Friday, December 21, 2012

Community Forum on School Safety

At Wednesday evening’s school board meeting the BTSD board agreed to hold a community forum to discuss issues of safety in our schools.  Any changes to our school practices around school safety, now and in the future, will be townwide decisions.  This means that all BTSD Schools, including Oak Grove, Academy, Green Street, and Canal Street School, will be impacted by these changes.

The Community Forum is scheduled for Wednesday, January 23 at 6:30pm at Academy School.  I encourage all staff, parents and community members to attend. 

As always, I am grateful for such a wonderful school community.  Working with students this week before the vacation is a joyful reminder of how lucky we are to be working with children.  They are the inspiration for all the good I know is in this world.  Best wishes for a happy and restful break.  Jen

Monday, December 17, 2012

Helping Children Cope

Helping Children Cope

In the Face of the Newtown, CT Tragedy:
How to Help Our Children Cope

1.   Talk about this with your Child, at the age level of your child.
2.   Assure your Kids of Safety.
3.   Shield Kids From the Media
4.   Don’t Pull Your Kids Out of School Today
5.   Reassure
1.  Talk about this with your Child, at your child’s level.
Remember: As a parent, your fears are not the same as your child’s.  Your kids will likely hear about the tragedy, so your child has questions. Answer at the level of the question, at the level of the child.

The conversation should start by gathering more information:
·      What got you thinking about this?
·      Did you see or hear or read something about it?  Tell me about it…
·      Ask what their response to it is…What are you thinking about it? How are you feeling about it?
·      It is important that parents remember not to assume that they know what their child is worried about.  As much as you may want to elaborate, it is not helpful to freely offer details to your child.
Young children may communicate their fears through play or drawings. Elementary school children will use a combination of play and talking to express themselves.
2.  Assure your Kids of Safety.
Tell kids about everything that schools do to keep them safe, “there are adults on the job always working to take care of kids. Your school has safety plans." Parents can acknowledge to children that bad things do happen, but it is key to reassure them that many people are working to keep them safe, including their parents, teachers and local police.

Tailor your conversation to your child's age level; while your older kids and teenagers might be able to handle a conversation about the politics of gun control, these ideas will be less useful for kids in primary grades who need to know they are safe. Children of all ages need to know that someone is watching out for them. “There are grown ups in your life and in our community who are dedicated to keeping us all safe.”

As you reassure them, try to send them this message of confidence not only with your words, but with your own behavior, as well. . "Parents who model healthy adaptive coping…have kids who are adaptive. "So if parents are highly anxious and distressed, kids will be as well." (Alan Kazdin, a professor of child psychology at Yale University,)

Hug your kids and spend time with them.  Your physical presence will be reassuring to them. If they are anxious, support and comfort them.
3.  Shield Kids From the Media
It is critical to limit your child's (and your own) exposure to disturbing news coverage. Limit their unsupervised use of the Internet and other media.
After 9/11, kids suffered trauma from overexposure to the media.  Child psychologists call it  “secondary terrorism.”  Research has shown that some young children believe that the events are reoccurring each time they see a television replay of the news footage.
As parents, we sometimes take the stance that our kids need to be tough and “they might as well know the truth.” But research finds they need to be  ”coddled, cushioned and comforted” now so they can be emotionally stronger later.
4.  Don’t Pull Your Kids Out of School Today
Try to keep as many normal rituals going on as possible.  Go to afterschool activities.  Keep that play date.  Kids need you to know that this isn’t happening to them in their lives.  They need to know that it is safe to continue in their own lives.  That it’s ok for them to play and have fun.
6.  Reassure, Reassure, Reassure
If your child develops a fear of school, tell them, “This is so rare.  Something this terrible has never happened before. Grownups are doing everything to keep kids safe.”
Remember that throughout childhood, kids have normal worries and fears: the dark, monsters, etc. If they say, “I don’t want to go to school,” help them distance themselves from the fear. Focus on what their day at school will be like and the friends they will be seeing there. Talk to your child’s teacher and school counselor if you or your child needs further support.

The above information is taken from:
Additional resources are:

Please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher, your school counselor or principal with any questions or concerns you may have.  We are here to help.
Kathryn Mason, LICSW, School Counselor
Oak Grove School, Brattleboro, VT

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Looking for Resources?

Have you checked out the Special Education Blog? It's full of resources and information for parents, families and educators alike! You can check it out anytime by clicking the link on the left hand side or visit right now by clicking here!

Updated lunch list 12/6

updated lunch list 12/6

Weekly Update

Weekly Update 12/6

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

E-books are here!

The Brattleboro Town Schools have set aside money for a collection of e-books. We have made the first order and they are ready to be "checked out". Here's the login information (you might want to put it in your bookmarks bar or folder):

website URL:
user name: ebook
password: bratt

You can access titles from anywhere to read on your computer, ipad, or iphone.

There is still plenty to learn about this new and exciting resource. As I become more comfortable with it I will be posting tips and directions. Meanwhile, if YOU have any tips to give ME, I would love to hear them.  Also, if you have titles you would like to see added, please let me know.

Andra Horton