Influential educator and author Larry Brendtro, Ph.D. was the keynote speaker at the TST BOCES superintendent’s conference day kicking off the 2018-2019 school year.
Dr. Brendtro was instrumental in the development and circulation of the Circle of Courage model, which is used as a guiding principle at TST BOCES in Smith School. The Circle of Courage is a consilience of traditional Native American child-rearing values and the science of positive youth development. The model was introduced in the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk, co-authored by Dr. Brendtro and his Augustana University colleagues Martin Brokenleg and Steve Van Bockern, accompanied by art from Lakota artist George Bluebird.
The keynote was an inspiring presentation about positive youth development. Dr. Brendtro spoke to staff about different traditions in raising children, and ways those principles can benefit education in the TST BOCES region. Integral to this is the concept of providing to a student’s educational as well as emotional needs in order to provide a positive environment to aid in their development.
“Dr. Brendtro’s energy and passion for working with children is contagious and admirable,” said Smith School principal Karl O’Leary. “His messages for our staff enhanced our mindset of working with the universal needs of all students: belonging, mastery, generosity and independence.”
The Circle of Courage is built on those four core values. It is based on research of Native American methods that develop an environment of mutual respect in raising children. Dr. Brendtro’s presentation discussed how important “developmental relationships” are for optimal growth, detailing how caregivers begin developing a caring bond and eventually developing a relationship of reciprocity.