Counselor Corner

Fall 2015

"When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows." - Alexander Den Heijer

Welcome Back!

Welcome back! We hope the next few months continue with as much excitement and enthusiasm as these first few days. Please take a minute to browse our new digital newsletter for important information about counseling services. We look forward to working with you this year!

Counseling Services & Response to Intervention (RtI)

A huge thank you to all the teachers who helped us "screen" students towards the end of last year. We will be meeting with each grade level during the month of September to discuss (and update) the data we collected.

The success of our Tier II and Tier III interventions will largely depend on the success of your Tier I interventions. Classroom lessons and small group counseling will be offered by Deirdre; while more intensive services such as individual and family counseling and crisis intervention will be offered by Jane. Similar to the RtI model as applied to academic interventions, students can (and will) move fluidly between the tiers as they successfully meet their goals and objectives.

Speaking of tiered interventions, we wanted to share a great resource with you - PBIS World! Check it out and let us know what you think!

School-Based Mental Health Services (Tier III)

I am looking forward to working with all of you this year! I will be responsible for the RTI Tier III behavioral interventions. The interventions will include family-centered wraparound, which entails the development of individual plans based on the needs of family. The plan is different than typical mental health delivery in that the focus will be on connecting our families with our school and their community.

In order for this approach to be successful we need to continue building a supportive, cohesive relationship with our students and their families. The ability to be non-judgmental is critical, which is often difficult when a student is exhibiting challenging behavior. There are multiple theories explaining childhood behavioral problems, but what we know for sure is that a family’s socioeconomic status plays a significant factor.

This topic is something I feel passionately about. As a social worker, a significant part of my work is looking at the child in their environment. Children raised in low socioeconomic families often experience emotional and social instability, facing challenges that more affluent children do not have to contend with. Research shows that children’s brains adapt to suboptimal conditions in ways that can negatively affect school performance.

At times we may believe that a student’s emotional and social limitations are a lack of respect, but instead it could be helpful to see the behavior as a lack of emotional skills. It is easier to condemn a child’s behavior than to help a child change it. Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen is a great resource for action steps in working with our children. Jensen identifies the extraordinary challenge that poverty poses to academic success but goes on to write, “This reality does not mean that success in school or life is impossible. On the contrary, a better understanding of these challenges points to actions that educators can take to help their less advantaged students succeed.”

Our own socioeconomic background can at times impact the level of empathy we have for a student and their family. The attached link is to a YouTube video about privilege and how privilege can impact our lives even when we are unaware it is happening.

Please feel free to stop by if you have concerns about a child or if you just need a place to reflect and breathe for a few moments.


What Is Privilege?

Second Step Lessons

Lessons have been scheduled and the calendar has been distributed! I am so excited to be offering Second Step lessons WEEKLY to all students in kindergarten and 1st grade for the third year in a row. Even more exciting is the fact that 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders will be able to participate this year too! Mrs. Waldron and Mr. Zymet are welcoming me into their technology classes once a month to teach Second Step lessons. Second Step lessons are a great way to ensure our students are utilizing a common language when it comes to skills for learning, empathy, emotion management, and problem solving. If anyone is interested in reviewing the curriculum and purchasing their own classroom kit, please see me!


Responsive Classroom

Just a reminder, a full Responsive Classroom resource set is in our office. Feel free to borrow any books or DVD's - please just leave a note with your name and the items you are borrowing so we can keep track of all the materials.

Speaking of Responsive Classroom, please let us know if you are interested in participating in a one-day professional development workshop during our January in-service. The workshop will be the "Responsive Classroom Sampler" (see below).

Social Emotional Learning Initiatives (School Safety Team)

A BIG “thank you” to all who volunteered their time to discuss social emotional learning today at our first School Safety Team meeting of the year! Twenty staff members (representatives from all grade levels, support professionals, administrators, paraprofessionals, and specials’ teachers) participated in the meeting. It’s really exciting to see how many people value SEL and understand the connection between SEL and academic achievement - we are doing some amazing work related to SEL in our building!

Our next meeting (TBA) will focus on reviewing school climate surveys from the spring (staff, students, and parents). We will also discuss ways we currently integrate character education within our curriculum on a daily basis and ways we can incorporate school-wide and/or grade level and/or classroom service learning projects.

Interested in learning more about SEL? Check out CASEL's website at


What do you think of our digital flyer? Interested in creating one for your classroom? Let us know! (If enough people are interested maybe we can purchase a subscription!)