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Parent ‘Empowerment’ University

Marc Brackett, Ph.D.


Parent EMPOWERMENT University is offered to parents, caregivers and community members who wish to be proactive and learn positive parenting strategies for raising children of all ages. We encourage you to scroll down for complete workshop and presenter details then register for both a morning and afternoon workshop.Who:Not just for Newtowners! Open to all parents & caregivers seeking “higher education” and more effective skills in the ever-changing and challenging field of child rearing.When:Saturday, March 24, 2018 8 AM to 1:45 PMWhere:Newtown Middle School, 11 Queen Street, Newtown, CT 06470BONUS:FREE “Kids’ University” Children’s program is FULL Children’s program includes a variety of fun, age-appropriate activities for children ages 3 to 11. Face painting, percussion group, police dog demonstration, DJ, Firetruck demos, snack & lunch are just some of the supervised activities planned for the kids.Kids’ University Schedule8:00 – 9:00 Check in and assignment to groups9:00 – 10:00 Face painting – Duck, Duck, Goose, Goose9:30 – 10:00 Demonstration by police/dog10:00 – 10:30 Francine Wheeler – singing10:30 – 12:30 Balloon man10:30 – 10:45 Snack break – cafeteria10:45 – 11:15 Fire Truck – Newtown Hook & Ladder11:15 – 12:30 Therapy dogs & balloon man12:30 – 1:00 Lunch – cafeteria1:00 – 1:30 Crafts with Ben’s Lighthouse

Sponsored by Newtown Savings Bank

Tuition:$5.00 per adult. Pay using PayPal or any major credit card via PayPal. Children are free! Children’s program is full.Registration:

Questions on registration? Please call Newtown Parent Connection, Inc. office at 203-270-1600 or email

PROGRAM SCHEDULE8:00 – 8:40 Check-in & complimentary continental breakfast8:45 – 9:50 WELCOME & KEYNOTE PRESENTATION Marc Brackett, Ph.D Creating an Emotion Revolution in Connecticut – Auditorium10-11:30 MORNING WORKSHOPS Choose 1 From Among 7 Courses (see descriptions below)11:30-12:15 Complimentary lunch for adults and children12:15-1:45 AFTERNOON WORKSHOPS Choose 1 From Among 6 Courses (see descriptions below)


Creating an Emotion Revolution in Connecticut Marc Brackett, Ph.D., is founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University. His grant-funded research focuses on: (1) the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, relationship quality, and mental health; (2) the measurement of emotional intelligence; (3) best practices for teaching emotional intelligence; and (3) the influences of emotional intelligence training on children’s and adults’ effectiveness, health, creativity, and both school and workplace climate. Marc has published 125 scholarly articles and has received numerous awards, including the Joseph E. Zins Award for his research on social and emotional learning and an honorary doctorate from Manhattanville College. He also is a distinguished scientist on the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development.Marc is the lead developer of RULER (an acronym for the five key emotion skills of recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotions) is an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning that has been adopted by over 1,500 public, charter, and private pre-school to high schools across the United States and in other countries, including Australia, China, England, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and Sri Lanka. RULER infuses social and emotional learning into the immune system of schools by enhancing how school administrators lead, educators teach, students learn, and families parent. Research has shown that RULER boosts academic performance, decreases school problems like bullying, enriches classroom climates, reduces teacher stress and burnout, and enhances teacher instructional practices.Marc regularly consults with large companies, including Facebook and Google on best practices for integrating the principles of emotional intelligence into training and product design. With Facebook, he has developed a number of products, including: social resolution tools to help adults and youth resolve online conflict, the bullying prevention hub to support educators, families, and teens, and InspirED, an open-source resource center to support high school students in leading positive change in their schools. Marc also holds a 5th degree black belt in Hapkido, a Korean martial art. 8:45 AM – 9:50 AM Newtown Middle School auditorium



Workshop Topics

Each workshop (with the exception of 3 topics) will each be presented both in the morning and afternoon. In addition to the Keynote Session, you will be able to select two additional workshops when registering. Any questions, please contact us at

Kathryn Lee, M.A.

Kathryn Lee, M.A.

Robin Stern, Ph.D

Robin Stern, Ph.D

Workshop #1 For Parents and Caregivers: Building Resilience and the Practice of Self-Compassion 10:00 AM Workshop Only, 1.1

Presented by Robin Stern, Ph.D. & Kathryn Lee M.A.

We and our children experience things that are not the way we want – all the way from minor disappointments to major traumatic events. As parents, we want to be able to support our children as they encounter these experiences, and to help them develop knowledge and skills for dealing with them successfully themselves. Research has shown that when parents develop their own skills of resilience and self-compassion, they become the role models for their children — and, can more effectively help children cope with difficult experiences and feelings.

Join our conversation about resilience and the strength of the human spirit. Together, we will explore the practices of self-care and compassion as they are groundwork for building resilience and overall family well-being.

Robin Stern, Ph.D., is the associate director for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. She is a licensed psychoanalyst, educator, and author, with over twenty-five years of experience treating individuals, couples, and groups. Robin holds a doctorate in applied psychology from New York University and a postdoctoral certificate in psychoanalytic group psychotherapy from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health. She is on the faculty of Teacher’s College, Columbia University, where she co-teaches a class on emotional intelligence. Robin is a co-developer of RULER, as well as a co-creator and a lead facilitator for Yale’s Institutes.

At the Center, Robin is a principal investigator for the RULER for Parents project, which aims to increase parent involvement in children’s emotional intelligence education. She also works on High School RULER, adapting the curriculum for older students, and on a project to explore the intersection of self-awareness, emotion, and the arts. In collaboration with Facebook, she created a reporting process for cyberbullying incidents and a help center for bullied children. She is currently analyzing the data from that project to gain a deeper understanding of cyberbullying.

Robin serves on the advisory board of Crisis Text Line, I”ll Go First, and Project Rebirth, is a member of the Emotionally Intelligence Consortium, and has authored three books. She is a founding member of the Woodhull Institute, where she spent 15 years creating and facilitating development programs for women leaders. She has been a guest on many local and national radio shows and has traveled widely to lecture on emotional intelligence. In 2014-15 Dr. Stern was a fellow in the Public Voices Fellowship, which led to publications in Psychology Today, The Huffington Post,, etc.

Robin resides in New York where she is very happy to live close to her son and daughter.

Kathryn Lee, M.A., is the project director of RULER for families, which explores emotional skill building in the home as well as innovative pathways for developing partnerships between families and schools. Among the projects in development are an emotionally intelligent workshop series, dynamic online resources for families, and an online guide for schools to direct their family engagement efforts.

Kathryn is longtime advocate for “real world education,” relevant to a rapidly changing world. She has taught preschool–middle school, served as a senior administrator of an independent school in the Bay Area of California, curated at TEDx event on Compassion and Education, designed nationally recognized service learning and environmental stewardship programs, and Ashoka selected her as a Change Leader for catalyzing empathy into action. Kathryn holds a B.A. in human development from the University of the Pacific, and an M.A. in early childhood education from Mills College. Most importantly, she is a parent.


Workshop #2 Naked Parenting – 7 Keys to Raising Kids With Confidence 10:00 AM Workshop 1.2 12:15 PM Workshop 2.2

Presented by Leah DeCesare

Naked Parenting is parenting stripped down to the bare basics focusing on seven keys to raising kids who are self-sufficient, confident, respectful, and resilient. Nudity not required.

Naked Parenting approaches parenting in an honest, direct and realistic way. Guiding children with love, nurturing their strengths and self image, and instilling personal responsibility are at the heart of Naked Parenting.

In this workshop, we will address key concepts to help you raise confident, joyful, and well-adjusted kids, and to enjoy doing it. Parents with children of any age will leave with creative tips and actionable strategies that can start being implemented immediately.

We’ll discuss the seven keys: love, honesty, communication, responsibility, discipline, mistakes and gratitude. You’ll see how these ideas overlap, interrelate and reinforce one another. Learning and understanding these principles will help you to apply them across the myriad of parenting scenarios.

Leah DeCesare is the award-winning author of FORKS, KNIVES, AND SPOONS: A NOVEL and the nonfiction parenting series NAKED PARENTING, based on her work as a doula, early parenting educator, and mom of three.

Leah’s articles have been featured in The Huffington Post, the International Doula, Simply Woman, Eligible Magazine, and The Key, among others. In 2008, Leah co-founded the nonprofit Doulas of Rhode Island, and in 2013 she spearheaded the Campaign for Hope to build the Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness in Uganda. Leah is a Newtown native and NHS alum; she currently resides in Rhode Island where she writes and volunteers between laundry and car pools.

Cathy Snyder

Cathy Snyder

Deb Bossio, ND

Deb Bossio, ND

Workshop #3 Keeping it Real: Whole Foods for a Thriving Family 10:00 AM Workshop 1.3 12:15 PM Workshop 2.3

Presented by Dr. Deb Bossio & Cathy Snyder

How much of our time is consumed with food – planning it, shopping for it, prepping it, cooking it, packing it…so on and so forth! And the cost!!

But how much do we know about which foods we should be feeding our family for optimal brain power, energy and health? How do we make sense out of the barrage of information coming at us from all directions so we can make the best choices for our family? And how do we find time to make these changes in our already busy schedule?

Come meet with a naturopathic doctor and a nutritionist and hear about a unique, holistic, approach to preventative health and optimal living. Learn to create simple daily habits that can have a powerful impact on your family’s wellbeing. Discover which foods and strategies can help your family have better focus for school, energy for activities, and then calm them down for a restful, replenishing sleep at night.

We’ll also cover recipes, shopping advice to help you get the most for your dollar, and prep tips to minimize your time in the kitchen, as well as a question and answer session. You’ll leave this workshop with useful handouts, strategies for eating on the go, and at least 5 new things to add to your grocery list that will greatly improve the health of your whole family.

As a naturopathic physician, Dr. Bossio provides comprehensive health care to all members of the family. In addition to her general practice, Dr. Bossio specializes in women’s health, pediatrics, Lyme disease, and digestive disorders. Patients can expect individualized treatment plans that may include diet and nutritional therapy, herbal medicine, and homeopathy. Dr. Bossio has an open, holistic approach to medicine and is known for taking the time to get to know her patients and their needs. She looks forward to assisting patients in their quest for optimal health and well-being.

Before establishing her practice in Ridgefield, CT, Dr. Bossio served patients at Hawleyville Naturopathic Medical Center in Newtown, CT. There, she worked alongside Dr. Joshua Berry, a distinguished naturopathic pediatrician and Lyme disease specialist. She earned her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She then completed her residency in family medicine at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Bossio received additional medical training at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Highline Cancer Center, Portland Reproductive Endocrinology, West Hills Gastroenterology, and with renowned naturopath Tori Hudson, a national leader in women’s health. Dr. Bossio received undergraduate degrees in Biology and Anthropology from Colby College.

Dr. Bossio is an active member of several professional and community organizations. She serves on the Advisory Committee of the Lyme Connection, is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and the Women of Wellness of CT. She also frequently provides lectures on natural health topics throughout Fairfield County.

Cathy Snyder is a certified health coach and integrative nutritionist with a passion for helping women get their groove back. As a mother of three, she understands that taking care of yourself can take a back seat when raising a busy family. She specializes in helping her clients create time in their busy schedules to reclaim their health, energy and passion for life.

Cathy studied at Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City and is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She is currently finishing her masters in nutrition at the University of Bridgeport. Cathy offers individual health and nutrition coaching as well as helping families transition into new lifestyles and diets due to food allergies and sensitivities. Check out a list of her current offerings at


Workshop #4 The Tapping Solution for Parents, Children and Teenagers 10:00 AM Workshop 1.4 12:15 PM Workshop 2.4

How to Use a Simple Technique Known as Tapping to Transform Yourself, Your Children, and Your Family Presented by Alex & Karen Ortner

Never before has there been so much information about how to parent. There are books, blogs, articles, workshops and more on every parenting topic you can think of. What to feed them. How to speak to them. How to motivate them. How to make them feel loved without being overly coddled. The list goes on and on.

In our modern world, the experience of raising children, one of life’s greatest gifts, has all too often led to an overwhelming amount of stress and anxiety, and even self-doubt.

Parents wonder… Am I modeling the type of person I want my child to become? Am I doing enough to prepare my child to be resilient in an ever-changing world? Are my children happy and confident in themselves?

In this talk with Alex Ortner, co-owner of The Tapping Solution and The Tapping Solution Foundation, and author of the best-selling children’s book Gorilla Thumps and Bear Hugs, and his wife Karen Ortner, a Tapping Practitioner and Coach specializing in trauma, you’ll learn how use a simple technique known as “Tapping” to strip away the stress, anxiety, overwhelm and other negative emotions that keep both you and your children from feeling happy, healthy, balanced and connected.

Tapping, which involves tapping with fingertips on specific meridian endpoints, while focuses on negative emotions or physical sensations, is a powerful holistic healing technique that has been scientifically proven to send calming signals to the amygdala of the brain, rewiring both the brain and body to respond in healthier ways.

The Tapping Solution has been featured on The Today Show, Dr. Oz, The Huffington Post, Women’s Health, Psychology Today and a host of other print and online publications and tv shows.

Alex Ortner is the co-owner of The Tapping Solution, co-founder of The Tapping Solution Foundation, and author of the best-selling children’s book Gorilla Thumps and Bear Hugs. He lives in Newtown, CT with his wife Karen and 3 children ages 5, 7 and 9.

Karen Ortner is a Tapping Practitioner and Coach that specializes in using Tapping and other healing modalities to overcome the mental and emotional trauma from abuse.


Workshop #5 Supporting the Struggling Learner 10:00 AM Workshop 1.5 12:15 PM Workshop 2.5

Presented by Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

21st Century academic environments are fast-paced, and can produce a lot of anxiety around learning and performance. For a variety of reasons, some children struggle to keep up with their peers, which have immediate and long-term implications on their academic, social and emotional development. In young children, they may have some difficulty learning at the same pace as other kids. In adolescents, they might always be trying to catch up, or display an inconsistent learning pattern. If you are feeling like there is something interfering with your child’s learning or behavior but can’t put your finger on it, then come and learn about the difference between developmental lags versus learning and attentional issues, and how stress and anxiety can affect your child’s success. School and home-based strategies, supports and programs, tools and therapies will be reviewed.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge is a Connecticut Certified School Psychologist, a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and a Board Certified Neurofeedback Provider (BCN), with more than 25 years working with children, teens, adults and parents. She answered her calling to be a psychologist, and currently has private practice offices in Ridgefield and Newtown, CT, where the focus is on Neurofeedback, Biofeedback, counseling and assessment for a variety of issues and conditions. After seeing individuals and families suffer through unsuccessful attempts at traditional therapies, Dr. Roseann became passionate about using highly effective, research-based therapies that bridge to neuroscience. These holistic therapies alleviate stress and suffering, bringing children and adults to a point of wellness. Dr. Roseann is a well-respected BCN Practitioner who is a popular and sought after speaker. She is an expert in several areas including: Anxiety and Anxiety-Related Disorders, ADHD, Autism, Executive Functioning, Dyslexia and other Reading Disabilities, Learning Disabilities, Lyme Disease, PANS/PANDAS, Concussion/Post-Concussion Syndrome and Parenting Coaching. Dr. Roseann serves on the boards of the Northeast Regional Biofeedback Society and Epidemic Answers, and is a Lyme Connection Task Force Professional Advisor.


Workshop #6 – 10:00 AM The Most Commonly Abused Drugs of Today 10:00 AM Workshop Only 1.6 Presented by John Hamilton. LMFT, LADC

The presenter will provide a comprehensive overview of the mostly commonly abused drugs in CT and each of their potential risk for misuse and addiction. The program will also discuss the distinct categories of abuse as well as highlight some of the synthetic drugs of today. The overview will also include how these different drugs affect the brain.

Workshop #6 – 12:15 PM How to Talk to Your Kids About Drugs 12:15 PM Workshop Only 2.6 Presented by John Hamilton, LMFT, LADC

Whether your child has never tried a drug or is harmfully involved, the presenter will provide specific communication skills tailored to your child’s relationship with drugs. Presenter will also provide effective interventions of support of a child regardless of their respective use. In addition, the presenter will provide an overview of general family relationships to avoid high risk behaviors with the intent to build family resiliency.

John Hamilton, LMFT, LADC has joined Mountainside as Chief Clinical Outreach Officer. John will be communicating the breadth and depth of our addiction treatment services as well as our upcoming growth initiatives and the many community events that we host and in which we participate.

Renowned for his passion for our field, John has an extensive history of helping thousands of people build the foundation for a lasting recovery. The 30-year industry veteran has consulted for the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), and been CEO of Recovery Network of Programs, a non-profit behavioral health agency serving the Greater Bridgeport Community.

John currently chairs the advisory board for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) and serves on the Governors Alcohol and Drug Policy Council.

Previously, John served as Chair of the Dissemination Committee for the NIDA Clinical Trials Network, Chair of the Community Treatment Providers Caucus, Past President of the Southwest Connecticut Mental Health Board, Past President of the New England Association of Drug Court Professionals, Co-founder of the Greenwich Father’s Forum and Chair of the Ethics Committee for the Connecticut Certification Board.

John presents locally and internationally on a variety of topics and is considered an expert in the field of addiction treatment and prevention. John was the 2013 recipient of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) Nyswander-Dole Award for his outstanding contributions in the field of Addiction Treatment.

Mountainside Treatment Center is nationally recognized for the effectiveness of its drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs. Our Integrative Care Model provides a comprehensive set of treatment and care offerings coordinated by a multidisciplinary treatment team to best fit the unique needs and interests of each client. We are lauded for our ability to partner with each client and the client’s family and healthcare professionals in developing and executing individualized treatment plans that promote long-term sobriety.

Tracey Masella

Workshop #7 Teens Are Ninjas, Not Civilians – Parenting the Emotional Teen 10:00 AM Workshop 1.7 12:15 PM Workshop 2.7 Presented by Tracey Masella

This session will provide useful information on managing the emotional tsunami of your kid’s adolescent years more effectively. Topics discussed will include:

  1. Understanding the emotional experience – what actually happens in your brain

  2. Identifying what type of kid you have from an emotional perspective

  3. Tips on developing a family frame – your family’s mission statement

  4. Learning the difference between validation and problem solving – and when to use each

  5. Skills for managing distressing situation – how to stay out of your kid’s ring of fire

Our goal as parents of adolescents is to shepherd them through this developmental phase of individuation and separation. In our discussion of this broad topic, we will learn how to set limits in an understanding way, how to communicate with fewer words, and how to manage our own stress as our kid’s navigate answering the question, “Who am I?”

Charlie Manos

Workshop #8 Connection, Compassion, & Communication 10:00 AM Workshop 1.8 12:15 PM Workshop 2.8 Presented by Charlie Manos, M.S., LMFT

This workshop will focus on the timely and critical importance of building and fostering positive, deep and nurturing relationships within families and schools. Mr. Manos will discuss a relational and collaborative model that helps families and schools understand and develop strong, enduring and nurturing relationships among adults and children in a culture where technology, social media, and the focus on pharmacology to solve mental health and social emotional challenges interferes with our human connections. Mr. Manos will also discuss how this conceptual model may be effective in addressing a variety of social emotional challenges among children and teens.

Charlie Manos, LMFT has been trained as a school psychologist, school administrator and is a licensed marriage & family therapist. After working for 37 years in public education as a school psychologist and Director of Special Services, he now is the Senior Director of Education at The Pinnacle School, a private special education school in Stamford. Mr. Manos has also maintained a private practice in Ridgefield providing individual, couples and family psychotherapy with children, teens and adults for the last 30 years. Mr. Manos has been extensively trained in family systems and relational models of working with families and educators.

Click Here to Register

Thank you to our all our sponsors, including Newtown Savings Bank, sponsor of ‘2018 Kids University’.

Newtown Savings Bank


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