Parents Education Network

e-Newsletter March 2010


Upcoming Events

Friends of St. Francis Childcare Center & Parents Education Network present:

Learning to Play & Playing to Learn

with Alanna Freeman, Occupational Therapist, registered and licensed.

Saturday, March 13, 2009
(Please note: the educators' and parents' workshops have been combined on this date.)

9am - Noon. The Laurel School, San Francisco

For the fourth year in a row, the early childhood education community & parents of preschoolers will be able to learn about how brain development is enhanced by play & how to create an environment that promotes learning through play. Places limited - sign up now! Cost: $20.00. Scholarships available--please contact us for details. Click here to register!

Sensory Integration:  Do We Really Need It?

With Patricia Oetter MA, OTR/L, FAOTA

Friday, March 19, 2010
9am - 12pm. Our Lady of Mercy School, Daly City.

This short workshop is designed to be an interactive and experiential introduction to the process of sensory integration. We will explore the way the nervous system goes about gathering, processing, defining and acting on sensory motor events. We will first address how this process typically develops and then experience what happens when processing is delayed or disordered in some way. Click here to register!

PEN & TEN present a Teacher Training Workshop:

The Classroom Management of ADD & Anxiety

With Edward M. Hallowell, M.D.

Friday, April 16, 2010.
8 am - 12 pm. Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.

Intended for audiences of teachers and other professionals, this lecture focuses on  stress and the non-medication management of ADD in the classroom.  The presentation offers specific, concrete, and practical ways to manage ADD in a mainstream classroom.  The same principles can be used in other settings, such as home or special classrooms, as well.  Click here to register!

Back to top...

EdRev 2010: Dr. Ned Hallowell

EdRev 2010: Your Journey from Self-Awareness to Successful Independence

AT&T Park, San Francisco

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Register Now!

This year's EdRev features keynote speaker Dr. Ned Hallowell. 

Best selling author, Dr. Ned Hallowell offers groundbreaking advice on how to survive in an ultra-competitive, ultra fast, attention deficit society while remaining sane, how to raise happy children, the art of forgiveness and how to manage worry. He also offers a prescriptive guide that shows how to get the most out of life with Attention Deficit Disorder.

Dr. Hallowell is considered to be one of the foremost experts on the topic of ADHD. He is the co-author, with Dr. John Ratey, of Driven to Distraction, and Answers to Distraction, which have sold more than a million copies. In 2005, Drs. Hallowell and Ratey released their much-awaited third book on ADHD, Delivered from Distraction. “Delivered” provides updated information on the treatment of ADHD and more on adult ADHD.

Dr. Hallowell’s most recent book with Dr. Peter Jensen, SUPERPARENTING FOR ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child, was published in December, 2008. With decades of experience working with ADD children, Dr. Hallowell understands how easily the gifts of this condition are lost on a child amid negative comments from doctors, teachers, and even loving but frustrated parents. He has long argued that ADD is too often misunderstood, mistreated, and mislabeled as a “disability.”

Dr. Hallowell observes that people who do not have ADHD still often show many of its symptoms due to lives that are so busy that they overload their brains. He explores this phenomenon in his book, CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! In this book, Dr. Hallowell shows how the hectic pace of modern life has led our society to suffer from broader, culturally induced ADD. His insight into how to unsnarl frenzied lives and take charge of how we really want to be living provides true inspiration to us all.

In addition to his fame in the world of ADHD and pseudo-ADHD, Dr. Hallowell is also an expert in parenting, how to manage anxiety, and the importance of connection and forgiveness.
Dr. Hallowell is a highly recognized speaker around the world. He has presented to thousands on topics such as ADD, strategies on handling your fast-pace life, the Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness and other pertinent family and health issues. 

From corporate audiences to parent-teacher workshops and national television shows, people who listen to Dr. Hallowell come away stimulated, inspired and empowered to change their lives. He is a charismatic speaker, combining the knowledge of a Harvard instructor with his incredible understanding of ADD, human nature and the struggles we face in this crazy/busy world.

Click here to watch some of Dr. Hallowell's many TV appearances!

EdRev 2010 will also feature keynote speaker Jonathan Mooney, plus an immense range of Workshops, Activities & Exhibitors. 

Please download this flyer and help spread the word!

And please register early to help us plan!

Register Now!


We need your help! We need a large team of volunteers to help out on the day of EdRev, even for just a part of the day! We also need volunteers for envelope-stuffing and data entry prior to the event. Please contact us if you'd like to be involved.

EdRev 2010 Art Contest!
for students who learn differently

Visual Art: painting, sculpture, photography, works on paper.
Written Word: poetry, essay, short story
Video: short film
Music: up to 10 minutes of music

All submissions due by April 2nd, 2010.

All work will be displayed at EdRev 2010. Exciting prizes to be won!

Please attach a brief Artist Statement including: what your piece is about, your name, your learning difficulty, address, contact number & email address. 

Drop off location: PEN Office, 281A 16th Avenue, San Francisco (please call 415.751.2237 beforehand) or send files to Call or email for more information.

Business Opportunities

We would also like to invite LD/ADHD-related service providers to participate at EdRev as exhibitors, sponsors, and advertisers. More information and registration at:

If you know any sevice provider who you think should take part in EdRev, please forward this link to them!

Back to top...

SAFE Voices

College Student Panel Speaks to Students and Parents at Immaculate Conception Academy

by Dr. Constance Clark, Director of Learning Services at Immaculate Conception Academy 

Watching my students’ faces as they listened intently to the speakers was a memorable moment.  The narratives of six former SAFE Voices students, recounting high school and college experiences about their learning challenges, were at once informative, humorous, poignant, and realistic.  They captivated my students and offered validation and hope. 

The speakers, freshmen and sophomores on winter break, attended colleges in the Bay Area, southern California, and New York.  Guided by questions from the facilitator, Dr. Nancy Cushen White, students spoke to a range of topics: the search for a suitable college, the admissions process, relationship-building with faculty; careers, family support, as well as personal battles about identity, acceptance and self-esteem in high school and college.   

Illustration by Steven Cancemo
A few messages my students took away: the determination, discipline, and perseverance they develop through high school will help sustain them in college; college is more about pursuing and expanding interests, rather than following a prescribed curriculum; a thorough understanding of their learning profile and their strengths, and the ability to self-advocate will give them more effective control over their academic, professional, and personal lives.  As one student said the following day: “I am motivated to talk more with my teachers, after hearing their stories.  They know themselves well.”  
Another commented:  “They were honest, they told us how hard it was for them. And they didn’t give up.”

The panelists also confirmed that support of family, friends, and the school community was a vital component of their success.  Their narratives resonated with incidents of parents’ involvement, whether by reading textbooks to them, typing dictations of papers, editing essays, or just offering an empathetic ear. 

Yet, at evening’s end, it was clear that these six individuals, drawing on their skills and resources honed through hard work, setbacks, and plain grit, stand as young, self-reliant adults.  Through the incomplete, two-steps forward, one-step backward process of coming to terms with their learning differences, they have discovered their voices and now use them to inform and inspire a generation of students right behind them.  Thank you.

“ Here’s how I learn, here’s what I need….”

A SAFE Panel also spoke recently at San Francisco Friends School. This excerpt from the school newsletter describes the event and theimpact it is having at the school:

Fourth through seventh graders attended an assembly last week coordinated by Frances Dickson, our Developmental Support Coordinator. A panel of high school students with various learning differences from dyslexia to attentional difficulties shared their stories and helped take away the stigma around learning differences for our young students. They were all enrolled in local high schools, and eager to educate and inspireour students. Without exception, our panelists described the necessity for hard work, and the need for allies. Each had experienced frustrations along the way, and spoke from the conviction that they could help young students who are struggling not feel alone. One panelist said: “ I’m on this panel because I want to try to prevent anyone from taking the wrong path, from giving up, which I wanted to do sometimes. It just takes a voice to change someone’s life.” Interestingly, these high schoolers easily pointed out the advantages to their learning styles – creativity, inventiveness, a singular voice, and a tenacious work ethic. They cited countless well known people who had learning disabilities, and acknowledged that they had reached clarity that they now embraced and celebrated their learning differences, even as the journey had often been difficult. “I think knowing about my learning disability has made me a lot more confident” said one. “It’s also given me the ability to cope and work with people who have different learning styles. Learning how you learn is an asset. Even if you don’t have a learning disability, just figure out what works best for you.”

Frances hopes to train middle school students here at San Francisco Friends School to speak to lower school students, as so many of the “SAFE” panelists spoke so fervently about advocacy: “When I was younger, I didn’t advocate for myself, but now I see that it is super important. I can’t stress it enough. Walk up to your teachers and say, ‘Hey, I may have learning issues and this is what I need. I need extra time or a calculator’ or whatever. Just let them know. Don’t be afraid. It helps.” The advice shared by these students transcended the particular challenges that LD students experience: “Even if all of school is easy for you, eventually it’s gonna get tough. For us, it’s been tough for a lot of the way, for some of us since kindergarten. We’re used to that; we’re ready for that. And when we go to college, we’ll know how to learn.”

We’re eager for all our students to develop a comfortable “meta-cognitive” sense of themselves. We’d like them to know their strengths, and understand that they have tools and support to tackle those disciplines that are tough for them. One of our panelists summed it up beautifully: “Knowledge is a tool; intelligence is how you use it. We don’t necessarily lack in either of those areas.”

Back to top...

Volunteer News

Mike Gunn is a parent of children with learning disabilities who long ago recognized the stigma and misinformation surrounding learning disabilities was wrong and unhealthy.  Mike became one of PEN’s earliest champions and fortunately for PEN has remained a stalwart volunteer for more than 6 years.  He organized and printed PEN’s early newsletters, and has never failed to assist and photograph every PEN event to date.   Most everyone attending PEN’s events recognize Mike in his PEN T-shirt.  What you may not know is that Mike is also a deputy sheriff for the City and County of San Francisco. In February, Mike’s volunteer work with PEN was recognized at the annual Rotary Luncheon.  Nominated by Sheriff Mike Hennessey, our Mike Gunn is the perfect recipient of this award honoring Mike’s exemplary service to our community.  We are honored to include Mike’s acceptance speech given at the Rotary Club in San Francisco.  Bravo to our man “Toodles.” - PEN Board Member Julie Traun

To paraphrase Saint Luke, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

There is a common theme in the volunteer work that my wife and I do. Whether the volunteer
work is at our kid’s grammar school, a swim team, numerous high schools, the Garden of
Innocence, or for what I am being honored for today, my work with the Parents Education
Network. That one thing is a focus on the success of children without regard to what we, the
adults, get out of it. In addition to my work in the community, I am also very involved in our
department’s peer support team. However, with our peer support team, the people we work with
usually have the answer in them, we just help them find it.

I have been blessed with a rather trouble free life. I was adopted and had a great childhood. I
have a secure job, good family and for the most part, whatever set backs I have experienced in
life have been my own doing. However, by pure happenstance and through no fault of their
own, two of my children have learning disabilities.

My wife, the more observant one, noticed that there was something different when our kids
were quite young. While this was only 15 to 20 years ago, there was a lot of misinformation and
there was that stigma about kids with learning disabilities. That stigma and much of the
misinformation remains. If a child needs glasses or needs to use an inhaler, no one thinks twice.
But because many learning and attention disabilities can’t be seen or measured in everyday life,
terms like lazy, stupid, slow and pronouncements like, “If he just studied more he would get As
and Bs or Cs.” or “She just has to apply herself to learn her multiplication tables.” are heard
over and over. Over time, we have found that information is power and bringing the issues into
the light of day lessens the stigma.

In 2003 I was told about a group that was forming in San Francisco. This new group called
themselves the Parents Education Network. The address for the first meeting was in Seacliff, a
very upper scale neighborhood here in San Francisco. While a bit hesitant, I decided to go,
figuring at the very worst, the butler wouldn’t let me in the door. To my relief, there was no
butler, we all had a common goal and all egos and the like were left outside. That goal was one
of raising awareness about learning and attention disabilities. Not through marching in the
streets or pounding on the desks of administrators, but by educating administrators, parents and
children to help them understand learning disabilities and individual learning styles. To that end
we are not only helping our own children but are also helping other children now and in the
future that we will never know or meet.

Since that day back in 2003, the Parents Education Network has transformed from a small
group that had a few speakers during the year, to hosting an event in April of 2009 at AT&T
Park that was the largest gathering of children and adults with learning and attention disabilities
here in the United States and we are doing it again this April.

I grew up on the island of Guam and Guam has a very large military presence. I remember that
at the entrance to the main naval base on Guam there was a sign. That sign read, “Lest we
forget, our primary mission is to support the fleet.” With the Parents Education Network, we
have a mission statement and other goals and the like but when it comes down to it, we all have
in the back of our minds, “Lest we forget, our primary mission is to support the kids.” That’s
what this group does and that’s why it works.

The Rotary Club’s motto is Service Above Self and the Rotary’s history of service to the
community is legendary worldwide. To me, Service Above Self summarizes what we in
emergency services do every day and what many of us do as volunteers in the community. The
San Francisco Sheriff’s Department could also have the same maxim. For instance, our
department’s peer support team helps both sworn and unsworn through various life crisis’s that
occur and the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department under Sheriff Mike Hennessey has been in
the forefront of reaching out to the community. Our department will reach out to someone that
we have had to evict and we will offer a felon the chance get his GED.

I have always thought that the best gift or accolade received was the unexpected one. The honor
of being named the Rotary Club of San Francisco’s Deputy Sheriff of the Year was completely
unexpected. To say that I was stunned when I was told of this award because of my volunteer
work in the community would be an understatement. I thank Sheriff Michael Hennessey for
recognizing me for this award and I thank the Rotary Club for including me in this, the 25th year
of this honor. I am humbled to be in the same room with other emergency service heroes and
am honored to receive this award in front of two of my children and more importantly, my long
suffering wife.

A while back my wife asked me, “Will you be doing all this when you retire?” and I replied,
“Of course I will, and then I’ll have even more time to do it!” In closing, Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children's Defense Fund is quoted as saying, “Service is the rent we pay to be living. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time.”

Back to top...

Other News


The Director of Learning Strategies at Lick-Wilmerding High School is responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive program to support all students in their learning through the Center for Learning Strategies. In this regard, the Director of Learning Services is key to implementing the school’s mission of creating a truly inclusive community.  This involves leading the faculty in the development of their teaching skills in order for them to be able to reach a wide variety of learners effectively, and working with students to develop both their academic and advocacy skills. The Director of Learning Services is a member of the Department of Equity & Instruction and the Student Support Services team, and supervises the Teaching Assistant.   To apply, please submit cover letter, resume, statement of educational philosophy and contact info for 3 references in MS Word format to  The complete job description is located on our website:

Back to top...