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Coming up on Connections: Thursday, May 9, 2024

Three smiling people wearing headphones sit at a table in a radio talk studio: A woman back left has her dark hair in a ponytail and is wearing a blue and white patterned blouse and a grey sweater; a woman back right has short, curly dark hair and is wearing glasses, a blue top, and a tan jacket; a man front right has short dark hair and is wearing a blue vest and a white shirt.
Gary Pudup
Sayeh Rivazfar and Daniele Lyman-Torres on "Connections with Evan Dawson" on Tuesday, April 23, 2024

First hour: Special rebroadcast - Understanding the warning signs of abuse when children are most vulnerable

Second hour: Special rebroadcast - Zachary Arenz, 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year

We have special rebroadcasts today on "Connections."

This first hour conversation will explore difficult subjects that may not be appropriate for some listeners.

Retired New York State Police Investigator Sayeh Rivazfar says she’s a “fighter” when she shares the horrific story of her childhood. At the age of eight, Rivazfar was abused, raped, and attacked with a knife by her mother’s boyfriend. That man also killed her then six-year-old sister when Rivazfar was just steps away. "There will be times in your life that it feels like you can't get above it," Rivazfar has told students. "But I'm telling you, I surrounded myself with positive people and positive things and I fought. I kept fighting to push through and move on. I'm telling you what, it has not failed me yet." Now a board member for Bivona Child Advocacy Center, Rivazfar works to prevent other children from experiencing abuse, while raising awareness of the issue among the public. She joins us this hour to share her story. We also talk with the CEO of Bivona about the latest with the organization’s work in the community. Our guests:

  • Sayeh Rivazfar, child abuse survivor, retired New York State Police investigator, and board member for Bivona Child Advocacy Center
  • Daniele Lyman-Torres, Ed.D. president and CEO of Bivona Child Advocacy Center

Then in our second hour, a Rochester City School District teacher has been named the 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year. Zachary Arenz is a music teacher at Flower City School 54. As reported by WXXI's Noelle Evans, “The Board of Regents recognized Arenz for his work to uplift students, like keeping his classroom closet stocked with clean clothes and toiletries for them and learning Spanish to speak some students’ first language.” He was also recognized for designating his school a grief-sensitive school though an initiative with the New York Life Foundation. This hour, we sit down with Arenz to discuss his teaching career, his work with students in Rochester, and what it means to be a leader in social-emotional learning. Our guest:

  • Zachary Arenz, 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year, and music teacher at Flower City School 54 in the Rochester City School District
Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.