St. Chrysostom’s Day School Luncheon: The Value of Empathy






The Second Annual Courtney Kyte Plandowski lecture series hosted by St. Chrysostom’s Day School attracted a sold-out crowd to hear Michele Borba’s lecture: How to Raise Compassionate Children in a Plugged-In, Trophy-Driven World.

Guests received copies of her latest book UnSelfie, one of her 23 bestsellers on child development that have been translated into 14 languages.


Dr. Michele Borba’s latest book, UnSelfie.


Fr. Kiiguta, Reverend Jihan B. Murray Smith, Dr. Michele Borba, Mary Ellen Christy, and Claudia Rozenberg.

Noting that the rise of self-absorption across the world has contributed directly to a decline in empathy, St. Chrysostom’s founding head of school, Mary Ellen Christy, spoke of the compassion and parenting skills of Courtney Plandowski for whom the lecture series is named:

“Courtney was the epitome of courage and grace. Married to her husband, Mark, in 2009, she was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer just weeks after her son Harvey was born.

 “As a parent at the Day School, even in the face of unfathomable circumstances, her concern was not for herself, but for others—particularly her young son. She continued to be regarded not as a cancer patient but as Harvey’s caring, skilled, and exceptionally involved mom until her death.”

Courtney’s husband, Mark Plandowski, her parents Julie and Bill Kyte, and other relatives and friends attended the legacy luncheon.


Bill Kyte, Mark Plandwoski, Julie Kyte, Dr. Michele Borba, and Lilibet and Peter Kyte

It is never too early to teach social responsibility and the importance being kind, Mary Ellen said: 

“Our speaker gives very practical examples for parents—one of her books is written as recipes for excellent results. Board games teach how to develop strategy. Children learn to read the faces around them and see the importance of non-verbal communication.

“Research using EEGs has shown how reading to a small child gives such positive stimulation while following stories on iPads does not. Our speaker, who has lectured on five different continents and has given lectures to literally a million people, presented to a group of 50 educators from across the city the day before our luncheon.”


Local educators mingling at the Educators Evening.

“Courtney really showed undeniable courage. She never allowed herself to be depressed, instead she allowed herself to be truly alive. She taught us to not be self-absorbed and to not waste any day. Her example really tied back into the program for her legacy lunch.”


Anne Daley Ryan, Annie Barlow, and Julie Saunders.


Nicole Liadis, Kelly Ciaccio, Lara Bergerson, and Gosha Podlasek.


Stephen Anderson and Peggy Lemire.


Jodi McNally, Melanie Beasley, and Cora Passis.