Deb Naro has helped to organize and plan the implementation of the Community of Caring program in Plymouth, New Hampshire, as well as addressed the needs of students with disabilities. Representative Naro chaired the committee that brought many local parents, teachers, school board members, administrators, students, and community members together to research the Community of Caring program and its potential impact on the Plymouth schools and community.
The Community of Caring Program is a comprehensive, prevention-based character education program that began in 1986 in five schools and has spread to over 800 public schools nationwide, emphasizing five core values: respect, responsibility, trust, caring, and family through student forums, values across the curriculum, parent involvement, teacher training, and community service. Thanks to the leadership of Naro, and the efforts of many local parents, teachers, school board members, students, and administrators who served on the Department of Education to cover full implementation costs, the program will begin its second successful year in the Plymouth schools.
Naro emphasizes that supporting values-based programming and promoting partnerships between the school and community is important because students learn in many different contexts: the family, the school, and the community. Naro believes character education and academic learning should not be conceived as separate goals because of a mutually supportive relationship. She states, “Building a sense of community has many payoffs for students and school communities. It boosts academic motivation and achievement, lowers discipline referrals, reduces high risk behaviors, increases pro-social behaviors, and improves school climates by building trust and respect for self and others.”
Naro was recently presented the Community of Caring National Community Leadership award in San Diego, California by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the program’s founder and honorary chair. Naro was selected for her leadership in helping “to build strong communities where all members, but especially the most vulnerable, are treated fairly.” Also, in 1999, Naro along her husband, were recipients of the New Hampshire Parents of the Year award and finalists for the National Parents of the Year award.
Representative Naro has served on numerous committees supporting children, families, disabilities rights activism, and education.