BME Update

September 24th

Dear Boone Meadow Family–


We hope that you have had the chance to rest this weekend, though we are certain your hearts and minds have been occupied with thoughts of the loss in our community. As Dr. Robison shared earlier, tomorrow and many of the coming days will be difficult for a great number of colleagues in our schools, not to mention hundreds of our students. Tomorrow morning we will all be cast into a leadership role for students. Even though we may be saddened and concerned about how we will navigate questions and conversations, remember that you are the first line of support for our students. Thank you for welcoming our children with a warm smile, high-five/ hug, like you always do!


With that being said, let's all give our students, each other, and ourselves extra-large amounts of grace this week. Please know that if you need support of any kind tomorrow - someone to cover your class, time to talk, etc, - please reach out to Lauren, Kristi or me. We will make ourselves available as much as possible throughout the week, and as needed.


  • There will be an optional stand-up meeting tomorrow (Monday) at 7:35 AM in the Family Room. This will serve as a check-in time and an opportunity for us to share some additional tips as you prepare to start your day.
  • In honor and support of these precious lives, feel free to wear teal/turquoise in support of the Hunn children. These colors represent emotional healing and are a color of solidarity and support for the family. If you don't have teal/turquoise, I will have teal/turquoise patterned swatches and some ribbon available at the stand-up meeting and in the office work room.
  • Please be mindful that our more fragile/sensitive students may need additional check ins and support tomorrow—even if they were not directly impacted by this tragedy. These students may be feeling the weight of the community grief in ways we might not realize and will benefit from additional support during this time.


Note that I attached "Teacher's Guide to Supporting Grieving Students" and "Supporting Our Students Guide" documents to the original email. This document is a quick reference for you to review before the day begins with students tomorrow, and is good for our toolkit should we ever need in the future.


Please reach out at any time and let us know how we can support you. You have our mobile numbers, so please don't hesitate to text us.


Tom

Staff Meeting Agenda

We will begin in the Family Room at approximately 2:40 or shortly after dismissal.
  • Share Joys and Sorrows
  • Brief Updates
  • Safety Reviews and Clarifications (ALICE, tabletop scenarios, etc...)
  • Student-Led Conferences (I have asked a few to share their structures for SLCs. Feel free to bring your insights, structures, questions, ideas. We want to hear!)

A Teacher's Guide to Supporting Grieving Students

You may not need all these tips and strategies this week, but it may prove beneficial in your toolbox for the future. Anytime we may grieve a common loss, we recognize that the return to school may illicit emotions both relating to the loss of our students but also to the needs of support for the school community of students and staff.


Common Student Reactions


We know that students grieve in individual ways, just as adults do. A timeline for grief is different for every student and circumstance. A student’s reaction to death relates to their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes these reactions are easier to understand than others. Some common reactions students may include:


  • Students may become upset by discussions about their peer/friend
  • Students may be reluctant to talk about the recent death
  • Students may express their feelings in ways other than talking
  • Students often feel guilty after a death has occurred
  • Students often express anger about the death
  • Older students and teens may engage in risky behavior
  • Students may appear to think only about themselves when confronted with a death
  • Under stress, students may behave as they did at a younger age
  • Students may have difficulty concentrating or engaging with instruction while grieving



Engaging in Conversation and Providing Additional Support


Engaging with grieving students lets them know you recognize their situation and want to be supportive. School professionals can play a powerful role in reaching out to students, acknowledging their loss, and offering to speak with them and answer their questions. Staff who already have a trusting and genuine relationship with the grieving student are in the best position to offer this support. It is important to remember that there is nothing that anyone can do or say that will take away the pain or make the loss less powerful.

In the days ahead you may wish to engage with students touched by grief in some capacity.


Below are steps that may help facilitate a conversation with a student.


  • Express Concern. Let students know you’ve heard about their loss and are available to listen and offer support. “I can only imagine how difficult this may be for you. I wonder what this is like for you.”
  • Be genuine. Students can tell when adults are authentic in their communications. “I am sad that you have lost a friend.” “I am sad for your friends too. What have the last few days been like for you?”
  • Invite the conversation. Use simple, direct, open-ended questions. “How are you doing? How is your friend doing?”
  • Listen and Observe. Be patient it may take time for a student to figure out what they want to say. They may communicate in nonverbal ways.
  • Offer reassurance. Feelings of grief can illicit strong emotions. Reassure students this is typical. “I heard you say you feel angry. It is understandable that you feel this way.”
  • Continue to make contact. Follow-up is important. Students’ thoughts and feelings will change over time. Many will appreciate continued check in.


Avoid: Statements like “I know exactly what you are going through, I know this must be difficult but it’s important to remember the good things in life, I lost a sibling when I was your age, you need to be strong now for others.” We want to allow our students to process their emotions without comparing loss.


Some students may be reluctant to talk about what they are experiencing or may be overwhelmed by the intensity of their thoughts and emotions. If you find this to be true of a student please offer a private setting for the conversation and/or additional school support.


*In addition, please know that Kristi, Lauren, and I are available to support however we possibly can. Some children may have confusions and need to dialogue. Please reach out if needed.


Self-Care


You may experience feelings of your own when you talk with a student, students usually appreciate adults demonstrating they are touched by the situation. Students can learn more about coping strategies when they see adults modeling such strategies effectively. Witnessing grief from a student is unsettling and may be difficult, especially as you may be processing your own feelings. In the days and weeks ahead it is important to think about ways to manage stress and receive support from others when working with bereaved students.


Memorialization and Commemoration


It is natural for students to want to remember, honor, and reflect on those who have died. Students can find support through activities that may help them cope with their difficult feelings as well as learn from others who are facing similar challenging feelings. A commemorative activity provides a facilitated discussion. Especially in classes in which students must process the absence of their peer, it may be helpful to facilitate a discussion that explores feelings and gives student voice for a plan (i.e. what do we do with student’s desk, locker, and other important tangible and non-tangible memories with student). Some questions that staff can ask to start the conversation include:


  • What do you remember about the person who died?
  • What do you want to remember about the person?
  • What are some ways we could take time to observe or mark these remembrances?



David J. Schonfeld and Marcia Quackenbush, The Grieving Student: A Teacher’s Guide (Baltimore: Brookes Publishing, 2010).

Important Dates & Information


September

24th - Staff Meeting

26th - Jog-A-Thon (Info below and attached to email)
28th - Second Step Assembly (Details forthcoming)


October

3rd & 4th - Student Conferences (E-Day on 10/4)

8th - Staff Meeting

9th - Picture retakes and make-up day

10th - PTO meeting (6:00PM); Dedication of Shade Structure with AAD

15th-19th - Fall Break

22nd - Staff Meeting


November 12th - Veterans Day Program @ 9:30.

Jog-A-Thon - Important Information

Preschool

· Trike-a-thon and obstacle course in gymnasium

· Alperson (3/4) – 8:30-9:10

· White (4/5) – 9:30-10:10



Kindergarten

· Proceed outside and arrive to back lot at 12:30 for warm-up/stretches

· Receive instructions from PTO/JAT Committee regarding the walk/jog

· Jog-a-Thon laps begin at 12:40 and concludes at 1:15

· Teachers remain with students for the walk/jog



1st & 2nd grade

· Proceed outside and arrive to back lot at 9:05 for warm-up/stretches

· Receive instructions from PTO/JAT Committee regarding the walk/jog

· Jog-a-Thon laps begin at 9:15 and concludes at 10:00

· Teachers remain with students for the walk/jog



3rd & 4th grade

· Proceed outside to back lot at 10:45 for warm-up/stretches

· Receive instructions from PTO/JAT Committee regarding the walk/jog

· Jog-a-Thon laps begin at 10:55 and concludes at 11:55

· Teachers remain with students for the walk/jog



Lunch

· Follow our regular lunch schedules.



Related Arts

· Rennard, Coats, Bender, Lamaster, & Adams – The Run/Walk will take the place of your regularly scheduled “Wellness” for the week. Please take students to the warm-up area and other staff will take responsibility for your class if you choose to “take a break” (In lieu of your regular special’s time). We will provide coverage for your kids at the following times:

Rennard & Coats – 12:30-1:05;

Bender/Lamaster – 9:05-9:50;

Adams – 10:45-11:30

· Graham/Proctor will swap your regular RA times with McGuire/Potazcek in order to receive art and music and not conflict with JAT schedule.

· All other specials follow regular schedule.



Special Education/USS

· Please continue to serve IEP students throughout the day as usual and as much as possible.

· If students are at JAT during your regular service times, you are to join the JAT group and assist students/staff.

· Join JAT when you are not with students or during a scheduled lunch break, please to see if any need assistance.



Other

· HA common math block will not occur on JAT day.

· Remind students to dress accordingly with appropriate shoes and their JAT shirt.

· Don’t forget sunscreen reminders for families.

· All volunteers must have background checks on file and need to check in at front office before assisting classes.

· Your team may need to reschedule recess time as it may conflict with playground times/back lot

· In your newsletters, please promote JAT whenever possible. We rely heavily on community support for our programming needs.

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Student Conferences and E-Day

Thank you for investing valuable time to make this day meaningful and memorable for students and families.


A few key points:

  • Please keep Lauren, Kristi, and me informed if you need us to "sit in" or assist at a family conference.
  • As a reminder, E-Days should go live by 4 PM on Oct. 3rd vs. waiting until the 4th for release.
  • You may release your lessons any time on the 3rd. If you like, you can even "preview" the lessons in class in order to assist with successful implementation.
  • If you have any outliers for conference times, please let me know so we can plan accordingly.

Shade Structure Dedication on October 10th

A couple years ago, Boone Meadow was the recipient of an Adopt-a-Shade Program Grant by the American Academy of Dermatology. Through the combination of the $8,000 grant by AAD and the generosity of our PTO, we were able to install the shade structure this past summer.


On October 10th, we will celebrate this partnership with a dedication of the structure during our monthly PTO meeting at 6:00 PM. More info to come regarding the dedication.


In the meantime, we are working on getting a few picnic tables for the area, as well as, some landscaping to help spruce up the area.

Personal Business Leave Requests

For Certified Team Members:

To requests "personal business days," please complete the following process.


  1. Go to the following link, and complete the "personal business request" form. https://goo.gl/forms/CycfilABEUyILbh83
  2. Once the form is completed, please send a brief email to me (Tom) that includes the date(s) of your request(s).
  3. Enter your upcoming absence in AESOP as soon as possible. (It can always be deleted later should plans change.)


Thanks -

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