Monday, April 23, 2018

Conditions of Learning Survey: April 24th


You will be taking a brief survey in your Social Studies Class today. Please listen to your social studies teacher explain the survey and what you will be asked to do. Once your teacher has explained this survey to you and said you may begin, you may begin the survey. The link for the survey is listed below. Please answer the questions honestly and remember, the survey is anonymous. Our district and our building can use the results of this survey next year to continue to make positive improvements in the ways we work with students. Thank you!

Survey Link

When finished with the survey, please close out of that website

Next, log into Naviance using this link:

Naviance Log in link click here!

Remember, your username is your "lastname.firstname" and your password is your lunch # once "1234". Some students had their password changed when we worked on this. New students, your password may be your lunch # twice. Email if your log in does not work.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

College Visit and Naviance!

8th Graders.....February is going to be a BUSY MONTH! Starting today (I know, it is still January) we will begin using Naviance, our new college and career research and exploratory program that our 6th-12th graders are able to use. This system has a TON of things you can do and we will be doing about 5-6 items as part of our 8th grade checklist. By doing these certain items, we feel you will be better prepared to make college and career decisions which should help you make decisions about your high school career and course selections. We will continue to use this system a few times in February and you can use it on your own at any time as well.

Sign in link click here!

username: lastname.firstname
password: your lunch number JUST ONCE  for example "1234"

  Also, all of you will be visiting a college campus on Wednesday, February 21st. We will be taking buses to 4 different college campuses for some activities, a tour, and a great lunch. We hope to put each student in their first or second choice. So please take the survey below and pick a different college or university for each choice. If you pick the same college/university for more than one choice, you will not get to go to your first or possibly even second choice. Only other thing to do is cross your fingers that we have sunny and 60 degree weather on that day! :)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

What is Your One Word for 2018?

Image result for You matter

With just one week left of 2017, I have finally decided on my One Word for 2018. It took me two weeks of off and on thinking, writing down words, crossing out words, and reflecting on just what word means the most to me in my life right now. In the past, I have chosen words such as Connection, Joy, Hope, and Believe. My One Word for the 2017-18 School year is "Difference". This time, I had a large amount of words that wouldn't make sense without explanation, but one word kept popping up from time to time. I finally realized that it was popping up because it was the word I would eventually choose. My 2018 word is "MATTERS"

What does it mean to choose One Word to focus you on your goals, your life, and your purpose for 2018? Jon Gordon's short video is a pretty good explanation.

Now that you know what Jon Gordon says about choosing one word, here is why I choose One Word and how I use it. I teach students to set goals and I even set some goals. But I will admit that I am always on the move and always doing something different, so my goals sometimes get forgotten or pushed aside. When I heard of this One Word idea, I figured I would give it a try. Not only did I choose my One Word, but I wrote it down on different pieces and types of paper and posted it around my office, my home, wherever I am the most. My One Word became something I would see at least once a day and it became key in my decision-making, my thinking, my workplace, my family, and my life. And it changed me. For the better. So for the last 4 years, I have continued to choose a word each new school year and each new calendar year. I have helped our staff and students participate as well. And some of my friends and family continue to choose words as well. Much like my word this school year, I hope it is making a difference in some of their lives.

So why did I choose "Matters"? Well, because so much matters to me and some things really shouldn't matter as much as I think they do. My family matters. A lot. I am going to spend 2018 focusing on each and every member of my large family and make sure they each know they matter. My students also matter. They matter so much to me. We have the most students we have ever had in our building at CMS this year and students can get "lost in the shuffle" when that happens. I don't want that to happen. I plan to make sure to seek students out and do things and say things that help them understand they matter. My co-workers matter. They work with these same 500 kids each and every day and that matters to me. They give so much time and energy to helping our students and I know I can't get to every single student but that doesn't MATTER....because my co-workers are giving love, care, and support to these students as well. The mental health of my students, young people in general, and our population matters to me. What can I do to make sure this matters to everyone else? Because I have chosen the word "Matters", I plan to do things in 2018 to help make sure mental health issues matter to every one. Whether it be presenting to students and staff, presenting to parents, or presenting information on a larger level, I want to change the way we all see mental health struggles. I want to help end the stigma of mental health. We care for broken legs and the flu, why can't we give the same care for depression or anxiety?  So, 2018 will be busy for me because people matter. And I am going to make sure the people I come into contact with know this.

What doesn't matter as much? The negativity in this world, technology overload, money, stress, arguments over silly things, being late, being stuck at a stoplight, my sports teams losing (this happens a lot in my world), the past, maybe even the future, flat tires, and the list goes on. There are so many things we think matter.....but in the grand scheme of things....they don't. I am going to try to focus and reflect on this each day in 2018. Who knows how 2018 will turn out? Who knows what will happen in my life during 2018? But no MATTER what happens, I will focus on what truly MATTERS.

So, what is your One Word for 2018? Give it some real thought over the next week and I challenge you to come up with One Word and to write it down and put it places you will see it. Maybe like me it will become a tradition you do each year. Maybe like me, it will change your life!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

6th Grade Needs Assessment 2017-18

Students, please take the following survey. Thank you!

Friday, September 22, 2017

7th Grade Needs Assessment!

Students, please take the survey listed below.

Monday, September 18, 2017

8th Grade Needs Assessment 2017-18

Students, please take the survey below. Your answers will only be known by our middle school counseling staff. We use these results to invite students to groups or to provide more information to you on topics that you are interesting in receiving more help with.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

2017-18 6th Grade Minute Meetings

  6th Graders, please answer the following 4 questions. Your answers are anonymous. Thank you and I hope you have a great school year!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Resources for Parents and Teens on Grief and Death and Talking About these Topics

  For parents, teens, and anyone who may be struggling for the right words or process on how to talk about death, the grieving process, or the ability to process the emotions that come with death and grieving, here are a variety of resources. As a reminder, Hamilton's Funeral Home in the Des Moines area has a wealth of resources for families (many of the resources below came from them). Amanda the Panda is also a phenomenal resource and organization for young kids and teens who are struggling with the loss of a loved one in their life. And of course, you can always reach out to any of our school counselors if you are in need.

Helping Your Teen Cope with the Sudden Loss of a Friend pdf 

How to Help Teens Cope with Grief pdf 

Six Basic Principles of Teen Grief pdf

Top 10 List for Helping Grieving Teens and Children pdf

Thursday, April 20, 2017

"13 Reasons Why", the Netflix Series Your Teen or Even Pre-Teen May Be Watching. And Why You Need to Know if They are or Not

   As a Netflix subscriber with little free time on my hands, I tend to keep track of the newest and best shows on Netflix and bookmark them for some summer downtime when I finally get a little more free time. I came across a show called "13 Reasons Why" two or three weeks ago and it was getting great reviews. And the content interested me as it was about a teenager who died of suicide but may have been bullied or harassed before she died. As I read more, I read about the topics it covers: bullying, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, relationships, sexting, rape, drugs/alcohol, and teenage dilemmas. As a counselor, even though this show was fiction, I thought this is definitely something I should watch since the reviews said this will really make young people think about their actions. So, I marked it.
    In the two weeks since, it has become a huge topic of discussion among students, parents, counselors, and mental health experts due to the content and how it is portrayed. So, I began watching it. I am not finished (that whole free time thing again), but I am several episodes in. It is very, very good. But I can also see where the controversy is and where the ending of this show will lead to more controversy. Here is my advice to parents and teens, along with several great resources with advice from experts on suicide and other experts who generally know way more than me!

    The basis of this best-selling book and now Netflix show is that a student dies of suicide but leaves behind 13 tapes. These tapes each talk about 1 student who was part of the cause of her suicide. And these students have to listen to these tapes in hopes they never do this to anyone again. Well, controversy #1 is the idea that others cause suicide. Suicide is an act caused by the person who is doing the act and that person only. Controversy #2 is that mental health issues, usually unaddressed or not addressed enough or quickly enough, is by far the biggest factor in a suicide attempt. Bullying is not considered to be a main factor in most suicide attempts by a young person. While there are many other pieces suicide experts and groups take issue with, these are two of the biggest. The other issue is that the actual suicide (remember, this is fiction though), is shown in the final episode and from what I have read, shown in detail. Many have said they have had to turn away during this very long and emotional scene and it is one of the lasting images our young people see in this show. Suicide experts and groups pleaded with the show producers not to show the actual suicide as there has been a long-standing agreement to not report suicides in the news (unless high profile case such as the recent suicide of a former NFL player in prison) or show it in any form of media. The producers felt it still needed to be shown despite these pleas and research that shows reports of suicide or visuals of suicide can actually do more harm to others than good. It can actually increase the risk of suicidal behavior in others who are exposed to this. So that is a pretty huge controversy about this show as well.
    But the show has a lot of good pieces as well. As a counselor, I'm impressed by how realistic they show teenage drama and issues that affect our teens in today's world. The show addresses sexual harassment, treatment and exploitation of girls, bullying, cyberbullying, and several other teenage relationship and teen dynamics issues. You really feel what it feels like to be the victim and target and at times, you feel what it feels like to be the bully or the accidental bully. And you see the damage it causes all the way around. Obviously, I do not like the way they portray school counselors or school officials, but I get that they are using that to drive another piece of the storyline.
   Here's the bottom line....if you choose to let your child/teen watch this show, watch it with them. Better yet, watch it before they watch it. And then discuss each episode and it's meaning and what that means in their life. Ask them about how they feel about what they just watched. Ask them about their school experience and friend experience. Maybe this show will even make you think about how your child uses technology and why they use technology. And you will have to decide if you let them watch the final suicide scene (also, I have heard there is a rape scene in an episode as well that can be troubling for many). And if you are not sure what to talk to them about or how to process, take a look at a few of the resources below as they are great for parents. I always love CommonSenseMedia for the way they break down a show or movie. And note that even the review by kids say it is for age 14 and up. The Talking Points is an excellent resource too by those who are advocating for Suicide Awareness and Victims and trying to save the lives of our young people. And of course, feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions/concerns.

Common Sense Media thoughts on 13 Reasons Why

Talking points on 13 Reasons Why from Experts!

7 Things You Need to Know Before Your Child Watches....

And maybe the most important resource we all need to know about is the suicide hotline number. I not only share this number with people on social media, I encourage people to program it into their phone. You never know who may need that number and when, but if you have it in your phone and ready to go, you may save a life someday!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Why Knowing More About Human Trafficking is Important to the Carlisle Community

   Kim Flagor and I attended a workshop on Human Trafficking at our annual counseling conference back in November. We were really moved by the terrible and sad information we learned. It stuck with us. Just this week, I had the chance to go to another presentation on Human Trafficking by a local group that works to help young women get their lives back after being rescued from trafficking. Again....I was deeply moved. Soon, our counseling staff will hear from a third group, this time a group that helps get the message out to our teens and students as to what Human Trafficking is and why it matters to them. In other words, Human Trafficking is a big deal. But why? And why in little ol' Carlisle? Well, here are a few main reasons (in no particular order...they are all important!)

First of all, what is Human Trafficking?
 Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. It also happens to be the 2nd most profitable crime in the world, only trailing drug trafficking (although it could someday overtake that based on the rate it is growing)

 So, now that we know what it is, why does it matter to us?

 1. Iowa has the 5th highest rate of human trafficking in the country. That means only 4 states have a larger trafficking issue than us. This is likely due to the intersection of I35 and I80...too interstate systems that criss-cross the entire country. Our mental health facilities (or lack of) is another key reason. And a final reason is drug trafficking in our state which typically goes hand in hand with human trafficking. Dorothy's House presentation noted that heroin is on a major rise in our state because it is cheap and addictive and this is one of the drugs key to the trafficking issue.

 2. But we are not just talking about our young girls (and often boys as well) being stolen or abducted and taken out of state. Up to 80% of human trafficking is "Familial Trafficking". This means a majority of trafficking of our young people is done by their own family. Their mothers, fathers, step-parents, foster parents, older siblings, etc. They are selling their own child's body multiple times a day for money to pay rent or for a drug habit.

 3. According to Dorothy's House, guess who is the most popular victim to traffic? A 12-14 year old girl that is tall, skinny, and blond and right from the Des Moines area. We aren't talking 18 year olds and 20 year olds. We aren't talking kids from Chicago or LA. We are talking our kids. Our pre-teens and teenagers. As a father of 5....that matters to me!

 4. 1 in 3 teens on the street will be lured by a trafficker within 48 hours. We have runaways in our school district from time to time. It is scary to think of several of these students being approached by a trafficker. Many of these young people who are approached will accept the "help" they get and soon be into a trafficking situation they cannot escape from.

 5. The average age of a child victim in human trafficking and prostitution is 13-14 years old. In our district, we have roughly 300 students at that age level.

 6. Speaking of the average victim....the average victim may be forced to have sex up to 20-48 times a day. Young girls and women who happen to survive and make it out of these situations many times need reconstructive surgery, immediate and long-term mental health therapy, and addiction treatment. Even if everything works extremely well, it is tough for these girls and boys to live a normal life due to the intense and long-term trauma they were surviving through.

 7. Most common way a girl gets into trafficking? They are "boyfriended" in. In other words, a "nice" boy slowly gets to know a girl in that age 11-15 range (sometimes older) and grooms the girl. This is many times done online. The girl thinks the boy is her age or thinks he is really wanting to be a boyfriend. Many times the boy is much older, usually a man well past his teenage years. They arrange a meeting and the rest is a very sad, sad situation. The girls typically never see it coming......

 .....But her friends do. Her family does. Her teachers do. Her neighbors do. If.....if they are involved in her life and being supportive and caring and not letting her get down this path. This is why it matters to us here in little ol' Carlisle. We have a chance to not let our girls and boys be a part of these sick statistics. We have a chance to save the lives of some of our young people. But we must be willing to ask questions and not accept "fine" or "okay" for an answer. We must be on social media and checking on our kids. We must know our kids' friends and who our kids think are their friends. We must get in their business....because their business matters to us because we love them. And we must educate ourselves on this issue which has been around forever, but is rapidly increasing due to social media making it easier to "buy and sell" young people, our transportation system making it easier to traffic young people quickly and easily, and our drug and mental health issues on the rise making young girls and boys more vulnerable to being lured into the world of trafficking. We cannot look the other way because this topic is too gruesome, too ugly, too tough to read and hear about. We must turn towards it and towards the solutions because of these things.

 Please click on some of the links below to learn more. I did not know much about this issue 6-12 months ago, but I am glad I am learning now. As a counselor, I have dealt with many students "talking" to a stranger online and many times the conversations have stopped before it got too far. My worry is what if it didn't. What would happen. I want to educate myself and others so we can all help each other and all watch over each other

The Polaris Project

Recognize the Signs

Iowa Networkd Against Human Trafficking

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

HS Course Registration Survey

Click on this link and fill out this survey.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

8th Grade Bully/Harassment Survey 2016

Please take a moment to take the following survey. Do not start the survey until Mr. Barry is done explaining the survey. Thank you and have a great weekend! (Maybe the last warm weekend of 2016!)