Santa Monica Observer Issue 24 : Page 1

A Star Inside: Building Self-Esteem

Rebecca James

Program Director Julie Engerman teaches a “Fear Factor Activity.” A student faces her fear of performing in front of an audience by performing a skit and taking a risk. “The point is to face one’s fear and do it anyway. Through this, the student acquires self confidence and feels empowered.”<br /> <br /> A Star Inside — Children’s Empowerment Workshop is a unique and powerful children’s empowerment workshop designed to foster positive self-esteem among elementary school aged children, enhancing within them a greater sense of self-worth and confidence. It is offered through both public and private schools in the Los Angeles area, as well as through various organizations throughout the County.<br /> <br /> Program founder and Santa Monica resident Julie C. Engerman has a wealth of life experiences that she brings to the A Star Inside – Children’s Empowerment Workshop.<br /> <br /> Originally from Chicago, she has worked as a teacher, life coach, fundraiser, event planner, and as the director of development for a prominent film production company.<br /> <br /> In 2001, Engerman obtained her teaching credential and earned a Master of Arts in Education from Pepperdine University.<br /> <br /> Engerman has taught in both Santa Monica andLos Angeles public schools. After five years in front of the classroom, she returned to graduate school once again, this time at the University of Santa Monica, where she received a second masters degree in psychology and began to develop the A Star Inside program.<br /> <br /> Through her experience teaching in elementary schools, Engerman became painfully aware of the lack of confidence exhibited by so many young students.<br /> <br /> She felt that there was a desperate need for programming that would help children to gain an inner source of control, sort of an inner counselor, in order to allow them to resist unhealthy external influences and to achieve personal fulfillment. She created A Star Inside in order to help kids be all that they can be.<br /> <br /> “Stand in the Truth of Who You Really Are.” A Star Inside classes are offered to children ages 8 to 11.<br /> <br /> Groups of about twenty students attend once a week for six weeks.<br /> <br /> Through art activities, games, music, role-playing, discussions, creative visualization, and other forms of self-expression, children are encouraged to become aware of their own self-worth and to trust their own internal truths. Children receive fun and easy homework exercises in order to reinforce learning at home, and parents are given weekly “tip sheets” with key concepts and suggested home activities.<br /> <br /> The program is designed to foster empowerment among kids, helping them to be more successful and self-reliant.<br /> <br /> The Astar Inside curriculum is not all about me, me, me. It is about having confident internal control of one’s interactions with the external world, and it relies upon the research and theories of the Association for Childhood Education International, the American Psychological Association (APA), and the ERIC Clearing House of Elementary and Early Childhood Education, among others.<br /> <br /> The program is meant for all kinds of kids, from all kinds of backgrounds — all children go through periods of self-doubt and insecurity. A Star Inside helps children learn to ignore their negative, nagging inner doubts and instead listen to their own positive inner voices, the ones that encourage them to feel great about themselves and to treat others with respect and dignity as well.<br /> <br /> “Self-Confidence Is a Major Predictor of Achievement and Happiness.” Early childhood years are a vital period for the development of future mental health. The National Association for the Education of Young Children reports that low self-esteem leads to learning difficulties and disciplinary problems. School performance and peer relations both suffer. A poor self-image can manifest itself in later life as depression, with a propensity toward unhealthy relationships, a sense of being unfulfilled and dissatisfied, and an inability to live up to one’s potential.<br /> <br /> Achievement is blocked by a poor self-concept. Early confidence development, like that fostered by A Star Inside, can very literally change a child’s whole life.<br /> <br /> The Los Angeles Unified School District has chosen to fund A Star Inside for the past two years. While school curriculums frequently try to incorporate self-empowerment and interpersonal skills into classroom activities, their primary focus is meant to be academics. An afterschool program like Astar Inside can encourage these important skills in the way the classroom teacher cannot.<br /> <br /> Engerman praises the other supplemental programs in place in area school districts, but points Out that there is a difference between the outcome goals of a course which emphasizes externalities, like conflict management, and the outcome goals of a course which emphasizes internalities, like positive self-talk and redefining failure. Rather than teaching kids particular coping skills which may be used in certain types of situations, A Star Inside helps children become acquainted with and appreciative of their own individual personality strengths.<br /> <br /> Is she adventurous or cautious?<br /> <br /> Is he artistic or analytical?<br /> <br /> Children benefit from owning their inherent qualities and from trusting that those qualities will enable them to make good decisions in life. Success is not dependent upon being a particular type of person, but upon discovering and embracing the type of person that you are.<br /> <br /> If you are interested in supporting A Star Inside or having A Star Inside work with your school, organization, or child, please contact Julie Engerman at<br /> <br /> (310) 450-5020 or Info@ AstarInside.com. To extend the reach of the program and include more students, A Star Inside is looking for funding opportunities, including grants, donations, sponsors and contributions.<br /> <br /> —Rebecca James For more information, contact: Julie Engerman A Star Inside — Children’s Empowerment Workshop<br /> 310. 450.5020 Info@AStarInside.<br /> Com www.AstarInside.com

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