National Network Partner Spotlight: Connecticut Department of Social Services

Connecticut Department of Social Services Top Picture_in the classroomThe Connecticut Department of Social Services joined Wyman’s National Network in 2010. Currently, TOP® is being implemented in two schools in New Haven, one school in West Haven, and one school in Bridgeport, which serves approximately 200 urban students, ages 13-17, during the day.

Asia Goubourn, Connecticut’s TOP facilitator and director, shared their approach to implementing TOP. “We believe in teamwork, and have been able to pair the two facilitators working in middle schools and the two facilitators working in high schools,” said Goubourn. “While each facilitator is primarily responsible for one school, the co-facilitation results in a great synergy between the two facilitators and more attention for each student.”

According to Goubourn, the curriculum inspires teens to discuss real life situations where they can apply TOP. “My favorite part of the program is witnessing group discussions, seeing progress outside of TOP, and experiencing new and improved interactions among the students.”

“Because of topics like decision making in the Wyman’s Changing Scenes© curriculum, many of our students have found themselves making better and more informed decisions about who to befriend,” added Goubourn. “We’ve noticed that the information students receive from the curriculum is often instantly applied to their lives and current situations.”Connecticut Department of Social Services Side Picture (2)

At Barnard Environmental Magnet School, Henry Green, a facilitator, did a lesson on decision making/conflict resolution. The next day, a male student thanked him. “My TOP student explained that earlier that morning, he was being encouraged to fight, but the conflict resolution discussion played over and over in his head,” explained Green. “Instead of fighting, the student went directly to the main office and got help.”

Goubourn offers others in the Network words of encouragement: “We believe that there is hope for the future. No matter where the students come from, with the right influence and guidance, they have the ability to overcome all obstacles. We encourage those who have the privilege of implementing TOP to continue to show compassion and empathy for their students, because the students really value and appreciate our passion and dedication.”

Wyman Calls for Community Collaboration and Peaceful Response Following Grand Jury Decision


Media Contact:
Kristin Gumper
Director, Communication and External Affairs

St. Louis, MO [Nov. 24, 2014] – Wyman offers the below response to the community turmoil and events that have followed the death of Michael Brown.

“We acknowledge the frustration, tension, anger, pain and hardship that people are feeling all across the region,” said David Hilliard, President and CEO of Wyman Center. “We support those calling for peaceful protests and make our commitment to support responses that can put an end to injustice, as well as racial and economic discrimination and community violence from wherever it emanates.

“What we do as a region can redefine a generation. If we get it right, it will set the stage for a brighter future long-term,” added Hilliard. “We are committed to working alongside our neighbors to build the community our young people deserve. As a youth development organization, we’re laser focused on providing young people with the tools and training they need to take part in that dialogue and shape the future they wish to see.”

At present, Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) and Teen Leadership Program (TLP) serve youth across north St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis, with the largest number of youth served in Ferguson-Florissant, Normandy and University City schools.

In the field, at a local and national scale, Wyman is:

  • Equipping teens with the tools they need to have a voice, interact empathetically, and meaningfully engage at a social and civic level.
  • Researching programs and identifying best practices that successfully incorporate young people into conversations about their future.
  • Being present at the school-level to listen and provide both classroom and one-on-one support to students, educators and administrators.
  • Providing program staff with resources to connect young people to trauma support.
  • Hosting listening sessions with young people and staff to understand the real-time challenges young people and educators are facing.
  • Working openly with others to have the honest conversations that will ultimately lead to healthier, more inclusive communities.

About Wyman Center Wyman, a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit and proud member of the United Way, partners with communities to provide teens with the support and opportunities they need to survive and thrive in life. Wyman’s innovative programs are powerful and effective, and the staff is highly acclaimed and committed to preparing today’s youth. For more information, visit


Community Resources: Aside from Wyman, there are several resources that St. Louisans may call on for support.

  • The United Way offers a “ 211” phone line to field a variety of human service needs, as well as a directory search via
  • Additionally, Behavioral Health Response offers a 24-hour helpline as well as mobile outreach for emotional support, available via 314-469-6644.


Be Deliciously Generous on November 25

Katie's Pizza Giveback Tuesday LogoWhile the festive day we expected to have with Wyman supporters will be tempered by last night’s events, please know that we will still gather at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta today to benefit Wyman teens. We hope you’ll keep your plans and join us to share thoughts and concerns over a meal with friends, while supporting a cause that can help change the future for young people locally and nationwide.

Be Deliciously Generous Tuesday, November 25, at Katie’s Pizza and Pasta

The entire day’s profits will support Wyman’s teen development programs!

Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
9568 Manchester Road, Rock Hill, MO 63119

Come Any Time
Or Visit Our Special Hosts:

11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
David Hilliard, President and CEO of Wyman
EricKirberg, President of The Kirberg Company
Bill Arnold, Business Development Manager of Stifel-Nicolaus

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Keat Wilkins, President & Co-Founder, Sense Corp
John Myers, Senior Executive; Broker Development, Aflac

Pizza photo

About Katie’s Pizza:
A one of a kind experience with the best handcrafted food in St. Louis.
Beautiful artisan pasta in all shapes and colors dries on racks throughout the restaurant.
View the open kitchen and old Italian films on the back wall along with two living green walls. Or, hang out at the bar and enjoy wood fired appetizers, craft cocktails, 12 beers on tap, or Italian wine.

Insight to Impact: Every Gift Matters

The Kohls first learned of Wyman when they lived in Wildwood, Mo., and Ruth started volunteering with the Tri-County Helpmates, a group of local volunteers. Now, Ruth and her fellow volunteers spend one morning a month at Wyman’s Eureka campus, assembling mailings, preparing meals and filling in wherever the team is needed. In addition to providing financial support and a lot of elbow grease for Wyman, Ruth and her fellow Helpmates support several nonprofit agencies in and around Eureka.

What is most commendable about the Kohl’s long history of philanthropy is that she and her husband have done so while raising a family and building a business, Consultant Lubricants, Inc., where much of their family is now employed. “We always felt like we were blessed and had an obligation to give back,” said Ruth. Wyman inducted Ruth into the Volunteer Hall of Fame in May.

By giving back to their community and Wyman, Ruth and Mel serve as role models for Wyman teens. The Kohl’s gifts have mattered to thousands of young people, who have passed through the stone arch of Camp Wyman and through the clubs and classrooms. Thank you Ruth and Mel – your gift matters!

Saigh Symposium Content Hot Off the Presses

Thank you to our friends, colleagues, teens and partners for joining us for our 2014 Saigh Symposium.

Wyman is pleased to provide helpful youth development content around social emotional learning:

  • View the Symposium in its entirety:
  • View key takeaways from audience members via Twitter: @WymanCenter.
  • Download presentation slides by clicking the below link:
    2014 Symposium Presentation
  • Watch and enjoy this 2-minute piece on Educating the Heart.


Partner Shout Out: Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, Office on Children & Youth at James Madison University

In Harrisonburg, Va., the past several months have been busy for the 11 sites implementing Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) program through the Office on Children and Youth at James Madison University.

Two clubs decided to plant trees in a city park, learned how to take initiative and were rewarded with the ability to see immediate results of their hard work.

To plan the community service learning event, the group took charge of soliciting tree donations from local businesses, and landed a generous gift from James Madison University’s Edith J. Carrier Arboretum. The teens joined forces to plant more than 50 trees while gaining a better understanding about environmental stewardship and conservation. They also worked together to clean up tires and other trash from a nearby creek.

Meanwhile, teens in the multi-school TOP club in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Youth Council worked to find ways to give greater access to a college preparatory program for students lacking access in Rockingham County.

The group attended school board meetings, researched costs of extending the program, compiled potential outcomes and interviewed program instructors to create a presentation to educate the Rockingham County School Board about its benefits.

Thanks to their leadership and passion to help other students secure better and brighter futures, the college prep program is under consideration for the 2015-2016 school year.

Partner Shout Out: Oasis Center in Nashville, TN

May peace be everywhere

In the midst of the turmoil in St. Louis, a group of Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) teens from the Oasis Center in Nashville, Tenn., found a way to encourage and lift up the spirits of their fellow TOP club members at Ferguson Middle School.

The Oasis TOP club is comprised of teens that are predominantly referred by Juvenile Court, and other youth and staff.

Together, the Oasis club created a special work of art, featuring inspirational quotes of hope and piece, which they hand-painted on the canvas. The banner was delivered by Oasis team members and used by the TOP facilitators in Ferguson to welcome students back to school.

According to Kaleigh Cornelison, TOP Manager at Ferguson Middle School, talking about the banner has helped the group open up conversations about the community, how the region and residents were portrayed by the media, and even what it means to be a TOP teen.

“Some pretty awesome conversations have come up,” said Kaleigh. “When we asked our club members why the teens in Nashville created this gift for us, they reflected on the fact that it was because they loved us, cared for us, and because ‘we’re all connected.’”

Featured Quotes:

 “Stay strong and continue the fight for what’s right.

Remember this: You’re bringing much needed change to America. God Bless!” 

“If everyone helps to hold up the sky, then one person does not become tired.” 

“Love is a universal language that brings everyone together. Speak it.” 

“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” 

“I see no color. Together we will stand.”

National Network Spotlight: Ferguson Middle School

Teens at Ferguson Middle School, located in St. Louis, Mo, resumed classes on Sept. 2 after being postponed due to the tragic death of a local youth, Michael Brown. The return to normalcy was welcomed by students – and considered by some – as a gift.

Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) joins dozens of other support services currently being offered in the Ferguson community to help children and parents work through the turmoil caused by the recent tragedy.

Coincidentally, this year marks the first year TOP is being offered at the school. Three facilitators, including Kaleigh Cornelison, Brenden Christensen and Emma Liss, provide TOP programming to more than 300 students as part of the school’s seventh grade social studies curriculum.

“I can’t think of any better time to be running a program about life skills, healthy behaviors and providing teens with a sense of purpose,” said Kaleigh, who serves as the Teen Outreach Program Manager at Ferguson Middle School. “So much of TOP is about community, and right now, the community is in crisis. We’re thankful that we’re here to provide a safe place where kids can process their feelings in a healthy way.”

According to Kaleigh, the team has also worked to provide a support system for the teachers and staff as classes resumed. “We attended several staff meetings to discuss and help prepare for how the tragedy could impact our students. We also collaborated with the staff to create care packages to ensure every student received something fun on that long-awaited first day of school. We continue to check-in with our students to detect any signs of trauma. For example, we’re intentionally watching and listening to them in the halls, at breakfast and at lunch.”

“I think many of us at school were worried the students would be scared or nervous, but our seventh graders were more worried about opening their lockers and finding their classes,” added Kaleigh. “While I know many of them are dealing with these events in their own ways, being back at school has given them the gift of having something new to focus on.”

According to Kaleigh, the teens are already thinking about their first on-site community service learning project. The students have decided to create a series of short public service announcements to describe Ferguson as they see it. The project is designed to help students reclaim their community, amplify their voice and process their feelings.

Wyman Presents Dr. Dale Blyth, Speaker at the 2014 Saigh Symposium, Oct. 8

Dr. Dale Blyth, Saigh Symposium Speaker

Dr. Dale Blyth, Saigh Symposium Speaker

Introducing Dr. Dale Blyth

Dr. Dale Blyth is one of a panel of national experts, who will speak on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, during Wyman’s annual symposium titled, “Social Emotional Learning: Funding. Policy. Practice.”

Dr. Blyth’s vast experience includes serving as a Professor and Howland Endowed Chair for Youth Development Leadership at the University of Minnesota, chief of staff for the university president’s Minnesota Commission on Out of School Time, and former leader of the Minnesota 4-H program, which served 130,000 youth annually.

During his work in youth development, Dr. Blyth asks the big question:

“What if communities sought to educate the heart?”

Dr. Blyth believes that social emotional learning is critical in youth development, due to its unique ability to nurture growth and relationships, which are at the heart of youth success.

“Social emotional learning helps teens learn life skills, including how to deal with oneself, how to navigate relationships and how to positively engage in learning.”

During the Saigh Symposium, Dr. Blyth will discuss research about social emotional learning and share his insights on challenges and solutions to support young people, including –

What are 3 social emotional skills every child should have?

“There are no magic three skills but high on my list would be:

“Self-Regulation – because how we manage ourselves is critical to how we see ourselves and are seen by others.

“Empathy – because if we cannot feel what others feel, or begin to understand their perspective, our ability to be in relationships or settings with others is impaired.

“Sense of Agency – because learning our efforts make a difference in whether we succeed, and that we are agents of our own future, is critical to so many aspects of learning and development.”

Why is it important for young people to learn how to appropriately express themselves?

“Helping young people learn how to express themselves to others helps them know themselves – as you cannot express your emotions if you are not aware of them.

“It also helps young people more effectively interact with others. If one cannot appropriately express themselves they are at risk of doing so in very inappropriate ways – ways that can lead to fights, suspensions and disengagement from others.”

What happens when children don’t learn how to express themselves? 

“Often children who do not learn how to express themselves are at risk of: acting out or losing control of their emotions in ways that can have negative social and learning consequences (such as suspensions); or, withdrawing into themselves and possibly becoming depressed or disengaged from others. Managing one’s self-expression enables functional engagement with others and increases progress in pursuing goals.

“These are critical components of youth development and indicators of success.”

Wyman Welcomes Karen Guskin, Forms New Knowledge Management Department

St. Louis, MO [Sept. 22, 2014]Wyman Center, a national leader that provides at-risk teens and communities the tools they need to succeed, is pleased to announce the addition of Karen Guskin, Senior Vice President. Guskin will oversee Wyman’s new Knowledge Management Department, beginning Sept. 22, 2014.

Guskin brings extensive experience in the research field with a particular focus on children. Previously, she served as the Director of Research and Quality Improvement for Parents as Teachers National Center, a federally recognized, evidence-based model that specializes in early childhood development.

While at Parents as Teachers, Guskin oversaw the design, development, implementation and communication of data on programming impact and reach. She also guided quality assurance and improvement initiatives, as well as outcome measurement.

Guskin will be responsible for designing and institutionalizing Wyman’s research strategy, driving learning from Wyman’s intellectual capital, and informing innovation. In addition, she will spearhead initiatives to share resulting learnings with Wyman’s more than 60-partner national network, and key stakeholders at nonprofits, government, funding sources and educational and healthcare institutions throughout the U.S.

With Guskin’s expertise, the Knowledge Management department will guide Wyman’s ongoing participation in national youth development studies and bridge theory, practice and advocacy for Wyman’s national initiatives.

Guskin has participated in numerous conferences and articles on parenting, children’s coping styles, evaluation and implementation. She holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a doctorate in psychology from Stanford University. She also studied clinical psychology at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

“We believe teens are one of our nation’s greatest assets, but in order to ensure we’re continuing to unlock their potential, we have to do our homework,” said David Hilliard, President and CEO of Wyman Center. “Karen will guide vital research that will ultimately help us provide, replicate and integrate the most effective evidence-based programs that truly help today’s at-risk teens create brighter futures.”

Wyman is currently involved in research with 11 replication partners, including Chicago Public Schools, the Florida Department of Health and the City of Rochester, N.Y.

As a result of these and other learnings, Wyman offers a variety of opportunities to share youth development best practices in support of collective impact. On October 8, Wyman will assemble local and national experts in a round-table discussion on social emotional learning.  To register for this free event, visit

About Wyman Center

Wyman, a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit and proud member of the United Way, partners with communities to provide teens with the support and opportunities they need to survive and thrive in life. Wyman’s innovative programs are powerful and effective, and the staff is highly acclaimed and committed to preparing today’s youth. For more information, visit or contact Wyman at 


For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Kristin Gumper, Director, Communication and External Affairs, at or 314.346.4042.