Annual parent symposium event streamed online


To educate parents and guardians on aiding their students both emotionally and academically, Walnut Valley Unified School District held  its fourth annual Parent Symposium on Sept. 26. 

The event took place virtually and featured keynote speakers Dr. Michelle Borba, an author of parenting books, and Paul Kanarek, the co-founder of the California branch of the Princeton Review.

To start the meeting, district Superintendent Robert Taylor commented on the district’s reopening status, which remains uncertain, though they have begun planning for return. 

“We have put together five over-arching focus groups to plan and organize in-person instruction so we are best prepared for when we are eligible to return and we are confident in doing so,” he said.

Taylor explained that California uses a tier system to rank the severity of COVID-19 outbreak in each county. Currently, Los Angeles county is in the purple tier, which is the most severe, meaning that the district will remain closed until further notice, as public health officials only permit counties in the red tier to reopen. 

Borba, an expert and author on children, teens, parenting and moral development, spoke about the importance of instilling empathy in today’s youth, especially during social distancing.

“I think the single most important commodity that we all got to push a little more is this wonderful human trait called empathy,” Borba said.

She covered four main points during her speech: caring, connection, coping and cheerfulness. Borba invited parents to write down ideas related to each of the four main categories that would help students with stress reduction and easing trauma, ultimately helping them thrive.

“This is the key that we all need to hear. We found that thrivers are made, not born. It’s not a program, it’s a process,” she said.

Borba addressed how the pandemic may affect children in the future. She stated that the impact of a traumatic event is based on the child’s proximity, protective factors and prior issues. She then told parents how they can identify and address their child’s stress signs in a positive way, quoting the advice given to Navy Seals.

“After they identify their stress signs, they tell themselves ‘I got this,’ a positive affirmation,” she said.

After a brief intermission, Kanarek, who is an expert in standardized testing and college admission, talked  about standardized testing in relation to college applications in California. 

“Tests, frankly, no longer matter within the UC substrate. The UC system announced this year that they would go test blind in two years,” he said.

Kanarek also emphasized the importance of emotional intelligence in today’s students and how it can help them in college. He gave parents advice on how to raise emotionally intelligent kids.

“I will say the key to grit, and every one of you knows this, is letting them fail and see what happens,” Kanarek told parents.