With school security on everyone's mind, the Greenwich PTA Council Wellness Committee is sponsoring a panel discussion this week focusing on children's mental health issues specifically on helping to identify them and providing resources for addressing them.
The discussion will be moderated by a panel of Greenwich Public Schools psychologists, social workers and guidance counselors including Bill Quinn, Danielle Polizzi, Nancy McGraw, Lisa Strizver, Lori Parisi and Michelle Friedman.
One Parent's Proactive Idea Spurs Forum
As the tragedy in Newtown unfolded and details emerged, parents across the country all were asking the same question of what are the warning signs. Julian Curtiss parent, Marianne Koushouris, took that question in her mind one step further. She approached Julian Curtiss PTA President Cheryl Resnick to inquire whether something could formally be organized in a format where professionals could attempt to answer such questions weighing on parents.
Koushouris felt that parents across the district would be interested in being educated in the warning signs of childhood depression and how and where to seek the proper assistance. Resnick then brought it forward to the council.
PTA Council Wellness Co-Chair Alexis Voulgaris said that her committee sought to "gather a broad range of panelists and allow them to present on a wide variety of issues facing children such as anxiety, depression, stress, anger, peer pressure, etc."
In addition, the intent of the forum is to "stress it's a great opportunity for any/all parents to hear experts talk about childhood mental health issues in a safe environment where no one is passing judgment on a parent or child for attending," said Voulgaris.
Greenwich PTA Council President Lisa Beth Savitz said of the forum that "we hope parents will gain an understanding of children's mental health issues and learn when to seek professional assistance."
The forum will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6 at the Greenwich High School Media Center. Any questions please contact email@example.com.
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The Greenwich Board of Education will convene again on Thursday, Feb. 7 for a work session.
Superintendent William McKerise will present a Diagnostic Memorandum to the board representing the district's proposed strategy and action plan to deal with lagging results on standardized tests.
Based upon analysis of district results from 2007-2011, six issues have been identified as root causes for the performance gap between Greenwich and other comparable districts in the state:
- Low student achievement in reading and mathematics at the end of primary grades;
- A recent two-year decline in writing scores measured by the CMT (Connecticut Mastery Test) in grades 3 to 8;
- Poor performance in science as measured by the CMT in grades 5 and 8 and by the CAPT (Connecticut Academic Performance Test) in grade 10;
- Achievement gaps in student subgroups such as free and reduced lunch;
- A lack of growth in both mathematics and reading scores for Greenwich students in grades 5 to 6 as compared to other districts;
- A lag in performance for students who are new to the district.
In response to these issues, the Board of Education decided in June 2012 to adopt three goals which they believed would drive improved district performance through the 2014-2015 school year:
- Reading - increase the % of students Goal/Mastery at the CMT to 83%;
- Mathematics - increase the % of 8th grades students who successfully pass Algebra I to 75%;
- Writing - increase the % of Grade 8 students at Goal/Mastery in CMT Writing to 87%.
In undertaking its analysis, the district noted that while the appropriate professional practices have been implemented, their impact has been negatively impacted by competing practices that utilize the time that should be applied for discussing, collaborating on and planning these action plans.
McKerisie will present a 23-page Diagnostic Memorandum Progress Update identifying the "priority work" organized by "cause," "solutions" and "strategies" for each goal as well as next steps.
For example, the critical skill of reading is noted as a centerpiece for the new Common Core Standards adopted by the State and the District. The report notes that "students learn to read so they can read to learn."
Despite years of focusing resources at improving reading skills for its students, the report notes that "the percentage of Greenwich third grades achieving at goal or higher on CMT reading has been flat or lagging to comparable districts in 2011." The report articulates four causes, a variety of potential solutions, the strategies the district is undertaking to deal with the issue and the current status and update.
While dense with information, the report is notable for its focus on detailed goals and action steps to deal with an issue which has become a perennial sore-point for the Greenwich community; the seemingly continuing lag in standardized test scores for students attending the Greenwich Public School system in relation to comparable districts.
Other monitoring reports to be presented include:
- First Reading, Monitoring Report E-001/003, Special Education ;
- First Reading, Monitoring Report E-001/003, Visual Arts
The meeting is at 7 p.m. in the board room at the Havemeyer Building, 290 Greenwich Ave.