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R-E-S-P-E-C-T and Other Important Skills

MegaSkillsYears ago, as her own children were growing up, Dorothy Rich, Ph.D. 1976, thought about how she could bring skills and techniques she had developed during her years as a classroom teacher to her home life. From that thinking, Rich developed MegaSkills®: Building Our Children’s Character and Achievement for School and Life, a book on helping children develop confidence, motivation, effort, responsibility, initiative, perseverance, caring, teamwork, common sense, problem solving and focus.

Since the book’s first publication in 1988, it and others in her MegaSkills® series have sold more than 300,000 copies and are used in 4,000 schools. Rich’s methods are successful beyond sales: Schools that have introduced parents to the series have reported decreases in disciplinary problems and improvements in homework completion, grades, test scores and graduation rates.

In the fifth edition of the original book, published this year by Sourcebooks Inc., Rich places new emphasis on bringing joy into learning at home, at school and elsewhere. At the request of families and teachers in the United States and abroad, she also has added a chapter on building the character trait of respect in one’s child.

To busy parents, instilling respect and the other 11 character traits into their children might sound like a daunting and time-consuming prospect. But Rich, a winner of national education-related awards, breaks the traits into separate chapters and then into fun task-related exercises. Throughout the text, she explains the most sophisticated educational concepts, backed by current research, in easy-to-understand, jargon-free language. All of this supports her founding principle that the family is the foundation for a child’s lifetime.

The new edition joins the several other MegaSkills® books, including MegaSkills® for Babies, Toddlers, and Beyond and What Do We Say? What Do We Do?: Vital Solutions for Children’s Educational Success.

A Coffee-Table Book You’ll Want to Read

Virgin Gorda: An Intimate PortraitTake one beautiful Caribbean island, add one talented photographer and you have a recipe for a good coffee-table book. Joan Soncini, M.S.W. 1987, had a different idea. Her book, Virgin Gorda: An Intimate Portrait, mixes beauty and talent with a dash of soul and a heaping cup of interesting characters — yielding a coffee-table book one would actually want to read.

Soncini combined her love for the island of Virgin Gorda with her expertise as a cross-cultural psychotherapist and photographer to produce this 144-page hardcover published by Virgin Island Books.

She and her husband have spent part of each year on the island, one of the British Virgin Islands, for 16 years. When she conceived of this book, she recalls, “I wanted to tell people why Virgin Gorda is so wonderful — the people and the island’s soul.

“I wanted to depict the people in a way they would want to be depicted, to write a book that they would be really proud of. After all, we have been here so long because the people have been so good to us.”

Virgin Gorda features more than 200 color photos and 30 interviews with people who were born on the island or who came from all over the world to live and work there. Included are frank discussions with teachers, restaurateurs, musicians and public officials.

“The book,” says Soncini, “tells the story of Virgin Gorda as it has evolved and changed from 1964 to today.” The island’s first major resort in Little Dix Bay was completed in 1964. Prior to that, opportunities for islanders were few, with families eking out a living through fishing and farming. Still, many fondly remember the days of living completely in their own culture, without the exigencies imposed by tourism. Clearly, the residents of Virgin Gorda express why change can be a mixed blessing. — C.C.

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Revised: November 2008

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