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  • June 11, 2014 2:50 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    The End Game is Learning – Not Reading

    Guest post by  Laurie O'Hara

    My son, AJ, is severely dyslexic and loves to learn. He consumes all he can from the internet and audio books. He is literate and can read, but not at his grade level and not with any joy. That’s OK though. In our home, we do not force reading. Rather, we encourage learning and the acquisition of knowledge. To us, the channel the learning is delivered to AJ is not important, but that knowledge is acquired and learning happens.  In our home, learning happens in abundance and AJ teaches us something new every day before breakfast.

    Years ago, when AJ was in first grade (for two years), he struggled with reading and we were constantly told that he would catch up; that it was a developmental lag; that boys learn later; to wait and see.  All those responses to legitimate concerns are stalling the inevitable diagnosis of dyslexia. But why?  The worst advice you can accept is ‘wait and see’ because that allows the frustration to continue, despair to set in and self-esteem to plummet. Being proactive about getting a child tested is how parents need to go – and sometimes with assertive advocacy. It is the parents’ rights to have their children tested when there is reason for concern. In our case, reading at the first grade level for three years was adequate concern.

    PEN (Parents Education Network) has been a fabulous source of education for me on my son’s learning disabilities and how to best guide him through his education. I enjoy their forums, panels, and workshops. They have been such a lifesaver, when I felt despair not knowing where to go for the right tools or how to navigate the education system. I have been to EdRev in San Francisco for years and thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie and always learn something new and fascinating about dyslexia. I’m happy to say that AJ is proud of his dyslexia and all the gifts that come with the dyslexic brain. Now we simply have a sense of humor with his spelling mistakes and reading errors.

    Laurie and AJ's book, 'Why Can't I Read?' tells AJ's story about how he struggled with reading and how he's come to deal with his learning disability. Laurie says: "It's the book we wish we could've read when we were confused and frustrated with his reading challenges." It is available on Amazon.

    This is a book about one boy's struggle with dyslexia. It is told from the child's perspective to help other children and their parents understand and deal with the frustrations, shame, and despair of not being able to read, to ultimately overcome the obstacles to reading, and become proud of the fascinating dyslexic brain. This book should be read by children, parents, teachers, and anyone who has a loved one struggling with a learning disability. It's a story of resilience, pride and hope

  • June 09, 2014 9:51 AM | PEN (Administrator)

    Dear PEN Members and Supporters:

    As our 11th year draws to a close, I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all of you on behalf of PEN. Your support made possible another year of exciting advances in the movement to understand how we can move toward supporting all students in the classroom.

    Among our accomplishments this year were:

    • Affiliates: we helped local groups of parents to launch three PEN Affiliates, in Sacramento, Silicon Valley and Phoenix, AZ. PEN is going national!
    • Speaker Series: back in San Francisco, we presented 10 Speaker Series events to over 1,000 attendees, on subjects such as LD rights in college, nonverbal learning disabilities, executive function, assistive technology and resilience
    • Professional Development: hosted two Professional Development workshops for educators, on “The Whole-Brain Child” and Executive Function
    • Early Childhood: held two early childhood education presentations on early literacy, for parents and for educators
    • Parent Meeting:  our parent meeting at the start of the school year provided a forum for parents to connect with and support each other
    • SAFE: monthly meetings and other activities for students continued in San Francisco and in the newer Silicon Valley branch of SAFE

    This year culminated in another transformative, celebratory day at EdRev 2014: Step into a New Era of Learning, where we welcomed back our first ever keynote speaker, Jonathan Mooney, for a rousing speech on the future of education, and hosted:

    • over 120 exhibitors (the most ever!)
    • yet another fabulous Student Art Show
    • a range of 14 workshops
    • Student Celebration
    • 2,000+ attendees from around the Bay Area and all over the country
    • attendees from HI, MA, WI, AZ, NY

    The level of excitement and engagement at EdRev was greater than ever this year, as this event continued to grow as a gathering place for a national movement.

    These advances can only take place with the dedication of supporters like you. Once again, we thank you, and wish you all a rejuvenating summer. I hope this time of year provides the opportunity for you and your kids to spend time together and appreciate their gifts, their passions and their amazing potential.

    Sincerely,
    Laura Maloney
    Executive Director

  • June 06, 2014 3:45 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    Tutor Corps is currently hiring for two homeschooling opportunities. Both positions require candidates to have a background working with students with learning differences. See full details on the flyer here.
  • June 04, 2014 11:21 AM | PEN (Administrator)

    Dear Fellow Members,

    Thank you to all of you who make PEN an effective organization year after year.  Without you we could never accomplish our goals of changing lives for families of kids with learning differences. We need your help now more than ever.

    Now in our 11th year, and on the verge of becoming a national organization, we are seeking new ideas and experience at the board and committee level, as these are the people who continue to provide direction and policy to our programs.

    Claudia Koochek, head of the Charles Armstrong School, and I are leading the effort to add to our committees and Board. We are looking for volunteers from both CAS transitioning parents and from PEN membership who are willing and able to commit their time in one of the following areas:

    Human Resources;  governance/board development; marketing skills such as branding, outreach, PR; and fundraising and event planning.

    If you have experience and interest in volunteering in any of the areas of expertise above, we would love for you to contact one of us.

    Claudia: ckoochek@charlesarmstrong.org

    Dewey: deweyrosetti@gmail.com

    Gratefully,

    Dewey Rosetti
    PEN Founder

  • May 20, 2014 5:52 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    Congratulations to all the EdRev 2014 Art Contest Winners, and all the wonderful artists who participated!

     
     After All, We’re Not Savages
    (click for full size)

    Artist's Statement: I recreated the scene of Simon's death from William Golding's Lord of the Flies using miniature animals. I then photographed and digitally enhanced the image.In this violent and gripping scene, the boys are symbolized through these animals to show their transition to an animalistic and savage lifestyle on the island, and their primitive interactions with each other. The innocence of these small animals, juxtaposed with the harsh, brutal atmosphere from Lord of the Flies, reflects the strong contrast between age and action in the book, and the shock the reader feels when these young boys turn against each other.
    1st Place Visual Art
    Artist: Emma Waldspurger
    Title:“After All, We’re Not Savages”
    School: Gunn High School
    Grade: 10
    Artist Statement:

    2nd Place Visual Art
    Artist: Leah Paxon
    Title: “Mental Oriental”
    School: Bayhill High School
    Grade: 11

    1st Place Written Word
    Artist: Patrick Martin
    Title: “Questions”
    School: Commodore Sloat
    Grade: 5

    2nd Place Written Word
    Artist: Chris Kelly
    Title: “Rush”
    School: Sterne School
    Grade: 12

    1st Place Video
    Artist: Nicholas Santiago
    Title: “The Last One”
    School: Our Lady of Mercy
    Grade: 4

    2nd Place Video
    Artist: Dylan Rivers
    Title: “Project Z”
    School: Stern
    Grade: 7

    1st Place Music
    Artist: Alexi Dobrov
    Title: “Heading Down South”
    School: Stern School
    Grade: 8

    2nd Place Music
    Artist: Stephanie Woodford
    Title: “Little Piano Trio”
    School: St Ignatius College Prep
    Grade: 11

    1st Place Learning Differently
    Artist: Jimmy Reidy
    Title: “Super Dyslexia”
    School: St. Gabriel
    Grade: 2

    2nd Place Learning Differently
    Artist: Esti Smith
    Title: “Learning Difference”
    School: Charles Armstrong
    Grade: 3

  • May 20, 2014 4:19 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    This year at EdRev-Up 2014 we were excited to have a record-breaking 3 community projects that the students worked on. By offering a variety of projects for students to work on we hoped to encourage two forms of activism: visual and vocal. We wanted every student to feel they have a place in this community and feel comfortable participating in ways that suit them best.

    1. VISUAL

    First, we were honored to work with Precita Eyes, a community-based mural arts organization located in the Mission District of San Franciso, which seeks to educate communities locally and internationally about the process and the history of public community mural art. 

    At EdRev-Up, the students created two community mural based on how they view the current education system and their vision for the future of education – two opposing worlds.

    SAFE SAFE
    1. VOCAL

    This year we brought back an art project that had great success at EdRev-Up in the past. We believe that through EdRev-Up and EdRev we build a social movement to give students a voice to change the future of education. Therefore, we wanted to find a way to share the history of social movement building with the students while encouraging a modern perspective. What better way than to reinvent and use a tool immortalized by social movements thoughout history--the soapbox? Students decorated soapboxes with messages of empowerment and change, then used this platform to express their own visions for the future of education as modern-day social activists. You might have seen this at being demonstrated at EdRev. 

    1. CELEBRATE!

    Lastly, we led a march down The Embarcadero to spread awareness about learning and attention differences. With this march, we ended our day of empowerment by spreading the message of change and our vision of education for the future.

    Photo of EdRev-Up Student March

    EdRev-Up always proves to be an inspiring day for the students and educators that attend. Please contact info@studentadvisors.org if you would like your school or your child’s school to participate next year.

  • April 22, 2014 10:41 AM | PEN (Administrator)

    It was 2010, I was stuck in a hole full of doubt and negativity. I was running out of steam to push on. I thought that my classmates had something that I didn't have, they seemed to have the capacity for success and I didn’t. Deep down inside I had a slight feeling that there was a spark. But so far there had been nothing to ignite it, and therefore it was invisible.

    This is how I felt, until I first was brought to EdRev. I walked into the conference with a layer of self-doubt, a fog which lifted during the time I was at the conference listening to amazing speakers. It was that day that I found that spark i knew was inside of me, I got a burst of energy and inspiration. As I watched the speakers, my eyes lit up, my heart filled up with hope and I felt the inner spark of energy ignited; it was at that point when I crossed a tremendous threshold.

    As I heard the voices of people like of Jonathan Mooney and other students who had already had their inner spark ignited, I was inspired. These people understood their own learning profiles, had the knowledge of their strengths and challenges and therefore were able to disregarded their disability and turned it into their strongest asset. I was truly blown away by the manner in which this community collaborated and were intent on making a difference, questioning the ways of current education, and proclaiming that a change is in store for the future. It was at that point where I hopped on the train of difference makers and decided to join in. I continued to grow my thinking rapidly and the flicker inside me turned into a raging fire as I became one of those who inspired me; able to confidently advocate for how I learn.

    Over these four years EdRev has grown tremendously, new thoughts have been sparked, more students have become inspired, and how we perceive education is changing. More and more renowned intellectuals have come to share their ideas at EdRev. Now we are embarking on Education Revolution 2014. This year we look to break through barriers and reimagine the possibility of what education can really be. We are now entering a new era as we write a new chapter of the education system. We continue to explore ways in which we can grab hold of the ever growing and changing world of technology, how we can harness these technologies and create a bridge from the them to the consumers and users - the students. It is worth investigating how we can improve classrooms, and learning environments to make them as effective as possible.

    As we take our place in the revolution we continue to loudly express our voices, to advocate the learning rights of those with learning challenges. It is time to advocate for the assets of those who learn differently. It is crucial to know that though dyslexia or ADHD may be titled a disability it gives one the ability to succeed. At EdRev we look to learn more strategies to harness the positives out of our disabilities. This time, the journey we are embarking on is crucial and can dictate the future for a long time to come. While other aspects of our society are rapidly changing, the education system is slow to change. That is until now. It’s about time we make some change. I urge you all to come and take place in the learning revolution, on May 3rd at AT&T - www.EdRevSF.org.  Or participate virtually by tweeting #EdRev.  It is too important to miss. I look forward to seeing you this coming May!!

    Warm Regards,
    Ben Gurewitz
    16 years old - Dyslexic, dysgraphic, and slow processor

  • April 03, 2014 4:06 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    We had the pleasure of meeting BeeLine Reader founder, Nick Lum, last weekend at the Celebrate Dyslexia event. Nick would be interested in hearing your feedback on his new reading tool.

    BeeLine Reader is a new reading tool that uses eye-guiding color gradients to make reading easier and fasterundefinedespecially for readers with dyslexia, vision issues, or attention issues. The color gradients help the reader move from one line to the next without skipping or repeating lines, and they also improve focus for many readers.

    BeeLine offers a self-diagnostic tool, as well as browser plugins and a PDF converter. The user can select from several predefined color schemes, or he can create a custom color scheme in the settings. All of BeeLine's tools are completely free, and they work on Mac/PC (some work on tablets also).

    BeeLine would love to hear your feedback, and you can email the founder directly (nick@BeeLineReader.com) with any comments or questions.
  • March 19, 2014 10:53 AM | PEN (Administrator)

    Saint Mark’s School
    Independent, Nonreligious, Coeducational K-8
    K-4 Learning Specialist
    Full-time Position Beginning July 2014

    Saint Mark’s seeks an experienced and collaborative Learning Specialist for grades K-4.  The Learning Specialist is responsible for providing academic support services and case management for students in Kindergarten through Fourth Grade.  He or she reports to the Lower School head and works closely with the Upper School head, Upper School learning specialist, school counselor, classroom teachers, and parents to facilitate consistent support and thoughtful transitions from one grade to the next.  He or she will conduct initial and ongoing screenings of students, recommend intervention, provide pull-out and push-in student support, and coordinate outside support services when necessary.  In addition to student support, the Learning Specialist is responsible for helping to keep the Lower School faculty current on best practices in the area of learning differences and supporting the diverse needs of students.  He or she recommends professional development opportunities to faculty, provides in-house professional development, conducts class observations, and meets with teachers to help implement recommendations and accommodations for students.

    Saint Mark’s School is an independent, nonreligious, coeducational K-8 school located in the Bay Area in San Rafael, CA, with an enrollment of 380 students.  Innovative, inclusive, and full of heart, Saint Mark's unites an enriched, rigorous academic program with a kind and inclusive community.  The school nurtures a love of learning, engagement in the community, and development of compassion and an ethical framework.  Students learn and practice the intellectual, social, and emotional skills they will apply to the unique challenges and opportunities of their time; graduates stand out not only for their intellectual curiosity and pursuit of ideas, but also for their joy of learning and deep sense of responsibility to be active, engaged citizens. 

    Saint Mark’s has established a consistent practice of thoughtful innovation in its curricular program, focusing on current century skills and concepts including four cross-curricular strands:  Global Education, Media and Information Literacy, Environmental Sustainability, and Social and Emotional Learning.  Highlights include the NAIS Leading Edge Award-winning Media Literacy program; well-established local and global partnerships with the Canal Alliance of San Rafael, eSibonisweni School and Kliptown Youth Program in South Africa, and Beijing Experimental Primary School #2 in China, and Pan American School in Costa Rica, among others; SmartBoard technology in every classroom, with a one-to-one laptop program beginning in sixth grade; Mandarin and Spanish language beginning in kindergarten; an integrated Social and Emotional Learning program; a commitment to differentiation across the school; and more.

    Saint Mark’s is a vibrant and diverse community, and all community members continue to work towards the furthering of an inclusive and supportive school.  Saint Mark’s is an equal opportunity employer committed to excellence through diversity and multiculturalism.  Saint Mark’s salary and benefits are very competitive by both NAIS and regional standards.  For more information about Saint Mark’s School, please visit our website (www.saintmarksschool.org).

    Interested candidates should send a letter of interest and resume via email to Thad Reichley, Lower School Director, at (lsresumes@saintmarksschool.org).

  • March 05, 2014 5:58 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    Star of the Sea Preschool, located in the Richmond District of San Francisco, is a Catholic multi-age pre-primary program inspired by the principals and methodology of Maria Montessori. Our Preschool currently has an opening for a Director, a practicing Catholic, preferably with Montessori teaching and administrative experience. This year round, full time position will start July 1, 2014.

    We seek an individual who will manage the Preschool program’s State of California licensing requirements, guide the Montessori curriculum and teaching staff, as well as bring talents and interests that coordinate well with the Elementary and Parish communities. The Preschool program operates on a ten-month calendar with a four to six week optional summer program and is open daily from 8am to 6pm. We offer a competitive salary and full benefits through the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

    For more information go to: http://www.staroftheseasf.com/preschool-director/

    Please send resume and statement of qualifications to:
    Terrence Hanley preschool@staroftheseasf.com

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Parents Education Network (PEN), 6050 Geary Blvd., Ste. 101A, San Francisco, CA 94121    Phone: (415) 751-2237

PEN is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, federal tax ID# 43-2008436.

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