Thursday, November 1, 2018

Nature's Classroom

by Jen Dondero

The 7th grade traveled to Nature's Classroom on October 23rd. We arrived in Silver Bay, New York to rainy and cold temperatures but we were greeted by very excited Nature's Classroom teachers. The students stepped off the bus and into team building activities. The week was spent learning about nature and how to reduce our impact on the environment by reducing food waste, water waste and using environmentally friendly products. The 7th graders also learned to navigate sharing spaces and social situations. They grew in their independence and self-sufficiency. It was great to see our students grow and demonstrate our 4Rs especially responsibility, respect and resourcefulness.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Declining Resilience in College Students

By Kathy Mahoney
Resilience. It’s a word that pops up often when talking about youth, so much so that it is the theme of our Advisory program at MHS this year. What is resilience and why should we, as educators and parents, care? Definitions include the ability to recover quickly from difficulties, or being able to bounce back when faced with adversity. Research has shown that this trait is linked to future success and happiness.

A recent article from Psychology Today reports that colleges are seeing an increasing number of students that lack this quality. Counseling services are overwhelmed, professors are frustrated with students’ inability to solve even the simplest problems, and students are not learning to become responsible adults. How did we get here? And what can we do about it?

Dan Jones, former president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, says, “[Students] haven’t developed skills in how to soothe themselves, because their parents have solved all their problems and removed the obstacles. They don’t seem to have as much grit as previous generations.”

Dan goes on to say that he’s not trying to throw parents under the bus, as parents face many societal pressures raising kids in today’s world. These pressures have led them to manage and structure their kids’ lives in order to keep them safe, and to help them reach their potential, both noble goals. The downside, however, has been a “decline in opportunities [for kids] to play, explore, and pursue their own interests away from adults.” Anxiety and depression are up, and kids have less sense of control over their lives. When young people are not given opportunities to learn how to solve their own problems, get into trouble and find their way out, experience failure and realize they will survive, they become college-aged students that don’t know how to take responsibility for themselves, needing adult intervention when a problem arises.

In today’s world, a balance between structure and independence is needed if we are to build resilience. “If we want to prepare our kids for college—or for anything else in life—we have to counter these social forces. We have to give our children the freedom, which children have always enjoyed in the past, to get away from adults so they can practice being adults—that is, practice taking responsibility for themselves.”

Visit this link to read the article.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Financial Aid Process

by Amanda Padden

Last Thursday Justin Munio, Financial Aid Officer at Harvard, talked with Medfield families about the financial aid process. The presentation was offered through the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA), which is a not-for-profit organization that helps families plan, save and pay for college. You can view the powerpoint on the guidance website to see the presentation, but I’ve included some main highlights and take away points below:
  • Check the financial aid website for all colleges you are applying to. Deadlines are very important. If you are applying early to colleges then financial aid documents may be due early as well.
  • The FAFSA and the CSS profile are the two forms that families typically have to complete. The FAFSA is free, but the CSS profile is not. Not all colleges require the CSS profile.
  • There are multiple sources of financial aid:
    • Federal Aid: You can get this by completing the FAFSA. This aid comes in the form of grants, loans, tax incentives and work study
    • Massachusetts Aid: Grants, scholarships, tuition waivers, and loans. (John and Abigail Adams scholarship determined by MCAS scores)
    • Institutional aid- offered by the individual colleges in the form of grants, work study, and scholarships.
    • Merit scholarships- some schools offer merit scholarships based on academics, athletics, the arts, etc. Many highly selective colleges (like the Ivys) don’t offer it because everyone is high achieving in the applicant pool.
    • Scholarships- local scholarships (Medfield students will get information about these in March) and scholarships from other agencies.
    • Of note- parent loans are NOT financial aid. You’ll want to look for grants, scholarships and student loans on the financial aid award letter.
  • Cost of Attendance
    • Direct expenses- tuition, fees, room/board
    • Personal expenses: books, travel, etc.
  • Cost of Attendance
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC)- This is the minimum amount a family should be expected to pay for one student for one year. This is redetermined every year. An increase in income increases a family’s EFC. Savings does increase it, but only slightly.
  • Financial Aid Eligibility (need) is calculated by taking the COA and subtracting the EFC. Every college has a net price calculator on their website. Families can enter their personal information on each college’s website and get an estimate of their EFC.
  • Many colleges offer payment plans throughout the year so you do not have to pay your EFC in one lump sum.
The financial aid process can feel overwhelming for many families, but there are a lot of resources available that can help. Check out the following:

  • FAFSA Day is November 4th- families can get free assistance with filling out the FAFSA from a financial aid officer. Click here to view FAFSA day locations and to register:
  • MEFA offers After the College Acceptance seminars where families can get assistance with reviewing award letters and discuss loans, payment plans and questions that families should ask the financial aid office. These seminars are in March and April.
Always feel free to contact financial aid offices directly to ask questions. They are there to help!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

7th Grade Students turn FAILURE into a Positive

by Jen Dondero

In 7th grade guidance classes, students are discussing resiliency and how to respond to adversity. Students were asked to create their Mount Rushmore of the most successful American Presidents. Approximately, 98% of students listed Abraham Lincoln as being a President they viewed as highly successful. I pointed out to students that Abraham Lincoln was a big FAILURE until the age of 51. 

For reference here are a list of his major failures
1831: Failed in business.
1832: Ran for state legislature – lost.
1832: Also lost his job – wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.
1833: Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.
1834: Ran for state legislature again – won.
1836: Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
1838: Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.
1840: Sought to become elector – defeated.
1843: Ran for Congress – lost.
1846: Ran for Congress again – this time he won – went to Washington and did a good job.
1848: Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.
1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.
1854: Ran for Senate of the United States – lost.
1856: Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention – got less than 100 votes.
1858: Ran for U.S. Senate again – again he lost.
It was not until 1860 that he was elected President and became one of the great American Presidents.

Students discussed how previous adversity made them stronger. Students gave examples such as not making a sports team or doing poorly on a test. They said it was important that they reflected on their mistakes and worked to make improvements. The final piece was taking the word FAILURE and turning it into something positive by creating acrostic poems. Please see two examples in the pictures. Mr. Vaughn will tell you that avoiding failure is never good. If we aren't making mistakes we are not learning. Ask your students how they failed today. How did the adversity feel and what did they learn from it?

Friday, September 28, 2018

Start With Hello

by Russ Becker

This week, Medfield’s R.E.N.E.W Project and Friends of Rachel club have been hard at work promoting the “Start With Hello” Movement. Start With Hello is put on by Sandy Hook Promise and it aims increase the welcoming nature of our school while decreasing social isolation among our students. The movement began with a simple idea that if you see someone by themselves, isolated and alone, sometime all you have to do is say hello to make them a part of your community. All week we have had students reading announcements to highlight the spirit of the movement, and we have handed out bingo boards that will encourage students to talk to others they may not know very well. Tomorrow our week concludes with a photo booth and a signed pledge to foster social inclusion at lunch. If you would like to know more please reach out and don’t forget to Start With Hello!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Medfield Schools Attend D.A. Morrissey’s Collaborative Problem Solving Seminar

Press Release from the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office

Nationally acclaimed speaker and author Dr. J. Stuart Ablon, a Psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, was the guest of Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey at an all-day training to help school districts deal with and find durable solutions to the most challenging and disruptive behaviors.

“The year after New York Police began training their school safety officers in Dr. Ablon’s ‘Think:Kids’ Collaborative Problem Solving® model in 2013, there was a 58 percent decrease in arrests made at school and 20 percent decrease in the reports of major crimes,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “Norfolk County schools may have different issues than any metropolis, but the solutions he offers work across demographics.”

More than 110 educators, school nurses, psychologists and adjustment counselors – including 40 school resource officers – took part in the September 20 event including Russ Becker, the adjustment counselor for Blake Middle and Medfield High School.

“Dr. Ablon’s methods are simple, but not easy. They start from the premise, rooted in research, that most kids ‘do well if they can’,” Morrissey said. “When they act out in school, the adults around them can be trained to work with them to identify, then teach the skills they need to succeed.”

The “Think: Kids” method is the opposite of permissiveness, but also avoids ineffective punishment models, Morrissey said. Instead, educators and school resource officers are trained in Collaborative Problem Solving – meaning the students are strategically engaged in coming up with resolutions to the conflict. In doing so, they improve skills that will prevent the problem from recurring.

“The new criminal justice reform act changes the role of school resource officers, removing them from enforcing school rules and discipline,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “Our training today provides information on research-based interventions being used across the country to address challenging student behavior without resorting to police powers or punitive steps.”

The research shows that collaborative problem solving creates more durable solutions to problematic behavior than either permissiveness or punitive action, and the District Attorney also sees benefits for the students as they age into adulthood.

“Helping students overcome poor impulse control, inability to manage irritability or disappointment, or help them learn to manage conflict – all while still in the safe environment of a school – can only help their future,” Morrissey said. “Spend a morning in any district courtroom and you will see petty assaults, property destruction and other crimes that arise from the same skill deficits.”

The conference was held in seminar space donated by the Bank of Canton at its corporate headquarters.

Contributed Photo info: Medfield Middle and High School Adjustment Counselor Russell Becker, left, joined more than 100 of his colleagues from across Norfolk County at the all-day training on effectively dealing with challenging behavior in schools hosted by Norfolk DA Michael W. Morrissey, right