Communication Skills: Home, School, & Community

The beginning of the school year gives us all the opportunity to focus on building those foundational skills that help our students feel connected through shared goals, expectations on how we treat one another and essentially, how we all learn to exist together at school.
Helping Kids Adopt A Growth Mindset
As members of this incredible learning community, one of the most powerful components of Social & Emotional Learning is the concept of the Growth Mindset. This idea, coined by Stanford Researcher Carol Dweck, believes in the human capacity to change. The opposite idea, or "fixed mindset" is the belief that people are born smart or not, are bullies or victims, kind or cruel, and people just don't change.
Welcome Back to a Joyful Year - Counselor's Corner

As fitting with our theme this year of JOY! - what an absolute joy it has been to see all of your beautiful children back on campus! We are all filled with gratitude & excitement to see how much the students have grown, to hear all their cool summer travel and camp stories and to meet all of our new families and children. What an incredible school family we have!
The Basics of SEL - It’s Who We Are!

Welcome to the start of an incredible new school year! It’s the perfect time to share and review some of the foundations that make this learning community such a special one. As a Counselor, the aspect of St. Gabriel’s that drives so much of what I do is our daily commitment to teaching the students emotional intelligence through the lens of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).
Having Difficult Conversations in Challenging Times

It’s an inevitable experience for every parent when the moment arrives for the difficult conversation…from the loss of a treasured family pet to “that” notoriously awkward talk which many of us never feel ready for! Topics such as violence in our modern world, safety, war, making healthy choices about our bodies, and facing daunting peer pressure can stop us in our tracks
Students Building Community

The beginning of the school year is an exciting time as students dive into a new grade level filled with brand new teachers, new friends, new routines and so many opportunities to grow into all these new relationships. This year is even more special as we embrace our wider school family with the St. Michael’s campus. It is an exciting opportunity to stretch and grow! Building community is an essential component of the first few weeks of school as we guide students in not only feeling comfortable with all the newness but also as we teach all those routines, boundaries, and expectations that create a safe and fun environment for learning.
Helping Children Find Their Purpose

As we move toward the end of another year, I begin to think more about endings and new beginnings. From kindergarten graduation to celebrating our courageous, soon-to-be high school freshman, we get to be a part of our children’s next steps as they make plans with excitement and purpose.
“I Appreciate You For…”                                     

For my final Counselor’s Corner article of this incredible school year, I wanted to take some time to share my thanks and appreciation for each of you in this caring community of parents and families.
The Power of Follow-Through With Teens

Parenting adolescents and teens can be more than a little challenging. Just as we get comfortable in living with and managing our older elementary kids, the game suddenly changes as our kids make the leap into middle school and what seemed to work, no longer does. Although the goal is still around firm and kind positive discipline, the approach shifts as the child shifts.
Strategies for a Successful Summer - Counselor's Corner

Summer is here and for parents, teachers, and students, thoughts of sleeping in, swimming or reading by the pool, playing with friends and taking that fun family vacation sound like a welcome and much needed break from the fast paced experience of the school year! Helloooo Summer and goodbye schedules!

As you make plans for your family, I encourage you to consider a few important ideas. While all children do better with clear structure and routine, for those who experience anxiety, ADHD, spectrum disorders, or any pervasive emotional challenges, routine and structure are essential for feeling safe and comfortable.
Developmental Milestones of Elementary Age Students

All children go through developmental stages as they grow. Research has taught us that each child follows a relatively predictable set of stages in how they relate to others and approach the world. However, within this framework, how quickly a child goes through these stages depends upon many factors including personality, environment, and culture.
Student Growth and Expectations - Final Quarter

Welcome to the last quarter of the school year! It’s hard to believe that April is right around the corner and we are in the final stretch of the academic year. You may have heard from your child or their teachers that we intentionally spent time this week in classrooms and advisories, revisiting class charters, reviewing behavior expectations, and dress code and setting some academic goals for this final quarter. 
Developmental Milestones of Middle Schoolers

Uncovering the secret code to understanding the growth and development of our young adolescents can be tricky business indeed. While their bodies rapidly move toward and through puberty, we often stand by as parents wondering who this unfamiliar little person is and how we might connect, engage, and support them in this experience of change.
Parenting Styles (And the Behaviors They Invite)

Understanding the foundations of why children behave in the way they do is the first step for parents who are facing misbehavior or child discipline problems. Understanding why controlling methods, which worked so well when we were children ("Because I said so!"), are not effective with children today can be helpful when addressing behaviors.
SEL Parent University

On September 7 and 8, 2022, Mrs. Colleen Lynch, Ms. Lisa Hellmer, LPC, Mrs. Jacqui Glenn, and Dr. Blanca Snyder led St. Gabriel's Catholic School families in a session about Social-Emotional Learning and bridging school to home in a post-COVID world called SEL Parent University. Below is a summary of information shared.

Milestones in Physical Education - "The Pacer"

As we delve into the many milestone moments and markers in child development that our children experience throughout life, we often overlook the importance of physical growth, fitness skills, and challenging their strong bodies to hone those motor skills that connect body and brain systems to work cooperatively.

This week I wanted to highlight our excellent PE department and specifically let them share some of the incredible successes the coaches have seen this year and to remind each of us how important our commitment to daily physical activity is to our children’s brain and body development. 
Supporting Children Through Grief and Loss

One of the most challenging situations for parents is how to address death, grief and loss with children and teens. What can we say? How can we help? What can we do? Children, just like adults, express their grief in a variety of ways. Some may cry openly and express their deep sadness or confusion, some may experience fear or anger, or may suddenly experience physical symptoms such as stomach aches, headaches, sleeplessness or a lack of appetite. They may express worry or anxiety about school work, sports or activities that they normally enjoy.

The Art of Thinking: You Always Have A Choice

As we struggle through this time of year - the crazy Texas winter/summer/winter weather changes along with pushing forward through the most challenging months in the life of the school year, I invite you to quiet your mind, take a few deep breaths, and join me in some reflection about just that...our thoughts, our experience, and our personal journey.
10 Tips for Creating More Gratitude

Congratulations parents, you made it to Thanksgiving Break! Woohoo!
Although the exhaustion is real and well earned, the moment is perfect for taking a breather, sitting still, and thinking about how grateful we are for all the moments that brought us to this one.
Spring Semester Growth

Happy New Year and Welcome Back! I hope that each of you took the time to rest, connect with family, and be reminded of how blessed you are during our Christmas Holiday break. 

We are all excited to begin this new semester with your children as we move into the Spring semester of growth, challenges, and successes together.
Celebrating Mistakes

Our culture can be notorious for creating shame around making mistakes. We see an increasing level of anxiety and all the physical and emotional fallout that it creates affecting the health of both adults and children alike, all based on this false and self-created expectation of perfection.
Reflections on Love

Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to reflect on LOVE. I’m not just talking about romantic love, although yes, that can be really, really, amazing (and sometimes not so amazing at all). I’m talking about universal Love. All of our faith and personal growth readings remind us that LOVE is genuinely the only “truth” in our existence. We are spiritual beings having a human experience and boy, don’t we know that lately!
St. Gabriel's Catholic School Received A Top Workplaces 2022 Award!

St. Gabriel’s Catholic School has been named a Top Workplaces 2022 award winner by The Austin American-Statesman Top Workplaces. This list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through an anonymous survey that measures 15 culture drivers critical to the success of any organization including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.
Children's Mental Health Post-Pandemic

As we approach three full years post-pandemic, the mental health concerns and needs of our children and adolescents across the country have reached an all time high. Post-traumatic stress related to the upheaval of home to school learning, the isolation and even loss of family members, the unpredictability of everyday life, addressing the virus itself, as well the delay of social and emotional skill development has created a tremendous need for mental health services and support. 
What Kids and Teens Learn from Community Service

It's never too early to expose our children to the rich experiences of community service. Instilling  ideals such as the responsibility of giving back, being part of a larger community, citizenship, mercy, and sharing our special gifts and talents to make our world a better place helps build character and compassion toward others. But where to begin and how?
The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness - Counselor's Corner

Beyond the basic physical needs of a child, lies the process through which adult happiness is created. Children are remarkably resilient and will grow and flourish when given the slightest opportunity. We know through years of research and data that even children who struggle with challenges socially, economically, or environmentally can flourish and grow within a framework of love and support. 

In his book The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, Dr. Edward M. Hallowell shares the Five Steps that create and sustain lifelong joy.

The Gift of Sharing Our Feelings: Wisdom from Mr. Rogers

For those who are familiar, you will know that I am a huge fan of Mr. Rogers.

Growing up in the 70’s as a child, he was the kindest, wisest man I knew and even today, his wisdom in this era of technology and busy, fast-paced family schedules, continues to speak to me. 
Relaxation Practices to Share with your Child or Teen

As adults, we know that taking time to relax our bodies and minds is essential for sustaining our overall well-being as well as keeping up with our busy schedules and being productive, healthy members of our families and work communities. Taking even a few moments during the day can have a tremendous impact on how good we feel and how well we can handle frustrations and the messiness of life.
Teaching Kids About Honesty

As members of the St. Gabriel’s family, our students recite our school oath each morning: 

“I will embrace the virtue of prudence; it gives me the judgment to make good choices. I will exhibit the virtue of temperance; it enables me to control my actions. I will display the virtue of justice; it teaches me to treat others fairly. I will model the virtue of fortitude; it gives me the courage to do what is right. I ask you, God, for the grace to live these virtues daily.”
Helping Children Understand Forgiveness

Finding peace through forgiveness can be a terrifically challenging aspect of human relationships and love. As adults we ourselves struggle with the "how to" of forgiveness when we deal with hurt, anger, or injustice.

Encouragement vs. Praise: Raising A Self-Sufficient Child

Every parent has heard how important it is to praise your child in the development of a strong self-concept and to improve behavior. It's true that although praise may inspire some children toward better behavior in the moment, more than likely what can result in the long term is a "people pleaser" or a child whose motivation to do well exists solely upon the approval of others. 

Self-Esteem (noun): confidence and satisfaction in oneself; pride;

Let’s revisit an oldy but goody….the concept of self-esteem. As a common topic of discussion with students, it’s important as parents to be reminded about how valuable it is to reflect on how we are feeling about ourselves.
St. Gabriel's Catholic School is an Independent Catholic school in Austin TX, educating children in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school.