Be The Change: Mental Health and the Young Child

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Forsyth Technical Community College

2100 Silas Creek Parkway

Strickland Center (formerly the Oak Grove Center)

Winston-Salem, NC 27103

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Event description


Para información en español, por favor, consulte la traducción debajo.

This summer's installment of Be The Change is focused on Mental Health and the Young Child in Forsyth County. Keynote speaker Mary Dame from Amos Cottage will speak on how mental health presents in young children, the need for early mental health intervention, and how mental health stigma impacts access to necessary services.

Following the keynote address, an audience-driven panel discussion will connect the issue of childhood mental health to what's happening in our schools and communities, provide context around related and relevant policies, and explore how some children's experiences differ based on race and socioeconomic status.

"We know that children of color and those who experience poverty or near poverty come into our schools living with much higher rates of trauma. Without direct treatment, or significant buffering factors at home or in schools, we know that this trauma begins to manifest through behavioral issues. It's important for us to have this conversation about mental health and its effects on students, teachers, families, and our communities overall, especially at a time when teachers are underpaid, inadequately supported, and ill-equipped to meet the many needs of the whole child. We cannot remain complacent and allow our children to go without the care and support they need, like district-wide mental health screenings. Too often, the alternative is punitive discipline and criminalization, which we cannot continue to accept," said Wendy Poteat, Partnership Director of The Forsyth Promise.

Amos Cottage is a youth mental and emotional health treatment facility associated with Wake Forest Baptist Health's Brenner's Children's Hospital.

Event Details

  • Childcare will be provided.
  • Spanish language interpretation will be provided.
  • Food and beverages will be provided.
  • Location: The event will take place on Forsyth Tech's main campus, in the Strickland Center (formerly the Oak Grove Center).
  • Navigation on Campus: Please refer to this campus map if you are planning ahead. Directional signage to the Strickland Center is posted for visitors once they arrive on campus.
  • Parking: Ample parking is available on site at the Strickland Center.
  • Navigation at the Strickland Center: Navigational signage will be in place at building entrances and inside the building. The event will be held in the Dewitt E. Rhoades Conference Center on the second floor.

Program Overview

5:30 - 6:00: Networking, data walk, community tables, registration

6:00 - 6:05: Original Poetry Performance

6:05 - 6:10: Welcome and Introduction

6:10 - 6:30: Keynote Address

Mary Dame, Program Director, Amos Cottage Therapeutic Day Program Services, Department of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

6:30 - 6:33: Panel Introduction

Victor Isler, Director of Forsyth County Department of Social Services

6:35 - 7:40: Panel Discussion and Audience Q&A

Kellie Easton, Board President, Action4Equity, COO; Co-Founder, Easton Reid Group

Deborah Evans, MA, LPA, Staff Psychologist II, Amos Cottage Therapeutic Day Program and Outpatient Clinic

Benika Thompson, Principal, Philo-Hill Magnet Academy

Joshua Ziesel, Groups Coordinator and Coordinator of International Student Support, Wake Forest University; Board member, Action for Equity

7:40 - 7:45: Original Poetry Performance

LB the Poet, Poet, Actor, Author, Host, Artivist, Mentor, Educator, Public Speaker, Artist

Featured Guests

In order of appearance.

Mary Dame

Keynote Speaker: Mary Dame, LRT/CTRS

Program Director, Amos Cottage Therapeutic Day Program Services, Department of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

A native of Bellmore, New York, Mary presently is Program Director at Amos Cottage Therapeutic Day Program, a licensed, nationally accredited mental health day treatment and outpatient program. As Director she executes the oversight of all aspects of the program’s operation and clinical delivery, and is responsible for the overall effectiveness of program services.

Professional Accomplishments:

  • Launched a Recreational Therapy program at Brunswick Community Hospital’s acute care and pediatric units in Amityville New York.

  • Developed and led a Recreational Therapy Program at Amos Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital

  • with Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

  • Transitioned a day treatment program from a hospital setting to a nationally accredited and state licensed independent community program currently providing annually over 15,000 hours of client treatment.

  • Developed a clinical model employing a multi-disciplinary treatment approach integrating both traditional and non-traditional intervention methods; interventions include Parent Engagement Sessions allowing parents opportunities to share their unique skills and talents such as music or art with fellow parents; Leisure Counseling Sessions led by licensed recreational therapists helping parents gain insight into understanding how play can enhance the parent/child relationship; Board Certified music therapist using music as a means of enhancing communication and supporting self-regulation in young clients.

  • Recipient of the ECHO Award through the Winston-Salem Foundation for increasing public awareness of mentally health disorders in children and the Lena C. Godwin Award through the Mental Health Association for providing quality mental health services to young children in our local community.


Mary is a graduate of the State University of New York College at Cortland receiving degrees in

Recreation Therapy and Elementary Education. Graduate studies at the State University of New

York College at Cortland in Recreation Therapy with a focus in Gerontology.

Credentials: Licensed Recreational Therapist and a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

Current Community Positions:

Chairperson of the United Way Agency Executive Association and Board Member of the United Way

Board of Forsyth County; Lector and Eucharistic Minister at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church


Husband is ‘Bucky’ Dame former Director of Public Assembly Facilities, City of Winston-Salem; currently an owner of Dame Management Services a boutique consulting and management firm; proud parent of 2 children: Greg 29 who is a software Engineer in San Francisco and Rachel 26 who is completing her graduate degree at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota


Gardening; Running/Exercise; Travel, Reading, Movies on a large screen, Italian Food-Going out to eat!

Professional Philosophy: Do not allow the mental health disorder to define a child rather allow the child’s gifts and talents define who they are as an individual.

Personal Philosophy: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible” Francis of Assisi

Victor Isler

Panel Moderator: Victor Isler, Director of Forsyth County Department of Social Serivces

The Goldsboro native came to Forsyth County to attend Winston-Salem State University in 1997, where he was originally going to major in physical therapy. He changed his major to Sociology because he wanted to go beyond just physical health and deal with underserved populations and the causes of disparities. During his time at WSSU, he interned in all the service areas at Forsyth DSS.

Isler received a Master’s degree from Pfeiffer University in Health Care Administration and then earned a Master of Social Work from the Joint Master’s of Social Work Program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he was a NC Child Welfare scholar and interned at Forsyth DSS Child Protective Services, who then hired him.

As a licensed clinical social worker, he would work at Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services as the Director of Residential Services and in Durham DSS as the foster care program manager before returning to Winston-Salem in 2014 to become Forsyth DSS’s Family and Children's Services director. In that position, he oversaw 115 employees who provide child protection, in-home, foster care and adoption services. Under his tenure, CPS treatment model known as in-home services expanded, established foster care visitation suites, secured a second child welfare attorney, implemented the Fostering Health Initiative in partnership with the pediatric community and became a NCDHHS Family Engagement pilot county.

Victor is currently the director for Forsyth County Department of Social Services. Under his leadership the agency will strategically focus of employee engagement and positive workplace culture, operational accountability and self-sufficiency and safety for all residents.

Kellie Easton

Panelist: Kellie Easton, Board President, Action4Equity, COO; Co-Founder, Easton Reid Group

Kellie P. Easton’s experience spans across a variety of sectors including, B2B, strategic marketing, brand development and management, communications, project management, community development and organizing, advocacy and government relations.

Kellie has worked with an extensive list of women and minority business leaders on various business development and policy efforts including serving as the SVP of Business Development for Black Girls Vote where Kellie was recognized for establishing the Corporate and Advocacy Strategy behind Activate the Vote.

Kellie proudly serves as the President of the Young Adult Committee of the Winston-Salem Chapter of the NAACP, a Board Member of Hustle WS, and an Advisory Board Member for the City of Winston-Salem Minority and Women Business Enterprise Advisory Committee.

Kellie is the COO and Co-Founder of Easton Reid Group a strategy and management company located in Winston-Salem, NC. Kellie achieved a B.S. in Information Systems and Sciences from the Earl Graves School of Business, Morgan State University.

Deborah Evans

Panelist: Deborah Evans, MA, LPA, Staff Psychologist II, Amos Cottage Therapeutic Day Program and Outpatient Clinic

Deb has worked for the past 16 years as a staff psychologist at Amos Cottage Therapeutic Day Program, where she evaluates and treats young children with severe, early-onset mental health problems in both the outpatient clinic and mental health day treatment program. Over the course of her 31 year career, she has evaluated and treated children as a part of Wake Forest Baptist Hospital’s multidisciplinary Developmental Evaluation Clinic team (DEC), the Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA), various NIH-funded studies, the public schools, mental health, and private practice. She enjoys working with everyone involved in a clients’ care to learn strengths and challenges, then tailoring and implementing an individualized evidence-based intervention program working together with all the child’s supports. Her education includes a B.A. in Psychology from Wake Forest University and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from UNC-Charlotte.

Benika Thompson

Panelist: Benika Thompson, Ed.D, Principal, Philo-Hill Magnet Academy

I first joined the Philo Middle School staff in August of 2001 as a sixth grade Science and English/Language Arts teacher. After teaching sixth grade for 2 years, I became an 8th-grade teacher. During my time at Philo Middle School I was afforded the following experiences with young people:

  • Taught inclusion Science and Social Studies in 6th grade.

  • Coordinated 8th-grade celebration and other family-school events.

  • Served as a team leader and yearbook advisor.

  • Taught summer school for 8th grade Reading and Math Gateway program for WSFCS for 6 years.

I left Philo Middle School and joined the staffs of Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy and then Jefferson Middle School where I served as Curriculum Coordinator. In October of 2010, I was selected to serve as WS/FCS as Director of Science, K-12. I am elated to now serve as principal of Philo-Hill Magnet Academy.

I am a product of North Carolina public schools and I believe that when students, families, and communities partner with public schools, then great things happen for young people. Below, I have included a brief summary of my formal education experiences:

  • University of Phoenix Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership with a Specialization in Curriculum and Instruction, Doctoral Defense: August 19, 2015, Science Teacher Self-efficacy and Student Achievement: A Quantitative Correlational Study

  • Appalachian State University Masters in School Administration May 2006 School Leaders Licensure July 2006

  • The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Bachelor of Science degree in Middle Grades Education May 2001 NC “A” License in 6-9 Reading, Science and Social Studies, June 2001 NC Teaching Fellow, Dean’s List, NC Association of Science Teachers Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

  • Western Harnett High School Diploma, May 1997- Class Vice President, Beta Club, NC Scholar, Science Club

It is an honor to be a part of the visionary team for the new Philo-Hill Magnet Academy. Our students, teachers, parents, and the community will soon have the opportunity to engage in the metamorphosis of our school into a premiere academy where efficacious learning is created and achieved. My personal motto is “Believe. Learn. Become.” As principal, I am dedicated to revitalizing the synergy between Philo-Hill Magnet Academy and all stakeholders to achieve the goals and mission of our school.

Joshua Ziesel

Panelist: Joshua Ziesel, Groups Coordinator and Coordinator of International Student Support, Wake Forest University; Board member, Action for Equity

Dr. Joshua Paul Ziesel was born in Birmingham, Alabama but lived in Puerto Rico, West Virginia, South Africa, and Guam before the age of 18. He currently lives in Winston-Salem with his wife, Laura, and his three children August (6 years old and a 1st grader at Speas Elementary), Cordelia (4), and Simone (1).

Joshua received his BA in Psychology and Politics from New York University in 2006. He then worked as a paralegal and campus minister before beginning a clinical psychology program in 2010. He obtained his MA and PsyD in Clinical Psychology from Azusa Pacific University in 2012 and 2016, respectively. He specializes in collegiate mental health and has worked at five different college counseling centers, including Azusa Pacific University, California State University San Bernardino, University of Southern California, Loyola University Maryland, and his current employer Wake Forest University. Joshua serves as the Groups Coordinator and Coordinator of International Student Support, and he specializes in working with international, LGBTQ+, and first-generation students around issues of intersectional identity formation, family issues, relationships, spirituality, and sexuality.

LB the Poet

Performer: LB The Poet

Poet, Actor, Author, Host, Artivist, Mentor, Educator, Public Speaker, Artist

  • 2017 Bloc Awards Poet of the Year Nominee
  • 2018 Winston Salem Grand Slam Champion
  • 2018 WSFC Library System "On the Same Poem" Featured Poet
  • 2019 Chronicle Fine Arts Award Nominee

Founder of W.O.R.D Society- A collective a Spoken Word Artist (Hip Hop Artist/Songwriters/Educators/Entrepreneurs/Performers/Community Leaders)

Founder of The Word of Mouth Wednesday's Enterprise(The Word of Mouth Wednesday's #WritingChallenge available on ALL SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS(Weekly Youth poet featured in The Chronicle),

The Word Of Mouth Wednesdays Experience(Every 2nd Wednesday at Gas Hill Drinking Room)- A monthly Spoken Word Experience showcasing many different forms of art! The Word of Mouth Teen Experience(Every 4rd Saturday of the month), The WOMW Pop Up Experience, Poetic Reels, The Word of Mouth Classroom Experience & last but not least The What's the WORD? #OpenMicSeries.)

LB also has poetry programs in various schools around the triad including Ashley Academy, Winston Salem Street School, Parkland Magnet High School & Lexington Middle School. Along with the various collaborations with local organizations such as The Josh Howard Foundation, Thirsty Inc, Authoring Action, WSFC Library System.

The Forsyth Promise is a local catalyst for systems change in education. Our mission is to support the success of every child, from cradle to career through the development and alignment of community resources. Our core values are educational equity, inclusive stakeholder engagement, and data-driven decision making. We envision a future in which every child in Forsyth County receives the best education possible and is fully equipped to thrive throughout life.

Wendy Poteat continued, "Be The Change is our quarterly opportunity to meet as a broader coalition of community advocates for education, to go deep on key local issues, to report out on the work of the Promise, and to provide a channel for community advocates of all ages, races, and backgrounds to plug into the work. The spirit of this event, and our work in general, is open and collaborative. The Promise is about building bridges -- nurturing connections and relationships -- so that we can effectively collaborate to improve the quality of the educaiton received by all Forsyth County's young people."


Esta instalación de Be The Change se enfoca en el tema de “la Salud Mental y el Jóven” en el condado Forsyth. La oradora principal Mary Dame, una afiliada de Amos Cottage, nos informará en cómo la salud mental se presenta en los niños jóvenes, la necesidad de intervención temprana con relación a la salud mental y cómo el estigma de la salud mental impacta el acceso a servicios necesarios.

Siguiendo el discurso principal, una mesa redonda, guiada por la audiencia, conectará la cuestión de la salud mental juvenil con lo que sucede en nuestras escuelas y comunidades, dará contexto sobre política pertinente y explorará la diferencia de experiencia con respecto a raza y a estatus socioeconómico.

"Sabemos que los niños de color y los que experimentan la pobreza o próxima a ella entran en las escuelas viviendo con índices de trauma mucho más altos. Sin tratamiento directo, o factores ayudantes significativos en casa o en las escuelas, sabemos que este trauma empieza a manifestarse por problemas comportamentales. Es importante que tengamos esta conversación sobre la salud mental y sus efectos en estudiantes, maestros, familias y nuestras comunidades en total, sobre todo en un tiempo cuando los maestros están mal pagados, inadecuadamente apoyados y mal equipados para satisfacer las necesidades del niño en su totalidad. No podemos mantenernos complacientes y permitir que a nuestros hijos les hagan falta el apoyo y el cuidado que necesiten, tal como exámenes de salud mental en todo el distrito. Demasiado frecuente la alternativa es disciplina punitiva y penalización, lo que no podemos seguir aceptando," dijo Wendy Poteat, directora del Forsyth Promise.

Amos Cottage es una instalación de tratamiento de salud mental y emocional para jóvenes, afiliada con Brenner’s Children’s Hospital de Wake Forest Baptist Health.

Detalles del Evento

  • Habrá cuidado infantil.

  • Se ofrecerá interpretación en español.

  • Ubicación: El evento se realizará en el campus principal de Forsyth Tech, en el Strickland Center (anteriormente conocido como el Oak Grove Center).

  • Navegación en campus: Por favor, consulte en este mapa del campus para planear adelante. Señales con dirección al Strickland Center están puestos para visitantes cuando lleguen al campus.

  • Aparcamiento: Aparcamiento amplio está disponible allí mismo fuera del Strickland Center.

  • Navegación en el Strickland Center: Señalización estará en lugar en las entradas y dentro del edificio. El evento es en el segundo piso en el Dewitt E. Rhoades Conference Center.


5:30 - 6:00: Networking, Data Walk, Community Tables, Registration

6:00 - 6:05: Original Poetry Performance

6:05 - 6:10: Welcome and Introduction

6:10 - 6:30: Keynote Address from Mary Dame

6:30 - 6:33: Panel Introduction

6:35 - 7:40: Panel Discussion and Audience Q&A

7:40 - 7:45: Closing Thoughts from LB the Poet


en orden de apariencia.

  • Mary Dame (Amos Cottage)

  • Moderador: Victor Isler (Forsyth County Department of Social Services)

  • Kellie Easton (Action for Equity)

  • Deborah Evans (Amos Cottage)

  • Benika Thompson (Principal at Philo Hill)

  • Joseph Ziesel (Action for Equity)

  • Estudiante/Poeta

  • LB the Poet (pensamientos finales)

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Forsyth Technical Community College

2100 Silas Creek Parkway

Strickland Center (formerly the Oak Grove Center)

Winston-Salem, NC 27103

View Map

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