Collaboration Yields New Speaker Series for Parents
“Larchmont-Mamaroneck Listens” Launches January 24th
by Jennifer Conley
(January 17, 2008) Over the next few months, parents in Larchmont and Mamaroneck will benefit from the wisdom of three leading thinkers in youth development. A group of local organizations have pooled their resources to create Larchmont-Mamaroneck Listens, a speaker series for parents of kids from pre-K all the way to 12th grade. The first speaker, acclaimed author Dr. Robert Brooks, will talk about “Raising Resilient Children and Adolescents” on Thursday, January 24th at 7:30 pm in the Hommocks Middle School auditorium.
The idea for a series like this has been floating around for a long time, but it took shape last year during the grants process for the Mamaroneck Schools Foundation. Because parent education is an important part of any successful home-school partnership, the Mamaroneck school district and local PTAs were enthusiastic about a series that could present significant, ground-breaking speakers. The Mamaroneck Schools Foundation approved the grant because their board was similarly enthusiastic about the community-building potential. “This is a big school district with four elementary schools, two villages and a town,” explained MSF president Edie Roth. “We hope this series will bring parents throughout the community together around important topics.”
Additional funds for each speaker were provided by local parent-run organizations. All six of the district PTAs, including those at the Hommocks and Mamaroneck High School, are co-sponsoring the first speaker. The second speaker, Jim Thompson from the Positive Coaching Alliance, will address youth sports. His talk is being co-sponsored by all seven Larchmont-Mamaroneck youth sports organizations—lacrosse, Little League, football, hockey, basketball, and both soccer leagues. The district’s athletic director, Bari Suman, said before she went on maternity leave that she is very excited about this show of unity by the local leagues around such a meaningful topic: keeping things positive in youth and school sports so that kids get the most out of it.
The third speaker, Dr. Mel Levine from the All Kinds of Minds Institute, is considered the foremost expert in understanding how kids learn and how their brains develop. SEPTA, the special education PTA, is co-sponsoring his marquis talk designed for a general audience.
Offering speaker events to parents is nothing new. Local school groups often host talks targeted at their unique audience. But the reach is limited, and listeners often come away wishing more of their peers had heard the talk. With Larchmont-Mamaroneck Listens, the hope is that the scope of the topics and the quality of the speakers will bring a broad audience and create meaningful community dialogue. Indeed, Larchmont-Mamaroneck Listens is loosely based on the successful “Heard in Rye” speakers bureau which draws a significant crowd.
All members of the community are welcome to attend. As one flyer for the series says, “Let’s listen and learn together.”
Jennifer Conley volunteers with the Mamaroneck Schools Foundation.