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Weston youth services director wants to tackle tough issues

Michelle Albright, director of Weston Youth Services, focuses on school and community to help kids and families. —Katelyn Peterson photo

Michelle Albright, director of Weston Youth Services, focuses on school and community to help kids and families.
—Katelyn Peterson photo

A new Weston Youth Services director, Michelle Albright, was recently hired by the town and she is helping to administer some new programs for students and parents.

Her position as youth services director, which she began on Jan. 2, entails a variety of responsibilities. These include helping to coordinate the sitter safety course for kids who are interested in becoming a baby-sitter; overseeing the WOW programs, a variety of after-school and summer programs for kids; and helping to run workshops and series for parents on a range of topics, such as child development and promoting kids’ esteem.

Dr. Albright said she also helps provide services to families in financial need. This includes arranging for waivers for sports and after-school programs and other school-related activity fees, contacting schools or other organizations to arrange for reduced or waived tuition, and helping families receive reduced or waived tuition for the Westport and Weston YMCA.

Dr. Albright said she works with organizations such as Weston Arts to provide grants for kids who are interested in taking art or music classes.

In addition to her position as youth services director, Dr. Albright is a consultant at Yale University, where she facilitates focus groups with parents of preschoolers so they may learn more about how they can foster their children’s social-emotional development.

She also recently developed a curriculum and a Web-based information portal to enhance parents’ own emotional literacy and help them nurture their children’s social-emotional learning.

Dr. Albright also has her own educational consulting business, which offers services to schools and individuals throughout Fairfield County. These services include counseling and workshops on a variety of topics, such as kindergarten readiness, parent-teacher conferences and social-emotional learning.

Dr. Albright’s expertise stems from her experience at the University of Illinois, where she received her degree in clinical psychology.

She also attended graduate school at the University of Illinois, where she received her master’s degree and doctorate in clinical psychology.

While attending graduate school, Dr. Albright worked at an elementary school in a large housing project on the south side of Chicago. For most of her seven years there, she worked as the school-family partnership coordinator.

“I started using the school and the community as a base to develop all these programs and work with parents and teachers,” she said.

Having grown up in Fairfield and Westport, Dr. Albright returned to her roots, moving to Weston in 2004. “I felt this area is a great place to grow up and raise a family,” she said. She and her husband have two daughters, ages 6 and 8.

“We chose Weston because we liked the small town community feeling here — I love that as you go through Weston Center … you can run into five people you know,” she said.

Youth services programs

Dr. Albright is happy to be working for Weston Youth Services, where she can do what she loves to do.

She said one of the newest programs that she is helping to administer is a workshop series called Tackling the Tough Stuff, which focuses on helping parents talk with their kids about such issues as tragedy, violence, sex, and drugs.

The workshop will be held three times a month, and each month will be devoted to a particular theme or topic.

March’s theme focuses on how to find the happy medium between being a hands-off parent and a helicopter parent.

The first discussion in the series was held on Monday, March 11, in conjunction with the Weston Public Library’s Teen Tech Week. The workshop for parents tackled “Managing the Media: How to Monitor Children’s Media Exposure and Talk About What They See and Hear.”

Other programs in the series include “One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Children, Choices and Consequences,” which will be held Thursday, March 21, at 6 p.m. at Weston High School; and “Straight Talk for Toddlers Through Teens,” which will be held Monday, March 25, from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

A few other upcoming programs from Youth Services include the WOW spring session, summer camp programs, and groups for parents and kids who are going through specific circumstances, like divorce or kids who have a particular diagnosis.

For more information, visit westonyouthservices.org or call 203-222-2585.

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