Chris Theodoros – experienced facilitator, PIA board member, Fathers Forum planner, and involved dad to a 7th grader and a 10th grader, has been facilitating for almost seven years, yet it is clear from his enthusiasm that time has dulled neither the value nor the appeal of the work.
Asked how he had first encountered PIA, Chris said his initial contact was through a facilitated grade meeting of his first child’s Kindergarten class, 11 years ago.
Chris emphasized that what drew him to the idea of becoming a facilitator himself was that he “consistently found immediate positive return on time spent as a parent in our own schools’ PIA meetings.” Chris found, through participating in Parent Talks, that “so many wheels [were] spared reinvention, thanks to the open dialogue parents can have” in a facilitated meeting.
“Over the years I’ve been involved in many volunteer organizations,” Chris added, “but the promise of Parents in Action – ‘Effective Parenting begins with Communication’ – is so important and so easy to get behind. I knew that giving my time as a facilitator would tangibly help many parents, with children of all ages, navigate the many challenges” they face.
Speaking of his early experiences as a new facilitator, Chris had this to say:
“The PIA Facilitated Parent Talk is 36 years old this year. The concept remains undiluted, clear and more valuable to parents than ever.” He noted that some members of the facilitation team have been on board “since the beginning,” so a new trainee learns from “the pioneers.” He felt that the lessons imparted during the thorough facilitator training process “ensure a solid foundation,” and further ensure that the “quality of content, enthusiasm, and results” the training team enjoys, continue to yield a “well-oiled machine.”
NYC-Parents in Action, Chris said, works hard to provide “an enjoyable, efficient program which leverages the strengths and styles of the individual while ensuring professional consistency on completion.” Reflecting again on his early facilitation experience he noted that, “thanks to the experienced partners paired with me,” his “active listening skills” were “tested and developed.”
Chris added, “You’ve heard the mantra ‘Preparation is the key to success;’ preparation is also easy, thanks to the clear guidance provided during [facilitator] training.”
Asked what facilitation meant to him on a personal level, Chris noted that “providing a safe environment where NYC’s ‘toughest customers’ – private-school parents – can feel at ease, lean forward, listen, be heard, and help each other is incredibly gratifying.” He noted, too, that while the PIA constituency is not monolithic, the potential Parent Talk benefits are bestowed across the board. “Whether tuned-in or out-of-the-loop, married or single, working or home, mothers or fathers,” said Chris, “everyone who shows up taps into and can contribute to the same rich font of ideas, recommendations, and solutions.”
Asked the about rewards and challenges of being a facilitator, Chris noted a goal he has set for himself: to “increase awareness of and participation by fathers” in PIA programming.
“Dads bring a unique perspective,” Chris added. “The numbers are growing, with more dads attending Parent Talks than ever, and each one benefiting from, and contributing to, the successful model. We are looking for more fathers to join the ranks of the facilitation team.” He noted that the “commitment timing is flexible and can work for almost anyone’s schedule.” He also confessed (as many facilitators do) to a wish that he could fit in more. “My meeting availability may vary from year to year, from many to occasional,” says Chris, so some years juggling schedules can be a greater challenge than in others. The reward of facilitating, though, is a constant.
Asked what he would say to someone who might be considering becoming a facilitator, Chris replied: “The first thing I’d say is ‘thank you.’ Something about the idea of facilitation and Parents in Action appeals to you, and that’s a huge start. “
Next, he said, “I’d encourage you to have a brief call with us… let’s see how you can help.” He noted that the popularity of the PIA Parent Talk format continues strong, with well over 200 meetings held during an average school year.
And his final advice? “Trust the direction.” He noted that PIA’s 30+ year track record in facilitation training provides an “environment where things are going very right, and that’s a great gift. No matter your background, you’ll challenge what you know about communication, parenting issues, and yourself.”
Chris issued a sincere, from-the-heart invitation to interested parents: “Come with an open mind, then set out empowered with a refined skill set which extends well beyond your Parents in Action role. You’ll join a growing, diverse team of great people with a common goal.”
Chris made it clear that, for him, the PIA facilitation commitment is indeed a rewarding one, and his confidence that others will find it equally so, remains unshaken.