Mental Health Awareness Week! FABULOUS Opportunities!!!

Hello Tigers!

This is such and incredible organization with so many wonderful opportunities and resources! Please check them out! (and a huge thank you to Ms. Ottman for bringing this organization to the forefront of our minds!)

Check them out!: http://www.mdcoalition.org/

Legislative2017 Legislative Wrap-Up: Your Voice Made a Difference

Maryland’s 2017 Legislative Session ended with passage of a number of important bills that address mental health and substance use, as well as education.

Thank you to all who attended MCF’s Family Day in Annapolis and advocated on behalf of the Keep the Door Open Act (KTDO).  KTDO was incorporated into the HOPE Act and passed!

Click for summaries of key pieces of legislation.

CHMH

May 1-7: Celebrate Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

With the help of more than 400 School Champions and 100 Community Champions registered to take part in the 2017 Children’s Mental Health Matters! Campaign, May 1-7 is shaping up to be Maryland’s biggest celebration of children’s mental health awareness to date!

Thank you to Alexandra Deutsch from the Auburn School Silver Spring Campus for sharing her artwork for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Matters! poster

Visit the Campaign website to find local events and resources for:

Ready to bring the Campaign to your community? It’s not too late to take part!

Find out how you can be a champion for children’s mental health in your school or community. From wearing green to sharing resiliency tips with your child, there are many ways that you can raise awareness this May 1-7.

Tips

Tips for Self-Care

Spring is a time of new beginnings.  It is also a time that people look to undertake some major housekeeping.

Click for tips on three things that you can do to declutter your life and nurture your spirit.

peerPeer Support for Youth in Prince George’s County   

Young people with behavioral health needs in Prince George’s County are invited to get involved in two local, youth-driven programs.

MCF is overseeing the development and implementation of a youth peer support group and youth advisory council for Prince George’s County as part of the Prince George’s County System of Care Expansion Implementation Grant in partnership with the Prince George’s County Health Department.

Click to learn more.

FLICongratulations to 2017 Family Leadership Institute Graduates

On April 8, MCF celebrated 22 participants for completing our 13th annual Family Leadership Institute (FLI). This intensive 60-hour, six-weekend experience trains parents and caregivers to become more effective leaders and advocates for children with behavioral health needs locally and at the state level.

The 22 members of the class of 2017 included caregivers from across the state, including grandmothers, aunts, foster and adoptive parents, moms and dads. Participants came from across Maryland, including Allegany, Washington, Frederick, Harford, Cecil, Baltimore, Prince George’s, Calvert and Wicomico Counties, and Baltimore City.

Read more.

Did You Know…
Wright’s Law is a website with the stated purpose of providing “accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.”

If you have a question about Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), 504 Plans, Behavioral Intervention Plans (BIPs) or other topics related to education/special education, www.wrightslaw.com is an excellent resource. The website hosts a wealth of information – so much so that it can seem overwhelming at first glance.

Before diving in, it may be helpful to view a tutorial video on how to navigate the site

EmploymentMCF Employment Opportunities

MCF currently has a job opening for a part-time Youth Engagement Specialist.

Click for further information.

Upcoming Trainings & Events
Help! I’m the parent of an anxious child!

When: May 3, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Where: The Conference Center at Sheppard Pratt, 6501 N. Charles Street, Towson, MD 21204

Tri-County Memory Walk – Death by Addiction

When: May 6, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Where: 6932 Serenity Farm Road, Benedict MD 20612
Young Adult Leadership Day Retreat – Savage Mill
When: May 6, 9:30 am – 4:00 pm
Where: Terrapin Adventures, Savage Mill, 8600 Foundry Street, Savage, MD 20763
A Breathe of Fresh Air, A Day in the Park
When: May 7, 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Where: Tuckahoe State Park, 13069 Crouse Mill Rd, Lake Picnic Pavilion, Ridgely, MD


Celebrating Through Art: The First Lady’s Mental Health Awareness Youth Art Display & Reception

When: May 8, 4:00 – 6:00 pm
Where: Lowe House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD 21401
Learn more

Special Education Services: Beyond the Classroom

When: May 12, 8:30 am – 4:00 pm
Where: Multi-Purpose Room – Student Services Center; University of Maryland Eastern Shore

NAMIWalks Maryland

When: May 20, Check in at 9:00 am
Where: West Shore Park, 401 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
Young Adult Leadership Day Retreat – Centreville
When: May 20, 9:30 am – 4:00 pm
Where: Camp Pecometh, 401 Jack Elliot Way, Centreville, MD 21617

MCF Southern Maryland Family Leadership Retreat

When: June 2, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm and June 3, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Where: Marriott Spring Hill Suites, 75 Sherry Lane, Prince Frederick, MD 20678
Applications due May 15
Support

Parent & Caregiver Support Groups

Did You Know…

The “There is Hope” app provides fast and easy access to crisis intervention and suicide prevention support.

This free app provides the next steps to help someone at risk of taking their life, or for those concerned about family members or friends who are having suicidal thoughts. The app also includes an immediate connection to crisis counselors who will deliver help and hope for preventing suicide.

Download the app from the Apple App Store and Android Google Play Store.

Maryland Coalition of Families (MCF) is the statewide family voice for families of children and adolescents with mental health, substance use and/or other behavioral health needs. We advocate for improving services in all systems of care for children, youth and families. All of our family support staff are parents who have cared for a child with behavioral health needs and have been trained to help other families.

10632 Little Patuxent Pkwy Suite 234  |  Columbia, MD 21044
Toll Free: (888) 607-3637  |  Fax: (410) 730-8331

ITS FREE!!!!

Tiger’s Den! This sounds awesome, and it is FREE! It is a webinar, so you can attend in you Pajamas! (you know, if that is your thing…)

Executive Function Webinar Flyer

 

Also free, is my “Coffee Collaborations” series starting Thursday March 16 at 8:30am.  RSVP in the comments here, or via email: writchie@cmitelementary.org

We are going to get into misbehaviors, their purpose, and our best practices in addressing them! (Read the previous post for more information!) The bigger the group, the greater the conversation, so please come! (coffee, treats and information on me!)

Coffee Collaborations!

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Good Morning Tiger’s Den!

After some fabulous brainstorming, poll taking, and good ole parking lot conversations, I am excited to host a 4-part series of ‘Coffee Collaborations’!

I invite you to join me and other CMIT parents as we explore “The 4 Goals of Misbehavior”

I will present one of the 4 goals per morning session.  We will, together, uncover and discuss where such behaviors start, how they display, how we respond… how we could better respond, and contribute any experiences we have had with our Tiger’s displaying such behaviors. We will then collaborate together on best practices in support of their growth and development!

I am so excited for these sessions! The partnerships that come from such conversations are some of my most favorite things.

Here’s the Schedule!

THURSDAYS

March 16, 8:30am

March 23, 8:30am

March 30, 8:30am

April 6, 8:30am

Please COMMENT below with your “RSVP” for our first session, or send me an email (writchie@cmitelementary.org) with your intention to participate, so as I can be sure I am prepared with enough space and coffee and treats to accommodate!

Come! Listen! Share! Lets Learn and Grow together to promote the best next generation we can! 🙂

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“I understand…”

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Karma? A Greater Power? Coincidence?

Whatever it may be, whatever you may believe, there is no denying that when certain things happen in life, at the exact time that you needed them to (whether or not you were aware of that need), there is a moment of “Whoa”.

I had a “Moment of Whoa” or “M.O.W.” this morning.  As I eagerly got up, even before my alarm rang at 5:05am (yes, I am one of THOSE alarm setting people…) With the excitement of celebrating our 100th Day of school with my scholars, as well as getting to attend our 1st of 3 Black History Month Celebratory Assemblies, put on by our talented and wonderful students… I was very aware of my thoughts and reflections as I prepped for the day.

Instead of my typical robotic movements of making my coffee and walking the dog, this morning, I was very pensive and sensitive to that feeling this morning. I kept coming back to the efforts I make daily to effect change in our students; in their experience and their understanding.

It was not lost on me that we would be spending our time together today talking about and exploring our history, while I looked in the faces of our future. With the names of countless incredible people we would be representing today, I wanted to ground myself and focus on what I wanted the names of the students in front of me to take on with them after our time together.

Empathy.

That has been my own moral compass for as long as I can remember, and the root and grounded philosophy on which I build my Counseling Career. There are beautiful interpretations of purpose and unique motivations in which we pursue our purpose definition throughout our lives… for me? I believe if we teach, learn, demonstrate, and practice empathy, the rest falls perfectly into place.

With these feelings very present this morning, my “M.O.W.” happened when I logged into my Facebook account (I never said they had to be grand/glamorous ‘M.O.W.’) as I waited for my coffee to finish brewing, and was informed in a memory from 5 years ago today, that I had posted this video…

How different I am, in so many ways, from the 5 year ago version of myself…and how wonderful it is to remember.  The thoughts and importance of sharing with those around me the practice of Empathy, was as urgent to me 5 years ago as it is this morning.

Understanding not only ourselves, but embracing the fact that everyone has a self to be understood, proves to celebrate our individuality and promote what we have to offer, while connecting us invaluably and indefinitely. It elevates us as beings.

My wish today is that we all spend more time not asking “why?” someone did or said that, or “what?” they were thinking, rather, “how?” can I help, “how?” can I do more, “how?” would I want to be treated….and do it.

“It’s Growth, don’t Fix it!”

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Hello Tigers Den!

Earlier this week I had the luxury of speaking with several 5th grade parents and guardians around invaluably important topics! Our discussion applies to any and every age, grade, developmental stage, experience, etc. of our tigers…

And so, I wanted to share it here, with everyone!

While so much of our energies seem to be pulled to focus primarily on our student(s) academic achievement to demonstrate development, and eventually mastery… that does not, can not, and will not ever be something that takes place in isolation.

In order for our scholars to truly ROAR, in our hallways and far beyond their time here at CMIT-ES, our focus and energies must be on the whole person, spending just as much effort developing and growing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) as every other area.

Our Tigers are demonstrating in their actions, their words and their efforts every day, a FIXED Mindset… In order for them to reach the potential we work so hard to unlock and support them to achieve, we need to teach them, show them, enable them, to have a GROWTH Mindset. Growth Mindset Image

We are seeing a new culture come up in our next generation.  One of technology in intervention. The innovation is wonderful to observe, though that shift has promoted major neglect in areas of critical importance that our children are missing…socialization.

We see in the school building every day a lack of personal understanding/self-awareness and empathy.  Students are struggling to work successfully in a classroom with other individuals and personalities. There is a rigidity in their scope that leads to arguments, hurt feelings, unkind actions and words. Without flexibility and understanding, we are not progressing.

Here is a BRIEF presentation on Social Emotional Learning, as well as what we can do to support this type of learning.

http://prezi.com/dbc8qjdlixdk/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

Having a conversation, is not texting. Hanging out, is not through Google. Playing together, is not neighborhoods away through a headpiece and a gaming system. Time together is not watching the same thing at the same time.

I urge each and every one of you to engage in a rich conversation about Social Emotional Learning, and how we can support this type of development. At home. In School. In opportunity. By Example.

It can start here! Leave a note to start a conversation, or send an email (writchie@cmitelementary.org) This is just the beginning of much more form me around this topic… stay tuned!

 

The Little Engine That Could

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I have always found it an exciting thing that our school year has its own start and finish, different than that of our calendar year.

To me, it is as though we are afforded a “reset” midway through, just when our energies are wavering, our focus somewhat distracted, and our passion often challenged.

When the new year comes in January, we get to pause, reassess, refocus and recommit ourselves to a year already in progress!

As we give our energies to that re-commitment, we want to check-in with ourselves in a very honest way…

“I have good news and I have bad news…” When given the option, I don’t know about you, but I always ask for the good news first, It helps to empower me to tackle whatever may come after it.

Similarly, when we look to set our goals and focus for our second half of the year, we don’t want to overwhelm ourselves with the long “yet to do” list that is daunting and sometimes seems impossible to check off… Instead, start with an encouraging compliment to yourself, give yourself the revving of the engine that you need to move forward, up and over the next hurdle: start with identifying all that you CAN DO, right now, already.

Next, list the wonderful skills and talents you are working on, in your I ALMOST CAN column.

Finally, come up with a tangible goal for the second half of the year.  Make it a S.M.A.R.T goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely). Make it something you can commit to, and be glad that you did.  Make it for YOU.  Write this in your I WANT TO column.

Only when we see what have already accomplished, will be be energized enough to tackle that of which we are unsure we are even capable… (and Ill give you a secret: you are capable!)

I can, I almost can, I want to…. I DID!

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Let us continue ROAR’ing in 2017, Tigers!

We Got This!

Entitled versus Empowered…

 

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Good Afternoon Tigers Den!

It is with joy in my heart and excitement in my soul that I wish you all the Happiest of Holidays!  As you leave school today, and enjoy the next 2 weeks with family, and friends, and if you are like me: friends who have become family… I want to send you into 2017 with a wish for you and hopefully a motivation.

In November we spent our efforts with our scholars in harboring “an attitude of gratitude”. December we have worked on our #KindnessChallenge.  Our scholars have been identifying those in our school community going above and beyond to spread kindness in our community, and ‘shouting them out!’ on the announcements and on the bulletin board for all to see!

With our thoughts and feelings focused on giving and graciousness, my wish for you all is that we hold onto those notions this holiday season.  It can be a very challenging thing to do when it seems so much of this time has been overwhelmed with and lost to “wants” and “greed” over “needs” and “providing for others”.  I found the article below exactly what I was in need of to feel as though my thoughts were not my own, but rather, concerns that others were having as well.

Please receive my wish for you for a Happy, Healthy and Compassionate holiday break, followed by a re-commitment to living the example of positive character for our Tiger Cubs.  Lets ensure they are SEEING it, not just HEARING it.

I hope that you enjoy this article as much as I did!

How to Shield Your Child from Greed and Entitlement During the Holidays

Happy Holidays!

I am thankful for…

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Seems to me, in observation and in effort, that the sentence “I am thankful for…” is an easy one to finish.  From our Kindergarteners to our 5th graders, our children can find something quickly to close that writing prompt.  More often than not, we learn of their gratefulness for video games, trendy clothes recently purchased, and other things that they have.

We don’t often challenge those answers to be less tangibly based, and more about experiences, more emotionally or sensationally rooted.  Perhaps it is because we do not often enough challenge ourselves to pause and be grateful for each new morning.  Do we breathe in our aromatic coffee and breathe out positive mantras and gratefulness for the opportunity to accomplish something great today? Do we notice that November provides the most electric orange sunrises? Do we not just acknowledge how wonderful our family time together is, but do we go on to articulate it?

As we work with our scholars on understanding GRATITUDE (what it means, how it feels, and how to demonstrate it), I challenge each and every one of us to remind ourselves to be grateful; to feel it deeply and identify where those feelings are born; and to lead by example in spreading our gratefulness through conversation.

Instead of announcing “dinner is ready” with the expectation being: to eat, invite one another to come together and appreciate each others presence. Verbalize what it is you are grateful for. Gratitude is a feeling, but it is one we must learn to find, to feel, and to then pass it forward.

I’ll start. I am grateful for you all.  You continue to offer me invaluable opportunities to expand my perspective and my worldview. I am thankful for the devout trust you have placed in me, and the privilege of working with your children. It is an awesome responsibility. Thank You.

The following video reinforces the importance of not just thinking it, but exploring it, saying it, sharing it.  I will warn! There is some language in this video, and I only share it as the overall message seemed too important to be shadowed by it.

…”Fine.”

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Good Afternoon Tigers’ Den!

When I came across the article below, I couldn’t help but smile.  So often to I find myself in a similar situation, asking our scholars what I think is a seemingly open ended question, only to receive a short and closed answer.

How was your morning? ….Fine.

Did you have a nice weekend?… Yes.

Every day for the morning announcements, I end with challenging our scholars to grow their brains that day, and ask an awesome question.

Well, I think we could all work to do that a bit more… me included!

One of my favorite questions that I ask my family after a school day is:  How did you contribute positively today to someone you interacted with? (The answers range from helping someone carry something, to following behavior expectations and setting an example, to asking for clarity in class, supporting anyone else who was unclear or unsure…)

We are also big proponents of “Rose and Thorn” talks in the car. What was the rose of your day? (the positive) and What was the thorn? (the challenge, or struggle with which you were faced).  This dialogue forces us to see and recognize that in each day there is a challenge of varying degrees that we face, but we are not able to focus on those alone, as despite the thorns, there is also rose.

Lets get asking and keep on talking!

30 Questions to Ask Your Kid Instead of “How Was Your Day?”

Homework OH Homework…

I believe many of us, familiar with Silverstein, can finish that sentence 🙂

It is a challenge I hear about often, and one I fully empathize with, as the homework process was exactly that for me when I was growing up: a process.

The articles a I share on here are posted because I find wonderful advice and suggestions in them, regardless of their original audience.  For example, one of the following articles addresses children with ADHD, however, I find the ideas useful for all of our scholars!

So please, read on, and hopefully you too will be able to pull some ideas from the articles below and implement them in your life and the life of our scholars, to promote success!

 

Happy Reading!

Graciously,

Your School Counselor

Outrageous Homework Advice for Kids with ADHD

Top 10 Homework Tips

Help Your Child Get Organized