Speaker: Dr. Mel Levine
author of ''A Mind at a Time'' and ''Ready or Not, Here Life Comes''

Topic: Our mission as parents and educators: develop the total child, endorsing and nurturing individual strengths and uniqueness, to generate responsible, compassionate, contributing members of our expanding global community.

Submitted by: Cheryl Krupczak

In searching for a theme that would appeal to all of the NISC member schools, it seemed a good starting point was to go back to the roots and consult the mission statements of each of the schools. The mission statements of Atlanta Girls' School, Atlanta Speech School, Lovett, Pace, Trinity, and Westminster, all share a common theme that binds the schools together in a fundamental, unified goal. That goal is to:

  • develop the whole person - The whole person means the totality of intellectual, emotional, aesthetic, spiritual and physical capabilities that make him or her a unique individual

  • endorse and nurture individual strengths and uniqueness, to cultivate each student's God-given talents, to build in each child the knowledge that his/her uniqueness is appreciated and valued

  • instill creative and critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, and a love of learning, and that knowing ''how'' to learn is as important as ''what'' one learns

  • develop self-knowledge, responsible citizenship, respect for diversity, service to others, moral integrity, environmental awareness, and sensitivity to issues of global significance

  • to prepare students for work-life readiness -- allow students to gain confidence, discipline, and courage and enable them to grow into resilient, responsible, and productive leaders of their communities

These goals and ideals are directly prescribed by Dr. Mel Levine, world-renown pediatrician and researcher into the learning processes of children and young adults. In his book, ''A Mind at a Time'', Dr. Levine calls for us to recognize that every mind is different and that minds are "wired" with individual strengths and affinities. Like tools in a tool chest, a mind's neurodevelopmental functions (memory, attention, spatial ordering, language processing, etc.) work together as implements for learning and for applying what's learned. As we seek to develop the whole child and instill intellectual curiosity and a love of learning, parents, educators, and the students themselves should understand their mind's tool chest (neurodevelopmental functions) and how to use their "strong" tools to compensate for tools that may not be as strong.

Every mind is different -- understanding what each mind is "wired" for can help prepare students for work-life readiness and guide them along the path to becoming compassionate, contributing members of our expanding global community.

Are parents and educators preparing students for work-life readiness?

"We are in the midst of an epidemic of work-life unreadiness because an alarming number of emerging adults are unable to find a good fit between their minds and their career directions.. . our population of career-unready adults is expanding, and doing so at an alarming pace -- like a contagious disease. "

"Rearing and educating children involves establishing some long-range priorities. I believe there is at present a vast gulf between what is taught in school and what is essential to learn for a gratifying adult work life."

" . . the ability to think critically, to brainstorm, to monitor and refine your own performance, to communicate convincingly, and to plan and preview work are among the important skills that could make or break startup adults across countless occupations." >Dr. Mel Levine

Mel Levine's book, ''Ready or Not, Here Life Comes'', is about preparing kids for the tough demands of adult life as they transition from adolescence into the startup years as contributing members of society.

Mel Levine at Trinity

Trinity was fortunate to host Dr. Mel Levine this past September for a one-day visit to our school. Mel met with the heads of school from various neighboring schools in the morning, followed by a brief talk with parents, and then development with staff.
I was struck by how powerful his (limited) talk was here, and that everyone I hear from states how dramatic and informative his presence is. Parents and teachers from Trinity are eager to have Mel back again!

Ideas for Student Projects

Mel advocates that each child should identify an affinity, a passion, and then learn everything they can to become the "local expert" on that topic. If Johnny's thing is spiders, the kids on the playground should say "Hey! Look at this spider. Get Johnny over here!"

idea: have children identify something they're passionate to learn about.

Mel advocates that by the time they're ready to graduate high school, each child should have been required to write at least one business plan and one research grant proposal to promote their idea.

Speaker: Dr. Michael Thompson

Topic: helping our children with social problems

Books: books Raising Cain, Best Friends/Worst Enemies, The Pressured Child

From parent Stacey Lewinstein:

I am currently reading "Mom, They're Teasing Me" by Michael Thompson. I have only just started it but I have found it interesting. One thing that I'm learning is that social issues are something that many of us are so ill-equipped to deal with and they leave us somewhat helpless as well. We can't go and fix it for our children yet these situations that arise are such an integral part of their world. I think it would be interesting and helpful to have some social topics presented to help "coach" parents in helping our children with the social portion of their school day which can impact them not only on the playground but at home and in the classroom as well.

Pace recommendation:
Understanding and combating the impact of society's propaganda on the morals, values and priorities of our children . A Saturday (3/17/07) NYTimes column by Judith Warner would include parents in the term 'society' - we will not change the messages of the media but we can control our own comments and behavior. to that end, We would suggest the featured speaker be Jean Kilbourne. She spoke at Pace several years ago. I don't know in what capacity, but the message was strong. See her website for more info:
http://www.jeankilbourne.com/.Posted by Linda Davis for the Pace2 committee

Proposed topic from the Westminster parent reps – “Treating Affluenza” (Submitted by Janet Lavine)
From wikipedia:
Affluenza -- affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. (de Graaf, 2002)
affluenza, n. 1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth. (PBS)
We wrestled with the topic of “money management for children – teaching fiscal responsibility” and with the topic of “fostering life long community service”. In some respects, programming relating to “affluenza” can/should cover both of these areas. Observations include:
Our children have many opportunities given to them – from material goods to educational programming, enrichment, etc. Can we help them appreciate these many gifts and help them understand differences between consumerism in adults (earned?) and consumerism in children (entitlement? expectation?)
How will our children learn to be “philanthropic” – regardless of their personal/family financial situation? What does “giving back” really mean?
How do we stress careful budgeting in children/teens when they often see us as parents as excessive discretionary consumers?
What fiscal responsibilities should we impose on children – clothing allowance, knowledge of tuition bills, etc.?
How can families (parents and children) establish a pattern of charitable giving.and how should those donations be decided?
Resources: -- lots of books, speakers on the topic of “affluenza” -- google the word to get a sampling
Possible tie-in with Glenn Institute at Westminster which was founded to teach philanthropy to students – Philanthrophy 101 course in high school, summer programming.

Speaker: Mary Pipher, Ph.D.
Books: The Shelter of Each Other; Reviving Ophelia
Topic: In Shelter of Each Other, Pipher offers simple solutions for keeping our families in tact and healthy and, thereby, resisting the worst of the culture surrounding us. Pipher combines nostalgia with a call to action in a time where the vitality of the American Family is challenged. Pipher is also well-known for her research into the lives of adolescent girls. Riviving Ophelia is considered a must-read for parents of daughters. Therefore, Pipher could do 2 talks.
Sumitted by Mace Hall: Trinity School

Speaker: Thomas Friedman
Topic: Helping parents prepare students to live, work, and participate in a "flat" connected world.


Evaluation Resources:
  • Here is a link to a short Fox News clip that features Thomas Friedman. This clip makes mention of parents and education, so I am sure that he could expand and deliver something more robust.
  • You can subscribe to NYTimes Select for a free 14 day trial to sample Friedman's column which I think runs bi-weekly. (You can subscribe to NYT for free online, however certain columnists such as Freidman and Maureen Dowd require a $7.95 per month subscription.) Here is the link:
  • Other online resources for Friedman:

-Willy, Trinity School

Speaker: Judith Smetana
Topic: Moral Development and Parenting
Bio of Speaker:
Judith Smetana is Professor of Psychology in the Department of Clinical & Social Psychology at the University of Rochester. Her primary area of research entails children’s emotional and social-cognitive development, with special focuses on the development of young children’s moral and social knowledge, and on parenting beliefs and how these beliefs relate to parenting practices and child outcomes. Smetana is co-editor of the Handbook of Moral Development (Erlbaum, 2006), and editor of Changing Conceptions of Parental Authority: New Directions for Child Development (Jossey-Bass, 2005). She is currently principal investigator for major grants funded by the National Science Foundation and the Fetzer Institute.

Idea: Dr. Smetana would do a series of workshops or presentations on her research on parenting styles as they relate to adolescent moral and social development. She applies "domain theory," which is a lens through which to look at the ways young people negotiate and view rules and values. Domain theory posits that there are differences between social convention (e.g. we wear uniforms at our school), moral issues (e.g. we do not hit each other on the playground) and personal issues (e.g. the friends I choose to hang out with; my taste in music), and that there is value in teaching young people in all of these domains. Moreover, understanding these domains helps to explain how conflict between parents and children usually arise -- at the boundaries of these domains (e.g. mother feels cleaning one's room is part of the social convention of the household, or even a moral issue related to helping the family unit, child feels room is an expression of personal individuality and autonomy). When parents learn from the research about the dynamics of conflict between parents and adolescents, they are better able to let go of the unimportant and focus on the important goals of helping children to learn how to function in society and to develop a moral compass.

I (Beth Corrie) attended a workshop with Smetana in January and can explain in greater detail what this is about. I am very convinced that domain theory helps to make clear better ways to negotiate conflict with adolescents AND the theory offers way of teaching moral development more effectively.

Follow up or preparation activities: Schools could develop and host parent discussion groups around specific common issues and apply domain theory to it. For instance, the entire controversy over Facebook and what to do about it can be greatly clarified within this framework. But, other issues such as cleaning the room/chores, clothing issues, curfews, etc., could be addressed.

The research has been done with children of all ages, across several continents and cultures, and within different sub-groups within the United States. It is fascinating!

Speaker: Michael Schulman
Topic: Bringing up a Moral Child

Idea: Read Schulman's book, Bringing Up a Moral Child: A New Approach for Teaching Your Child to be Kind, Just and Responsible.
Then bring him in to speak to parents and do a workshop with faculty (schedule permitting).

Michael Schulman, Ph.D.
Michael Schulman's most recent work was his 2006 CSEE publication, Building Moral Communities: A Guide for Educators, which was used by a number of CSEE school faculties or administrative teams as summer reading this past summer. Schulman is also the author of Bringing Up a Moral Child: A New Approach for Teaching Your Child to Be Kind, Just, and Responsible (Doubleday Books, 1994) and The Passionate Mind: Bringing Up an Intelligent and Creative Child (The Free Press, 1991). He is chairman of the Columbia University Seminar on Moral Education, and Supervising Psychologist for the Leake & Watts Children's Homes, in New York.

I am going to a workshop with him next month and will be able to gauge his effectiveness Beth

I asked the 80+ members of the Lovett Parent Association board on what they would want to see as a topic and/or speaker next year. The responses that i received were fairly general and covered two areas. The majority of responding parents wanted to continue the internet or technology in some fashion. The other topic was parenting including specific mentions of parenting children of privilege and the music our children listen to.

Perhaps we could have speakers/topics on parenting who could specifically address some of the internet concerns and how they impact our children and our parenting challenges.

Submitted by Betsy James, Lovett

Book: "No - Why Kids - of All Ages - Need to Hear It"

This is similar to other suggested topics and speakers. The book is informative, useful, and well written, so it might be on a reading list for next year even if it's not the primary topic/speaker.

Speaker: Dr. David Walsh
Dr. Walsh received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota. He is currently on the faculty there and is also a consultant to the World Health Organization.

Dr. Walsh discusses discipline and self-restraint from neurological, developmental, familial, and cultural points of view. His thesis is that establishing healthy limits is not only essential for kids' well-being, it's vital for creating disciplined, productive adults who can compete in a global marketplace and ensure a prosperous economic future for our country. Additionally, he provides situation examples, suggestions, checklists that give parents practical, effective strategies for helping their children (from toddler to teenage) develop the psychological resources needed to become true adults.
I agree with the reviewer below that the chapter on self-esteem is quite worthwhile.

“A comprehensive guide, it is not just about how to say No, but gives sound, practical advice that will help parents raise considerate, motivated children who will succeed in school, jobs, and life. The chapter on self-esteem alone is worth the price of the book. No will help today's parents avoid raising the next Generation Me.”
-- Jean Twenge, PhD, professor of psychology, San Diego State University, author of Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled , and More Miserable Than Ever Before

Jo Ray Van Vliet, MS Computer Teacher, Pace