Megan Cassano for Board of Education, Stamford 2009
Megan Cassano is a graduate of Fordham University, with a Master's Degree in Administrative Social Work and a specialization in Substance Abuse. She is also recognized in the state of Connecticut as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and has been trained in various forms of treatment modalities by the Wellness Institute in Washington State. She received a PhD in 2006, focusing her research on parapsychology and alternative methods of treatment for trauma survivors. She also spent some time taking classes pertaining to the law and legal system, forensic psychology and civil/criminal litigation. She currently works for a private charity supervising a program to serve people in CT's criminal justice system.
Ms. Cassano has spent the past ten years serving people from various populations, including those with terminal illnesses, HIV/AIDS, people dealing with substance abuse/dependency and other co-occurring issues, those who have been in need of acute crisis intervention, the severely mentally ill and more. Ms. Cassano has worked in both Clinical and Supervisory roles to assist in the service of these populations.
One of Ms. Cassano's passions is teaching, and she has been a Professor at Concordia College for the last four years and at the University of Bridgeport for the last two years.
With a focus on education, and believing in its great importance, I believe that every child should be given equal opportunities to achieve as highly as possible, regardless of race, gender, social class, etc. It is not good enough to simply default to an 'ADHD' diagnosis and the like when dealing with children. If a child is having difficulties in school, we must look beyond the grades, and the behavior that he or she is exhibiting to figure out WHY.
In adopting a "holistic model", all aspects of the child's life should be examined - from the child, to his or her family and peer group, to whether he or she belongs to any clubs or extracurricular activities (and if not, perhaps developing a plan to find something of interest), to what kinds of resources the child and his/her family have access to (i.e., health care, religious and social service organizations, etc.), and the community and society within which the child lives. All of these components are essential to fully understand what contributes to a child's mindset and behavior while in school. Any barriers may have to be addressed before a child can truly succeed.
I believe that children should be given more responsibility in terms of planning and becoming actively invested in their education, and special interests should always be acknowledged. All schools should maintain a "zero-tolerance" for bullying, and extra efforts should go into preventing this from happening, as well as reaching out to the children who may have histories of presenting negative behavior. They too should be treated with respect and assessed in the same manner as described above to determine from where their actions stem. While resources may be limited, student interns from local colleges specializing in education, counseling, psychology, social work, human services and marriage and family therapy should be utilized to help accomplish this (as well as to give these interns solid experience). Children should learn early on what it is that they are good at, and those skills should be nurtured over time. Any challenges should be reviewed, and plans should be developed to address them in the best way possible.
As children become adolescents and young adults, career planning and goal setting should begin almost immediately. Student leaders should be appointed to create study groups and various support groups that would be helpful to their peers. The point is to encourage students to make a greater difference in the lives of others, as well as to use their skills and goals to create an atmosphere that they are proud and excited to be a part of. This integrated, all-inclusive model calls for students, parents and educational staff (including interns from a college level) to work together in establishing an experience that will be fulfilling and exceptional in creating a successful and EQUAL future for all.