From the President...
With the start of school approaching, but the pandemic not quite behind us, the Safe Community Coalition is planning for a bit of a hybrid year. We’re hoping to maintain some in-person activities, while keeping some speaker and panel events virtual. On tap for the 2021-2022 school year are some exciting new programs and some revamping of old favorites:

  • We are in the midst of planning our 2021-2022 Kickoff Event: a virtual panel discussion on Back to School Anxiety.
  • We’re continuing our quarterly School Liaison Connections with each other and FCPS School Board Member Elaine Tholen. PTA/PTSA/PTO leaders found these virtual meetings invaluable as they were figuring out how to run their programs and serve their communities when they couldn’t be in schools. And Elaine enjoyed a direct line to parent leaders to share information and hear about how things are working in the school communities.
  • We’re updating our old Project Sticker Shock program that informs parents of the legal and ethical issue of providing alcohol/drugs to underage students. We’re creating a drug/alcohol awareness campaign at the school level to reach students as well. Programming is scheduled prior to homecoming and prom seasons. Ideas? Share them with us.
  • We have a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion board position and are planning new programming in this area, including a fall speaker. Contact us to share ideas!
  • We’re are expanding our Launch to College program, typically presented at high school PTSA meetings, to a virtual event for all parents. It will also include student voices!
  • We are talking with professional development providers to bring another CEU event to local mental health practitioners. We’ve had several of these over the past few years and all have been well-received. Stay tuned for information on the December 6 program.
  • We are working with elementary school counselors to design a new format for our popular Sixth Grade Ethics Days. We hope to hold our longest running program in person this year again.
  • Just in the development stage is new programming, Gender Identity 101, as we are learning that our teens are way head of us on these issues! Ideas? Share them!
  • Were talking with the McLean Citizens Association Education Committee to create a joint town hall event with FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand.

Welcome to our new board members! We always value additional do-ers; as an all-volunteer organization, our board members plan and manage our programs and internal operations. New board members allow us to expand offerings, refocus our existing programs, and reach more community members. Board membership does not have a set term of service and offers maximum flexibility for busy people. Thanks to these seasoned school-based volunteers for making another commitment:

  • Wendy Biliter
  • Courtney Brown
  • Lavina Colaco
  • Kitty Gonzalez
  • Heather Murphy Capps
  • Anne Rucker

What else? What can we do for you, your family, and your students? As always, we want to hear from you! Let us know how we can help!

Elizabeth Hale, President
SCC in the Community
Back to School Anxiety Panel

Our 2021-2022 kickoff event is a panel discussion on Back to School Anxiety on Tuesday, September 21 at 7:30 pm. The event will feature local mental health professionals Jennifer Weaver, Mimi Weisberg, and Robyne Davis who will discuss Back to School Anxiety and offer concrete ways you can help get the school year off to a great start. To join us on Zoom, check our website for the link.
School Liaisons Connections

Throughout last year, the SCC facilitated virtual gatherings between Elaine Tholen, the FCPS School Board Member for our area and PTA/PTSA/PTO leaders at all school levels. With the success of these events, we are gearing up for another series this year, the first one being held September 22 at noon. Wendy Biliter, Elaine’s assistant (and new SCC board member!) will be sending out invites shortly, along with a Schoology link to the virtual session. If you have any topics you would like to discuss or any questions for Elaine that would pertain to most of the group, please send them along to Wendy.

Dates for future connections are November 10, February 9, and May 11. Mark them down today!
Upcoming Events
FCPS Parent Resource Center

Click on the graphics below to register for these PRC programs, and go to Parent Resource Center for other outstanding resources.
PEP: Parent Encouragement Program

PEP offers virtual and in-person events, classes, webinars, videos, podcasts, and even one on one consults for parents of toddlers to teens and in English and Spanish. Topics include all aspects of parenting, mental health, equity, racism, anxiety, grief, Covid, sibling rivalry, anger...all of it! Check out their upcoming live webinars.
Mental Health America

Mental Health America also provides a number of resources for parents, in addition to its advocacy work. This month they are releasing their Back to School Toolkit. This years toolkit, “Facing Fears, Supporting Students,” aims to help students, parents, and school personnel recognize how feeling unsafe, after a year of pandemic schooling and any hardships that resulted, can impact mental health and school performance, and what can be done to help young people who are struggling with their mental health. It includes:

  • Fact sheets for parents/teachers 
  • Fact sheets for children/teens 
  • Key messages and statistics 
  • A sample drop-in article; and 
  • Sample social media post language and images; 
  • Worksheets; and more! 

Reading List
Perspective | How do I reinstate screen limits for my teen?
Washington Post, August 10, 2021
By Meghan Leahy

Q: My almost-14-year-old has been away at summer camp without her phone for almost seven weeks. I want to capitalize on this device-free time and set up/reinstate limits this fall, so she can enter high school without phone time 24/7. It has been a slippery slope during remote middle school. What do you suggest?

A: If you had written to me in 2019 (pre-pandemic), I might have given you an answer that sounded more like: “You’re off to a good start with your daughter being off tech. Continue it right into the fall!” These days, having limited tech and screens for a 14-year-old is wonderful for creativity, imagination, sleep habits and friendships.

But this is 2021, and we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, with no signs of it going away. It simply doesn’t seem feasible to expect 14-year-olds to begin high school without their phones.

Wake-Up Call
Mental Health, August 16, 2021

Zach Gottlieb is on a mission to make vulnerability cool, and he’s using the best tool at any teen’s disposal: social media. 

Any kid raised by one of the most renowned psychotherapists in the country is bound to be a bit more emotionally intelligent than most. Maybe that’s why 14-year-old Zach Gottlieb, son of bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone Lori Gottlieb, brims with empathy. It’s a rare quality to find in anyone, let alone in a teenage boy. All things considered, Zach is a pretty normal kid. He plays sports at school. He loves The Office. He thinks he might want to get a job in business one day, but he also hasn’t given much thought to where he wants to go to college. 

Zach also shares one extremely formative experience with all of his peers: his life was turned upside-down by Covid-19. When many teens were feeling lost, confused, and anxious, Zach noticed that a lot of his friends, particularly his male friends, didn’t really know how to talk about how they were feeling. So he did what so many kids do these days: he turned to social media. 

Rethinking Normal: Back-to-School Tips for 2021
Challenge Success, August 5, 2021

Most schools are planning for in-person instruction this fall, and though debates continue across the country about mask mandates and vaccine requirements as new variants emerge, many parents, educators, and kids are hoping for a return that is as close to normal as possible. But, what exactly does “back to normal” mean? 

The SCC thrives in its 26th 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.