School Psychologists Helps Students Find their Focus
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.
Families Get a Taste of Beneficial Services
Administrators, staff, PTA members, students and families from throughout Valley Stream District 30 gathered for the district’s annual Taste of a Service parent fair at Shaw Avenue School on Nov. 21. Coordinated by Director of Special Services Dr. Nicole Schimpf and Shaw Avenue School Principal Christopher Colarossi, the event provided community members with a “taste” of the variety of services and technological tools available for all students within the district.
PTA members from Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue elementary schools helped check guests in and contributed to the photo booth and refreshments. Each guest received a tote bag to fill with goodies and resources as they made their way around the fair. Family members were also encouraged to fill out a digital survey to help the district in their strategic planning process for 2020-2025.
Behavioral consultants, classroom teachers, enrichment specialists, music and physical education teachers, occupational therapists, reading specialists, speech therapists, school nurses and school psychologists were stationed at different booths during the fair. The 22 booths focused on important topics such as new Math Expressions curriculum resources, exercise and the importance of reducing screen time, learning styles and strategies, educational apps to use at home, identifying and regulating emotions and innovative ways to encourage student voice.
Throughout the evening, the staff discussed classroom strategies and spoke to families about what can be done at home to support their child’s learning. Incoming kindergarten families were also invited to attend the fair to ask questions and familiarize themselves with the district.
“This is a collaborative effort, so it is always a pleasure working alongside our families and sharing our best instructional practices,” said Mr. Colarossi. “Our hope is that throughout the evening families learned more about the amazing educational experiences of a District 30 student and that they picked up just a few new strategies that could be tried out at home.”
In addition, the special event connected to the district’s theme of the year, “Lift Every Voice,” as music teachers Christina Gorey and Lidia Kloc-Alberghini spoke with students and families about music education in the district. While parents traveled around to the different booths during the evening, children were encouraged to perform karaoke and play with the different musical instruments in the school lobby. Some children also watched a music-themed movie in the auditorium while supervised by chaperones.
“This is a very special, stress free family event that we look forward to once a year that evokes inspiration, excitement and collaboration across schools, departments and PTAs,” said Dr. Schimpf. “I am so proud of how we come together to showcase what the district stands for as it relates to our inclusive practices, enrichment for all, 21st learning experiences, musical opportunities, and physical and mental wellbeing for all!”
Another Successful Year for District 30's Summer Services Program
Thirty-four students entering grades 1-6 participated in Valley Stream District 30’s six-week special education summer services program at Shaw Avenue School this summer. The annual program is designed to meet the continuing needs of students with learning disabilities from Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue schools.
Coordinated this summer by Director of Special Services Dr. Nicole Schimpf and administrative intern Shannon Woodson, students were recommended for the half-day program based on the district’s Committee of Special Education. Faculty members from throughout the district, including Melissa Cappy, Erica Jemmott, Timothy Rau and Monet Springer helped facilitate four classes this summer with the help of support staff. Students strengthened their reading, writing and math skills, along with social and emotional skills in the classroom. The small class sizes allowed for individualized attention to be set on specific student needs and an occupational therapist, physical therapist and speech therapist offered services throughout the summer.
“I think it was really an incredible summer for them,” said Ms. Jemmott. “Not only are they maintaining their skills from the school year, but they are in this classroom community that they are going to enter in September. It really helped to have these six weeks to get to know each other and build a community so when they start in the fall, it’s really natural and comfortable for them.”
Students took a bus to Forest Road School four times this summer where they tended to the student garden. The trips served as a valuable outlet for students to learn about different foods as they picked their creations from the garden and followed recipes, connecting to a unit on nutrition. The students also participated in engaging science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics activities in Forest Road’s computer lab with the help of Mr. Rau and Ms. Jemmott. Among the activities, students learned how to make ice cream in a bag and build a bridge out of various household materials.
“We try to work on skills that they still need but also make the program enjoyable,” said Mr. Rau. “We want to give them life skills or real-life experiences with things that will only better them as they continue to move through their academic careers.”
According to the teachers, the students showed their growth this summer and both students and staff had a great experience. The program concluded with its annual tradition of Field Day for all to enjoy.
VIDEO: Building Relationships with “Taste of a Service” Parent Fair
Valley Stream Students Unite to Prevent Cyberbullying
Fourth-grade students throughout Valley Stream District 30 participated in engaging anti-cyberbullying workshops on March 23, facilitated by National Honor Society students from the Valley Stream Central High School District. The high schoolers visited Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue elementary schools throughout the day to teach the students about how to be respectful digital citizens and talk about the signs of cyberbullying.
The program was part of the Inter-District Wellness Committee made up of representatives from each Valley Stream school district. Under the guidance of National Honor Society adviser Alisha Varian, the honor society members presented on what cyberbullying is and how it can make one feel, as fourth-graders answered questions. The elementary students also learned about the numerous social media platforms that bullies utilize, as well as how to be an upstander and how to report a bully.
“We’re here to teach kids how to be smart on social media before they become proactive in the online community,” said senior and National Honor Society secretary Alisha Victor.
The students were divided into six groups and rotated as the high schoolers ran different activity stations to dive deeper into cyberbullying. Among the variety of activities, fourth-graders participated in role-playing scenarios on how to face a bully and created social media responses on Post-Its, on how they would react to a negative online situation. Through the lessons, fourth-graders learned how words can affect emotions.
“I liked that they gave us a model in the first group of how you can feel if someone says something hurtful to you or something positive,” said Clear Stream fourth-grader Chris Brockington.
Families Receive a Superhero-Sized “Taste” of District Services
More than 100 administrators, staff, students and family members gathered at Shaw Avenue School for Valley Stream District 30’s annual Taste of a Service parent fair on March 5. Coordinated by Director of Special Services Nicole Schimpf and Shaw Avenue Assistant Principal Christopher Colarossi, the superhero-themed event featured informational booths and activities showcasing the beneficial tools and services that the district offers its students.
Although it was only the third year that the district hosted the event, attendees made it a record breaking turnout. Families toured the gymnasium and hallway to speak with faculty members about different services and strategies to help their child succeed. They had conversations with reading/math specialists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, classroom teachers, school nurses, school psychologists, enrichment specialists, S.T.E.A.M support staff, English Language Learner teachers and special education teachers from throughout the district to utilize what is being done in the classroom and reinforce that support at home to guide their child’s learning.
One of the stations featured Shaw Avenue sixth-graders in the district’s Quest program, an enrichment program which challenges third- through sixth-grade learners with a broad range of advanced-level enrichment experiences. Under the guidance of teacher Ilissa Epstein, the students learned how to administer CPR and educated attendees on the life-saving technique. Additionally, parents learned about the enrichment activities that are push-in services available to all students shared by Danielle Bonaccorso, enrichment teacher.
Younger students were also welcomed to attend the event, as well as incoming kindergartners and their parents. Supervision and entertainment were provided for the students as family members browsed the booths. Refreshments were served and as part of the district’s 2017-2018 “Show Your Character” theme, superheroes were the stars of the event. This included a visit and show from Spiderman for students to learn about character traits to live by, as well as crafts and balloon animals to enjoy.
“We are very proud of the parents for coming out and joining us for this special event,” said Schimpf. “We really hope they received a taste of the many services that we are extremely fortunate to offer, walked away at least with one take-away home strategy and also made connections with different staff across the district to reach out to in the future if their child needs support.”
District Celebrates School Psychology Awareness Week