5 Conversations to Have with your Teen after 13 Reasons Why

Talking Points from SAVE

National Association of School Psychologists

13 Reasons Why -- JCC - Thursday, May 4

13 Reasons Why

You may have heard about the controversial new Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, about a teen who takes her own life. Experts and educators are concerned about the subject matter, as they believe the show glamorizes suicide, and includes graphic depictions of rape, alcohol abuse, and bullying. It does not address mental health issues or alternatives to suicide, and the adults in the film do not respond appropriately to issues as they arise.

Our teens are binge watching this show, in many cases on their own. Experts say that if your child is watching it, you should be too, in order to discuss any issues that arise.

  • MMAC's Empower Hour will address this topic on Monday morning at 11 a.m. at the Millburn Public Library. Nancy Kislin, Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Coach will facilitate a discussion of how to talk to your kids about the series, and the difficult subjects it raises. All are invited to join this important conversation.
  • Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) has provided Talking Points to help parents and teachers address the issues being raised by this program.
  • As you know, Health & Wellness has been a school district focus this school year. I want to remind you of our Health & Wellness website that has links to community resources and hotlines that are available 24 hours a day. The Millburn High School Student Center also provides support for students and families who may be struggling with depression, anxiety and stress or suicidal thoughts.

As always, if you have concerns about your child, please contact your child’s teacher, guidance counselor, school nurse or principal who will put you in touch with our team of experts to get the help you need.


March 10, 2017

Have you responded to our Parent Support Survey? Share helpful information, positive words of wisdom, and those “aha moments” that occurred as your children made the journey through our schools. Please take a few minutes to answer these few questions that might help make the trip a little easier for parents who are just beginning.


February 17, 2017

I want to say thanks to the staff, students, parents and community members who came out on Wednesday night for our school district’s first Health & Wellness Community Forum. We heard important insights from over 150 participants about the issues and stressors that impact our students.

A presentation by George Scott, Ed.S. on “Wellness and Wellbeing” provided an overview of some causes of an increase in stress in children around the country, and offered some solutions for both schools and families to reduce their stress and health concerns.

A group of students from our High School Student Liaison Committee shared the results of a survey they recently submitted to their peers. While it may not be a scientific survey, you may find the responses intriguing.

Participants then broke out into discussion groups, and responded to two questions:

1. What factors in Millburn are impacting the health and wellness of our students?

2. What can we do to improve the health and wellness of our students?

-- staff/administrators…students…parents…community?

A representative response from each table was shared with the entire group. As a follow-up, we will be compiling all of the responses and summarizing them in a community email that will be sent out in the coming week, along with a date for the next Heath & Wellness meeting. We are in the process of incorporating short, medium and long-term actions that the schools and Committee will look to accomplish.

We also shared the many resources that are currently available to our families and students.

· Our school nurses have resources at their fingertips to help students and families who are struggling with medical or mental health issues.

· The Guidance offices at Middle and High school exist to support our students’ needs in all areas – academic, social, and emotional.

· I encourage you to take a look at the Millburn High School Student Center website for student workshops, information, resources, and drop-in hours for support for students and parents.

· We are posting these and additional resources from community groups on our Health & Wellness website. Please share suggestions with us by emailing .

Of course, one of the best ways to de-stress is to have some down time. I hope you will find some time to relax during this upcoming vacation week. Perhaps this Mannequin Challenge from our high school Adventure Education classes will inspire you.

Health & Wellness Forum Introduction by Board of Ed President Emily Jaffe

February 15, 2017

Good Evening and thank you all for joining us tonight for Millburn’s 1st Health and Wellness Community Forum. I am Emily Jaffe, Board of Ed President, and Chair of the Health and Wellness Committee and I am also the proud mom of 3 Hartshorn students in 5th, 3rd and Kindergarten.

As I look around this room, I see many familiar faces and some new ones. Some of you have voiced concerns in the Boardroom. Some of you have confided your concerns to me or other members of the Committee (Regina Truitt, Berylin Bosselman, and Jennifer Woodhouse). Some have petitioned us for change. Quite simply, we are assembled here tonight to assure you, to show you, that yes, we have heard you. We are listening. And we are committed to taking action.

Now some action has been taken already, which you will hear more about in a bit but yes, there’s much more work to be done.

The Board of Ed, with Dr. Burton, created this Committee this year to ensure that the Health and Wellness of our students are a District priority. Our vision is to define what a healthy school district looks like; identify the existing gaps, and come up with real solutions that can take us there.

To be clear, this is not the group that brought you the petition (although we have similar name and logo) and we are thrilled to have those parents here, but this is not about 1 or 2 isolated issues -- this is about bringing our Community together and starting a real dialogue around a culture change with measurable outcomes for the sake of our students and their wellbeing.

A few years ago, people said that Millburn could never get a bond referendum passed. Well, we passed our referendum last year with 75% of the vote. Now, we need to focus that attention within to make some positive change. I’m excited. This is quite a room -- community leaders, parents, students, teachers, administrators...all with a common priority - our students and their wellbeing.

I want you to walk out of here tonight with a feeling of empowerment and hope - because we’re taking this first monumental step together. Keep in mind also that going forward, you can always reach out to me or any member of the Committee. We need to hear from you.

So let’s be candid, respectful, open. Let’s partner on this. And know, we are most definitely listening and committed to action.

Health & Wellness Committee Announced

January 20, 2017

You may have heard, or read in local news reports that the district is embarking on a Health & Wellness initiative.

The Board of Education’s ad hoc Health & Wellness Committee, chaired by Board President Emily Jaffe, held several planning meetings this week. A mission statement was drafted, and we are in the process of scheduling a community-wide meeting in mid-February.

The draft vision statement of the committee is outlined below:

The Health & Wellness Committee has been formed to define what a healthy school district looks like; to highlight all of the good work that exists to move the district in that direction; and to identify the gaps and needs that can be promoted to achieve the ultimate goal of raising healthy and accomplished students.

We look forward to hearing from our community to help us continue to define issues that impact our students, and to provide perspectives to help us address them.

This new Health & Wellness site will provide information about the ongoing work of the committee, as well as articles, resources and events as we move forward.

I do want to emphasize that, while we now have a committee dedicated to reviewing our health and wellness, this is not something new in our district. Every day in every school and classroom, our teachers and staff support our students’ social, psychological and physical wellbeing.

Over the last year, at the high school alone, we have put a focus on student wellness with the opening of the MHS Student Center, which provides information, workshops, and solutions for promoting positive, healthy living. All students, parents and staff are invited to take advantage of this resource. This week, as students prepared for midterm exams, therapy dogs were there to help them unwind, and have a respite from studying.

There are also many parent education opportunities throughout the year, offered by our PTOs, our Special Education Parent Committee (SEPAC), community groups and more. Here are just a few events coming up:

  • The Parent Wellness Consortium, on February 2 in Berkeley Heights, presents Dr. Brian Chu of Rutgers University who will speak about childhood/adolescent anxiety, school avoidance and school refusal.
  • MMAC Empower Hour, on Tuesday, January 24 at 11 am at the Millburn Library continues the conversation from the recent Middle School presentation about the health effects of too much screen time on our children.
  • Tickets are still available for Tuesday night’s (1/24) Education Foundation presentation with the author of Wonder, RJ Palacio, whose message of “choosing kindness” may be one of the healthiest lessons we can give to our children.



December 2, 2017

I know that student stress, homework and overscheduling are on the minds of many parents. I do want you to know that they have been on our minds also, and we are working to address these concerns in our schools.

During the last few years these topics have been a focus of the Strategic Plan Student Implementation Team chaired by High School English Department Chair Jessica Siegel and English teacher, Stephanie Greenberg. Their survey of Millburn High School students is influencing conversations pertaining ways to improve student culture.

  • One result, that I hope high school students and parents are utilizing, is the new MHS Student Center. The center provides, resources, events, workshops and counseling services to students and families in areas that affect and/or impact their education. The Student Center staff includes Shannon Dahse, Student Assistance Coordinator, x 308, and Dr. Sarah J. Lynn, School Psychologist, x223 and is open from 7:30am - 3pm on school days. Some of their recent and upcoming activities include: Therapy Dogs, student workshops on Mindfulness, Managing Test Anxiety and more.
  • Our efforts were recently highlighted in the National Education Association’s flagship publication NEA Today, Educators Look to Parents and Communities To Help Reduce Student Stress.
  • The consortium of Superintendents and Student Assistance Coordinators (SAC) of Summit, Chatham, Millburn, Berkeley Heights, and New Providence are continuing to offer programs addressing student and family issues in our Parent Wellness Series. I encourage all parents to keep an eye out and mark your calendars for these presentations (next one in February). I was fortunate to be able to attend Wednesday’s session in Chatham to hear the inspiring Maggie Doyne, The 2015 CNN Hero of the Year.
  • Last spring the district hosted Denise Pope, Stanford professor and co-author of Overloaded and Underprepared who shared ways to find a balance in workloads, homework, activities and a healthy school/student life.
  • Districtwide discussions are underway about homework.

o At the high school we are reviewing procedures brought to our attention at a recent Board of Education meeting regarding timeliness of homework posting, and return/review of tests and papers.

o At other levels we are looking at issues surrounding quality vs. quantity of homework as well as time expectations and purpose.

  • I am currently in the process of forming a Health & Wellness Committee that will be a resource for the district and community by providing input and solutions to address the health and wellbeing of all in our town. I look forward to working with many of you in these efforts to bring a better balance to the lives of our students and families.

Please know that our administrators, teachers, counselors and staff are always on call to help with concerns about our first priority -- your children.