Beyond The Classroom
Dr. Tamerin (far right) at the inaugural leadership training meeting
The way Dr. John S. Tamerin sees it, the challenge of growing up in Greenwich and its environs can be daunting for even the most together teens. “The problem for a lot of kids is—especially when you look at the incredible success of their families—that the only place for them to go is down,” reflects the psychiatrist. That downward spiral can be precipitous, unless kids have the kind of grounding that can keep them steady for the long haul. “If kids don’t have a sense of their own values or any character, it doesn’t matter how well they do in school or anything else,” Tamerin explains.
So two years ago, with the help of some interested Brunswick School parents, Dr. Tamerin began facilitating a leadership-training institute for local teens; a closed-door character-focused weekly workshop which has, so far, been offered to more than twenty-five exceptional students from Brunswick and Greenwich Academy. The workshops, which are free of charge and take place in the spacious study of Dr. Tamerin’s home (and are therefore not formally affiliated with any school), are concentrated on building core values such as integrity, commitment, tenacity and perseverance.
Through a series of guest speakers carefully chosen to pair with these core-value topics, teens have chatted with everyone from Melanie Bloom, author and widow of NBC News correspondent David Bloom, to recovering addicts, IRONMAN triathletes and business leaders. “The conversations involve a great deal of candor; the kids know what’s said in the room stays there,” says Dr. Tamerin.
“You can talk about these things at the dinner table, but it’s different coming from someone else,” says Lisa Wysocki, whose son Matthew, a Brunswick junior, has participated in the seminars. Lisa was among the interested parents who helped Dr. Tamerin identify and recruit student participants. “I do it because, quite frankly, I wish I’d had something like this when I was a kid,” says Lisa.
Dr. Tamerin, who has a private practice and is an assistant clinical professor at the Weill Cornell Medical College, brought the program to Greenwich courtesy of Colorado’s Vail Leadership Institute, which successfully implemented it in Vail’s public schools several years ago. “I believe this is a wonderful way for kids to find their own voice,” says the doctor, who has served on the institute’s board of scholars. Ultimately, he’d like to see the leadership workshop offered to students throughout town.
While students have given largely positive feedback, Dr. Tamerin is especially pleased with the teens who’ve told him they are just better at sticking with commitments since being involved. “There’s no better quality than being someone who keeps his word,” he says. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org