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Parent University Announces Participating Experts

Published: February 25, 2018

In an effort to support local families who are concerned for the future and well-being of their children, the Newtown Parent Connection (NPC), in partnership with Brookfield CARES and Ben’s Lighthouse, invite local residents, parents, grandparents, and caregivers to attend Parent Empowerment University 2018, on Saturday, March 24, from 8 am to 2 pm at the Newtown Middle School, 11 Queen Street.

The Parent Connection’s mission is to strengthen families and build protective factors in our children, of all ages, by educating those who interact regularly with them.

“We affirm that knowledge is power, and empowered parents and caregivers nurture more resilient children,” said organization founder Dorrie Carolan. “In today’s social, political climate we find ourselves drawing lines in the sand about our views, our opinions, pointing fingers at the other side. In almost every debate if you go deep enough things get down to the very core and we find ourselves talking about the responsibility of raising children.”

It is Ms Carolan’s belief that parenting is “one of the hardest things we can do, that’s because there’s no specific training for it, we learn as we go, and each and every child is unique.”

“Most of us will agree that a child’s foundation is set at home before they enter the outside world to build upon that structure,” she said. “So how do we as parents know how to build a solid foundation and make necessary changes and alterations as we go?”

The courses offered at this year’s Parent Empowerment University were chosen through the feedback from parents in the community.

Special Guests

Marc Brackett, PhD, founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University, will be the keynote speaker.

Dr Brackett’s grant-funded research focuses on the role of emotional intelligence in learning, decisionmaking, relationship quality, well-being, performance, and organizational climate. He is the lead developer of RULER ) (for the five key emotion skills of recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotions), an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning that has been adopted by more than 1,200 public, charter, and private schools across the United States and in other countries, including Australia, England, Italy, Mexico, and Spain.

RULER infuses emotional intelligence into the fabric of a school through training for school leaders, educators and staff, students, and families, and has been shown to enhance well-being, academic performance, and school climate.

Dr Brackett has published more than 100 scholarly articles and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Joseph E. Zins award for his research on emotional intelligence in schools. His research is featured regularly in popular media.

He also regularly consults with school systems and companies around the world, including Schwab and Goldman Sachs, and for the last four years he has worked with Facebook to develop tools that help adults and children develop emotional intelligence and resolve online conflict.

“Emotional intelligence is the overarching theme for the day in which we unfold a beautiful menu of workshops ranging from: health and nutrition, stress management via the ancient practice of ‘Tapping,’ how to talk to your kids about drugs, what to do with a struggling learner, and tools and strategies to support you in raising children into confident, healthy adults,” Ms Carolan explained.

Participants will select both a morning and afternoon workshop based on their personal preference. On the day of the event, check-in will begin at 8 am, and a continental breakfast will be available.

Dr Brackett, is scheduled to speak at 8:45 am. After the keynote, participants will break out into 90-minute workshops.

Morning Workshop

Among those leading workshops will be Robin Stern, PhD and Kathryn Lee, MA, with their morning session “For Parents & Caregivers…..Building Resilience and the Practice of Self Compassion.”

Dr Stern is the associate director for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. She is a licensed psychoanalyst, educator, and author, with 25-plus years of experience treating individuals, couples, and groups.

She holds a doctorate in applied psychology from New York University and a postdoctoral certificate in psychoanalytic group psychotherapy from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health. Dr Stern is on the faculty of Teacher’s College, Columbia University, where she co-teaches a class on emotional intelligence.

At the center, she is a principal investigator for the RULER for Parents project, works on High School RULER adapting the curriculum for older students, and on a project to explore the intersection of self-awareness, emotion, and the arts.

Dr Stern also serves on the advisory board of Crisis Text Line, I’ll Go First, and Project Rebirth, is a member of the Emotionally Intelligence Consortium, and has authored three books. She is a founding member of the Woodhull Institute, where she spent 15 years creating and facilitating development programs for women leaders.

Ms Lee is the project director of RULER for Families. Among the projects in development are an emotionally intelligent workshop series, dynamic online resources for families, and an online guide for schools to direct their family engagement efforts.

She is longtime advocate for “real world education,” relevant to a rapidly changing world, and has taught preschool through middle school, served as a senior administrator of an independent school in the Bay Area of California, curated a TEDx event on Compassion and Education, designed nationally recognized service learning and environmental stewardship programs, and Ashoka selected her as a Change Leader for catalyzing empathy into action.

Ms Lee holds a BA in human development from the University of the Pacific, and an MA in early childhood education from Mills College, and she is a parent.

Event Details

A free lunch will be served in between the morning and afternoon sessions.

“Our goal is to make this a family-friendly event, so in coordination with Ben’s Lighthouse, we will be hosting Kid’s University. A special musical performance by Francine Wheeler, along with a fire truck visit, therapy dogs, and much more to entertain and create a fun, safe environment for your children while parents and caregivers attend class sessions,” Ms Carolan said. “So come as a family.”

Registration is required to hold a spot for a fee of $5. Registration will begin online at in the coming days.

“It is a parent’s job to shepherd their child through the different developmental phases of life; do yourself a favor, do your kids a favor, take the time to attend a morning and afternoon workshop to get some new ideas, to have some meaningful conversations, to open a new pathway to create a home environment where your children can thrive,” Ms Carolan added. “Remember, it all starts at home.”

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