High School Parent Conference

2016 NHS Parent Conference

Held on January 23, 2016

Keynote: Mindful Management of High School Stress

Speaker: Dr. Christopher Willard, Clinical Psychologist

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Christopher Willard, Psy. D. is a psychologist and educational consultant based in Boston specializing in mindfulness with adolescents and young adults. He has been practicing meditation for over 15 years, and leading workshops internationally on the topic of mindfulness with young people. He currently serves on the board of directors at the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, and the Mindfulness in Education Network. He is the author of Child’s Mind (2010) Growing Up Mindful (2016) and three other books on contemplative practice. He teaches at Harvard Medical School.

In this presentation, Dr. Willard will present the research and importance of psychological as well as academic preparation for managing stress and school in high school, college and beyond through mindfulness and related practices. While many students can succeed academically in college, more and more are struggling with the toll that stress takes on learning, mental health, and physical well being. Dr. Willard offers an overview of stress, mindfulness, and effective strategies that help students and parents manage their growing stress with healthy and simple mindfulness practices.


A Dialogue with Dr. Christopher Willard

An informal session for parents to ask questions and/or offer comments about Dr. Willard's keynote or other questions related to the concept of resilience.

Experiential Learning and the Real World Classroom: Gap Year

Workshop Leaders: Tom Denton, Needham Public School Guidance Director and a panel of alumni who have taken a Gap Year and parents whose have seen the impact of a Gap Year on their children

A Gap Year is traditionally defined as taking a break between high school and college. During this time, a student may choose to travel, do an internship, work, volunteer or take courses. A Gap Year is not necessarily a break from education, but rather an opportunity to engage in experiential learning. We will also hear from students who have taken a Gap Year as well as parents whose children have taken a Gap Year to learn how this experience have helped them to better define and plan their college and career goals.

Transitioning to Higher Education for Special Education Students/Families

Workshop Presenter: Kirsten Behling, Suffolk University, Office of Disability Services

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This workshop will answer many of the questions and speak to the concerns that parents have as they begin the process of trying to navigate the college search and transition process for their students with disabilities, including learning, physical and mental health. By the end of this workshop, parents will have a better idea of the differences in how students access services in college verses high school and what services are available. They will understand accommodations that are available at the college level, and what laws drive the accommodation process in higher education. They will be able to identify strategies and preparation needed for a successful transition to higher education.

The Secret Life of Teens- What’s Really on Your Teenager’s Mind

Workshop leader: Jon Mattleman, Director, Needham Youth Services

This workshop will focus upon what is happening in your wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful) high schooler /teenagers minds. We will look at stressors such as school and achievement, survey how and why teens fight for independence and fight with parents. We will touch upon key teen issues such as depression, suicide, technology and more. The workshop focuses on better understanding and supporting your teenager.

The Power of Parenting - Learn the Facts about Substance Abuse Prevention

Workshop Leader: Carol Read, Needham Public Health Department, Needham Coalition for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention

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This workshop will provide Needham data on teen substance use combined with the developmental science which informs this stage of adolescence. Your awareness of the biological and physiological processes of development and the impact this science has on teen decision- making will empower your parenting. Targeted parenting strategies will be shared enabling you to guide your adolescent to make “positive risk” choices when faced with the high risk choices inherent during the teen years. Your knowledge will enhance adolescent decision making processes and equip your teen with the “refusal skills” needed to confidently navigate towards healthy and safe choices, giving them a valuable sense of autonomy and control.

Transitioning to Needham High School: Freshman and Sophomore year

Workshop Leaders: Johnny Cole, Assistant Principal for Grade 9 (O-Z) and Grade 11 and Alison Coubrough-Argentieri, Assistant Principal for Grade 9 (H-N) and Grade 10 and Aaron Sicotte, Assistant Principal for Grade 9 (A-G) and Grade 12

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By the middle of their freshman year, students become acculturated to Needham high school, and begin getting comfortable in their new school. That comfort can foster new growth, and sometimes complacency. This workshop will present some typical developmental, social, and academic changes that students are likely to encounter as they advance in their high school careers. With post-secondary planning always on the horizon, the presentation and question and answer session will focus on how to coach your son or daughter through these formative and boundary testing years to meet with success.

Keys to a Successful Junior and Senior Year

Workshop Leaders: Johnny Cole, Assistant Principal for Grade 9 (O-Z) and Grade 11 and Alison Coubrough-Argentieri, Assistant Principal for Grade 9 (H-N) and Grade 10 and Aaron Sicotte, Assistant Principal for Grade 9 (A-G) and Grade 12

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Topics will include a discussion of junior year, some of the key assignments, the real and perceived stress, and how students mature and manage throughout. Senior year topics will talk about the students shifting their lens from high school academics to post-secondary endeavors, practicing (and failing at times) at being an adult, and 'senioritis'. Short presentation with a Q&A to follow.

Accepting, Respecting, and Celebrating Cultural Diversity

Workshop Leader: Johnny Cole, Assistant Principal, Needham High School

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One of the driving initiatives at Needham High School is creating a more “culturally proficient” environment for our entire school community. This workshop will provide elaboration on the concept of cultural proficiency, including what it is and why it matters. While exploring issues of identity, the session will focus on how the initiative is being applied at NHS and how parents can help facilitate their own child’s growth in this area.

Out of the Mouths of NHS Seniors

Workshop leader: Mae Hardebeck, Needham High School 2014, Dartmouth College 2018

Ask the “Experts”- Pose your questions to NHS Seniors who have completed nearly 4 years of high school. Students will provide an honest overview of the highs and lows of the academic, extra-curricular and social & emotional aspects of high school. Learn about their personal journeys through Needham High School and how they have been able to thrive. Parents will better understand how to support their teens during these important and transitional high school years.