From the President...
Welcome 2021! May you bring us health, happiness, and...vaccines!

In the meantime, our Youth Advisory Council is regrouping with previous and new student leaders planning for another virtual Middle School Forum. We are working with area 6th grade school counselors on how to plan a virtual 6th Grade Ethics Day. Stay tuned. In the spring we will have another webinar with educational consultant and best selling author Ana Homayoun, and we hope to hold a compelling, but “lighter” community book read and have the author lead a fun talk.

Managing the Moments, our series of short videos for the community featuring the psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers of the SCC’s Mental Health Committee, is still available free to all. The segments touch on a wide variety of topics designed to help parents and children in dealing with a range of issues, including managing the holidays during Covid.

Please note we are still in need of board volunteers to manage Sixth Grade Ethics Days and to represent elementary and middle schools students and parents. Please contact us if you are interested!

As always, let us know how the SCC can help in your community, school, and home.

Elizabeth Hale, President
SCC in the Community
Too much togetherness cramping your communication style? Too much teenage anxiety taking over the household? Too much frustration with distance or hybrid learning with your kids? When it gets to be “too much,” take a few moments to check out a few new video offerings from the Safe Community Coalition’s Managing the Moments series. 

These short videos are produced by the psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers of the SCC’s Mental Health Committee and supported by generous funding from the New Dominion Women’s Club. Topics selected reflect what they are seeing both in their private practices and on the homefront. 

The new videos include:

  1. Deescalating Conflict
  2. Effective Communication
  3. How to Talk to Your Parents
  4. Brain Breaks During Distance Learning
  5. Self-Care and Calming Techniques
  6. How Are You?
  7. Coping With the Holidays
  8. Creating Coping Capacity
  9. Connecting Through Play
  10. Anxiety in School
  11. Your Daily Prescription to Cope with Covid

All videos and accompanying tip sheets are free and available on the SCC website, Make sure to bookmark the page and watch any time!
Middle School Forum Moving Forward

SCC adult and student leaders met with the Student Service Directors from Cooper and Longfellow Middle Schools, as well as Langley and McLean High Schools to facilitate the SCC’s annual program for middle schoolers called Middle School Forum (MSF). MSF is typically an in-person event where trained high school leaders from Langley and McLean High Schools, known as the Youth Advisory Council or YAC, meet with 8th graders from Longfellow and Cooper Middle Schools to help ease the transition to high school. Last year’s MSF had to be presented in a virtual format, as will this year’s program, but the goal is still the same: to help integrate 8th graders into high school using peer to peer support. Thanks to all involved!
WeCoach: S2S Continues

The Safe Community Coalition sponsored a summer pilot of a program designed by and for students: WeCoach:Student2Student (S2S). The vision for WeCoach:S2S was to create opportunities for young adults to connect, build relationships, develop leadership skills, and both give and receive support from other young adults during COVID-19. WeCoach used a peer circle coaching model to address and mitigate teens everyday problems. Several participating students surveyed at the end of the pilot reported feeling less isolated and anxious:
  • “I felt like I was the only person who wasn’t motivated to do something besides being on my phone, but after the peer circles and knowing that others were going through the same problem, it made me feel so much better.”
  • “My participation had a positive impact on my feelings.”
  • “I felt less alone and opening up to complete strangers was more comforting than I thought.”
  • “Participating in the Peer Circle heightened my productivity and motivation.”

WeCoach:Student2Student (S2S), which successfully piloted from July-August 2020, demonstrated that students, when given the opportunity and support from experienced adult coaches, can truly help turn the tide on some of the anxiety, isolation, and stress that results from uncertainty and lack of community.

With the ongoing support of the SCC, the organizers have convened youth and adult WeCoach community members to explore how they might evolve the program. Options include expanding WeCoach to support a greater number of youths in the community, and spreading the WeCoach model to other youth development organizations, schools, and communities, keeping with the peers-helping-peers model. They have some leads but are always seeking more!

For more information, contact Betsy Quint-Moran, Camillo Moran at 703-491-8471, or Adriano Moran at 703-477-4254.
Upcoming Events
Parent Information Session on Substance Abuse Prevention

The Langley and McLean High School PTSAs are hosting a Parent Information Series on Substance Abuse Prevention with FCPS Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Kelly Rankin, who serves both high schools. The program will be relevant to middle and upper elementary parents as well. The three-part series will provide 20-minute education sessions with the goals of building awareness and arming parents with the knowledge and tools to identify early signs of substance use disorder, how they can play an important role in prevention, and how to have a conversation with students about addiction.

A link will be sent in a reminder email on the day of the session.
  • Part 1 - Teenage Brain: Building Connections on Thursday, February 25 at noon and 7 pm
  • Part 2 - Drugs and the Teenage Brain on Thursday, March 25 at noon and 7 pm
  • Part 3 - Drug Trends: Identifying Common Household Items and Drug Culture on Thursday, April 22 at noon and 7 pm 

The sessions will be will be recorded for those unable to attend. Login links will be distributed as the events get closer.

Kelly has been working in the field of substance abuse and mental health with both adults and adolescents since 2007, including many years spent as the program director of a women’s residential facility. After witnessing the opioid epidemic destroy families, she made the decision to work with FCPS so she could assist students and families.
For more information about Kellys offerings, see her flyer.
Well-Balanced Student Parent Education Event from ChallengeSuccess

Feb. 24th at 5:00pm PT | 8:00pm ET
$10 Registration

When we are too focused on grades and performance, we deny our children the time and energy they need to tackle the demanding work of growing up. In this presentation, you’ll learn how you can establish a healthier home environment for your school-aged child, reduce academic stress without sacrificing achievement, and increase your child’s resilience, creativity, and well-being. Participants will examine the tension that parents, students, and teachers often experience during remote and in-person learning over issues such as homework, grades, and the culture of competition. Learn more here.

“I LOVE the interactive flow of this workshop. The speaker was very practical and gave us the right amount of interactive opportunities! This workshop enlightened me and gave me an awareness of all the stressors our kids have.” - High School Teacher and Parent

Pandemic Resources
As a continuing feature of our newsletter, we are sharing local resources to address the myriad needs surrounding the Covid pandemic.
As we noted in December, the FCPS Parent Resource Center (PRC) provides a number of resources year-round for parents, caregivers, school staff, and others around a variety of topics, including academic support, mental health and wellness, parenting, distance learning, and special education. These go well beyond the pandemic, but are especially helpful in this time.

Upcoming webinars include:
  • Teen Depression: A Webinar for Families
  • Strategies to Support Social Emotional Learning at Home: A Webinar for Families
  • Is it Over Yet? How to Help your Child Cope with the Pandemic and the Eventual Return to Normalcy: A Webinar for Families
  • From Chaos to Calm: Strategies for Families to Create Calm and Confidence in the Midst of Chaos and Uncertainty: A Webinar for Families How are YOU doing? Really, how are you? (featuring SCC/MHC member Corinne Coppola)

Reading List
From the Washington Post and OnParenting

Licensed clinical professional counselor, school psychologist, author, and therapist Phyllis Fagell offers Seven Ways to Build a Child’s Resilience During the Pandemic (and long after it ends) in this week’s OnParenting column:

  1. Leverage their interests
  2. Focus on pacing, recovery
  3. Teach problem-solving skills
  4. Set brave goals
  5. Identify what they can control
  6. Label difficult emotions
  7. Impart the power of and

From Our Fall Speaker Ana Homayoun...

We’re all still processing [the events at the Capitol on January 6]. Kids deserve to have todays intended lessons plans pushed aside and have the time and space to think out loud, to explain their emotions and concerns, and to express what they think is wrong or right.

So, I will share my strategies from a few months ago, with updated resources relevant for this weeks events. Facing History put out a free lesson...for teachers, and families can use some of the resources to spark conversations at home.

Own your own anxiety. [The events were] downright frightening. Today is a day to revisit what we can control, which means looking at what daily habits we can put in place to give a sense of normalcy. Modeling behavior may be the best we can do at this moment. Go for a walk/run, listen to music or a meditation app, play with the dogs, bake cookies, stretch, create art, write, phone a friend.

Ask open-ended questions without judgment as a way of gathering information. As rioters stormed the building and lawmakers were rushed to undisclosed locations for safety (and a few quick-thinking Capitol aides grabbed the ballots), we were all left dumbfounded by scenes on our various screens. Sometimes, starting with “What are your thoughts on what happened at the Capitol yesterday?” allows kids to start to formulate and process different viewpoints, opinions, and facts.

Use this as an opportunity to discuss your values and beliefs. Centering conversations around values can be a solid foundational strategy, notes educational psychologist Meagan Patterson in this NYTimes piece. How were yesterdays rioters treated in comparison with past protestors? This New Yorker column entitled The Capitol Invaders Enjoyed the Privilege of Not Being Taken Seriously shares some viewpoints and offers historical references.

Avoid doom scrolling and quick soundbites. Today might be a day to limit news consumption. Figure out what that means to you and have kids do the same. 

Zoom out (pun intended) and explore comparative politics. Other countries around the world were just as horrified as many of us were watching [the] events unfold. Here’s the BBC site.  France24 shares the shock of world leaders. If we had been watching [the] events happen in another country trying to certify their own democratic election, what would we have thought? How do other countries hold their elections? What are issues and concerns they’ve had during their elections? Do they hold elections?
More from ChallengeSuccess...

Support a Balanced Daily Schedule:
Parents, educators, and students can use this Time Wheel tool to evaluate your use of time in various categories including sleeping, exercise, downtime, etc. Ask yourself if the numbers align with your priorities and values, then take it a step further and break down some of the categories to better see how you might reprioritize and better allocate your time according to those values. 

For example, we know sleep is crucial to mental and academic well-being. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends 9 hours for teens and even more for younger kids. If your child is getting less than this, consider how to rearrange the current schedule to better support a full night of sleep.
The SCC thrives in its 25th year as an all-volunteer organization with funding from community grants and individual donors including the New Dominion Women’s Club, Rotary Club of McLean, McLean Community Foundation, the Zavela Foundation, and through the SCC Mental Health Committee. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and welcome all donations.