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Counseling

This year we are implementing a school wide positive behavior system focused on recognizing kindness, responsibility, respect and safety around school. You may have noticed new posters around school, and may have heard your children talking about "positive pellets" teachers have been distributing when we notice kids doing the right thing around school.

We are slowing down to focus on the direct instruction of expectations of behavior in all locations around school: bathrooms, hallways, playground, buses, the multi-purpose room, and classrooms. Teachers are taking their classes around to each of these locations to discuss expected behavior and go through what we want to see from students around school.


Roles and Goals

As the school counselor at Marion Cross, I am available every day for students, parents and teachers. My role is to support students' development and success academically, personally and socially through home-school collaboration, classroom guidance, individual counseling and small group support.


My goals are to:

  • Assist students in developing a positive self-image
  • Support students in identifying personal strengths and challenges, both personally and academically
  • Teach students conflict resolution, decision making, interpersonal and communication skills
  • Support students in dealing with personal concerns
  • Promote tolerance and respect for oneself and others
  • Assist students in developing an understanding of the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behavior
  • Promote goal-setting and assessment of one's learning style
  • Develop a strong home-school connection
  • Coordinate with community agencies to support student success
  • Help students to make informed, healthy choices that positive affect themselves and others
  • Work with students, parents, teachers and staff to create a safe environment for students to learn and feel connected

In addition to serving as the school counselor at MCS, I also serve as the 504 coordinator and work closely with Joy Smollin at our front desk to ease with the transition for students and families in and out of MCS.

Classroom Lessons

Kindergarten through Second Grade:

I am lucky enough to have weekly classroom lessons with students in Kindergarden through Second Grade. In my 30 minute class lessons, I use the Second Step Social Emotional Learning Program to increase students’ school success and decrease problem behaviors by promoting social emotional competence and self-regulation skills. There are four units in the curriculum: skills for learning, empathy, emotion management and friendship skills and problem solving. In addition to Second Step, our amazing local resource, WISE, comes in to conduct Care for Kids lessons, which is a health-based early childhood healthy sexuality and abuse prevention curriculum. Mr. Minelli, MCS’s technology teacher, also comes in to co-teach for two lessons with me on internet safety based on common sense media’s digital citizenship program. There are also supplemental lessons focused on kindness, being an up-stander (anti-bullying). Puppets, songs, and movement are all used to help practice these skills.


Third Grade:

I visit each third grade classroom weekly. We use the Zones Of Regulation Program to increase students’ self-regulation skills and feelings vocabulary. This work builds upon the skills developed in the Second Step lessons in grades K-2. In addition to the Zones, our amazing local resource, WISE, comes to conduct We Care Elementary lessons, which focus on different topics related to healthy relationships. Mr. Minelli, MCS’s technology teacher, also comes in to co-teach for two lessons with Katie on internet safety based on common sense media’s digital citizenship program. There are also supplemental lessons focused on mindfulness, kindness, diversity, and being an up-stander (anti-bullying). Role plays, stories, video clips and movement are all used to help practice these skills.

Fourth Grade:

I visit each Fourth Grade classroom weekly. During classroom lessons, I work to help students learn about themselves as well as how to develop positive relationships with others. The classes focus on self-esteem, diversity, mindfulness, communication skills, social skills, kindness and being an up-stander (anti-bullying). Students use class discussions, role-playing, stories and writing to express themselves and practice their skills. In addition to the social emotional lessons, our amazing local resource, WISE, comes to conduct We Care Elementary lessons, which focus on different topics related to healthy relationships. Mr. Minelli, MCS’s technology teacher, also comes in to co-teach for two lessons with Katie on internet safety based on common sense media’s digital citizenship program.


Fifth Grade:

I teach five class lessons to the 5th grade classes during elective time. Each class meets five times throughout the year, for an hour and fifteen minutes. The health based curriculum is designed to help students learn about themselves as well as how develop positive relationships with others. I co-teach with the school nurse, Pam Hausler during these lessons. We use elements of the Life Skills health/guidance curriculum to teach fifth graders about self-esteem, decision making, positive and negative stress, verbal/ nonverbal communication, advertising, peer pressure, conflict resolution, assertiveness, tobacco/drug/alcohol use, HIV, and puberty. Students use class discussions, role-playing, videos and writing to express themselves and practice their skills. Mr. Minelli, MCS’s technology teacher, also comes in to co-teach for two lessons with Katie on internet safety during two 45 minute study hall times based on common sense media’s digital citizenship program.

Sixth Grade:

I teach five class lessons to the 6th grade classes during elective time. Each class meets five times throughout the year, for an hour and fifteen minutes. The health based curriculum is designed to help students learn about themselves as well as how develop positive relationships with others. I co-teach with the school nurse, Pam Hausler, during these lessons. We use elements of the Life Skills health/guidance curriculum to teach sixth graders about self-esteem, decision making, positive and negative stress, verbal/ nonverbal communication, conflict resolution, advertising, peer pressure, assertiveness, tobacco/drug/alcohol use, and reproduction. Students use class discussions, role-playing, videos and writing to supplement student learning. Mr. Minelli, MCS’s technology teacher, also comes in to co-teach for two lessons with Katie on internet safety during two 45 minute study hall times based on common sense media’s digital citizenship program.

Small Groups

Throughout the year, I run many small groups to help students practice a variety of skills. I work with teachers to schedule groups so they take place at the least disruptive time to student learning. The four four main groups I am running this year are:

  • Social Skills/Friendship
  • Self Regulation
  • Stress/Anxiety
  • Changing Families (Divorce)

Are you interested in having your child be a part of a small group? Please click on the link below to let me know!

Small Group Referral Form

Individual Counseling

A significant part of my job is to meet with students 1:1 to provide short-term, adjustment-related counseling such as: problem solving, working through a challenge or processing emotions and feelings.

Students may be referred for individual counseling by a teacher, staff or parents/guardians. Care is taken to ensure that students are seen during a time that is the least disruptive to learning as possible.

If a student requires more intense or long-term mental health counseling then parents/guardians will be contacted and a referral to an outside agency will be made.

Parent Resources

Parenting Library in my Office: Feel free to swing by and look through my books to see if there is anything that piques your interest.

In addition to my parent resource library, here are some online resources you may find helpful.

ADHD:

  • CHADD: Nationally recognized authority on ADHD. If you are looking for resources on how to support your child with ADHD, this is a great place to start.
Anxiety:
  • Back to School Anxiety: A good article on how to ease the transition between summer and the start of a new school year.
Bullying:
  • This government website has some helpful tops for what parents can do to help prevent and stop bullying. Here's another great resource on bullying that includes kids games and videos. Yet another helpful article on how to help you child deal with bullying.
Diversity/Tolerance:
  • Teaching Tolerance: This is a great resource for ideas on how to help your child be more thoughtful and accepting of others.
  • GLSEN, whose mission is to "create safe and affirming schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression"
General Parenting:
  • Kids Health KidsHealth has doctor-approved articles, animations, games, and resources to help kids and parents learn more about their bodies and stay healthy.
  • The National Parenting Center This site includes a parenting corner and numerous informative articles about parenting at all developmental stages. Articles are divided into categories of learning, physical development, behavior and emotional issues, and tough issues.
  • One Tough Job: This site provides helpful general parenting resources and ideas.
Grief/Loss: Mindfulness:
  • Annaka Harris has some great listening activities for kids. There are other resources on her site as well, but I use the listening activities the most with kids.
  • Cosmic Kids Zen Den is a simple introduction to mindfulness for kids. It is geared towards a bit of a younger population, but I do find it useful in breaking down the process.
  • Go Zen is a subscription service. I have heard amazing things about this program, though I have not used it with kids myself. Parents and families have expressed how helpful it has been for their kids, but it is something you have to pay for.
  • Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel is a nice book that has numerous mindful exercises for kids and families that I use when working with kids. It also comes with an CD of different exercises.
  • The Mindful Child is another book by Susan Kaiser Greenland. It does a good job of explaining how and why mindfulness is important for kids and lists some activities as well. She has a new activity book coming out too, which I have pre-ordered! Her website has some good things as well.
  • A Still Quiet Place by Amy Saltzman, MD A mindfulness program for teaching children and adolescents (I have this in my room) I have used some bits of pieces from this program.
Positive Character Development:
  • Asset Development: From the Search Institute. You will find ways to encourage your child to build assets that help them avoid making risky choices. The more assets a person has, the less likely he/she is to engage in risky behaviors.
  • Vermont Department of Health: A great resource for drug and alcohol prevention information, local support services and other general information parents should be aware of.
School Counseling:

Who's Wise Words

WHAT IS PBIS?

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an approach to teaching and supporting positive behaviors and meeting the needs of ALL students.

This school-wide approach focuses on building a safe and positive environment in which all students can learn. The foundation of PBIS at Marion Cross School is the four building-wide expectations or “Who’s Wise Words.”

In our community, we will be:

  • Kind
  • Respectful
  • Responsible
  • Safe

In addition to our behavioral expectations, PBIS has four additional components:

  • Behavior Matrix
  • Direct Teaching of Expectations
  • Positive Pellets
  • Office Referral Forms


BEHAVIOR MATRIX: The behavior matrix is a detailed description of expected behaviors in each school setting. For example, on the playground it is respectful to listen to the playground monitors, and it is responsible to line up quietly when the bell rings. The expectations in all areas are posted around school.

TEACHING EXPECTATIONS: Throughout the school year, students will be taught how to behave according to “Who’s Wise Words.” Teachers will help students learn what the expectations “look” and “sound” like in every setting during the school day. These lessons will be retaught and reinforced throughout the school year and become a regular part of our instructional program.

POSITIVE PELLETS: Acknowledging and reinforcing positive behavior are two of the best ways to encourage appropriate behavior. At MCS, each student or group of students will earn Positive Pellets throughout the day for meeting behavioral expectations. When classroom owl bins are full, students will enjoy various celebrations, such as bringing a stuffy to school, enjoying a treat, going out for extra recess, and many others. Once the tank near the front office is filled by the whole school, we celebrate together as an MCS community.

OFFICE REFERRAL FORM: Even with clear expectations and positive reinforcement, sometimes children can engage in behaviors inconsistent with our school-wide expectations. To address these inconsistencies, an Office Referral Form is used. Behaviors inconsistent with our school-wide expectations are divided into major and minor issues.

Major infractions are issues that result in office time. Parents/guardians will be notified by the school about major infractions.

Minor infractions are behaviors that are disruptive to the learning environment, but are handled by the supervising staff or faculty member.

When a child repeatedly receives minors or majors, parents/guardians, teachers, support staff, and the principal will communicate to find positive ways to help the child succeed.

Who’s Wise Words

In our community, we will be

Kind

Respectful

Responsible

and

Safe.

What can you do to reinforce positive behavior at home?

  • Review Who’s Wise Words with your child.
  • Make it a routine to ask your child each day about interesting things that happened in school.
  • Ensure a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast.
  • Provide a quiet time and space for your child to complete homework nightly.
  • Keep in touch with your child’s teacher.
  • Encourage your child to use appropriate language and tone.
  • Practice positive phrases with your child, such as “Thank you,” “Excuse me,” “Please,” and “I’m sorry.”
  • Be a visible part of your child’s school day. Attend meetings and other school activities as your schedule allows.

The MCS PBIS Leadership Team:
Bill Hammond, Principal
Katie Cormier, School Counselor
Ania White, 5th Grade Teacher
Beth Haney, 4th Grade Teacher
Rick Wilson, 3rd Grade Teacher
Jennifer Newberry, Kindergarten Teacher
Rick Newton, PE Teacher
Hillary Roberts, Kindergarten Ed Assistant
Anna Turner, Special Educator

We look forward to working in partnership with you as we embrace the PBIS method. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our PBIS co-leaders Katie Cormier and Ania White by email: email MCSPBIS co-leaders

Your School Counselor


Katie Cormier