Tuesday, January 02, 2018


As I sat down to write this for our February Newsletter, we have just begun a new year. The older I get, the more I seem to reflect on the past to determine what type of changes I should make for the future. As I began this process, my thoughts turned to a story that I had read again earlier in the year. I am sure that many of you had heard this story, but I feel that the underlying message it is very appropriate for a new year. It goes something like this:

A professor stood before his philosophy class with a few items in front of him. When the class began, silently, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill the jar with golf balls. The professor then asked the class if the jar was full. The class agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured these into the jar. He shook the jar slightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He asked the students if the jar was full. The students agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled everything else. The professor asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous, "yes. " The professor then pulled two cups of coffee from under his table and poured both cups into the jar, filling the empty spaces between the sand. The students all laughed. "Now, " said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things: family, God, children, health, friends, and favorite passions, things that if everything else was lost, and only these remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter such as your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff. " The professor continued, "if you put the sand in first, there is no room for the golf balls or the pebbles. This holds true for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are most important to you. "

So, the moral of this story is, as you reflect on the past and plan for the upcoming year, pay attention to things that are critical to your happiness. Play and spend time with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner and go ahead and play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house or fix the disposal. Take care of those golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities as you prepare for the New Year. The rest is just sand.

You may have asked yourself, "What about those cups of coffee. " A student did inquire what the coffee represented. The professor responded, "I am glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how busy and hectic your life is, there is always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend. "

Have a great year and remember to take some time for those "important things ", and that cup of coffee!!

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Guidance Counselor, School Counselor, Mental Health Counselor What is the difference? And what we do?

Sandy Hein, Midland Elementary School Counselor Debra Brokaw, Middle/High School Counselor Barb Hollinrake, High School Counselor

School Counselors used to be called Guidance Counselors. Why the change? Guidance counselors focused on vocational guidance, worked within the school walls, worked with only a few students, and did not have set standards for practice. Currently in our building, our counselors are referred to as school counselors and our focus is on academic, career, and social/emotional development. Our work is in collaboration with teachers, administrators, parents, outside counseling agencies and other stakeholders. We are advocates for all student needs and work hard at eliminating barriers to achievement. We plan interventions, collaborate and consult with educational partners and connect students with school and community resources. Our standards are laid out by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model Framework and apply to all students.

The responsibilities of a school counselor and mental health counselor are clearly defined but sometimes misunderstood. Therapy or services provided by trained mental health professionals are long-term and may address psychological disorders. According to ASCA, school counselors are trained to recognize, respond and provide a short-term intervention to the the mental health needs of our students. After which, we must connect the student and family with available mental health resources outside of the school. It would be similar to having the PE teacher be the instructor for music. The PE teacher could probably figure out a short-term lesson for those students, but we would not wanting him/her to provide core instruction for music. This principle applies to school counseling as well. We are not trained to provide those services and it is unethical to do so.

In both buildings we are working towards the Future Ready Iowa Initiative which calls for 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. We work on career exploration and on developing soft skills such as cooperation, communication, listening and self-advocacy skills.

Middle/High School

At the high school we are very thankful for the recent addition of a part-time school counselor, Ms. Hollinrake. Her vast experience in helping students navigate through career exploration, college preparedness and scholarship searches is an invaluable asset to the students here. This has decreased the amount of time Mrs. Brokaw has spent on college preparedness by half and opened up her schedule to meet more of the social and emotional needs of the students in the building.

Current initiatives that the middle/high school counselors, Ms. Hollinrake and Mrs. Brokaw, are working on include: attending a college fair, practice ACT testing, ASVAB career readiness assessments, a free FAFSA completion night, ICAN FAFSA information night, 8th grade parent information night, job shadows, peer mediation, connecting and collaborating with outside mental health agencies to support our students, and weekly academic, social/emotional, and attendance interventions for students based on data.

Elementary School

At the elementary building, Mrs. Hein goes into all of the classrooms weekly and teaches the Second Step curriculum. This instruction strengthens and builds the students' soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, friendship, and emotional management skills. In the spring, all students will learn about various careers and do age-appropriate activities related to this domain.

Another area of focus is providing small group and individual counseling to help students with personal or friendship issues. Social-Academic Instructional Groups are offered to give students more practice to help them be successful in the classroom, manage their emotions, and interact with peers and adults.

In Summary

School Counselors collaborate with both parents and teachers to help students be successful in school. If you have concerns about your child, do not hesitate to contact your child's school counselor. We will be happy to provide you with needed resources and work with you and your child! From preschool through 12th grade, Midland's School Counselors are here to make a difference for your child!

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By Angela Ruley, Elementary Principal

Technology shapes our lives everyday. I remember back in the late 90's when the internet became part of my life. It was a huge deal! I remember waiting for that magical sound of the dial up to complete so I could ICQ my friends or check my email. That was a time when checking your e-mail was the Facebook Messenger of the day! We also had to be strategic in planning your internet time around incoming calls because your landline phone would be busy for incoming calls if you were dialed in to the internet. Who would have ever imagined that in 2017 the internet would be accessible at your fingertips on a smartphone. You can text, call, snap, Facebook, e-mail, or Instagram your friends anytime you want. But how much time do we spend prepping our kids to this much access to the real world at the tip of their fingers or the responsibilities that go along with it?

In 2017, roughly 80 percent of children ages 13-17 own a smartphone. The average age parents decide to purchase a cell phone for their child is 10. Unlimited data, unlimited apps, unlimited contacts and unlimited free choice. As a parent and an administrator, I think it is important to really dive into the topic of "Cyber Civics" with any parent of a child with a cell phone. When we give kids a license to drive a car, they earn that license by getting a permit to drive, taking driver's education, and spending time behind the wheel with a more experienced driver. Why? Because giving kids such a big responsibility without guidance would be dangerous.

Cell phones provide 24/7 access to "instant feedback" from peers. How many people opened my snap, how many likes did I receive on Instagram, did anyone like my status on Facebook? It provides an empty blank screen to voice how you are feeling at the touch of a button that can be sent without voice to any audience of your choosing. You can't second guess anything you put online because it will always exist in cyberspace; even if you change your mind. Or a text picture that you sent to someone else that can be screenshot and sent to all of their friends. This year alone in our district, we have worked with students about sexting, online harassment, bullying, hacking into other student's accounts, suicide threats and more. I'm not saying that cellphones should be banned, but I am urging parents to talk with and teach your children about cell phone safety and "Cyber Civics."

Cyber Civic Basics: Digital Citizenship and Digital Footprint

Digital citizenship can be defined as responsible behavior with regard to technology use, within this is also your child's digital footprint. A digital footprint is the information about a particular person that exists on the Internet as a result of their online activity. Some basic areas to start with are as follows:

1. Do you know about the apps that are on our child's phone and who they are "friends" with? Several of the apps out there allow you to follow or be friends with people whom you might not know and the app allows that other person access to whatever your child posts within that app. Think it doesn't happen? This topic has been addressed in the elementary building on several occasions with the app musical.ly.

2. Friendship conflicts happen, but social media should not be the platform you choose to openly air your issues. I have talked with students about how some conversations should be in person and not via text messages. Emojiis do not give you insight into the "tone" of a text and sometimes these conversations become worse in times of conflict. Talk to your children about when to put the phone down and teach them to have face to face interaction with peers.

3. Digital footprints can follow you all the way into adulthood. When prospective employers search candidates, many times a google search can reveal a lot about someone. Are you aware of your child's digital footprint? Before they send that picture, remind them that anything can be screenshot and shared by someone else. You don't own anything you post online or share via text.

4. If something doesn't seem right, teach them to tell an adult. If your child receives information in a text or on an app that is violating someone's personal rights or shows someone making a threat against himself or others, please teach them to tell someone who can look into the situation. We live in a world where making a threat to harm one's self or others is real and many times it is discussed on social media before it happens.

We are raising the next generation of digital adults. Lets work together to keep our students safe online by increasing cyber civic discussions about safe cell phone usage. Parents be aware and ask questions about apps on phones and contacts with others through those apps. Safety is key and most important.

Contact Us
Main Phone: 563-488-2292
Elementary Extension 7
Middle/High School Extension 8
Secretary Extension 0


510 3rd Avenue North
Oxford Junction, IA 52323
Fax: 563-826-2681
Grades: PreSchool-5

Middle/High School
106 West Webster St.
PO Box 109
Wyoming, IA 52362
Fax: 563-488-2253
Grades: 6-12

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