Counseling Connection Blog

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March 2024




Preparing for SPRING!

Since January various SEL lunch groups have been learning feelings vocabulary, impulse control, coping tools, friendship skills, and leadership qualities.  Additional lunch groups have been provided to help students make a positive connection with their peers. 


Spring provides a natural transition.  With the change in season, students have been helping to start seedlings which will be planted out in the garden in the coming months.  Following Spring Break, I will shift from offering lunch groups to offering Garden Club during recess.  This allows students to gain connection time while also experiencing the wellness benefits of working in the garden.  Garden Club will be open to all students.  More information will be shared on the morning announcements.


January 2024


LP Brown to Host a Parent Education Workshop in March- NEW DATE

LP Brown has been selected as the site of Olympia Education Foundation's upcoming parent workshop titled "The ABC’s of Emotional Intelligence: How to help our kids figure out their feelings while keeping our cool."  This workshop with parent coach Emily McMason will provide information on how to handle defiance and power struggles with kids.  It will be held Monday, March 11th from 6-7:30 p.m. in the LP Brown Elementary Library.  Childcare is available on site at no cost (children must be able to use the bathroom on their own). 


The Olympia Education Foundation's  2023-24 ‘Parent Education Series’ is a yearlong series open to all Olympia School District families at no cost!  See the Olympia Education Foundation's website for more information.


New and Continuing Lunch Groups

The "Girl Code" and "Building Champions" lunch groups for 4th and 5th graders are taking off.  Parent permission slips went home with students who were referred by their classroom teacher.  There is still time to turn in a permission form if you are interested in having your student participate.  The groups will jump into the curriculum linked above after building a solid foundation of voluntary student engagement.  This can be expected to take some time.  Feel free to connect if you have any questions about your students' participation or the group's progression. 


Ms. Tessneer is also working with Kindergarten teachers to offer mini-lessons at lunch on Fridays.  These mini-lessons target school skills such as growth mindset, self control and problem-solving.  Students are referred each week depending on the topic.


A new lunch group for 2nd graders using a self-control curriculum called the Amazing Remote Control is starting out.  There is space available for additional students to join this fun group where we will learn about (and make!) a remote control for your brain.


Lunch groups that are continuing from the Fall include:  Zones of Regulation for Kindergarten through 3rd grade as well as a Connection Circle for students of all ages, which rotates participation based on student or staff request for relationship building.


Please contact your student's teacher or Ms. Tessneer directly if you have an interest in any of the groups being offered.


Winter Blues: Strategies to Increase Energy and Motivation

It is common to get a case of the "winter blues" during this dark season.  With the decreased sunlight, you may notice a drop in you or your student's energy and motivation.  Until longer days return, it can be helpful to practice the following strategies to boost your mood:


- Try to spend time with other people.  It is common to want to withdraw, but being around other people will promote wellness.  You will be glad you pushed yourself to get together.

- Eat nutritious foods.  People tend to seek out comfort foods and carbohydrates during the winter months.  Make sure you are balancing it out with healthier options. 

- Get some exercise in whatever way you can find to move your body more.

- Try a light therapy lamp.  There are some great, low-cost options available, and they have been proven to help.

- Make a point to do things you enjoy.  Low energy can affect your motivation to keep up with activities, but maintaining them- even to a lesser extent- will help with overall mood.

- Try to stick with a regular routine.  Going to bed and waking up at the same times each day is helpful for kids and adults alike.

- Be gentle with yourself and know that things will gradually improve.


If you regularly notice the onset of depression symptoms during the Fall and Winter months when we experience less daylight, then you should consult your physician about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  There are effective therapies that can provide relief.  More information can be found here.


December 2023


Social Emotional Learning Groups

Lunch groups are up and running for K-5 students!  Some groups are taking a deeper dive into the Zones of Regulation and others are doing activities to understand how to "think socially," thinking about how others are thinking and feeling in response to our behaviors.  These fun and engaging groups build students' resilience and skills for life.  Mrs. Tessneer will be adding a "Girl Code" lunch group to begin in January for 4th and 5th grade students referred by their classroom teachers.  These groups will focus on supportive peer relationships.


White board covered with thought bubbles and text of Helpful Thoughts.


Individual Counseling Sessions

Individual counseling sessions are offered on the following topics: 

  • Grief
  • Family Changes
  • Anxiety
  • Conflict
  • Friendships
  • Anger

Just as engaging and more specific to each students' needs, Ms. Tessneer offers skills instruction, coaching and emotional support.  Students typically meet with Ms. Tessneer once a week at a scheduled time for 3 weeks and then as needed for support.  The following is an example of a grief support session where the student is able to place tokens on how much they are experiencing common feelings of grief.


Common experiences of grief listed with tokens placed on boxes.



Bullying Prevention Month


Throughout the Month of October, all of our classroom teachers are providing lessons from the Second Step Bullying Prevention Curriculum.  Students are taught to Recognize, Report and Refuse bullying.  We will also be raising awareness about Bullying Prevention Month by celebrating Unity Day on Wednesday October 18th, a day to come together for kindness, acceptance and inclusion.  Students and staff are encouraged to wear orange or wear school spirit (yellow and blue) to show their support.


From OSD Policy 3207:

“Harassment, intimidation or bullying” (HIB) means any intentional written message or image, including those that are electronically transmitted, a verbal or physical act, including, but not limited to, one shown to be motivated by any characteristic in RCW 9A.36.080(3)—race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation including gender expression or identity, or mental or physical disability, or other distinguishing characteristics—when the intentional written message, electronic message or image, verbal or physical act:

- Physically harms a student or damages the student’s property; or
- Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s education; or
- Is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening
environment that limits or denies a student’s ability to benefit from or participate in the
schools education and/or activity programs; or,
- Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.

A student affected by HIB does not need to actually possess a characteristic that is a basis for the
harassment, intimidation, or bullying. “Other distinguishing characteristics” can include but are not
limited to: physical appearance, clothing or other apparel, socioeconomic status, gender identity, and
marital status. It can take many forms including: slurs, rumors, jokes, innuendos, demeaning
comments, drawings, cartoons, pranks, gestures, physical attacks, threats, or other written, oral,
physical or electronically transmitted messages or images. “Intentional acts” of HIB refers to the
individual’s choice to engage in the act, not the ultimate impact of the act(s).


For more information from Policy 3207 and to access the district's HIB reporting form click here.


Lunch Groups

September's New Student Picnics just wrapped up.  Lunch groups about respect, emotional regulation, and social skills are starting the first week in October.  Students will enter and exit groups this year as needed, so it is never too late to sign up.


Mental Health Referral Service

Did you know that Washington has a Mental Health Referral Service for Children and Teens?  After calling or submitting an online form, a referral specialist will talk with you about your child's specific needs and identify 1-2 providers who can meet their needs in your area.  They also follow-up to ensure that services were able to be accessed and to address any barriers that came up.  You can reach them online or by phone at 833-303-5437.  It's not automated!  When I called a very kind person named Patrick was there to help.


Peace Day 

September 21st is the International Day of Peace, and this year, we celebrated at LP Brown by teaching peacemaking strategies at recess.  Students learned to Rock it Out (rock, paper, scissors) and Talk it Out, using the Peace Path, if they have a problem with someone.  It was a fun and sunny day!



September 2023


Welcome back!  

I am glad to be back another school year at LP Brown.  As always, the new school year brings change for everyone.  Ms. Wyman, our previous Behavior Tech, has accepted a position at another school in the district.  She will continue to do amazing work there.  Ms. Gramento, also known as Mrs. G, is our new Behavior Tech coming to us from Centralia and before that North Thurston.  We are so glad to have her expertise and calm, reassuring presence here are LP Brown.  She is already getting to know many of our students.  She will be starting Check-In, Check-Out (CICO), one of our primary behavioral interventions, soon.  Please contact Callie Jones, Dean of Students, if you have questions about CICO this year. 


Set your child up for success

It is important to get routines started early in the school year!  Here are some things to think about to get the year started right:

- Designate a spot for backpacks/lunchboxes

- Establish a bedtime and morning routine

- Stay in touch with your student's teacher(s)

- Read every day!


Anxiety - Best Practices for School

Children who experience anxiety often try to avoid the things that increase their feelings of uneasiness-- that may include being separated from a parent, being around a lot of people or being asked to perform a task.  If your child is anxious, you can help by showing your own confidence in their ability to cope.  Communicate that you believe in them with your words and body language.  It is best practice to continue to expose them to things that may produce anxiety (in lesser amounts at first if needed).  Avoidance tends to become a cycle and can make it harder for your child to face anxiety triggers in the future.  Make sure to keep your child coming to school, and please ask us for help.  We are here to support you.  Children can learn to use coping strategies and move through their anxious feelings with practice.  


Family Liaison

Genevieve Carnes is still serving as the Family Liaison at LP Brown.  She is working here four days a week.  She is your contact for Weekend Food Bags sent home with kids on Fridays from the Thurston County Food Bank as well as all financial support resources from the school.  If you have an immediate need you can call the school office at 360-596-6800 or email Genevieve at [email protected].


New School-Wide Expectations

Our new school-wide expectations are Respectful, Engaged and In Control.  Please see the PBIS expectations matrix for what this looks like in all areas of the school. 


Counseling Referral Form

With every new school year, I have a new permission form.  This year in order to better coordinate with parents and teachers, I have a menu of options available to all students.  This form serves both as a request form as well as a permission form.  Paper copies are also available.