and in these books I explored many avenues to make math easier to understand.

My memoir, Fragments of a Woman's Life, brought out another side of my writing.  Crafting it taught me how to probe my consciousness and commit my feelings on paper about a number of experiences and people in my life. It tells just enough to see who I really am without boring the reader with every detail from the time I was on the planet.  (I wonder how anyone writes an autobiography.  A memoir, if well written, can tell us quite a lot about the average person.)

Writing "Fragments..." also convinced me that every woman needs a memoir --- not for herself, not for her children --- but for progeny that may never know her.  Her life story, if told by her children, will always be filtered through their experiences.  When told from her perspective, her story takes on a different meaning, both now and years after she is no longer on the planet.

I am passionate about writing and would like to assist other women write their stories.  For this purpose I created "LEGACIES."  In this eclectic workshop, just for women, there is plenty of room for self-expression and creative exploration.  It takes just one day to get the motivation and courage to get started.  (More about "LEGACIES" will also be featured on my new website.)

Coming this summer will be my first novel - Vanessa.  It is great reading for a woman's book club, or just great entertainment after one has had a busy, exhausting week at work.  Novel writing is much, much different than crafting a memoir or writing non-fiction.  There are questions a writer asks in fiction-mode that never surface for other genres.  It is the more difficult literary form, which makes me wonder why so many people write them.

VANESSA  (my new novel), LEGACIES, both math books, and card collection and more will be available on my new personal website in November.  Won't you join me in exploring that part of you which needs to spread your wings and fly?

Should My Child Take the SAT or the ACT?  (Updated)
by Sandra Manigault

Probably both!  All colleges now accept both tests.  Some students prefer to take the SAT, especially if they performed well on the new PSAT.  Others prefer to take a chance on the ACT. When a student takes both tests, he/she will have a better chance of getting into the college of choice.  Why?  Because she or he will do better on one than on the other.  Is the ACT a more "student friendly" test?  I believe that it is.  If a student would prefer to see math questions that look more familiar, and do reading comprehension that is not so challenging, then yes.  But, this is not to say that the ACT is easy.  

What both the SAT and ACT have in common now is a nearly identical "English" test.  This "English" test, (not to be confused with the reading comprehension subtests), consists of multiple passages that are flawed and require corrections and editing in grammar, punctuation, and style.  This is not easy for most high school students because many have not learned "grammar" as did their parents and grandparents.  What students also face in taking the ACT is a science test that challenges them to read and understand graphs and data.  

For those students who choose to take the SAT, it is vital that they prepare to be independent problem solvers, and prepare to format math solutions without a calculator.  The new SAT has a 38-question section in which calculators are permitted, and one 20-question section in which calculators are not.

So, should your child take the SAT or the ACT?  Your choice.   

Supplementing Textbooks  
by Sandra Manigault

Years ago I became aware of an interesting phenomenon with the textbooks from which I was teaching:  Not every textbook was effective --- not for the student and not for the teacher.  As a math teacher it was very clear to me that the best texts were those which a student could read easily and keep up in class, even if she were absent.  Additionally, from my perspective, the best text was also one for which I did not have to spent inordinate amounts of time supplementing material that had been insufficiently presented in the book. 

I recall when my department at NVCC chose a pre-calculus book that was actually too advanced for our population, replacing one that, in my opinion, did a superior job.  The book that was replaced explained everything, and illustrated how a problem was to be formatted and why. The book that was adopted to replace it offered fewer complete explanations, but illustrated how to do the math with TI-83 applications.  (Some years later the more advanced book was replaced with something more "student friendly.")

What I have described here is a common experience for teachers.  Common sense is often not the ruling criteria in selecting a good text.  This happens, I am sure, in subjects other than mathematics.  In our fall SAT prep course  I promised our class to give them the names of some great supplementary math books, just in case they wound up with books that they felt were not adequate.  Two of the books mentioned were Bittinger's Intermediate Algebra and Jerome Kauffman's College Algebra and Trigonometry.

Over the years I have also recommended to parents a New York Company that for generations   helped students who had to take the "Regents" examinations --- New York State's superior version of our SOLs.  Amsco School Publications specializes in short comprehensive textbooks in all subjects: grammar, social studies, sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), foreign languages (ex.  Spanish, I, II, III), algebra I, II, plane geometry (the original version), trigonometry, and more.  

Other wonderful books to supplement whatever is being used at school are Gary Spina's Mountain Man's Field Guide to Grammar, a great grammar text written specifically for mature high schoolers or college students who reluctantly or never learned their grammar.  For everyone there is The Dictionary of Concise Writing (author TBA), a funny book and brilliant treatise designed to halt the pompous blabbering on paper to which many of us are addicted. Also valuable is anything by Superior Books of Bowling Green, Kentucky, a company that publishes/distributes some very exciting books that are truly superior. I credit them with the "space encyclopedia" that launched our son's interest in astronomy and physics.  (Patrick went on to get his Ph.D. in physics.) 

It would be unthinkable to recommend all of these wonderful books without touting my own: The Book for Math Empowerment:  Rethinking the Subject of Mathematics, a psychological journey through the ins and outs of math and why it has not been working.  Also, available is The Children's Book for Math Empowerment, which is designed not only to explain how to be an "A" student, but also why it is important to get organized and practice those piano and violin lesson. Both are available here and on

As you prepare to engage the ritual of holiday spending, hopefully you will see fit to fill those Christmas stockings with something that will have a lasting impact on the young minds you are teaching or raising.  And, if you are as happily addicted to good fiction as am I, then I've got some good recommendations for you too --- in another blog post.

by Sandra Manigault

Each year as I recall how I learned to write as a high school student, I remember being conditioned to write these discrete, perfect little sentences.  The process was tedious and difficult, because it required that I create and edit at the same time.  As an adult I discovered both the joys of reading and writing.  What made the difference in writing was that I was encouraged, through the work of Julia Cameron, to journal.  This meant a more free-spirited type of writing.  I was given permission to create and not worry about the editing piece.  What I have come to understand is that creating is a "right-brain" process, and editing is a "left-brain" process.  One needs to create first and edit afterwards.  This is how I wrote my first three books.  Although the process is one I usually describe in detail in my LEGACIES workshops, it is one that works best, I believe, for anyone trying to get a book written.  Too often people quit the process of writing due to frustration when they should be getting their books written and later published. 

Had I been an avid reader as a high school student, I would not have majored in mathematics. Now that I am an avid reader, books are something I cannot live without.  In fact, when I finish one novel I usually move onto another in less than a week. The joy of reading, or the lack thereof, I believe has a lot to do with the concept "point of view."  This concept I understood only as an adult, and has much to do with the frame of reference from which an author writes. No wonder as a teen I did not gravitate to books by 50-something year-old men who lived a century before I was born.  I must also say that there are many, many gifted, contemporary writers. We are not restricted to reading only the "classics" as they required us to do in high school.  Additionally, books today come in different formats, although I still like to turn the pages and mark up the book when it belongs to me.


As the school year opens it is important that students not repeat the drama that made their last school year challenging. Two pairs of subjects come to mind when I think about this, namely mathematics and writing for older students, and mathematics and reading for younger students. Mathematics seems to be the "bad boy" of academe, but need not be. Parents/teachers can remedy this by requiring students to become more assertive by asking more questions in class, and by taking more responsibility for what they need to know but do not know. 

REALITY CHECK: Math will always require more time and effort than most other subjects for the majority of us. Two books that can help bring about this "reality check" and explain what needs to take place are The Book for Math Empowerment: Rethinking the Subject of Mathematics, and The Children's Book for Math Empowerment. Each addresses what many other self-help math books do not - namely the psychology of learning mathematics and the mental shifts that must occur to excel at it. Both books are available through

In regard to the writing issue, the best remedy is obviously to write, and to understand that good writing takes place in stages. One cannot write freely and edit at the same time. Crafting those "perfect little sentences" is a chore, whereas writing should be a pleasure. A good book to "fix" many writing issues is The Right to Write by Julia Cameron, whose books can work wonders for older students and adults.

To fix the reading issue, one must read. It took me many years to learn to love to read. However, what I learned is that one must find one's favorite authors and then read everything those authors have published. In a later post I will share some of my favorite authors with you. In the meanwhile I wish all of you parents and students a great school year.

Sandra Manigault, M.A.

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