Parents Education Network


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  • August 05, 2013 4:55 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    By Jason Arkin, PsyD, Pathways Institute

    My son was referred for psychological testing. Does this mean there is something wrong with him?

    First off, there are many reasons why your son may need psychological testing. A child can be referred for testing because he or she is having interpersonal difficulties, be depressed, not be able to sustain attention in class, or have trouble with academics as a result of a learning issue.

    It may be the case that your son is struggling with a kind of internal turmoil that psychological testing can help to clarify. While there might not be a severe problem with him currently, getting psychological testing can help ensure that he gets the help he needs so that future difficulties can be minimized. Good psychological testing should include highlighting strengths, clarifying difficulties, and increasing self-advocacy.

    While it can be a difficult and potentially expensive process, it is important to be aware that the overall goal of testing is to provide preventative and proactive support. This does not guarantee that your son will not experience difficulties, but it can help to minimize academic, biological, and emotional barriers for the time being and even for the long run.

    There are other types of testing that may be relevant to your son. If it seems as though an academic issue is the root cause of their emotional distress (i.e., difficulty with schoolwork, leading your son to have negative self-talk that results in depressive symptoms), academic testing may be recommended. If the testing reveals that your child has a learning or attention difference, early intervention can help to alleviate some of the emotional turmoil your son may be experiencing. It is also extremely helpful to have early diagnosis and intervention documented for later when they are needing additional accommodations such as more time on standardized testing.

    Regardless of the type of testing, be it psychological or academic, the goal of testing is to understand your son better, and to provide recommendations and strategies to help him flourish and succeed.

  • August 05, 2013 4:37 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    The following is an interview with Todd Rose, faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, author of Square Peg, and co-founder of Project Variability. In his recent Sonoma TedX talk “Ban the Average he explains the myth of the average and how it harms kids in the education system by depriving them of learning, and our society as a whole, robbing us of needed talent and creativity.

    We found his work to be highly relevant to the work we do at Pathways Institute, where it is part of our stated mission to help all children “function at their highest level and bring their unique gifts to the world.” We began the interview by asking him about the Myth of the Average:

    L. TODD ROSE:  The Myth of Average is a belief that’s been prominent in most sciences and in education. It’s the belief that we can use statistical averages to understand individuals. Scientists have come to realize that it’s a myth, and over the last 10 years have been moving from averages to individuals, so for example we’re hearing a lot of things like ‘personalized medicine.’  Unfortunately, education has not quite realized the myth yet, and so what we have is a situation where not only do we accept the idea of designing something for the individual based on the average, we actually promote it.  The myth is that the average is fits for most people, when, in fact, it doesn’t.

    Interviewer:  And how does that hurt us?

    L. TODD ROSE:  When it comes to designing environments it hurts us in two ways.  As I said in my TEDX talk, the first is that you can be incredibly talented in one area, but average or below average in another. For example, say you’re really gifted in math, but you are an average or below average reader. The way our education system is designed will make it very hard for us to be able to get at your talent, because even in math class many of the problems are reading problems, so the reading problem can mask what you’re really good at.

    The second way it hurts us is that someone can be unbelievably gifted in something, but their environment won’t challenge them because it’s teaching to the average. They end up getting on-board and doing only what they are supposed to. In this way, designing environments to averages end up hurting even our best and brightest.

    Interviewer:  So how does that play itself out in our everyday world?  How are these problems going to effect all of us, even if they don’t harm us personally?

    L. TODD ROSE:  Good question.  To me, the effect of the Myth of the Averages is even broader than education.  It’s really about how we develop our current and future talent pool, and as you know we have big challenges in our society and need all of the talent and creativity we can get.

    We already have all the raw talent that we need! If you think about something as big as finding a cure for cancer, we need as many people who have the talent and the work ethic becoming scientists and chasing down this problem as possible.  But if we design our educational environment so that an individual’s limitations make it almost impossible for us to get to their talents, then we are going to lose a whole bunch of talented individuals, and in my mind we’re in danger of losing the cure for cancer.  If we extend this myth of averages all the way it has very serious implications, because when we studied cancer on the average, it led us to conclusions that were not helping us actually cure people.  And since we’ve gone away from average and started studying cancer, individual cancer, we’ve made great progress.

    The workforce environment is not dissimilar. We’re trying to get people to be the most productive and effective person they can be. But if the environment is designed around averages, it makes people less efficient, less creative. So, you know, in every sector of society this idea of average has turned out to be a sort of barrier to advancement.

    Interviewer: I see.  And so what does Ban the Average mean?

    L. TODD ROSE:  Well, to me it’s step one of a two-step process that gets us away from this average and toward helping our institutions become institutions of opportunity that can actually nurture individuals.  So Ban the Average is the first step. It’s about helping people realize the average really is the problem. We can’t move forward until we realize that.

    The phrase “Ban the Average” comes from the Air Force, which gained insight about the Myth of Average 60 years ago, when cockpits, jumpsuits, and instruction was designed for the mythical average person.  They they realized it was a problem, and even though they didn’t really know what the solution was that didn’t stop them from saying, ‘You know what?  We know the average is hurting our performance and shrinking our talent pool, so we’re going to ban the use of average.’ That initial step was enough to make a signal to the market that things were going to change, and it forced designers and entrepreneurs to create better solutions.  So we can talk about solutions, which is ultimately what needs to be done, but until we have the common understanding that the myth of average is a problem we’re not going to get very far.  So Ban the Average is the first step.

    Interviewer:  And how does Project Variability fit into this?

    L. TODD ROSE:  Project Variability is an enabling organization.  We see this emerging new science of the individual and we have the knowledge that we to be able to create an environment that understands individuals and nurtures individual potential.  At the same time, we’re seeing a massive shift toward technology in every sector of society, from workforce to science, and in education.  So we see a wonderful opportunity to combine those two in ways that enable us to do things that are almost magical, quite honestly, and that won’t actually cost more money. We can do things in education today that we only dreamed of before.  But it requires making good choice.

    What we realized as a team was that those choices are rarely going to be made on their own because people in all parts of the current system have an interest in keeping the status quo.  What we’ve decided to do is be an organization that exists solely to initiate the transition from average to individual.  We’re doing it as a messaging campaign: to communicate to the public so people understand what’s possible and what to ask for, to ultimately create the demand. At the same time, we’re going to enable scientists and entrepreneurs to create solutions that will meet the demand. The truth is, is we exist to put ourselves out of business.  We just need to change the demand structure and help create some new solutions. At that point our goals have been met.

    Reproduced on the PEN Blog courtesy of Pathways Institute
  • August 05, 2013 4:29 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    Two SAFE alumni, Tim Blair and Sam Van Cleve, were interviewed on KALW as a follow-up to an interview on ADHD they gave three years ago. Listen here:
  • July 17, 2013 3:31 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    Learning Specialist

    Since opening its doors Hanna Boys Center has helped turn hurt into hope for thousands of troubled boys.

    In 1944, Monsignor William J. Flanagan, Director of Catholic Charities in the San Francisco Archdiocese, and Reverend William L. O'Connor, Assistant Director, were charged to find a home for orphaned and rejected boys. Their work led to the founding of Hanna Boys Center. Since that timeHanna Boys Center has become one of Northern California's most successful residential treatment centers. For over 65 years, Hanna Boys Center has helped change the lives of thousands of trouble motivated youth of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds from the greater Bay Area and beyond, through caring, respect, education, and faith.

    Situated on 160 acres in Sonoma, Hanna Boys Center offers troubled motivated youth an opportunity to turn their lives around. The Hanna Program helps strengthen the mind, body, and spirit through focused, individualized attention, encouraging each boy to recognize --and realize--his potential.

    We are an independent nonprofit organization that relies solely on private donations to fund our clinical, residential and educational programs.

    Hanna Boys Center is a fully accredited high school serving 8th through 12 grades.

    We are looking for a Learning Specialist who will work primarily with Hanna students with learning disabilities and their teachers to support their learning and develop their self-advocacy skills. This person will serve as a resource to teachers, students and other staff on the topics of learning disabilities and provides guidance and resources to help the teachers meet the needs of the unique learning styles within the classroom.

    The qualified applicant will have an Education Specialist Instruction Credential with a proven history of teaching excellence.

    This is a part time position. Compensation based on Education Level and Experience

    Please submit resume and cover letter, including salary requirements, to
  • July 03, 2013 4:03 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    The PEN program for 2013-2014 is really shaping to be another excellent year. Be sure to save the date for the events below!

    Friday, September 20, 2013
    PEN Parent Meeting
    Facilitated by Pathways Institute

    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

    Thursday, November 14, 2013
    The Whole-Brain Child in the Classroom (Professional Development)
    Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

    Friday, November 15, 2013
    The Whole-Brain Child (Parent Presentation)
    Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

    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.

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014
    San Francisco Panel of College Students with Learning Attention Differences
    SAFE College Students

    Thursday, January 9, 2014
    Peninsula Panel of College Students with Learning Attention Differences
    SAFE College Students

    Saturday, February 8, 2014
    Co-Sponsored with Support for Families of Children with Disabilties
    Technology for Learning Differences:  Equip Students for Success with a Personalized "Technology Toolbelt"
    Shelley Haven, ATP, RET
    Assistive Technology Consultant

    Thursday, March 6, 2014
    Experience Dyslexia® — A Learning Disabilities Simulation 
    Facilitated by the Northern California Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (NCBIDA)

  • July 03, 2013 12:20 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    One Step Behind, a story by St. James School student Emma Lassen (pictured left), took first place at the EdRev 2013 Art Contest. The story has also been selected for Learning Ally's 1 in 5 website.

    It became more obvious as she grew older. She was no longer a little kid. Little kids are always excused for not understanding things. Now being older, she was expected to be more independent and understand more. She didn’t. Standing there listening to this lady babble on. Not understanding anything the lady said. Even though she had ears and eyes, though she was not blind or deaf, she couldn’t always rely on them. Even though she had a brain, it didn’t work well enough for the world and the people in it. She did start to notice her disability more. That didn’t mean she was ashamed of it. She just could not help feeling she was one step behind.

    Read the full story here!

  • July 03, 2013 12:04 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    Nicolina Kristof, a senior at Drew School with ADHD, Dyslexia, Sensory integration Dysfunction (SID) and an Audio Processing Disorder, has produced a website, The LD Advantage, featuring over 30 interviews with individuals with learning differences. She says:
    I believe that teens and young adults should have access to advice from people who have the same LD as them. On the next pages you will find advice and statements from individuals, ages 14 to 25, on how they view their LD's and what tips and tricks they have discovered that works best for them.
    Great work Nicolina! Check it out here: The LD Advantage
  • July 03, 2013 11:46 AM | PEN (Administrator)

    The Pathways Institute, who've partnered with us recently on the facilitation of our Parent Meetings, has started a blog feature that should be of interest to our members: Ask the Expert your questions on testing and other psychological services related to kids, parent and families of LD/ADHD. Pathways tells us they would love to receive questions from PEN members! Email your questions to

    Read the first post in the series here: Ask The Expert: Is It Necessary To Test Again?

  • July 03, 2013 11:38 AM | PEN (Administrator)
    Dr. Edward Hallowell was our Keynote Speaker at EdRev 2010. We are very pleased to welcome the new Hallowell Center to San Francisco. Check out the website here!
  • July 03, 2013 11:21 AM | PEN (Administrator)

    Position:  SAFE Program Director
    Hours:  Part Time (20 hours per week)
    Position Available:  July, 2013
    Job Location:  Parents Education Network, San Francisco, CA        

    Parents Education Network (PEN), a San Francisco non-profit organization, is a parent coalition collaborating with educators, students and the community to empower and bring academic and life success to students with learning and attention differences. 

    Student Advisors for Education (SAFE) is a student community that strives to educate, mentor, and support students, parents and teachers regarding the challenges and strengths of students with LD and ADHD.  This youth branch of PEN supports students with learning and attention differences ages 13 – 19.  There are currently 2 SAFE chapters in the SF Bay Area with plans for growth within California in the 2013-2014 school year and nationally beginning in the summer of 2014. The SAFE students also participate in planning and execution of our annual April gathering EdRev and EdRev-Up. EdRev is a conference type event that is held at AT&T Park, in San Francisco. It is a day of education, inspiration, and celebration for students with learning and attention differences, their families and educators that support them. EdRev-Up is a student only event that takes place the day before EdRev which draws students from the Bay Area and nationally. The students focus on community building and preparation for EdRev.

    Position Description:  The Program Director is responsible for leading the SAFE program, ensuring seamless team development and management, consistent program delivery as well as strong quality control and evaluation services.  This is an extraordinary opportunity for an individual with youth development experience to further develop and grow a flourishing program while working collaboratively with a high-performing management team.

    Job Responsibilities:

    • Commitment to uphold PEN’s mission in all that s/he does for the organization
    • Develops annual strategic growth plans consistent with PEN’s Strategic Plan
    • Plans and executes the launch of new SAFE chapters, locally and nationally
    • Travels to potential SAFE chapter sites to coordinate the initial program elements and specifications with new chapter leaders
    • Provides technical assistance and acts as liaison between PEN headquarters and Chapters
    • Manages Chapter Facilitators
    • Carries out ongoing program assessment and evaluation processes
    • Analyzes success metrics and data to measure short and long term impacts to ensure consistent high quality program delivery and inform improvement
    • Prepares reports for the Executive Director and Board on trends and findings from collected data
    • Develops and manages annual program budget
    • Plans and oversees SAFE involvement in PEN’s annual conference (EdRev) and student gathering (EdRev-Up)

    Qualifications:  The Program Director must be creative, adaptive and entrepreneurial, with a problem-solving and positive approach to his/her work.  This role requires strategic thinking, a commitment to continuous learning and the ability to plan long-term with both the missions of PEN and SAFE in mind.  The Program Manager must have an understanding of the particular challenges facing the youth members of SAFE and have experience working in education or youth development organizations or institutions.

    Required Skills:

    • Experience designing and implementing programs serving youth
    • At least 2 years experience in a team supervisory role; knowledge of recruiting and managing volunteers a plus
    • Background in data collection and reporting
    • Knowledge of budget management
    • Ability to work in resource constrained environment
    • Experience working with a collaborative or project team
    • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail; event planning skills a plus
    • Excellent interpersonal and teamwork skills
    • Proven written and verbal communication skills
    • Has a Bachelor’s degree; advanced degree preferred
    • Basic knowledge of Excel
    • Willing to work evenings and week-ends as required
    • Able to travel periodically within the United States for training

    Desired Skills:  Individuals who have experience or personal knowledge of learning and attention differences and the resources used to support them are strongly encouraged to apply.

    Salary:  Commensurate with Experience

    Benefits:  Not specified

    Parents Education Network values diversity and seeks to build and sustain a diverse staff.  Parents Education Network is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

    Please contact Executive Director Laura Maloney at to submit your resume, and with any questions you may have.

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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