Thursday, February 7, 2013

Last December, a group of us, Lynbrook Moms,  were sitting around making paper snowflakes with which to decorate Sandy Hook Elementary's new school building, and we were debating how does such a tragedy occur? 
We wondered if there was any way to prevent our children from ever reaching the point of feeling so isolated, so angry or powerless, that they end up making desctructive decisions. 
No matter how enthusiastic, no matter how hard our Social Workers work (and they work very hard) to make connections with our children and bring vital programs to life in our buildings, we parents feel that 4 Social Workers divided between 7 buildings simply isn't enough. 
And so our parent driven letter was born. 
WE know these are very difficult ecomonic times, but we respectfully ask that you read our letter and please consider clicking on the link at the end and signing your name to our petition. 
Lynbrook School District Social Workers are like superheroes.  They handle all manner of crises with kindness and patience, and do their best to reach all of the students who need them.  One thing stands in their way, and that is: Time. 
Our Social Workers are shared between buildings.  Their assignments are as follows:
         Carol Woehr - Kindergarten, Waverly Park & Marion Street

         Sandra Gettenberg - West End & North Middle

         Karen Aquino - High School

         Roseanne Bogard - South Middle & High School
In the past, the District hired Social Workers through an agency.  Recognizing the importance of Social Workers invested in our children exclusively, Lynbrook School District wisely decided to move away from contracting through an agency and instead employed Social Workers directly.  This was a critical decision by the Administration and the Board of Education and has been much appreciated by parents and staff.  Now there are permanent Social Workers on staff, who are invested in our children, working with them from an early age, influencing not only those students assigned to them, but the entire population of students in our District.  The District went further by hiring additional Social Workers (1 part-time).  We parents applaud the District's forward thinking and ask that they continue to address our children's social-emotional needs by considering hiring a full time Social Worker for each building and 2 in the High School (as it has a larger population, and greater issues). 
Therefore, ideally we feel our children would benefit the most from having 8 full time Social Workers.  We feel they should have 1 Social Worker in every school, with 2 in the High School every day, full time and this is why:  The social and emotional education of our children is just as important as their academic education.

If there is a full-time Social Worker in each building, he/she would have the time needed to reach so many more of the students.  We would worry less about a student slipping through the cracks and becoming another teen suicide or responsible for a catastrophic act of violence.  Lynbrook has had 3 student suicides in approximately 8 years.  Although this is a sobering and devastating statistic, our Social Workers have saved a lot more lives!
Our Social Workers have wonderful programs that they could implement, if they had TIME! Our Social Workers want to advocate for families and children, to do so they need to be a more constant presence.  Students build relationships with the Social Workers and rely on their presence to get them through some tough times.  A students inability to access help when in the midst of a crisis can be so detrimental and even devastating.  Imagine having to say to a child who is in the middle of a crisis "hold onto those feelings of desperation until the Social Worker is back,"  or having to pull a Social Worker from another school who is not familiar with the child!

If we had a full-time Social Worker in each school, they could schedule time to do more outreach programs, to engage and instruct students and parents. They could push into classrooms, offering consistency and support, and form relationships with the students.  Students are more successful if they are connected to more adults. They could be visible and available during the lunch periods; currently they need to squeeze in their assigned students visits and groups during these times.  They could give classroom lessons and run more student groups based on specific needs, such as bereavement.   They could schedule parent meetings or parent/family coffee hours to keep parents informed and educated.  They could offer teacher training and sensitivity training to staff.  They could start in the Kindergarten Center with family workshops to ensure that mental health becomes part of the fabric of each students life.  We are aware of and appreciative of the current programs already in place in all the buildings.  However, the Social Workers have even more wonderful programs they could implement if they had the additional staffing.  The High School has the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) club.  This could be pushed down into Lynbrook Middle Schools to help students avoid making poor decisions during these critical years. 

Our Social Workers want to form relationships with each child in our district, so that no childs social/emotional issues are neglected.  They understand that sometimes the students feel there is a certain stigma involved with speaking about their feelings. Reaching not just the at risk students but ALL students would help to normalize the idea that feelings can be discussed and, through that discussion, problems resolved.  Our students need to be properly equipped to cope with the stresses life will throw at them.  Their mental health should be a priority.  To serve the special needs population, one of the Social Workers additionally could be utilized as a Transition Coordinator and could meet with classified students beginning during the middle school years. This would provide special education students with learning activities and experiences designed to help them fulfill their potential for intellectual, emotional, physical, and social growth.  The Transition Coordinator could work with the classified students, their teachers and parents to systematically create individualized transition goals.

We often hear parents speak at Board of Education meetings asking what is the District doing about drug or alcohol use? What is the District doing about safety?  What is the District is doing about bullying?  If Lynbrook had more full time Social Workers, at each school, they could devote more time educating our children and their parents about these issues and teach them about good citizenship and healthy choices.

Full time Social Workers in each school will teach our kids the appropriate social skills to succeed. They not only help kids individually, but help them get along with each other.  This will lay the foundation for success in their future personal and business relationships. 

As parents in the Lynbrook School District, we are requesting the Administration and Board of Education consider hiring 4 additional full-time Social Workers.  Together, we recognize the intrinsic value for our students and communitys social health, emotional wellness, and overall safety.  
Yours respectfully,

A group of concerned Lynbrook Parents

Julie Bergin, Lori Borges, Denise Deputy, Karen Edelstein, Jennifer Hinderstein, Esther Marks, Randi Polansky, Nancy Wolfsohn

Please click here to open our petition and sign your name.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering "it will be happier". 

Happy New Year to all! 

2012 was a tough year for most and certainly a busy year for me.  Sadly many families were affected throughout Long Island by Hurricane Sandy, I hope that the year ahead will see them recovering and with community efforts I am sure this can happen!

In the days that followed Hurricane Sandy, I founded Schools Adopting Schools... I was so fortunate not to have had any damage to my home, and was deeply troubled that so many children's schools were affected... I wanted them to have some sense of normalcy again. With Schools Adopting Schools I Search for & Pair schools in need post hurricane sandy with those equipped
to help.  I am currently working with about 35 Schools.

In the Summer, my friend Kelly Stapleton and I organized Lynbrook's 4th annual Swim across America.  Kelly and I are Swim Across America Pool Swim Delegates.  To date we have raised over $50,000 for the organization in the hopes of finding a cure for cancer.  We were lucky enough to meet some of the Doctors who are researching and whose programs are directly supported by SAA. 
Swim Across America:  Fundraising for cancer research to find a cure
- I received Lynbrook citation
- I received NYS assembly citation

Lynbrook Swim Team
Organized weekly Bake sales throughout season to raise funds for swim team - end
year party, coaches gifts & new banner

In the Spring I was the Relay for Life West End Team Captain
- I put together a team to walk & we raised funds to fight cancer

St. Raymond's RC School -
Religious Ed teacher 4th grade

Lynbrook cares
With 3 of my friends I helped to create a Cooperative Community service group - of 12 4th grade girls & their moms.  We organize and participate in many community service projects throughout Lynbrook. 

Girl Scout Troop Leader for a West End Troop 2182
participated in many community service projects throughout the year.   

I am a member of Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, whose mission is to promote
friendship, unity and Christian charity. 
Created & maintain a Facebook page for group

I am a member of Glor na nGael Pipes & Drums
Color Guard for parades
Snare drum student
My son plays bagpipes and my daughter is a bagpiping student
Created & maintain a Facebook page for group

New York State Delegate to Mom Congress 2012
Chosen For my work in bringing technology to PTAs via Facebook & websites
- received Village of Lynbrook Citation
- was recognized at the Nassau region PTA Spring Conference

This September I was selected as one of New York state Assembly district 14's 2012 Women of Distinction
I was chosen for my community service efforts and dedication to the children of
- awarded proclamation by NYS Assemblyman Curran & Anthony Santino
- Received Village of Lynbrook Citation from Mayor
- Received Town of Hempstead Certificate of recognition from Town of hempstead
supervisor Kate Murray
- received Nassau County citation from Nassau county executive Edward Mangano

For the past 2 years I was PTA Co-President of my daughter's elementary school.  My biggest achievement would be that I created a PTA website, Facebook and email correspondence in an effort to engage parents and allow working parents more of a window into school and events.  It has become a vital link in everyday communications between the school and home.  I actively participated in every committee, and worked tirelessly to implement many new ideas to benefit the students. 

Current Lynbrook PTA volunteer positions:

Lynbrook PTA council
recording secretary
website development & maintenance
Click HERE to view the PTA Council Website which I have created and maintain

Lynbrook Septa
website development & maintenance
Click HERE to view the SEPTA Website which I have created

Lynbrook HS PTA
Website Development

Lynbrook North Middle School PTA
Delegate to Council &
website development & maintenance
Click HERE to view the North Middle School PTA Website which I have created and maintain

Lynbrook Waverly Park PTA
Website development
& training of website maintainer
Click HERE to view the Waverly Park PTA Website which I have created

Lynbrook West End PTA
Past President
1st VP,
Assemblies chair,
membership chair,
By laws committee,
Unity day committee - helped to organize many Unity day activities for West end promoting antibullying and friendship. 
Beautification committee,
4th grade chairperson,
Website development & maintenance
Click HERE to view the West End PTA Website which I have created and maintain

I am a member of Lynbrook school district's stategic planning communications committee

I work part time as a billing manager in a Chiropractor's office and I am a MOM! My kids are very active in sports... this year the sports included swim team, ice hockey, roller hockey, track, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and a kids triathlon.  I provide chauffeur service to most of these events! :)  My kids like to volunteer in their community... I love this.  They both swam not only 1 mile for the Lynbrook Swim Across America event, but hopped back in and swam extra laps in honor of those who have passed from cancer.  They also volunteered at the Nassau County Swim Across America and worked at the refreshment table... their reward was knowing that they are doing something to find a cure for cancer!  Kids learn how to be good people and citizens by following in our examples...  Helping others begins to become natural once you practice kindness often! :)  Sometimes it's not easy... but you have to try!

If you have some spare time, I would encourage volunteering.  If we can each help one person in some small way that is a great thing! 

Happy 2013!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Schools Adopting Schools in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Julie Bergin, resident of Lynbrook, Long Island was selected by Parenting Magazine as the 2012 New York Delegate to the Mom Congress on Education and Learning, which is a group of moms from each US state and Washington DC who work towards creating a guide to empower parents nationwide to become more involved in their children’s education.

In the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Julie and her sisters, Tina Horgan and Catherine Foley, along with her niece Kerri Horgan, all from Lynbrook, met to discuss how they could help those affected in their neighboring towns and villages. A donation drive was created where they would pick-up and distribute clothing, food and other essential items. They reached out to friends and neighbors via social media and the response received was overwhelmingly generous.

On their numerous distribution trips to Belle Harbor, Broad Channel and East Rockaway, they met many people whose homes had been destroyed and felt they needed to do more. They gathered shovels, cleaning supplies and gloves and went to work cleaning out basements that had been ruined by water damage.

“It was an honor and privilege to work with the people of these neighborhoods. Their strength and resilience is something to be commended, they may be down, but they are far from out ” - Tina Horgan

Along with Lynbrook moms 
Nicole Aroksaar, Lori Padilla and Erin Contino, Julie arranged a late Halloween gathering at West End Elementary School where children dressed in their Halloween costumes and also brought items to donate. The gathering was a great success, thanks to the generosity of West End familiesthey were able to collect 6 large carloads of donations.

Since before the storm hit, Julie was tracking it and posting updates on Facebook. She continued with her posts throughout the duration of the storm and its aftermath. Notifications of school closings, where/what to donate, where to buy gas and the length of lines, power outages and LIPA updates are all a part of her Facebook Newsfeed. Members of Mom Congress from out of state who had been following her posts reached out and were eager to help asking “what can we do?” We realized that not only had homes been lost and schools damaged, but also, textbooks, school supplies etc. were also gone.

g the help of her niece Kerri, Twitter (@AdoptSchools) and Facebook (Schools Adopting Schools in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy - ) pages were created where out of state schools could essentially ‘adopt’ an affected school.

“We have created two, easy to complete forms, one for the ‘adopter’ and one for the ‘adoptee’. When we receive responses, we match the school based on size and need, so far we’re getting great feedback, but we need to get the word out there that we haven’t forgotten the schools or the children” – Kerri Horgan

“Adopter” Form

“Adoptee” Form 

Tina and Catherine have reached out to the many school districts on Long Island, Staten Island and Coney Island to get contact information and to notify them of this new program.

“So far we have matched the McAllen School District in Texas (Dalinda 
Alcantar, Mom Congress Delegate) with the Long Beach City School District, Long Beach, NY.  Liberty Naud, (California Mom Congress Delegate) has paired with Rhame Avenue Elementary School, East Rockaway, NY. Natalie LaFrance Slack (South Dakota Mom Congress Delegate) is adopting Oceanside School #2, Oceanside, NY.  We have more adoptions in the works, as our forms come in we make the match as soon as possible. 
The sponsor schools will hold donation drives and fulfill the requests of our NY schools. We have a long way to go, but we’re off to a great start and I’m confident we will be successful in our goals." – Catherine Foley

"Please share this information.  With the displacement of students, and power outtages, our only hurdle in this process is tracking down contact information for those in need!" - Julie Bergin 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mom Congress 2012 Day 1

This past weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to Washington, D.C. to represent New York State as the 2012 Delegate to Mom Congress.  This was a truly amazing experience.  I got to meet so many terrific people who have some wonderful ideas and visions for our childrens' futures... and I have learned ALOT!!!  Thank you to Parenting Magazine for allowing me and the 50 other awesome Moms this opportunity!

Before my trip the folks at Parenting Magazine had set up a Mom Congress 2012 Facebook page for all of the Moms to connect on.  All of us were in the same boat as far as not really knowing what to expect... so there were some great questions on the Facebook page... in typical Mom fashion (no pun intended)... what to wear was a popular question. Pants, a nice top, a sweater or jacket works for the days... and for the evening receptions a dress or dressier outfit is a good choice.  A comfy pair of shoes is a necessity if sightseeing is on your to-do list. 

Parenting provided accommodations in the Homewood Suites by Hilton.  Love, love, loved my hotel suite (yes suite!) Upon arrival at the hotel, Domino's Pizza School Lunch Specialist Shannon Yuen treated everyone to some Domino's Smart Slice pizza... Healthy yet delicious!!! 

Parenting staff were onhand to distribute Mom Congress bags which held our Mom Congress binder and the agenda for the next three days. 

The whirlwind began...

A shuttle bus brought us to Copley Formal Lounge at the historic Georgetown University, a truly magnificant work of architecture.  The evening kicked off with Welcome remarks from Mark Wildman, VP/Group Publisher, The Parenting Group, Ana Connery, Editorial Director, Parenting and Alina Soler, Social Media Editor,  Shannon Yuen from Domino's spoke about the new Domino's Pizza Smart Slice... a nutritious lunch option for our children. 

Next up Kimochis founders Ellen Pritchard Dodge and Nina Rappaport Rowan introduced us to their Kimochis, toys with feelings.  We were highly entertained as we learned about how these toys can help children express their different feelings.  This was an awesome presentation. 

We had some time to meet with our Mentors who were returning delegates from 2010 and 2011 Mom Congress.   The VH1 Save the Music performance by Bruce-Monroe Elementary School, Washington, D.C., was great.  It was very inspiring to see the children playing their violins and cellos that Save the Music donated to their school. 
Dinner was delicious, we mingled and chatted, it was a fun evening. 
Even though the hotel bed was so comfy and had about 20 pillows... I barely slept due to the excitement and anticipation of what Monday would bring. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Press Release



Lynbrook, NY, February 29th, 2012 – Parenting magazine today announced that Julie Bergin of Lynbrook has been selected to represent New York at the third-annual Mom Congress on Education and Learning conference in Washington, D.C. this April 29th through May 1st. Julie Bergin was chosen for her outstanding contributions and dedication to improving local schools.

A total of fifty-one delegates, representing each state and the District of Columbia, have been selected by Parenting from a record-setting number of applications submitted through Each will receive an all-expense-paid trip to D.C. for the event, where they’ll have the opportunity to connect with national leaders in education, Parenting editors, and past Mom Congress delegates to exchange ideas on how to improve our nation’s schools.

“I feel both honored and privileged to represent New York State this year” says Julie of her excitement to be a part of Mom Congress. “I look forward to connecting with the other 50 Moms at the conference, attending the workshops, and taking home some new ideas and initiatives which will benefit the children of New York State."

The theme of the 2012 Mom Congress conference, “Teach Me Something New,” is dedicated to fostering the crucially important relationship between parents and their children’s teachers. For the third consecutive year, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan headlines the roster of education and advocacy leaders scheduled to address the delegates at the conference. Others scheduled to appear include NBC News’ Education Nation, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move!, Save the Children, National PTA, National Education Association, Teach for America, and more.
In her work as an education advocate, Julie's primary focus has been on enhancing communications between home and school with the use of technology. She has created PTA websites in a number of schools in her district, as well as for SEPTA. Julie is PTA Co-President in her daughter's school, West End Elementary School, and PTA Legislative Representative in her son's school, Lynbrook North Middle School. She has implemented a weekly email newsletter, a Facebook page, and Twitter in an effort to keep parents informed. She is a member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish heritage organization whose pledge is to practice Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity. She is a Girl Scout Troop Leader. She is also a Delegate on the Swim Across America, Raising Funds To Fight Cancer, Pool Swim Committee.

Empowered and inspired by attending the conference, past delegates have returned to their states to create significant change in their school systems, affecting the lives of thousands of children nationwide. In 2010, delegates worked with Parenting editors at the conference to create the “Lesson Plan for Change”, a blueprint to empower parents to get more involved in their children’s education that appeared in Parenting School Years magazine and the bestselling companion guide to the documentary Waiting for Superman.  

The 2011 class of delegates’ accomplishments include the creation of a nationwide book drive in support of early literacy, Books Make it Better; recognition through The White House “Champions of Change” program; the improvement of several school lunch programs across the country; and the development of new educational resources and programs in nearly every state, from early science education workshops in Florida to a new parental advocacy program, Camp Educate, in California. 

Faculty members from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies—the Mom Congress educational provider—will lead informative sessions at the conference this year, offering advocacy training workshops to help delegates take what they’ve learned and put it to work in their own communities.

Driven by the ever-increasing role that parents play in advocating for positive change in the education system, Parenting magazine launched the Mom Congress initiative in 2009 to celebrate and connect parents working to improve our nation’s schools. Each month, Parenting and give readers and the 25,000+ Mom Congress members updated educational news and resources to help them make a difference and bring about positive changes for students.

For more information, visit


Victoria Livadas
T: 212.779.5312

About The Parenting Group
The Parenting Group, home of the Parenting, Babytalk and Conceive brands, reaches moms over 15 million times every month through magazines, digital media, custom content, and events. TPG’s publications include: Parenting School Years, for moms with children in kindergarten through elementary school; Parenting Early Years, for moms of infants, toddlers and preschoolers; Babytalk, for new moms and moms-to-be; and Conceive, for women trying to get pregnant. TPG’s other media properties include: the Babytalk Pregnancy Planner; the and web sites; MomConnection®, a nationally-representative online research network; and a custom content unit. The Parenting Group is a division of Bonnier Corporation.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mom Congress 2012

Hi everyone! I am extremely proud and honored to have been selected as the 2012 New York State Delegate to the Mom Congress. What is Mom Congress you might ask? Well here is a little more info on that from Mom Congress page: Driven by the ever-increasing role that parents play in advocating for positive change in the education system, Parenting magazine launched the Mom Congress initiative in March 2009 to celebrate and connect moms fighting for better schools.  Each month, the School Years edition of Parenting gives readers the education news and resources they need to make a difference, and highlights the efforts of some of its 21,000+ Mom Congress members who have brought about positive change for students. Each year, Parenting chooses 51 outstanding mom education advocates -- one from each state and Washington, D.C. -- from essays submitted at to win an all-expense paid trip to attend the annual Mom Congress on Education and Learning conference at Georgetown University. During the event, the moms meet with the country's most prominent education and advocacy leaders to discuss the importance of family engagement in helping American achieve its education goals.   At the inaugural conference in May 2010, the 51 delegates  joined hundreds of local education and community leaders in a Mom Congress Town Hall on parental engagement in education with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Delegates worked with Parenting editors, Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies faculty and the Mom Congress advisory board to create the “Lesson Plan for Change”, a blueprint to empower parents to get more involved in their children’s education that appeared in the October 2010 issue of Parenting School Years and in the bestselling companion guide to the documentary Waiting for Superman.   I was nominated by my sister, who saw first hand the work I do, and felt that it was worthy of this recognition. I was delighted last week when I received an email advising that I had been selected! I look forward to representing Lynbrook and New York State at the Mom Congress in Washington DC at the end of April. Julie Bergin