• A Voice for Emotional Intelligence

    Read more about the award in The New Haven Register, "Friends Center leader honored by Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence" by Brian Zahn.

    On Monday, November 14, The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence honored Allyx Schiavone, director of Friends Center for Children, with the Marvin Maurer Spotlight Award. The award is named after an educator, Marvin Maurer, who — seeking to energize learning in his social studies class  developed a Feeling Word Curriculum that has since become a key component in Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s RULER programs  The Marvin Maurer Spotlight award recognizes an educator who embodies Mr. Maurer’s belief in the importance of connecting personal experiences to academic material and exhibits outstanding teaching practices of emotional intelligence.

    “Friends Center for Children is a real community where children, staff and parents have the same core values,” said Marc Brackett, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence director. “The space radiates with warmth, trust and rigor: parents interacting with teachers, and children loving learning. It comes as no surprise that RULER — our center’s approach to social and emotional learning — has become part of the immune system of this amazing learning community. I couldn’t be prouder of Friends Center for Children.”

    “I am thrilled to be receiving this award. It is especially poignant in light of the tumultuous time we find ourselves in as a result of a polarizing electoral season,” Allyx Schiavone said. “Never has the need for emotional intelligence been so evident. Recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing and regulating our feelings has the power to help our community explore differences, find tolerance and eventually heal.”

    At the luncheon celebration held at the New Haven Friends Meeting house, Allyx reflected on her personal inspirations for her work at Friends Center – naming and honoring her son and daughter, Penn and Josie, for inspiring her “to be better and do better.” She also shared the Quaker values (simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship) and Friends Center mission (educate children, empower families, inspire teachers, engage community, embrace diversity) that together motivate all aspects of the Friends Center program, including its sliding scale tuition implemented to ensure no socio-economic majority in the program; its parent COOP where families contribute to our program each week; its commitment to diversity and having no racial majority; its Adverse Childhood Experience program which addresses potentially traumatic events children experience that can have negative, lasting effects on a child’s health and well-being.

    Allyx’s message enumerated the many reasons why emotional intelligence, specifically the RULER program from Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

    “We use RULER because we see a definitive impact on cognitive and academic growth through the program… because we believe that social and emotional learning is a component of an ideal learning community… because we navigate a diverse population with varying belief systems and cultures… We use RULER to set the foundation to help us navigate our implicit biases… because we see the link between this self-awareness and tolerance…because we see the impact that poor attachment, poor socialization and poor self-regulation can have on a community in multiple ways.”

    Allyx shared the personal privileges and challenges she has experienced in finding her voice, and, in Quaker tradition, ended her message with queries to inspire all of us to consider the power and impact of our own voice:

    What is your inspiration?
    What is your motivation?
    What are your values?
    What is your work?         


  • Presence

    Friends Center for Children created this video to stand  for connectedness during a time of great disconnects that affect many, if not all, of us. Personal pain, community losses and global tragedies abound. As devastating as these are, connectedness can be an antidote for fear, loneliness and despair.

    At Friends Center we strive to create opportunities for connectedness every day for the children in our care.  We observe and support. We delight in the comings and goings of each child. We are present for new discoveries that our young friends make, every day, as they explore their relationships with people, objects and the environment all around them. We allow them to experience what it feels like to be seen, respected, valued and accepted.

    We have seen how profoundly children are affected by acceptance, inquiry, patience and presence. The song, Presence now … and then, captures what we do and what we know.  For all ages, it heightens awareness that the sense of Presence, fully felt, keeps us in touch when we are apart by:

    • experiencing life fully, in the present moment
    • being aware of connections we hold within body, mind and spirit
    • exercising connections with others in meaningful relationships
    • embodying one’s own strength, when loved ones are not present

    All of these experiences are expressed in the simple, 8-phrase song:

    I can see you with my eyes.   I can touch you with my hands.

    I can feel you in my heart.   I can hold you in my heart.

    When I can’t see you any more.  When I can’t touch you any more. 

    I will feel you in my heart.   I will keep you in my heart.

    We envision this song carrying its message far and wide: from classrooms and homes to internet or other media. It was given freely to us and we share it here with the hope of encouraging us all to offer our presence to each other.