Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Circles: What are they?

"There was a circle today".  You might have heard this from your student if they attend Leonard Middle School.  So what does this mean and how does it affect your child?  It is with great administrative support that we are in our fourth year of "circling up" as we call it. We are a restorative practice school and this means we use circles as a structured format for solving conflicts. We arrange ourselves in a circle formation and have a structured way of talking with one another. Circles include everyone in a conversation that happens for a variety or reason and can be a whole classroom or a small group.  Teachers use circles to build community, problem solve and repair harm.   All of our faculty have been trained in using circles in the classroom.  The type of circle you would most likely see in a classroom is a community building circle.  The higher level circles happen but with a different level of facilitator who might be Mrs. O'Connell, Mrs. Cyr or Mr. Keane.  We are dedicated to giving students a way to communicate with each other that builds community, solves the problem, repairs harm or gives a voice to ideas.  Students feel more included in decisions when their voice has been heard.  All students have a chance to "weigh in".
We use circles to have fun and build community and we use circles to respond to serious situations. Some very powerful circles happened last year as we responded as a school to the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in CT.  We facilitated circles with all teachers and support staff and the students were amazing and on many levels responded to each other with their hopes, fears and questions.
The foundation of restorative circles begins with the process of how a circle is run. Circles have a set of rules. It is this set of rules that are the basis for building trust and expectations about what is said. 
Community Building Circle
Everyone will have a turn to speak and we agree to share the time equally.
It’s okay to pass and you will have another chance to speak at the end of the circle.
Stay on topic
Be as honest as possible
Listen and speak with respect
Please do not interrupt a speaker or have private conversations during a circle
Respect privacy by keeping our conversation confidential. 

There is also a talking piece that is selected by each leader.  The talking piece might have a special significance or the students might choose one to highlight their team theme.  Circles and Restorative Practice are what is great about our school.  We know that being able to solve problems and repair harm is vital to a happy climate.  We are also giving our students tools to take with them in the world.  
If you would like to know more please contact me at any time.  Here is a website that you can check out also if you like further reading. 
Try this one:         Restorative Justice of MidCoast Maine

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Alternative Mix it Up Lunch Take 2

Alternative Mix it Up Lunch Take 2:  Check out the UMaine Hockey Team visiting us at an LMS lunch on November 18.  A big Thank you to Ms. Steven's who is helping coordinate the athletes visits.  We are hoping to break down the barriers at lunch and have students experience meeting new people.  So far it is a big success.  A big shout out to Ms. Stevens and the Hockey team. GO BLUE!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Attendance Counts! 11/5/13

LeAnne Dunham:  8th Grade Case Manager

 Rock Stars
The Behavior Team at L.M.S. held it’s first Attendance Counts breakfast on Tuesday, November 5th.  Attendance Counts is a program designed to increase attendance and on-time behavior at our school.  The first homeroom to reach ten days of perfect attendance (all students present in the classroom at the time of attendance), win a special breakfast for their homeroom.  
We celebrated two homerooms who reached the target on the same day.  Students enjoyed breakfast sandwiches, fresh fruit, baked goods, and apple cider.  The LMS parent-teacher group, PEAKS, was hugely supportive with donations of muffins, donuts, and tablecloths.  
This was certainly a group effort, and was enjoyed by both students and staff.  We have started over,  and are now in a race to see       who the next winner will be!

Rock Stars

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Alternative Mix It Up Lunch

Mix it up Lunch is a national campaign started ten years ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The goal of the program  is to cross and or question social boundaries in the lunch room once a year, by asking students to talk with someone they don't usually sit with.  Building relationships between students is a way to increase social awareness of others and helps to reduce the friendship barriers and conflicts that are sometimes created when students have set ideas about others.   On Wednesday we mixed it up at lunch in a different way at LMS.  I invited the Male Athletes Against Violence and other Athletes to join us for lunch.  The fabulous University of Maine Students from across sports disciplines visited with OUR students at different tables to get them talking.  The Leonard Middle School Students loved it and we will be repeating the event, so expect updates.
Alternative Mix it up Lunch

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Coyote U 2nd session

Coyote U has had a great fall program with lots of students participating.  There were 35 students who stayed to participate in lots of fun activities.  Mrs. Cyr and Mr. McAllian are hopeful that more students and parents will take advantage of the activities.  We are super, super lucky to have the YWCA participating also.  This is a community effort.  Please call the office for more information.
Coyote U sign up November 12 to December 18th

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Responding in a Crisis/Traumatic Event

October 10, 2013
Please check out the school counselor tab of the blog.  You will find links to topics and helpful resources about responding to traumatic events for children.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October News

October 21, 2013
THE BLACK BEAR MENTOR's are here.  This is very exciting news for the students and mentors from the University of Maine.  We have a strong team of students this year and the BLACK BEAR Mentors meet on Monday and Wednesday until 4 pm.  Then, there a is bus ride home or you may pick your student up at Leonard Middle School.  There are a few students who won't get started right away and the students have been notified.  Anne McKay is the coordinator of the program and is available by phone or email.  We can give you her contact information at the LMS office.  She is on site on both mentoring days.

THE COMMUNITIES THAT CARE TUTORING program is getting ready to start.  Letters went home to families of those students who are eligible.  Please get your form back to the office as this is a program that fills up quickly.  There are openings right now for tutors.  These tutors meet with students two times a week and will support what is happening in the classroom.


September 2013

Dear Parents, 

The 2013/14 School year is off to a great start and the weather is certainly fabulous.  While I certainly had an exciting summer I am glad to be back to see all the students. I am writing to let you know about some happenings in the Guidance Office.  I have two great interns this year.  Brandon McLaughlin is back with me for another semester.  Brandon is pursuing a Master’s Degree at the University of Maine in School Counseling.  Another new face this fall is,  Megan Cornwall. Megan is pursuing her Master’s Degree in School Counseling at Husson University.  They both will be doing all the things that I do and will help problem solve with students about their middle school concerns, teach some groups or lessons and jump in and help where ever they can. I will invite them to meetings with parent permission and we will work hard to make sure every student is supported.  I am very excited to welcome them.  I have also started a blog site to keep communication up and running.  I am hopeful it will be a helpful resource for parents and students [I am trying to add a student section] and I would welcome any suggestions about what you and or your child might request. School Counselors support the personal/social, academic and career components of education for ALL students.  I might not be seen in every class but I am working tirelessly for your child with all the great faculty at LMS behind the scenes.  Please contact me at any time. 

September 3, 2013
In the Leonard Middle School Office you can get your questions answered.
Maxie: Mrs. Smiths special friend
Mrs. Smith is the Guidance Secretary.  She is in the office by Mrs. O'Connell.  She knows just about everything.

Mrs. O'Connell School Counselor
Mrs. O'Connell is the School Counselor for the middle School.  She will have two interns with her this year: 

Mrs. Cornwell-intern

Mr. McLaughlin-intern

Monday, August 26, 2013

What do School Counselors Do?

What do School Counselors do?   School Counselors are trained in a rigorous Graduate degree program specifically designed with schools and students in mind.  School counselors have a Code of Ethics that they use to direct programing and decision making.  School counselors use data to make decisions in every student's life.  They assist with academic, career and personal/social development needs of ALL students.
Dr. McPherson a 2011 School Counselor of the year gives an explanation of a school counselors role.
Video: What does a School Counselor Do?

 The American School Counseling Association discusses the Role of a School Counselor: 'School counselors make a measurable impact in every student’s life, assisting with academic, career and personal/social development. Professional school counselors are trained in both educating and counseling, allowing them to function as a facilitator between parents, teachers and the student in matters concerning the student’s goals, abilities and any areas needing improvement. School counselors provide services not only to students in need, but to all students."

This means that as your School Counselor I am happy to meet with students and parents to discuss any issues, concerns, and or questions about academic, personal/social and career decisions.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Welcome back! September 3rd.

Welcome to the Leonard Middle School Student Services blog.  It is our intention to communicate about what is happening at our fabulous middle school.