“Changing the Odds, One School Day at a Time” w/ Dr. Mark Katz
What was it about the 9th Annual Astor Public Policy Breakfast that kept people thoroughly engaged during Dr. Mark Katz’s (all too brief) presentation, Children Who Fail at School But Succeed at Life?
Well for starters, Dr. David Crenshaw, Co-Chair of the Board at Astor Services for Children & Families stated, “Dr. Mark Katz has been here in Dutchess County for a long time even though today was his first visit to the Hudson Valley. A friend to all of us indeed!” Dr. James McGuirk in his introductory remarks emphasized how Astor embraces Dr. Katz’s philosophy of hope and resiliency in children, the topic of his new book, “Playing a Poor Hand Well.” Working with and educating young people to have the tools and resources to find their way to a productive life under-scores the Astor philosophy.
A Story of Resilience
Dr. Katz introduced his Power Point “less” presentation, although we all received his slides in a take away package, with a story of resilience in children who witnessed the 911 World Trade Center attack from their school windows. He said after working with these kids it is very hard to find hopelessness in 5 year old children. With that, he posed a question,
“What could cause otherwise resilient children to succumb to risk and adversity?”
Using Protective Processes to Neutralize Risk
Dr. Katz used the example of juggling tennis balls as a metaphor for risk factors. First there is one, then two and we all know what happens when we add a third and a fourth. This is when protective processes are needed to neutralize risk. These protective processes can be woven into a typical school day to effectively buffer children, youth and families exposed to similar risks and adverse conditions, including bullying and stigmatization.
With that Dr. Katz added:
“Never anything so wrong with us that’s what right with us can’t fix!”
Some of the protective influences that have become turning point experiences for children who succumbed to adversity, but in adulthood are doing well:
- Marriage or entry into a long term committed relationship
- The birth of a first child
- Establishing themselves in a career or job
- Obtaining further education through a community college
- Joining the armed forces as a way to gain education or vocational skills
- Becoming active in a church or religious community
The secret sauce for this great event – an affinity for Dr. Katz; a real life story that engaged the audience; a touch of humor and a positive spin on a subject we all can relate to. And we wanted more! That is why people are still talking about the 2012 Astor Public Policy breakfast.