E2Lead 2018: Community Strand

Finding and Pursuing Your Passion: Energizing Your Vision, Empowering Your Students

Kate Miserocchi, Elementary Teacher, Parkway School, Greenwich


Teachers have dreams that are often stirred by the challenges and limitations of classroom life. When we wonder if our life’s purpose could be in stall or neutral mode, we begin to search for greater meaning and ways to rejuvenate. The overarching objective of this session is to give teachers an opportunity to identify a list of passion projects they would like to pursue, and what they believe it would take to see these come to fruition. A variety of resources will be provided to help participants focus their ideas, including strategies for applying for grants. Participants will examine traditional curriculum subjects and explore possibilities for integration across disciplines, as well as inclusion of current events and relevant social issues that would raise the level of rigor and engagement in our classrooms. Participants also will discover that pursuing a passion is possible within the realm of the school culture – and it matters to our students! Discovering ways to build resilience and opportunities for rejuvenation in the midst of the establishment/educational directives that at times feel in conflict with our own values can reignite our passion for teaching and lead to positive transformation personally and professionally.

Culturally Responsive Schools: Communicating and Engaging Linguistically Diverse Parents

Location: ONEIDA

Tamara Swift, English Learner Education Specialist, Capital Region Education Council (CREC)

Participants in this professional learning experience will learn about the impacts of culture and language on family engagement in schools. By examining elements of a culturally responsive school and reflecting upon the environment and instructional elements in place at their district or school, participants will understand and learn about strategies they can implement to improve family involvement and communication with linguistically diverse families. Through dialogue and interactive learning experiences, this workshop will provide participants with tools to provide family supports and engage parents through a culturally responsive lens. This session will highlight the concepts of resilience and rejuvenation by providing resources and innovative strategies and solutions to assist educators in their quest to build relationships with families of English Learners.

The Nature of Collaboration: Bringing Together Educators and a Community Nature Center to Enhance Instruction


Corey E. Nagle, Teacher, Bristol Public Schools; Renee Turley, Science Supervisor, Regional School District 10; Scott Heth, Executive Director, Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut

This session will focus on how a partnership was built between a public school system and an environmental learning organization. The partnership resulted in professional development seminars and ongoing support for developing science instruction in classrooms and enhancement of environmental learning center programs. This partnership also allowed for the introduction of vertical teaming in which an in-district high school science teacher worked with elementary teachers to build science teaching capacity. Key content will include the processes used to gain funding, build the relationship, and then promote and engage in key learning opportunities. Presenters will bring the perspectives of teachers, presenters, and environmental learning center staff from all stages of developing the opportunity, securing resources, and implementation and ongoing support and communication. Participants will take away perspectives for engaging with community agencies to build teacher capacity and improve learning opportunities for students. Presenters will provide contacts and support for developing partnerships.

Raising Resilient, Emotionally Healthy Students: Understanding the Simple Brain Science


Donna Volpitta, Ed.D., Founder & CEO, The Center for Resilient Leadership

“Use your brain!” We have all heard it or said it to someone at one point or another, but the problem is, we never teach people how. Right now, we are experiencing mental health issues in teens and young adults, including addiction, anxiety, depression, and suicide, at levels that we have never seen before. But we can turn the tide. The answer lies in some very simple brain science. In this interactive presentation, participants will learn about The Resilient Mindset Model, a very simple model that is like a user’s manual for the brain. There are three parts to the model: 1) The Four Ss of Resilience, which can be used as a framework to teach how to use challenges as opportunities to build resilient brain pathways, 2) The Four Characters of the Brain, which explains our brains natural response to challenge in order to help us to be able to make more mindfully resilient choices, and 3) REACTS, which is an acronym for the social threats and rewards to the brain and enables us to understand why we often respond in ways that are counterproductive to our long-term benefits. There are ways that parents and educators may be inadvertently setting our children up for depression, anxiety, and addiction, and there are also things we could be doing or not doing every day to protect our children from going down any of those roads. This session shows how we can make some easy changes to intentionally raise a generation of emotionally healthy kids.

Community Efforts Following a Loss

Location: NEHANTIC

Daniel Lee and John McNair, Ryan T. Lee Memorial Foundation

Understanding the structure of a community-based, non-profit organization can help empower educators to better utilize resources within their own communities. This session will help participants gain a unique perspective into how community efforts following a loss have helped a community foundation to maximize the collaborative potential that exists among non-profit organizations, schools, and community stakeholders. The Ryan T. Lee Memorial Foundation, Inc. was founded in 2011 in memory of Ryan Lee, who passed away at the age of 19. Within a few months of his untimely passing, friends, and family members came together to form the organization that bears his name. Guided by a mission to actively seek out opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others, the foundation has forged relationships with several local schools and community-based organizations in order to support programs that help young people. With insight into the impact that community efforts can have after a loss, participants will be provided with information and steps to form and grow a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, as well as strategies and ideas to develop partnerships between schools and community-based organizations.

Embedding Compassion in the Curriculum


Dylan Connor, Latin Teacher, Bunnell High School

Compassion is a core pedagogical principle that promotes deeper and more enduring learning. If a student is emotionally shut off, he or she will not be able to learn content. The word compassion, when broken down into its Latin roots (passus, which means “having suffered” and the preposition, cum, which means “with”) literally means to suffer with someone else. With over twenty years teaching Latin, the presenter has made it a priority to reach out emotionally to students in his classes – to “suffer” with them. How are they feeling about the upcoming assignments? Do they need a break today? What are the issues that are important to them (personal, local, global)? Some time spent “off topic” pays huge dividends in the long run. Conversely, we educators need to have compassion for each other and for ourselves in order to remain resilient and to feel rejuvenated. Teaching compassion can help us to mine the gold in the typical teaching day. When our content feels old or stale, it is relationships with students and our colleagues that are always dynamic and potentially refreshing. When we come from a place of compassion, we can find renewal and inspiration in each day in the classroom. In this interactive workshop, participants will examine the meaning of compassion in the context of teaching and experience tried and true methods (e.g. meditation, improvisation, discussion circles, and the power of a teacher’s personal stories) to use in their classrooms and schools. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss and share ideas with each other, so that we might expand and fortify our compassionate practices together.

It Takes a Village…


Fran Amara, Principal Northwestern Middle School, Regional School District 7

This session will provide an understanding of how learning, teaching, and building emotional intelligence skills can effectively engage families and other key stakeholders in the educational process. Participants will investigate strategies for building and maintaining positive and effective relationships with parents and families to elevate classroom and school climate. Participants will share and reflect on family and community engagement practices that they currently use. This collaborative and interactive session will allow educators to learn from each other’s expertise and explore new strategies for solving problems by teaming with families.

Academic Strand | Community Strand | Leadership Strand

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