Monday, March 13, 2017

WES Talks: Community Experts Inspiring Parents to Inspire Kids

Community members will gather at Woodfill Elementary to help parents prepare their children for the 21st century.

Some of the community's most influential members are gathering at Woodfill Elementary Monday night, March 20th, to give 3- to 5-minute speeches about how to best prepare students for the 21st century. It's like TED talks and all parents, Woodfill or not, are invited.

The idea was born out of teachers and administrators at Woodfill Elementary who wanted to host a parent night to talk about the direction they were leading the school. Rachel Caswell, Woodfill's school counselor, came up with the idea of talks similar to TED talks—different experts spreading inspiring messages about 21st century skills.

"Having viewed many TED talks over the years I thought the concept was something unique that we could offer to our families while at the same time getting a diverse set of speakers that all will echo a similar message of preparing our students for success beyond the classroom academics," says Principal Keith Faust.

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Faust said he hopes the talks will paint a clearer picture to families about why Woodfill is doing some of the things its doing—namely committing to becoming a Leader in Me School. The Leader in Me program, developed by FranklinCovey, "teaches 21st century leadership and life skills to students and creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be leader." You can read more about the program here.

Faust, who is one of the WES Talks speakers, will be discussing Woodfill's Leader in Me initiative and the need to develop leadership in all students through the implementation of the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People." These habits stem from Stephen Covey's bestselling book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," published in 1989. The habits, which include Be Proactive, Begin With the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood, Synergize and Sharpen the Saw inform the students's lives both in school and out.

"Additionally, I think that although the message will be coming from a diverse group of leaders you will hear common themes of the importance of fostering leadership within your child throughout the evening," Faust says.

Brian Robinson, Highlands High School principal also is a speaker. "I am excited for the event because it helps us emphasize the point that families, the community and the school are all on the same team working for our students," he says. "Our full community engagement is one of, if not the, top reason our schools are the best in the state. High school is about preparing students to be highly engaged citizens prepared to be contributing adults. I see these talks on the 20th being an opportunity to share what we have in mind when we say we are preparing students for 21st century skills and hopefully sharing ways families can support our work and vice versa." 

Robinson's themes for his talk include education pays, developing confidence to grow and live as a learner in a constantly changing world and creating a vision of future self.

Another speaker, Aaron Broomall, a Woodfill parent, hopes to connect with fellow parents. "I'm inspired to participate because being a parent is tough," he says. "We love our kids but we're dragged in so many directions with work, home, church, athletics and more that it's easy to get lost in the day to day and lose sight of the bigger picture for our kids."

Broomall plans to step out of that day-to-day grind for a moment by discussing how to develop global awareness in children. "I want to help parents develop a spirit in their children that desires to learn from those that are different from us so we can cultivate compassion, cooperation and understanding," he says.

Broomall adds that events like these give parents bite-size takeaways that they can implement in their daily lives. "I think sometimes we are so overwhelmed by data and information that we are unable to do anything with it," he says. "This kind of event gives parents a chance to spend a short amount of time; get information that is pertinent to what they're experiencing as parents and that matters to the future of their kids' and receive realistic ideas about how to impact the future of their children."

Fort Thomas Independent Schools Superintendent Gene Kirchner also is taking part in the event as he believes it reinforces the 21st century skills that are featured in FTIS's mission and vision. "We need to take advantage of every opportunity to articulate the importance of preparing our students for their future, not our past," Kirchner says. "The future will require a very different set of skills and also a different mindset than schools have traditionally emphasized. In a world in which career opportunities will rapidly change, individuals will need to be flexible, adaptable and willing to try new things. Those who have fixed mindsets will not prosper in that world. There are things that parents and teachers can do to encourage the development of a growth mindset in children."

Kirchner plans to speak about the importance of mindset in fostering creativity, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit in students. "These skills and dispositions will serve them well in a global knowledge-based economy," he says.

The full list of speakers include:

Gene Kirchner, Superintendent
Wil Schroder, Kentucky State Senator
Keith Faust, Woodfill Principal
Heidi Neltner, Elementary Technology Specialist
Aaron Broomall, Woodfill parent, Top Watch D.O.G.
Karen Allen, School Board Member
Bob Heil, President and CEO of KLH Engineers
Michael Howton, Highlands Middle School Principal
Brian Robinson, Highlands High School Principal
Kevin Listerman, Highlands High School Teacher, Head Basketball Coach
Dr. Patrick Richardson, Clinical Psychologist
Samantha Reynolds, Woodfill Teacher

"I hope that parents leave this evening inspired about the direction of Woodfill over the next several years, but I also think that families will leave with a handful of tangible tips and tricks that can be implemented that evening to help their child be successful," Faust says.

The event will be held at Woodfill Elementary (1025 Alexandria Pike, Fort Thomas), March 20, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., in the library. It is free and open to the public. To RSVP, scan below or go here. The event is intended for an adult audience and childcare will not be provided. 


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