Friday, October 31, 2014

How did YOU mix it up?

Teaching Tolerance held another Mix It Up at Lunch event on October 28th this year and our middle school participated.

Students knew the day was coming as our Advisory lessons the week before focused on Mix It Up Day.  I find that this is a VERY difficult day for many students.  It takes them out of their comfort zone at the very time where maybe they feel the most comfort...lunch.  Does that mean we shouldn't do it?  NO WAY!!!  :)

I LOVE Mix It Up Day and how it stretches kids to connect with different people.  This is a super important life skill and I love that they get to practice it in middle school.

Here is how we organized the event:  We counted the tables in the lunch room (30).  Then we bought 30 helium filled balloons from the Dollar Tree ($1 each) and numbered them 1-30.  As kids came into the cafeteria, we numbered their hands with a Sharpie 1-30.  They just had to find the table with the appropriate numbered balloon.  At the table, we placed laminated front/back lists of questions to get the conversation going.  

Of course, we did have those students who tried to change their number and dodge the event (mostly 8th graders), but for the most part it was successful.  It was a lot quieter than regular lunch.  :)

How did you mix it up?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Parent Phone Calls

One of the things I hate most in life is making phone calls.  I just don't like calling people on the phone...especially with cell phones.  How do I know if I am calling at a good time?  Perhaps the person is driving and our conversation could cause an accident.  Lots of thoughts go through my mind!  :)

Since going into the field of education, I have learned to force myself to make the necessary phone calls.  I may not like it, but I think I do a pretty good job of calming down an angry parent...especially now that I am a school counselor and have been trained to handle sticky situations.

The cartoon above shows how many parents hold the school responsible for the grades that are reported rather than holding the student responsible as in the past.  I would have to agree that we do see this more and more.  Not sure why we see it, but my guess it has to do with parents being so much busier.  Nowadays both parents working is very common and parents just do not have as much time with their kids when they are running them to and from different activities.  Do parents and students really have the time to talk about grades?

This is my 2nd year as a school counselor and yesterday I recieved a very disgruntled parent phone call.  Much like the above cartoon, the dad blamed the school, and me, in particular for not doing everything we could to help his son be successful.  The phone call really upset me because I felt like I stumbled with my words and got a little snarky with the parent.  I just didn't feel good at the end of the conversation and this was the first time in my counseling career that that has happened.

Thank goodness for collaboration!!  I shared the gist of what happened with our other school counselor just so that I could get it off my chest and to see if maybe she would have handled it differently.  She did make some comments that I had not thought to bring up with the parent, but basically she said the parent must have been in a place where he didn't want any help...he just wanted to vent.  Maybe I could have been more empathetic, or said something a little differently...sure.  BUT...more importantly we cannot let negative situations get us down!  He is one parent in our building.  ONE.  I have successfully worked with many many more!  :)

As a solution focused school counselor, I need to think about solutions and moving forward rather than staying stuck on one interaction.

The truth is...this parent really cares about his son!  How thankful I am for that!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Best Year Ever!

We just completed the first week of school and it was quite a success!

Monday was Jumpstart Day for our 6th graders.  It was an optional shorter day, organized to be fun yet allow the 6th graders to feel comfortable with lockers, class location, teachers, etc. before the 7th and 8th graders arrive.  IT WAS A GREAT DAY!  Smiles everywhere!  It ended with a tug of war competition between some of the 6th graders and the teachers.  Everyone in the gym was cheering on the 6th grade players.  I loved watching the teachers right behind the players as they cheered, encouraged, supported, and offered tips in the hopes of winning the competition.   AND when the 6th grade players were losing their footing and started to slide, the teachers jumped in and helped pull the rope!  :)  What a great metaphor for the teacher-student relationship!!

Tuesday was our first "real" day.  We have a little over 600 students in our 6-8 building.  How exciting to see them come in, ready for a new year!

Over the first few days of school, the teachers are required to teach several PBIS lessons to make sure our entire school knows the expectations.  This might not be the most exciting thing to teach, but it is definitely a necessity.  The students are doing very well with following directions as the teachers are using common language and are really working hard to be consistent.  It sure pays off!!  As I was walking in the building last week, it just FELT GOOD!  Students were engaged and learning was taking place!  :)  I hope we keep this positive energy up all year long!!

How was your start to school?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back to School! :)

I am back!  Took a summer vacation both from the blog and from school.  Am feeling refreshed and ready for another year!  :)

Last week was the first week back for counselors in my building.  One of our jobs at this time of the year is scheduling students.  Wow!  What a tremendous responsibility!!

Last year, as a brand new counselor and new person to my building, I was not a part of the beginning of the year scheduling.  My colleague is very good at chunking my responsibilities so I am not overwhelmed all at once.  :)  This year I am taking a much more active role in the process.  Wow!.  So much to figure out!  So much to take into consideration!  Lots of creativity needed with some schedules.

We've had a lot of hiccups in the scheduling process.  Last night our assistant principal, the other counselor, and myself worked on schedules from 8:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. with about a 20 minute lunch around 11:00 a.m.  My eyes got tired from reading all those names/numbers/classes.  There were a few students I had to call to ask for their preference when it came to hard decisions regarding electives.  I called one young lady last night and she said she would call back with her response.  She didn't call back before I left to go home.

This morning I thought about this girl.  Before I could call her back, one of our secretaries told me that her family was here to talk to someone about her schedule.  The girl's last name was hispanic (this is important for later on in my story).  When I saw the girl's family I greeted them and explained the situation to the mom and the girl.  Both listened intently.  When I finished, the girl translated my explanation to Spanish for her mom.  Her mom then asked her to ask me a question about one of the classes.

So I switched from speaking in English to Spanish and explained it all to them.  It was a great opportunity for me to practice my Spanish and make the girl's job a little easier, as well as put the mom at ease.  This was the first time in my counseling role that I've gotten the chance to really use my Spanish with families.  It felt so good!  :)

So tonight was Schedule Pick Up Night.  I have been dreading this night a little.  Not just because it is a late night for us, but because this is one of the responsibilities our assistant principal gave to me when I started last year.  I was in charge of organizing everything.  Pretty overwhelming by itself, but then throw in working for several days on schedules and trying to tie up last minute details all at once.  I am not good at planning events.  I am a last minute girl so this is just really not my thing. went off well tonight!  :)Yeah!!

As much work as goes into nights like tonight, it still is so very rewarding to me.  I LOVE greeting new families and reconnecting with previous ones.  There is something about starting over each new year!  The kids and parents are excited...and so am I!!!!!  :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Today one of our administrators asked me to schedule a mediation between two sixth grade girls.  I must say it was the most successful mediation I have witnessed.  The girls were so respectful of each other and realized pretty soon that all of their issues were based on unsubstantiated rumors!
Per my administrator, I had each girl follow up with a phone call home to explain how they resolved the conflict.  As they packed up their books to go back to class, one of the girls stopped to give me a hug.  
This was one situation where the girls had met previously and got along famously, but when school started in the fall they were placed on different teams and did not get a chance to really continue that friendship while at school.  They would see each other at school, but only in passing.  Being able to provide the girls with a place to meet, expectations to follow, and time to clear the air was exactly what the girls needed!

Not always do we see the fruit of our efforts, but when we do, it can sure fill our buckets!  :)  This is just another reason why I LOVE my job!  :)

The rapid way rumors were spread and fighting was encouraged by peers lead me to think ahead for classroom guidance lessons for next year.  Do any of you teach a lesson on peer conflict/rumors?  I would love to hear from you!!!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Extraordinary School Counselor: Self-Injury & Self-Harm

If you have not found The Extraordinary School Counselor yet, this is a GREAT time to check out this amazing blog!  

The most  recent blog post is an excellent resource with information about self-injury and self-harm.  Check out the blog:  The Extraordinary School Counselor

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Liebster Award

The Middle School Counselor is one of my favorite blogs.  If you do not know Carol Miller, she has an AMAZING internet presence.  She blogs, tweets, creates SMores, pins, and started my favorite Facebook group, Caught in the Middle School Counselors.  She does more than that...AND she is a fantastic school counselor with fabulous ideas!  I have learned so much from her this year!!!  Today, she notified me that she nominated me for the Liebster Award.
What an incredible honor!  Thank you so much Carol Miller!

So, what is the Liebster award?  It is an award that honors new bloggers who have 200 or less followers.  The award promotes the nominee's blog while informing blog readers about the blogger.

Here are the rules associated with the award:

1.  Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2.  Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3.  Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4.  Create 11 questions for your nominees.
5.  Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them.

Thank you again Carol Miller!  I truly do feel honored!

Following directions, I will now answer the 11 questions:

1.  What are your favorite blogs?  This is a tough one!  My favorites are:

2.  Why did you decide to begin blogging?  I started blogging because I wanted to journal my first year as a school counselor.  I know too well how time can pass by and my memory does not always serve me as well as a journal would.  :)  I was especially inspired by others who have such amazing blogs.  I wanted to be able to educate others like they did me.

3.  Who do you follow on Pinterest?  I follow some of my friends to get ideas for dinner and such, but most of my Pinterest time is spent on school counseling ideas.  I follow The Helpful CounselorFranciene SabensSchool Counselor CentralBecca LengerLena Sheets (Becca and Lena are good friends and grad school classmates), Julia V. TaylorDanielle Schulz, and Carol Miller.

4.  Do you have a favorite counseling lesson?  I think my favorite lesson is one on anger management.  I have the students think about their anger when it is out of control.  Then, I give them a balloon and we equate uncontrolled anger to a balloon out of control.  I have the students blow up the balloon and hold it (don't tie it shut).  Then, I have them predict where they think the balloon will go.  Next, they release the balloon and try to recreate the movement of the balloon.  Finally, they discuss with a partner what happened when the balloon was realeased and how that is similar to anger that is out of control.  It really helps them visualize how unpredictable their anger can be and how it affects others.

5.  How do you connect with other counselors?  I am blessed to work in a counseling office with two other counselors:  a school counselor and an outreach counselor.  As a new counselor, I consult with them daily.  I work in a rather large school district.  The middle school counselors get together every other month for a breakfast meeting.  It is a great way for us to stay informed.  I also use facebook, twitter, and blogging sites to stay connected with counselors all around the globe.  :)

6.    What technology/apps would make your job more      
difficult if you had to do without?  Our school information system allows us to look up various information on our students.  I don't know what I would do without it!  

7.    What is your favorite thing about being a counselor?  I get to connect with so many different people!  I support students, parents, and other staff members on a daily basis! There is never a dull moment.  :)  After teaching for 19 years, I find it refreshing that I can leave my office at the end of the day and enjoy my family!!  :)

8.    What are 3 things about you most of us don't know?  1--My parents had 3 foreign exchange students from Spain (just for summers), 2--When I was 8 my parents were foster parents to two other children:  Dawn & Danny, 3--I once won a costume contest for dressing up as Carrie from the movie with the same title.

9.    What is your favorite ice cream flavor?  Butter pecan

10.  What do you do in your free time?  Watch my son's lacrosse games!  :)

11.  What is your best piece of advice for a student?  Concentrate on the things you can change. are the questions I have for the nominees:

1.  How long have you been in your profession?
2.  What sparked your interest in your current career?
3.  Who was your favorite teacher and why was he/she your favorite?
4.  What inspires you?
5.  What is your favorite social media and what makes it your favorite?
6.  What was the last conference you attended?
7.  If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
8.  How do you practice self care?
9.  Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
10. What is your favorite book?
11. Describe yourself in one word.

In turn, my nominations for the Liebster award are:

Congratulations Bloggers!  I look forward to reading your responses!  :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Transition Activities

I just participated in my 2nd twitter chat, sponsored by #scchat.  The topic was transitions and how school counselors help students and parents with those important transitions.

This is our week for transition activities.  Last night, our incoming 6th graders and theire families were invited to "Get Aquainted Night" at Lange Middle School.  We had a good crowd!  The night started out with an introduction by our principal, who then introduced the staff.  From there, our 8th grade Leadership Class took over.  About 15 students stood on the stage, in front of maybe 150 students and families and introduced each of the 6th grade teachers by telling what each one teaches, what his/her room # is, his/her class expectations and then...for a little humor how each teacher responded to the question, "What does a fox say?"

Once this presentation was finished, students were given a scavenger hunt and a time limit.  We asked that all return to the cafeteria by a certain time.  In the cafeteria (for fun) we had the video "What does a fox say" running.  At the given time, students and families returned to the cafeteria for door prizes and a big thank you for coming.  It was a GREAT night!  :)

As a counselor new to this building, I enjoyed meeting the families back in the cafeteria and just getting to know them a little.  Since we divide our counseling load by alphabet, I was able to introduce myself as the school counselor for last names A-K.  I LOVED how excited the students were who could say, "That's me!  You are my counselor."  :)  Sometimes it is just that simple introduction that eases their fears and offers them someone to turn to.  Oh!  How I LOVE my job!  :)

If I could attach the scavenger hunt to this blog, I would.  I can tell you that I attached it as a file on the "Caught In the Middle School Counselors" Facebook Group.  Feel free to use it!  :)

Middle School has transitions happening at both ends!  How does your school handle transition? 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dealing with grief

Today I was shocked to find out that a boy whose mom is dying of cancer (mom is not expected to make it to 2015) has told some of his teachers that mom already passed away. I am a new counselor. Was wondering if any of you have seen this before? I think he is just trying to cope with losing mom and is testing out the waters. Other ideas?

How about resources to help both him and his family through this tough time?  His step mom was looking for a book that would be helpful.

Let me know your ideas!  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cyberbullying Stats

Tonight I found a very informative article on cyberbullying.  Check it out:  Cyberbullying

Sunday, March 30, 2014

It's Not About The Nail

I LOVE this video and find it very pertinent to counseling.  Sometimes the people we work with are not ready to work on their problems...they need time to think, talk it out, and process.  :)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Daily Lessons...Integrity

This beautiful piece of carrot cake was part of a recent facebook post written by a friend of mine.  She had gone to a country ma and pa restaurant and ordered this delicious cake for dessert.  The owner told her that it was his mamma's recipe.

Well, based on the replies by other fb friends (one who worked at said restaurant for several years), this cake came on a frozen delivery truck.


As amazing as that cake looks, having a waiter share a false personal story, makes me want to send the cake back to the truck from which it came!  :)

Seriously, WHY tell such a personal, moving story like that IF IT IS NOT TRUE?!!!

It is interesting how quickly integrity (or lack thereof) can cause one to make a judgement.

This is an especially important lesson for our middle school students.  They are in a developmental BOOM where often their bodies are mature before their brains are.  They are learning to take on more and more responsibility as we hold them more accountable as they get older.

I notice that this age group is quick to deny responsibility for wrong choices or mistakes.  "What?  Why are you looking at me?  I didn't do anything!" are common responses I hear.  Yes...this is part of growing up, but at a time when they LOOK older than they are, integrity holds even more weight.  Adults often judge students by how they SHOULD act, not how they DO act.  Like the carrot cake example above, once a judgement is made, it is very hard to reverse the damage.

So, how do we, as school counselors, educate our students on the importance of integrity?

Here is where I am so thankful for the our k-12 comprehensive guidance and counseling program!  I am grateful for the school counselors, parents, teachers, and other staff members who have been teaching integrity all along.  Students should already have a firm foundation, right?

So, how do you incorporate the lesson of integrity in the middle school?  Advisory lessons?  Teachable moments?  Classroom lessons?  Small groups?  All of the above?

Here is where I see the value in a SYSTEM.  When I walk by a classroom and hear a teacher using current events to reinforce integrity or I listen to my daughter tell how astounded she was that a girl just copied a paragraph directly out of a book and turned it in as her own work, I have faith in our system.

At my school, we have two school counselors, but we are definitely not enough to conquer all these important lessons alone!  We rely on teachers, administrators, custodians, cooks, and even students to help us reinforce the lessons that hopefully started at home.  And...if they didn't start at home...we have system support to teach them along the way.

Thoughts?  I would LOVE to hear from you!!!  :)  Leave a comment or write on my Facebook Page:  MS Counseling (  I cannot wait to hear from you!!!!  :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

504 Plans

Are you in charge of the 504 plans in your building?

I think every building is different.  In my district, at least at the middle school level, counselors are in charge of 504 plans.  

Many believe 504 plans take away from a fully implemented comprehensive guidance and counseling program.  Some counselors never have to mess with them, while other counselors may be the case manager for all the 504 plans in the building.  There definitely is a lot of variance.

In my school, the other school counselor and I split the alphabet.  I have last names A-K, and she takes care of L-Z.  We split 504 plans in the same manner.  

While I do think that 504 plans can be time consuming, I certainly find them to be more of a counseling responsibility than I can cafeteria duty.  As much as I would rather have a dedicated individual handle all the plans & paperwork, I do believe managing the 504 plans is a way of advocating for students (the reason for our program!) and it is proactive as it sets up a system of support for our struggling students.

This week I have three 504 meetings planned.  Two are complete and one more happens this Thursday.  It is a busy time for 504 plans.  :)

Today I met with a parent who struggles to keep her student on the straight and narrow.  The student has some behavior problems, and I can tell that this momma is tired, but NOT defeated.  She is still going to stand up for her son and push him to do his absolute best.

So, the 504 meeting went just fine today.  It was a beautiful day and we joked about making sure to get mom in and out quickly so she could enjoy the sunshine.  

As we were walking out of the conference room, this mom said, "I feel really good about this meeting today.  We are going to get him straightened out."  I agreed.  I thanked mom for her time and told her how nice it was to meet her.  I shook her hand.

She shook my hand and then she said, "I want to give you a hug."  Little does that mom know how much that small gesture impacted me!  In a simple gesture, she showed me how much she loves and cares for her children.  With that hug, she expressed to me her gratitude for advocating and supporting both her and her son.  She also told me that I was doing my job.

That hug was such a beautiful compliment to me.  This woman who looks very much different than I do shares high expectations, joy, and pain with me.  She works so hard in an uphill battle.  Her children are so very important to her.  She would do anything to support them, but she is not going to do their work for them.  They have to work hard in life.  She sets that example for them and then holds them to it.  She is a momma bear who will stand up for her cubs and protect them.  I am so grateful her children have such a solid role model in their home.  She is not perfect, and never pretends to be.  She is real.  Genuine.  100% authentic.  She made my day!

It is experiences like this that make all the hard work and effort of 504 plans do-able.  I am advocating for my students by offering them supports and leveling the playing field.  And I hope that what I do makes a difference! 

Friday, March 7, 2014


One of the main personal goals I have as a school counselor is to make a positive difference in a life.  Some days I feel like all I am doing is scheduling meetings and dealing with paperwork.  And making phone calls.
Let me just say that I have a phone phobia.  I hate making phone calls!  Since I am a procrastinator I tend to put my phone calls off until I absolutely need to make that call.  And then I get nervous and worry that I will say the wrong thing or worse yet...sound unintelligent.  Yes...HATE those phone calls.

The truth?  School counselors make A LOT of phone calls!  I am getting a little better at that...but still hate picking up that phone.


I suddenly found myself with 3 504 plans coming due and made myself pick up that phone and schedule the meetings.  Such a process!  Sometimes I think it is harder to pick the right date and time than fill out the actual paperwork!

Enter DOODLE!  The new technology tool that helps schedule meetings.  I have not tried this out yet, but other counselors were singing its praise at our regional meeting yesterday.  I am definitely going to try it out.  

How Doodle works (or at least how it was explained to me):  You enter possible dates and times and all stakeholders are invited to see the possibilities and choose the ones that work.  The person scheduling the meeting can then determine the best time to have the meeting.  :)

So today I found myself in two parent-student-teacher meetings.

The first meeting was a long one (over an hour long), but resulted in the student telling us, "I feel more confident in what to do to improve in this class and now I have strategies to use when I get overwhelmed and my anger comes out."  WOW!  

After that meeting the teacher involved thanked me for taking so much time out of my schedule to help her work through these issues.

Yeah!!!!  Let me just say I watched the student totally change demeanor from the beginning of the meeeting to the end.  When we started out, there was a lot of friction in the air between the mom and the teacher.  I had such a positive feeling at the end of the meeting as the teacher and mom thanked each other again and the student smiled.  :)

Next up on my agenda today was a 504 meeting after school.  This was my 3rd 504 meeting this year and the most attended one!  Teacher, parent, and student feedback was so positive!  This student is really maturing and finding academic and athletic success.  This has not always been the case with him.  He has some tough diagnoses that make school challenging for him.  Today, I saw how his 504 plan has really offered him a security net so that he can find success.  I really had no part in his success, but let me just say it was a pleasure to hear the reports and see the grades!  As much as people complain about the extra work 504s bring, they REALLY do support our students when they are put into place and followed!

I feel so blessed to be in a profession where I can witness positive change and its effect!!!  What an AWESOME job I have!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Professional Membership

Do you belong to any professonal organizations?
The top two national organizations that come to my mind are ASCA (American School Counselor's Association) and ACA (American Counseling Association).  Aside from offering insurance benefits these organizations support school counselors with publications and a wealth of online support.  Because ASCA is specific to school counseling, I get just a little more excited about it than ACA, but they are both wonderful organizations that offer much needed support.  Every time I get the ASCA School Counselor magazine in the mail, I get excited and delve into every part of the publication.  Another great perk to membership is the support of the online community.  Through the ASCA website is a section called ASCA Scene which is a great professional discussion board.  

One thing I learned as a new counselor is that ASCA is actually a more specific section of ACA.  I have membership in both and plan to continue that.

Even more close to me is the MSCA or Missouri School Counselor Association.  Did you know that the Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Program originated in Missouri?  That is something I learned in grad school and a fact I am proud to share!  :)  Norm Gysbers, a professor at the University of Missouri was instrumental in getting the ball rolling with the Missouri Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Program.  He and Bragg Stanley, one of my professors from grad school, are huge advocates for school counseling.  Possibly because of these connections, the MSCA annual conference is always a BIG event!  I have never been to ASCA, but some say that our conference is not that much smaller.  (I will have to go to ASCA soon to see if this is the case).

2012 marks the first year I attended MSCA and it was all that I hoped for and more!  It was definitely a place for professional development in all aspects of the CGCP (Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Program), but it was also a fun event that included dances, socials, Zumba, 5k run/walk, and plenty of time for collaboration and sharing.  
One thing I have learned about myself over the years is that I have a strong need to feel like I belong.  I find that for me, being a member is great, but I need more.  I really enjoy being "in the know".  It is for this reason, I also joined the Mid Missouri School Counselor Association.  MMSCA falls under the umbrella of MSCA, but at a more local level.  Our MMSCA includes Norm Gysbers and Bragg Stanley as members.  How awesome is that?!!!!!!

So, how is the smaller MMSCA in comparison to MSCA?  What does it offer me?  Regional workshops (Guidance System of Support), meetings, and opportunities to become involved in the board of directors.  It is my membership in MMSCA that has really helped support me as a counslor.  My former practicum instructor is the chair of the recognition committee and asked me to help her out with that this year.  This was a great place for a new counselor to start.  The time committment was very low, but it afforded me the opportunity to meet other counselors in the area and collaborate with them.  By becoming involved in MMSCA, I have felt like a part of the group from the first meeting!  I have met many other school counselors and this just makes me feel more comfortable at the MSCA conference.  I also have now developed a system of support that I can go to when I need help.  I love this!!

Being involved in professional organizations is so much more than something to put on my resume.  I know being a counselor is a very demanding job, but in my opinion, the time that I take to network with other professionals is time well spent!  What do you think?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Celebrate Diversity

I am  blessed to work in a school that is not one color.

In my school we have students and staff of all different shades.

This is not how I grew up.  I grew up in rural Missouri and everyone in my graduating class had the same skin color...unless of course he/she spent too much time in the sun in the summertime.  Then, he/she may be the color of a lobster or a dark bronze color.  The boys who worked on the farm became very dark in the summer for they worked long, hot hours.  But, you know what I mean.  My hometown really lacked (and still lacks) diversity.

I now work in a college town, which brings in people from all over the world.  To me, it is so exciting to learn about other people, their traditions, and where they come from!

Tonight my school's MAC Scholars hosted its 3rd annual Black History Month Program.  It was scripted and performed by our middle school students.  Because of the recent death of Nelson Mandela, it was a tribute to Nelson Mandela and his wife.

All I can say is WOW!  Those kids did an outstanding job!  They taught us some history about the Mandelas and interspersed the history with poetry and song.  I brought my 13 year old daughter to the program and she thoroughly enjoyed it.

I think what I loved the most about the evening was how diverse a group of performers we had!  While it might have been entitled Black History Month Program, we had all colors of the rainbow presenting the program.  It was so uplifting and just made you feel good!

I know sometimes race becomes an issue, but if you could have only seen these middle schoolers delivering this powerful message tonight, you would have felt hopeful for the children of tomorrow.  :)

Way to go Lange Leopards!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Social Skills Lesson Plans for Middle School

Thanks to Laura Asinger for sharing this awesome website!!!!

This website has numerous links to lesson plans on social skills for the middle school level.  All I can say is WOW!!!!

How might you use this resource?

Social Skills Lesson Plans for Middle School

Friday, February 7, 2014


Wanted to share this awesome video.  Such a GREAT song that embraces a happy spirit!

What music lifts you up?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Something personal

Facebook has this new feature where it will create a short 1 minute video of your posts.  I thought I would share my movie on this blog because some of the posts features show my journey from a teacher to a counselor.  Fell free to use the link to create your own vidoe.

You might wonder why there is a treadmill picture featured!  :)  Last year I had my husband find me a piece of laminate for $2.88 at Menards.  I put that on my treadmill so I can walk and work.  I think it is funny that it showed up in the video.  A good reminder for counselors that self care needs to be a priority!  :)

my fb movie

Sunday, February 2, 2014

St. Clair High School (Missouri) - All Kinds of Kinds - 2014

I love this video that a small school near my hometown created!  I especially like the wall at the 5:31 mark.  :)  Wouldn't this be a great introduction for incoming students?  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!

Toolkit & Resources for The Dove® Movement for Self-Esteem

Toolkit & Resources for The Dove® Movement for Self-Esteem

Dove is on a mission to improve self-esteem and allow women to see their own self beauty.  They have some inovative videos and ideas for lessons, both valuable for parents and school counselors.  Check out the website!  :)  (I LOVE free!)

Dealing with mean kids

I hate the word bully!  I feel it is overused.  I just found a very relevant article basically saying rather than fighting bullying, we need to teach victims how to stand up for themselves.  I couldn't agree more!  That is actually how I work with students who are dealing with mean kids.  (Yes, I think most of the time they are dealing with mean kids, not bullies).

Check out this article and let me know what you think!

Education World: Ending Bullying By Teaching Kids Not To Be Victims

Saturday, February 1, 2014

National School Counseling Week Link Party!

Next week (February 3-7) is National School Counseling Week!  What are you doing to promote your program?

We are heavy into enrollment right now, presenting classroom lessons to our 6th and 7th graders on Monday and Tuesday.  Tuesday night we are presenting that information to parents.  With all the concentration on enrollment, I honestly have not thought much about National School Counseling Week.  I want to do something educational, yet inexpensive.  As busy as I am, a time consuming, cute project will not work.

Here is what I am thinking to do:  School Counseling questions in the daily student announcements with prizes (cookie at lunch) given to a winning student from each grade level during lunch Tuesday through Friday.

I would also like to do something for the adults in our building.  I'd like to keep it simple.  Since it is so cold, I am thinking of thanking them for their support with hot cider and/or hot tea.  (Pour the cider in a crock pot and add a cinnamon stick to the mixture, bring a hot pot and assorted tea bags--will smell good and keep them warm).

I feel like my ideas are simple enough to accomplish at this busy time.  I would LOVE to do way more, but since it is my first year I feel I need to start small.

What are your thoughts?  Any suggestions?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sesame Street: Bruno Mars: Don't Give Up

I found this video on youtube.  This would be a great motivational song for elementary school.  Might be a bit juvenile for middle school, but I really like it!  :)  What are your thoughts?

Trying something new!

Ok, so I have got to share what we did at Lange Middle School yesterday! It was a shorter day, with the kids getting out at 12:05. We also had an assembly in there. So, our PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention & Support) Team decided that we needed to stress the positives in our school by doing fun activities. One thing they came up with was a "Switch Day". 

Students were given a punch card that listed their 4 core classes and 2 electives. Yesterday, students could go to their classes in any order. They had to attend core classes on their team, but they could choose when to go. As for electives, they were able to choose any elective class to try for the day. 

When students came to class, the teacher punched their cards and closed the door when class was full (28 students) and hung up a red sign. 

What a creative idea!!! I really applaud our PBIS team for the courage to try something so out of the box! 

When I asked the kids their opinion on the day, here were some of the comments I received:
"BEST day ever!"
"Just another day of school."
"It was like the Hunger Games trying to get to the elective class I wanted."
"It was like Black Friday."
"Kids were running to get to class."

The crazy thing is, the hallways were EMPTY in between classes. Kids were excited to be with their friends and try something new. Let me say this again, "Kids were running to get to class!" When does this happen?!

Awesome job Lange Middle School!!!! 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Almost Free Samples - The Career Game by Rick Trow Productions

Almost Free Samples - The Career Game by Rick Trow Productions

If you are looking for mateirals for middle school career exploration, check out the link above!  Several samples.  All you pay for is the shipping!

Who's going to try this with me?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Future Puerto Rico Trip

In June, I am taking 4 students and 2 adults on a trip to Puerto Rico!

Puerto Rico 2014

I started planning and organizing this trip while I was a Spanish teacher.  Now that I am a school counselor, the purpose for the trip is more global.  Not only do I want the students to appreciate another culture and practice a different language.  I want them to be able to see how they each grow personally and socially from their experiences on this trip.

We are a small group, so we will be paired with at least one other group.  We have no control over who that might be.

Another interesting thing about this trip is that each student enrolled is from a different school.  None of them know each other.  I am excited to get everyone together and get to know each other!

I am interested to know if you have ever traveled with students.  If so, how did it go?  What was your purpose?

Also...if this trip looks like something you might be interested in, check out the Puerto Rico 2014 link at the top of the page.  I would LOVE to travel with another colleague!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Awesome Blog!

Are you familiar with the blog entitled, "School Must See Videos"?  As is true of most of my internet experience, I was playing around and stumbled across this fabulous blog!  The title describes it perfectly.  It is a blog filled with videos pertinent to our area of practice.

I'd love to share the newest video on the blog with you.  It speaks to the kindness of strangers.  Please, check it out: Must See Videos: Man's act of kindness to autistic girl on plane go...:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Enrollment Presentations

Today was another exciting day in the world of school counseling!  Today the high school counselors came to talk to our 8th grade students about enrolling for high school classes.  The students were attentive because this is IMPORTANT information to them.

One girl said, "I don't know why I'm getting excited about going to high school?"

Another student:  "Now THESE are the classes I want to take!"

I love seeing kids get excited about their future!

Some students have really blown off middle school and are not excited about moving on because they see an even rougher road ahead.  We are so fortunate to have a new program called AVID available to students who need that extra support to succeed in high school and college.  (If you are unfamiliar with AVID, check out this link:  AVID).  Today some AVID students shared their journey and their successes with our 8th graders.  It is truly an exciting program with high expectations!  Our school district's goal is that all students in the AVID program select a college they want to attend and earn a full ride scholarship!  I am excited to see that happen!

Speaking of AVID, I just checked out their website and found an article about Battle High School in Columbia, MO.  That is the school we feed into!  Look up December 30th, 2013 under News.  Wow!  So proud of those AVID kiddos!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Odd job

I certainly love the freedom of being a school counselor.  At first, it was difficult to get used to.  For 19 years my work life revolved around a bell schedule that had 4 minutes passing time.  Having the freedom to schedule myself is so exciting!

Before winter break, my principal asked if I would drive 2 of our students to the board office for their monthly meeting with the superintendent (they are on a middle school advisory council).  I agreed to do it.  

So today was the day to play taxi.  One student remembered, and the other forget.  I called her classroom to remind her to come on down.  When she got to the office, she said, "I just got so carried away with Algebra!"  I knew at that point that I was in for a ride!  :)

The kids and I chatted the whole trip there and back (about 15 minutes one way).  I thought maybe it would be slow going for conversation, but I was pleasantly surprised...and impressed!  These two kiddos, who I really did not know before our trip, even made sure to offer me a fortune cookie when their meeting was finished (they had Chinese for lunch).  I told them I didn't realize that I could have joined them.  Their response?  "Next month we're having Italian!"

It is so refreshing to me to see a different side of kids that the classroom teacher does not always get a chance to see.  This was a perfect example of that!

We discussed how fun it was to get out of the school building.  It sure was fun to hang out with some really awesome kids today!

That's school counseling!  You don't always know what your day will look like until you are in the moment.  So much fun!!


I cannot think of one school in our nation that does not have trouble with bullying.

There are so many resources out there in cyber space it is unbelievable!  Here is a new website I found today:  It even has videos!  Lots of good information out there.

What is your favorite website to share?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Be more adventurous with Twitter!

Do you have a Twitter account?  One of the most used forms of social media for educators (including school counselors--check out #scchat and #sccrowd) is Twitter.  The fact that you can only post 140 characters at a time makes those who post be succint and concise in their posting.

I have had an account for a few years, but haven't used it much.

Last year my son started playing high school lacrosse and the coach would send out tweets regarding where and when games/practices would be held.  We folled coach to get those tweets, but I must admit my husband did more of the following than I.

Then I started seeing all this # stuff on facebook (my preferred social media).  I had tried Twitter for a little while, but found it hard to figure out.  But the more I was reading blogs, the more I saw the hashtags and the more I felt left out because I didn't tweet.

So, over winter break I played around a little more with my account.  And, I tried my first ever Twitter chat.  WOW!

Twitter chats are super fast paced, but you can always lurk first before actually participating.  Usually the moderators will compose a storify of the chat so you can read all the tweets, in case you missed any.

SCOPE has a great 30 minute video on youtube explaining Twitter SCOPE Twitter video, but if you don't have 30 minutes, I found that Edudemic wrote a good article to get you started:  Edudumic Twitter Article.  You might learn something!

What is your favorite form of social media that keeps you up to date with the counseling world?

Why I Love My Job

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Today I greeted one of the girls I have been working with in the hallway.  I have not seen her since before winter break.  She had a little gift for me that she made over the break.  She learned to sew and she made me a beautiful coaster!  Hand stitched.  Double sided.  I always have a water bottle with me at school and need a coaster to collect the condensation.  What a perfect gift!

The relationships that we build as school counselors are the reason I love my job.!  It isn't that I want gifts, but heartfelt gifts like these are feedback to me.  Feedback that I AM connecting with the student and am making a difference.

Sometimes we don't get that feedback.  We wonder if we are making an impact.  We keep trying, but we may never know.

Feedback can come in all shapes and sizes.  These are some examples of feedback I have gotten:

  • Kids asking to eat lunch with me
  • Emails and phone calls from parents
  • Hugs
  • Shout outs like, "Mrs. Hughes!  I passed my first Algebra test EVER!!!"
  • Notes from students telling me I really understand
  • Smiles
  • Thank yous from administrators, staff, and parents
  • "I feel wanted when I'm in your office."
  • "I could spend all day in your office."
  • Kids who stay after school with me to decorate my office
Not all feedback is positive.  Sometimes I can't make the change that students/parents think I can.  Sometimes I have to say, "We don't make schedule changes because you want a different teacher."  Even in those cases, where the student/parent/staff member does not feel better, I think he/she is learning a lesson about life.

When I taught Spanish, I didn't think of it as teaching a specific subject.  In all reality, I taught kids.  While the subject matter was Spanish, I wanted them to walk away having learned lessons about life.  

As a school counselor, I still feel the educator inside me.  My job is to teach others how to handle what life deals them so that they can grow up to be independent, successful adults.

I LOVE my job!  :)

How about you?  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Recognizing Blog Writers

Top School Counseling Blogs

Use the link above to nominate your top 3 favorite school counseling blogs!

We are so fortunate to have such amazing social media support for our profession.  Let's recognize those who give so much of themselves.  I know that I would not have so many tools in my counseling toolbox without these great bloggers!

#SCCHAT tonight 7pm central time!

I am stepping out.  New career.  New blog.  New facebook page.  Tonight I am going to try my first ever twitter chat!  Not sure what it is exactly, but willing to try something new!  Yeah!

Thanks to Danielle Schulz for compiling the NUMEROUS tweets from tonight's chat!  Check out the storify!

FREE Bullying Prevention Training

If you are a member of ASCA, they are offering FREE online antibullying prevention training as long as you finish the course before the end of June, 2014.  Check it out!  I am all about FREEEEEE!!  :)

Welcome | Random Acts of Kindness

Welcome | Random Acts of Kindness

If you like detailed free lesson plans and project ideas, check out the Random Acts of Kindness website linked above!!!  Registration is free.  They just want to know who you are and how you are going to use their materials.  LOVE me some free stuff that makes my life easier!  How about you?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Awesome website/curriculum!

Thanks to a post by Don Bentley on Caught In The Middle School Counselors facebook page, I became acquainted with The Ophelia Project.  WOW!!  FREE materials for parents, students, and school counselors.  I haven't had a lot of time to really delve into it, but what I did see so far has been amazing!

If you work in a school, then you need to check out this website!

Share how you plan to use it at your school.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year Video

At my school, administrators and counselors supervise the cafeteria for our 3 lunch shifts.  While it isn't my favorite responsibility, I view it as a time to connect with students.

Our outreach counselor pushed really hard to get a data projector installed in the lunch room so we could play slideshows for the kids during lunch.  A couple months ago she got her wish.

Now, what to do with it?  We started with posting the daily announcements (which are read 2nd period by the teachers) and some positive posters, all on powerpoint slides.  Then, we started getting creative.

  • We took pictures at club meetings, at lunch and in the hallway and started posting them.  
  • As Thanksgiving approached we found turkey humor and threw that in (remember, I am in a middle school!).  
  • Before winter break, we asked teachers to send us a picture of their holiday cards and we posted those with messages from the teachers.  
  • We had an ugly sweater contest and posted pictures of every teacher and his/her outfit (kids really like seeing that)!
  • We also put in posters about being kind to others.  One favorite says, "If you can't say something nice, be quiet!"  The kids love that can tell because we hear them saying it to their friends!  :)
  • On the last day before break we posted a video I created of building staff dancing.  It was a video made with the "Elf Yourself" app.  The students loved it!
We have had staff from other buildings comment on how much they like what we are doing with the data projector at lunch.  One counselor even said, "Your lunch shifts are so much quieter than ours!"

We love our new tool and the kids really do pay attention to it.  It gives us an opportunity to reinforce our guidance curriculum and stress the positive.  

As I've been on break, I have been looking at all the amazing videos available on youtube.  WOW!  There are so many possibilities for our lunch time!!!  The first day back I would like to show Kid President's New Year video.  I think it fits right in with a new year, a new semester, and a clean slate. 

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Depressed Comic

I recently went to an workshop entitled Mental Health First Aid.  At lunch Kevin Breel was our guest speaker.  He was amazing!

Suicide ideation is very prevelant in our schools.  I found his talk pertinent to today's world.  Please watch his Ted Talk:

What do you think?

Best Jobs=School Counselor!

Very interesting article ranking school counseling as one of the top jobs in the United States!  WE may love our jobs, but not everyone else always sees it the same way.  Link is at the bottom of the page.  :)

School Counselor Job Overview | Best Jobs | US News Careers

Friday, January 3, 2014

Check out my new Facebook MS Counseling page!

(26) MS Counseling

Reading material

While on winter break, I have a pile of school counseling books and magazines parked next to my favorite chair.  Truth is, I love reading about the newest trends in technology, counseling, and education in general.

As I have been catching up on blogs and information I found a review for a fairly new book.  While it isn't about school counseling, it is about education and very pertinent to the middle school level.  The title?  The Best Kept Teaching Secret:  How Written Conversations Engage Kids, Activate Learning, and Grow Fluent Writers by Daniels and Daniels.

I think on Monday I will talk to our media center specialist and see if we could add this to our school library.  I really could have used this book as a teacher!

What are your thoughts?

Simple Acts of Kindness - Give it a try

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Help for Self Injury

I found this great website with tons of resources for school counselors and parents.  I see it is based out of St. Louis, Missouri so if you are like me and close to St. Louis, this is an even greater resource.  Check it out!

There is also a book study available that is worth 10 CEUs and costs less than $100.


Count On Me - Bruno Mars Lyrics (+playlist)

Useful videos

I LOVE winter break!  Why?

Because it gives me a chance to play around with youtube, pinterest, and catch up on my favorite blogs.  There is so much useful information/ideas out in cyberspace and during the rush, rush of the school year I just do not get the time to check them all out.  As a first year counselor I feel like a kid in a candy store!

Through the Caught In The Middle School Counselors group on facebook, I learned about some great videos.  LifeVestinside is a great channel on Youtube that offers several videos about spreading kindness.  Below is the first video by LifeVestinside that I saw.  You can subscribe to their channel and check out all their kindness videos.  Spreading kindness is a lot easier to do than stopping bullying.

Well, now I am on a hunt for videos about spreading kindness!  Our school has accepted Rachel's Challenge.  If you know nothing about Rachel Scott and how she is still making a difference even after her death, check out  It will give you a picture of who Rachel was and why she is still making a world of a difference!  The above video is from 2012, but I think it is powerful.

Finally, here is an awesome website with tons of kindness videos:  Tell me what you think!  :) Carey

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Made it to Winter Break!

This blogging stuff is new to me so please apologize the lack of posts since the first week of school.

I have learned a lot since August!

I have learned how to change schedules, make new schedules, and a whole bunch of other stuff concerning scheduling!  Useful information, but I cannot solve every student's scheduling problems!

Being a former Spanish Teacher has helped me GREATLY in this profession, with students, parents, and even other world language teachers!  Because I have been in the classroom for 19 years, that experience has allowed me to share with students the teacher's side of thinking...super helpful!  It has also allowed me to better explain course considerations to parents.  Most surprisingly, it has allowed me the opportunity to mentor some teachers who were really struggling.  Wow!  This was definitely unexpected!

Through this first semester I have gotten a sense of how teachers view counselors and how counselors and administrators view teachers too.  It has been eye opening!

I have proctored standardized tests and helped organize the whole process of high stakes testing.  Not my favorite part of the job, but I see its value.

I have been involved in successful mediation and unsuccessful mediation.  Yeah...

I have had to work really hard to build relationships with students.  It isn't as easy as it was when I saw them every day in class.  Lunch duty has been both a blessing and a curse.

I am still getting used to being considered a part of the office staff.  I am amazed at how the office comes together to celebrate birthdays, holidays, you name it!

Unfortunately, I have learned how this school and this district handle the loss of a student.  12 year old Jade tragically lost her life in a car accident over a weekend.  Monday was a tough, tough day, but other counselors throughout our district came to help and I was so thankful for the way they came in and guided us in the right direction.  You really learn the strenght of your school/district when tragedy strikes.  We sure were well take care of!

Something I did not imagine dealing with as much as I have is students who are suicidal.  I am so thankful for our outreach counselor who gives me hints and tips along the way!

In January we are about to start the enrollment process.  Because we are a middle school, we will be visiting elementary schools and coordinating with the high school and career center to set up days when the perspective schools talk to our students.  It is a busy time.  I am a little scared and a lot excited!

One thing I would like to start second semester is groups to support students.

This is just my first year and I am so thankful to have both an outreach counselor and another school counselor in my building to offer support and direction!

How about you?  Have you learned anything new this past semester?  Is there anything new you would like to start?

:) Carey