Blog Relocated

Hi Everyone,

The Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Parent Blog has moved.  Here’s the new address:

Thanks, Dave


Rachel Simmons at the “Girls Symposium” – October 17 in Trumbull, CT

Here’s some information on an upcoming local symposium on girls featuring Rachel Simmons.  Many members of the Middle School faculty will attend; perhaps some parents would also like to attend.



Keynote Speaker
Rachel Simmons

Keynote speaker Rachel Simmons, is aNew York Times best-selling author, educator, and coach helping girls and young women grow into emotionally intelligent and assertive adults.

She will share best practices on empowering girls with confidence and courage.

The first 100 registrants will receive a free copy of The Curse of the Good Girl.

Thursday, October 17
Marriott Merritt Parkway, Trumbull

Join more than 200 educators, social service providers, parents, school resource officers and more at the Second Annual Girls Symposium.

You’ll experience expert-led presentations and workshops specially designed to help today’s girls and young women.

You’ll learn strategies you can apply in the following areas:

  • Teen dating violence and sexual assault
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Empowering girls to take on leadership roles
  • Body image and self-esteem
  • Bullying and cyberbullying
  • Fostering Collaboration among girls
  • And more


The Girls Symposium is ideal for:

    • Educators
    • Social Service professionals
    • Faith-based leaders
    • Therapists
    • School Resource Officers
    • Parents and guardians
    • Anyone who works with girls


Registration is $75 per person and includes continental breakfast, lunch and materials.

Space is limited to the first 200 attendees, so register online today.

You can also print, complete and mail your registration form and check.


Date: Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Location: Trumbull Marriott Merritt Parkway
180 Hawley Lane
Trumbull, Conn.
Driving Directions 


Tricia Hyacinth
Program & Development Associate
The Fund for Women and Girls



Siege by Taliban Strains Pakistani Girls’ Schools

The New York Times

Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York Times

Girls attending class in Nowshera. The Taliban see schools as symbols of Western decadence. More Photos »

Published: July 11, 2013

GHALANAI, Pakistan — The classroom in Ghalanai, an area nestled amid the mountains of Pakistan’s tribal belt, has the air of a military camp: a solitary tent pitched beside a bombed-out building, ringed by a high wall and protected by an armed gunman.

“We need to assure parents that it’s safe,” said Noor Haider, a local tribal leader who took on school security after Taliban militants bombed the school three years ago.

Extreme measures have become necessary as Taliban militants have pressed their violent campaign against girls’ education in northwestern Pakistan, bombing schools and terrifying pupils and parents.

More than 800 schools in the region have been attacked since 2009, according to government education authorities. But it was a vicious attack last October on an outspoken 15-year-old schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, that moved the issue to global prominence.

A Taliban hit man shot Ms. Yousafzai in the head in an attempt to silence her eloquent advocacy of education rights in Swat, a picturesque mountain valley that had been the scene of fierce fighting between the Taliban and the military.

After a medical evacuation to Britain, where war surgeons repaired her shattered skull, Ms. Yousafzai has made a startling recovery. In March, she resumed her schooling in Britain. And on Friday she is marking her 16th birthday by addressing a youth assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

That speech will be the first unmediated public appearance by a young woman who has become an international symbol of teenage bravery and educational activism. Ms. Yousafzai has won numerous honors and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. News of her progress is assiduously followed across the world.

Back in Pakistan, however, the Taliban war on girls’ education continues unabated.

Ghalanai is the headquarters of Mohmand, a hilly tribal agency along the Afghan border where schools have been the targets of more than 100 attacks. Military check posts dot the hilltops, overlooking largely barren land. A female suicide bomber almost killed the leader of a religious party here this year.

The Pakistani Taliban see schools as symbols of both Western decadence and government authority, but their attacks are also intended to deny the Pakistani military the possibility of establishing temporary bases in the buildings. Typically, they strike in the dead of night, planting explosives that topple buildings and shred desks and blackboards.

The authorities have struggled to respond. At the Government Girls Primary School, Mr. Haider started the tent school with help from the United Nations. Otherwise, the government has done little, he said.

And the Taliban continue to exert pressure on parents and pupils. Night letters posted in the town describe girls’ schooling as a “product of the West” and order pious Muslims to shun the schools.

The siegelike situation has led some brave young women to follow Ms. Yousafzai’s example and defy the Taliban edicts. That was the case in Shabqadar, on the edge of Mohmand, where the Taliban decided to send a violent message in December.

Hira Gul, a 14-year-old pupil, was awakened by an explosion at midnight. The next morning she found a pile of rubble where her school had stood. The attack came as no surprise. “This has become very common in our area,” she said.

Her teacher, however, was profoundly affected. For days after the attack, the teacher, Fazeelat Bibi, visited the destroyed school every morning “to cry my heart out,” she said.

She has restarted class in her back garden. But attendance has fallen 75 percent, and Ms. Bibi has started wearing an all-covering burqa to work to avoid attracting the Taliban’s attention.

“Teaching here was never easy,” Ms. Bibi said.

She noted a prevailing conservative mind-set in which education is the preserve of boys. But she added, “Now it’s fear and growing extremism that are making parents keep children at home.”

The attacks on schools are mostly the work of the Pakistani Taliban, who see girls’ education as un-Islamic. The group earned global scorn and revulsion after it proudly claimed responsibility for the attack on Ms. Yousafzai — a claim that, at least briefly,helped rally Pakistani public opinion against the movement.

In Swat, which lies about 50 miles east of Mohmand, deeper in the mountains, some tribesmen have lionized Ms. Yousafzai as a teenage heroine who stood up to the Taliban where many others have faltered. Despite continuing threats, the girls’ school that she attended, which was run by her father, is open and running at full strength.

“We were not expecting the pupils to come back, but they did,” said the school administrator, Iqbal Khan.

Ms. Yousafzai, meanwhile, has resumed her schooling, at Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham, England. Another teenage girl hurt in the October attack recently arrived in England to join her.

“They will not stop me,” Ms. Yousafzai recently wrote on her Facebook page. “I will get my education, if it is in home, school or any place.”

But Ms. Yousafzai’s plight has also provoked some contrary reactions in her own community, ranging from jealousy and suspicion to naked fear. An attempt to rename a government girls’ school after her failed after students loudly protested that, by associating with Ms. Yousafzai, they would make targets of themselves.

In the bazaar, some residents hint at resentment toward the global attention to Ms. Yousafzai. Some complain that it has overshadowed the bravery of other young women. Others indulge in muttered conspiracies about Western intervention.

Some have posted crude abuse on Ms. Yousafzai’s Facebook page alongside the praise for her campaign, calling her a “kanjri” — an Urdu word for a prostitute — or an “American agent.”

“Many people think it is a fabricated drama,” said Ihsanullah Khan, 35, a university lecturer in Swat’s main town, Mingora. “And so many other people have spoken out against militants, or sacrificed their lives. Why are they forgotten?”

Equally, though, the Taliban war on education has strengthened the resolve of Pakistani leaders who see no choice but to stand up against the militants’ cultural and religious dictates.

Mr. Haider, the tribal leader in Ghalanai, said the Taliban had recently kidnapped one of his relatives because he allowed the security forces to draw water from wells on the family’s land.

Since elections in May, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, bordering the tribal belt, has been governed by the party of Imran Khan, a charismatic politician who has a reputation for being soft on the Taliban, yet who has also increased the provincial education budget by 30 percent.

Yet the decision about whether to defy Taliban edicts on girls’ schooling often falls to individual families. The greatest resistance often comes from fearful fathers, said Ms. Bibi, the teacher in Shabqadar.

“They say they don’t want their daughters to become the next Malala,” she said.

Taha Siddiqui reported from Ghalanai, and Declan Walsh from London. Sana ul Haq contributed reporting from Swat, Pakistan.

Technology and the classroom: Girls face greater challenges balancing digital learning with social lives

This article serves as a reminder of the importance of helping the girls manage their use of social media (Sacred Heart Goal V: personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom), while the school implements appropriate boundaries for the use of technology.

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

Mercury News

By Ana Homayoun

Posted:   05/28/2013 09:13:14 AM PDT

These days, prom season seems to be on steroids.

Each spring, high school girls search for the perfect prom dress. Instead of debuting it on prom night, girls create Facebook “prom dress page” groups to avoid the potential embarrassment of discovering someone else is wearing the same dress on prom night. The dress choices elicit a range of responses from supportive to just plain mean. Body image issues surface. It doesn’t take long for the groups to morph into nuanced, drama-filled competitions filled with exclusionary tactics (“Please don’t add any freshman or sophomores unless you know they are being asked!”) and manipulations that would make politicians squirm.

It might be tolerable if online drama only played out after school. Now, the already complex dynamics of girls’ friendships are even more complicated by increased technology in the classroom.

“I usually…

View original post 506 more words

Is pink Lego deterring girls from science?

The Telegraph

Lego’s range of pink toys for girls helps enforce a gender divide that sees boys performing better in science, a BBC television presenter and scientist has claimed.

Lego Friends.

Lego Friends

10 Mar 2013

Professor Alice Roberts, who has fronted programmes including Coast, Secrets from the Ice and Digging for Britain, lambasted sexist attitudes for deterring women from pursuing the subject and suggested the Danish toy was part of the problem.

Since girls are better represented in science elsewhere in the world, the reason why they lag behind in Britain must be “cultural”, she argued.

“The gender divide seems to be getting worse to me,” she told teachers and school leaders at an Education Innovation summit in Manchester.

“Lego has always been a good toy which teaches children about engineering. But Lego is now producing a range which it is says is for girls, which is completely pink and is about creating cakes.

“I think the problem is happening at a very young age, when the idea is instilled that there is a big difference between girls and boys, rather than at age 15.”

She attacked suggestions by education experts that schools could adopt “shopping-based” problems to encourage girls in maths and said the idea of using shopping and the colour pink to interest girls in science was “outrageous”.

“It goes back to a 1950s idea of what women should be like,” she said.

The Lego Friends range, to which Prof Roberts was believed to be referring, was criticized last year for fuelling gender stereotypes.

The line includes a set for girls with figures in pink, purple and green settings, a dream house, a splash pool and a beauty shop.

Lego said it was developed following requests from parents and girls for more realistic and detailed sets with brighter colours and role-playing opportunities.

A spokesman said: “We’ve always had Lego bricks that are pink and we’ve got a wide variety of different sets.

“We don’t say ‘this is for girls’. It’s up to the child or the parent to make the choice.”

Prof Roberts, an anatomist, physical anthropologist and science writer, said women also struggled to progress in scientific careers because of childcare.

“If you have a career break, it has an amazingly bad effect on people’s career,” she said.

Raising Conscientious Children

Don’t Make Your Children the Exception to Every Rule

New York Times, Motherlode

While teaching at a Midwestern university about 15 years ago, I came across a clear case of plagiarism in a student paper. I invited the young woman who had turned in the paper to meet with me to discuss the university’s policies on plagiarism and my concerns about her work. The meeting was pleasant enough until I turned my attention to her paper. She promptly soured, grabbed her bag, left my office and could hardly have been out of the building before my desk phone rang. It was her father, calling from New York, threatening legal action.

This story is distasteful from a number of obvious standpoints: the student’s refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing, the father’s blind defense of his daughter’s “innocence” and the reflexive effort to abuse power and privilege to avoid fair consequences. There is also something deeper here that unsettles me as a psychologist focused on parenting and as a parent myself. In rushing to the rescue, the father was most likely undermining what he was aiming to protect: his daughter’s future well-being.

Research on well-being – the outcome closest to happiness that psychologists will promise – centers on three core factors: health, relationships and a sense of mastery in one’s chosen pursuits. In other words, “happy” adults enjoy good emotional and physical health, have relationships that make their lives better (not worse), and have a sense of competence and control in their endeavors.

When we look at the research on the childhood precursors of adult well-being – the traits we see in children who go on to become happy adults – we find that the driving factor is childhood conscientiousness, not childhood happiness. Children who are industrious, orderly and have good self-control are more likely than their careless or undisciplined peers to grow into happy adults.

Like the father on the other end of the phone, none of us want our children to be unhappy, and we all hope our children will grow to be adults who enjoy an abundance of well-being. It turns out that adult happiness doesn’t arise from parents bending the rules to a child’s advantage; it comes from children learning the rules and conforming to them.

As with many findings in academic psychology, the connection between childhood conscientiousness and adult well-being simply proves common sense. Conscientious people enjoy better health as adults because they chose long-term payoffs over short-term gratifications. Most conscientious people would prefer a cheeseburger to a trip to the gym, but they know that – genetic factors aside – heart disease doesn’t care who your parents are.

In their relationships, conscientious people are unlikely to lie and cheat or, presumably, put up with that behavior in their friends and lovers. When it comes to having a feeling of mastery in one’s endeavors – whether one chooses to be a homemaker or a homebuilder – conscientious people come out ahead because they do good work even when no one is looking.

Of course, people who hold economic and social power enjoy more opportunities than most to operate around the rules: to bully coaches into a lineup change, to buy their way into a school, to help secure an undeserved job. But “exceptionalism” – my term for the belief that rules or conventions are to be observed only when convenient – is not limited strictly to the wealthy or influential. All parents share the instinct to protect their children, and a subset of parents in every tax bracket can be found exercising any leverage they have to have exceptions made on behalf of their children.

We all know irresponsible or dishonest people who have ridden favors, exceptions and connections into adulthoods that seem to be pretty happy. Yet we often suspect that their joys are fleeting or superficial when compared to the contentment of adults who have earned their way, like trust funders who party away their 20s only to become depressed at 40 when they realize they will never share the professional pride of their agemates who are now reaping the rewards of two decades of early-career grunt work.

Raising conscientious children is definitely not the most fun part of parenting. If it were, we as parents would not struggle so universally to follow through on consequences, monitor chores and insist that children spend more time reading and less time playing Temple Run. As a parent, every time I dish out a “helpful reminder” (that would be what I call nagging), I am grateful for research linking childhood conscientiousness with adult well-being. My children may call it annoying, but I consider it a down payment on their future happiness.


Lisa Damour (Twitter: @LDamour) is a psychologist in private practice in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a clinical instructor at Case Western Reserve University, and the director of the Center for Research on Girls at Laurel School.

For Best Results, Create a Partnership with Your Child’s Teachers

From the Huffington Post

Kyle Redford

Teacher, Marin Country Day School and Education Editor, Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity

When You Want To Fire Your Child’s Teacher

Posted: 06/05/2013

As the mother of a dyslexic son, I cannot count the number of times I’ve found myself crazy upset when my child would report feeling hurt or shamed or unfairly treated by a teacher. When teachers speak damaging words or make unfair decisions about our children, it can spur us into impassioned action. In most cases, action is good. But the nature of that action matters. It matters a lot.

Parents of children with complicated learning profiles frequently tell me stories of their children being incorrectly labeled lazy, careless or unintelligent. Hoping to leverage my teacher perspective, they ask for advice about how to respond to decisions they perceive as unfair. Often these conflicts are further complicated by their child’s retreat from school and loss of general confidence. The upset parent’s sense of urgency and frustration is understandable. However, after many years teaching I can say with certainty that venting at or sending snarky emails to a teacher — or, worse yet, taking frustrations to an administrator before talking directly to the teacher — is a mistake. At best, those responses will be ineffective. At worst, they can damage the very important relationship between teacher and student. Even when a teacher appears insensitive or disengaged, it is always in your child’s best interest to assume a teacher’s good intentions and channel your frustration into designing ways to support your child and teacher in the classroom. Here are six things you should do:

1. Advocate.

When a child first reports a problem with a teacher, try to assess the issue and see if there is a way to help them solve the misunderstanding or upsetting situation directly with that teacher. After hearing your child’s problem, consider asking the child to talk to his or her teacher about it. Children may need your help planning, practicing and previewing potential teacher responses. In particular, children in the early grades may need help communicating with their teachers about problems and/or challenges in the classroom. However, students are never too young to take their issues directly to their teachers.

Teachers are much more likely to extend assistance to a child who asks for it. When a child talks with his or her teacher, it gives the teacher an opportunity to better understand that child’s experience. Additionally, the child will be communicating that he or she is trying and cares about his or her work. Teachers will typically move mountains to help a student who makes an effort to talk to them. Through direct conversation, your child will be engaging the teacher on a personal level, and therefore a teacher will be more likely to employ a greater variety of measures to help him or her succeed.

2. Report.

You are the only one who knows if your child is staying up late to get work done, not having time to pursue other interests, or melting down out of frustration or humiliation. Don’t hide this information. Teachers can’t make adjustments if they don’t know the whole picture. Consider sending a nonjudgmental email or placing a phone call to let the teacher know what it looks like at home. Giving teachers a glimpse of what kind of adult support is required outside class also helps them adjust workload expectations. Let teachers know if your child requires books read aloud, papers transcribed or any other kind of heavy parental involvement.

3. Inquire.

As in conflicts of any kind, there are two sides. Before expressing any concerns, it is best to lead with curiosity when you speak to the teacher. Ask questions about your child’s situation before drawing any conclusions. It is likely that you will learn important information by listening and communicating respect for the teacher.

4. Recognize.

Teaching students with learning challenges is usually more labor-intensive. Anyone who denies this is probably being evasive. For example, dyslexic students can be challenging when their deficits require ongoing adjustments and accommodations in a regular classroom. But this difficulty is not necessarily due to the child’s lack of work ethic or intellectual curiosity — or an inability to understand the concepts. A teacher might have to identify how to teach spelling differently or help your child find adapted spelling strategies. In writing-intensive classes, a teacher may have to become your student’s scribe, figure out a way to get him or her composing on a keyboard or make adjustments related to time.

However, teachers (including myself) frequently say that students with learning challenges are some of the most satisfying students to teach. Having students who learn differently in one’s class also acts as a litmus test for best practices. Every student benefits from lessons that break concepts into smaller parts, connect to big ideas and have objectives that are transparent and thoroughly outlined. Students with learning differences cause teachers to reflect more deeply. Teachers have to wrestle with important questions like: “What am I really trying to teach with this activity?” They also have to distinguish between the skills they are asking the students to apply (i.e. handwriting or spelling) vs. skills that the activity intends to assess (i.e. inquiry skills or comprehension of information). Teachers frequently report that struggling students push them to improve and evolve their teaching practices.

5. Appreciate.

Teachers are human. A little appreciation goes a long way. Remembering to acknowledge special things they do for your child makes them much more likely to go out of their way again. Even if you feel like something is an entitlement or a basic expectation, resist communicating that. Showing appreciation for the teacher and exhibiting awareness that your child is not the only student in the class will go a long way toward establishing understanding. Teachers who feel appreciated are much more likely to put in the extra time and effort that may be critical to your child’s academic success.

6. Collaborate.

When possible, offer support that will make the teacher’s job easier: gather information, help your child stay organized, provide a supportive environment for homework and support school policies and classroom rules. These actions will extend support to your child’s teacher while building invaluable goodwill.

Finally, a confession: as much as I care about all my students, I still possess blind spots and occasionally I make decisions that unintentionally cause them distress. Therefore, I need and welcome thoughtful feedback from parents and students in my class. Next time you find yourself strategizing about how to fire your child’s flawed teacher, consider exploring ways to strengthen the partnership between home and school instead. Your child will be much better served.