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Back to college 618x412With move-in day just weeks away, many parents will soon be taking their college freshman to college and then leaving them there on their own. What should you say – and not say? How often should you call? How should you manage their spending?

Below is some advice from Julie Stonberg, a social worker at Westchester Family Counseling. Here, she gives her own thoughts about sending students off to college for the first time from her experience as a social worker and as a mother. This is followed by some DO’s and DONT's and from college students.

How do you believe parents can best prepare their children for the social pressures of their freshman year in college (e.g. drinking, finding supportive friends, rush process)? How can parents push their children to succeed academically without being too overbearing and adding too much stress?

[...] Now is the time to trust that all those years of daily parenting will kick in and they will begin to figure things out on their own. We have prepared them for this “launch” for the past 18 years! I think it is so incredibly important – as hard as it feels -- to show them that we believe in them, and that we have faith that they will be ok.

[...] One thing I have been talking about a lot with my daughter this summer before she heads off to college in the fall, is about being open to new people and new situations, not making hasty judgments, but instead really paying attention to how she feels about someone or some activity or class. This translates for sure to the Greek scene – we have talked about that idea that if you [have] trust in yourself and understand who you are and where you feel comfortable, you are most likely to wind up with a positive experience. Maybe the “coolest,” sorority or fraternity is not for you. That’s fine! Fin[d] one where you step in and feel at home. In the end it’s about finding a community that is right for you.

With regards to academics, I would say the best thing a parent can do first semester is not add to the pressure their child may already feel, especially if they are in a competitive school [...] You want him [or her] to be able to reach out to you and know he [or she] will get support and love, not questions about grades and assignments. If you really feel like something is not working you can always discuss it when your child is home for winter break, and get feedback from him [or her] in person about how it all felt and what could be done differently going forward. But it’s really important to stress (in this age of everything Instagram) that most kids find first semester and even the first year, to be a huge and not always smooth adjustment.

How can parents balance helping their children financially with pushing them towards independence?

In terms of finances, what has worked best for our family was to set up a checking account in high school where they had “allowance” transferred in automatically every week from my account. When my son went to college, his high school account transferred to a “College Checking Account” (basically the same idea) and we adjusted the amount based on a budget he kept the first few weeks of school. We re-adjusted it again when he went completely off the meal plan sophomore year, taking into account his realistic expenses (again a careful budget kept) and how much he had from summer jobs and other sources. When we sat down and looked at the budget together we were able to come up with a weekly amount that seemed reasonable to both of us and he has very rarely asked for any additional funds.

How often would you recommend parents checking in on their children (text, phone call, or visit)? And should this be initiated by the child or the parent?

Regarding checking in, I have friends that tell me their child calls on the way to classes every day. My son does not. In fact, when he does actually call on the phone, it is usually to discuss something less than pleasant – something that couldn’t be shared in a text or over a family Face Time session. I personally love texting. It’s a way to check in that puts very little pressure on him. I might text him something during the day that makes me think of him, such as “Cooked finally opened,” or some news about one of the teams he played on in high school, or something I heard about Game of Thrones. I usually get a short response, which lets me know he’s alive, and sometimes it turns into a longer exchange. For keeping in touch with teenage boys, I think text might be the best thing ever.

And, although my son and I are now in a fairly good rhythm, in the beginning I tried to give him some space, and let him set the tone. If your child sees a text or missed call from you every time they look at their phone, they won’t have the space to breathe, start to make decisions on [their] own – or miss you!! It’s hard, but try to take the extra time and space in your house and your schedule to enjoy some time with your spouse and friends, focus on a child still at home, or do some of the things you may have put on hold during the crazy full-time parenting years.

I guarantee that if you are busy and happy with meaningful activities, it won’t be long before you glance at YOUR phone and see the following: “Hi mom – wanna FT? I’m in my room….”

Do’s And Dont’s From Students Themselves

DO Send Care Packages: As excited as students are to go to college, homesickness can set in quickly. Even if it doesn’t, care packages are always nice to receive! These can include (but are certainly not limited to) candy, homemade cookies, and Spotify Premium and/or Netflix and/or Hulu subscriptions.

DON’T Plan Surprise Visits: Your kids love you and are grateful for you, but don’t expect a smile if you show up unexpectedly to their dorm rooms! There are homework assignments to finish, tests to study for, and social lives to maintain. Sporadic - approved - visits can be nice, but surprises are simply disruptive and ultimately stressful for everyone.

DON’T Take Over My Room At Home: You may think it’s funny when you joke about turning your kid’s room into a gym or a movie theater, but your kid probably isn’t laughing. He or she is going to college - which is not the same as moving out. Winter break is nearly a month long at most schools, and most students don’t want to have to crash in the guest bedroom and feel like an imposter in their own homes. Even swapping rooms with younger siblings vying for a bigger room is strictly unacceptable.

DON’T Make Vacation Plans For Thanksgiving: Yes, a skiing trip or beach vacation would be great! But it would be just as great during winter break - or any other break! Your child’s first Friendsgiving is a quintessential college freshman moment (even if it doesn’t happen at college). It’s the first time all their friends will be together since the summer, and a necessary time to exchange stories. However, be sure to plan all fun vacations for times your child will be home. With one less person to pay for and one less schedule to accommodate, you may think it would be the perfect time to indulge in a whole slew of extravagant vacations. Your children don’t want you to be miserable of course, but having too much fun can definitely send the wrong message.

DON’T Question Me On My Credit Card Bill: This is huge! Your kids are happy and thankful that you are footing their bills for the time being (and not in a “you’re nothing but an ATM now that I’ve moved out” way), but they can’t possibly be expected to defend every purchase. Can anyone really be independent if they can’t order from Shake Shack five times in one week? Buy hundreds of ping pong balls? Spend $500 on headshots for rush?

swimers1Charles Lemerond, James Cosgrove, Kieran Lee and Michael DunnScarsdale swimmers excelled at the 93rd annual swim championships, aka “the counties” this week.

On July 31 Kieran Lee age 10 from Edgewood and Charles Lemerond, age 8 from Heathcote, swam in the boys 10u 200 yard relay and finished third. They swim for Wykagyl Country Club.

The boys repeated their performance on August 1, when they placed third in the boys 10u 200 yard freestyle relay.

The Wykagyl team includes the following Scarsdale swimmers:

Aidan, Kieran, Meghan and Brendan Lee
The Carroll family
The DiSanto family

swimmers2Front: Juliette Garofolo Claire Corcoran, Kieran Lee ,Michael Dunn, Dan Needham, Brian Kelly

Back James Cosgrove, Charles Lemerond

foxAssistant Superintendent Drew Patrick announced that the district has hired an assistant principal for Fox Meadow School. Melissa Feinberg, an enrichment teacher from the Great Neck North Public Schools will join the staff immediately and work with interim Principal Karen Eldon.

Here is the announcement from Drew Patrick that was sent to Fox Meadow parents today, Monday July 16:

Dear Fox Meadow Community,

I am writing to share the news that Dr. Hagerman will be recommending Melissa Feinberg to the position of Assistant Principal at Fox Meadow Elementary. Melissa will be joining us from Great Neck, where she served as a classroom teacher, staff developer, and enrichment teacher for the past 20 years. Melissa impressed us with her knowledge; experience as a teacher, staff developer, and teacher-leader; and enthusiasm for the work of leadership. The references I spoke to contained remarkably positive and supportive feedback, and identified Melissa as a star in Great Neck. They lamented there wasn't an opening for her among the ranks of leadership at present, and commented on her decency and humanity along with her skill and talent.

Given the unique transition required at Fox Meadow, we have asked Melissa to start right away. She will be meeting with Karen Eldon and Duncan Wilson this (Monday) morning, and will develop plans from there for the transition. Both Karen and Melissa are planning letters of introduction, as well as opportunities to meet and start to get to know you. Please join me in welcoming Melissa when you get the chance!

Finally, I want to thank the entire interview committee, and the Fox Meadow representatives in particular. They served the FM community well, and committed a substantial amount of time, thought, and energy to this process. Teachers Alethea Lynch, Kim Assatly, Lyndsay Freed, and Michele Boyum, along with parent representatives Molly Ardalan and Diane Baylor, deserve our gratitude.


Drew Patrick
Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Leadership Development

gunsschoolsFire-drills at Scarsdale High School haven’t been the same since Nikolas Cruz pulled the alarm at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14th, luring students and teachers into the hallways and firing his AR-15 into the vulnerable crowd. Each time the alarm blares in Scarsdale’s moldy tile halls, there’s a moment of doubt as students contemplate whether it's worth evacuating the building. It’s a new normal.

Since the May 18th school shooting at Santa Fe High School where 10 people were killed, the Governor of Texas announced a plan to give extra funding to schools that train and arm teachers. As Generation Z becomes the school shooting generation, with 16 publicized fatal school shootings so far in 2018, districts like San Antonio weigh the practicality of arming teachers in schools for protection -- and rightfully so. Something has to be done to protect our schools.

Put simply: teachers shouldn’t be armed. Arming teachers promotes discomfort and heightens pre-existing tensions in classrooms. The presence of loaded killing machines in classrooms dilutes the comfort and respect required to promote learning. Having a physical symbol of violence and fear in a place of supposed openness jeopardizes this atmosphere. Children are already exposed to violence in the media and on the streets, and schools should be safe havens in order to be effective. The National Association of Secondary School Principals noted that “Firearms in principals’ and teachers’ hands might do more harm than good” because schools “must be perceived as safe havens” in order to be “effective”. Students must trust their teachers in order to be receptive to learn from them. By arming teachers, the student-teacher relationship is inevitably altered. As mentioned by NEA VP Becky Pringle, arming teachers is like prison, with teachers acting as “armed guards” and students being “prisoners”. And frankly, teenagers don’t need any more reasons to cut class.

Based on an online survey polling teachers in public schools across the nation, almost three-quarters of educators say they would not bring a firearm to school even if allowed. Its worthy to consider that if most teachers don’t want to be armed, it would be difficult to rely on them to respond in an emergency situation. And even taking into account the quarter of teachers who would arm themselves, who’s to say if a qualified gun toter would respond properly? In the Parkland school shooting, the armed security guard on site fled the school out of panic. He went through the 132 hours of certification required to carry a gun in a school, yet was unable to perform when it mattered. In Seaside, California, a math teacher and reserve police officer accidentally fired a gun inside a classroom, injuring three students. In Alexandria, Virginia, a school officer accidentally shot his weapon while sitting down in his office. The officer was “highly trained in firearm safety”, per the district’s superintendent. It would be more useful to improve external security, including more intensive training for school security guards.

If teachers don’t own weapons at home, who will pay for them? Most teachers make almost a quarter less salary each year than their peers with similar education levels. I’m guessing that ammunition would be one of the more pricey items on a teacher’s school supply list.

Parkland has reminded all of us that no one is immune to these tragedies. It’s not wrong to take into account all possible solutions to address the major epidemic plaguing our nation’s schools. But fighting firearms with more firearms is not the answer. There have been 290 school shootings in the US since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. To put that number in perspective, the casualties are equivalent to an American kid dying by gun every other day since Sandy Hook. Let’s not increase the risk more.

Emmeline Berridge is a rising senior at Scarsdale High School.

Pool 7Many Scarsdalians spent this July 4th taking in the sun and cooling off at the Scarsdale Municipal Pool. The pool was packed, with kids and parents alike occupying nearly all of the surrounding grass. To celebrate the holiday, balloons were handed out to kids upon entry, and the pool set up an inflatable bouncy slide for the children so they could take a break from the water-based activities. Other non-pool activities available included basketball, volleyball, the playground, and an ever-popular GaGa pit.

In the main swimming pool, two lanes were designated to allow kids and their parents to race across with large pool floats. Sprinklers were set up next to the wading pool for the enjoyment of Scarsdale’s youngest residents.

Steven Orlofsky and David DaSilva, two former SHS students, were working at the pool on Independence Day. ”I think it’s going very well. The turnout this year is better than previous years” said DaSilva on the effectiveness of this year’s July 4th pool efforts. Orlofsky added that “All of the families seem to be enjoying themselves”.

You can view more pictures of the event below:

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