Bentley Hosts Stanley H. King Counseling Institute Workshop

Donna Canada-Smith and Erin Lott Pollack
Last weekend, 34 educators from eight Bay Area independent schools, as well as one independent school in North Carolina, came to Bentley’s Lafayette Campus as part of the three-day Stanley H. King Counseling Institute workshop hosted by the California Teacher Development Collaborative. These educators included Michelle Cho (Art Teacher and Assistant Dean of Student Life), Erin Lott Pollack (English Teacher and Dean of Teaching and Learning), Colin Mannex (English Teacher and Sophomore Dean), and Deb Rocchild (Spanish Teacher) from Bentley Upper School. Additionally, this past summer, Donna Canada-Smith (French and English Teacher and Junior Dean) participated in a week-long summer program with the Institute.

The Stanley H. King Counseling Institute offers regional workshops and summer institutes to educators to instruct them in the art of deep listening--a skill that teachers, counselors, coaches, administrators, and advisors can use in a fast-paced academic year in order to hear students in an authentic way. Institute facilitators defined and demonstrated specific deep listening skills, engaged in small-group discussions, and presented on understanding models of adolescent development, listening across differences including race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, and recognizing when a student is in crisis. The institute fostered invaluable conversations that form the cornerstone of our teachers’ work and began to furnish teachers’ toolkits with strategies to better support all of our students.

Dr. Canada-Smith noted that the summer institute provided an extraordinary opportunity to work with colleagues from across the country to define ways in which we can better support our students and those with whom we work. Spending a week listening to one another, unpacking our stories and experiences in role play activities and in small groups--and learning how to generate spaces for our students to unpack theirs in a supportive environment--stressed the importance of creating an ethic of compassion. It was clear by the end of the week that, though we had worked intensively, this work and these conversations are an ongoing process.

After the three-day workshop, Mr. Mannex said, “The listening is the doing” and is already planning ways to bring this work back to the deans and advisory teams in order to support teachers as we work to listen deeply to our students and engage in courageous, character-building conversations. As educators, we value the opportunity to create respectful and inclusive communities where we work together to bolster one another, to empathize, and above all, to listen deeply to one another.  

Special thanks to Vivian Vo, Bobby Morales, Lloyd Brown, Steve Netniss, Katrina Ong, Annie Oxenhandler, Maria Servello, Melissa Healey, Andres Nunez, and the facilities and security crews for their work in supporting this event.

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Founded in 1920, Bentley School has fostered an environment that challenges the mind, striving to bring out the best in every one of its students. Bentley School is committed to academic excellence as well as the development of character and spirit in each of its students. (Read more in the Head of School's Message.)

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