Salisbury Academy hosts nationally recognized speaker

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 19, 2015

Salisbury Academy, in partnership with The Salisbury Community Foundation, hosted seminars for parents and educators featuring Michelle Icard, a nationally recognized author, educator and program founder.

Author of “Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years,” Icard discussed with both groups how to help students navigate the tricky world of middle school.

“My mission is to get parents excited about middle school and retrain the way they think about those middle years,” she said.

“I spent all my time in middle school trying to be invisible,” she said. “I love middle school now, but I hated it at the time.”

“Her true life stories and life experience made her believable and trustworthy, and she made so much darn sense,” said Jennifer Burk, a parent with children in elementary and high school. “Her sense of humor was appropriate and helpful.”

In her presentation Icard addressed the brain development of middle school students, trends in behavior and strategies for parenting and educating this age group.

“I call these the stickiest years of our lives because what happens in middle school really sticks with us for a long time,” she said.

Icard discussed how to talk with middle school students, especially in relation to problem solving, suggesting mostly listening. “Lead with the soft, gentle non-judgmental questions,” she said. “If you just ask instead of tell, things usually go so much better. Encourage them to think. Their best ideas are often hidden behind their worst ideas.”

Icard gave a seminar for educators in the afternoon, followed by a parent seminar in the evening.

“The brain development of pre-adolescents and adolescence is, of course, fascinating, but she made connections to social behaviors and teaching strategies that were very eye-opening,” said Salisbury Academy middle school science and math teacher Katie Reefe. “Simple tips about how to approach a middle school student about a problem or how to coach them to solve their own problems is right in line with our already established behavior techniques of love and logic.”

“It was an outstanding presentation, full of insightful, topical, practical and useful information for anyone with a middle schooler or soon-to-be middle schooler,” said Greg Shields, the parent of a middle school student.

“I loved how it put a community of parents together in a room, and if you took the time to look around, the reassurance, ‘I’m not alone in this’ was palpable,” said Burk.