Parkwood Hill Counseling News

Support During the Transitional Years of Intermediate School

Sliding into the New School Year

Welcome to Parkwood Hill Intermediate. Whether you are a parent who has had several children attend our campus or your first baby has left the comfort of elementary and started their first experience in a new school, there are new and exciting things in store for all of you!

As you may have seen on the news or heard on the radio recently, our school is doing things a little differently this year. There is more to our school than meets the eye. While we do have a bright green, shiny new, two-story slide, we also have some very intentional plans behind that symbol. Most of this planning has to do with social-emotional learning.

Research is showing that teaching kids skills to help them navigate and manage social situations as well as recognize and manage emotions has a big impact on their academic endeavors. It makes sense. When we feel safe and belong to a community where we can trust adults, express ourselves, and ask for what we need, we are in a better place to learn.

Click the link below to view the ABC news broadcast about our new slide.

What Does Social Emotional Learning Look Like at Parkwood Hill?

There are five main things our staff and leadership have trained to put forth this year to support our students' social emotional learning:

1. Nexus - Nexus is our scheduled morning meeting with our homeroom each day. For the first 20 minutes of the day, every classroom is involved in get-to-know-you games, classroom discussion, or other social activities which promote connections and relationship building with their classmates. This time is designed to not only improve school connections with classmates and teachers, but to poise students to engage in learning.

2. Mindful Moment - Just as we start our day with Nexus, we want to end our day in a peaceful way. Many days of learning can be hectic and fast-paced. Before we leave each day, we want our students to take a few minutes to gather their thoughts, take some deep breaths, and relax before they take on an evening of running around to their extra curricular activities and family life. We like to think of Nexus as the "good morning, we love you, let's get ready to learn!" and the Mindful Moment as the peaceful bookend to the day where we quietly reflect, and then say "goodbye, we love you, see you tomorrow." For students and adults alike, this brief quiet time, will be a moment to calm down and help our body relax as we end our day together.

3. The Housing System - The housing system gives students an opportunity to create relationships outside of their normal classroom peers, gives them a group to belong to, and promotes positive behaviors and achievements as they earn points and compete for reward and privileges. Many kids also love that they get to participate in something mentioned in their favorite Harry Potter books. Each house has a color, a crest, an animal symbol, and a name symbolic of a positive attribute (for example; Esperanza stands for hope). All school personnel and students are in a house and will remain in that house until the last day of 8th grade. Over the years, it is our hope that students will have close relationships with the adults in their house, as well as their housemates through healthy competition, games, and working together for the collective good.

4. The Mood Meter - This four colored quadrant is a framework for expressing, identifying, and managing emotions. Students will learn through Nexus how to identify their emotions using the Mood Meter color quadrants, how to label how they are feeling, and how to begin to use strategies to move into other color quadrants when their emotions are preventing them from being successful socially or academically. See above for a picture of the Mood Meter. This tool was created by Yale University where our principal and counselors were able to attend and train on increasing Emotional Intelligence of students to improve academic outcomes and create healthier lifestyles.

5. The Essential Ten - The Essential Ten are a set of essentials determined by PHIS and Hillwood Middle School as those ten things that can dramatically improve our school culture and the future of our students as they learn to be independent, productive individuals working toward their own goals. These essentials are not your typical "school rules," but a set of ideals and guidelines promoted to make this a great place to work and learn with kids who have mutual respect and acceptance for themselves and each other. The essentials are posted in every classroom and taught throughout our classroom Nexus time.

Parkwood Hill Counseling Staff

Susan Hester, 6th Grade Counselor

Christa Whitmire, 5th Grade Counselor

Jennifer Halm, Intervention Counselor