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Students Harness the Power of Possibility

Students pose with their handmade pinwheels thumbnail178663

Valley Stream District 30 students celebrated National School Psychology Week for the fourth consecutive year from Nov. 23-25. National School Psychology Week is recognized annually by schools across the country from Nov. 9-13 to increase the awareness of the important work that school psychologists perform on a daily basis.

The district acknowledged the special week in the days leading up to Thanksgiving Recess. With the guidance of District 30’s school psychologists Dr. Lauraine Casella, Sonya Jackson, Jennifer Orellana and Dr. Francyne Zeltser, students focused on this year’s NSPW theme, “The Power of Possibility,” while participating in various social-emotional learning activities and discussions.

At the start of the week, classes at Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue schools watched a personalized video about the role of a school psychologist featuring the week’s theme and students explaining what they believe a school psychologist does.

“Much like the current year’s theme, ‘The Power of Possibility,’ much of what we do as school psychologists is focused on helping our students recognize that there are endless possibilities for them,” said Mrs. Jackson. “By nurturing their social, emotional and mental health, they too can accomplish anything even in the most challenging of times.”

In honor of NSPW, families and teachers were encouraged to visit a Virtual Resource Room which the school psychologists created, featuring important strategies, resources and tools to support students’ social-emotional growth and development.

During the week, remote and hybrid students enjoyed a read aloud activity connecting to “The Power of Possibility” theme. Students in grades K-2 listened to the audio book “Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae. After hearing the story about the main character, Gerald the Giraffe, students answered reflection questions and created their own Gerald the Giraffe puppet out of a paper bag. Students were later encouraged to make a video with their families doing their own version of the giraffe dance. Students in grades 3-6 participated in a read aloud of “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba and also answered reflection questions. They then created their own windmills (pinwheels) like the main character did in the story.

“This year has been challenging for so many of our students, teachers, families, staff members and the community at large,” said Dr. Zeltser. “We hope these activities and resources help our Valley Stream community realize that even in the most trying times, they are resilient and have the power, ability, and support to make the seemingly impossible, possible.”

Physical education teachers Kerry Ann Brady, Nick Clark, Peter Hansen, Jonathan Greiss and Eric Van Keuren were also an instrumental part of the week. Hybrid students engaged in physical education activities in their school gymnasium that stimulated growth, imagination and creativity while focusing on “The Power of Possibility” theme. Classes rotated between four stations during their PE periods which were designed to address four different issues of today’s society. Each station was presented to students as a problematic scenario granting them the power to resolve the issues by completing a task.

“The school psychologists in Valley Stream District 30 have collaborated with the Physical Education Department in order to expand our students’ knowledge of the connection between ones emotional and physical health,” said Mrs. Orellana. “We hope that these activities help students practice their problem solving and decision-making skills, increase their social communication and develop their emotional regulation tools.”

With the support of the school psychologists and physical education teachers, students ended the week with the understanding that when you focus on what is possible, you will grow and succeed.

“We want to remind our students to always believe in themselves and to never give up as they pursue their goals and dreams, even when faced with difficult challenges,” said Dr. Casella.