Welcome to our October edition! It's packed full of information, so please take a few minutes to look over the contents.
Important announcements: We are launching our Annual Fund Appeal of 2008 and we need your help! The SAFE Voices book, Read This When You Can, is now in print and on sale! We are also proud to announce the launch of the Teachers Education Network which has just held its first event for teachers.
A new section of our newsletter is the Parent Exchange, where we ask parents to exchange stories of their struggles and triumphs on our website, with a different topic heading every month.
Finally, please see our announcements section for an exciting job opportunity, volunteer oppportunities with PEN, and other notices.
We have three important events coming up in our Speaker Series.
On Friday, October 17 at 9am, Tuck Geerds, M.A., Educational Consultant, formerly with the Charles Armstrong School, will offer Help for Those Homework Hassles, focusing especially on elementary and middle school students, at the Exploratorium.
Saturday, November 8, Paul Grossman, Civil Rights Attorney, will explain that There Are No IEPs in College. This event will be held at the Star Academy in San Rafael. Parents and professionals working with public and private high school students are urged to attend this important presentation, so please spread the word to anyone who might be interested!
Our first evening Speaker Series event will take place on Monday November 17 at 7pm, at Convent of the Sacred Heart. Esteemed psychologist and author Robert Brooks, Ph.D., who provided the keynote address at PEN's 2007 Conference, will talk about Raising Self-Disciplined and Confident Kids. Join us as Dr. Brooks helps parents explore various disciplinary styles and outlines positive strategies that will encourage children and teens to become more responsible, respectful and confident. He will leave us with a clear plan for preparing our children to become independent adults.
Click here to download our full Event Calendar for 2008-2009.
We held our Board of Advisors Annual Meeting on Wednesday, October 1 at the Bay School in San Francisco. PEN's Board of Advisors, an extraordinary and dedicated group of professionals, meets annually, and communicate with PEN throughout the year, to help us shape the direction of the organization. We discussed PEN's growth since 2003, from first providing a voice for parents, to then including schools and other organizations, to providing a voice for students through our work with SAFE Voices and Project Eye-to-Eye, and most recently providing a voice and a forum for teachers in the Teachers' Education Network (TEN). Mitch Bostian, Susan Deemer, Rochelle Bussi and Carrie Pallister, founding members of TEN, presented their vision for TEN to our advisors, who were very impressed and clearly excited about the project.
Advisor Jonathan Mooney spoke passionately about the concept of cognitive diversity and about PEN's Annual Conference 2009, a conference by students, for students (parents and educators are invited too), featuring student panels and student-centered workshops, which he and Eye-to-Eye co-founder David Flink will facilitate. The meeting finished with a robust discussion of the role that PEN can play in bringing brain-based and strengths-based educational practices to the Bay Area. Many thanks to all of our advisors, who give so generously of their time and expertise.
It's that time of year again: your opportunity to help fund PEN's programs for the year. Our Annual Fund Appeal officially launches on October 15, but donations are of course gratefully accepted at any time! Our target for this year's campaign is $45,000, and we'll keep you regularly informed as to how we're doing. Donations may be:
Thank you for your help!
The SAFE Voices book, Read This When You Can, is finally available for purchase! We have an excerpt for you to read online: SAFE member Dash Seerley Gowland's piece, "Dash's Advice to Help Students, Parents and Teachers". And if you missed it, check out a review of the book from last month's newsletter.
The books are $10 each; shipping and handling is $4 for the first book and $1 for each additional copy shipped. Payment is by check to PEN, 281A Sixteenth Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94118, or by Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also arrange to stop by the PEN office to pick up your copies.
by Carrie Pallister, Learning Specialist
A simple email suggesting that PEN expand its ideas to teachers started the newest initiative of PEN: the Teachers' Education Network (TEN). Mitch Bostian contacted Dewey Rosetti last year, and at that time, an exciting collaboration began. A founding committee of bay area teachers is working to positively impact teachers using PEN as a model. Committee members include Susan Deemer, Rochelle Bussi, and Carrie Pallister.
The full calendar of TEN events can be downloaded here.
By Dewey Rosetti, PEN President
The start of the school year brings a whole new flock of parents to their phones and emails with questions about a child who is struggling. Their questions come from all stages of the learning curve and from a wide variety of perspectives.
After all, this is the premise on which PEN’s founding was based and every day we get more proof that the most comforting help and clearest understanding of effective strategies, “best practices” for parents, is from other parents.
I believe so strongly in this idea, that I am working on a book by parents for parents which will be a compendium of strategies with stories as illustrations of how things did or didn’t work.
You can help with this effort to reach more parents, by sharing your stories, resources you found helpful and those you didn’t, giving other parents hope for their kids by sharing your child’s struggles and successes.
Please let us hear from you on the monthly topic on this discussion board. We begin the series this month with the topic, “To test or not to test.”
SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
In Spark, John J. Ratey, M.D. makes a case that exercise is good for learning. He cites cutting-edge science and compelling case studies to support his case.
Dr. Ratey points to a revolutionary “New P.E.” program at Naperville, Illinois School District 203. The phys. ed. teacher decided to grade the kids on their effort, rather than skill and performance. He gave high grades if they worked hard enough to keep their hearts in aerobic training range (70-80% of maximum heart rate).
Why is exercise good for learning? Because our biology evolved for the life of the hunter-gatherer, so now "the relationship between food, physical activity, and learning is hardwired into the brain's circuitry." Exercise also improves responses to stress, which is necessary in the right amount. It's like lifting weights for the brain. "Neurons get broken down and built up just like muscles — stressing them makes them more resilient."
Dr. Ratey also has chapters on exercise's effects on anxiety, depression, ADHD, addiction, hormonal changes, and aging. He details the structure, chemicals, and processes that make our brains tick.
John J. Ratey, MD is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is the author or coauthor of eight books, including Driven to Distraction, Shadow Syndromes and A User’s Guide to the Brain.