Thursday, May 27, 2010


Dr. Bernard Ellis Part I

About Dr. Bernard Ellis...

I began my career as a fifth grade teacher in Winsted, Connecticut and retired 38 years later as superintendent of schools in Suffield, Connecticut.

During the interim I was a principal, assistant superintendent and a superintendent for 27 years in New Hampshire and Connecticut. Along the way I received my doctorate from Boston University.

Early in the life of our youngest son, it became apparent that he was having difficulty in school with interpersonal relationships. Like most parents we rationalized that he would outgrow his difficulties. As time passed his problems became more apparent. He was unable to function in the classroom and his aggression became more pronounced. With the help of our family physician we sought expert assistance.

Our son was diagnosed with several severe problems. My wife and I became part of our son’s special education process. My previous experience had been as a school administrator not as the parent of a special education child. I was viewing the process with a completely different prospective. I experienced the frustration of trying to work with a team to construct a program for my son. At one point in this process we went to Federal District Court to force a program for our son.

My experience with our son’s special education process made me realize that parents must be strong advocates for their child. In order to do this they must understand the process and make it work for them. IDEA provides many tools for parents, but I have discovered that most parents do not know how to use these tools. I have worked with parents over the last 9 years to help them work through the special education process.

To be continued...

Friday, May 21, 2010


Jamie Crowe, Part I

All blogs need to start with an without further ado:

Ms. Jamie Crowe.

Jamie brings a really unique perspective that I think a lot of mom's, entrepreneurs and women will appreciate. She lives and works with Ben Dearman, of KDR Fitness in Enfield, NH. You may all remember a previous blog where I wrote about KDR. I admire Jamie’s passion for what she does and thought it would be great to hear what it’s REALLY like for this young healthy, beautiful Mom☺ and how she came to be working in fitness.

So… let's get things rolling!

ACiM: Hi Jamie. What do you do and where do you work?

Jamie: Hello everyone.

I am a 30-year-old busy, working, healthy mom of a 6-year-old boy. I co-own and operate KDR Fitness out of our home in Enfield with my boyfriend, Ben Dearman. The most important thing to me is being a healthy and active role model for my son, Logan.

ACiM: Is it hard being a single mom, working at home and starting a business at the same time?

J: The hardest thing for me is balancing my time. Although I have more freedom with my schedule, I find myself struggling with time. Like most people, I need more of it. I spend most of my days in the gym or office (my kitchen table) working, learning and hopefully squeezing a workout in, the mornings and evenings are my time with Logan. One important thing that helps us have more time is prepping our food and meals for the week. That way in the evening I am not spending an hour or two just cooking and prepping. I am spending time with Logan.

ACiM: What about are fitness and health freaks, right? Is it true? Do health freaks only eat broccoli and tofu burgers?

J: I do love broccoli…but no tofu burgers for me. Health and fitness is our life. However I would not consider myself a fitness freak. I believe working out is very important but it took me a long time to understand and enjoy it (I don’t necessarily ENJOY some of the exercises but I do enjoy the education, the results and the way I feel). Nutrition, on the other hand, I do sometimes get a little crazy about. It’s not so much about what to eat but the food industry and what it does to people. It gets to me. I can talk more about that some other time.

ACiM: So here is what we all want to know… What’s it like feeding Logan? Does your son eat healthy? Is it difficult for you to get him to eat healthy?

J: I think he eats healthier than most children his age but not perfect. We still have things to work on and continue to make small changes. Eliminating chemicals from his diet has been my main focus. No HFCS, artificial sweeteners, etc. the list goes on and on.

ACiM: What kinds of choices does he make? How do you go about getting him to make healthy decisions?

J: In the past, trying to get him to eat healthy was difficult. By me making my habits more noticeable he became more interested in what I was eating. I model the behavior I want him to follow.

ACiM: YEAH! I think that is when I fully realized how terrible my own eating habits were. You can’t tell the kids to eat something green as you order a Big Mac, right?

So… a bit more personal… How did you meet your boyfriend, Ben?
J: I met Ben in 2006 at the River Valley Club, where we were both previously employed. I was the fitness administrator for the personal training department. I basically wrote Ben’s paychecks…no wonder he liked me so much.

ACiM: Is it tough to work together?

J: I think we work great together but it is challenging. We see each other ALL THE TIME, and it is very difficult to keep our different lives separate.

ACiM: Were you into health and fitness before you met Ben and started your business?

J: I was into health and fitness before we met, but on a different level. I worked at the River Valley Club for 9 years doing various jobs; housekeeping, maintenance, receptionist for several departments, child care, membership and then finally entering the fitness department…

…and you’d think that’s what the whole business was based on, right? Wrong!

There is so much that goes into running a gym. My first 4 years I experienced how to run a fitness business. I slowly became interested in fitness when I took the fitness administrator position. I worked with 32 personal trainers. It was hard for me NOT to become interested.

After Ben and I had dated for a while, my interest in fitness changed. I started a 3-day workout routine which I enjoyed (having Ben as my trainer helped maybe a little ;) Food at that point was a whole different story. I did not think about what I was putting in my body or how it affected me. As Ben and I became more serious, I began to notice his eating habits and how important it was to him to be healthy. I then started making small steps to improve my diet so that Logan and I would be healthy. And now, I really enjoy learning and researching where the food we eat comes from and how it affects us.

ACiM: What about "fun times"? What do you guys do for fun? Run? Lift weights? Do you do normal stuff like sit around and play video games or watch TV? Does Logan play video games?

J: ☺ We enjoy good food and drinks with friends, board games, bonfires, movies, outside activities and drinking coffee on my back porch. I think it is important to have balance. We work hard all week and are very busy so we feel deserving of our free time.

ACiM: Thank you, Jamie. I know we’ll be talking again and I look forward to that! It is time to wrap up. Before we go, could you give us working moms a few starting points or "words of wisdom" to apply immediately?

J: Sure!

First, it’s important to keep in mind that changing habits can be overwhelming. Don’t try to change too much at once. You will set yourself up for failure. Baby steps! Remember, this has been a process for me. It takes time.

Second, set actual time aside to plan and prep meals for you and your family. Take a few hours, one afternoon on the weekend and plan food for the coming week. This will save you LOTS of time. It also saves you from grabbing something quick and less healthy when you’re feeling rushed.

And I think one of the more important points about kids is that they need healthy and active role models. Include them in your workouts, have them help with cooking and prepping food, and take them grocery shopping to pick out healthy food. They love to be involved. Make it fun! And speaking of fun, Logan took a bunch of cool pictures today. I have one here to share with you.


The Pain of HTML

Hi there...

I appreciate so many things about technology...
... when it's working.

A little crimp in posting my next guest blogger. BUT... STAY TUNED! Help is on the way!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Liz Agosto, Part I

When I reflect on my life I often think that I should not be where I am today. I shouldn’t be a thriving, ivy-league graduate that is completing her doctoral degree and working with college students. I had the childhood that could have made me a statistic. Along our lives there are defining moments and people that change our direction and teach us lessons about life. I can identify the exact moment when my life almost took a very different direction but instead people and experiences forever altered my beliefs, my course and me.

I was born in the Bronx, NY. My mother and father were 18 years old and had just graduated from high school. My father joined the military and my mom took jobs where she could. They had little money but they managed. Until age seven, I was the quintessential army brat. We never stayed in one place very long and by that age I had attended schools in Germany, Texas and Colorado. At age seven, my parents got divorced. We, mom, sister and I, moved into the attic of a friend’s house. My mother suddenly found herself a single mother with no savings, no home and only a high school diploma. Over the next few years, my mom accepted welfare as she struggled to make ends meet and achieve her associate’s degree.

Things were difficult in our house but it was all I knew. I didn’t understand poverty, racism or other social issues because I lived in areas that were full of people struggling with the same issues as I. I realized the difference when I was eleven. My mother moved us to the town where I would spend the rest of my adolescent years. I was a smart kid growing up – really smart. When I started sixth grade I didn’t understand what was happening when I was put in English As Second Language classes. I spoke fluent English and was reading at a twelfth grade level. It didn’t take long before the mistake was realized, partially because of my own fight to be heard and partially because of my test scores. This blip seemed so minor to me that I continued on my path. I loved school. There was never any doubt that I was going to go to college; in fact, I was going to go to Harvard. I had no understanding of the details of going to college but I knew it was a big deal and college was something that no one else in my family had accomplished. I believed that if I worked hard enough then I would get to go to college. The financial implications of going to college were incomprehensible; at this point I didn’t know the amount of resources it took to attend a university, let alone a highly selective college.

I was only in the beginning stages of understanding what poverty meant and that I was indeed part of what we would classify as the working-poor. The things that made me different from the rest of the kids in my new school were the things that started to lift the fog from my eyes. I didn’t have a phone in my house to chat with my friends all afternoon and evening, so I would give out the phone number to the payphone located near my house and spend all afternoon talking to my friends on that payphone. Luckily, these were the days when 1) payphones existed and 2) a call was only a dime and allowed unlimited time. I never had spending money when we would go on field trips as a class, so I could never buy the whale stuffed animal at Mystic Aquarium. These examples are minor but the implications were immense for me. I noticed and so did other people in my school. Regardless, I pushed forward.

I began to lose my way the summer between seventh and eighth grade. It is a typical story in some ways. My friends were all older kids. I wanted to be cool. My mom worked all day and I had lots of time to get into trouble. Unfortunately for me, my attempts to be cool brought unwanted male attention and advancements my way. I had developed early and my body was more formed than the other girls my age or older. I had hips and breasts. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed and I began to sink into myself. I didn’t think that I could tell anyone. I “knew” that everything was my fault, so I simply kept silent. I gained weight. I had already been a large girl but the weight became more pronounced and with the weight gain came the teasing and bullying. I was called “earthquake” as I walked down the hallways of school. Students would tremble and quake as though tremors were running under them as I passed. I started to dislike school but I still pushed through. I ended being named Student of the Year when I graduated from 8th grade, but I was dreading high school.

What I didn’t know was that there was a teacher by the name of Mary Leger working at the high school who would transform my life.

High school started the way that middle school ended. I began to believe that any whispers, any laughter, any looks were meant to mock me. I believed that everywhere I turned the other students were making fun of me and some were. There was certainly a group of boys, that did all they could to make me unhappy, but my brain convinced me that nowhere was safe. It was during this year of high school that I met Mary Leger. She was a math teacher and the Student Activities coordinator. She was nice to me and gave me a safe place to eat lunch. She convinced me to join the Student Council. I spent that first year hiding in the student activities office. I painted posters and decorated dances. I did all the behind-the-scenes activity that I could. When I was doing those things I felt powerful and I felt like I had a place. I was comfortable and safe. Mary was not only a teacher but also a volunteer staff member with the Student Leadership Training Program. Every year she sent over 50 students from the high school to this weeklong experiential leadership program. She offered me one of the coveted spots but I couldn’t afford the small tuition fee, even with the scholarship, so I had to turn it down. A few days later, Mary let me know the week that I would be attending – she had paid my tuition. I agreed to attend because it would make her happy.

While, I had found a safe space, I was still deeply unhappy. I didn’t believe that I wanted to be alive anymore and I didn’t think I could tell anyone. I felt like I was stuck behind a mask that I had to wear everyday. I didn’t think I would make it through the summer and then I met Jim Fitzgerald. Jim is the director of SLTP. He and Mary mark the year that changed my life. The week at SLTP taught me that there were different types of people out there. The magic of the place built my spirit, my mind and my heart. 1994 was the summer that saved my life. After that experience, I went back to high school and became involved in my school in a way that was no longer passive. Mary & Jim both believed in student leadership and felt that students should have a voice and be developed. I stayed involved in SLTP for the next three years of high school and remain involved today – 17 years later.

The person I am today can be attributed to three people, my mother, Mary Leger and Jim Fitzgerald. I graduated from high school and attended Dartmouth College. I had a very difficult four years of college but again found solace and strength in student activities. There I found staff that believed in student dreams and that allowed students to be more than they thought they could be. Today, I hope that I am one of those people for the students that I am lucky enough to work with. I work in the student involvement office at Dartmouth College now. It was my home away from home during my college years. Everyday, I am lucky enough to provide to students a safe space, a welcoming space, and a space where they belong. I also continue my volunteer work with SLTP.

In both places, I work with students to do things they didn’t think possible. I challenge them to grow. I provide them a place to dream and space to make mistakes. From my own experience I have learned that student involvement outside of the classroom can give students wings. It can provide comfort, safety and satisfaction to students. Through their out-of-classroom experience students can find a place where they belong and something to be passionate about. I know that I would not be the person that I am today without the mentoring, faith and passion of the educators I have been fortunate to meet. Mary Leger and Jim Fitzgerald taught me the principles that I bring to my work today and that I strongly believe we need to continue to nurture in our schools and our homes.

End Part I, Liz Agosto

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


1st Guest Blogger Series! ~The WHO behind the WHAT~

Hello Everyone!

I am very excited to announce the beginning of A Community in Motion's first guest blogger series... YAY!!

In the true spirit of community, I have gathered five fabulous folks to join us beginning tomorrow, and every Thursday, throughout the summer months.

Each of our friends making a contribution will share who they are. I don't know about you, but I always want to know the who behind the what.

And what are they are passionate about anyway? We will find out.

I have asked these guests, specifically, to share of themselves because they all work in environments where they can infect positive change. They work both with individuals and families, fostering growth of the heart, the body and of our communities.

And guess what? These are all professional folks with advice and opinions they will share. YAY! (again...;)

We hope you will stayed tuned once a week as our guests' stories unfold.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]