Dispelling Myths About Mentally Ill
Mary Ellen Pereira

November 9, 2003
A group of retired teachers, sponsored by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, are teaching health education majors at local colleges and universities about mental illness.

The course, "Breaking the Silence: Teaching the Next Generation About Mental Illness," includes lesson plans, games, posters and stories for teachers to use in educating upper elementary-, middle- and high-school students about brain disorders.

Retired teachers, such as Muriel Edell, Lorraine Kaplan and Lisa Leblang, have been invited to present the BTS curriculum at schools including Adelphi University, Dowling College, Hofstra University and Molloy College. Kaplan, an elementary and special education teacher for 23 years in the Commack school district, co-wrote the BTS curriculum. As director of educational training for the project, she trains other volunteer, retired teachers to be presenters.

"Retired teachers are ideal for educating the next generation of teachers about this innovative curriculum," said Kaplan. "They are dedicated to creating classrooms that dispel the myths and fight the stigma of mental illness," Kaplan said.

Leblang, a member of the Plainview-Old Bethpage school district for 36 years, taught elementary and special education students. Most recently, she served as principal of Stratford Road Elementary School in Plainview. Edell spent more than 20 years with the Commack school district. A reading and special education teacher, she also served as director of instructional support services.

BTS is used in school districts throughout Long Island and 43 other states, Canada and Japan. For further information, call NAMI at 516-326-0797 or visit www. btslessonplans.org.