Letter to the Morgan Hill Times

By Dana Miller

Kudos to MHUSD and the City of Morgan Hill for their joint resolution to support the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets and Project Cornerstone. I have been involved with Project Cornerstone at the Charter School of Morgan Hill for the past seven years, helping to implement their ABC Parent Program directly into the classrooms through parent involvement.

Here is more information for those who are interested:
• The Developmental Assets were identified by the Search Institute researchers in 1990, which chose to focus, for the first time, not solely on our struggling youth, but on those that thrived. What were we doing right?
• Of the 41 Developmental Assets, only two cost money – 39 are absolutely free. Developmental Assets are defined as “experiences, values, relationships, opportunities and competencies which all children and youth need”. Building assets is “the accumulation of thousands of moments in life in which a young person is valued, respected and known”. Not surprisingly, what kids really need is “time and attention” from all of us.
• INTERESTED PARENTS: Project Cornerstone offers the ABC Parent Program in which, after completing a 2 hour training program, parent volunteers spend 45-60 minutes in a K-5 classroom 1x/month reading a specific book and doing a lesson. Lessons focus on the topics of anti-bullying, character development and social skills. Project Cornerstone provides a variety of lesson choices written by a credentialed teacher. Every lesson specifically addresses several of the Developmental Assets. There are currently 2,800 parent volunteers helping at 170 schools in Silicon Valley.
• Other programs offered by Project Cornerstone include Los Dichos, specifically designed to open-doors for Spanish-speaking parents wanting to volunteer in the classroom, and Expect Respect, a program creating leadership opportunities for middle school students. For adults there is the Take It Personally program.
• WHAT YOU CAN DO: if you are interested in having an ABC Parent, or other program, at your child’s school, contact the individual school principal or representative directly. In my opinion, it will be best implemented on a school-by-school basis.
• Everyone benefits – besides the kids, who love the lessons and learn to implement the strategies taught, our teachers at CSMH have been very enthusiastic and supportive and are always present during the lessons, and I can personally state that I am a far better parent for my own children and a better caring adult for other children in our community thanks to my involvement with Project Cornerstone’s ABC Parent Program.

Check out Project Cornerstone at www.projectcornerstone.org or I’d be happy to share my experiences or answer questions by e-mail at danalmiller@yahoo.com. Thank you again, to MHUSD and the City of MH for caring about our children.
Dana Miller, Morgan Hill

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