2019 Ellis Lecture on Trends in Children's Wellbeing
On Tuesday, March 26, Nashoba Brooks School hosted its annual 2019 Ellis Lecture on the topic of Trends in Children’s Wellbeing.
Distinguished panelists included Dr. David Gleason, Dr. Rachel Kramer, and Susan Ryan, MSW, all parents of Nashoba Brooks alumni and experts in the field of child and adolescent psychology.
Before introducing the “all-star lineup,” Head of School Danielle Heard paused to remember Pat Ellis, who served as the head of Nashoba Brooks School from 1972-1992. Inspired by her work, wisdom, energy, and vision, Danielle reflected upon Pat’s time at the School, her enduring legacy, and her belief in the power of education to make a better world.
Each panelist shared insights into the health and wellbeing of young people today and offered practical strategies that could lead to positive and healthy outcomes. Trends noted include the rise in anxiety and depression among our young people; the unrealistic standards of perfection placed on today’s children; and the impact of technology on young people and families.
Sue Ryan described how parents and teachers can help children feel safe by helping them identify and experience their feelings, even negative ones. Parental modeling, she suggested, is also important. “Our children are watching us and they can feel when we are spinning out or are stressed. If you feel out of breath, our kids may feel the same way,” said Ryan.
Ryan also reminded us that mindfulness and breathing through hard feelings can help kids regulate their emotions and feel like they are back in charge. With older children, Ryan suggested moving away from building self-esteem and focusing instead on self-compassion and builds resilience.
Her final words of advice for the for everyone in the room, “slow down,” was met with much nodding from members of the audience .
Dr. David Gleason, author of At What Cost?,has extensively researched and written about the increase of anxiety and depression in competitive high schools, including the dangerous manifestations of substance abuse, eating disorders, self-injury, and suicide. He noted that “much of the pressure kids feel in secondary schools, starts way earlier.”
Gleason stated that children born between the years of 1995-2012 will find themselves in the midst of the “most dangerous mental health crisis in decades.” Kids are pushed to levels that are dangerous. We see increasing rates of suicide as well as eating disorders and an over emphasis on the college process. He reminds us that educators and parents, while committed to educating their students in healthy, safe, and balanced ways, also need to be mindful of overscheduling, overworking, and expecting kids to act like adults long before they are ready.
Pediatric psychologist Rachel Kramer—who refers to herself as a “problem solving doctor” with her young patients—does not see the uptick in psychological disorders linked to one trigger or events. Instead, she observes a pattern that appears to be rooted in the collective impact of stressors associated with how we are living today versus a singular event.
Kramer focused on the ways that electronic communications impact families and children, including brain development, concentration, and social communication skills. In an age of 24/7 communication, parents need to be mindful of what children are exposed to, including messages parents are sending with their own electronic habits.
Parents can reclaim the conversation with kids by setting clear limits and rules (i.e. no electronics at the table or one hour before bed, etc.). She offered advice on how to teach children the best ways to manage distraction and become proactive problem solvers. The use of gratitude journals and mindfulness meditation (what she calls a “personal superpower”) can help bring calm reactions and build/maintain connections.
Dr. Kramer’s parting words to parents and employees were simple: “Be the thermostat, not the thermometer.” To support children in learning to manage stress, adults can help to read and regulate emotion as a thermostat does, without rising in emotion as a thermometer does.
Nashoba Brooks School thanks our speakers for this enriching and enlightening conversation and for their participation in the 2019 Ellis Lecture.
Rachel Simmons, best-selling author of Enough As She Is and Odd Girl Out, visited Nashoba Brooks School on Thursday night, February 7, for a raw and candid conversation on the challenges and mounting pressures facing adolescent girls and young women today.
The magnificent and colorful works of shark art lining the hallways of Grade 3 (a project led by art teacher Kara Angeloni-Williams) gives only a brief, but artistic, glimpse into all that transpired in a two-month unit of study on sharks.
In October 2017, Nashoba Brooks Alum Meghan Spring (‘90) became the youngest appointed judge in Massachusetts after Governor Charlie Baker nominated her to serve as Associate Justice in the Middlesex Probate and Family Court.
Culminating their integrated classroom unit on nighttime, Kindergarten students and their families gathered at Nashoba Brooks School for Kindergarten Night Magic, a beloved decades-long School tradition and an important part of the Kindergarten curriculum.
by Meredith Gannon, Grade 4 homeroom and humanities teacher
In all aspects of our children’s lives, we want them to engage in new experiences. Our hope is that children will grasp new opportunities, build connections with peers and mentors, and diversify their skill sets. However, taking that first step is challenging.
Grade 2 students took a field trip to Gaining Ground in October. Gaining Ground is a non-profit organic farm in Concord that grows vegetables and fruit, with the help of community volunteers, for people in need.
Internationally recognized thought leader in K-12 education Grant Lichtman visited campus for the day to share his insights into today’s evolving K-12 landscape, addressing how parents and educators can support our students through change and innovation to best prepare for the future.
Grade 4 students visited the Google office in Cambridge on April 27. Led by Grade 4 teachers Laura Lande and Meredith Gannon and Science teacher Kelly Western, the excursion entailed meeting with a panel of Google software engineers working on Search, YouTube, Android, and corporate infrastructure.
It was an elegant evening of celebration for the Nashoba Brooks School community at the 2018 Spring Soirée: Champagne and Silhouettes on Saturday, April 28. More than 200 guests—including current and past parents, alumni, employees, member of the Board of Trustees and Board of Visitors—arrived in style to raise a glass to the many successes the School community enjoyed this year.
Thanks to the very generous support of a thoughtful donor, Nashoba Brooks School will be adding a fantastic new play structure to the Middle School outdoor space this spring. The climbing dome was designed specifically to promote and support inclusive engagement for students in Grades 4-8.
On Tuesday, April 3, Nashoba Brooks School hosted its annual Ellis Lecture with guest speaker Jerry Ward, Headmaster at The Fenn School. Jerry addressed School employees and recounted lessons learned during his long and distinguished career in education and two and a half decades at Fenn. His words shed light on the education of boys, the shared missions of both institutions, and the contributions of his wife Lorraine--his partner in life and at Fenn--who passed away last year.
On Saturday, February 24, Nashoba Brooks School joined members of The Robbins House to facilitate a powerful conversation with university students in the Rwandan group Resonate, an organization that strives to unlock the leadership potential of women and girls through confidence building workshops and storytelling.
Nashoba Brooks School welcomed current and prospective families as well as friends in the community for a festive roster of activities during Winter Weekend 2018: Friday, January 26 through Sunday, January 28.
Nashoba Brooks Middle School students participated in the the annual Collect and Sort for Cradles to Crayons at Nashoba Brooks School on Saturday, November 18. The event, organized and promoted by our fifth graders, was a huge success--and will provide needed items to more than 600 children in the Boson area.
On October 10, the School Safety committee welcomed current parents to a meeting on School Safety, which included a presentation by Michele Gay, Co-founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound: A Sandy Hook Initiative.
On Friday, June 2, Massachusetts State Representatives Kay Kahn and Cory Atkins joined with representatives from C-SPAN and Comcast in celebrating Nashoba Brooks' six winning teams in the 2017 Middle School C-SPAN StudentCam documentary competition.
Cathy Bass, Nashoba Brooks School’s Library and Transliteracy Integration Specialist, has been awarded a grant to participate in a National Endowment for Humanities workshop focusing on the artistic expressions of the Gullah.
C-SPAN has announced that Lauren Funk, Nashoba Brooks School’s Grades 7-8 Social Studies teacher and Grade 6-8 Team Leader, is one of 30 educators from across the nation selected to attend C-SPAN Classroom’s 2016 Educators’ Conference in Washington, DC, July 11-12, 2016.
Jake Davey, a Grade 3 teacher at Nashoba Brooks School, has been awarded a Klingenstein Summer Institute Fellowship for 2016. The Klingenstein Center is part of Teachers College at Columbia University.
The first of this year’s graduations was joyfully celebrated this morning when teachers, administrators, parents, relatives, and friends gathered to honor the 27 members of Nashoba Brooks School’s third grade.