Previous Episodes

Center for Family Engagement Logo



Subscribe for Updates

Permission:


Notes from the Backpack

Notes from the Backpack - Previous Episodes

Enjoyed one of our past podcasts and need to hear it again? You're in the right place! All previous episodes are listed below with links, resources, and speaker information in the descriptions.

Real Experts. Real Parents. Real Conversations.

Subscribe on your favorite podcast platform:

Apple Podcasts Google Podcasts Stitcher Spotify Tune In

Previous Episodes

Larry Ferlazzo

57 | Fostering Student Motivation


Larry Ferlazzo

Fostering motivation is an important part of a teacher’s job. Larry Ferlazzo, veteran high school teacher and Education Week writer, shares his insights on how to motivate students. Learn what teachers most want you to know about student motivation and get tips on how to get your child to do their homework, chores and more.

Listen Now

Ffiona Rees

56 | Parents’ Guide to College Admissions


Ffiona Rees

The college admissions process was stressful enough before the pandemic, now it’s more confusing than ever. Ffiona Rees, board chair of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), joins us to answer all of your questions. Listen to discover her top tips for supporting your teen as they navigate through the college admissions process.

Listen Now

Jen Hemphill

55 | Helping Kids Understand Money


Jen Hemphill

What do your kids know about money? Jen Hemphill, host of the podcast, Her Dinero Matters, shares tips from her experience as an accredited financial advisor and as a mom. Learn how to talk about money with children of all ages and how you can help them to become financially responsible.

Listen Now

Sharif El-Mekki

54 | Why Aren't There More Black Teachers?


Sharif El-Mekki

Most people can count on one hand the number of Black teachers they had during their schooling. Our guest Sharif El-Mekki is working to change that. Sharif discusses how underrepresentation of Black teachers has repercussions for all of our children, and for Black children in particular. 

Listen Now

Andrew Ho

53 | Do My Child’s Test Scores Really Matter?


Dr. Andrew Ho

Parents can often feel overwhelmed when they receive their child’s test scores. What do the scores mean and do they even matter? Dr. Andrew Ho, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, breaks down what you need to know about standardized testing so you can understand what really matters for your child’s learning and development.

Listen Now

Keith Mispagel

52 | Families in Transition: Lessons from the Military


Dr. Keith Mispagel

Whether your child is transitioning to a new school or a new country, change can be hard. We can learn a lot from military families who experience these types of transitions more frequently than most. Dr. Keith Mispagel, superintendent of Fort Leavenworth Unified School District, talks with our hosts about helping children adjust to new environments.

Listen Now

Duff Goldman

51 | Cooking with Kids: Tips from Duff Goldman


Duff Goldman

Celebrity chef, Duff Goldman, joins the show to help you and your family have a blast in the kitchen. Duff shares tips for teaching your kids science while cooking and helping them develop independence and confidence using tools and appliances. The hosts also discuss his parenting style and cooking journey!

Listen Now

Sheetal Sheth

50 | Our Culture is More than a Holiday 


Sheetal Sheth

From people who mispronounce your child’s name to teachers who expect them to explain your family’s holiday traditions to the class, your child may be struggling with the pressure to represent an entire culture. Actress and author Sheetal Sheth joins the show to discuss how families can help kids embrace their identities and explains how she shared her own identity and experience as a mother in her children’s books Always Anjali and Bravo Anjali

Listen Now

Marley Dias & Dr. Janice Johnson Dias

49 | Raising Children Who Change the World


Marley Dias & Dr. Janice Johnson Dias

Help your child channel their frustrations into social action! This week, our hosts chatted with author and founder of 1000 Black Girl Books, Marley Dias, and her mom, Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, who is an educator and author as well. They share how you can help your child develop their entrepreneurial spirit and enhance their problem solving skills—all while making the world a better place!

Listen Now

Shawn Jones

48 | Supporting Students of Color


Dr. Shawn Jones

How can schools do a better job affirming children’s racial identities? Dr. Shawn Jones, psychologist and professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University, joined the podcast to offer guidance on creating schools that better serve students of color. He shares how families can help by talking openly and honestly about their own experiences with race. He also offers suggestions for how white families can be part of the effort to create more affirming schools for students of color.
Listen Now

Ep 47 - Dr. Sameer Hinduja

47 | Social Media & Cyberbullying 101


Dr. Sameer Hinduja

From the cyberbullying risks to dangerous social media challenges, many parents feel terrified when their child enters the world of social media. How can families have proactive discussions about navigating the online world responsibly? Dr. Sameer Hinduja, director of the Cyberbullying Research Center joins the show to share practical tips and respond to some of your most commonly asked questions!
Listen Now

Escucha en español

Ep 46 - Karen Van Ausdal

46 | What is Social and Emotional Learning Anyway?


Karen Van Ausdal

What life skills does your child need to thrive? There’s a lot of learning happening in schools that goes beyond academics. Karen Van Ausdal joined our hosts to talk about Social and Emotional Learning. She shares what Social and Emotional Learning looks like, why it’s important and how families can support.
Listen Now

Ep 45 - Cpt Erin Sauber-Schatz

45 | Back to School with the CDC


Captain Erin Sauber-Schatz

As we enter our second Back-to-School season filled with COVID-19 safety precautions, it’s vital that you stay informed. We invited a special guest, Captain Erin Sauber-Schatz, community guidance subject matter expert for CDC's  COVID-19 Response, to share the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Listen Now

Escucha en español

Podcast episode 43 thumbnail

44 | Are You Practicing Parent Self-Care


Dr. Shefali

Did your last power struggle with your child leave you feeling burnt out? What if we shifted our mindset around parenting and stopped trying to make our kids happy all the time? Clinical psychologist and author, Dr. Shefali—whose work has been endorsed by Oprah—joins us to discuss parent self-care. She shares her own parenting experiences and philosophy, and offers advice on letting go and learning to live in the now.
Listen Now

Podcast episode 43 thumbnail

43 | How Can We Normalize Talking about Mental Health?


Allison Raskin

Let’s start talking about mental health! For too long, we’ve stigmatized mental health issues and it’s time to have open conversations with our friends and family. We talked to mental health advocate, Allison Raskin, about her personal journey and work to destigmatize these topics. She offers advice for normalizing discussions of mental health in your family and community!
Listen Now

Podcast Episode 42 thumbnail

42 | How Can I Help My Teen Manage Stress?


Dr. John Duffy

Is your teenager so stressed you worry they’re on the brink of burning out? Teens are still facing the typical pressures of navigating friendships, relationships, college admissions and now a pandemic. Our hosts spoke with adolescent psychologist and best-selling author, Dr. John Duffy, about how families can support their teens during this challenging time. He offers advice and shares how parents can distinguish between typical teenage stress and when it is time to seek help.
Listen Now

Podcast episode 41 thumbnail

41 | How Can We Prioritize Wellness at School?


Chandrai Jackson-Saunders

How can we prepare to meet every child’s needs as they return to school? We spoke with National School Psychologist of the Year, Chandrai Jackson-Saunders to learn how schools can set children up for success and how families can help by focusing on the whole child. She offers concrete strategies school communities should implement to meet the variety of needs children will have in the wake of the pandemic.
Listen Now

Podcast Episode 40 thumbnail

40 | Is My Teen Having a Mental Health Crisis?


Dr. Doreen Marshall

Teens experience mental health issues at alarming rates. How can you tell if it’s typical teenage angst or something more serious? If your teen is experiencing depression, how can you best support them? We sat down with Dr. Doreen Marshall, VP of Mission Engagement at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (ASFP) to get answers to these questions and more.
Listen Now

Best-of-S1-3_IG

39 | Best of Seasons 1-3


Helen & LaWanda

It’s time to rewind! Join our hosts Helen and LaWanda as they look back on highlights from the first three seasons of Notes from the Backpack: A PTA Podcast. They discuss some of their favorite pieces of advice and share a sneak peek at our upcoming mini-series.
Listen Now

How to Help LGBTQ Youth Thrive

37 | How to Help LGBTQ Youth Thrive


Ellen Kahn
Senior Director, Programs and Partnerships at HRC
Jodie Patterson
Board Chair of the HRC Foundation

We welcome two guests from the Human Rights Campaign, Ellen Kahn, senior director of programs and partnerships, and Jodie Patterson, board chair of the HRC Foundation, to learn how to become better allies to the LGBTQ community....
Listen Now

Enhancing Parent Teacher Partnerships

36 | Get on Board: Enhancing Parent Teacher Partnerships


Colleen Ryan
2019 Toyota Family Engagement Teacher of the Year

When you think of parent teacher partnerships, conferences and report cards might come to mind, but what if we made family engagement more fun? Colleen Ryan, 2019 Toyota Family Engagement Teacher of the Year, offers advice for parents and teachers on how to work together to help kids get what they need to thrive....
Listen Now

Surviving Quarantine with Your Teen

35 | Surviving Quarantine with Your Teen


Dr. Lisa Damour
Psychologist
Isaac Hurtado
Podcast host & High School student

Raising a teenager can be difficult—even under normal circumstances—and COVID-19 has added new challenges. We talked to Dr. Lisa Damour, adolescent psychologist, and high school student Isaac Hurtado, co-host of the hit podcast, Teenager Therapy, to get tips....
Listen Now

Inside the Principal’s Office

34 | Inside the Principal’s Office


Dr. Tayarisha Batchelor
Principal of Rawson STEAM School

We talk with Dr. Tayarisha Batchelor, principal of the Rawson STEAM school in Hartford, Conn., about how families and parent leaders can collaborate with their principal. She shares how she has supported families in her communities and how she helps her staff engage in meaningful family engagement practices....
Listen Now

Raising Kids Who Embrace Race

33 | Raising Kids Who Embrace Race


Melissa Giraud & Andrew Grant-Thomas
Founders of EmbraceRace

Do you want to talk to your kids about race and racism, but not sure where to start? We spoke to Melissa Giraud and Andrew Grant-Thomas, founders of EmbraceRace, to learn how to approach these conversations with young children. Melissa and Andrew also share advice on raising advocates for racial justice....
Listen Now

How to Handle Bullying

32 | How to Handle Bullying


Dr. Deborah Temkin
VP for Youth Development & Education Research, Child Trends

What can families do to address bullying and how can schools act proactively to prevent bullying altogether? We talked with Dr. Deborah Temkin, the vice president of Youth Development & Education Research at Child Trends to get answers....
Listen Now

Get Inspired by Your Young Artist

31 | Get Inspired by Your Young Artist


Julian Bass
Filmmaker & TikTok Sensation

We interview Julian Bass, a two-time PTA Reflections winner, who has gone on to make a name for himself as a filmmaker and visual effects artist. He shares how his own parents supported his artistic journey and how families can encourage their children to follow their dreams....
Listen Now

Exploring Learning Differences during COVID-19

30 | Exploring Learning Differences during COVID-19


Amanda Morin
Writer & Senior Expert, Understood.org

We speak with Amanda Morin, writer and senior expert at Understood.org, to learn strategies for supporting students with learning differences during online and hybrid learning. She offers advice on helping your kids stay organized, read social cues, manage distractions and more....
Listen Now

Raising Lifelong Voters

29 | Raising Lifelong Voters


Congresswoman Jahana Hayes
U.S. Representative for Connecticut's 5th congressional district

How are you talking to your kids about civic engagement? U.S. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes offers wisdom from her experience in the classroom and on the Hill. She shares how families can help kids become active citizens and lifelong voters by encouraging them to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways....
Listen Now

Prioritizing COVID-19 Relief & Recovery

28 | Prioritizing COVID-19 Relief & Recovery


Ralph Smith
Managing Director, Campaign for Grade Level Reading

We spoke with Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading to get his perspective on the impact COVID-19 is having in the hardest hit communities. He offers suggestions for parent leaders looking to support the most vulnerable learners and their families during this challenging time....
Listen Now

Navigating Online Resources During COVID-19

27 | Navigating Online Resources During COVID-19


Merve Lapus
Vice President of Outreach & National Partnerships, Common Sense Education

Are you overwhelmed by all of the online resources available to your child but not sure where to start? During this unusual school year, we need to help our children find online resources that meet their needs. We turned to Merve Lapus of Common Sense Media who shared how families can set students up for success this school year. Listen to discover helpful learning resources and tips for establishing healthy online habits....
Listen Now

Talking Race & KidLit

26 | Talking Race & KidLit


Kwame Alexander
NYT Bestselling Author

How many books on your children’s shelves feature Black and Brown characters? We spoke with Newbery Medal award-winning author, Kwame Alexander about the importance of representation in kids’ literature. He shared about his own writing process, how to inspire your kids to write and some of his favorite books....
Listen Now

COVID-19 & Back to School

24 | COVID-19 & Back to School?


Amalia Chamorro
Associate Director of Education Policy, UNIDOS US

As the school year wraps up virtually, families around the world are wondering, what comes next? We spoke with Amalia Chamorro, Associate Director of Education Policy at UNIDOS US to learn more about COVID-19’s impact on our children and its potential impact on the back-to-school season. She reflects on the drastic changes families have faced these last few months and how schools and families will continue to have to adapt moving forward....
Listen Now

Keep Your Cool: Tackling Behavioral Issues

23 | Keep Your Cool: Tackling Behavioral Issues


Dr. Ross Greene
Founder, Lives in Balance

How can we work with our kids to create less stress and conflict around daily routines? We talked with Dr. Ross Greene, psychologist and founder of Lives in Balance, about how to address a child’s toughest behaviors. Greene shares how to improve relationships and bring peace to your home....
Listen Now

Raising Curious Kids

22 | Raising Curious Kids


Dr. Carol O’Donnell
Director, Smithsonian Science Education Center

Our kids seem to have endless questions. Encouraging this curiosity is good for their development. We spoke with Dr. Carol O’Donnell, Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center, who shares how families can find science in the world around them and fun activities you can do at home....
Listen Now

Growing Great Readers

21 | Growing Great Readers


Dr. Rebecca Silverman
Associate Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Education

We talked with Dr. Rebecca Silverman, professor at Stanford University, to learn how we can raise lifelong readers. She offered strategies for fostering a love of reading and guidance on what you should expect from your child at each age....
Listen Now

Interview with National Teacher of the Year

20 | Interview with National Teacher of the Year


Rodney Robinson
2019 National Teacher of the Year

We spoke with National Teacher of the Year, Rodney Robinson, in front of a live audience at National PTA’s Legislative Conference. Rodney offered his insights into the teaching profession, issues of equity, school discipline and the importance of recruiting more black educators....
Listen Now

Online Learning During COVID-19

19 | Online Learning During COVID-19


Dr. Natalie Milman
Educational Technology Professor, George Washington University

Online learning during COVID-19 presents unique challenges. We talked with Dr. Natalie Milman, professor of Education Technology at George Washington University, to get her insights into emergency remote teaching and learning, education technology, strategies for supporting your child and more....
Listen Now

What’s Going on in My Kid’s Brain?

18 | What’s Going on in My Kid’s Brain?


Dr. Brandi Kenner
Senior Consultant, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Sometimes you can’t help but wonder, what is my kid thinking? We spoke with Dr. Brandi Kenner, senior consultant at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, about how a child’s brain works. She shared helpful strategies for teaching them how to manage their emotions and behavior....
Listen Now

Supporting Our Kids: Special Education 101

17 | Supporting Our Kids: Special Education 101


Debra Jennings
Co-Executive Director, Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN)

The world of special education can be overwhelming for families—especially right now, as families are navigating learning from home. We talked with expert Debra Jennings, from the Statewide Parent Education Network (SPAN), to ensure your child is supported during these trying times....
Listen Now

Tackling COVID-19 Anxiety Together

16 | Tackling COVID-19 Anxiety Together


Dr. Erlanger “Earl” Turner
Psychologist

COVID-19 has drastically changed our daily lives. We talked with psychologist, author and professor Dr. Earl Turner about how to stay happy, healthy and learning during this difficult time. He shares tips for setting routines, managing your mental health and coping with uncertainty....
Listen Now

Money Talks: School Finance 101

15 | Money Talks: School Finance 101


Dr. Marguerite Roza
Director of the Edunomics Lab

We spoke with Dr. Marguerite Roza, Director of the Edunomics Lab to learn about the mystery of education finance. She offers practical guidance on how families can stay informed about their school district’s financial decisions and how they can advocate for the priorities they care most about....
Listen Now

How to Talk to Your Kid about Gun Violence

14 | How to Talk to Your Kid about Gun Violence


Edith Bracho-Sanchez
Director of Pediatric Telemedicine, Columbia University

We turn to expert Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez who shares how to have open and honest conversations with children of all ages about lockdown drills, school shootings and all of the emotions that come along with these topics....
Listen Now

Don’t Break a Sweat: Navigating Youth Sports

13 | Don’t Break a Sweat: Navigating Youth Sports


Jon Solomon
Editorial Director, The Aspen Institute's Sports & Society Program

With hyper-competitive leagues for kids as young as six years old—and hours of practice even during the off season—youth sports aren’t just fun and games. We talked with Jon Solomon, former sports journalist and editorial director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society program, about how families can best navigate this aspect of their kids’ lives....
Listen Now

Beyond Academics: Preparing Your Kids for Life

12 | Beyond Academics: Preparing Your Kids for Life


Linda Darling-Hammond
President & CEO, Learning Policy Institute

Is your child’s school preparing students for success in life? Linda Darling-Hammond shares what signs you should look for to see if your child’s school is fostering their holistic development, and what you can do at home to raise well-rounded lifelong learners....
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

How College Ready Are You?

11 | How College Ready Are You?


Sekou Biddle
Vice President of Advocacy, UNCF
Nya
Student at Old Dominion University

The college application process can be intense and complex—with many financial challenges for students and their families. We sat down with Sekou Biddle, vice president of advocacy at the United Negro College Fund to get concrete strategies and essential information to help. We also explored the student perspective by chatting with Nya, a junior at Old Dominion University, who shares how she managed the college process....
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

Partnering with Your Child's Teacher

9 | Partnering with Your Child's Teacher


Karen Mapp
Senior Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Karen Mapp joins us from Harvard Graduate School of Education to offer best practices for improving family-school partnerships. Listen in as we discuss strategies to partner with schools to support your child and to engage other families in building trusting relationships within your community...
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

Asking the "Right" Questions

8 | Asking the "Right" Questions


Luz Santana
Co-Director of the Right Question Institute

We turn to Luz Santana, co-director of the Right Question Institute to learn how to prepare questions that will produce meaningful and helpful answers. She shares how parents can go beyond the typical, “How is my child doing?” to spark more in-depth conversations. We also get her advice on common issues families have and how asking the right questions can improve these situations!...
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

How to Handle Homework: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

7 | How to Handle Homework: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Steve Sheldon
Associate Professor, John Hopkins University School of Education
Shaneeka Moore-Lawrence
Principal, Bethesda Elementary School

Steve Sheldon, a researcher at John Hopkins University, offers the information and strategies you need to make homework time more successful in your household. We also hear from elementary school principal and PTA leader, Shaneeka Moore-Lawrence on the benefits of homework and what really is the “right” amount per night...
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

How to Raise Confident Kids

6 | How to Raise Confident Kids


Jennifer Miller
Author of Confident Parents, Confident Kids

How do you raise a confident child who can overcome communication challenges and be a good friend to others? We turn to author and parenting expert Jennifer Miller to explore how you can build these social and emotional skills with your child, and how to know if your child’s school is helping them develop in this important area...
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

The Myth of the Uninvolved Parent

5 | The Myth of the Uninvolved Parent


Kwesi Rollins
Vice President of Leadership & Engagement, Institute for Educational Leadership

Kwesi Rollins from the Institute for Educational Leadership gives us a realistic view of the barriers families face when trying to engage with their child’s school and shares how school districts are making family engagement more meaningful and inclusive for families who aren’t involved in traditional ways...
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

Recess: Is it Just for Play?

4 | Recess: Is it Just for Play


William Massey
Assistant Professor, College of Public Health and Human Services, Oregon State University
Angie Gallo
Florida PTA Leader and School Board Member

We discuss why recess is important for students’ physical health—as well as their social and emotional development—and take a look at what schools and families are doing to protect and enhance recess time at school. Researcher and dad, William Massey, explains the benefits of recess, what high-quality recess looks like and how parents can get involved in recess. PTA leader and school board member, Angie Gallo, also shares how you can become a recess advocate in your community...
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

Middle School: What Every Parent Should Know

3 │ Middle School: What Every Parent Should Know


Phyllis Fagell
School Counselor and Author of Middle School Matters

We dive into parents’ top concerns about middle school with Phyllis Fagell—school counselor, therapist, author and mother of three. She gives us a deeper look at what is going on with middle schoolers developmentally and how families can address adolescent friendship issues, social media use and bullying. We also offer practical tips and ways both families and schools can best support our tweens...
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

How is Your Kid Really Doing in School?

2 │ How is Your Kid Really Doing in School?


Bibb Hubbard
Founder and President of Learning Heroes
Liz Goshorn
Mother of Four Children

We sit down with Bibb Hubbard—a mother and founder of Learning Heroes—to explore what families and kids think about student academic achievement, how schools and districts can improve the way they share information with families, and what families can do to gauge if their child is on track and advocate for a more accurate picture of their progress. Liz Goshorn gives a mother’s perspective on how you can better understand your child’s academic progress in school and identify their academic strengths and areas for growth...
Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español

Notes from the Backpack Hosts

Trailer | Introducing... Notes from the Backpack: A PTA Podcast

Find out what Notes from the Backpack is all about! Hosts LaWanda Toney and Helen Westmoreland give listeners a preview of what they can expect when they tune-in to the podcast series...

Listen Now | Transcripción disponible en Español


Microphone


Support for Notes from the Backpack: A PTA Podcast was provided by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.