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By Caroline Miller

With more and more testing in our schools, and more and more pressure on children to ace them, test anxiety is becoming an issue for a lot of kids. "When kids are having test anxiety they can't think clearly, they can't judge things the way they could if they weren't anxious," explains neuropsychologist Ken Schuster. "All of your other abilities get clouded up by anxiety."

This week on childmind.org we explore strategies experts use to help kids overcome test anxiety, from study strategies that build confidence to techniques to keep from getting rattled. We discuss reasons why some kids are prone to anxiety. The common denominator: If you think you aren't going to do well, you're going to feel more anxious.

Last night the Child Mind Institute launched our 2015 Speak Up for Kids campaign with the first Change Maker Awards, honoring five great people and organizations changing the way we think about and treat kids with mental illness. As the host for the evening, actress and comedian Ali Wentworth put it: "Raising our voices lets struggling young people know that it's okay to ask for help and that help exists." You can read here about the honorees.

We also released our first interactive Children's Mental Health Report, highlighting how many kids have mental illness, the gap between prevalence and care, and the cost to kids, families, and the community. You can see it here.

Caroline Miller is the Editorial Director of the Child Mind Institute

Dear Friend,

 We kick off Speak up for Kids, our annual public education campaign, with two new initiatives. We released the first Child Mind Institute Children's Mental Health Report this morning, and tonight we present the first Child Mind Institute Change Maker Awards.

In the Children's Mental Health Report we've gathered the best information about the scope of children's mental illness in America. The findings are staggering. More than 17 million kids have a psychiatric disorder and only 35 percent of them get help. We hope this high-impact, interactive presentation of the data will help start a vital conversation among health care providers, families, and lawmakers.

The Change Maker Awards honor people and organizations that are actively changing things for the better and improving the lives of our kids. From the First Lady of New York to a campus advocacy group, we're all working towards similar goals and helping kids who struggle with mental illness.

I hope that you'll help spread the word about the Report and the Awards among your friends and colleagues And please join me once again this May as we Speak Up for Kids, work to transform our nations understanding of childhood mental illness, and celebrate the people who are making the change.

With warmest regards,

Harold S. Koplewicz, MD

President, Child Mind Institute 

Dwight Inaugurates Edcamp


Dwight School's campus was bustling with activity recently, when the school hosted the first-ever Edcamp dedicated to the International Baccalaureate. Bringing teachers together to talk about what matters most to them ― teaching ― the event drew nearly 100 participants. 

 Edcamp is a form of unconference. Unlike traditional conferences, which have pre-set speakers, Edcamp unconferences are driven by attendees, who create the agenda at the start of the event, and anyone can be a presenter. They're free and built on principles of participatory learning. With no formal planning aside from logistics, several Dwight faculty members, alongside attendees from other IB schools, led lively discussions about teaching and learning across the full IB continuum. 

 Sessions ranged from practical classroom application ("Scaffolding through Thinking Maps," "Interactive Fictions across Disciples," and "Diploma Program Film ― Why?"); and the theoretical ("Chinese Identity through Culture" and "Creative Ways of Using Technology in the Primary Years Program"); to the administrative ("IB Administrators Discussion" and "Assessment in the IB"). In addition, there were hands-on sessions about 3D printing.

 "Participants were excited and eager to share in a format that put them in charge of their own learning. Being able to suggest session topics and freely move among sessions are the hallmarks of any Edcamp event," reports Basil Kolani, Head of Technology and Innovation at Dwight, and one of the lead organizers of Edcamp IB. "I'm pleased that hosting the event at Dwight provided other educators with a peek into all the exciting and great things happening every day on our campus, while giving our faculty a chance to learn alongside other IB teachers dedicated to improving their craft."

Dianne Drew, Head of School, was delighted that Dwight hosted the first Edcamp IB and that so many teachers from grades 1-12 were drawn to see how new methodologies, technology, up-skilling, inquiry, and collaboration can be utilized to motivate students in the classroom setting. She reports, "Edcamp IB was a great day to share IB practice and curriculum innovation with IB practitioners and other educators, who have heard so much positive discussion about this thriving, global curriculum. The event was both a great showcase for the outstanding work and IB expertise of Dwight faculty and an opportunity for Dwight faculty to learn together with others in the spirit of the IB Learner Profile, exemplifying what it means to be knowledgeable, open-minded, caring, reflective, principled, balanced, thinkers, inquirers, communicators, and risk-takers."

As the first school in the Americas to offer all four IB programs (the Primary Years Program, Middle Years Program, Diploma Program, and Career-related Program), Dwight was pleased to welcome Paul Campbell, Head of Regional Development for IB of the Americas, to Edcamp IB. Ms. Drew shares, "Dwight's foray into the Edcamp model is just another example of our School's dedication to innovation and the desire to collaborate with like-minded educators in order to spark the passion of learning for both students and teachers alike."

Educational leaders, Mark Claypool and John McLaughlin, recently authored a book titled We're in this Together: Public-Private Partnerships in Special and At-Risk Education. The book scheduled to be released in June 2015, explores the benefits of public schools partnering with private education companies, and how the two entities can work together to better educate at-risk and special needs students. The book is meant to dispel the many myths and other negative stigma associated with public-private partnerships, and it points to many successful examples of public-private partnerships in use by states today.

Mark Claypool conversed with Education Update about the concept for the book and why thebook will educate parents, schools, and teachers about special needs students. 

Education Update (EU): How were you able to meld education and business to help studentswith special needs?

Mark Claypool (MC): I wanted this to be a book for the private sector, as well those responsible for designing our public educational system.  The idea of putting business and education together is at the very core of the position we take, and we use the book to present solid research and results around our argument in favor of public education and private business working hand-in-hand to invest in our youth.      

EU: How do you think this book will help parents, schools, and others who are advocates for education when there's so much going on with schools? How would this book be an excellent resource for anyone in the education field? 

MC:  To me, the greatest value of the book is that it helps to create a dialogue around the idea that business and education do not need to be opposed to each other. The partnership between the two is much more powerful than each on its own. No matter how big your role in the public school district, there's no way you can do it by yourself.  In our opinion, you should see yourself as a journalist with a "beat" or a primary care physician who consults a specialist. If I go to my general practitioner and I say my knee hurts, he's probably going to refer me to a specialist. The reaction that public schools sometimes have is "I should do this by myself because I'm your doctor and I should be taking care all of your problems." It's not a sustainable way for public district schools to operate. We're hoping that this book will promote a dialogue where superintendents, school board members, teachers, and principals will be much more comfortable asking help from specialists like Educational Services of America (ESA) and other businesses. 

EU: How do you plan to promote the book to schools and students with special needs? Are you catering to states and countries that are mostly populated with students with special needs? 

MC: We will be attending superintendent conferences, teachers' conferences and will be speaking to healthcare organizations because we know that both healthcare and education are important to special needs students. We're really trying to bring people together since our society is generally very isolated around this issue. Healthcare, police officers, and teachers are working with the same child but they are not working together. So again, it's all about bringing people together. We need to have a common language about bringing life into these kids and that's how we will promote it. 

EU: Tell us more about your educational company, ESA (Educational Services of America).

MC:  I was a social worker, but became disillusioned with the job when I observed how many kids were being moved around to different homes and different schools and not getting an appropriate education. It was an unhealthy environment for both the kids and parents. We started the company in 1999 with a focus on kids that typically tend to get "left-behind," like special needs, foster and at-risk youth. ESA believes that all children have the right to an education and should remain hopeful because their future can be better than their past. But in order for them to do that, they will have to modify their behaviors and learn to be productive members of society, and that is where we can help. We have students with autism, learning disabilities and mental health issues, and we have a lot of students who are in terrible situations because of their home-lives or upbringing. It's just too hard for them to get out and attend atraditional school, preventing them from graduating and then moving on into the workforce. Weprovide a big safety net of achievement for all of these kids so they can have a nurturing place to focus and meet their potential. ESA will help them move on to the next stage of their lives and contribute to society. We know we are making impact because of the numbers of students we work with who are graduating with a high school degree and going on to lead successful lives.

EU: What are you planning to achieve as an author and educational leader once the book is officially launched in June?

MC: My goal always is to serve more children every day, and that's how we start our day around here. We try to figure out how to reach out to more kids, more schools and more educational programs. At the end of the day, I hope by exposing our story and the issues that exist we can break down some barriers and reach more kids and families. There is a great need for this approach in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. You just can't wait around for years and expect that when at-risk students are in the 11th or 12th grade they will suddenly learn how to learn. Our education system should have the biggest possible toolbox to serve the needs of all kinds of students.

MTC has been in business for over 15 years and operates as an educational and therapeutic agency contracted with NYS/NYC DOE. MTC has been a NYS approved provider for the SEIT program since 2005. MTC is located in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, NY.

Because of the expansion of our business and increasing work load, we're looking for NYS licensed supervisors to professionally support our teachers who are teaching preschoolers with special needs all over NYC. The supervisory work will be mostly in the office but the supervisor will be expected to visit their teachers in the field, at minimum, once a year and then as needed. The schedule will be flexible in order to accomodate the candidates' availability.

Interested parties should email their resumes to mtcinfo@mtcnyc.com or fax to (718) 732-2682.

Homage to Dr. Polemeni





February 1, 1935 - May 22, 2014

Former Vice President and Dean, Touro College Division of Graduate Studies

To inaugurate the


TUESDAY, MAY 12, 2015 • 5:30 PM


Dr. Anthony J. Polemeni was a beloved member of the senior leadership of Touro College. He was an outstanding educator and a leader in the field for nearly four decades. During his tenure, Touro's Graduate School of Education became one of the largest in New York State. Join us as we pay tribute to his outstanding legacy.

TO RSVP, PLEASE EMAIL COMMUNITY@TOURO.EDU OR CALL 212-463-0400, EXT. 5203.  Reception following program.

A Tribute Book of fond memories of Dr. Polemeni is being created. Please send your stories, thoughts and memories of Dr. Polemeni to: community@touro.edu

On April 17 Mercy College President Tim Hall will be inaugurated as the College's twelfth president. The Inauguration will mark the official beginning of Hall's presidency, and celebrate the time he has already spent in office.

On joining and leading Mercy College, Hall said: "From the start I was attracted to the Mercy College mission of "providing motivated students the opportunity to transform their lives through higher education." Now I am committed to it. I believe a college education is about more than accumulating credits, or even preparing for a good job, it's about transforming a life."

Since arriving on campus Hall has been working to enhance the College's tradition of a "high touch" educational experience for students, an experience in which they are showered with individual attention. Hall often quotes John Henry Newman who described a university as: "An alma mater, knowing her children one by one, not a foundry, or a mint, or a treadmill."

Hall said: "I want to make sure that Mercy continues the tradition of knowing her students "one by one." I also want to ensure that we create conditions that support the success of our students. It isn't enough to get them to college - we need to get them through college and to graduation day."

By Merri Rosenberg

There is no shortage of memoirs about the complicated, fraught and often tragic experiences of European Jews from the middle of the 20th century. For most of us here in the United States, and specifically in the New York metropolitan area, that ongoing wave of Eastern European migration formed and continues to inform the culture and fabric not only of Jewish life here, but New York itself.

Less common, however, is a sense of what happened to our Sephardic cousins, especially those who lived in Middle Eastern Arab lands. There is the brilliant and compelling work by Lucette Lagnado and Andre Aciman, of course, but Ashkenazi dominance mostly holds sway.

A welcome addition to offering another look at Jewish diversity comes in this   self-published memoir by Lucienne Carasso.

She grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, during a relatively privileged moment for the city's Jewish community--at least for a while--surrounded by a large, extended family of aunts, uncles and cousin. As Carasso explains, "I decided to write my memoirs to capture the history of my family's sojourn in the land of Egypt. Like the ancient Hebrews, our sojourn was ended by the exodus of an entire community....I also felt it important to try to put my family's experience in the context of Egypt's political history," a task that perhaps took on greater urgency given recent events in Egypt.

Her family's century-long experience in the cultured, vibrant, supremely cosmopolitan city of Alexandria ended in November 1956, during the Suez Canal crisis, when her father was arrested by Gamal Abdel Nasser's government. That traumatic experience shattered what the author writes was "an ideal childhood," filled with strolls along the beautiful Mediterranean beaches, games, parties, family dinners and holiday celebrations. Carasso also evokes the specific traditions of Egyptian Judaism, and the Ladino customs and sayings that defined her universe.  

"The world of my childhood is a lost one that in all probability will never be recreated," admits Carasso. Thanks to her painstaking depiction of that vanished world, readers can immerse themselves in that evocative, exotic society.

Dale Lewis: Onward and Upward


By Joan Baum, Ph.D.

 When Dale Lewis says that the mantra that's guided his life's work in music education is teach with love, you can believe it because that passion has been on remarkable display for the 32 years he's been inaugurating, enhancing and expanding arts education programs for children and teachers at one of the most celebrated summer arts day camps in the country, the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, in Wheatley Heights, Long Island.  But after this summer, the esteemed director will be stepping down, leaving an extraordinary legacy of innovative curricular achievement and facilities expansion on the camp's 200 woodland acres. He'll be taking his skills in fundraising and collaboration to the new ArtsReach Fund of the Long Island Community Foundation, seeing the move as a time for Usdan to address new needs and giving himself a new opportunity to "start and define" arts outreach primarily for talented kids in need so that they will be able to go from high school to college or conservatories and maybe think about becoming arts teachers. Hardly severing ties with Usdan, however, which will always have his heart, Lewis will still participate in its Leadership Council and perhaps find himself working collegially with former colleagues as he pursues new challenges. 

 The ArtsReach Fund is a division of the Long Island Community Foundation, a non profit based in Melville, itself a division of The New York Community Trust, "one of the nation's oldest and largest community foundations" which is devoted to connecting donors with charitable organizations and encouraging the addressing of regional needs. For Lewis, no need could be greater than encouraging young people to appreciate the arts by way of having inspirational teachers.  He has always held that "all children deserve access to great teaching" and that "study in the arts enriches the spirit and leads to the arts as a companion for life." The Usdan mission, he points out, is to "provide opportunities for children [of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin] to develop artistic skills, regardless of their level of talent." Interest is primary. The mission at LICF will be arts specific and will focus on raising funds and partnering with funding agencies to support smaller, more intimate organizations and extend the circle of grants. In some cases, Lewis notes, smaller organizations may be led by admired artists who would prefer not to have to be enmeshed in administrative activities. At LICF Lewis will be working with local public school districts, some of whose supervisors he already knows. He says that people don't generally realize that many musically talented high school youngsters come from families that cannot afford to send their children even to auditions and not take advantage of private lessons that would prepare kids for auditions and make them competitive. 

A former Suzuki teacher, Lewis believes in introducing young children - but not too young - to experiences that emphasize "movement, singing and fun," and, of course, engaging parents.  He takes a similar humane and moderating line on Common Core content and skills and technological teaching aids, seeing the common goal in the arts as inculcating learning that will generate independent, creative youngsters who truly "love" what they do. Lewis came to the arts early in his life, encouraged by his mother, a pianist and singer, who took him to the Leonard Bernstein Young People's Concerts. He fell in love with cello, making his performance debut at Carnegie Recital Hall at the age of twelve  and attended Scarsdale High School which had (and has) a fine music program. From there he went to Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, studying cello and conducting, and from 1969-1976 was the cellist of the Alberg Trio.  He started at Usdan as Assistant Director and then in 1983, became Director. Among numerous prestigious appointments, his work with young people stands out. He founded the Center for Chamber Music in Greenwich, CT, an arts education program for children and adults, and taught at Rye Country Day and the College of New Rochelle.  In 1976 he was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the Westchester Junior Orchestra and led the group for 18 years, winning many national awards from education and music organizations.  


By Jayme Stewart and Janet Rooney

Restless leg tapping, chewing on thumbnails, nervous twitching-these are all symptoms of the weary and worried  students about to apply for colleges, but they need not fear; the College Guidance Program here at York helps students to become more independent and grown up through this dynamic and detailed process starting in their junior year.

"The college guidance class helps kids to start thinking about the process. The next four years is a $200,000 +/- investment, so it's an important thing to start researching and shop wisely.

Mrs. Stewart and Ms. Rooney (our College Guidance counselors) feel strongly that the student is the "client," meaning that the student should register for standardized tests, fill out their application, make appointments and learn to schedule interviews. Too much parent involvement can create more stress and lack of independence they will greatly need in college and life.

"I think the College Guidance Program really helps the students understand where they fit in outside of York Prep and in the world-who they're competing against for acceptances. It also helps them understand their level of writing, and motivate them to work harder."

As Ms. Rooney explained, the success stories that everyone expects to hear are not about the kids who have been accepted into Harvard or other Ivy League schools- though yes, they've accomplished this as well-rather it is about the students who find their match at a college that suits their needs, preferences, and the choices they want to pursue later in life in the outside world.

Students who wish to function and socially integrate in the outside world shouldn't be afraid if they have a quirky learning style, rather it is these types of children who tend to work harder than other students and lead them to great academic success. For the younger students in the 9th and 10th grades, at the present moment it is imperative they focus on good grades on being involved in the community, so that college understand they will be involved in their community.

Other importance factors include a sense of reality-knowing about the other students applying to the same colleges, actual GPA and SAT/ACT scores, and so on. Naviance, a sometimes useful tool, can help with its' scattergrams of admissions statistics. Even though many students are frequently bombarded with stress and anxiety from other students and parents about getting into a good college, the anxiety and the stress is generally unnecessary. A good college is all about the match, not about where the student can get in. So, as the title suggests, if your parents are stressing you out, "just buy the Harvard bumper sticker" for your car and move on. #

Jayme Stewart and Janet Rooney are co-directors of the College Guidance Program at York Prep.

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