VES Counseling Connection

Published by: Jolene Schantz and Lauren Fornal

October / November Edition

VES Students “Rock” Week of Respect

In October, VES students participated in our “Week of Respect.” This year, the focus was on respecting ourselves, others and our school. We celebrated with music each morning, a learning component on our daily news show, and a variety of activities during morning meetings. Our day was full of opportunities to enhance our understanding of respect. We talked about positive thinking, role played scenarios and shared things about ourselves. We really enjoyed our themed days throughout the week; so many students showed their spirit!

Each class came up with words and quotes to reflect upon the things that stood out to them. "This is Us" posters were displayed in classrooms, illustrating the words and phrases the classes came up with to represent their classroom community, and their thoughts on respect.

One of our favorite activities was “3Screens Production:Start to Finish.” This lively assembly featured inspiring stories of kids who started good things and never gave up. Our students were entertained by videos and music, while learning about kids, like themselves, who showed they were kind and caring members of their community. Thanks to our PTA for providing such a fun and educational assembly!

This year, we are really excited about our school wide project inspired by the book “Only One You.” Each student painted a rock to represent themselves. These colorful masterpieces will be used to create a rock garden in front of our school. Thanks to Mrs. O’Connor for leading this awesome project!

Special thanks to Montgomery Township / Rocky Hill Municipal Alliance for our “We Stick Together at VES” stickers, and for supplying the paint and glaze for creating our rocks. A great big thanks to Belle Mead Co-Op for donating the rocks for us to paint. We are so grateful for our community partnerships- it takes a Village!!

School Counseling Groups

Growing with Groups

Have you ever had difficulty with something and felt like you were the only one experiencing the feeling? Sometimes our children feel this way too. It may be something related to school, family or friends.

Group counseling is an excellent way for a student to work through a difficulty they may be having. One of the greatest benefits of belonging to a group is that a student will learn they are not alone. Other people may be experiencing the same things. They can work on an issue, while developing social skills, as they learn and grow together!

VES offers a wide range of group counseling topics:

  • Emotional Regulation

  • Divorce and Separation

  • Coping with Loss Group

  • Skills for Learning (focus and attention strategies)

  • Organization Skills

  • Self-Esteem

  • Friendship / Social Skills

Our first group to meet was our “Newcomers Club”. We are excited to have so many new faces in our school. Our newest “bluebirds” shared things they love about VES, like the playground and how kind people are. They also shared things they missed about their previous homes, and how it feels to be a new kid. This year we welcomed friends from as far away as Singapore, China and Texas, as well as neighbors from Princeton, Franklin and Hillsborough.

In addition to our Newcomers group, we have also been meeting with students informally in our lunch groups-a wonderful way to make new friends and strengthen connections.

Please contact one of the VES counselors if you would like to learn more about groups. Or, let your child’s teacher know during Parent Teacher Conferences.

Speaking of conferences, feel free to set up a time to meet with us. Our contact information is: and Our phone number is (609) 466-7606 extension 2103.

Classroom Lessons

Celebrating our Differences

Our classroom lessons for Oct/Nov focus on valuing and accepting others. Our students agreed that the world would be a boring place if everyone looked alike, ate the same foods, celebrated the same holidays and listened to the same music. We learned how diversity makes things more interesting and how we can learn from one another.

Students shared how sometimes they may have questions about someone’s culture. They might notice differences in the way some people look. We talked about how it is alright to ask about differences, but it is not alright to be unkind, or disrespectful to anyone. We watched a brief video that talked about “Planting the Seeds of Peace.” Students shared that our world could be more peaceful if others remembered to treat people the way they would like to be treated, and if people remembered to think before they speak.

Students participated in an activity which helped them to learn what they have in common with each other. We noted that the more we know about one another, the more connected we feel. When we feel connected and understood, we are more likely to be kind and respectful.

Parenting Tips

It's Time for Bed

"Sleep, sleep, it’s a funny old feeling

You just lie down, stare at the ceiling,

Count from one to ten and back

And - before you know it - whack!

Sleep has got you, sleep has won

It’s caught you out, it’s spoilt your fun

Sometimes you think “Tonight I’m fine,

I’ll stay awake till half past nine,

Old Sleep won’t make me disappear

But drowsy, snoozy, sleep is here"

Poem by: Sam Taplin & Anna Luraschi

Now that it is November, many of you are probably settling in to your before school and after school schedules. Homework, dinner, and bedtime routines most likely occupy your afternoon and evenings when school lets out for the day. However, it is what is happening at night, during your child’s sleeping hours, that can greatly impact how he is able to perform or function during his daily tasks. Sleep is especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical development. Since our clocks recently "fell back" now is a great time to reinforce healthy sleeping habits.

During the deep states of Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) or “quiet” sleep, blood supply to the muscles is increased, energy is restored, tissue growth and repair occur, and important hormones are released for growth and development. During Rapid Eye Movement (REM) or “active” sleep, our brains are active and dreaming occurs. Our bodies become immobile, breathing and heart rates are irregular.

Below are some sleep Facts for school-aged Children (5-12 years). These facts help to demonstrate the importance of healthy sleeping habits as well as the severe negative impact for children who do not get enough sleep.

Sleep Facts

  • Children aged five to twelve need 10-11 hours of sleep.
  • Watching TV close to bedtime has been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, anxiety around sleep and sleeping fewer hours.
  • Sleep deprivation impacts health, academic performance (Cognitive problems, concentration, attention), and behavior (mood swings, behavioral problems such as hyperactivity)
  • Several studies report that more total sleep, earlier bedtimes, and later weekday rise time are associated with better grades in school.
  • Those with poor grades are more likely to sleep less, go to bed later, and have more irregular sleep/wake habits.
  • Sleep deprivation may present itself in many ways other than daytime sleepiness -- inattention, poor concentration, moodiness, behavioral problems, and poor academic performance and social skills.

Sleep Tips

  • Teach school-aged children about healthy sleep habits.
  • Model good sleeping habits for your children.
  • Create and implement a consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine.
  • Make your child's bedroom conducive to sleep – dark, cool and quiet. Keep TV and computers out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid caffeine.

If you are concerned about your child’s sleep habits, please consult with your family doctor. Also, feel free to reach out to us and we will assist you any way we can.

Contact Information

Jolene Schantz, 3rd Grade School Counselor

Lauren Fornal, 4th Grade School Counselor

Both of us can be reached at:

609-466-7606 extension 2103