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AREA News A m e r i c a n R e - Ed u c at i o n A s s o c i at i o n

A Message From the President

Claudia Valore, AREA President, PeP This issue’s theme is altruism, and I was a bit baffled as to what to write, because there are so many ways to connect it with Re-ED. Webster’s defines altruism as the “regard or devotion to the interests of others.” Given that, one might suppose that our work in and of itself is altruistic. I certainly hope so! Whether we work directly with children, youth, and families or support in some critical way those who perform direct care, teaching, or service, we all do our work with the interests of others in mind. Though our agencies, schools, day and residential programs may be different, we are all connected by our commitment to helping young people live better lives. That is our common purpose. Our programs and services are designed and delivered with Re-ED values and principles ever present. We deeply believe in the power of teaching and the ability of young people to learn. We know that the process is reciprocal, that when we feel overwhelmed by the day to day challenges of this difficult work, our kids are telling us what we need to learn to be more effective as helping professionals. And so, we continue to learn and grow right along with our kids, families, and colleagues. Nicholas Hobbs gave us permission to expand upon his teachings – actually more of a commandment to do so – when he said, “Re-ED reinvents itself everyday.” I’ve always been in awe of his genius. I believe that he knew the world would change, that the problems we face would be different, and that new knowledge would become available to inform our work and practice. He knew that Re-ED agencies and schools would have to adapt to survive; that teacher-counselors would have to expand their knowledge, creativity, and skills; that leadership would evolve; and that necessary change would have to be not just tolerated, but embraced. Yet in the face of change, we have constants that reassure us. Our principles still guide us; our beliefs about the power of the human spirit to heal still give us hope, the will to prevail, and the drive to succeed in our mission. Altruism - our true regard and devotion to the interests of others – whether they are kids and families or colleagues with whom we work daily, remains alive and well in Re-ED programs. We care for our kids, and we care for each other. Perhaps it’s this prevailing attitude that really sets us apart from some and draws us to connect and learn from others who may or may not call themselves “Re-ED.” As we enter into this holiday season of celebration, giving, and reflections of gratitude, my wish for all of us is that we may continue to learn and grow, and deeply feel in our hearts the purpose and value of our work. I wish that we may even be granted a little bit of Hobbs’ genius to carry forth for children, families, and the sustainability of our programs so we can continue to strengthen our Re-ED community of practice. Wouldn’t that be grand?

2010 American Re-Education 19th Biennial Conference Be a Champion - Change A Life!

August 22 – 25, 2010 Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Champion, PA Familylinks is proud to be hosting the 19th Biennial AREA conference which is going to be held at the Seven Springs Resort. Those of you who were around in 2000, will remember this location and the great time we had. Mark your calendars, Save the date, Reserve the Time, Be there! Conference fee and room rates will be forth coming.

Bill Barr, A Model Board Member

Anne Marie Johnson, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, ChristieCare, This September, long-time ChristieCare Board Member, Bill Barr, gave an impassioned speech titled, “Recognizing the Real Cost of Mental Illness to Our Community” at a Partner Education Meeting for Social Venture Partners Portland. In his position as Executive Vice President of Health Care Operations at The Regence Group, Bill provides oversight of major operations at this nonprofit health care company based in the Pacific Northwest. This speech is just one example of the integrity and advocacy Bill brings to his many roles and is one of the reasons ChristieCare is thankful to count him as a board member and community partner. Since 2004, Bill has served on the ChristieCare Board of Directors where he has been a dedicated supporter of employee training and leadership development within ChristieCare. To this end, he has leveraged Regence’s Community Leadership Funds to match his giving. The result of this gift was a series of trainings around Trauma-Informed Care, a nationally recognized, best-practice treatment principle. Teacher/ Counselors, Supervisors and Management Team members from all of ChristieCare’s programs were privileged to take part in these trainings, and they have proved very effective in direct care and in appeal for further grant funding. Both Bill and his wife, Deborah, spent the early part of their careers working in social services; this history is evident in their commitment to ChristieCare, a commitment which extends beyond the children we serve, to our workforce. To honor this dedication, ChristieCare recently dedicated the Education and Training Room to Bill and Deborah Barr. The room is located on the third floor of our main administration building. The Bill and Deborah Barr Education and Training Room is the site of many important agency trainings and meetings, including all our new employee training. This extensive training incorporates First Aid/CPR; Pro-Act; milieu management; Trauma-Informed Care; and, as our agency’s treatment philosophy, Re-EDucation is given special attention, and its principles are woven in to all elements of employee training. The Education and Training Room is also the home of all staff refresher trainings and leadership meetings. Finally, the room is the site of our annual Halloween party for staff and children, the library for our reading group, and, during the holidays, it serves as Santa’s workshop and the place where staff and volunteers spend many hours wrapping presents and preparing for agency celebrations. ChristieCare would simply not be able to continue the work we do everyday without the steadfast support of people like Bill Barr, whose commitment is matched by his passion for and belief in quality mental health services for all children.

Future Perfect

Jacqueline S. Flanagan, Director of Development & Marketing, Familylinks, The road to adulthood is rarely smooth, but sometimes the bumps and potholes are big – problems with drugs and alcohol, difficult family relationships, and homelessness. Fortunately for teens like James Wilson, Familylinks offers resources that can give teens what they need: an education, a safe place to sleep, and a caring counselor. A road to success. James Wilson, 21, was one of those teens for whom the bumps were big. “I was in with the wrong crowd,” he says. He had problems with drugs and bucking authority. Wilson bounced between foster care, an aunt who tried to adopt him and a stint at college. The constant in his life: Familylinks . Susann Nunimaker, integration coordinator for Familylinks, met Wilson three years ago when he first came to the Youth Emergency Shelter where she was, at that time, a youth and family specialist. “When I met James he was very angry. But he is also one of the kindest, nicest young men with a good heart, “she says. In fact, Nunimaker recalls Wilson using his hard-earned $5 from work at the shelter to buy her a Mother’s Day card and candle. Both Nunimaker and Wilson remember his prom when Familylinks helped him to acquire a limousine and a tuxedo for the special evening. His Familylinks’ family attended his high school graduation. Wilson also spent some time as a resident in the Adolescent Semi-Independent Living Program (ASIL). ASIL offers youth like Wilson an opportunity to live in a supervised apartment setting in a residential community. Teens live with one or two other residents in an apartment that features a living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms and bath. It’s a taste of independence with the benefit of structure, supervision and training in money management, consumer awareness, health and hygiene, decision making and utilizing community resources. “Wilson did well in ASIL,” says Nunimaker. “Familylinks helped me out,” says Wilson. “They guided me in the right direction and helped me make choices.” After college proved to be the wrong choice for his future, Wilson returned to the Millvale shelter and set his eyes on a new goal: the military, specifically the Marines. Being back at the shelter with staff members who knew and cared for him, helped to ready Wilson for basic training. Today, Wilson’s road has led him from the Pittsburgh area to the Carolinas. After enlisting, he was sent to Paris Island, SC, completed boot camp, then job training school and is now stationed at Camp Le Jeune, NC, awaiting deployment to Afghanistan in February. Wilson’s job is heavy equipment operator, responsible for driving forklifts, bull dozers and graters. He handles everything from moving boxes to creating trails for tanks. His vehicle will be armored in Afghanistan. Wilson’s previous life was one of little discipline. Today, his life in the Marines is all discipline, but he is happy. While his rank is low and much of his work is, as he describes it, dirty work, Wilson says: “I don’t regret it at all.” Nunimaker is not surprised. “James was looking for a place when he came to Familylinks. He found people who cared about him and continue to care about him.”

Giving to Others Gives Meaning to Ourselves David Schindler, M.Ed., Assistant Program Coordinator, West Shore Day Treatment Center, PEP Many of us are drawn to our work with troubled and troubling children because of the sense of purpose it brings to our lives. The children in our care also seek similar purpose but often struggle due to troubling behaviors or social skill deficits. At Positive Education Program’s West Shore Day Treatment Center, a group of students are finding meaningfulness through dedicated volunteer work that they do with children who have autism from PEP-Harbor, one of our specialized centers. Our students, who have named themselves The Next Generation Club, spend time twice a week teaching children and same-age peers with autism social skills using age-appropriate activities and natural settings. In addition to center activities, the club goes swimming, bowling, and hosts an annual Valentine’s Day Dance for their friends with autism and other significant developmental disabilities. By sharing what they have learned and practiced, the club provides their peers with autism some typical life experiences with same-age peers, experiences they are often deprived. As we know, working with children with autism is challenging for adults, let alone young people with their own emotional and behavioral problems! Club members receive ongoing education and training to develop understanding of the disability, and how to deal with difficult situations and disruptive behaviors they might face during their joint ventures. Learning activities and interventions are student led, and observations have shown that the young people with autism respond positively to their sameage peers at high rates. The Next Generation Club members act as advocates for individuals with autism through their community involvement and presentations. Club members are featured in PEP’s Annual Summer Training Institute to share with other professionals how volunteer work can benefit others as well as the group providing the service. The club participates in Case Western Reserve University’s Annual Youth Philanthropy Conference as presenters, an experience rarely given to students in special education. Recently, a group from the club travelled to Pennsylvania with a PEP Assist consultant -trainer and their teacher-counselor where their talk inspired a Re-ED classroom to begin a similar service project in their community. Participation in The Next Generation Club does so much more than benefit the children with autism. Club members build personal competence, learn self-control, and develop tolerance and empathy for others who are different. Time and time again, West Shore’s most disruptive and aggressive students transform into model citizens when given the opportunity to serve and help others. Perhaps their altruistic actions provide the sense of purpose and meaning that we all seek in life; or could it be the joy they receive by giving of themselves and making others happy?

Altruistic “Thieves” Break Into Re-ED School Randolph Fiery, Associate Director - SECEP Re-ED/TRAEP Programs,

A good number of years ago, on a cold winter day, a Sunday to be exact, I decided to drive to school to complete some work that was haunting me. It is a dilemma many of you may have faced: getting behind in your work load and recognizing that you have to put in some extra time to get things right. I arrived on this cold Sunday morning to an empty building. The temperature outside was hovering around 20°. Yet even worse was the fact that the school boiler was not working, and the inside temperature of the building was just above freezing. The cold air contributed to my sense of feeling overwhelmed, but I decided that I should just hunker down and do some work. My work on that morning was far short of efficient; writing a report while dressed in a winter coat and gloves seemed rather daunting. After about 90 minutes of work, I was interrupted by the sound of voices. Suddenly, I was hit by a wave of adrenaline as I recognized that someone was in the building. I was frightened, but I knew I had to investigate. So I picked up a heavy metal flashlight that I had in my office and headed toward the sound of the commotion. The thieves were not what I expected! The leader of this gang was about five feet tall and weighed approximately 90 pounds. Her two accomplices were in strollers and were somewhere between six months and three years old. They were all bundled up in heavy clothes, and their weapons were rolls of construction paper and bulletin board supplies. Yes, they were a very dangerous gang of thieves. A Re-Ed School had been broken into on a Sunday morning by a Teacher Counselor and her two infant children. The small gang of thieves had come to work on this cold winter morning to create a new classroom. Soon the room was transformed from a drab container into a multi-layered educational environment. Without warning, a small woman and her children had taught me an important lesson. They had let me know that good people live in this world and that they go about their business of doing hard work and good deeds without expecting to be recognized or applauded. This kind and dedicated woman did not know that her boss would be at work on that Sunday morning. Without advertisement or permission, she had taken it upon herself to carry the burden of others without asking for help and without expecting compensation or accolades. You see, our school had recently faced some adversity. An influx of new students dictated that we must open a new classroom. We had been unable to hire a new teaching team, and this kind woman had taken it upon herself to create a classroom that was colorful, joyful and full of educational life. She was creating a classroom for staff that had not been hired. A Teacher Counselor was building a classroom for others without being assigned and without benefit to herself. Years later I am still visited by this Teacher Counselor, by this gang of thieves and this act of altruism. More than she could ever know, she taught me about the power of working hard, doing good deeds for others and most importantly, how an individual’s actions can create hope in others. In the same way, you must not underestimate the power of your spirit and actions. Each of you on a daily basis are capable of creating hope in staff members, the children you work with and the families of our educational community. Your daily labor can become a powerful memory that appears like an uninvited thief at the door: a thief that awakens a bonfire of hope and productivity. On this day do not sell yourself short. Create a bonfire in our modern education world. I wish you peace and courage in the days that lie ahead.

ca n

Amer i

n iatio oc

Heidi Solomon, Program Coordinator, Youthability, YouthAbility is a program of the Jewish Family Service Association in Cleveland, Ohio. YouthAbility serves about 320 youth annually and donates more than 6500 hours of service to the community. The yearly cost per participants is roughly $150. YouthAbility empowers disabled and at-risk teens by engaging them in volunteerism. As the principal at a school for troubled youth once said, “Through YouthAbility, our students go from being community outcasts to becoming community heroes”. Before coming to Congresswoman Marcia Fudge with YouthAbility YouthAbility, most students had only experienced the students in Washington, D.C. receiving end of service. Through volunteerism, they reap the rewards of giving back. The philosophy of YouthAbility is based on three simple principles: everyone has the ability to help, everyone has talents, and our talents can benefit others. Giving young people the opportunity to give back is like administering mega-doses of selfesteem. The case manager of a teenage girl who volunteered daily during her spring break reported he had never seen such dramatic positive change in a youth as he had as a result of her service. In addition to the boost in self-confidence, some students develop strong skills at the volunteer site and go on to competitive employment. Many YouthAbility volunteers have received local and regional awards for their outstanding service to the community. Students who are interested in making a strong commitment to volunteerism are invited to participate in long-term group projects through YouthAbility. This year, students had an opportunity to join a 6-month advocacy project which concluded with a trip to DC and meetings on Capitol Hill. The students learned about the legislative process and advocated for greater inclusion of disabled and at-risk populations in the Serve America Act. When the final bill passed, all the language they had advocated for was included in the law. The youth felt that their hard work had made a difference to improve the lives of others. During the sessions on Capitol Hill, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge declared, “This is my best meeting ever!”

ucation -ED A


Altruism: A Great Example


“Come Play”

American Re-Education Association Visit us on the web at: Jimmy Dowd - Editor

Curriculum Development Specialist, Pressley Ridge Training

Rico Pallotta Grants Have you been told that you have a great idea to improve the lives of the kids and families

that we serve? Then have you been told that there is no money in the budget to implement your great idea? AREA may be able to help in a small way. The American Re-Education Association provides two $1000.00 grants each year to a deserving Teacher/Counselor that has an idea to implement in their program. The grant is called The Rico Pallotta Innovation Grant. Go to for details and the application.

AREA is accepting Rico Pallotta Grant applicaions until the end of December, 2009. They will be reviewed and the winners will be announced in January, 2010! Please send all grant applications to Claudia Valore at

The new Re-ED book, Helping Troubled and Troubling Children: Continuing Evidence for the Re-ED Approach is now available. Visit for ordering instructions, or order on-line at

The AREA Newsletter will be published every other month. If you do not see your article in this issue, look for it in the March, 2010 issue. If you have an interesting story about your work or your colleagues’ work with children and families, please submit your articles to We’d love to hear your story, and will help you develop it into something that your peers across the country will learn from and enjoy. We can’t wait to hear from you!

AREA Newsletter  

The AREA Newsletter contains stories of fellow Re-EDers.

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