Parents Are Important Conference at Lansing Eastern High School
Sunday, May 1, 2016

  Jerome Vierling and Devinn Lovette (intern) of City Life Lansing held a workshop on communicating with your teen.

Photo by Bob Killips
By Julie Vandenboom
The inaugural "Parents Are Important" conference took place at Lansing School District’s (LSD) Eastern High School on Saturday, April 16th. Organized by Eastern's Family and Community Liaison, Rosa Killips, the event brought Eastern parents and staff together with presenters and representatives from Michigan State University (MSU), CASE Credit Union, the Lansing School District and local community organizations. The event was the first of what organizers plan to be a yearly event.
The conference opened with commentary by the principal,  Mrs. Donna Pohl.  She spoke about the importance of connecting with school administrators during  coffee hours that are held early in the morning several times during the school year.  She also spoke about creating a positive school culture and climate. 
Killips felt that the conference was well-received. “I am so excited about the positive responses we got from parents and presenters,” she said. “We plan to do the Parents are Important conference annually but will move it to October so that parents can get the benefit of what they learn earlier in the school year.”
MSU Extension Program Instructor for Social and Emotional Health and Nutrition, Emily Compton, worked with parents on handling arguments productively. Her workshop provided tips for listening and for conflict resolution, focusing on some of the reasons why people don't listen to each other, and some of the more specific reasons why children may not listen. Compton also discussed the “WIN” approach (using the framework of W - “when you do that,” I - “I feel...” N - “I need...”) as a constructive way to disagree. 
Jerome Vierling of City Life Lansing discussed the need for parents to communicate effectively with their teens, especially when children don't seem to be listening.  Some of the strategies he shared include asking the right questions, looking for clues in the responses, and knowing who your teen is spending time with.
Another MSU speaker, family therapist and PhD candidate Megan Lachmar, presented "Improving Your Child's Self-Esteem". Lachmar stressed that a child's wellness is interactive with the wellness of the parent and the family. The first step a parent can take toward fostering family wellness is self-care – making sure his or her physical, emotional/mental, spiritual, and social needs are met. Lachmar also discussed the importance to a child's well-being of having family traditions – which don't need to be complex, but could be as simple as an inside joke. 
Precious Gist, parent to an Eastern student, who attended the conference with her husband, Dwayne Gist, counted the self-esteem presentation among her favorites. “It was very educational,” said Gist. “It allowed us to interact with other parents. The workshop was amazing. We learned a lot today and really enjoyed ourselves. It felt good to be around other parents going through some of the same things we are.”
Information about future events at Eastern can be found on the school's website at 
The district will be also be offering exciting summer learning opportunities for its K-12 students from June 13th to August 11th.    Many of the opportunities will be held at community partner sites.
For more information, log on to
Julie Vandenboom is parent to a student at Eastern High School.
Parents Are Important Conference Workshop Descriptions
Let’s talk about bullying!  
Presenter: Janet Olsen, Senior Program Leader, Michigan State University Extension
Description: Many adults are concerned about ways that bullying, cyberbullying and harassment are affecting the lives of young people. In this session, you’ll hear what kids say about these issues, and you’ll explore resources that families and schools can use to prevent these kinds of hurtful behaviors. 
Building your child’s self-esteem     
Presenter: Megan Lachmar, Family Therapist,  Ph.D. student in Human Development  and Family Studies 
Description:  Self-esteem is a major key to success in life. The development of a positive self-concept or healthy self-esteem is extremely important to the happiness and success of children and teenagers. Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves, and our behavior clearly reflects those feelings
Parents, more than anyone else can promote their child’s self-esteem. It isn’t a particularly difficult thing to do. If fact, most parents do it without even realizing that their words and actions have great impact on how their child or teenager feels about himself.
How to help your child succeed in school
Presenter:  Linda Sanchez-Gazella, Lansing School District , Community Outreach Project Specialist  Description:  In a round-table discussion format, this workshop will touch on simple things a parent can do to help his child succeed in school.  Subjects will include attitude, encouragement, study area at home, regular attendance at school, tutoring, and more.
Impact your teen even when it feels they won't listen       
Presenter: Jerome Vierling Team Lead for City Life Lansing & Love the City
Description:You don't need a degree in communications to know that parents and teenagers seem to spend more time talking at and past one another than to or with one another. Chalk it up to different agendas, the stress of daily life, or familiarity breeding contempt. Whatever the reason, adolescents and their parents do not seem to be able to communicate effectively. Mr. Vierling will give some practical tips for improving your communication with your teenager.
Identity Theft:  It can happen to you!
Presenter:  Porsche Miles-Grant, Community Outreach Coordinator, CASE Credit Union
Description: Identity theft is the stealing of a person’s identity in order to obtain credit, credit cards from banks and retailers, to steal money from existing accounts, to rent apartments or storage units, to apply for loans or to establish accounts using another’s name. Consumers experience more than $24.7 billion in direct and indirect losses from identity theft. In the United States, there are 12.6 million identity fraud victims annually. That is 1 victim every 3 seconds. Are you next?
A teacher answers questions about students, classroom, and doing well in school  Presenter: Ms. Dorcas Cordero , EHS Social Studies Teacher    
Description: Visit Ms. Cordero’s Social Studies classroom as she talks about how her classroom operates and gives tips on how you can help your child.
How to fight fairly with your teen     
Presenter: Emily Compton, MSU Extension Program Instructor for Social Emotional Health and Nutrition
Workshop Description: In this workshop parents will learn how to “fight fairly” with their children and teens. Many times arguments can be unproductive and lead to further frustration between parents and their kids. In this workshop we will discuss how to listen well, common reasons our kids don’t listen to us, and we will also discuss tips for conflict resolution. This interactive workshop will give you tools to solve problems effectively in your homes.   
This article was printed in the May 1, 2016 - May 12, 2016 edition.

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