Abbott Leadership Institute to Start Spring 2020 Social and Emotional Learning Series for Parents

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The Abbott Leadership Institute (ALI), an organization under the purview of the Center for PreCollege Programs at Rutgers University–Newark, is accepting applications for its spring 2020 social and emotional learning (SEL) workshop and training series for parents. Provided in partnership with the Newark Trust for Education and facilitated by ALI-trained parents, the free course offers adults a safe space to learn how to understand and manage their emotions, set and attain positive goals, feel and demonstrate empathy for others, develop and sustain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

The spring 2020 classes will be held at the following venues: Malcolm X Shabazz High School, Peshine Avenue School, Roberto Clemente Elementary, LEAD Charter School, and KIPP TEAM Academy Charter School. Registration includes free childcare and a free meal for participating families at each site prior to each session. Classes are limited to no more than 25 enrollees per location and administered two hours per week for six weeks. Each site makes its own determination as to the start times of the classes. Some might occur in the morning while others might be held in the evenings.

“Spring 2020 marks our fourth group of parents to be enrolled in the program,” noted ALI Executive Director Kaleena Berryman. “We previously offered the curriculum in spring 2018, spring 2019, and fall 2019, garnering 150 alumni to date.”

Prior training locations included: Peshine Avenue School, Luis Munoz Marin School, Avon Avenue Elementary School, KIPP Bold and Thrive Academy, Sussex Avenue Renew School, McKinley Elementary School, Early Childhood South School, John F. Kennedy School, Newark Vocational School, and Rutgers-Newark. According to Berryman, although sites are open to everyone regardless of residential address, cohorts mostly consist of parents whose children attend the respective hosting school.

“To officially graduate from the program, a parent must attend four of six sessions,” Berryman stated. “Accordingly, we try to make it as convenient as possible for parents to participate or make up a missed session by also offering classroom space at Rutgers-Newark as well as allowing parents to attend any available site.”

Course trainers are graduates of the program. They start as trainers-in-training, appointed based on the promise they show in the classroom, and must train with at least two cohorts before they can become an independent trainer. Currently, a pool of eight trainers and five trainers-in-training support the program.

“The program is growing in popularity,” shared Berryman. ”The fact that each session is parent-led by an advocate and designed as a discussion is very appealing to many. Participants feel as though there’s an advocate leading a conversation rather than a teacher giving a lecture. Moreover, because trainers are advocates, they are great resources for helping parents solve school, child, and personal issues.”

“One of my favorite highlights of the program is when, about mid-way through the series, parents begin to share how they’re using the strategies we’ve discussed and the impact it’s had on their family members. In that moment, you see that hope has been reactivated (or strengthened) in their lives, and they feel empowered by that,” said Yolanda Greene, a parent trainer.

“Our participants now have tools to cope with their own feelings and challenges,” added Love Gaillard, another parent trainer. “Once people can self-reflect, they now have the space and awareness to purposefully nurture and address their children and all relations around them. Our participants are more confident, aware, and empathetic once they complete our SEL parent empowerment series.”

To learn more about the series and the spring 2020 schedule, complete the interest form at