In the fall of 2015, the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra launched two exciting new partnership programs for Chicago Public Schools: an in-school residency program, and a teacher professional development and curriculum building community. On this page, you will find more information about a suicide prevention workshop attended by Connect teachers. To learn more about the curriculum program on Sounds & Stories, please click here.

On Saturday, January 30, 2016, teachers in the CSO-Connect program met to learn about suicide prevention as viewed through the lens of Romeo and Juliet.

The presenter for the day was Dina Levi, LPC, NCC. As the Director of Business Development at the Chicago Children’s Center for Behavioral Health at Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, she is called upon frequently by Chicago Public Schools when students are experiencing a crisis in their lives. The collaboration between the Negaunee Music Institute and Dina involved using Romeo and Juliet as a lens through which teachers could examine the mental health issues facing the students in their classrooms. During several pre-workshop meetings, Dina and staff from the Negaunee Music Institute examined the words and actions of the characters in Shakespeare’s play. Dina’s lecture was anchored within the text and drew upon examples from the play to illustrate the similarities between Romeo and Juliet and children in Chicago in 2016, particularly exploring reasons why young people today find themselves contemplating and committing suicide. The teachers at this workshop were highly engaged by Dina’s presentation. The PowerPoint she delivered can be found here.

Knowing that teachers do not receive adequate, ongoing education and support concerning suicide prevention, the Institute was proud that this program provided the space and resources for such important conversations.

Teacher reflection

Ashley Conroy, Science teacher
Clinton Elementary School

“During the Suicide Prevention Workshop, we talked a lot about how we can engage [students] to discuss their feelings of these sensitive topics through the reading and music of Romeo and Juliet.  I was struck by the comment Dina [Levi] made that Romeo had 9 out of the 10 warning signs for students who commit suicide.  I think it makes sense that adults, especially in today’s socially pressurized school environment, know about these warning signs and learn ways to talk about and work through them with students.”