Sharing A Story to Raise Awareness: Mental Illness in our Students’ Families

January 16, 2009 at 12:59 pm Leave a comment

posted by Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ’81, psychotherapist and author

linphotoI had the distinct advantage of having studied at Bank Street twice, once in my early twenties studying early education (leaving before receiving my Masters in order to accept a full-time teaching position at the Walden School) and the second time in my late 30’s when I was in the first class of the then newly formed Human Development/Counseling Program, where Ruth Hersh was my mentor and became a life-long friend.

Having graduated from Bennington College with an undergraduate degree in Russian Literature, Bank Street’s philosophy and environment were both welcoming and familiar.  And I have been served well in the many years since, having gone on to become a counselor in private practice. What I learned at Bank Street also helped me in my work at an out-patient facility (Adolescents, Couples and Families), after receiving further certifications in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Eriksonian Hypnosis, Alcoholism and other Substance Abuse Counseling.

In 2007, I published my first book, a memoir that was a 15 year work in progress. In FOUR ROOMS, UPSTAIRS: A Psycotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness, I write about my experiences at Bank Street, what I learned from my student-teaching placement at the Walden School where I apprenticed with the best of the best, a woman named Vida Hoffman who made every child feel respected and important…something I was learning about in each of my classes at Bank Street, which emphasized how to teach, not merely curriculum and what to teach.

In the memoir, I also share my memories of growing up in the 1940s and 50s (a child of immigrant parents and a mother who was mentally ill), years before it became popular to talk about illnesses of any kind and/or their impact upon all family members. During those times, teachers were not trained or encouraged to identify children of what we now refer to as dysfunctional families and many slipped through the cracks and became victims, not unlike their afflicted family member.

Just as Bank Street continues to offer its special brand of outreach and insight to the students it educates who go on to work all over the world, I am hopeful that my story is providing similar hope and awareness.  There is a need for educators to identify such students and be sensitive to their particular family problems, while educating them and helping to advocate for them. Teachers can refer their students to the appropriate resources, ones accessible today which were not available to my family years ago.

As an alumnus, I would be proud to make myself available to speak with faculty, other alumni, or even current parents, should that be of interest to the Bank Street community. With all best wishes to one and all for a healthy, peaceful 2009…

Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ’81 is a psychotherapist, addictions counselor, oral historian, and author.  Her book is available at and also as an audio book from Recorded Books Inc. (narrated by actress Suzanne Toren).  Linda shares more of her thoughts and experiences on her blog

Entry filed under: bank street history, families, social-emotional learning.

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Some of Our Past Bloggers

Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school
Gloria Arenson ’58, psychotherapist
Bill Ayers ‘84, UIC professor, Chicago
Fred Baumgarten ‘84, writer/musician/naturalist/father
Keith Berman '03, founder/president of Options for College and Bank Street’s LinkedIn moderator
David Bowles ’08 (SFC ’93), museum educator at the Rubin Museum of Art
Elena Canaras ‘07, Special Education teacher, Hawaii
Virginia Casper, Bank Street faculty member
Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool
Mary DeCamp Cotterall ‘87, Reading Specialist, Michigan
Judy Coven ’77, retired public school teacher and former Antioch University faculty member
Leslie Day '93, adjunct instructor at Bank Street and author of Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City
Mary Louise (Molly) Day ‘76, Lab School teacher, Chicago
Liezel de La Isla ‘99, Prague International School teacher
Diane Trister Dodge '70, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Meghan Dunn ’08, 3rd grade teacher, Brooklyn
Steven Evangelista ’01, co-director Harlem Link Charter School, NYC
Janine Fetters ‘02, Senior Associate of Parent Engagement at NACCRRA
Dena Florczyk '88, middle school teacher and founder/director of The Nigerian School Project
Hollee Freeman '94, writes about parenting issues for the alumni blog and was featured on BSCAA's April 2012 Career Panel
Ellen Galinsky '70, is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Joanne Ruvolo Gannett ‘84, Columbia College art history professor, Chicago
Joan Goldstein ‘67, sociologist and educator
Margot Hammond, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Professionals
Carol Hillman ‘67, early childhood educator, author, and Long Trip co-leader
Pam Jones ‘05, Bank Street advisor and instructor
Lee Klinger Lesser ‘87, trainer for the Parent Services Project
Preminda Langer ‘97, teacher trainer
Claire Milam ’97, life coach, Austin, Texas
Rabin Nickens ‘03, Speaker, Trainer and Educational Consultant
Beth Norford ‘89, consultant and former School for Children teacher
Susy Ogden ‘97
Marion Palm ‘95, Leadership in the Arts alum, writing tutor, poet and singer
Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education at UIC, Chicago
Jesse Pugh '76, BSCAA President
Meg Rauen ‘06, former Chicago elementary school teacher, NY
Linda Reing, Bank Street Director of Alumni Relations
Rosalind Rothman '62, retired NYC teacher and guidance counselor
Kyla Ryman '92/'97, educational coach and consultant
Ariel Sacks ‘06, middle school teacher, Brooklyn, NY
Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ‘81, psychotherapist and author
Barbara Silver ‘80, literacy consultant and former NYC first grade teacher
Andrea Penny Spencer, former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street
Debbie Stone ‘84, former teacher/co-director of High Valley School
Rachel Theilheimer ‘74, chair of teacher education at BMCC/CUNY
Theodore Timpson ’05, founder/president of Young Spirit Foundation
Eleanor Traubman '95, is Editor in Chief of Creative Times, a blog which promotes NYC's performing, visual and literary arts
Allison Warren '08, new mom, recent grad, and early childhood teacher
Max Weinberg ‘03, Francis Parker School teacher, Chicago
Ted Wells ‘07, 4th grade teacher at The Park School, Brookline, MA
Tracy Wiessbrod ’03, kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom

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