Parents Education Network


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  • June 05, 2013 1:57 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    Dear PEN Members and Supporters:

    As our 10th year draws to a close, I would like to offer a special heartfelt thank you to PEN Founder Dewey Rosetti and the original Board Members and Advisors of PEN who conceived of, and brought to life, this unique organization.  I still remember our first conference focused on Demystifying Learning Disabilities. Over 300 parents and educators showed up which helped us recognize that there was a community of people with similar experiences who desired knowledge and connection. 

    It is simply astonishing for me to think that 10 years have flown by while we have been working together.  Yet, as I talk with other families, organizations and foundations throughout the country about PEN, I feel tremendously proud of how our community has come together to support students with learning and attention differences and what we have been able to accomplish.

    Among PEN’s activities this year were:

    • Speaker Series.  Presented 12 Speaker Series events to over 1,500 attendees.
    • Professional Development.  Hosted three Professional Development workshops with nationally-renowned speakers, including Rick Lavoie.
    • Early Childhood.  Held two early childhood education presentations focused on finding a school that is the right match and understanding sensory issues in the classroom.
    • Parent Meetings.  Organized two parent meetings which provided a forum for parents to connect with and support each other.
    • SAFE.  Piloted a SAFE chapter serving students on the Peninsula, while continuing the ever successful San Francisco branch.
    • SAFE Panels.  Conducted 11 SAFE student panels and presentations.
    • School Liaison Program.  Reinstituted the liaison program where each month over 50 volunteers shared information at Bay Area schools ensuring information about PEN is available to parents, educators and students.
    • San Francisco Unified.  Received grant funding to underwrite PEN membership to select San Francisco high schools, allowing us to work directly with students and educators in those schools to encourage their involvement in SAFE and EdRev.

    This remarkable year culminated in another amazing, celebratory day at EdRev 2013, which this year featured internationally known speakers Sir Ken Robinson and Dr. L. Todd Rose, 100+ exhibitors, a student Art Gallery, 14 workshops, Student Celebration and 2,000 attendees at AT&T Park.

    We recognize that these numerous and noteworthy accomplishments only took place through the dedication and support of the PEN community and supporters like you.  We offer you our grateful thanks and warmest wishes for a joyous summer.  I hope you are able to enjoy the freedom this time of year brings and can spend some time appreciating your kids, what they are good at and what they are passionate about.  Their gifts are plentiful.


    Laura Maloney
    Executive Director

    PS.  Please be sure to share your PEN memories and thanks with us so that we may include them in our 10-year anniversary book as a gift to PEN Founder Dewey Rosetti. Just use the contact form to send your message!



  • June 03, 2013 4:05 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    SAFE student JT Werth was recently profiled on KALW's Crosscurrents as part of their series on special education. PEN's Executive Director Laura Maloney is also interviewed. Listen here:

  • May 31, 2013 3:52 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    Full video of the EdRev 2013 Keynote presentations by Sir Ken Robinson and Dr. L. Todd Rose are now available to PEN members on the Member Media page of this website.

    Please note: These videos are provided as a benefit of PEN Membership. You must be logged into this site with up to date membership to access them. If your membership has lapsed, just log in and renew. If you are not yet a PEN member, join here!

    Staff at PEN Member Schools:
    Contact us if you need to get set up with a login.
  • May 31, 2013 3:13 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide of Dyslexic Advantage presented workshops at EdRev 2013. Recently, they organized the Conference on Dyslexia and Talent, a landmark event that brought together accomplished dyslexics from diverse fields, including a MacArthur Genius award winner, Pulitzer-prize winning poet, CEOs, artists, doctors, lawyers, and leaders in the dyslexia community. Watch these moving excerpts from the conference here:

  • May 31, 2013 2:33 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    As one school year draws to a close, plans for our program for next year are well under way. Here are some of the speakers we have already confirmed. Be sure to keep you membership up to date and please join us for these events in the fall!

    Friday, September 27, 2013
    There Are No IEPs in College
    Paul Grossman
    Civil Rights Attorney, Law School Professor and Individual with Learning Disabilities

    Friday, October 11, 2013
    Success Starts at Home: Homework Strategies for Cultivating Independence and Self-Advocacy
    Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Ed.M.
    Learning Specialist, Convent of the Sacred Heart High School, San Francisco

    Friday, December 13, 2013
    Assessment and Treatment of Children with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities: Professional Collaborations for Positive Outcomes
    Jessica Broitman, Ph.D. and Jack Davis, Ph.D.
  • May 31, 2013 12:12 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    A guest post from Amory Donohue, Founding Parent, My City School & Founder, HolaKids Spanish Immersion Preschool

    My City School ( is a program for middle school age children with mild to moderate learning disabilities based in San Francisco.  At My City School, children with LD are enrolled in a learning pod of 4-8 students that supports individualized learning modalities and incorporates strong academic, social and emotional supports.  My City School believes in fundamental building blocks for successful learning: experienced teachers who are coaches and guides for learning, a curriculum self-paced to the capacity of each child; a small community of supportive peers; meaningful experiential learning opportunities; and an environment of high support with high expectations for each child. The community is sustained by committed and pragmatic parents who are partners in their children’s educational success. My City School launches Fall 2013 with its first educational pod of students 11 - 13 years of age, utilizing 6th grade core standards. 

    We seek additional students who are engaged by learning, exhibit classroom behaviors that will allow them and their peers to progress in academics and building community, and bring enthusiasm for the experiences we describe on our website. As important, the students will have parents who are prepared to contribute to the success of this endeavor, and who are ready to embrace the rewards and challenges that will present themselves in the year ahead. 

    We welcome inquiries from parents who are interested (as well as specialists and educators). You can help by sharing this email with people who should know that this alternative exists in San Francisco for middle schoolers with LD. 

    Thank you!
  • May 09, 2013 3:46 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    EdRev’s second keynote speaker on April 13, 2013 in San Francisco was Todd Rose, co-founder and president of Project Variability, an organization is dedicated to providing leadership around the emerging new science of the individual and its implications for education, the workforce, and society.  Todd is also a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education teaching Educational Neuroscience.

    Todd Rose’s presentation was built around a premise of the need for society to change a belief, one that gives credit to the myth of the average person. Our education system is build on averages not the supporting the different needs of the individual.

    Todd knows whereof he speaks. He was a high school dropout.  His education did not support his learning differences.  When he discovered that boredom, not laziness was the issue, ideas and the drive to create a different life emerged.

    A high school dropout, he accepted that he needed an education.  Perseverance at night school resulted in obtaining his GED.  A teacher in a community college gave him the encouragement and support and with hard work on his behalf  he graduated cum laude. He was accepted at Harvard. His initial experience at this institution gave him the feeling that Harvard’s process of education and his ADHD were at odds.  A Harvard professor challenged him, commenting that it wasn’t Todd, it was the education system that was the problem.  Harvard did not nurture individual talent.  This gave him the drive to challenge Harvard. He began to focus on designing a new approach, away from the concept that our education is about a science of averages. His study promoted the need to find a way to evaluate individual talents, rather than comparing one individual to another individual. 

    Todd along with others have initiated Project Variability which focuses on the science of the individual, creating flexible environments. Its sole purpose is to bring to the public an awareness and new approaches to ensure a means of learning that lives up to our capabilities.

    Todd offered the EdRev audience a challenge: start shifting.  The change is about a mindshift.  He asked this PEN membership who knows there is a problem with the education system to become a part of creating the solution.

    He offered a first step involving one week of effort. 

    When there is a behavior, be it your child’s or your own, that needs correction find a context for making that change. Begin by asking yourself what is your default habit. State it and see what change you need to make. The goal is to allow your or your child’s true potential to emerge?  Consider:

    • What environment do you or he/she need? 
    • What relationships are important?  
    • Spell the information out for yourself or your child and put it into action.
    • Ask yourself what do you need to do to be ready for this change
    • How can you contribute to this?
    • Discover the first step. 

    Remember we can build technologies.  Ultimately, however, it’s not the technologies but individuals, parents and educators who need to take the responsibility to make this shift. 

    Todd Rose has authored a book, Square Peg: My Story and What It Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries, and Out-of-the-Box Thinkers

    This blog post written by Ann Farris:

  • May 09, 2013 3:19 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    On April 13, 2013 in San Francisco the 5th annual EdRev returned to the Giants Ballpark. It was a huge success. Parents Education Network, the producers of this model event, offered a wide variety of programming for those passionate about understanding, finding solutions, and resolving issues facing those with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD and other learning differences. Students, parents, teachers and others were treated to a wide variety of new ideas, new technologies, new skills and much more. The energy at the event, gathering 2,000 people together, was very high.

    There were two keynote speakers with a similar theme; the need for a different education process. Sir Ken Robinson, an education and creativity expert and author of the New York Times best-selling book Finding Your Element set the tone, stating that the challenge with the education system is a world-wide problem. One word describes the cause: conformity. Currently the education process is based on the belief that everyone must conform to basic principles. This denies the fact that we are all biologically different which means students are spending time on what they must do instead of what they can do.

    A recent study has shown that 30% of students in 9th grade don't finish the 12th grade. Many of these students end up in jail. The current solution is to pour more money into the correction system ($25,000 a year for an individual). If that funding was redirected to the education system to address the learning needs of the dropouts, the costs to state government would decrease. Educating a student has the average cost of $10,000. Cutting by half the number of dropouts from grade nine the net gain result in 10 – 11 years would be twelve trillion dollars.

    Sir Ken promotes three principles for an evolving education system:

    1. Diversity: Accept the principle that we are all different with unique talents. We are different because we are biologically different. Human life relies on diversity. It is why human life is so interesting. The reason the current education process is unsuccessful is its lack of focus on diversity.

    2. Creativity: Creativity is at the heart of what it is to be a human being. The opportunity for each student to explore their creativity is essential. Our imagination gives us the ability to bring into mind what doesn't exit. Sir Ken asked us to remember that creativity is what has driven this country, the United States of America, to be successful. It's a national asset. Now is the time to re-energize the education system allowing creativity which presents itself differently in different people to flourish.

    We need an education system that supports students in finding what is their true talent, what do they love to do. It will result in them defining who they are so they can discover a path that is satisfying and provide a lifestyle that supports their life. The goal is to do something you have a natural talent for. Something you get. It is time those administrators leading the educational process think differently.

    In light of the above he offered a commemt about ADHD and the high % of students currently being diagnosed with ADHD. If students are required to sit and listen to boring things, don't be surprised if they develop ADHD behavior.

    3. Life is organic, not linear. We can't predict how a life will shape up. The key is following the passion that comes from creative exploration. Keep the focus on what is it that you love to do. It is the parent's responsibility to help their child discover his or her talent, to encourage, support and expect it to go in different directions. The path will not be linear. Remember, we compose our lives. It's time to accept that one's life is about diversity and being creative.

    We have to press for a different education system. The academic world needs broad curriculum that embraces the fact that we learn differently. We have to get governments away from trying to impose standardization. Education has to be radically personalized so individuals can identify their special talents. There is no reason why students should do the same things every day. Conformity doesn't work.

    If you are teacher, parent or student take up the challenge and be the change you want to see. Collectively teachers, students, and parents are the ones who can change the system. The movement is powerful enough.

    And, don't waste time on those who are stuck in the old model. They are never going to change.

    Sir Ken Robinson's new book is titled Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life

    This blog is written by Ann Farris:


  • May 09, 2013 3:13 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    For the third consecutive year, students, this year numbering over 120 and representing more than 20 public, parochial and private schools - traveling from as far away as the East coast - gathered on the Friday before EdRev for an incredible event designed just for them. Dubbed "EdRev-Up" by the students, the day was filled with community building, an art project, and a lot of standing up and speaking out.

    The closing ceremony involved an artistic and colorful creation of a pledge to the "Learning Man." Physically, Learning Man is a giant, chicken wire sculpture, but it's really much more than that. Learning Man, a distant cousin of "Burning Man," is always a fixture of the EdRev celebration; Learning Man is there for all students, parents and teachers to accept and memorialize pledges. Typically students promise to do something - a form of standing up and speaking out, or taking ownership of their education, all made possible through this day of self-discovery and community building.

    This year, following the keynote address at EdRev 2013, attendees gathered on the field to make their pledges to Learning Man. Expanding on this awesome ritual, when attendees made their pledge to Learning Man, they received something in return: a colorful "badge" created by the students during EdRev-Up. The badges represented the students' personal strengths, challenges, strategies, passions or interests. Individuals were able to choose any badge with which they personally identified – representing a personal trait with which the student identifies and/or represents the community of students at EdRev-Up. Attendees wore their badges with pride, both during and after EdRev 2013, to show the world what is invisible to the eye, but strongly felt by the students and attendees.

    At the close of the day for EdRev 2013, the students gathered at home plate to read and share the pledges and to appreciate the impact their standing up speaking out had on their community. Here are what some of the pledges had to say.

    Parent and Teacher pledges:

    I pledge:

    • to check the engine with my son.
    • to always remember this day.
    • to be an advocate and ally for all students who learn differently and to work to change the stereotype of the insensitive and unaccommodating teacher.
    • to nurture, encourage, and support my talented son the best way I can.
    • to show more patience and compassion to both my boys who struggle in different ways.
    • to create an environment where each child's interests and strengths turn them on to learning.
    • to be more patient and understanding.
    • to see each child as an individual.
    • to speak out and up about PEN and its programs to those I know in the homeschooling environment that have kids with LD
    • I pledge to remember that each student is an individual and to respect those individuals, their strengths and challenges, their needs and their potential.
    • to increase my understanding of differences.
    • to take something from this experience and put it into action!

    Student Pledges:

    • I will check the engine light and not be scared!
    • To show my gift to the world!
    • to help educate my friends about what I have learned.
    • to be proud of my learning differences.
    • To take a more active role in my education.
    • To share my gifts and practice my talents.
    • to find ways to be creative and to be proud of my unique abilities.
    • to be more courageous.
    • to always speak out and to never allow silence because it only allows ignorance to grow.
    • To encourage the next generation of leaders.
    • To help educate the public that everyone learns differently.
    • to be an advocate for those who can't advocate for themselves.
    • to no longer judge people by their learning differences
    • Believe in my potential.
    • To be a better leader.
    • To start a learning differences community at my school.
    • Never give up on my dreams.

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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