In age of tweets, a school leader focuses on communication basics

Michael ONeill

Michael O’Neill
Guest Blogger

Educators have at their disposal a vast number of electronic communication tools. Websites, blogs, texts, social media, and emails saturate their daily lives. While a savvy educator can deploy any of these options almost instantly, online communication must be balanced by physical presence and face-to-face communication to build and sustain community, trust, and relationships.

Megan Bennett, Principal of Thalberg Elementary School in Southington, CT, remains focused on building such personal relationships.

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On Ferguson & Thanksgiving: A Special Message from SERC

As events continue to unfold in Ferguson, Missouri, SERC extends a hand of solidarity to the millions of citizens committed to promoting racial equity and dismantling structural and institutionalized racism. More than ever, these recent events make us strive toward building a society in which liberty and justice is a lived reality for all. Continue reading

7 parent leaders speak up about true family engagement

Since 2012, SERC and CT PIRC, in collaboration with the Connecticut Commission on Children, has celebrated National Parent Involvement Day by recognizing outstanding parent leadership. This year’s ceremony, held at the State Capitol in Hartford on November 20, honored 10 parent leaders with Parent Involvement Recognition Awards. SERC staff tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #ctparentawards. After the ceremony, we caught up with several award recipients, who spoke to us about the true meaning of parent engagement. Their insights reveal much about why they deserve special recognition. Congratulations to all of them!  Continue reading

8 Lessons Learned from the 2014 CFFS Conference

On October 23, 2014, the fifth Connecting Faith, Families & Schools (CFFS) Conference was held in Connecticut. The conference provided a unique opportunity for approximately 200 faith and community leaders, educators, and parents to jointly tackle issues affecting student success. The focus of this year’s conference was Chronic Absenteeism. As the day progressed, participants used the conference hashtag (#CFFS14) to share their experiences on Facebook and Twitter. At the end of the day, several participants also shared via Instagram one important thing they learned. Eight of these participants are featured here. Continue reading

Lifelong learners will be lifelong teachers

A supportive community allows us to be continually teaching and learning. This Native American proverb reminds me that we have a responsibility to pass along our knowledge, skills, and wisdom, particularly as we live and learn from our mistakes.  Continue reading

School was my lifeline to opportunity

Editors’ Note: On October 23, 2014, SERC will host the fifth “Connecting Faith, Families & Schools” conference at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. The conference provides a unique opportunity for faith and community leaders, educators, and families to gather and discuss critical issues affecting student success. This year’s conference will focus on chronic absenteeism.

In anticipation of the conference, Toddchelle Young, a conference participant and former resident of New Haven, shares the story of how a network of caring adults helped her overcome multiple challenges and stay in school.

Toddchelle Young Guest Blogger

Toddchelle Young
Guest Blogger

I grew up in housing projects in New Haven, CT, in a neighborhood rife with substance abuse, gun violence, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and other health conditions created by social and environmental factors. Early on in life, I knew that the only way to improve my family’s situation was to take school seriously. My dream was to become a doctor.

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The myth of the autonomous learner?

This past summer, my husband and I started a no-screen-time-on-weekends policy for our two middle-school children. Much to my surprise, the kids did not balk when we introduced this policy. I think it helped that they had recently gotten new bikes, so they had a great incentive to spend more time outdoors and less time with the devices in our home.  Continue reading

How can we be so bored when we’re so busy?

I recently read a blog entry about the importance of cultivating an “insatiable” interest in learning — of continually seeking to escape our “fixed attitudes and habits.” Insatiable learners have a boundless curiosity, and the need to satisfy this curiosity drives them to dig and probe and, quite often, regroup and try a different approach. Curiosity is their antidote to boredom. Continue reading

The Sleepaway Leap

This summer, my 9-year-old daughter experienced what we adults would call a milestone in growing up: being away from home for six days at her first sleepaway camp. Our family of four has been away from each other before, but this time, day and night, our girl was with people who didn’t already know her. She was on her own to introduce herself, show interest in others, demonstrate what motivates her, deal with what makes her uncomfortable. For my daughter, the kind of kid who seeks out an opportunity as new and potentially scary as overnight camp, taking this leap can play a significant role in her self-discovery. Continue reading

My New Year Started on July 27

Last weekend, my family and I returned from seven wonderful days in a cottage in Maine. As I settled in at home after the trip, I resolved to make some modest changes to my daily routine. My goal was to capture a slice of the goodness that I experienced on vacation. I realized I could repurpose about 30 minutes of each day and make a big impact on my and my family’s well-being. Continue reading