Spotlight School
Tenafly Middle School
At Tenafly Middle School (TMS), the staff Culture and Climate Team is a well-oiled machine: meetings are set at the beginning of the year and held for an hour and a half every month, substitutes cover teachers' classes, members of the staff team are engaged, thoughtful and action-oriented, and the team leaders routinely meet in advance to set the agenda and discuss what would be most impactful for the culture and climate of the school. Early on during the pandemic, the administration set virtual "office hours" every week to encourage open communication - this promoted a positive staff climate and lead them to the great work they are doing now.

The administration at TMS is very supportive of the culture and climate work in the school and help to move the work forward. For example, based on survey data that showed "School Discipline" as an area of improvement, the assistant principal created a follow-up survey to ask teachers more in-depth questions about their opinions about school discipline. The data was brought to the team for further discussion and action items are set to be made at the next meeting. The principal also dedicates time during whole-staff faculty meetings to discuss issues that have come up at the culture and climate team meetings. For example, a faculty meeting will be held in March for staff to analyze students' weekly homework loads.

Equally as strong is the TMS Student Team. The student team meets regularly to give voice to the concerns of the student body. Surveys are often created and sent out to the entire student population and then shared with the staff team. Most recently, members of the student team were brought into a staff climate team meeting to share their opinions about the academic pressure of the school. They intend to record a roundtable discussion with the student climate team to share with all staff during a faculty meeting. As mentioned above, a whole staff meeting will be dedicated to making sure that students are not overly burdened with homework.
Helping Kids Cope with War
Photo credit to @SELspace
Events are uncertain for children. They look to teachers as well as to parents to make them feel safe in a time of war. Below are are few resources that can help you teach your students about resilience.

Upcoming School Support Network Meetings
"Spring Renewal: Unearth your current state of being and plant seeds for a healthy end of the 2021-22 school year"

March 16 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

Reflect on the strengths and challenges you have experienced this school year and set goals for a positive close to 2021-22. We will share together as a community and learn what other educators are thinking and planning. Be prepared to feel reinvigorated with an optimistic mindset toward the future.
Presented by: Erica Brentan, Consultant, School Culture and Climate Initiative
"Getting Ready for 2022-2023: Countering Spirit Loss to Achieve Learning Gain and Student and Staff Mental Health"

April 27 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

The 2022-23 school year will continue to be filled with emotional turmoil for students and staff. Under those conditions, attempting to maximize instructional time to help students “catch up” will not only fail to lead to lasting academic gains, it will increase mental health difficulties. We first must heal the loss of spirit, optimism, and enthusiasm that has pervaded our schools, and hearts, since COVID. SEL/SECD points us in the right direction. Dr. Elias will share some of the “road signs” to help us get started with countering Spirit Loss during the rest of this school year, and prepare for the year ahead.

Presented by: Maurice Elias, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Rutgers University; Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab; Co-Director, Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools
"Reconnecting With Your Strengths: Revitalizing Connection" - Bergen County
In-person Meeting

May 4 from 8:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Sage Alliance, 900 Darlington Avenue, Mahwah, NJ

Please join us for our first in-person SSN meeting in two years! We are thrilled to have Sage Day school in Mahwah host this timely SSN meeting which will focus on the importance of connection. Throughout the morning we will explore how and why a strength based approach is so effective and also so much more fun! In addition, we will also be participating in an art therapy experiential activity facilitated by Kelly Amaniera ATR-BC, LPC, NCC, and Amanda Wagner, Psy.D., LPC of New Alliance Academy. This collaborative art directive will help to redefine and reignite compassion for self and others in order to revitalize our educational communities. This activity will help demonstrate how Gary Chapman’s (1992) Five Love Languages can be applied in the workplace to enhance connections with co-workers and students.
Resources, Webinars, and PD
Article: "Students Train to Spot Peers With Mental Health Struggles and Guide Them to Help"
The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the mental health struggles that were already proliferating among young people. Many schools are trying to expand their rosters of adult specialists who can provide support. But some are tapping an additional source, too: the students themselves. School districts are training teenagers to spot early signs of mental health problems in their peers and connect them with adults who can help. Read more
NJ Mental Health Resource Guide
The New Jersey Department of Education last week released an incredibly valuable resource, The New Jersey Mental Health Resource Guide. They shared the following information:

"This comprehensive Guide is designed to support school districts to develop, implement, and evaluate mental health supports and services using a multi-tiered system of supports. While the Guide is lengthy, we tried to incorporate some features to assist the user identify what would be most helpful to their work (i.e., detailed table of contents, icons, consistent layout of chapters, etc.). In addition to containing a lot of content, each chapter also contains a summary, examples of implementation in NJ schools, hyperlinked resources, templates, and reflection questions."

Congratulations and thank you to the many involved throughout the state in creating such a valuable, helpful resource!
2022 National Social and Emotional Learning Conference (Virtual) May 17-18
Register now for the virtual 2022 National Social and Emotional Learning Conference, May 17-18. Awareness and Action is our theme with goals of cultivating awareness and taking action to create a positive school climate that supports academic success and student engagement.

Liz Warner and Trish Heindel will be presenting "Integrated and Systemic SEL: How to Ensure Success, Impact and Sustainability" on May 17th from 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
The Academy for SEL in Schools, a partnership between Rutgers University and Saint Elizabeth University, offers certificate programs for educators and educational leaders in social-emotional and character development.
SEL4NJ is a state-wide coalition that promotes high-quality SEL throughout the state. Sign up now to join this effort and to stay informed about national and state SEL news!

"Youth Mental Health First Aid"
The Northeast and Caribbean Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) can provide Youth Mental Health First Aid to your school or organization at no cost. "Youth Mental Health First Aid" is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders." 

If you are interested in receiving training, please email us.
The School Culture and Climate Initiative (SCCI) is based at the Center for Human and Social Development at Saint Elizabeth University.
School Culture and Climate Initiative