ECE

Book Review: How to Raise an Adult

By Carissa Rutkauskas

 

As the parent of three children, the eldest of whom is in his first year of high school, and someone who spends her weekdays promoting concurrent enrollment, I am always on the lookout for resources to help our family along our journey to produce happy, fully-functioning adults. Julie Lythcott-Haims’s How to Raise an Adult: Break free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kids for Success was mentioned in an online Facebook group I follow and I knew by the title that I had to read it (full disclosure: I don’t have time to read, but audiobooks are great!)

I loved it. From the topic of each chapter, to the external references and resources she mentions, her personal experiences (as a college dean and mother), interviews, and research all held opportunities for thought to better parenting. In our household, we believe that independence, self-reliance, and self-efficacy is equally important as teamwork and communal experiences. Some of Lythcott-Haims’s suggestions may seem extreme for some families, but it provides ideas that promote healthy boundaries in the parent-child relationship. All parents want to protect their kids, but at the same time, one of the greatest gifts we can provide are the tools for them to become capable, curious, autonomous humans. I couldn’t help but to self-reflect as I made my way through the chapters. Was I a permissive, authoritarian, or authoritative parent, or overlapping in some areas? (p. 146) Am I causing them psychological harm by doing for my kids what they can already do for themselves? (p. 94) Is it really true that there are fewer missing children than there were in the 1980s and that child abductions are done by a friend or relative? (p 15).

 

I would love to include the title of each of her chapters, as each speaks volumes on its own, but here are just a few, from Part 3: Another Way, for thought:
12. The Case for Another Way
13. Give Them Unstructured Time
14. Teach Life Skills
15. Teach Them How to Think
16. Prepare Them for Hard Work

 

And it would be a shame not to include some of the books and articles that she references, as their clever titles lead to contemplation…
• Gist: The Essence of Raising Life-Ready Kids
• Less-Structured Time in Children’s Daily Lives Predicts Self Directed Executive Functioning
• Helicopter Parents: An Examination of the Correlates of Over-parenting of College Students
• How Not to Talk to your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise
• Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
• Homework’s Emotional Toll on Students and Families
• Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life
• The Decline of Plan and the Rise of Psychopathology in Children and Adolescents
• Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

 

Parents want what is best for their children and sometimes the hardest thing is letting go, giving kids the opportunity to invent themselves and parents the opportunity to reinvent themselves.

Next Generation of Student Registration: A Great Success

By Jessica Dunn

 

As announced in the Summer 2021 Magazine, UConn ECE has a new student registration system, DualEnroll.com. We successfully launched UConn.DualEnroll.com on August 23, 2021, and we have received very positive feedback from our community ever since. We put a Student Registration Survey out to our Site Representatives once we closed registration in the beginning of October, and the responses were very encouraging. As it was the first year with the new system, there were indeed some bumps along the way, and some learning curves as we all worked to navigate the new system together, but there was nothing our resilient community could not overcome. With 13,889 students enrolled in UConn courses this year, a program record, we consider the registration period a great success!

 

We received responses from almost half of our Site Representatives, and open-ended responses that were echoed over and over included:
“The new system allowed the students to complete their portion in one step!”
“Quicker process, more user-friendly, and more streamlined”
“The online platform allowed me to track the status of applications more efficiently and support student registration.”

 

There were also a few responses which confirmed the need for minor improvements for next year. Things such as updating the language used in parent correspondence to clarify their steps, refining the student program fee waiver process, and improving the processing time of enrollments and payments. These are all items that are being addressed at this time and will be implemented for next fall. As we look forward to next year’s registration process, we are excited by the opportunity to fine tune the existing product and present a topnotch student registration process to our community.

Cover Artwork Submissions

 

Cover image
Ashlynn Miles, Griswold High School
Underwater
A painting of a woman in a white dress underwater using a type of medium called guash. This artwork is a symbol of transition and moving forward. It represents stepping into something new. A new perspective, its own glow and scope of color. It represents a feeling of weightlessness where gravity does not apply and the world is muffled and silent.

 

 

Runner up
Nicole Gallecher, Bolton High School
Flying Through Colors
When given a transitions assignment I automatically thought of the lifecycle of a butterfly. I started by sketching the branches, next the caterpillar, then the cocoon. I filled in each with a variety of colored pencils. After that I sketched the butterfly and added the color. Finally I included black marker to outline the butterfly and branches, and add in more detail to the cocoon and caterpillar.

Investing in Continuing Education

By Stefanie Malinoski

 

With close to 1,500 certified UConn ECE Instructors as part of the program, UConn ECE follows a thorough certification process to review and vet all applicants. All certified Instructors through UConn Early College Experience must meet the rigorous certifications standards set by each University Department that we work with to offer UConn courses in our partner high schools. These certification standards are the same standards used when hiring adjunct faculty members to teach the courses on campus. Many disciplines require a master’s degree in the content area in order to qualify for certification. Other disciplines may accept a master’s degree in Education, with a bachelor’s degree in the subject area and two or more content-based graduate courses in the appropriate discipline. But what happens when a motivated teacher may fall short of the Department’s standards for certification?

 

In 2007, UConn ECE began a scholarship program to assist current high school teachers who are looking to become certified to teach UConn courses in their high schools. Currently, UConn ECE offers two scholarships each semester — Fall, Spring, and Summer — to teachers who are interested in UConn ECE certification. The scholarship allows interested teachers to take graduate courses or necessary undergraduate courses in their content areas at any college/ university to become more qualified candidates for certification.

 

To date, almost 60 scholarships have been awarded to high school teachers helping them achieve certification with UConn Early College Experience. After many years of classroom teaching experience, it can be daunting for teachers to transition back to a student role. However, it is clear we work with dedicated teachers who exhibit the willingness to go the extra mile to offer UConn courses at their schools and build their professional resumes. Their commitment to complete additional coursework is indicative of their superior education and tireless efforts found at the high school.

 

For some instructors this is a process that may take a significant amount of time. In 2018, Seth Murphy (Thomaston High School) inquired about the possibility of becoming certified to teach UConn’s POLS 1602: Introduction to American Politics. At the time, Seth was already certified through UConn ECE to teach U.S. HIST 1501 and 1502 (2018) but was looking to expand his certification to include other courses so they could be offered to the students at THS. Based on his unique background and interests, he believed he would be a good fit for certification to teach additional UConn courses in European History and Political Science through UConn ECE. After his transcripts and application materials were reviewed by the Faculty Coordinators from European History and Political Science, they determined additional coursework would need to be completed in each discipline before certification could be reconsidered. While some teachers may be unable to dedicate the time or have the ability to complete additional coursework, Seth set out on a plan to complete graduate-level political science and history coursework so he could achieve certification in the future.

 

In 2020, after two years of completing graduate level coursework and utilizing the UConn ECE Graduate Scholarships, Seth achieved certification to teach HIST 1300, and 1400 and POLS 1602 in 2021. Seth says “The scholarships have allowed me to offer my students up to fifteen college credits. When I started at my school the only UConn history courses, we offered were 1501 and 1502, but now they have five different classes to choose from. I am proud that, by taking my classes, my students can earn an entire semester of college and be one step ahead of the game.” As of the 2021-2022 year, an entering freshman at Thomaston High School now has the ability to earn thirty-four UConn credits throughout their academic careers at THS. Seth shared that students can graduate high school and enter college with enough credits to be considered second semester sophomore status.

Instructor of Distinction: Kevin Mariano

By Brian A. Boecherer

 

Q. How long at Plainfield High School?
A. I am currently in my 14th year of teaching, all at Plainfield High School.

 

Q. Which courses do you teach?
A. I co-teach the Social Studies side of American Studies with Ms. Laura Maher who teaches the English side. I also teach Modern World History (10th grade) and a self-designed course entitled “Dialogue and Rhetoric” for grades 9-12. This immersive class is designed for students to refine public speaking skills and build empathy with one another to create a safe environment to hold meaningful dialogue conversations and deliberate compromise in a civil way. I also coach our competitive Debate Team and am the Director of the Fall Drama and Spring Musical Theater
Programs.

 

Q. Tell us why you got into teaching and maybe a bit about how you see your role as a teacher?
A. In 8th grade I considered being a teacher but thought it would be boring to do the “same thing every year for 30 years.” As I headed to college to study international relations a year after 9/11/2001, I considered becoming a US Diplomat to bring peace and healing to our country. Above all else, though, I wanted to be a dad someday. After some soul searching during my first semester of college at the University of Maryland, I knew that “I didn’t want to be a dad who was home for three weeks and traveling for three weeks.” As such, history was “what made sense to me” and I ultimately wanted to “help kids now to encourage peace for our future.” Teaching high school students has been a dream come true; building a rapport, earning their respect and bonding with students is the skeleton key to my job. Those moments fill me with joy. I am happy to inform my 8th grade self that teaching is “30% lessons and 70% psychology”, meaning that each moment matters and if I am bored, I am not doing my job the right way. And, I am never bored.

 

Q. You won the Teacher of the Year Award last year at Plainfield High School and were a semi-finalist for the Connecticut Teacher of the Year this year. What would you say is core to your teaching philosophy?
A. I strive daily to build a genuine rapport with my students and faculty based on a single philosophy from Lakota Chief Crazy Horse’s statement, “We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our Children.” These connections are the foundation to building kind, empathetic, and self-confident humans who move on to help others in their lives. Upon reflection, this has been a pillar to the application of my philosophy. Our Debate Team was built from my (seemingly) bold decision to do “that” with “those kids” as some naysayers once taunted. The Team proudly competes in the annual Dr. Grace Sawyer-Jones Parliamentary Tournament held at Three Rivers Community College and consistently does well, winning the 2016 Championship. During remote learning last school year which paused the competitive Debate circuit, the Debate Team students connected to fellow students by creating “Panther Break Out Rooms” each Wednesday for eight weeks. Earning administrative approval and adding a link on the school website, Debate Captain Julia Koski reflected, “I learned about the power even single individuals have to cultivate change.” In sum, empowering students to help others is the zenith of our profession. Inspired kids inspire kids.

 

Q. As a UConn ECE Instructor of American Studies with your co-teacher Laura Maher, what sorts of things do you want the students to walk away knowing, so when they reflect on your class 20-years from now they still know?
A. In 20 years, Laura Maher and I want the students to realize that history will most likely repeat as we profess that American history is cyclical and our Forefathers’ generation battled similar issues that we negotiate today. Our aim is to engage the students to “destroy the box, build your own box, then constantly try to reshape it.” Never settle and always be working to “build a more perfect union for our posterity.”

 

Neither of us ever learned about “the present day” in depth while in our high school US history classes. Therefore, our first unit in American Studies revolves around the Obama and Trump presidencies, including, but not limited to, the impact of various social and political movements like Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. Our students are hungry to discuss and learn about these topics. They see it daily playing out on social media and in the news, and they plead to have dialogues about “things that matter.” We explore varying perspectives with the students, and have had guest speakers including a professor and a police officer educate our students on how political and the media’s rhetoric influences their lives/jobs and how, in the end, the “goal of the movements is to achieve the same thing.” Meanwhile, the students dissect the Broadway musical Hamilton as a form of historical and modern-day commentary, casting another light on immigration, women’s studies, and building “a more perfect union.” In sum, as we cover American history dating back to the 1920s, we are constantly making connections to the modern era, so the students can better understand
the “cause/effect” of an era and determine for themselves to what extent progress has been achieved. Moreover, Laura and I stringently target the quality of student writing over the entire course and assess the students on their
ability to set new goals for the next paper (and to what extent they achieve their goals). Through all of this, students will hopefully appreciate their steadfast hard work, better understand the world they have been dealt, and feel confident to use their voice to impact our world for the better.

 

Q. We are living through some difficult social times, but Americans have lived through other difficult social times and come back stronger. Do you have any advice for the everyday person on how to play a part and make things better?
A. Americans have lived through many turbulent times, but never in the social media age. To just think that the political landscape will magically improve on its own is dangerous. Many of us have created our own worlds on our phones, liking and unliking, following the news we want and ignoring the news we may consider “fake” or disingenuous. While “yellow journalism” is not new, the “war on the truth for-profit” is cancerous, and today’s generation of students are, by far, the most SKEPTICAL that I have worked with in my career. Across the board, they appreciate that they are American, but know that adults in our society could set better examples of living up to the standards and ideals of this “City upon a Hill.”

 

To this reader, I assure you that this generation of students is watching the adults’ every move on the issues that mean the most to them: #1 climate change, #2 gun rights/violence, and #3 treatment of marginalized populations. This generation of youth is also the most inclusive group in terms of accepting people for who they are. For most teens, they want adults to know that technology is their friend and their catalyst to progress. Following the news daily can bring us to a dark place, which is why it is important to focus on the things we CAN control. In the classroom, I insist, “Make our world a better place by making your world a better place.” How? 1. Always help someone. You might be the only one that does. 2. Everyone you meet is struggling with something all of the time and it is normal to ask for help. 3. This world will be more peaceful if we listen to understand and act to compromise rather than remain tribal.

Passion Drives Student Wealth – Student Success Plan

By Brian A. Boecherer

 

The definitions of success, wealth, and happiness (and their relationship with each other) are confusing for many in society, but for high school students making their way through a world of transitions, they are even more difficult to locate on a map. Students hear and read countless times that getting into a good college will help them get a good job and good jobs will make them happy. In these engagements a “good job” is infrequently defined, but we have all seen the supplementing graphs in such articles and presentations that show which jobs make the most money and the rest is up for interpretation. The relationship between success, wealth, and happiness can be confusing for students as they plan for life after high school. What does success mean? Is it a concrete thing? A destination? With the pressure to validate one’s successfulness at every turn, we grasp for measures that satisfy a listener and reinforce the conception of success with narrowing variability. Is success and happiness the same as a high-paying job? This is an important conversation to have when helping students to develop their goals for the future. What is the role of happiness in student success?

 

Over the years I have been struck by multiple conversations with students where they choose the potential for a high salary over their own preferences (or even exploring their own preferences). One vivid example occurred when I taught a First Year Experience course at UConn. On the first day of class I would go through the traditional round robin of student introductions, learning names, where each student was from, whether they were a UConn ECE alumnus, and their current major. During the procession one student announced he was going to be a business major to which I asked…

“What interests you about business; which areas do you want to explore?”
“I want to make money,” the student responded.
“What will you do with the money once you earn it?”
“I will be rich.”
“Then you will be happy?”
“It’s better than being poor.” A response met by polite chuckles from others.
“You should look into being an accountant, they make a lot of money,”
another student chimed in.

 

At the time, it never occurred to me to ask the student, “How much money do you need to be happy or to consider yourself a success?” I explored some answers to that question much later, but wish I had been better equipped to offer the conversation to my students when I taught the course.

 

According to research on the relationship between money and happiness, we find a statistically significant relationship between the two, but the evidence also shows that after a point the relationship bears diminishing returns. When looking at the happiest countries in the world, the Scandinavian countries rank highest in terms of happiness and well-being. They also rank among the richest. Causation? The numbers by themselves do not show the whole picture. The respondents in the study reported their happiness was based on having a comfortable standard of living, the freedom to make life choices, supportive social networks, good health, and trust in their government (United Nations World Happiness Report, 2021). Certainly, the first two variables may equate to wealth, but not necessarily.

Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert, also confirms that money plays a part in happiness. While happiness scores go up as salaries go up, the correlation does not last past a certain point. When your annual income gets between $40,000 and $70,000 a year, the research attests, “you’ve bought almost all the happiness you can get.” (Gilbert, D., American Psychological Association, 2010). After that, happiness comes from other sources, and thus, a comfortable standard of living is more of a foundation, than the source.

 

In terms of how we can support our students when navigating their time of great transitions, there is a large body of research that clarifies the conversation on happiness. The two things that matter the most are strong relationships and a sense of meaning and purpose. These two variables interact, as pursuing something that is purposeful often puts us into the orbit of likeminded individuals, helping us to develop deep and lasting relationships.
With students reporting higher rates of loneliness than ever before, the best antidote is re-centering students with conversations about what makes them happy. Ask students, “What are your passions and how do you plan on pursuing them during and after high school?” Research suggests that defining one’s passions is not easy for students and they revert to answers like, getting into a good college and getting a good job. These vagaries avoid self-exploration. As parents and teachers are a student’s best sources of advice and leadership, reflecting and sharing critical points in our own life story, is a key tool to help them unlock their own understanding.

 

In addition, as Dr. Martin Seligman, who founded the field of Positive Psychology suggests, it is vital to show students that meaning and purpose must be internally defined, not defined by others. That is, while there are many global issues that need our attention, being active on these issues or becoming a public leader should not be the absolute standard by which we define success or find purpose. Joining clubs, helping in your local community, advancing issues as we self-determine, and pursuing academic interests and hobbies are all part of a meaningful life. Being engaged and exploratory is to be passionate. The connection between passion and developing relationships is also clear. A simple Google search shows the millions of articles, ranging from academic journals to men’s and women’s magazines, that discuss why people who are passionate about something attract others. Passionate people never seem to be bored or boring to others. They have stories to tell, information to share, and are hungry to learn more, which requires communication. Passionate people are magnets for teaching, learning, and unlocking opportunities for themselves and for others.

 

Targeting happiness as a goal is also not the same as advocating for poverty. With such a diverse economy, following one’s passions often results in financial gains. The objective is to put the horse before the cart and advocate for passions leading to a comfortable standard of living, rather than a standard of living leading to happiness and fulfillment. Breaking the over-simplified and often extreme wealth-happiness conception may not be easy. Part of the issue is that the feeling of financial security is hard to define and when the world is less stable (since the Great Recession), money seems to be the best buoy on a rough sea. According to a study conducted by Ameriprise Financial in 2019, only 13% of Americans with at least $1 million of investable assets felt wealthy. Six in 10 of these same people define themselves as “upper middle class”, while 25 percent identify as being “middle class.” (Ameriprise Financial, 2019)
Talking to students about the basics is the best approach in helping them include happiness, passion, and purpose as part of their student success plan. We are all afraid of admitting to what we don’t know. When a student can’t find a “satisfactory” answer to what things they are passionate about or what may give them purpose, the easiest deflection is over-simplification. The world is more complicated than ever before and with each generation the transition to adulthood is tougher. Let’s help each other by starting the discussion, sharing the statistics we do know, and leaving time for reflection and revision.

Photos: Finding Joy, Finding Beauty, Finding Purpose.

By Elizabeth Kindt

 

 

 

 

The artist who photographed the cover of this summer’s 2021 UConn ECE Magazine is UConn ECE student Cindy Santiago from New Britain High School. Cindy’s photograph titled “Tulips in the Springtime” was a photo taken during the month of May that reminded her of Copenhagen. In her submission Cindy writes that Copenhagen has, “the prettiest fields full of tulips which is what inspired me to take this photo. I made sure to angle it in a way that makes you look like you’re inside the field in a way.” Congratulations to our cover artist Cindy, and thank you for finding the joy and beauty in our Springtime Submission Contest.

Thanks to all who submitted photos and congratulations to the follow students whose photos appear in within the pages of the magazine:

 

Brian Carson, Seymour High School. The focus within the many. White flowers on the branch of a tree. One is in focus, despite them all being nearly the same, this sole flower is the most beautiful.


Jada Vercosa. Southington High School. Watch sweet magnolias in bloom! Magnolias are a beautiful flowering tree and the blooms are so delicate. The light pink color and petals can be seen where I live and they always make me smile.

 

Alessandra Sanchez. Montville High School. Pretty Little Thing. Just saw an email about this and I love photography so enjoy 🙂

 

Janeesa Libanori. E. C. Goodwin Technical High School, Life is like a flower, plant the seeds and watch them bloom. As life begins, the “flower” gets watered and grows. This refers to babies growing up into young adults and as they grow, you watch them bloom. Parents teach their children how to grow up and strive on their own.

 

Srilekha Kadimi. Amity Regional High School. Live Life In Full Bloom. Fully blossomed magnolia.