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Helping families, schools and communities raise children to become adults: an inside look at EPIC

Jan. 22, 2015

Most days at Robert J. Kaiser Middle School, Every Person Influences Children (EPIC) Manager Jane Sorensen will at some point rise from her desk, pull on her blazer, and make her way from her office to the main entrance of the school.

When the bell rings and students flood the corridors between classes, Sorensen is there to greet them. Short in stature, talkative and energetic, she is a friendly figure. She calls students by name, asking one about a recent test, another about an after-school club and laughs with a third about a private joke. Each student responds with unprompted politeness, addressing her as “miss” or “ma’am.”

“It’s important for me to see the kids,” she says, “but even more important for them to see me, and know that I’m there for them.”

Although Mrs. Sorensen is no stranger to the elementary schools in the Monticello Central School District, she has just begun making her mark in the middle school.

Earlier this year, the former elementary EPIC Coordinator became EPIC Manager for the Monticello Central School District, and began planning programs for the Robert J. Kaiser Middle School.

EPIC – Every Person Influences Children, Inc. – is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping families, schools, and communities raise children to become responsible and capable adults. As manager, Mrs. Sorensen supports the people who have the most influence on children by providing evidence-based programs for parents, a character education curriculum for families and schools, and training for schools and agencies.

EPIC offers more than 50 different skill-building workshops for parents whose children are between the ages of birth and 14. EPIC workshops are provided free of charge to the general public.

Mrs. Sorensen is known as the “go-to” for parents when it comes to parent resources, questions, concerns and upcoming workshops and events throughout the district.

“I work hard to establish great relationships with our parents,” she said. “Many have told me that they’ve benefitted greatly from attending a workshop. There’s something for everyone.”

Today, Mrs. Sorensen considers Monticello Central School District to be one of EPIC’s brightest success stories in its ongoing efforts to provide helpful resources to students and their families. She credits this success to the district’s staff and administrators who support her in her efforts to strengthen home-school-community relationships.

There is much on the horizon for EPIC this year, she says. She and a team of part time facilitators are working towards expanding EPIC’s programs and providing further support for families, including a four week series at the middle school that combines arts and crafts workshops with self-esteem counseling and a family literacy event at Cooke Elementary School.

The next EPIC workshop (free to all families in the district) is called “Building Bridges Between Parent and Child” and will be on Tuesday, Jan. 26 from 5:30-6:45 p.m. at Rutherford Elementary. The “Building Bridges” workshop is designed to equip parents with information that will promote drug-free lifestyles in their families.

Additional upcoming workshops include:
Feb. 9: “Love is a Powerful Vitamin”: This workshop aims to help families better understand the power of live in a child’s life and how to teach a child to give and receive love.

Feb. 23: “Developing Respect and Caring in Young Children”: This workshop is designed to help parents understand what is needed for positive character development and explain to their children what respect and caring is and how to develop it.

Mar. 1: “Guiding your Child’s Behavior through Positive Discipline”: This workshop will explain the factors motivating behavior and provide suggestions for parents on how to encourage healthy behavior and self-discipline among their children.

Please check the EPIC page often to stay informed on EPIC’s latest workshops and initiatives.