The Astor Blog

Astor’s Head Start Programs: Support Students in the Classroom!

This I have never understood:

How can anyone, anywhere not want to support a program that gives those who are most defenseless, who are without a voice, without a constituency, without a lobby, a chance?

Head Start works. By all the metrics it has an immediate effect on the kids. On IQ scores, academic achievement, crime, and poor health.

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What Really Prevents School Violence?

School communities are the most critical factor in the prevention of school violence.  The more inclusive and welcoming the school community, the more connected most youth in that community feel.  The more connected youth feel, the more likely it is that any youth contemplating violence will be revealed to caring adults early in the path toward an actual violent act.

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Giving Back – An Answer to Tragedy

Last week, JoAnne Bacon, a Newtown mom whose 6 year old daughter, Charlotte, was killed in the Newtown shootings one year ago today, asked that the caring citizens of our country mark this anniversary by practicing acts of kindness in our own communities.

In the communities that Astor serves, there are so many opportunities to act as an agent of hope for children who need your help.

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Happy Thanksgiving!!

I was rather taken by something Laura Pensiero owner of Gigi’s Trattoria in Rhinebeck said the other day: “Food tastes better when it’s shared.” That goes right to the point of the Pilgrim holiday we’re about to celebrate.

And it goes right to the heart of all that they’re trying to accomplish with the annual Thanksgiving feast for the children and staff of Astor. When goodness, caring and warmth are shared, we are all the better for it.

Bringing together as they did last year, Laura will be donating a freshly cooked locally sourced turkey dinner with all the trimmings so that the children (and staff) who cannot be with their families this Thanksgiving can share in the abundance of the Hudson River Valley. And, we’ll be happily joined by Gigi’s supporter and partner, Sean Eldridge of Hudson River Ventures.

Sharing of course, is what Astor is all about. Sharing a healthy meal and …

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Strive to Thrive: Train Your Toddler’s Brain, Part 3

Last fall, I wrote about self-regulation, the important “brain training” that is needed for children to be competent and confident.   Parents can help their babies develop this important skill with warm, responsive, and predictable parenting.  When your children are toddlers, you can continue to train their brains by developing your own calmness, telling your toddler what to expect, and teaching them how to behave.

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Sandy Hook Elementary School

As the images of the victims from Sandy Hook Elementary School are being broadcasted throughout our country, we are confronted with the reality that these children look so much like our own children. While we mourn the victims of Sandy Hook, let’s not forget that in many communities, the death of innocent children by gun violence happens way too often. This was the seventh mass murder in this country this year. Let’s not forget the past victims.  And most important, let’s act.

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Astor Memories: Connecting Our Past with Our Future

Do people my age self analyze their past and their future, while applying present circumstances, and ever feel completely satisfied?

Mr. Harry Brown

My answer is of course we do—constantly!
Personally, I find most things in my present and future connect to the past. Over time, I have experienced how these connections make themselves known, how as they unfold or envelope the present and reveal just who I am now.

I was only slightly aware of my self-worth at age eight, when I arrived at Astor, but I was quite aware of whom I was when I left! My youthful confusions gave way to education, my experiences secured my confidence, and my accomplishments validated my self-worth.

Keeping my emotions aside, I can connect each high and low stage to my past because I have always kept Astor as a touchstone in almost every moment of my best achievements and joy, as well as …

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Astor Memories: How Astor Services Shaped My Working Life

The most influential and inspiring messages, with the greatest impact on my life, have always been something spoken quietly to me.Thinking back on the people and staff of Astor always made me wonder about their work and how I can now appreciate what they do. Out of these thoughts came ideas regarding good-works vs. work, career vs. job, calling vs. transitional employment.

Today, I am writing about my working life.

Although absolutely necessary, having and holding employment was never difficult to obtain and manage. Often I found it fun with so many choices. Eventually over my working lifetime I explored five long-term careers, working each of them for 1, 2, 11, 11 and  20 years, respectively. And in pursuit of these professions I did other work: I was a street sweeper, taxi driver, bartender, warehouseman, substitute teacher, roughneck, turkey farmhand, messenger, photographer, waiter, dishwasher, house painter, and a two-time on-screen film extra; I …

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Strive to Thrive: Building Confidence in Your Kids, Part I

Did you know that the roots of confidence and competence start when your child is just a baby? In my business, we call these roots “self-regulation,” which is a fancy way to say that a child (or adult) can be in charge of their own thinking, emotions, and behaviors.

By helping your kids develop the ability to be in charge of themselves in a healthy way, you can build their confidence in themselves and make them more likely to do well at home, in school, and with friends.  In short, YOU can TRAIN YOUR CHILD’S BRAIN.

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An Astonishing Gift: Christmas Memories from Harry Brown

One Christmas morning at Astor, I was opening gifts retrospectively, donations that included a baseball mitt, model car, model plane, paint by numbers, etc. Nice things! I opened yet another gift box and found an unbelievable treasure.

Inside this Christmas present was a book, a fountain pen and a Timex watch that glowed in the dark (the book remains my singular reminder of this moment in my life at Astor). Also there was a card with a very long letter written inside; my mother introduced me to my family!


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Tools I Learned At Astor

Life Lessons Learned At Astor Still Resonate

More than fifty years have passed since I was a boy residing at Astor Home. The tools I learned and that have been with me throughout my journey since I left Astor have provided me with support, resource and a moral code to live by.

These tools included: patience, practice and a love for learning. The same tools it takes to master many subject areas and to become master in a profession (i.e., Astronaut, Doctor, Engineer, etc.). I became confident, open to learning, open to new things and respectful of wisdom.

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