Counselor's Corner 

OVERVIEW

I am excited to connect with you through PTO this year. Each week I will provide updates on ways the counseling team is supporting children and families. Then, I will provide resources that will help all of you navigate school, parenting, and COVID. 

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me (fkassoy@uaschools.org.)

 

COUNSELORS' CORNER JANUARY 18

1/11/2022 10:44 am

Upcoming Family Coffee Conversation:

What exactly is Social Emotional Learning, or SEL

You may be hearing this phrase more frequently and know that it is an important part of a child’s development, but it can be challenging to fully embrace something that you might not know a lot about.

Please join Angela Evans and Felice Kassoy for a one-hour Zoom during the lunch hour (noon-1 p.m.) this Thursday, January 20. We will focus on what SEL looks like at school and at home. Information will be provided to better understand this framework, as well as the opportunity for reflections, questions, and an open discussion about how to implement SEL in your child’s life. Use this link: https://zoom.us/my/wickliffeprincipal

Food for Thought:

This weekend’s tragic news of a hostage situation at a Texas synagogue on the Sabbath and the death of an Asian woman at the Times Square subway station are stark reminders of the need to have ongoing conversations with our children about the life of Martin Luther King Jr and his teachings.

Denene Millner’s article reminds us “how the passion, righteousness, ideals, and actions of even one person can change our entire world for the better.”

Dr. King's message “[to] treat our fellow man equally, judge people ‘by the content of their character, not the color of their skin,’ and have enough decency and respect for ourselves to lift our voices and seek what we think is rightfully ours without resorting to violence to get it” is worth repeating to ourselves and our children. Without ongoing conversations, advocacy, and action in our homes, at school, and throughout the community, Dr. King’s words will never be fully actualized.


Felice (and the rest of the counseling team)

COUNSELORS' CORNER JANUARY 9

1/11/2022 10:44 am

I am delighted to share that we have new two members of our counseling team for this second half of the year. Sarah Lemery and Nicole Hebert-Ford are practicum students earning their masters degree in School Counseling. Please welcome them to our Wickliffe community!


Ms. Ford joins us from the Counselor Education graduate program at The Ohio State University. Ms. Ford serves as Cofounder and Board Operations Chair for a nonprofit organization called Student Success Stores, which serves students in Columbus City Schools. She also has volunteered as a mentor with Franklin County Children Services for the past nine years. Prior to training to become a Professional School Counselor, Ms. Ford earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Science Education from Arizona State University and taught seventh grade science for seven years. She also worked for two years in youth services at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. She and her husband just welcomed their first child, Baby Archer, during the first week of January of 2022. Her family of three plus their dog Doby live in Clintonville. Ms. Ford is super excited to join the team at Wickliffe this semester!


Ms. Lemery is a practicum student from Capital University. She is originally from Northern Virginia and graduated from Ohio University in 2019 with a degree in Child & Family Studies. She currently works for Lutheran Social Services as the Youth Advocate. When she isn’t studying or working she loves watching movies, listening to podcasts, and spending time with family and friends! Ms. Lemery loves working with kids and is so excited to join the Wickliffe Counseling Team.


Food for Thought:


Continuing to navigate this pandemic is exhausting to say the least. This article from the Child Mind Institute, an independent nonprofit in children’s mental health, reminds us how to stay positive and manage stress and help our children do the same as we deal with the uncertainty of the Omicron variant. As always, I hope this validates what you are already doing or provides you with some tips that might make life feel more manageable.


Felice (and the rest of the counseling team)

COUNSELORS' CORNER JANUARY 2nd

1/2/2022 4:21 pm

Food For Thought

Catching up on my reading was something that I was looking forward to doing over winter break. I am currently reading the book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson (which I highly recommend!) as I continue to grow in my understanding of racism. 

I also went back to the many open tabs on my computer of the articles that I skimmed, but never really read. So for today’s “Food for Thought,” I wanted to introduce the concept of familect, described in this National Geographic article as “the secret words and phrases shared exclusively among the members of a household.” 

For instance, in the Kassoy house when we thank one another we always say, “Yanks!” This word emerged in our familect because my middle granddaughter always substituted a “y” for “th” and with that “yanks” was born.  As Connie Chang describes in her article, “though it might just sound like a family being silly, building a familect can have emotional benefits for kids and adults.”

As I spent time with my nuclear family over the holidays, I was mindful of words and phrases that were passed down from my grandparents (some may actually have been a form of Yiddish?) and from my parents (many of which I can’t even figure out how to spell…like the one my mom used to describe what she was doing when she stirred a raw egg with a fork before using it for baking). And the list keeps growing as my children and grandchildren have added new words, as well. The researchers remind us that familect  “helps us forge connections to family members, creating a cohesive unit bound by a shared, secret language.” I hope you have fun thinking about all the words in your familect.

Be well and yanks for reading this week's post!

Felice (and the rest of the counseling team)

Counselors' Corner December 14

12/13/2021 9:53 pm

Food for Thought:

With the winter holidays comes great teaching opportunities for families and educators alike to learn about other cultures, religions, and traditions. Although this article was written with teachers in mind, I think it is helpful for families and caregivers as well.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was founded in 1913 by Sigmund Livingston, a Chicago attorney. Livingston envisioned "an America where those who seemed different were not targets of discrimination and threats, but were equals, worthy of shared opportunity and a place in the American dream." This vision remains relevant today.

As always, I hope this information validates the conversations that you are already having in your homes and provides some additional insights, tools, and strategies. 

Wishing you a restorative winter break.

Megan, Sarah M., Sarah P., and Felice

Counselors' Corner December 7

12/6/2021 6:58 pm

Food for Thought:

As we have begun the 2021 holiday season, I had hoped to share this article with you before Thanksgiving break. I don’t know if any of you are feeling like you have too many balls in the air at this time, but I certainly do (which could be a topic for a future “Food for Thought"... why are we feeling less productive during this pandemic?).

So, although this article, written by Hillary Nelson (director of education for Penn’s Center for Public Health Initiatives) and James Pawelski (director of education at Penn’s Positive Psychology Center), was intended for Thanksgiving, it certainly pertains to the December holidays as well.

Here are their six tips for making the holidays joyful, fun, and safe:

  • Understand your risk tolerance.

  • Be open and frank.

  • Practice self-compassion.

  • Think beyond yourself.

  • Embrace arts and music.

  • Reframe what makes the holidays “special.”

I hope these resonate with you as much as they did for me.

Until next week,

The Counseling Team 

Felice Kassoy, Sarah Perry, Sarah Moyer, and Megan Montana

Counselors' Corner November 23

11/22/2021 4:33 pm

Food for Thought:

The Ten Foundational Principles, along with the 3Cs (Community, Civility, and Compassion), guide the work that we do at Wickliffe. As we continue to “raise social consciousness by encouraging the school community to examine and act upon complex issues within a democratic society,” we acknowledge that this is ongoing work for our children.

Along with the teachers, the counseling team is committed to making Wickliffe welcoming and inclusive for EVERYBODY. Through classroom lessons on topics such as identity, perspective-taking, equity and equality, in addition to groups like IDEA Mentors and TOAD Talks, we continue to address ways to make this a reality.

I would like to bring awareness to some behaviors (microaggressions) that have occurred on our playground. There have been unkind comments and gestures directed at some children with diverse identities. The hurt that these children (and their families) have experienced is deep.

As co-educators, I would like to partner with all of you to eliminate this from our Wickliffe community. Here is an article on microaggressions from NCH’s On Our Sleeves initiative. I hope this will validate what you are already doing or provide some helpful tips for having these very important conversations.

I welcome your thoughts.

Until next week,

The Counseling Team 

Felice Kassoy, Sarah Perry, Sarah Moyer, and Megan Montana

Counselors' Corner November 16

11/16/2021 3:51 pm

Counseling Team updates:

We have had another incredible response to our counseling groups. The late fall groups (Worry Warriors and Super Sibs) are filled to capacity. However, if you would still like to have your child participate in either one of these groups, please email Dr. Kassoy (fkassoy@uaschools.org). We always want to meet the needs of our kiddos.

Just a reminder that there is still some space in TOAD Talks (which meets once a month for the entire school year). And IDEA Mentors and Mindful Mornings are ongoing groups that children can join anytime throughout the year.

The winter groups will start in January. Lemonade Brigade, for children who have families who are currently or have experienced divorce or separation, will be offered. In addition, we will be providing groups that offer support in the areas of social skills and emotional regulation. Details will be forthcoming.

Food for Thought

As we shared with you last month, we will provide a variety of resources addressing the pandemic. 

Last month’s article was from the Kaiser Family Foundation. It shed light on some current findings regarding the wellbeing and health of children from a broad research and policy perspective. 

This month’s article, entitled Persevering through the Pandemic: Key Learnings about Children from Parents and Early Educators, is from the Early Learning Study at Harvard. Although some of the findings identify the challenges that have emerged, this study also  “highlight[s] the sources of strength and resilience that families and young children drew upon during the height of the public health crisis [and] include actionable insights that can help guide efforts to mitigate adverse consequences and bolster supports for children and caregivers during the pandemic recovery period” we are currently in.

As always, we hope these resources will provide you with new insights as we continue to navigate this school year.

Until next week,

The Counseling Team 

Felice Kassoy, Sarah Perry, Sarah Moyer, and Megan Montana

Counselors' Corner November 2

11/1/2021 9:11 pm

IDEA Mentors will begin this month. If you are interested in having your child participate, please reach out to Felice Kassoy or Stacy Pilutti. This group uses the power of peer culture to develop role models who will be ambassadors within our classrooms, on the playground, and other common spaces to make courageous conversations a part of our school culture where everyone feels seen, heard, and welcome.

Food for Thought:

Shawna McEvoy is an incredible member of the Wickliffe staff. She is an amazing Intervention Specialist  (IS) and the skilled (and compassionate) facilitator of Mindful Mornings. 

Shawna shared the following *message* with all of the adults at Wickliffe in a recent email. With her permission, I would like to share with all of you what she sent. It is definitely worth reading!

Take care of yourself as the seasons change. 

Please look at this article below from the New York Times regarding rest and how important it is. Blair Braverman, an American adventurer, dogsled racer, musher, advice columnist and nonfiction writer uses rest as a strategy to persevere through her races. She plans to use rest proactively for her dogs. It is part of the race. 

As we continue to find ways to navigate this pandemic, we hope this article will provide a helpful perspective.

What My Sled Dogs Taught Me About Planning for the Unknown

The New York Times | September 23, 2020 | Blair Braverman 

Here’s the thing about sled dogs: They never know how far they’re going to run. 

As a musher – the human driver of a dog sled team, this is one of my mail challenges. There are many ways in which my dogs know more than I do. They know a storm is coming, or if a moose crossed the trail days before. They know how ice shifts under their paws. They know if we’re being followed and by what kind of animal. They know their own power – that they’re stronger than me, much stronger, and if they turn or stop when I ask them to, it’s because they’re choosing to listen and trust me. Running together is a gift they give me every day. 

But each time my dogs hit the trail, they run hard – they give it everything they’ve got. That’s find if we’re going 10 miles, or 30, distances they can cover easily in a few hours. We can leave after dinner and be home by midnight, silver snow on a full-moon night. But what if we’re going 100 miles, or a thousand? Asking sled dogs to pace themselves, to slow it down, is like asking a retriever to only fetch one ball out of three: It goes against their every instinct.

That’s how I feel now, midpandemic that we humans are falling into uncertainty, stretching ourselves thin, and we have no idea how far it is to the finish line. The difference, of course, is that sled dogs want to run, and people do not want to live through a public health crisis. But there’s a parallel in the unknown distance, the unseen ending. And oddly enough, mushing has prepared me for this. 

I used to be a dedicated planner. I know what I’d do every day, weeks in advance. Having a plan made me feel confident and safe. And then I got into long-distance dog sledding, and I discovered that the only thing worse than not having a plan was the stress of having one and constantly breaking it. Working with dogs in the wilderness means negotiating countless shifting variables: snow and wind, wild animals, open water, broken equipment, each dog’s needs and changing mood. I learned that plans, when I made them, were nothing but a sketch; the only thing I needed to count on was that the dogs and I would make decisions along the way. 

One of the most surprising things about distance mushing is the need to front-load rest. You’re four hours into a four-day race and then dogs are charging down the trail, leaning into their momentum, barely getting started – and then, despite their enthusiasm, it’s time to stop. Make straw beds in the snow, take off your dogs’ bootees, build a fire, heat up some meat stew (for the team, but hey, you can have some too) and rest for a few hours. The dogs might not even sit down; they’re howling, antsy to keep going. It doesn’t matter. You rest. Four hours later, you rest again. 

You keep doing that, no matter how much your dogs want to keep going. In fact, if you’re diligent from the start, they’ll actually need less rest at the end of a trip – when their muscles are stronger and their metabolisms have switched from burning glycogen to fat – than at the beginning. It’s far easier to prevent fatigue than to recover from it later. 

But resting early, anticipating your dog’s needs, does something even more important than that: It builds trust. A sled dog learns that by the time she’s hungry, her musher has already prepared a meal; by the time she’s tired, she has a warm bed. If she’s cold, you have a coat or blanket for her; if she’s thirsty, you have water. And it’s this security, this trust, that lets her pour herself into the journey, give the trail everything she has without worrying about what comes next. You can’t make a sled dog run 100 miles. But if she knows you’ve got her back, she’ll run because she wants to, because she burns to, and she’ll bring you along for the ride.

What this means for people, for us, is that we can’t just plan to take care of ourselves later. We shouldn’t expect to catch up on sleep when we really crash, or to reach out to loved ones after we’re struck by loneliness. We should ask for support before we need it. We should support others before they ask. Because if you don’t know how far you’re going, you need to act like you’re going forever.

Planning for forever is essentially impossible, which can actually be freeing: It brings you back into the present. How long will this pandemic last? Right now, that’s irrelevant; what matters is eating a nourishing meal, telling someone you love them, walking your dog, getting enough sleep. What matter is that, to the degree you can, you make your own life sustainable every day.

Sled dogs can run farther, in a shorter time, than almost any other animal. But they only think as far ahead as they can see, hear and smell. They catch the scent of a deer; they see a curve in the trail. It is, in its way, that simple. If they team meets an unexpected challenge, if they come to a steep mountain or take shelter in a storm, they’re better off for their restraint. Because they’re healthy, content; they have what they need, and they have each other. There’s no stronger way to meet the unknown.

Until next week,

The Counseling Team 

Felice Kassoy, Sarah Perry, Sarah Moyer, and Megan Montana

Counselors' Corner October 26

10/26/2021 9:04 am

Counseling Team updates:

Just a reminder to email Dr. Kassoy (fkassoy@uaschools.org) if you are interested in having your child participate in IDEA Mentors.

As a progressive school we are preparing our students to be informed,  engaged, and anti-bias citizens of our democracy. This group uses the power of peer culture to develop role models who will be ambassadors within our classrooms, on the playground, and other common spaces to make courageous conversations a part of our school culture where everyone feels seen, heard, and welcome.

Food for Thought:

As a school counselor, I have the privilege of helping children to develop the interpersonal skills necessary to resolve conflict. Many of the situations I encounter often necessitate an apology. I have observed over the years that the most common response from the child who is on the receiving end of an apology is to say, “that’s okay.” Of course, telling someone who has wronged you in some way that it is *okay* is really NOT okay! If it were okay, they wouldn’t be apologizing.

So as adults, we can model for children how to offer and receive an apology. Though this NPR Life Kit podcast is created for adults, I think it provides a helpful framework for thinking about how we teach our children how to say they are sorry... and to do it in a way that repairs the damage that has been done and deepens the relationship.

I invite you to listen to this podcast. You will hear Harriet Lerner, a renowned psychologist, discuss this important topic. She provides these tips on how to Elevate Your Apology:

  1. No "ifs" or "buts"

  2. Don’t overdo it

  3. Be genuine

  4. Stay focused on the current conflict

  5. Use it as a powerful to grow closer to someone

  6. Be accountable, courageous, and share what you're genuinely sorry for by meeting the moment with an open ear and an open heart

As always, we hope this article validates something you are already doing or provides a new perspective for this very important life skill.

Until next week,

The Counseling Team 

Felice Kassoy, Sarah Perry, Sarah Moyer, and Megan Montana

Counselors' Corner October 19

10/18/2021 1:05 pm

Counseling Team updates - October 19

Our early fall groups will be wrapping us this month. We have enjoyed having your children engage in these meaningful opportunities. The late fall groups will start the first week of November. If you are interested in having your child participate, please email Dr. Kassoy (fkassoy@uaschools.org).

  • IDEA Mentors: This group uses the power of peer culture to develop role models who will be ambassadors within our classrooms, on the playground and other common spaces, to make courageous conversations a part of our school culture. This group of students will focus on Identity, Diversity, Equity, and Action (IDEA). Our vision is to develop informed and engaged anti-biased future citizens.

  • Worry Warriors: For kiddos who have a lot of *big worries* about the world around them. Whether it has to do with the challenges of COVID-19, experiencing a new school year, or something else outside of school, it can be very overwhelming for kids to try to tackle these worries on their own. We hope that this group will empower these children to gain control over their worries and discover their inner warriors!

  • Super Sibs: For children who have siblings with *different* needs. The goal of the group is to provide support for these students and give them a safe space to share common experiences that come along with having a sibling who has different abilities. Through stories, conversations, and activities, our hope is that these kiddos will feel supported knowing that they have a group of friends at school who also understand what it means to be a Super Sib!


And we are delighted that TOAD Talks and Mindful Mornings will continue on designated Tuesdays shared by Ms. McEvoy, Lucy Cheng, and Ann Bixel.

Food for Thought

As we continue to explore the impact of the pandemic on our children, I will be sharing information from a variety of sources.

This article is from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). KFF is a nonprofit organization focusing on national health issues, as well as the U.S. role in global health policy.

Although this was written in August of 2021, I think it sheds light on some current findings regarding the wellbeing and health of children from a broad research and policy perspective. There are many links within this article that may also be helpful.

In the coming months, the Counseling Team will continue to provide support for our students through classroom visits, groups, and individual counseling. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if there is anything we can do to for your child or family.

Until next week,

The Counseling Team 

Felice Kassoy, Sarah Perry, Sarah Moyer, and Megan Montana