Staten Island Talks Education Draws 300 to Discuss Resilience in Kids

March 11th, 2014

Friends of THIRTEEN Board Members Doreen Cugno and Katherine Connors

Friends of THIRTEEN and WNET’s Education Department teamed up to present Staten Island Talks Education to more than 300 people in the community at the St. George Theatre on Staten Island. The program began with a screening of Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth’s segment on “Grit” from last spring’s broadcast of TED Talks Education, which set the theme for the evening. The audience, which ranged from public school teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors to senior staff from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, also heard a keynote address by army veteran and youth advocate Wes Moore. Moore spoke about how we aren’t the products of our environments, but rather we’re the products of our expectations — and so we need to teach our kids to have high expectations for themselves.

A presentation from Sesame Workshop about their newest resiliency initiative “Little Children, Big Challenges,” and two community panel discussions led by Dr. William Fritz, President, College of Staten Island completed the event. Panelists spoke about their personal experiences with Grit – whether they teach it, or whether they or their students are experiencing it. For example, panelist Amanda Fugel’s family business was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and she managed to recruit her friends to volunteer to help rebuild the store and reopen in four months, all while staying on top of her college work and making the Dean’s list.

Keynote Speaker Wes Moore

Panel Discussion: Community and Parent Connections with Matthew Valia, Cheyenne Watson, Amanda Fugel, Dr. William Fritz, Tammy Greer Brown, and Michael Riley

“We introduced many of these educators to the idea of Grit,” said Dorothy Pacella, Executive Director, Friends of Thirteen. “Many attendees told us as they left that they were inspired and had new ideas to bring back to their school administration for how to encourage kids to exhibit Grit and stay on track through high school and college.”

The event was closed with performances from the Curtis High School Jazz Band, the IS24 6th Grade Chorus, and the Wagner High School Brass Band.

IS24 6th Grade Chorus

Staten Island Talks Education was the final local outreach event in a series that took place in cities across the country. Dorothy Pacella, Executive Director, Friends of Thirteen; Jon Rubin, Senior Director, State and Local Education; Sasha Schechter, Community Engagement Coordinator, Friends of Thirteen; and Kenny Chen, Senior Coordinator, Education organized and executed the event with help from Friends of THIRTEEN board members and Staten Island community leaders Doreen Cugno and Kathy Connors. To honor the event, James Oddo, Borough President of Staten Island, proclaimed March 11 “Staten Island Talks Education Day.”