Curriculum Corner

October/November Issue

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Dear CLES Families,

Last year at one of our PTA meetings, the topic of mental health came forth in one of our discussions. We talked about the pressures that our children face, from high academic achievement to social wellbeing. In our discussion, we all agreed that information and community conversations around mental health would be a valuable endeavor for all of us. While educators are not mental health experts, we are the guardians and guides to the social emotional learning of our students. In his Strategic Call to Action, the superintendent charges educators with the following: "Students’ mental health and social‑emotional learning are nurtured through skill development, collaborative dialogue and a restorative culture in our classrooms and communities." We take this charge and our role in it very seriously.

As educators, we have the honor of not only educating our students academically, but also guiding them on their social emotional journey. The relationships we build with our students allow us to deepen our understanding of their needs. As I shared in my welcome back letter, one of our biggest focus areas for this year (and every year truly) is on building relationships with our students. One of the ways that we engage in building these relationships is through our daily morning circles. Our community circles allow for a variety of topics, ranging from simple joys in our daily lives to the need for restorative conversations around more challenging topics. As one of my educators shared, "I know my children better at this point in the year than I have any other year." This knowledge allows us to identify strengths and areas of concern with our children.

In this issue of Curriculum Corner, I hope to bring you resources and information that may help you if you have a concern for your child(ren) or simply to bring awareness to these resources that can help maintain the well being of our children. We want you to know that we are partners in this journey of raising healthy and happy children. Our doors are always open, and we are here if you need us.


Amanda Wadsworth


Screenagers - A collaboration between CLES, BMMS and CHS

Please save the date for December 13th at 6:30 p.m. On this evening, we will be showing the movie "Screenagers" and having follow up discussion as families in our community. We will discuss how screen time may impact the social emotional well-being of our children, and what we as parents can do to support our children. Click the link below for some more information about "Screenagers."

From the Guidance Counselor - Kevin Gillespie

Tips For Limiting Screen Time.

1. Model healthy screen time behavior - Children are always in tune to what adults are doing around them. Frequent binge watching TV shows, having the TV on for background noise, frequent updates on social media sites, and checking your phone any spare moment, teaches your child bad habits.

2. Educate yourself on electronics - Stay up-to date on the latest social media craze, phone apps, and most recent “text talk”. We all know what LOL and BFF means. However, if we see our child texting an acronym that we don’t know, take the time to ask them what it means. Even better, look the word/acronym up yourself. Urban Dictionary is just one site that will have the most current technology lexicon.

3. Create technology free zones. For example, the dinner table and eating times are great opportunities for you to connect with your family. Use this time to learn about your child’s likes, dislikes and school day.

4. Create disconnect times. Set aside times when the entire family can unplug. Again, dinner time and an hour before bed time are great opportunities to have quality time without TV, Video games, and computers. Having a board game night is a fun way to enjoy these new found hours. You may also want to plan for longer times to detox! The following link is an article on, How a digital Detox Could Improve Your Child’s Behavior Problems:

5. Talk to your child about the dangers of too much screen time. First there is the very real risk of online predators. Also Cyber bullying and problems of eye strain are associated with too much screen time. Psychology today reports, “ … over exposure to the internet is associated with structural and functional changes in brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attention, decision making and cognitive control.

6. Know your child’s passwords - Establish rules and consequences of what will happen if passwords are changed without parental permission.

7. Encourage outside play and other activities. Suggest to your child to go outside, read a book, draw, or play a board game.

8. Make screen time a privilege. Having your child earn screen time is more emotionally beneficial than taking it away as a punishment. Earning screen time promotes trust, and fosters digital responsibility.

9. Don’t allow screen time/online media in your child’s bedroom. Remember, when you don’t restrict cellphones and computers you may be inviting the entire digital world into his/her bedroom. Screen time in the bedroom, adversely impacts natural circadian rhythms, disrupts sleep patterns which in turn is a detriment to both mental and physical health. Children will plead that they need their cellphone to wake for school. Buy them an alarm clock!

10.Create a Charging Station. Find a safe place in the house as a “charging station.” This is an area, away from their bedroom, where your child’s cellphone is charged. Most parents will use their own bedroom or a common area, like the kitchen. Remember, the prime goal is to keep our children safe.

Sample Cell Phone Contract

This is a sample found on the internet. It is for students older than elementary age. However, if you are like me, I want to be prepared for what is to come. There are many examples online, but this one seemed fairly simple. There is some language in the contract that would not be appropriate for young children so please read it and decide for yourself.

Sample Cell Phone Contract

CLES Structures for Supporting Students

As a school, we have many structures in place to monitor students in their academics and their social emotional needs. Two main structures we use to support students include our Instructional Intervention Team (IIT) and our Social Services Team (SST).


Below you will find an description of our Instructional Intervention Team and a visual that we developed to reflect the procedures that we follow when there is an academic or behavioral concern for a student.

What is IIT?

At Centennial Lane Elementary School, we meet the needs of students through a multi-tiered approach to instructional practices which includes data discussions to inform class groupings and intervention groups to target small group academic support.

For those students that require more individualized general education intervention strategies, the Instructional Intervention Team (IIT) is an available resource for teachers at CLES.

The Howard County Public Schools System (HCPSS) has been widely recognized for its innovative and progressive problem-solving team practices to address academic and/or behavioral concerns, currently known throughout the county as the Instructional Intervention Team or IIT.

As part of the IIT at CLES, grade-level teams communicate and seek consultation/support throughout the school year to address any student’s academic and behavioral needs. Each team has a representative that serves as the grade level IIT representative. Teachers may seek additional consultation or support for any student experiencing difficulty by contacting the school psychologist and administration. A case manager is assigned from a pool of trained staff members to assist the teacher in developing, implementing and monitoring a systematic plan to address the concern. These case managers meet regularly throughout the school year to discuss student academic and behavior trends and patterns and to provide additional support on individual cases. Centennial Lane's support personnel including the reading specialist, school psychologist, speech-language pathologist, cluster nurse, school counselor, pupil personnel worker and teacher for English Learners (EL) can be accessed to support student success through IIT.

The goals of IIT are to work with school staff in assisting students who may be experiencing difficulty in school due to academic and/or behavioral concerns while fostering improved instructional practices and school improvement. Concerns that may be referred to IIT include: below grade level performance, behavioral difficulties in the classroom, attendance concerns, social/emotional concerns, and health-related problems.

Questions regarding IIT at Centennial Lane Elementary School may be directed to Mary Nalepa, School Psychologist, or 410-313-2800.

M. Nalepa CLES 2017

What is SST? Student Support Teams

What is the purpose?

  1. Provide a structured process for identifying students’ social-emotional, academic, and/or behavioral needs and connecting students/families with appropriate resources.

  2. Coordination of care and progress monitoring for students who have been identified through SST.


  1. Students and families are connected with school and community resources to address their needs.

  2. Student progress is monitored for the ongoing effectiveness of the resources/intervention.

  3. Staff members increase their knowledge of school and community resources to support students.

  4. Coordinated Student Services Objectives and strategies are identified and monitored.

Homeless and Counseling Resources

Howard County Public School System link to information:

Need emergency counseling or supports?

Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center operates a 24-hour crisis intervention and counseling hotline and free walk-in counseling. The hotline and walk-in program serves as the single point of entry for the Howard County Coordinated System of Homeless Services. There is also a mobile crisis team that responds with the police to psychiatric emergencies, family crises, and other traumatic events.

The shelter program has 33 beds for families and single women and 18 beds for single men. Supportive services and case management services are available to all residents. Motel placement is available for up to three families when the shelter program is full.

There is also a cold weather shelter that provides overflow shelter from November–March. Additionally, the Route 1 Day Resource Center operates three days a week and provides meals, showers, laundry, and social services to the homeless.

Contact: Grassroots Crisis Hotline 410-531-6677 or 800-422-0009

Have you heard of NAMI?

"NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation's leading voice on mental health. Today, we are an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in your community to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need."

Click here for more information: