Parents Education Network

e-Newsletter June 2010


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PEN Events 2010-2011

We are busy finalizing an exciting and informative program for the 2010-2011 school year. Full details will be announced in August. Here are some of the highlights we have lined up:

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Volunteer News

Volunteer of the Year Award

We are extremely grateful to all the volunteers who give generously of their time and talents to help make PEN programs a success. Last year we began to honor exceptional volunteers with our first Volunteer of the Year Award. This year we presented the award to Regina Casciato, who worked tirelessly on many aspects of EdRev 2010. Here is the text of the award:

Parents Education Network presents...

The 'Toodles!' Award 2010: Parents Education Network’s Highest Honor for PEN's Consummate Volunteer

Awarded to: Regina Casciato

EdRev 2010 would not have been the success that it was without the hard work and dedication of Regina Casciato. Regina spent countless hours researching, contacting and organizing each and every one of the exhibitors as well as recruiting speakers and activities participants. She has compiled an extensive list from which we can begin working on EdRev 2011. Regina's dedication and willingness to share her wealth of knowledge are greatly appreciated by all who have had the pleasure to work with her and make her the uncontested recipient of this award for 2010. PEN presents this award to Regina Casciato for her dedication, thoughtfulness, generosity and loyalty to the work and heart of all that PEN embraces, promotes and holds dear.

Presented this 11th day of May 2010 at San Francisco, California
With love and gratitude,
PEN's Board of Directors and all of its members.

The Daily Femme Interview: Annette Schutz

Another tireless EdRev 2010 volunteer was Annette Schutz, who oversaw the very impressive Art Contest. Annette was recently interviewed by The Daily Femme, a website specializing in interviews of professional women, about her San Francisco art gallery, ArtHaus. She even gave PEN a plug at the end:

"If you were not in art, what would you be?

Since my son, now seventeen was diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age I have become an advocate for him and other children with learning differences. I have been involved with an organization called PEN, Parents Education Network, in San Francisco that has created a movement of change for these exceptional children and teens. If I weren’t in art, I would dedicate all of my time to this movement. I have always believed all things are possible."

Read the full interview here...

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Past Events

The View from High School for Students with Learning and Attention Difficulties 
A panel of high school learning specialists.

Friday, May 14 @ Exploratorium, San Francisco.

Thanks to PEN member Ann Farris for this review. Visit Ann's website and blog at

PEN offered its last Speaker Series event of this season on Friday, May 14, 2010.  A panel of high school learning specialists shared their experiences of working with high school students who have learning and attention challenges. More than one hundred parents and others were eager listeners.

The panelists and the institutions represented were (left to right in the photo above):  Susan Coe Adams, Marin Academy; Charles P. Roth, Bay School of San Francisco; Denise Olivera, Gateway High School; and Constance Clark, Immaculate Conception Academy.

This discussion focused primarily on Grade Nine, though there were references to high school students in general. All of the schools are college preparatory. The following is a summary of the discussion.


Some schools require documentation on the prospective student’s learning or attention challenges.  One school distills the documentation and develops a learning profile on challenged children. They have the student confirm the information on the learning profile and the student then takes it to his or her teachers as part of a self-advocacy program.  Some schools have workshops on study skills, how the brain works and time management at the beginning of Grade Nine to help students integrate into high school.

When interviewing a school, parents would be best served by first checking the school's website to see if the profile of the school fits their child, going to admission open houses and being sure to visit the resource center.

At the interview these are some questions that parents might ask: 

Ask for contact information of parents who have kids with similar issues. Be sure to make a list of your questions and give them to the admissions director.

Most of the panelists felt that students with ADD or ADHD would be best served if they were given psychological testing. Similarly, most of the panelists felt that a dyslexic student and their teachers would benefit from the information gained from an educational therapist.

Support systems

Some schools have programs where Grade 12 learning or attention challenged students support the incoming Grade Nine students with similar challenges. This program seems very supportive especially for those Grade Nine students who have more recently learned about their challenge and are embarrassed by it. Peer support seems effective.

Grade 12 students also mentor in chemistry and writing. Learning how to plan and organizing material is often top on the agenda.

Learning specialists help students become advocates for themselves. Some schools run training programs for this purpose.


All of the panelist’s schools have homework which takes about 2-3 hours for students with no learning or attention challenges. This can take almost double the time for the challenged students. Learning specialists need to reinforce with the student that they will often have to work harder than their peers.

Some parents choose to have tutors help with homework. Others look to audiobooks.   Parents and their kids need to plan how homework will be accomplished. Some parents use bench marks.

Most schools post homework on-line.


Yes, they are useful tools. Parents need to control their use at home so that homework time is strictly homework. One solution offered was having the student in the kitchen doing homework.

Parent access to teachers, supervisors etc.

One person in the school needs to become the central contact for parents. Information can be garnered from the resource specialist overseeing each grade level, or sometimes from a care team. Other sources are e-mail and weekly meeting of faculty to discuss students who are facing problems.

One advisor has each of his challenged students send an e-mail once a week to his teachers checking if he is up to date with all his assignments.

Accommodations not offered

Most panelists seemed to agree that it is not realistic for a school to provide the following for students with learning and attention challenges:  modification of the curriculum, tutors, direct services, therapy, daily communication with parents about homework.  

How parents can help

Parents can support their children by

Challenges to master

Challenges LD students need to master during high school so they can be successful:

Recommended book: The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries about the Teenage Brain Tell Us about Our Kids

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Other News

PEN Resource Guide: Now Available!

Each year after EdRev we produce a Resource Guide listing local service providers for the LD community. The new 2010 edition is now available here! 

The Guide can be viewed directly on our website, or downloaded as a booklet for printing. Providers are listed under these categories:

  • Assistive Technology
  • Educational Therapy and Tutoring
  • Psychological Services
  • Schools
  • Other Services
The Resource Guide will be updated on the 17th of each month until the end of 2010.

Service providers can find more information and sign up online at:


Participate in a Survey on the Quality of Parent-Teacher Relationships

If your child attends a Bay Area independent school, has been identified as having a learning challenge or disability, and has worked with a learning support professional who is employed by his/her school, you may be a candidate for this anonymous study.

Jeremy Davidson, a Master’s candidate in the Holy Names University Educational Therapy Program, is conducting an anonymous survey of independent school parents whose children have learning challenges.  The survey asks parents to answer questions about the quality of a relationship they have with a school-employed learning support professional who works with their child. The information will be used to inform Bay Area learning support professionals about the level of parent satisfaction with the quality of family-professional relationships.

A brief description of the survey, a consent form, a brief, anonymous biographical/demographical questionnaire, and the anonymous survey can be found by clicking this link:

Thank you for considering your participation in this important opportunity.

Job Opening

Educational Therapist for the 2010-2011 Academic Year: Convent of the Sacred Heart Elementary School

Convent of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic and independent girls school in San Francisco, is seeking an experienced Educational Therapist to work with elementary students, faculty, and parents.  Candidates need to have experience in the educational screening of young children, creating appropriate accommodations and remediation plans, and employing current brain research and educational strategies to address various learning styles in a school setting.  The Educational Therapist will work directly with children, maintain student date files and manage communication among adults (parents, teachers, and outside specialists), and truly desire to actively support the Goals and Criteria of our national Network of Sacred Heart Schools.

Qualifications: BA/BS degree, and a certificate or license in Educational Therapy; Experience working with children; The ability to work well with parents and colleagues; Excellent oral and written communication, and organizational skills;  An ability to integrate technology into strategies as is appropriate, to manage data programs, and to maintain a web presence on the school website.

Applicants should submit an Employment Application for Schools of the Sacred Heart (download here), a cover letter, and current resume to: Ms. Kellie Irish, Lower Form Dean, 2222 Broadway, SF, CA  94115 or email:

Summer Events

Summer camps and activities run by other organizations are listed on our website at  Events can be submitted to the page using this form.

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