The Glenbard Parent Series “Welcomes YOU”


Emily Puchalski, Opinions Editor

Ms. Gilda Ross wants you to know that the Glenbard Parent Series (GPS) is here to navigate families with children of all ages and students too. 

The origins of GPS date back 27 years ago when Ms. Ross’s child was just entering high school. The Glenbard Student and Community Projects Coordinator said, “I went shopping with my daughter for back-to-school clothes, and the woman who was checking us out said to my daughter, ‘You look so much like your mother.’ I thought my daughter was going to be like ‘That’s so sweet’. But, in reality, I thought my daughter was going to attack her after she said that.” 

From there, Ms. Ross explained that the aftermath of this event led her to finding a book, called: Get Out of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall. The finding of this book was a pivotal moment, Ms. Ross reflected “that if someone wrote a book, [Ms. Ross] was not the only one with an indulged child.” From here, Ms. Ross knew that she was not the only one that wanted parenting advice, and what better way to learn than from the experts themselves?

The Glenbard Parent Series: Navigating Healthy Families is an esteemed program, offering speaker series presenting relevant, high-profile authors, educators and clinicians for free, to the public. These high-caliber presenters offer practical research-based knowledge, strategies and personal experience to support students’ engaged learning, fostering self-empowered children who collaborate, communicate, embrace diversity, create and think critically.

While some may find the name: Glenbard Parent Series deceiving, Ms. Ross emphasizes that this is a resource not just for parents or Glenbard families. Some parents may potentially see the name and think, “I can wait until my kids are at Glenbard”. But please do not wait, as some of these topics about communication or how to parent are important at any stage. Listening to these speakers as a senior might be too late. GPS is for middle and elementary school families, and even younger, since the addition of programs for parents of children from 0 to 3 years old.

But most importantly, Ms. Ross wants students to know that the Glenbard Parent Series is here for them too! Especially in a time of stress, substance misuse, college applications and so much more on students’ minds, there is immense value in a student gaining insight with GPS experts and thought leaders. 

She even has her own experiences with her son, a graduate of Glenbard schools. This is part of what inspires Ms. Ross, as it gave her another lens on how families feel about success. That is what GPS is about, showing that success is not “a fat envelope”, but rather being a compassionate, grateful, generous human being.

Ms. Ross began her career with Glenbard as a guidance counselor at Glenbard North, South and later West. One of her first projects at the district was the founding of the Students for Students Club at Glenbard West, and later bringing it to all the other Glenbards. Now, Ms. Ross is our own Glenbard Student and Community Projects Coordinator and works hard to grow GPS.

In fact, a development made at the Glenbard Parent Series a couple of years ago was the creation of “Take 5”. The thought was to get a 5 minute summary from speakers, for students and parents who would not attend the whole session. Now, you can find “Take 5s” from past programs on the Glenbard Parent Series – YouTube.

The COVID-19 pandemic also required change in the GPS program, as it called for a switchto virtual speakers. But what proved as a difficult time for many fields, was a period of growth for the Glenbard Parent Series. Ms. Ross emphasizes how the Zoom format has made it so much easier to reach students, as it does not require transportation to their high schools in the evening. Guardians also have more access to the program, as it is a less time-consuming structure for everyone. But ultimately just as much knowledge can be gained, just in a different setting.

GPS keeps on growing and expanding in other ways through the years. About 10 years ago, the program hosted its first session in Spanish, and this year, speakers were added in Urdu and Gujarati. This is a move made to increase outreach across the whole multilingual Glenbard community.

Ms. Ross highly recommends that families attend any one of the many upcoming GPS events, spanning topics from mental health, college planning, financial aid, to any other subjects one can imagine. 

Coming up soon on November 1st from 7-8pm GPS will be featuring Ned Johnson with Matthew Pietrafetta, who will be speaking about Test Taking Skills / SAT Updates / Reducing Test Anxiety.

The speech will bust myths about standardized testing, explain the content of the exam, teach how to prepare and describe the best strategies to use when taking the test.

Pietrafetta founded Academic Approach in 2001 and serves as the chief executive officer. He has worked to define a model of test preparation based less on strategy and more on skills development to prepare students for academic success both on the test and beyond.

Pietrafetta will be joined by Ned Johnson, co-author of “The Self-Driven Child” and founder of PrepMatters. Johnson has devoted thousands of hours to one-on-one test prep.

On November 9th, from 7-8pm Dr. Shapiro will present about Rewiring the Teen Brain for Calm and Nurturing the Joy of Movement. 

She will share practices that can rewire the brain for motivation, contentment and tranquility. As well as a science-based roadmap to enhance personal and professional well-being while increasing joy. Listeners will learn how the practice of mindfulness can reduce emotional reactivity and help teens and adults manage stress, enhance self-compassion and make healthy life choices.

Shapiro is a clinical psychologist, professor at Santa Clara University and an internationally recognized expert in mindfulness. Shapiro has published three critically acclaimed books, including: “Good Morning, I Love You,” “The Art and Science of Mindfulness: Integrating Mindfulness into Psychology and the Helping Professions,” and “Mindful Discipline: A Loving Approach to Setting Limits & Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child.”

Finally, Ms. Ross highlights the November 30th event with Timothy W. Fong M.D., Distinguished Glenbard Alum, and Tom Farley. Their presentation, Growing Up with Chris Farley: Substance Misuse What Teens Should Know Now, will be presented virtually and in person at Glenbard West High School.

Dr. Timothy Fong is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. He graduated from Glenbard West in 1990. Dr. Fong completed his undergraduate and medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago. He then was the first accredited addiction psychiatry fellow at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute (2002-2004). He is part of the faculty leadership of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, a multidisciplinary effort to examine the full impact of cannabis on the body, mind and brain.  

Tom Farley is the brother of the late actor and comedian Chris Farley, who died in 1997 as a result of substance abuse. Tom Farley is the founder and former president of The Chris Farley Foundation, which uses humor to deliver prevention messages to teens and young adults. In 2008 he co-authored the New York Times bestselling book, The Chris Farley Show, a Biography in Three Acts (Viking Press), which received national media attention and wide critical acclaim.

These events are here for students and families, everywhere and anywhere, so it is highly encouraged you attend! 

For more information about the Glenbard Parent Series, visit the links hyperlinked throughout the article. 

And finally a massive thank you to Ms. Ross for her passion for GPS and her willingness to share more about it!