Counselor's Corner

Liz Parker, School Counselor, Hominy Valley Elementary

Dear HVE Families,

Here we are at the halfway point of a pretty wild school year, and at the end of a calendar year that many of us will be glad to leave behind. I hope that you and your family have the support system you need to get through these challenges, and that you are starting to see a light at the end of this very long tunnel. I also hope, as always, that you'll reach out to me if there's something I can do to support your child, whether that happens in person or over Zoom. Here are some resources I thought you might find helpful!

- Ms. P

Taking time for your own mental health

As a parent or caregiver, you have a huge amount of responsibility and an endless to-do list, and this school year has given you even more parentings tasks than usual. When you're working this hard to care for your children, it can be challenging to adequately take care of yourself. My challenge for each of you this winter break would be to take a look at your own mental health. Are you taking time for yourself? Are you getting enough sleep and exercise? Do you have someone you can talk to in those moments that you feel really overwhelmed?

Technically, my job is to be a counselor for children, and not parents, but one way for me to support my students is to make sure their parents have adequate support. We are much better parents when our own needs are met! Please feel free to contact me if you need to start speaking with a counselor and would like information about local mental health agencies.

Thanks to technology, we also have other ways to access mental health supports. Committee for Children, which creates the Second Step Social-Emotional Learning curriculum that I use, has put together an 8-week series of brief videos for parents to prioritize their own mental health as we approach winter during a global pandemic. The first week is available now, and can be accessed at this link:

If you are parenting while also working in education, healthcare, and other essential services, then you are dealing with a great deal of stress right now. The Ten Percent Happier app, which teaches self-care strategies, is offering free subscriptions through June to people working in these fields. There is additional information at this website:

By using our calm spots at school, we try to teach our students the benefit of taking a break to reset when they are feeling overwhelmed. Try giving yourself a break for two minutes by using this link (it's harder than you think!):

Finally, take some deep breaths. (If your child has been watching some of my social-emotional videos, they can teach you some different breathing techniques that can help you calm down when things are feeling hard.) Parenting is hard under the best of circumstances, and 2020 has not been the best of circumstances. If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, please reach out. I'd love to support you however I can.

Homework from Ms. Parker

  • Do you ever make charitable donations in someone's name, in lieu of buying a traditional holiday gift? If so, consider supporting one of the great organizations that support families at our school. MANNA Food Bank provides weekly bags of nonperishable food that get sent home with students across Western North Carolina. Eblen Charities helps families with emergency assistance, including help with rent, clothes, utilities, and medical bills. We are so grateful to be able to partner with these organizations that support our kids. If your family needs the assistance offered by these organizations, please call me or Mr. Eden, our social worker. We are happy to help you access those community connections.
  • Will you be spending any of winter break cleaning out closets? We have an emergency clothes closet here at school, and would love your hand-me-down sweatpants and leggings, in any size that would fit a K-4 student.
  • Go outside and take a walk. Our daylight hours are pretty limited at the moment, and we need to enjoy that outside time when we can!
  • Put both hands against the wall, and lean your body weight forward as if you're doing a standing pushup. This strategy can be a surprisingly good emotional reset for a student who needs a break. It works well for me too!
  • Let me know how I can support you and your student. Working in this amazing school community is such a gift!