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Parent Speaker Series features adolescence experts

Parents, educators and children have faced many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 officials hope a virtual parent speaker series can help adults navigate the social and emotional issues that children have been facing.

The programs, led by leading experts in positive youth development, are designed to provide information on critical issues that impact the health, safety, and well-being of families. Topics include: teaching resilience, traits that set high-performing kids apart, conflict resolution, coping with the stress of isolation, among others.

“We’ve hired top-quality presenters to lead these discussions for parents and school staff,” said Connee Meschini, student assistance counselor at Woodstock and Woodstock North high schools. “Our goal is to provide practical, innovative content to help build stronger families and communities.” 

The programs, all of which will be virtually delivered via Zoom, are offered free of charge; no registration is required and all inside and outside of District 200 are welcome. Public, private, parochial, homeschooling parents, caregivers, school staff and professionals are welcome to attend.

Funding for the speakers was provided by the Cebrin Goodman Center, a Chicago-based foundation committed to several initiatives related to issues affecting young people.

Two of the presentations, about building resilience and teachable traits for high-performing kids will be presented in English. Two others, about managing the COVID-19 crisis in our homes and helping children with emotional stress and social anxiety will be presented in Spanish.

“This series is a way for us to continue providing resources and support for parents and students in a safe, virtual environment that helps them navigate the pandemic and anxiety, stress, and emotional toll associated with it,” said Carla Carbajal, Woodstock High School counselor. “We're excited to offer sessions in both English and Spanish so that families have the option to join sessions in their preferred language.”

The following is a brief synopsis of the speakers and their presentations. More detailed information and Zoom links can be found at 

  • Dr. Ken Ginsburg: Building Resilience in Uncertain Times” will be held from 7-8:30 p.m Feb. 18. Ginsburg is a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at Children's hospital in Philadelphia, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the co-founder and Director of Programs at the Center for Parent and Teen Communications.  
  • Dr. Ferney Ramírez: “You, Your Child and the School ... How to Positively Manage the Crisis We are Living at Home” will be presented in Spanish from 7-8:30 p.m. on March 4. Ramirez is a Psychologist who coordinates programs for families in Chicago and various Illinois school districts, and is the author of 10 mental health publications. He is President of the Family First Organization, and has extensive experience in clinical psychology, couples therapy, and family counseling. Ramirez will also conduct a second presentation in Spanish: “How to Help Children with Emotional Stress, Desperation, and Social Anxiety in These Times of Chaos,” will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on April 28. 
  • Dr. Michele Borba: “Seven Teachable Traits that Set Happy High Performing Kids Apart and Help them Thrive” will be presented from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on March 18. Borba is an internationally renowned educator, award-winning author, and parenting child expert recognized for her solution-based strategies to strengthen children’s empathy, social-emotional intelligence and character, and reduce peer cruelty. She is a frequent national news contributor who has appeared on programs, including Dateline, NBC Nightly News, Anderson Cooper and MSNBC and is the author of  “Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine.”