Contemplating Race

One of the first times that I heard about microaggressions was when amendments to the Dignity for All Students Act took effect in July, 2013. While we were preparing the first version of our new certification class, I ran into the word in the required syllabus published by NYSED. Under the heading “Understanding how school climate and culture have an impact on student achievement and behavior” the syllabus states that participants will understand the relationship between harassment, bullying, cyberbullying, microaggression, marginalization, and discrimination on student achievement, attendance and dropout rates.

I remember spending a significant amount of time that summer reading about microaggressions, especially racial microaggressions. Continue reading

The Pledge

I am not an avid Facebook user but I do have an account, and I peruse the news from my “friends” every few days. Recently several friends posted the same video about 5th grade boys at Franklin Elementary School in Mankato, MN who have befriended a classmate. The story is so touching that I decided to post it to my own Facebook page and to also look more deeply into the issue, since bullying prevention is one of my professional and personal interests.  According to the video, five boys decided this year to look out for James, a student with special needs, who has been bullied in the past. As one of them says, “Why single out somebody who has special needs?” Continue reading

SAD in January?

It’s January, and since we’re Yankees (and especially Syracusans), we know what January is synonymous with snow and ice, challenging driving conditions, lack of sunlight, and, in some cases, affected emotional states. And, as Yankees do, we bundle up, hunker down, fill our pantries, mount our snow tires and start packing for winter break destinations as close to the equator as possible.

But, what about those who experience a lot of “down days?” That’s not as easy a fix. For some, January brings the post-holiday blues as life returns to the same old daily grind. And for others, what might initially seem like the post-holiday blues is actually a more severe form of depression. Living in the northern hemisphere, you’ve probably heard about seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? Many people think SAD is just the “winter blues” and jokingly blame their carb loading on the weather. And while there is a connection, SAD is nothing to joke about—it’s actually a subtype of major depression or bipolar disorder. In most cases, SAD symptoms start appearing in the late fall or early winter and dissipate in spring and summer when we (hopefully!) have sunnier days. But, there are others who experience the opposite pattern with symptoms beginning in the spring or summer. Regardless, while they might seem to be mild at first, symptoms can become much more severe as the season progresses. Continue reading

Children are Watching

Like so many others in our country, I have been saddened and sickened by this Presidential election cycle and all of its vicious rhetoric. I watched at least part of each debate, even though my instincts were to flee from the room as soon as the moderator announced the candidates. I have tried to be a good, thoughtful citizen by focusing on the issues which face our nation and where each candidate stands on them. But I have found it impossible to ignore what I see as basically uncivil discourse, i.e., bad behavior. And I often have felt fortunate that I no longer have children at home to whom I must try to explain why these people are being so mean. And as an educator and counselor, I worry about the impact all of this negativity might have on all of our children. Continue reading

It Takes a Village…….

The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to bring attention to the prevalence of childhood obesity as you evaluate and implement new routines for your kids…and, September just happens to be National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Despite a significant decline in obesity among preschool-aged children (2-5) from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012 (13.9% to 8.4%), the fact still remains that children and adolescents as a whole are too heavy. Approximately 17% (1 in 5 = 12.7 million) of U.S. children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese; more than one-third (33 %) of U.S. children are overweight or obese. As age increases, so does the obesity rate: 17.7% of 6- to 11-year-olds and 20.5% of 12- to 19-year-olds. Continue reading

The Summer of My Discontent

All of the upsetting and tragic events of the summer of 2016 (police shooting citizens, citizens shooting police, terrorist attacks in our country and in other counties) have left me feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and grateful that I no longer have children at home to whom I must try to explain incidents that I don’t understand myself. This all brings back memories for me of when I was still a student in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Lots of troubling events occurred then, also – college students gunned down at Kent State, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, a Buddhist monk setting himself on fire in Vietnam, the many slayings of civil rights advocates in the South. Continue reading

For some of us, the summer is a time to re-group, re-fresh and re-energize from a school year filled with many demands. Time with family and friends dominate the hours and before you know it, you are preparing for another school year without experiencing any of the refreshment that you longed for. So, before the time gets away from you, take   a   deep breath, notice the beauty around you and be grateful for this moment. Continue reading