Welcome back students! We are excited for another successful year with Sevier School District schools! We love the first day of school and the energy and enthusiasm that comes with it. Our teachers, principals, and support staff have worked hard all summer to prepare themselves and our schools for the return of our students. We have been working hard to build upon our successes and maintain a laser focus on our goals.
One thing I have learned that has been especially proven true over the last few years is that human connection is the key to learning. Dr. James Comer said it best, “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” We have all been affected for good by teachers. I can name every teacher that I had from kindergarten through twelfth-grade. Many of them I still have relationships with today. If you see a teacher, principal, or school support staff such as a secretary, media specialist, instructional assistant, food service worker, bus driver, custodian, counselor, or any Sevier School District employee please thank them for their hard work and support in making last year a resounding success! Please check our website www.seviersd.org frequently and watch for emails and text messages from us to stay informed.
National bestselling author Josh Shipp has said, “Every child is one caring adult away from becoming a success story.” We have found this to be consistently true and we encourage each of you to join with us in a focus to be caring adults in the lives of our youth. There is no question that families are the key to our success as a community and public education is the best support to families in providing opportunities for all students to learn and grow. We are dedicated to supporting all students and know that our systems and communities are stronger when we are all involved and participating within the public education system.
We live in the most wonderful community in the world. I would like to thank the fantastic students, supportive parents, dedicated teachers, and talented principals and support personnel that make up Sevier School District. The programs and possibilities for students preschool through twelfth grade are limitless! Again, please check our website www.seviersd.org to learn more about opportunities for students and follow me on Twitter @CadeDoug for updated information. Let’s make it a great year!
Superintendent’s Scoop – August 2021
Right now all Sevier School District employees are reading a book by Dr. Jody Carrington called “Kids These Days.” The book was written to help school systems understand the important role they play in helping students succeed in life. Jody provides information for developing a consistent internal wellness structure for schools that can be used across divisions to hold each other up in times of crisis and be a support system to their students. Sevier School District is excited to have Jody Carrington present to all District employees at Richfield High School on September 11th. Jody will be discussing strategies taught in her book about (re)connection.
Every generation, people observe old things and define them in a new way. For every century and generation childhood memories of things are always changing. Many refer to these memories as ‘the good old days.’ One thing that the past had over us today that we are losing at a rapid rate is proximity. Never before have we had so much distance between us-literally and figuratively. In this world of massive technological proficiency, we’ve become increasingly disconnected. That is definitely one thing that the ‘good old days’ had over us. Proximity. Some say back in the day, life was harder than it is now. But one thing I have learned is that we are wired to do hard things!
One of Jody’s main focuses in the book is on Emotional Regulation: The only thing we need to teach our kids. She explains that the only way to learn emotional regulation is through relationships. If you do not have a relationship with the kid or person you are trying to influence and support, everything you try will not work. You cannot teach a kid how to regulate emotion on a whiteboard or in a handout. That is why relationships are so important. You can teach them strategies, but you cannot teach them how to regulate emotion unless you show them, unless you guide them through that process. Kids can only learn how to regulate when they become dysregulated. They need relationship (connection) in order for them to want to learn. Kids will not learn from people who they think don’t like them.
A famous quote by Maya Angelou says, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Your connection to that person is where the power lies. The premise is about the importance of kindness and that when you make other people feel good about themselves, you get the BEST of them.
When trying to connect with someone, it is important to remember that the ones who need it the most will be the hardest to give to. In the book, Jody gives Five Keys to connect or reconnect with anyone in your life.
1. Show genuine interest in things they care about. First. When you’re in a place of giving your full attention to another, and you have very little invested, or very little to lose, you can go “all in.”
2. Get their eyes and say their names. One of the best ways to get started with someone you are struggling to connect with is greet them by name and look them in the eyes. When you look someone in the eyes and call them by name, their prefrontal cortex is on as they try and establish how they know you. People need more engagement of the prefrontal cortex. That is where our goodness lives and that is where we can find who we truly want to be.
3. Get down on their level. It is extremely powerful to see someone face-to-face. Being on the same level as someone allows for easier access to their eyes. It slows you down too, because you’re consciously thinking about creating an optimal environment. They say the best conversations are in the car because you’re on the same level.
4. Feed them and they will come. Food and drink can become a critical component of helping the people we love make sense of hard things. Food, however, loses its impact when we use it as a reward. Food should be used as a regulating strategy. Food can nourish the body but it can also nourish the soul.
5. Never leave them-proximity matters-especially when they tell you to go. We are wired for connection. We do remarkably better with another person by our side when we need to make sense of hard things. Sometimes we have no choice and have been abandoned. But without exception, how we soothe, calm, and regulate, is always best with the assistance of another trusted, regulated human. This is especially true in kids; they cannot make sense of hard things alone for long.
Dr. Susan Pinker summarized in her recent book The Village Effect, that nothing can replace in-person, face-to-face connection. In fact, specific physiological changes happen in your body in person that cannot be replicated via text or email: an increase in your oxytocin and dopamine (the feel-good hormones) and a decrease in your cortisol (stress hormone.) What we can learn from this is we are wired to do hard things. In order to do those hard things to the best of our capacity, we have to remember this: We are wired for connection. It is through physical connection with other people that we are much better able to handle hard things.
Emotional regulation becomes the most important factor when we talk attachment security, especially in teens. Generally, if an adolescent has a secure relationship with just one adult, we see some remarkable differences in their choices compared to kids who struggle to find one regulated person to lean on regularly.
It is extremely important to help students regulate emotions and be a support for them. It is also important to take care of ourselves as well. If our children are held by an empty increasingly disconnected system, they will create an empty system themselves. You repeat what you don’t repair. The time is critical now to do everything we can to stay (re)connected. Dr. Carrington gave some ways for school staff to stay connected. One thing that is extremely important and beneficial is to find joy in your life and slow down long enough to notice the little things. Next, having gratitude and intention. When you change your thoughts, it will change your feelings. Third, practice forgiveness. True forgiveness, the kind that sets you free, involves the step of offering something positive-empathy, compassion, understanding-toward the person who has hurt you. And last, collective effervescence is the importance of staying connected to your team.
It is important to remember that being involved in a school system, we have the capacity to change the trajectory of a life, every single day. That is why it is so important to take care of ourselves while taking care of others.
We are given opportunities every day to (re)connect with someone. Kids these days just need you; they need us. What a difference we can make by helping kids feel loved and important. I know that if we implement some of these strategies, we can give students the support they need and provide a great future for them.
They say it takes a village to raise a child and I am finding that statement to be accurate as I raise my own children. If you think back to your teenage years who were the grown-ups in your life who mattered most to you? And who most impacted you? It could be a coach, a teacher, or a family member. What do all those people have in common? Most likely they intentionally sacrificed for your benefit. They made it clear they were there for you. They were the ones pushing you to do things that you doubted you could.
Growing up can be tough. As children’s bodies and brains are changing rapidly, they’re also dealing with new ideas and influences that will shape who they become. Parents, teachers and other caring adults work hard to teach kids how to become knowledgeable and responsible citizens. As a parent or caring adult it is sometimes hard to know what it is that a child needs.
Josh Shipp is the author of The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans: How to Decode Their Behavior, Develop Trust, and Raise a Respectable Adult. We have him scheduled to train our employees this fall. The main idea of the book is to help adults understand teens and teens understand themselves. He outlines seven things every teen needs to hear. According to a recent study published in Science magazine, adults say about 16,215 words per day. Here are seven phrases – each one less than five words– that every teen need to hear from you, regardless of their age or stage.
I love you. This is crucial. Always be strong enough to say this to your kids. Grown adults have said they have never heard this from their parents. If your teen doesn’t hear it from you, I don’t know whom he or she will hear it from.
I’m proud of you. As parents or caring adults, it’s important we applaud effort more than achievement because achievement is often subjective to the group we are competing against. So applaud and reward effort over achievement and let your child know you’re proud of him or her.
I’m sorry. Taking responsibility as an adult is important for our kids to see. We have to model what it looks like to be an adult and apologize when we make mistakes. And don’t cop out by saying, “I’m sorry, but…!” Remember that kids learn a little bit from what we say, a little more from what we do, but the most from who we are.
I forgive you. It’s crucial for young people to know that if you want to succeed, you must be willing to fail. They are going to mess up, it happens. The question is always this: What will you do when they inevitably mess up? When you say, “I forgive you,” kids know it’s okay to admit mistakes.
I’m listening. Once your child is a preteen or teen, the name of the game isn’t about control-it’s about influence. You can’t control a fifteen-year-old, but you can influence him or her by listening and asking questions. Lecturing doesn’t work as well as asking strategic questions and then listening; doing that will help teens come to their own mature decisions and beliefs about situations.
This is your responsibility. Don’t bail your kids out of problems they can solve. Instead, remain like a coach: prepare them before the game, cheer from the sidelines, and then review what went well and what went badly (also from the sidelines). If you fix it for them, they’ll interpret that to mean that they don’t have what it takes. Instead, be there for moral support and guidance, but let them take responsibility.
You’ve got what it takes. It’s important for them to hear from you that they have what it takes. If they know you believe in them, they’re better prepared to take baby steps to accomplishing their goals and dreams and facing those difficult situations.
Children are truly craving someone to be interested in them, to care for them, to be there for them, and to focus their time and attention on them. By using these phrases with our kids they will start to find meaning and purpose in their life and it will contribute to their overall happiness.
Josh Shipp’s motto is ‘Every Kid is One Caring Adult Away from being a Success Story!’ He says in his book, “being a parent is often a thankless job. Nobody hands out awards to good parents. You won’t be mentioned during the state of union address. There won’t be a lifetime achievement award given to you at the Academy Awards. But even when your teens confusing signals say otherwise, your voice is the single most important voice in their lives. And those moments when they’re honest with themselves, your teens instinctively know that they need your voice. Your voice is needed and crucial and matters more than you know.”
I do believe it does take a village to raise a child. As a parent, teacher, coach, or other caring adult we have the ability to be a child’s one caring adult. I also believe that having the right tools and knowledge is essential to helping our children find success in their lives.