Reflections from the Executive Office

everyone is a cheerleader and everyone is a star!

I am pleased to welcome guest blogger, Linda Ramsey, Deputy Director Family Support at Maryland Family Network. 

As I look at the pictures of our parents who have successfully completed the Parent Leadership program, I see smiling faces filled with accomplishment, pride, confidence, and belief in self….that’s what this is really all about and I couldn’t be more proud of them. On the first day of the program they arrive not knowing what to expect and we see the anxiety and self-doubt, but we also see a desire to learn something new and behind their faces there are dreams of a better life for their children and themselves. For many, this is the first experience where others have asked them what they think, what they’d like to do with their lives or what they want to be, and to give them an opportunity to discuss the challenging but rewarding job of being a parent.

A proud group of parents.

A proud group of parents.

Each year, Maryland Family Network offers a Parent Leadership Institute comprised of two levels: introductory and advanced. The introductory level or Part 1 is made up of two cohorts offered in two different regions of the State. The Parent Leadership Institute offers training about the key concepts of leadership, active listening and communicating with impact, critical thinking, advocacy, skills and techniques for conducting meetings, and public speaking. Throughout the two days of intensive training, parents are engaged in skill building activities where they test their own abilities and confidence, and foster relations with parents outside of their home jurisdictions. They are involved in small group exercises where they discuss what they’ve learned with related practice sessions. There is no judgment or criticism to hinder participation or growth…it’s a safe place where everyone is made to feel appreciated, respected, and valued. Everyone is a cheerleader and everyone is a star!

Parents attending Part 1 are eligible to attend Part 2, a more advanced level of leadership training. These parents will be invited to attend the Family Support Spring Training and Professional Development Conference on May 14-15, 2015 in Hunt Valley. MFN will offer a track of professional workshops for parents and they will plan and present a closing session to the over 200 network staff.

Maryland Family Network's Martin and Gordon pose with Torres.

Melanie Martin and Nathalia Gordon stand with Vanessa Torres who completed the training.

There are two forces of motivation and expertise that make it happen every year….Melanie Martin and Nathalia Gordon! I shouldn’t brag about my staff but I will….these professional women are great role models for our parents. Not only do they have years of expertise at working with young parents and knowing how to build self-esteem while imparting valuable knowledge…they know how to do it with such ease and warmth that anyone would want to spend two days with them. We are truly grateful for their leadership!

As much as our parents grow from this experience, I think we grow even more. We always learn new things about their communities and families and we gain strength and wisdom from listening to their incredible stories. We all walk away a little bit taller, smarter, and with larger hearts.