Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Who is your Super Hero?

Character Counts Week and we are focusing on our theme:
Good Character is our Super Power! 
(Thanks for sharing the idea counselor friends!)
Today was dress like your super hero!  There are many we could choose from and it was kind of a challenge to get our little ones at school to understand the concept, especially when Halloween is around the corner.  We had kids dressed up so many ways.  Some dressed like their parents.  One little girl told me she was going to dress like another classmate because she follows class rules so well.  We had policemen and princesses.  Our staff decided it would be fun to dress up like our principal, since him and one of our janitors are the only males in the building! The kids kept saying, "Hi Mr. Jenness!" to all of us.  
So, who is your super hero?  
Who do you look up to?
Who do you see using their good character as a super power on a daily basis?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Love Who You Are!

 One of my special guests, who comes to my class twice a week to share about alcohol prevention, shared with me after class today about what she had seen on Dancing With the Stars.  I had to go find it right away because it hits right home with Bully Prevention Awareness Month.  We visited about memories we had, both of being on the receiving end of mean behavior and also of making someone be on the receiving end of our mean behavior.  Bullying sticks with us either way.  I remember crying because of kids making fun of my last name, Hellinga.  You can about imagine what kids can say when you have "Hell" in your last name.  It hurt.  I think by the time I got to high school I had figured out some basic survival skills in dealing with mean comments if I heard them because I don't remember too much from those years as far as mean behavior.  

I often wonder about how I was to other people.  I wonder how many people remember me as a good friend or remember me as someone who teased or made fun of others.  I hope it is the good friend.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Noodle Breaks!

We all need to give our brains a break every now and then.  I love using Brain Breaks with classes.  It serves several purposes.  They can be used to energize a group after lunch or calm a class before a test.  They help get the blood flowing, stretch, increase flexibility, improve coordination and focus.   PLUS they are FUN!!  I love getting into the movement with the kids.  I found Go Noodle that has so many great brain breaks to share.   I also found some info Action for Healthy Kids site that tells the benefits of exercise and using brain breaks.  I hope you will check it out and give your noodle a break also.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ready or not! Here it comes!

I remember being a kid and all the excitement I felt about school starting.  We would go shopping for new school supplies and an new outfit for the first day of school.  Mom would always take our picture as my siblings and I stood there together holding our school bags with our "stuff".  We couldn't wait to get to school and meet our new teacher and find out who was in our class and if we were lucky enough to have a friend next to our desk.  
Some things don't change.  As an educator, I still get to experience the thrill of the new school year starting.  I get to take the pictures of my kids on the first day and even be a part of that picture!  (Maybe this year we will take "selfies".)  Even though I have a list of what I love about the school year starting, I do have a little sadness to see summer end.  So.....I'm going to focus on what I LOVE about school starting.  Here is my list:
1.  Seeing the kids return!  (My goodness how they change over summer!)
2.  The shiny floors in the halls at school.
3.  New shoes and a new outfit to start the year!
4. New markers!
5.  Seeing my teacher friends and sharing the excitement of the first day with them.
6.  Helping the kindergarten mom's say good-bye to their kids and reassuring them that they are in good hands at school. 

These are the things I love.  Oh, I could go on and on but I won't because it is time to call it a day and go home and spend the last night of summer with my family.

One of my teacher "peeps" shared this with us today and I thought it was worth sharing on my blog. I love this kid!   Hope you enjoy and hope you all have a great school year!  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

New Beginnings!

I apologize for taking a bit of a break from my blog.  I guess life took over and I had to take care of other responsibilities and obligations. 

I am so excited to be starting a new adventure in my professional life.  I am now beginning my term on the ISCA (Iowa School Counselor Association) board.  My position this year is president elect-elect, which means my responsibilities include being in charge of the conference breakout sessions at our conference in November.  I have now attended my first board meeting and WOW!!!  Here are a few of my thoughts:
*  I am learning A LOT!!!!
*I am making new friends to network with!
*I am able to serve our counselor association, which is a way to give back for what I have gained by being a member.
* I am going to be a better counselor because of what I am learning and all my kiddos benefit!

I am so glad I have been a member of ISCA.  I have made so many connections with other counselors which has been amazing!  I would encourage ALL school counselors who read this blog to join their state organization.  If you aren't a school counselor, check with your school counselor and see if they are a member.  If not, ask them why they aren't.  Tell them to check out the opportunities of membership and if it is the cost (which it shouldn't be in Iowa because we have a low membership fee), then gift them a membership (which is a great way to thank your school counselor for what they do).
Hope your summer is going as great as mine.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Friendship Selfies!

"Let me take a selfie!"
We talked in small group today about friendship and what is important in friendships.  My 2nd graders came up with so many great things they look for in friends...

We also talked about why those traits are important.
We were busy making our friendship booklets from Savvy School Counselors tpt store (check it out on SALE NOW!).  It was a part of the February Monthly Activities pack.
We decided to take a picture of us together for the page that you draw pictures of your friends.  AND when I mentioned taking a selfie these 2nd graders knew all about that.  It really opened up the conversation about why people plaster pictures of themselves all over and making sure they are appropriate and not hurtful.
Next week we will finish our booklets and finish up our discussion.
Can't wait!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Power of YOU!

Twenty-six 3rd grade girls signed up for a fun evening of finding out about their personal power.  Each girl is different and has their own qualities and traits which make them who they are (just like the fingerprints that are on our t-shirts).  We talked about the power they have and how it is their choice as to how they use their power. It can be in positive ways to make a difference in their lives or to impact others.  We can use our power to be a great friend and to show our character in a positive way.  We also said power can be used in a negative way.  We saw this in the movie we watched at the end of our evening, "Chrissa Stands Strong", an American Girl movie that shows the effects of mean behavior and bullying and how to handle those situations.

We started the evening with an icebreaker finding out who we
 have things in common with.  

Next we did a word find using words that would be great descriptors for us.....we called them our empowerment words.  We had to learn the meanings of some of the words too.

Time to eat!

Mrs. Schuller stopped by to check on her 3rd grade girls!

Subway party subs are soooo good!

Natalie (my daughter) and Miss Julie helped me out!  Couldn't have done it without them!

Time for making our "I am...." canvas.

Using the words from our Empowerment Word Find,
 the girls chose words that describe themselves.

They decorated up the blank canvas to state who they are.

Very creative girls and so many positive comments to each other!

So many cool supplies to choose from.

Giving their "crazy" look after watching "Chrissa Stands Strong".
Then it was time to go home!  What a fun night we had!

Monday, February 3, 2014

National School Counseling Week 2014--Day 1

Today my counseling partner and I decided to show our thanks to our AMAZING staff
by treating them to gourmet cupcakes.  We had fun creating 160 cupcakes! and wrapping them with a label "KEEP CALM.  A School Counselor Can HELP!"  
  When we were busy making the cupcakes we 
were counting up all the ways our staff works together as a TEAM to help our students
succeed.  Each person on the staff impacts students and we work with all of them!
Bus drivers:  They help set the tone for the day when they pick up the kids and greet them.  They also see things that can help us counselors out such as kids who always sit alone or have trouble getting along with others.  
Cooks:  Feeding kids in more than one way---they pick up on kids moods and possible problems when they go through the lunch line and share concerns with us.  They see those kids who may be lacking on food at home because they are very hungry or wanting more food at school, which helps us reach those kids who are at-risk in that way.
Custodians:  One thing we have done is a junior janitor.  It is an honor for our kids to wear the Jr. Janitor vest and help pick up the trash at the end of the day.  The beautiful thing is seeing that relationship with the friendly janitor who is a friend to them and helps build that sense of service and responsibility in the students who earn the chance to help them.
Administrators:  They keep in touch with what is going on with kids and sometimes have to do the hard thing and help shape lives through discipline referrals.  Great life lessons are learned in the principals office.
Associates:  We have many associates who work with kids in small groups of reading, math help, one on one to help kids understand new concepts or with work completion.  They get to spend time seeing how kids interact with each other on the playground.  Many times I have them come to me with concerns that they see happening with kids.
Secretaries:  Our secretaries sometimes see things that we don't see firsthand.  They are the ones to receive calls from families about issues happening at home and pass that info on to the counselor.  They also help get the new families set up and pass the new family info on to counselors so we are ready when they arrive to greet them and give them a tour.
School Nurse:  I have been so blessed to work with 2 really awesome school nurses!  The nurse and counselor work hand in hand.  They keep me informed with repeat visitors of tummy aches that end up being more anxiety related than "sick" related.  We work hand in hand in abuse or neglect situations to help get the appropriate help for the child.  Plus they are really good at checking my blood pressure or letting me know when I need to "take care of myself" tool.
Teachers:  Wow!  They have the job of seeing students and knowing so much about them.  They can read their students when something is not right and let me help them out by working together to meet the chid's needs.  They also open up their classrooms to me so I can share my Counselor in the Classroom lessons with their kids and they take what I teach them and use that information at the appropriate times to apply the important things I teach. takes a TEAM.
Sure glad I am a part of this TEAM and our priority is to help kids succeed!

Arby's Values

Isn't it funny where you find Character info?  I mean, it is really plastered all over the place, you just have to look for it.  I found this set of Arby's Values on a Kids Meal bag that my daughter had ordered at Arby's.  I thought it was interesting that they shared those values on the kids meal bag.  Maybe they are on other things too and I just didn't notice.  But I found these to be great values for a company to promote.  
Have fun!
Make the most of every day.  Life is meant to be enjoyed!
Make a difference.
Help make life better for those around you.
Dream big!
If you can dream it, you can do it!
Work hard!
Do the best you can, in all that you do.
Get it done!
Set high goals and make them happen!
Play fair!
Always treat others with respect and fairness.

Don't you just love these?
If you were to write down your personal values or family values or maybe your school or classroom values, what would they be?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King Day

One simple word.
Anyone can do this.

“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968);
minister, civil rights activist

I find that when I serve others I get this total feeling in me that makes me feel very good.  Sometimes I wonder if we think that serving others means a lot of extra time, energy and effort on our part.  But it doesn't have to.  I have found that it is little things.  Just being thoughtful and seeing what others need and seeing how I can help meet that need.  It might be a smile. A listening ear.  Empathizing with them.  Sharing a meal or giving them a ride. Taking care of someone's child for them.  Scooping a sidewalk or just lending a hand.
There are so many role models who have gone on before us that we can learn from MLK is one of them.  
Martin Luther King did so much that we can learn from.  One word descriptions that I hope make us think about how we live our lives and what are we doing to make a difference.
I found a place where there are numerous quotes of MLK's.  They are all headed by one word.  They inspire me.  They make me think and they challenge me.  Please check them out by clicking here.  I hope you will be inspired too.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Julia Cook Rocks S-O Elementary for the 5th time!

Julia was back again to share her newest books and we did it up in style. Since this was her 5th visit to our school we decided to do a little extra. All of our classrooms decorated their doors with a theme of one of her books. I couldn't decide which book to go with since I use all of them. So, I wrote letters to "Kid Counselor" from the person featured in most of her books telling their problem and asking for help.  Of course as a counselor I can easily help these kids because of Julia's books.

Here is Julia standing at my door of letters.

Here is the letter I wrote to Julia thanking her for all her books.

Here are letters from "Eli" from the Can in Cancer book which features our very own 3rd grader, Eli.  It was great to have Julia share "their" book with the students.  STAY STRONG ELI!

We started off our day with an assembly with our 2nd to 4th graders.  To welcome Julia, I presented a gift to her, which was a song I wrote including "stuff" about a number of her books.  Working on getting that made into a YouTube video for all of you to enjoy.

Julia was a HIT!  to say the least.  She even shared with our 5th and 6th graders in the middle school which they loved because they grew up hearing her books during my time in the classroom with them in elementary.
I want to now take you on a tour of our elementary so you can see all the cool doors!
Mrs. Elser's door to the gym and PE classes based on the book My Mom Thinks She's My Volleyball Coach But She's Not.

Mrs. Runia's class had fun showing how their volcano mouth's can sometimes cause a problem.

Mrs. Wedge's 4th grade class told how they have been good friends based on the book 
Making Friendship is an Art.

Mrs. Strandberg's 4th graders shared other things to do than play video games after reading
But It's Just A Game.

Mrs. VanderVeen's Class shared about the Bully B.E.A.N.S. book.

Mrs. Thole's class enjoyed learning about worrying from Wilma Jean the Worry Machine.

Miss Diekevers Soda Pop Head

Julia being a VERB! for Mrs. Schuller's 3rd graders.

Mrs. Helmers 2nd grade class with their Worries for Wilma Jean!

Mrs. Miedema's class took a look at teasing with The Tease Monster.

Mrs. Hansen's class told when they were afraid to Drop.

Mrs. Heyn's got all wrapped up in Bubble Wrap.

Mrs. Jurgens class told about their Volcano Mouths.

Mrs. Ochsendorf's class shared that Friendship is an Art.

Mrs. Tutje's class made a memory tree with Snowflakes.

Mrs. DeJong and Mrs. Mertes classes teamed up to do a friendship bulletin board.

Mrs. Roseberry's class shared their Tattle Tongues.

Mrs. Bevers class told about listening to your good side if you have Sticky Fingers.

Miss Heidi's class is full of cute little boogers--we hope that is the only kind.

Well, that is our hall tour of doors.  It sure was fun to have Julia visit again.  
We were very fortunate to hear her read her newest book which will be released soon on BRAGGING.
Wonder what we will do for the 6th visit she makes?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Spoonful of Sweetness Book Blog Tour!

I feel so special today because I have been asked to share a NEW BOOK!!!!
I tend to be a book-aholic and L.O.V.E. it when I find a new one to read.  Author Maria Dismondy has shared her latest book which is out this week.  Spoonful of Sweetness and other delicious manners is a great little board book with a big message to share with the little kiddos.  Besides all of our fussing over little ones, reading books to them is a MUST.  Well, Maria has come up with a real winner once again.
She has chosen 6 words, very important words I might add, that get those who hear this book read to them used to some important character words.  In my opinion, people who show manners are also exhibiting good character.  The words she chose to focus on are:
I'm not sure which is my favorite because they are all so important.   Maria gives a simple example for each one of these words....things that we want to see our little ones do.
Holding this book in my hands brought me back to the days when I would sit and read little board books to my girls.  That has been 18 years ago.....and the amazing thing is these words are still important for my oldest daughter as she prepares to leave for college!  So, I couldn't help but sit my girls down (too big for my lap) and share the book with them.
What is the best thing to give new babies?  A book of course.  What a great way to encourage literacy and with this one start them on the road to "delicious manners".

If you would like a chance to win a copy Maria's new book, just leave a comment.  I will contact a winner on Monday, January 20 and Maria will send you an autographed copy!

Be sure to check out this book and other awesome books by Maria at her website,

Some additional Maria Info:
Maria Dismondy is a #1best-selling children's book author, former teacher, and highly sought-after speaker. Spoonful of Sweetness is her 5th children's book.
Maria has a passion for spreading an anti-bullying message and making a difference in her writing, public speaking, blogging and charity work. She lives in southeastern Michigan with her husband and children.