Counselor's Corner

Feelings of sadness that last throughout the holiday season—especially during the months of November and December—are often referred to as the holiday blues or holiday depression. The holidays are usually viewed as a time of happiness and rejoicing. But for some people, it can be a period of painful reflection, sadness, loneliness anxiety, and depression. Even people who love the holidays can experience the blues during this busy season. The holidays are often a time of high emotion and demands, which can leave a lot of people feeling stressed and exhausted.


This time of the year is filled with busy plans to enjoy our family and friends, to connect with them and share our love and appreciation for one another. It is also a time to open our hearts to others and share our abundance with those in need. It seems as though many get caught up in buying presents and the stress that comes with cramming too much into too little time and expecting too much of ourselves. We over schedule our time for holiday parties, shopping and travel.

Let us not forget the spirit of the season. It is not about giving the best gift or overindulging in holiday goodies. The spirit of this time of the year is about opening our hearts to one another. It is about loving and appreciating our family, friends and all of the abundance in our lives no matter what our current environment is offering as far as challenges. It is about being a good person, being forgiving and compassionate, about sharing random good deeds with others to lift their spirits.


Because the holidays mark an impending new year, people may also begin to reflect on the past year and experience feelings of regret or failure. They might think about the goals they had and the things they wanted to accomplish and feel upset if they did not meet those expectations.

It isn't just adults who are prone to seasonal sadness. Changes in routines, dealing with family problems, missing friends and feeling stressed around the holidays can all contribute to feelings of sadness and depression in kids.

As we head into the next week and begin later in the month to make our New Year’s resolutions, let us choose to be in this state all year through! Let us enjoy one another every day. Let us be of service to others all year through. Choose to be a forgiving and compassionate person all the time. Share your gifts and talents with others and be in your light every day. Choose to focus on what is most important and all the abundance in your life, your family, friends, having a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food to eat. Decide to be a new you this year, the real you that wants to shine through. Step into happiness and joy and share the bliss with others this holiday season! Embrace 2022 with a new attitude ready to open your heart to love yourself and others all year through!

Wishing you and yours joy in your hearts and peace in your souls this holiday season and always!






Each year at Thanksgiving a common thread of discussion is around things we are thankful for. I've been doing a lot of reading about the impact on our brains when we are focusing on gratitude and the data shows amazing things!

Zeroing in on the activity of practicing gratitude, scientists have learned that over the past decade people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.

Always the skeptic, because most research studies on gratitude have been conducted with well-functioning people, I dug a little deeper to see how gratitude might be beneficial for people who struggle with mental health concerns. I was astonished by the data!

One study randomly assigned study participants into three groups, all of which received counseling services already. The first group was instructed to write one letter of gratitude to another person each week for three weeks, the second group was asked to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings about negative experiences and the third group did not do any writing activity.

The findings were this: compared with the participants who wrote about negative experiences or only received counseling, those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four week and 12 weeks after the exercise ended. This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns. It seems, practicing gratitude on top of receiving psychological counseling carries greater benefits than counseling alone, even when that gratitude practice is brief.

The results also indicate that gratitude might actually work on our minds and bodies. Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions, gratitude helps even if you don't share it, gratitude's benefits take time and gratitude has lasting effect on the brain.

Holidays are tough for some of us. Let's take some time to think about what we're grateful for and put pen to paper; the lasting effects, according to science are worth it!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving with your families!



Here we are just a few weeks into the 2021-22 school year. This year, like last year, we are all wearing masks in school and we are all flexing our resilience muscle. I am so amazed at the way in which our students at Shawsheen are adjusting to life at school. We are all, teachers and students alike, and parents, too, experiencing some increased levels of anxiety and this is totally normal. As we move into the school year, we will learn all different ways to flex that resilience muscle and articulate our feelings and learn how to cope. If there are any times where you would like help with this with your child, please feel free to reach out, and also check out my Literacy Connection page for books that you can read with your student that might help. You can find most of them, if not all, on youtube as a read aloud. Mrs. Patterson also has many of them in the Shawsheen Library. We can do hard things if we all work together. I look forward to working with our families to support our students and have an amazing school year!

Happy New Year! While I can safely say that we are happy that 2020 is firmly in the rearview mirror, as each new year begins, I like to reflect on the good things that happened in the previous year. As I think about 2020, my list includes more silver linings than anything else, and honestly, I don't apologize for that! Silver linings is how we all make it through! Some silver linings in 2020 for me are...

A terrible plague struck humankind, but scientists responded with unprecedented speed and common purpose; cooperating across national lines to decode the virus and then discover and manufacture vaccines that can prevent the disease.

Thousands of people volunteered to take the experimental vaccines — at some risk to themselves — so safety and efficacy could be tested and proven.

We learned to appreciate the selfless dedication of nurses, orderlies, doctors and other health workers who risked their lives to save ours — and the selfless dedication of TEACHERS, truck drivers, grocery stockers, farmworkers and so many more who risked their lives to keep the economy from collapsing.

A record number of Americans turned out to vote in our national election, pandemic notwithstanding.

In big cities and small towns across our great nation, we are having tough conversations about race and equity and implicit bias and witnessing the beginning of reform.

The United States launched astronauts to the International Space Station on a U.S.-made rocket, after years of dependence on Russian technology. The reusable booster did its job and then returned safely, potentially opening an era of more cost-efficient space travel.

Oh — and a panda was born at the National Zoo! Meet Xiao Qi Ji, pronounced SHIAU-chi-ji, which translates into English as little miracle.

Happy new year.


As we move into the winter holiday season, it is hard to imagine holiday cheer without a little sacrifice and heartbreak. How can we possibly be without our extended families and friends and feel the excitement of this special time? How do we explain to our kids that Christmas will be a little (lot) different this year? All we want is for all of this to be over and for life to go back to normal.

Accepting that life will not be back to normal for a long time is difficult, but the key to enjoying our holiday this year is being creative and faking our way through it...fake it 'til we make it! A longstanding family tradition for me is to go to my Nana's for Italian Christmas Eve of seven fishes. In my 54 years, I have never missed a one. This year we will not be together and I am not happy about it. But my cousin and I are planning something different and safe for all of us to be together like we did for Thanksgiving (see blog post for November). We are hosting a caroling group from the high school in my town and my family will all be there outside, complete with hot chocolate and electric blankets and patio heaters and we will enjoy about a half hour of carols all together. We have never done this before and I know it will be fun. Christmas Eve is a different story; I will attempt to make the seven fishes for the five of us in my family and my aunt is tickled that I am going to try. She is going to zoom with me to make sure I am doing everything I am supposed to. The fact that my 84 year old aunt is willing to go on zoom is making me determined to be successful. This will definitely not be the same, but I can try. I don't really have an alternative!

I am hopeful you will all be able to make some tweaks to your traditions or start new ones (who knows? The carolers might come every year!). Being excited for new things will help the young people (and all of us who are older, to be truthful) reach acceptance about what this year has to offer. I wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season. I challenge you all to have more fun than you ever imagined possible!

November is a time of gratitude. Given the state of our nation and the world in this global pandemic, it is sometimes hard to focus on those things for which we are thankful.

This past weekend, after the Halloween decorations were put away, I hosted my extended family (about a dozen of us) for an outdoor Thanksgiving celebration since we are assuming that getting together in someone's home on Thanksgiving Day is not going to happen. My cousin and I made all the preparations and together we pulled off a great, albeit different, Thanksgiving gathering that would have made our Nana proud. We went around the table and each said what we are thankful for, something we haven't done in quite some while. The common thread in this tapestry was gratitude for family and ways we can adjust to be together.

As we move through this month, I am going to focus my thoughts on just that, and try to leave all the worry and garbage out of my mind! I too am grateful for your children, that I get to know them and develop relationships with each and every one of them. Thank you for sharing them with me! Happy November!

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I know it's not technically our first day of school, because we've been "in school" for a few weeks for remote learning.

This week we welcomed Cohorts A and B of First Grade to Shawsheen School, and for me that really felt like the first day of school! I am looking forward to getting to know all of them, and to welcome back the Second and Third Graders to school next week.

This is the beginning of our Hybrid Learning and I know that the Shawsheen community will rise to the occasion. We will have our share of wonderings and worries but we will have far more successes and things to celebrate if we all work together.

Welcome back to school Shawsheen Students!

Welcome Back! This school year is going to be like none other...and I for one am feeling a little anxious. More than the usual back to school anxious, this is different. What will the new year hold for us? How are we ever going to DO THIS? I'll tell you what, I'm going to practice my mindful breathing and give myself a little grace. I'm going to give you all some grace too. This is all we can do.

Mrs. King at our opening staff meeting this year said something that resonated with me to my core. The cliche is common that we are all in the same boat, but the reality is, we are not. While we are all trying to weather the same storm, some of us might be in a motor yacht (um, certainly not me or anyone I know!), some of us might be in a kayak with a lifejacket and others of us might be in a dinghy or a rowboat with a hole in the bottom that we are frantically trying to bail out. So if we can all remember that parents and teachers and staff and students are doing the best we can under the circumstances with what we've got then we will get through these times together. Check out the pages on my website to help and as always, please don't hesitate to reach out if you have anything I can help you with.

You're you and that's enough. I'll toast to that! (Full disclosure: Dear Evan Hansen is one of my favorite Broadway shows.)

Happy March to all the families at Shawsheen! I always am excited when March comes, because like the saying goes, "March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb." Not only is March the month of new beginnings and spring springing and warmer weather, it is also a time where we see the blossoming and maturing of our students at school. Because we have no holidays or vacations, barring any snow days (fingers crossed it will be a different March this year than last!), their growth will be noticeable and much!

I have started my Parent Resource page on this website and hope you will avail yourselves of it as your needs arise. I can always add to it, so if you have any ideas about what you would like to see on there, please let me know and I can research and add as needed. Please feel free to reach out at any time!

Happy March and happy (soon!) Spring!

Happy February! Boy it's cold! But nothing warms my heart more than to see students be kind to one another and the adults in their lives. Sunday, February 17, 2019 is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. Kids LOVE this and they love seeing the grown-ups they love do these random acts! When teaching them about it, the key is teaching them that it is something that you do that you keep a secret, no one knows that it's you who does it. A Girl Scout troop got permission from their principal to go into a school to put post-it notes with affirmations on all the lockers in the school over the weekend so when students came in on a Monday, they were met with a positive message. A student here at Shawsheen told me about when she went to McDonald's with her family through the drive-thru, the car in front of them paid ahead of time for their meal...she couldn't have been more excited to share this with me! We talked more about it and she left our conversation thinking of a way she could fulfill a random act of kindness for someone else. We should all build on this momentum! I charge all families at Shawsheen School to think about a random act of kindness to commit on Sunday, February 17. Let's start a kindness revolution right here in Wilmington!

New Year's Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. This is my favorite beginning of the year quote by Sarah Ban Breathnach. While coming back to school the first week in January is always a challenge after a delightful time with family and friends, getting back into the routine is always a good thing! I talk with students during this time about having a clean slate, a fresh start...almost like hitting that Staple's button and instead of hearing the words, "That was easy," we would hear instead, "Move forward with a clean slate." Letting kids know that while it's important we can learn from what's happened in the past, it's not necessary to drag the past around with us. We learn from our mistakes, not get bogged down by them, and this is the perfect time to shed the past and look to the future. Wishing all the Shawsheen School Family a happy, healthy, prosperous and thoughtful 2019!

December is such a busy month, more so than other times of the year. Not only are we trying to navigate our regular crazy schedules, the ramping up to the holidays brings the next level crazy! All the activities and get-togethers are so fun, but the stress is often more than we can take! Each year I was trying to find everyone on my list the most perfect gift, panicking as time got closer...when I really sat down and thought about it, I truly was not enjoying the Christmas/holiday season at all. I went to a parent class offered at my kids' school one evening, and I hemmed and hawed about going, but because it was being taught by a grandfather of one of my son's friends and my Dad's golf partner, I went. Wow, were my eyes opened! George was inside my head! The holidays were put into clear focus and perspective for me. It is not about gift-giving, it's about being together with the people we care about. George cited memories of people he heard asking children, "What did you get for Christmas?" and encouraged us all to reframe the question to, "Who did you spend the day with? What did you do together?" This is more in line with what we are trying to teach our children...caring less about the what and more about the who, and not taking a day off from those lessons, especially at Christmas. Subsequent to taking this course with George, I shifted my focus. I told friends and family about it, and now we are having experiences and spending time together over the season, and maybe only exchanging a small gift that we have made beforehand, or maybe we're baking cookies or breads together, spending an evening singing carols or an afternoon preparing and serving dinner to the homeless. The point is that we are all together. It sounds so simple, but I needed George to point it out to me. This has changed the holiday season for me, and more important, for my children, now 20, 19 and 17. Our traditions still include baking cookies with their cousins on Christmas Eve before the big family gathering, and playing games on Boxing Day with their grandparents; if you asked them, they would say those are their favorite memories. They have long forgotten the things, but forever will remember the time and the people. Parents, give yourselves a break and truly enjoy your loved-ones without 50 trips to the mall. This is going to be a challenge, given all the advertisements our children are bombarded with to consume more and more on a daily basis. George, sadly, has since passed, but his wisdom lives in me, his family and I think (hope!) when I am long gone, my kids will adopt George's philosophy. Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like some help identifying some age-appropriate experiences for you and your families to enjoy. I hope you all truly enjoy the season and the break with your families and friends, no matter what or how you choose or choose not to celebrate. Enjoy one another!

This month, we are focused on why we are thankful. We will talk a lot about this in school. I'm thankful for my family, friends, and colleagues. I'm thankful to have a wonderful school to work at each day, a school that embraces and supports social emotional learning. I'm thankful for all that I've been given in my lifetime.

I'm also thankful for all of you. I enjoy working with you to get to know your children and supporting their growth at school. Thank you for entrusting them to me! Enjoy the next few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and my hope is that you take time to reflect on the things for which you are thankful and talk about it at home! Many blessings to the Shawsheen School community.

Welcome to school year 2018-19 at Shawsheen Elementary School!

As the School Counselor, my involvement with the students takes place in several ways, focused on the social, emotional and behavioral health of all students here at Shawsheen School. One function of a school counselor is to implement whole-school and classroom programs that take place with the entire class and school assemblies.We focus on mindfulness, bucket-filling, anti-bullying, character education, social thinking skills and more!

Another purpose of the counselor is to facilitate student groups held during lunchtime. These groups are great for any student, including students that have difficulty making friends, those that enjoy small groups, children that can serve as role models and new students. In these groups we play games and work on important social skills, such as, taking turns, active listening, communication and assertiveness.

I am also available to meet with parents. I regularly attend IEP meetings and parent-teacher conferences. As needed, I can meet with parents individually to discuss specific concerns or to serve as a liaison for families needing community resources. In order to make your student's experience at Shawsheen the most productive and positive, it's important that we keep the lines of communication between home and school open. I welcome your expert insight on your student and look forward to developing a great working relationship.

Please feel free to contact me at 978.694.6030 if you have any questions or concerns. Looking forward to another great school year!

Respectfully,

Lisa Frasca Gibbs, MEd

June 2018

It's been a great year at Shawsheen School and I have loved getting to know your children.

Parents often ask what their kids can do over the summer to not lose any of the social skills they have learned through the year. My advice would be to practice what you've learned! Find structured times for kids to be with their peers - camps, groups, story time at the library, activities but also give them time to just be! The unstructured times are equally as important for social skills practice - time at the playground, riding a bike, going to the beach. The more exposed children are to these different scenarios the better social beings they will be. Part of the practice can be reading books describing different social dilemmas or learning about others. Please see my Literature Connections page for some ideas.We live in a digital age and it's often very easy to get caught up in the video games...the more structured parents and caregivers make the schedule, children will know what to expect and what the expectations are of THEM.

To our third grade families, best of luck to you as you move on! And to everyone else, we look forward to seeing you at the end of August to begin another great year! May your summer be restful and relaxing so you can come back to school recharged and ready to learn!

May, 2018

Happy Spring - FINALLY!!!!

Thank you to the families who filled out my survey from last month. I look forward to working closely with you in providing you with the resources you need to support your children.

As we move into the last weeks of the school year (can you believe it????), there is a lot of discussion about moving on to the next grade level, and for our third graders a new school as well.

Your child may have some questions about what next year will be like and I encourage you to talk about it at home and let your child's teacher or me know if he or she is showing any signs of anxiety or if there are any questions that you aren't quite sure you have the answer to.

The third graders will be taking a tour of West School in June (dates coming soon) and hopefully any anxiety up to that time will be quieted once they see their new school and meet the staff as well as get a lay of the land! If you have any questions at all, please reach out to me at any time.

March, 2018

Hello Shawsheen Families!

This month I am asking you all to participate in a short survey because I want to find out what you would like from me. Please fill out and submit by April 13. I want to hear from you and give you what you need! Thanks for your help in determining how to support you and your children for the rest of this school year!

February, 2018

Hello Shawsheen Families!

February is Random Acts of Kindness Month and we will continue at Shawsheen School to focus on kindness and bucket-filling.

Random acts of kindness are unexpected and the recipient of the kindness typically does not know who the giver is. This is a great exercise for kids to start to understand that kindness is not about the thanks they get when they are kind, but the satisfaction they feel when they know their kindness has made someone feel good. Like we read about in Have You Filled a Bucket Today?, you feel good when others feel good!

For some Random Acts of Kindness ideas for you and your family to practice, click on this link...

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/

Random Acts of Kindness Week begins on February 11 and culminates with Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17, while we are on winter vacation.

Enjoy!

January, 2018

Happy New Year, Shawsheen Community! After the break and all the snow and cold weather, it's great to be back at school with the students. We are working hard on Bucket Filling and how to be safe at school on the inside and the outside.

I will be updating this site monthly about topics that might be timely and of interest to you. If there is ever a topic you would like more information about, please let me know and I would be happy to share on this site. You can contact me at lisa.gibbs@wpsk12.com.

Thank you for the opportunity to work with your children - I so enjoy getting to know them and what makes them tick! Stay warm and happy January!

December, 2017

Welcome Shawsheen Families to my new website! I am always asking students to stretch and go out of their comfort zones, so I had to do it myself and set a good example! Technology is definitely a place where I am not the most comfortable, but I took an online course and developed this site. Each month I will update it with a post featuring a topic that is timely. I will eventually be sending out a survey (more opportunities for me to go out of my comfort zone, for sure) to ask about topics that you might like more information about, so watch this space!

Thanks for your patience as I develop and add to the site. Enjoy!