Thursday, November 7, 2019

Operation Santa Claus

Operation Santa Claus is a holiday program that gives free holiday gifts to families. This program serves Orford, Fairlee, West Fairlee and Vershire families. If you would like to apply for this program and receive help, we have the application forms here at school. If you would like an application, please contact Mrs. Ann O’Hearn, Guidance Counselor, at, or call  802-333-4668 (Westshire) or 802-333-9755 (Samuel Morey) to request an application. Applications can also be picked up in either school’s front office.  After you get an application, it is the family’s responsibility to mail the form to the address indicated on the form. APPLICATION DEADLINE:  MUST BE POSTMARKED BY WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Counselor’s Corner

     This week in guidance class in the lower elementary grades we learned about feelings. This is part of the Empathy Unit. All the time, we look at people and try to figure out how they feel. We see clues on their faces and bodies that let us know how they feel.  Knowing how other people are feeling helps us get along with others better.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Counselor’s Corner

        In Guidance classes this week, I used the STRESS-FREE KID’s CURRICULUM. This month, the students learned about and experienced affirmations. Affirmations are compliments you give yourself, like “I like myself”, or “I learn easily”, or “I can do this”.
        During class, students were allowed to sit or lay down on the floor with their eyes open or closed and listen to a book on tape. The lights in the classroom are dimmed. In the story, the characters face a problem, and use simple affirmations to feel better. After the story finishes, quiet, beautiful music plays for 10 minutes. Students were given the choice to stay relaxing or color at their tables.
        We do this about once a month in all classes, and it is another way students learn strategies to calm themselves, increase their self-esteem, better focus in class, and feel good.
Mrs. Ann O’Hearn

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Counselor’s Corner

         Ah! Television, Ipods, Ipads, phones, video games…fun and entertaining. It’s great to relax and enjoy these devices. But too much “screen-time” is not good for kids, I think most parents would agree. So what do we do? Set limits on it.
        Kids usually will not set limits, so it’s good parenting to be aware of how long your child has been on a screen, and tell them to “get off.” If they resist, take the device from them for a period of time. Tell them, “it’s not good to be on it too much” (they know this too), and then make suggestions for other things they could do. And taking a device away for a day is a great, safe consequence you can give for misbehavior.
        Help your child have experiences other than “screen-time.” Invite friends over, go to a swimming pool or other favorite place to recreate, set up and play a board game with them, or go outside and take them with you. Keep trying to help them have some time in their days that is not on screen. I think this is the way it is for many of us parents today, limiting screen time is now a common parental responsibility. Just say “stop” and make sure that our children put down their devices for a part of their days/week.

Counselor’s Corner

“Friendship Groups”

At school I lead weekly friendship groups. Sometime these groups run year-long, and sometimes they are shorter – for example, six weeks. Usually the groups happen during lunchtime, quiet-time, or a special subject. The groups are an addition to the academic curriculum, and they provide opportunities for safe, positive interaction with peers and the enhancement of friendships. Sometimes a teacher suggests a friendship group for a student, sometimes the students themselves ask me if they can join a friendship group, and sometimes parents contact me to ask if their child can join a group. In the group, children play together. The play can be structured play such as a board game and/or sometimes the group members choose more open-ended, imaginative play. All members of the group are included, and participate at a level they are comfortable. Children are also free to decide not to come that day if they do not feel like attending. We have a lot of fun in friendship groups!

Friday, September 20, 2019

    In our schools, we use the Second Step Curriculum to directly teach social and academic skills to all the students, grades K-6. The things children learn about are:

·      How to be a learner
·      How to get along with others
·      How to handle thoughts and feelings
·      How to solve problems

I come into each classroom once a week and teach Second Step during Guidance Class. My lessons are active, fun and engaging. They include stories, and songs, role plays and skills practice. I send home “homelinks” for more learning. Teachers also follow through with these concepts throughout the week with their class. Topics are things like: Taking Responsibility, Showing You Care, Be Assertive, and Anxiety Management, etc.. Each year, the students build on these topics and deepen their learning in these areas.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Meet the School Counselor

I am Mrs. Ann O'Hearn and I am the School Counselor for both Samuel Morey and Westshire Elementary Schools.  What exactly does a school counselor do? A lot! The school counselor here teaches “Guidance Class” in every grade once a week for 30 minutes. I teach from a nationally recognized curriculum called Second Step. We cover the following topics: how to be kind and have empathy for others, how to make good choices, and how to solve social problems peacefully.

 School counselors also help children dry their tears when they feel sad, and they help with scary or stressful situations, such as a moving, separation or divorce, or illnesses or death in the family, for example. At school I also lead friendship groups for children to practice social skills. They enjoy the benefits of positive interaction in a small group setting. The school counselor is full of compliments, and helps children feel valued, special and lucky to be who they are. How to ask for help? Children can ask to visit the school counselor by asking their teacher or parent to set up an appointment for them, or children can ask me directly.