School Psychologists Help Students Find Their Focus

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Students from throughout the district celebrated National School Psychology Awareness Week from Nov. 11-15. School psychologists planned and implemented various activities throughout the week at Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue schools that connected with this year’s School Psychology Awareness Week theme, “Find Your Focus.”  

School Psychology Awareness Week is marked each year by the National Association of School Psychologists to raise awareness for social emotional learning and the importance of mental health. This is the third year that the district celebrated the week as part of its commitment to the students’ social-emotional learning development.

Fitting with the “Find Your Focus” theme, all students were educated on how to better focus their attention to see more clearly and set goals for themselves. School psychologists Dr. Lauraine Casella, Sonya Jackson, Jennifer Orellana and Dr. Francyne Zeltser pushed into classrooms at the start of the week to educate students on the role of a school psychologist. Students were fully engaged as the school psychologists conducted an interactive lesson about focusing on perspective.
With the help of the school psychologists and interns Alexey Breuss, Ceydi Giron, Yael Goldberg, Tiffany Leung and Jenni Marques, students from all grade levels participated in activities such as practicing mindful breathing and yoga techniques, creating breathing sticks and illustrating their “best self.” School psychologists also provided family resources and home activities. This included a collaborative activity that each student completed with a family member which focused on the positive traits or qualities of their family. 

In school, students also enjoyed a Focus Fair where they engaged in several mini workshops that highlighted mindfulness, coping strategies, team building activities and positive self-talk. Each station was marked by a different color representing the Mood Meter, a social emotional learning tool to help students manage their emotions.
“My favorite part of the Focus Fair today was the green station because it was calming, soothing and it made me feel good,” said Forest Road fifth grader Ernesto Salazar. “I learned a lot of calming strategies during the week. I know people can break down so by using these strategies, you can build yourself up again.”
According to Director of Special Services Dr. Nicole Schimpf, the school psychologists, alongside classroom teachers, will continue to implement social emotional learning strategies throughout the school year to support each student’s well-being in and out of the classrooms as part of the district’s multi-tiered framework for student behavior.

“School psychologists are already planning for their sixth grade push-in, resiliency-themed workshops starting next month as part of New York State’s new mental health regulations,” she said.