Gooden’s Culture of Giving and Gratitude
“When you were born, there was a new person for your family to love and care for…and because of you there is one more person who can love and care for others.” - Because of You; B.G. Hennessy
Already early in this school year, I have been inspired by pictures of Gooden students chalking for peace with their buddies, celebrating their pets and raising funds for the Humane Society, planting and tending to vegetables and herbs, caring for the chickens, and gathering the eggs for Friends In Deed.
Community engagement and service are vital parts of The Gooden School’s mission, our history, and our Episcopal tradition. They are embedded within our curriculum, and are the foundation around which all of our inquiry-based learning comes to life. You can find it in the diverse reading lists of our English courses, in the syllabi of our social studies courses, in the conversations that emerge in our classes around STEAM, theater and music, in Faith & Ethics, elective and Advisory classes, and especially in our chapel services.
At Gooden, students learn in community and individually about their own gifts and struggles in direct relation to their peers so that understanding emerges with immediate, transformative force. Above all, the Gooden experience inspires our generous and courageous students to enter the world with ambition, gratitude and the determination to participate boldly and give back whole-heartedly.
As we all know too well, students also learn by example. At Gooden, students' experiences are enriched by parents, faculty, staff, alumni and a board who are committed to The Gooden School's values and mission, and also to being cultural leaders as demonstrated by hours of volunteerism, professional expertise, commitment to our mission, and philanthropic generosity. On any given day at Gooden, alumni who visit, whether they are doctors, artists, entrepreneurs, college or high school students, all mention how much they’ve missed the sense of joy and generosity that is Gooden, and how prepared they were for the rigors of higher education and life!
Our students come to understand that such leadership and generosity spring from joy and gratitude and an inherent and shared responsibility for improving communities and the world. Thank you for your leadership and generous sharing of gifts with the Gooden community. Your contributions make a lasting difference in shaping our leaders of tomorrow!
Cathy Heflin is the chair of the board of trustees at The Gooden School. She is also co-founder of the Gooden strings program. She works as a senior wealth strategist at UBS and brings more than 20 years of finance and nonprofit experience to the board. Cathy is also a member of the Guild of Cancer Support Community and a co-founder of the Flintridge Preparatory internship program. Her daughters Anna and Sophia graduated from Gooden (classes of 2007 and 2010, respectively.) Anna graduated from Westridge School, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has a master's degree in viola performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Sophia attended Flintridge Preparatory School followed by Indiana University, Bloomington.
Zuckerberg : Jobs :: Jobs : Buffett
What is the underlying relational analogy here? No, this isn’t an SAT analogies example, but it could be! I’m talking about mentorship.
Mentorship is en vogue. From prominent business leaders to pop stars, supportive guidance of junior figures by their seniors across endeavors has benefited from a rebranding. However, this concept is far from novel. Trade apprenticeships and medical residencies are just a few examples reflecting the wide swath of professions that have formalized the mentorship relationship as a mandatory element of professional development. Within the social-emotional realm, programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and “Littles”, and “Bigs” within Greek systems across college campuses are long-standing institutions of mentorship.
I’ve personally benefited in a multitude of ways from numerous mentorship relationships. Several stand out as particularly impactful. Among those who have mentored me include my two older sisters and their tribes of friends, a graduate school professor, and many fellow parents who suffer through the rantings and unending questions of a “child expert.” Those whom I’ve had the privilege of mentoring include a student I saw all the way from undergraduate through graduate school and the launch of an NGO, students and supervisees, and more than a few local teens. I am wiser and enjoy a richer life now because of my mentors and my mentees.
At Gooden, we facilitate mentorship relationships across the age range. Our Buddy Program is a longstanding tradition in which students in upper grades are paired with our little ones for school activities, from chapel to Orchard Day. In turn, Middle School students receive guidance from a selected faculty member in our advisory program. Faculty mentor one another as they gain expertise, and senior administrators seek mentorship from more experienced colleagues. Even our Gooden Family Association has a mentorship component as rising elected officials are guided by those previously in their roles.
The social sciences literature abounds with evidence of the profound impact of mentorship on both parties’ behalves. These include increasing connectedness to family and peers, as well as peer acceptance and self-esteem. As a recent article on mentorship by students noted: “ When students are given the freedom to be better, to work for something bigger than themselves, and to mentor others, they can thrive.”
And parents can help them thrive in this way: rather than simply signing our children up for more engagements, what if we modeled this practice alongside them? As a mentor, we demonstrate the value in investing in others, expand our capacity for empathy, and grow our leadership skills. As a mentee, we demonstrate humility, openness to feedback, and are pushed beyond our comfort zones, while receiving counsel from those more experienced than we. What’s to lose?
Dr. Marguery Lyvers is a licensed clinical psychologist and the school psychologist at The Gooden School. Dr. Lyvers specializes in neuropsychological assessment at her private practice, Lyvers & Associates. Additionally, she is a partner and executive director at Integrated Learning Solutions, overseeing a multidisciplinary team of professionals serving students with diverse learning needs via individually tailored interventions, while simultaneously supporting their families and educators. Dr. Lyvers earned her bachelor’s from California State University, Los Angeles’ Early Entrance Program, followed by her master’s and doctorate from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University. Dr. Lyvers’ training and experience spans educational, forensic, private, community clinic, and inpatient settings. A Pasadena native, Dr. Lyvers is invested in fostering the development of our young community members by removing barriers to educational and personal success.
Tempus fugit*: It’s Time for School?
“How did that happen already?” For 27 years, that has been the question I have asked at the end of every August as my four children headed out the door and back to school or university. It seems the older our children became, time moved faster, and the summers became shorter! Transitioning from laid-back summer schedules to the tightly-wound schedule of a school year with a multitude of after-school activities can be very stressful for children (and their parents).
Some lucky families have children who appear to acclimate quickly to the change in sleep patterns and the demands of the school day, both physically and mentally. They find their rhythms and adapt. When I ask these parents what they do to make this transition so seamless, they shrug and even look embarrassed. “Not much,” they admit. “He/She’s always been like this.”
Likewise, I know some amazing parents whose children struggle to find their rhythm and comfort levels with school. The parents hold firm boundaries, talk to their children about what to expect, feed them good food, and allow extra time in the morning. Despite doing all of these healthy things, some children still have a tough time.
Obviously, how well our children transition is not necessarily a reflection of what we do as parents. Some children, like some adults, are simply more sensitive to change. A clear example is that each of my children adapted completely differently to transitions and school. One was anxious, vocalized her worries, over-planned and stayed nervous for months, though easily completed homework (without reminders) every evening. Another child, who cared only about connecting to her teacher and kept all her worries bottled up, might have a huge tantrum over something seemingly innocuous. Every night, she needed an adult to guide her to the table and place her homework in front of her. Another one was just fine; he liked his friends, loved his teachers (no matter who) and happily went with the flow. Still another child cared only about friendships and after-school activities that drove her to complete her work and over schedule everything (and everybody) else in her life.
Four children. One family. My spouse and I bring our set of skills to the table, and if logic would follow, each of the children would behave the same way. But no.
Parents, please stop blaming yourselves for every bump in the road. Some children simply need a little more care. Besides making sure that everyone is sleeping and that meals are as organized as they can be, below are some tools from our illustrious teachers for how to help move the summer-to-school transition along more smoothly. Use these suggestions gently and with care. Being forceful, angry, or rough doesn’t work with any humans, especially children.
1. Allow your child (and you) to be grumpy. For many children, summer is so much fun and they are very reticent to let the fun go. They want to meet their teachers and see their friends, but they miss the summer lifestyle. Who hasn’t felt this way? As caregivers, go ahead and allow all of these feelings. Resist the urge to cheerlead and try to persuade the child to feel “happy” or “hopeful.” Just listen, hug, and nod along with the complaints.
2. Allow all routines and rules to feel flexible and easy. A routine is good when it is clear and consistent but also flexible enough to withstand change. And while it may sometimes feel as though you are going into battle, you aren’t. It’s school. And almost nothing (not a routine, not schoolwork, not getting dressed, not taking away technology) is worth destroying your relationship with your child. See past the tantrums and be patient with your child.
3. Don’t be afraid to contact teachers and administrators before school begins. Teachers love a heads-up about children and welcome any tips you have about building a strong connection. This simple connection tool can go a long way toward helping a nervous child feel a little more comfortable with a new experience.
4. Finally, parents: Be sure to get your house in order, both physically and mentally. A little night-before list: Have the lunches packed, have the breakfast table ready, have your own clothes ready to wear for the morning and, as always, have the backpacks and instruments ready by the front door. I also kept extra sweaters and PE clothes in the glove box of my car. Sadly, a cello is not so easy. The 10 minutes spent at night can give enough time to greet your children tenderly in the morning, rather than with commands and demands barked in frustration.
Tempus fugit*! Enjoy your time with your children! Have faith and welcome back to school!
Jo-Anne Woolner is the head of school at Gooden. She has served the school as interim head of school, director of the Middle School, registrar, and teacher of English, social studies, and Latin after originally joining the school community as a parent of four Gooden students. She received her Bachelor of Arts/Science in English from the University of Calgary (Canada) and Master of Arts in medieval history and languages and Master of Philosophy in Catholic Church history from New York University. In addition to teaching at NYU before moving to California, she has been a presenter at regional independent school conferences and has been a volunteer and board member at several community-based nonprofits in Pasadena.
My journey with the Gooden Family Association (GFA) executive committee began when my daughter Sophia entered kindergarten. While I had committed to volunteering at the school on her application, I was not sure how that commitment would come to fruition. I was also not sure if the need for volunteers would align with my career and personal schedule, but I was, however, a willing participant. So I placed my name on several blanks on the volunteer list on the Gooden School website.
During our first year at the school, as chance would have it, the GFA Country Fair fundraiser was approaching and the co-chairs needed some data input assistance. Innocently enough, I figured this kind of work could be done at home at night. “Sure, I can do that,” I thought. Little did I know I would find my niche with that first experience which would accelerate into a passion I was not aware that I possessed. I continued to work each event thereafter, including many in which I had no experience, culminating with chairing the GFA Gala the following year. While I also had no specific experience in chairing a gala, with a team of parent volunteers, we worked together to pull off a successful event.
As each school year began, I found myself becoming more and more involved. While I enjoyed the work and spending the extra time with Sophia at school, what I didn’t realize was that I was becoming part of a larger community, The Gooden School community. What started as a simple volunteer assignment turned into spending time with a community filled with families similar to ours. Although Gooden families come from diverse backgrounds, we all share the same passions, hopes, and dreams for our children. We possess similar family values, a desire for a strong well-rounded education for our children, and a foundation in faith that is open to different beliefs.
Over the next six years, I either attended, assisted in planning, or provided support for all of the GFA community-building child enrichment events that occurred at The Gooden School. While my journey as the president of the GFA ends this June, I will continue as the president emerita to support the GFA executive committee for the next year. Thereafter, I am sure I will stay involved in some capacity at the school into the future, even as our daughter moves on to the next stage of her educational life.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey and will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have found the Gooden School community. As a result of my involvement, my family has made lifelong friends along the way, and each school year a new group of families enters, further enriching Gooden’s community.
Tracy Thomas-Astacaan is a director of real estate and asset management with AMT Enterprises, Inc. in Beverly Hills. She has been working in the real estate management industry for approximately 30 years. Throughout her career, she has managed more than $500 million in assets including multiple properties totaling more than three million square feet. She has a BS degree in economics with a focus in business management and accounting from California State University, Northridge. Tracy has held several board positions over her career including being one of the founding members of the Westchester Business Improvement District (BID). She has served on the Gooden Family Association for the past 4 years, two years as the vice president of fundraising and two years as the president. Tracy enjoys traveling and has visited over 30 countries.