By Robin GOLDSWORTHY
Winfred B. Roberson Jr., recently appointed superintendent of the Glendale Unified School District, was welcomed as the main speaker at the September Strategic Partners Network held at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. Roberson spoke on the vision of the GUSD of creating a culture of caring, trust and inquiry.
“How do I demonstrate I care?” Roberson asked the audience.
He spoke on the challenges that educators, school staff and safety personnel face in wanting to help students noting that there is no desire to punish children but instead help them in whatever way they can. He shared how he explored his role as a friend when a neighbor came to him upset that his child, whom Roberson had known for most his life, was using drugs.
“Kids interact with drugs and alcohol as early as elementary school,” he said. “By high school and college, many have already experimented.”
Roberson added, acknowledging the limitations of the educational system, “I asked myself how do we provide help and support to children and parents.”
He added that building trust with children is different for parents and educators and commended the Strategic Partners Network for committing to helping to offer connection and resources to help the GUSD.
The Strategic Partners Network was originally part of the CV Alliance, an organization that disbanded earlier this year. The network was adopted by the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, which promotes youth development among other goals.
Also speaking from the GUSD was Violet Mesrkhani, who spoke on the district’s tobacco cessation program TUPE (Tobacco Use Prevention Education).
The program targets middle and high school students and educates them on addiction prevention and the importance of staying away from tobacco and its various delivery systems including hookahs, vaping and e-cigarettes.
“We need to tell our youth not only what to do, but what not to do,” Mesrkhani said.
Dr. Ilin Magran, coordinator of the district’s Healthy Start program, shared with the audience the span of services that Healthy Start provides, whether working with homeless youth, at-risk youth and youth with mental health concerns. Healthy Start promises that no child is turned away due to lack of insurance. Magran also said that the program works with parents.
The session ended with advice from Dr. Scott Anderle, Support Services assistant director, who reminded those in attendance that getting kids involved in outside activities was essential to their well-being.
He said, “One thing kids have in common who are having trouble is they’re not involved in anything.”