D30 Master Facility Plan Update

Our work on our master facility plan continues. To create the District 30 Master Facility Plan, our architects, ARCON, updated the physical assessment and completed the educational assessment of our facilities. Parents, students, and staff have participated tours, focus groups, design workshops, and observations that were completed by ARCON and their educational consultant, David Jakes Design.

District 30 has also set up two dates for public tours of Maple to come learn more about the needs we face as a district along with the inclusive process we are employing to define our plan of action.

Public Tours of Maple School

  • Saturday, October 15, 2016, beginning in the Multipurpose Room at Maple School at 10:30 a.m. & 12:30 a.m. (Also Participate in Maple’s Computer Recycling Drive)
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2016, beginning in the Multipurpose Room at Maple School at 6:00 p.m. (Also Participate in Maple’s Canned Food Drive for the Northfield Food Pantry)
  • Wednesday, October 26, 2016, beginning in the Multipurpose Room at Maple School at 6:00 p.m. (Also participate in Maple’s PTO Book Sale)

What follows is an update on our preliminary findings.

Educational Facility Assessment Findings

This intense and comprehensive analysis generated many drivers, findings, and considerations for each District 30 facility:

Drivers – D30 Spaces Should Provide:

  • An invitation to learning
  • Opportunity for exploration
  • Physical & intellectual safety
  • Transparency in learning
  • Integrative opportunities
  • Adaptive options for different styles of learning
  • Comprehensive space
  • A Catalyst for inquiry & creativity
  • An opportunity for play
  • A celebration of learning

Educational Assessment Findings:

  • You are out of space
  • Your spaces present a limited invitation
  • Your spaces require constant negotiation
  • Your spaces are limiting
  • Your spaces could be aligned more effectively
  • Your spaces could support all learners more effectively
  • You lack engaging outdoor spaces – especially at Maple

The recent faculty survey put a quantitative face on our teacher’s perceptions of our facilities. A few highlights include:

90% (87 individuals out of 97 respondents) and 88% (37 out of 42) at Maple agreed or strongly agreed that creating more capable learning spaces would have a significant impact or completely change how students learn.

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Identified Educational Facility Considerations (Preliminary)

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Our Facility Goal Steering Committee has met two times to help inform our considerations and options to address our needs. This work will help our administrative team prioritize our considerations as we update the District 30 Master Facility Plan.

What’s Next?…Citizens’ Task Force Convenes

Once we have a prioritized master facility plan, the Citizens’ Task Force will help clarify communication of our issues, and define a potential solution they believe the community will support. Our community will then receive information about our needs, and they will be surveyed. These results will help inform our Citizens’ Task Force, which will tentatively make a recommendation to our Board of Education on how to proceed at our December 8, 2016, Board Meeting.

After entering into this thorough process, I am even more convinced that this effort to create a long-range facility plan is among the most important areas of need for District 30 at this time. I thank the many people who have and will continue to help with this important initiative.

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Board Goals and D30’s Master Facility Plan

Without question, our schools are among our most valuable community assets. Our Board of Education understands and embraces its responsibility to ensure that our schools continue to be a positive asset in the future.

After meaningful input and reflection, District 30 updated its Strategic Plan last year, which fueled the creation of two important Board Goals:

Goal 1: Increase child-centered instruction within rigorous and coherent educational programs.

Goal 2: Ensure District 30 facilities possess the capacity to support our evolving and emerging programs and contribute to optimal educational experiences.

The first goal works to build upon our educational vision, while our second goal strives to create and realize the facility vision that aligns with our educational vision.

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District 30’s Board of Education has entered into an inclusive process that is respectful of our stakeholders and community by directly involving them in the process of updating our district’s facility vision. The first semester of the 2016-2017 school year will be devoted to this important work, which will include the creation and adoption of a new Master Facility Plan. It will culminate with a Citizens’ Task Force recommendation to the Board of Education on a plan that will accomplish our Master Facility Plan.

Background Information:

Since 2013, District 30 has spent roughly $4.1 million to respond to maintenance needs at our existing facilities. Our work began with a focus on our two elementary schools, Wescott and Willowbrook. Wescott’s roof has been completely replaced, new secure entrances and office configurations along with new flooring have been completed at both elementary buildings. Both schools have also required new air-conditioning units in the past two years.

With the district’s focus shifting toward Maple School, it has become clear that this building will require over $7 million to simply maintain it. This expenditure would not modernize systems, create needed flexible spaces for learning, or support emerging programs like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

Increasing enrollment is also causing additional sections to be added to our elementary schools, which creates constraints on program delivery and limits the ability to support emerging programs like STEM.

Remain Informed:

Regular updates to our staff, parents, and community will be provided throughout the year via (1) my ongoing communications, (2) facility planning updates at Board of Education meetings, and (3) a web page on District 30’s website devoted exclusively to Master Facility Planning information and updates (http://facilities.district30.org).

As always, we value and appreciate your partnership and commitment to the students we serve in District 30. Thank you in advance for staying engaged, including your participation in future community opinion surveys the district will be conducting in late-October or early-November.

Here’s to a great 2016-2017 school year!

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Welcome to the 2016-2017 School Year

It is my pleasure to welcome parents and students to the 2016-2017 school year! I have lived in District 30 for over a decade, and—as a former District 30 parent myself—I consider it a privilege to serve this district and our communities. We have an invested Board of Education, talented administrators and staff, and outstanding students.

District 30 exists to create a community that craves learning, fosters resiliency, and cares deeply for every child. These formative years through District 30 position our children on a path to success. It is evident to me that our talented staff and our supportive parents collectively honor childhood while fostering intellectual, physical, and social-emotional growth for each child. These reflections come from District 30’s Echo, which was created to capture our essence as we updated District 30’s strategic plan last year.

When it comes to learning, nothing eclipses our focus on student-centered learning. I applaud our Board of Education for collaboratively creating strategic objectives and two powerful goals that focus on the areas we believe are most important right now, student-centered instruction and facilities that support our educational practices and emerging programs.

  • Our instructional goal will target job-embedded staff development fostering strong instructional practices, alignment work to the Next Generation Science Standards, and provide continued emphasis on instructional strategies in reading and writing.
  • Our facility goal will engage stakeholders to create a Master Facilities Plan that will carry District 30 into the future. We will collectively identify and prioritize building needs that will include supporting projected enrollments, providing flexible areas that allow for meaningful collaboration, and expanding our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) educational programming. Although Maple’s 1950 building offers the greatest urgency, we will also be considering long-term needs at Wescott and Willowbrook.

The 2016-2017 school year promises to be an incredible year! On behalf of the entire District 30 Board of Education and staff, I extend a warm welcome to all within our District 30 Family.  We are committed to providing the best possible educational experience for all students attending Maple, Wescott, and Willowbrook Schools. I invite each of you to remain connected and involved in your child’s education and to follow my Superintendent’s Blog. Together we will see our children achieve, succeed, and grow!

 

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The District 30 Echo

The District 30 Echo was created this year to capture the essence of District 30 and to drive strategic decision making as we move forward; we want these attributes to echo through and across our district. Enjoy our echo below, which is followed by a brief summary of the process we used this year to renew our strategic plan.

The District 30 Echo

District 30 exists to create a community that craves learning, fosters resiliency, and cares deeply for every child.

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We honor childhood and foster intellectual, physical, and social-emotional growth.

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We value:

  • Lifelong learning
  • Relationships and collegiality
  • Child-centric practices

We will succeed by:

  • Employing strong financial planning
  • Ensuring the highest quality staff through induction and development
  • Implementing rigorous and coherent academic programs

 

Strategic Plan Renewal

The District 30 Pillars have anchored District 30’s strategic planning efforts for several years. 

Pillars

Our leadership team’s work renewing our strategic plan began by carefully updating these pillars by adding specific objectives for each, revising our strategic elements and adding performance indicators to each. This work illuminated the fact that our district was not in need of a shift in our strategic direction but instead, could benefit from increased clarity and focus.

To that end, we created the District 30 Echo. I began the year by hosting over 140 meetings with District 30 stakeholders. As our leadership team renewed our strategic plan, we intentionally incorporated the input from the summer meetings and integrated powerful ideas from our School Improvement Teams at Wescott and Willowbrook, the Leadership Team at Maple, and our Board of Education. I have quickly grown to respect our board, administrative team, our staff, our parents and our students. From every angle, District 30 is special, and we believe our Echo captures factors that differentiate our school district.

I am thankful for all of the support and care I have received during my first year as the superintendent of District 30, and I look forward to the year ahead.

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Growth Mindset & Grit

As a parent and educator, I constantly reflect on the challenges and joys of parenting. My children are nearly 26 and 23. As my wife Kathy and I have watched our children grow through the different phases of life, we have become conscious of the different roles through which we have transitioned as parents. When our children were babies and toddlers, they relied on us for virtually everything. A three-hour trip required the planning and packing of a three day excursion today. In the primary years we oversaw our children’s growth, friends, and life. We were on call at all hours. When our children then hit middle school our children continued to develop independence as we took on the role of managers, helping schedule their life and act as their chauffeur. We continue to manage through gradual release through their high school years as they developed the skills and independence to transition to college. For us, college flew by and we are now in the envious role of being consultants for our young adults.

As I reflect on our own children’s growth from children to adults, we had many goals as parents. We loved them and cared for them throughout their youth, and we kept them safe with clear boundaries through their middle school and high school years. We made sure they received outstanding educations in our wonderful school systems, and we sought a lot of advice along the way. Of all of our charges as parents, one of the most important was their development of their own growth mindset and agency. Both are interrelated and needed for success in our rapidly changing, competitive world.

The related term permeating the literature today is grit. In her Ted Talk, Angela Lee Duckworth defined grit as “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.” In her talk, she asked the question, “How do we build grit in our kids?” Angela summarized that her research has illuminated the importance of grit in success. It overshadows talent, looks, family income, and many other studied factors. Although we continue to collectively learn how to build grit in our kids, one factor Angela identified is one in which I have deep belief. It is the concept of building a growth mindset, a term coined by Stanford’s Carol Dwek. In fact, I would recommend that every educator and parent read Dr. Dwek’s book, Mindset. Dr. Dwek’s research provides us with insights into ways we can collectively build growth mindsets; she shares actions we can take to help children internalize the concept that our ability to learn and succeed are not fixed, but instead connected to our effort.

District 30 continues to benefit from our own growth mindset. One powerful example includes the job-embedded professional development being deepened through our Lab Classroom model. Seventeen teachers participated last week in our first official round of lab classroom visits. Our consultant, Ellin Keene, also worked with our lead teachers at Willowbrook on Thursday, and at Wescott today. I was excited to be able to join in this important work for one of the days. After Ellin and one of our talented lead teachers coplanned a lesson, discussed the components of the lesson with a focus on literacy developing strategies along with the big-picture reasons for each.

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It was fascinating to see very talented teachers deepen their understanding of these important strategies along with their ability to clearly share reasons for each with their students. We also had a wonderful discussion contrasting when to provide direct support to students and when and how to allow students to develop agency. This is a great example of the power of job-embedded professional development, and it continues the very important conversation around how do we build grit in our students.

This is indeed an important conversation worth continuing across District 30 within our classrooms and homes. An article in Forbes Magazine article from 2013 entitled 5 Characteristics of Grit – How Many Do You Have?, Margarete Perlis summarizes that grit’s five characteristics include:

  1. Courage
  2. Conscientiousness: Achievement Oriented vs. Dependable
  3. Long-Term Goals and Endurance: Follow Through
  4. Resilience: Optimism, Confidence, and Creativity
  5. Excellence vs. Perfection

As educators and parents, we can intentionally build these characteristics. As importantly, we should be aware of our well-intended actions that may be getting in the way. These important characteristics are certainly developed by accepting challenges (sports, challenging tasks, etc.) at which our children do not immediately succeed. We can help create the understanding of the difference between not succeeding and failure. Often, the things worth doing don’t come easily; they require sustained effort.

How do we learn to persevere? It is by persevering through loss, defeat, challenges, etc. At times, the best thing we can do is encourage sustained effort by our children instead of stepping in to solve problems, which robs them of the opportunity to grow and unintentionally sends the message that we don’t think they can succeed without us.

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Optimistic Because of the District 30 Family

I value our strong partnerships, the capabilities of our staff, the commitment of our Board of Education and Leadership Team, and I absolutely adore our wonderful students. This year is my twenty-seventh in the amazing field of education. I have loved every step of my journey, and joining District 30 continues to exceed my expectations at every turn. Investment, kindness and care with a clear focus on what is best for our kids permeates this district.

Today’s District 30 Sing exemplified our collective commitment to our culture as we came together as one family. Our students were respectful, and they shared their talents in a packed Maple Gym. It was truly amazing!

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As we reflect on 2015, including some of the recent world events, I hope you remain filled with incredible optimism for the future. I can’t help but reflect on President John F. Kennedy’s quote:

“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”

Simply put, the strong education we partner to provide matters. Our clear belief across District 30 in actively engaging students in their learning as we intentionally develop character and perseverance is obvious and inspiring.

I have quickly felt connected with the District 30 Family, and absolutely know that I am lucky to serve you as your superintendent. On behalf of our Administrative Team and our Board of Education, thank you for your support of, involvement in, and partnership with District 30. We wish you and our students a relaxing and rejuvenating break that includes meaningful memories with those you love.

I look forward to an outstanding 2016 with District 30!

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Skills & Investment

Make no mistake, the primary and middle school years arm our students with skills and habits of mind that place them on a trajectory that will carry them through high school, college and into a career. This is exactly why we work to fulfill the educational needs of all children while recognizing the individuality of each child.

The reality is that today, the skills and habits of mind needed include the hard skills like reading, writing, mathematics, problem solving, and critical thinking. They also include agility in learning as applied to rapidly evolving tools like technology, and the skills of collaboration, communication, and creativity.

I had the pleasure of visiting classes at Willowbrook on Wednesday, October 28th. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing reading and writing workshop in action in first, third, and fifth grade. I also participated in our kindergarten specials that integrate music learning with movement in amazing ways.

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These powerful collaboration efforts were also evident in the evening’s Fifth Grade Musical led by music teacher Mr. Barker, physical education teacher Mr. Goss, and art teacher Ms. Sendaydiego. This entire production was put together by our students. What a wonderful example of our students applying and developing their creativity! I applaud the efforts and accomplishments of our staff and students.

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The closer one gets to the learning occurring across our district, the clearer it is that we are on the right track. It is what our kids do that matters, guided by skilled adults who are clear on their objectives. Our students are being asked to read and write about fiction and non-fiction, are being challenged to explain their thinking, and to creatively utilize technology. I continue to be inspired to see the learning progression across our grades, to see firsthand the skills being developed, and the thinking being realized. At every turn, our students amaze me!

Collaboration, communication, and creativity were also alive and well in the many Halloween activities across our district on Friday, October 30th. We held parades, haunted houses, and the Monster Mash at Wescott.

 

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Older students helped younger students with games at Wescott; Maple students designed and ran an amazing haunted house; and the parades and classroom parties held by our staff and parents were engaging. Our children benefit from the comprehensive educational experience in District 30 that is accomplished through a strong partnership between our talented educators and our invested parents.

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Passion and Improvement

On Friday, October 23, 2015 Wescott and Willowbrook welcomed visiting author Pam Muñoz Ryan, who recently released her new book Echo. She shared her journey of becoming an author, highlighted how she spends her days as an author, and reflected on inspirations for many of her books.

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As she reviewed the six years she spent working on her latest book, she projected a heavily marked up page from her editor and pointed out, “I am not a writer. I am a rewriter.” What a wonderful lesson for our kids and for us.

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As she reflected on her own learning, she told our students, “I wish I could go back to school today. Education has improved so much, as kids today get the chance to authentically write, journal, and hear visiting authors.”

Listening to her wisdom, I couldn’t help but walk away with two messages about passion and improvement.

Find Our Passion:

In her journey, she found her passion, which motivated her through the challenges presented by six years of work for one book.

Consider, author Greg McKeown’s three key questions for a successful life in his book essentialism:

  1. What deeply inspires me?
  2. What are my talents?
  3. What meets a significant need in the world?

Pam Muñoz Ryan was a wonderful example of someone who has answered these questions well. What answers will our kids define as they progress through their educations and lives?

Attaining Excellence Requires Revision and Improvement:

Excellence in anything, like clear and rich writing, requires revision and improvement. I attended elementary, middle and high school in the seventies and eighties. The focus was rote memorization, skill development that included writing for the teacher only, and listening passively. In my twenty-seven years in education, I absolutely agree with Pam Muñoz Ryan that education has improved. Today’s students are given the opportunity to be active learners, who are asked to understand, explain and connect.

Education today must address the seven survival skills defined by acclaimed author and Harvard Education Fellow Tony Wagner:

  1. Critical thinking and problem solving
  2. Collaboration across networks
  3. Agility and adaptability
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism
  5. Effective oral and written communication
  6. Accessing and analyzing information
  7. Curiosity and imagination

These were highlighted by Mr. Andy Kohl, our Director of Educational Technology at our Board Meeting on Thursday, October 22, 2015. Mr. Kohl reminded us all that these are not skills that we can begin developing in a student’s junior year in college. These are skills that are essential in every phase of education.

Thursday’s District 30 Board Meeting also included several other examples of our district’s continuous efforts to improve:

  • Hirsch shared the results of our Teacher Assistant Task Force, which codified protocols and training for individuals in these valuable aide positions
  • Robyn Kogan advocated for the addition of a Civic Action Project for 6th graders that provides a service learning opportunity
  • Our Social Emotional Committee & Guided Studies Team shared the changes that have resulted from their summer curriculum projects that improve these already effective programs
  • Our administrative team reviewed our significant first-quarter progress on this year’s Board Goals

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District 30 embraces the concept of continuous improvement. Our collective efforts strengthen our ability to fulfill the educational needs of all children while recognizing the individuality of each child. In addition, our focus on the intellectual, social, emotional and physical growth of ALL students arms them with skills they need to thrive in today’s world as they explore and ultimately define their won passions.

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Parenting Toward Independence

We are partners in raising our children to be quality, independent adults. Since I began teaching in Glenview in the mid-1990s, I have been amazed at the quality of our students. Of course, this is no accident. A favorite saying of mine is that in our communities, parent is a verb.

Character Counts! Week

Our ongoing focus on the whole child through efforts like Character Counts! certainly influences our kids. At District 30’s October 15th Board Meeting, our Board again unanimously approved a proclamation in support of Character Counts! Week, which will be from Monday, October 19th through Friday, October 23rd. I applaud the focus on the Character Counts! Pillars:

Pillars

Character Counts! Week focuses on these pillars and includes Canned Food Drives at each school. Our efforts combine with District 34 and OLPH to create the single largest donation to the Northfield Food Pantry, which serves over 700 families in need from within our communities.

Ongoing Growth as Parents

This week also included author Julie Lythcott Haims sharing insights from her book How to Raise an Adult at Glenbrook North High School last Wednesday, October 14th. Ms. Haims’ presentation through the Family Action Network was outstanding and worth watching.

Her core message for parenting. She emphasized, “Our job is to build confidence, competence, and ultimately independence.” Ms. Haims shared a compelling argument that our parenting responsibility is inhibited by our well-meaning over-involved parenting. She used the example of teaching our children to walk across the street to highlight the need for us to teach life skills by:

  • Doing it for them
  • Doing it with them
  • Watching them do it
  • Let them do it on their own

She shared that childhood is supposed to be opportunity after opportunity for our kids to gain more and more skills toward building independence. A time to take chances, fail, and learn to do and think for themselves. She believes that over-involved parenting stunts our children’s growth. They depend on their parents to do the planning, implementing, figuring out, problem solving, handling, etc. They cope, but depend on parents.

Ironically, she shared compelling evidence that over parenting deprives kids of life skills and leads to higher rates of anxiety and depression. In essence, we deprive them of the ability to form self-efficacy, and the understanding that one’s own actions, lead to outcomes.

We certainly don’t begin our parenting journey by giving our sons and daughters independence. They need our guidance and parameters in place as they learn the skills needed to be successful adults. However, I completely agree with Ms. Haims, “Our job is to put ourselves out of a job and raise our offspring to be able to do for themselves, and think for themselves, and feel for themselves.” As we partner in parenting, we collectively need to arm our kids with the confidence that comes from learning from their failures, overcoming challenges and achieving independence.

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Loving District 30’s Family

The District 30 Family was one of the top themes that emerged from over 130 meetings that I had with staff and members of our PTOs. I was lucky to attend several events this week that illuminated the caring hearts and joy across District 30; we truly are a family!

On Tuesday, our Student Council Induction Ceremony at Maple School for officers and representatives included officer reflections on each of the Character Counts! pillars.

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In addition, I thoroughly enjoyed participating in The Wescott Walk (Facebook Link), which raised over $10,000! It was a great day as our students donated shoes and walked all day long! Our parent volunteers continued to demonstrate amazing commitment, and our students learned another valuable lesson about service.

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At Friday’s Wescott  Assembly, a packed gym of excited, and well-behaved students:

  • Celebrated raising over $10,000 at their walk
  • Reflected on gathering a record-setting number of shoes for children in Africa,
  • Recognized Brad Walters, of Advanced Disposal who Ms. Latek has noticed helping her aging neighbor by kindly returning their garbage can,
  • Expelled the Cub’s curses, and
  • Ended with the Wescott Song!

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Along those lines, the Willowbrook Front Office provided great karma to the Cubs as they lead the entire school in Go Cubs Go to kick off the school day. They used the opportunity to gather donations for the Lew Blond run from staff who chose to wear blue jeans with their Cubs attire for the day!

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Parent-teacher conferences also connect us in important ways. This significant investment of time by our teachers and parents provides valuable information to our parents as our teachers gain important insights into all of the students in our care. As I visited each school during conferences, I encountered parents and teachers who echoed these sentiments.

I was particularly inspired by the reflections of one parent. During a conversation, she shared with me, “My child is not just surviving these years. She is thriving!” She reflected on the growth she sees daily in her daughter along with the sincere care she feels each and every day at school. And there it is in a nutshell. As we focus on each child in our care, our collective efforts are to help each child thrive. The Family Action Network (FAN) will host a meeting at GBN on Wednesday, October 14th at which author Julie Lythcott-Haims will reflect on her book How to Raise an Adult. I am certain that this will be the topic for next week’s Blog Post. Please attend if you can, and stay tuned.

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