Student Services Newsletter November 2021

SEL Focus: Social AwarenessImage of Globe

The ability to adopt the perspective of other people and to empathize with other people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. A person who is socially aware understands social and ethical norms for behavior and recognizes family, school, and community resources and support.

Skills that develop social awareness include:

  • Identifying social cues (verbal, physical) to determine how others feel
  • Taking others’ perspectives
  • Demonstrating empathy and compassion
  • Showing concern for the feelings of others
  • Understanding and expressing gratitude
  • Recognizing strengths in others
  • Identifying diverse social norms, including unjust ones
  • Recognizing situational demands and opportunities
  • Caring about and being motivated to contribute to the well-being of one’s family, friends, school, community, the environment, and the greater good
  • Appreciating diversity
  • Respect of others

Empathy and kindness can positively affect children in their social and academic lives. Teaching these skills is a big part of the Second Step social-emotional learning program.

Books About Empathy and Kindness for Early Learners

By: Committee for Children (Find more here – 12 Recommended Children’s Books about Empathy & Kindness)

Picture of front of book "Those Shoes"Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Jeremy really wants the shoes that all the kids are wearing. The problem is that his family can’t afford them. Jeremy will do most anything to own a pair— including squeeze into a pair on sale that is a size too small. Jeremy soon discovers the “uncomfortable” consequences of this solution and begins to appreciate what he already has.  (caring, compassion, consequences, friendship, helping, name-calling, problem-solving, thinking of solutions)

Picture of book "A Sick Day for Amos McGee"A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Amos McGee works at the zoo. Amos always finds time each day to spend in special ways with five of his animal friends. One day Amos is sick. His friends then get a chance to do something special for Amos. (caring, compassion, empathy, feelings, helping, understanding perspectives)

Picture of book "Most People"Most People by Michael Leannah, illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris

When the world looks scary, it’s reassuring to remember that most people want to be kind, helpful, loving, and funny. This book meanders through a busy city, showing all kinds of people helping, playing, and sharing. (compassion, feelings)


APS Highlight: SEL in ACTION

Picture of Mural at Glebe Elementary
Click on the image to watch video

The No Place for Hate® program is an organizing framework for K-12 schools committed to creating sustainable change that leads to improved school climate developed by the Education Department of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). APS participating schools are able to incorporate ADL’s anti-bias and anti-bullying resources with their existing programming to form one powerful message that all students have a place to belong. Enjoy this video highlighting the No Place for Hate program at Glebe Elementary and how it supports the SEL and social awareness for their community.



National School Psychology Week: November 8-12, 2021

Picture of gears in motionDuring the week of November 8–12, 2021 schools throughout the country celebrated National School Psychology Week to highlight the important work school psychologists do to help students thrive. This year’s theme is “Let’s Get in GEAR.” (Grow, Engage, Advocate, Rise).  The theme’s acronym provides a challenge to grow both personally and professionally. It encourages us to engage in best practices and advocate for children’s access to mental health and learning supports. To rise implies resilience and renewal despite the challenges of the past. This has a particular resonance this year as we work to help students, families, and school staff emerge from the challenges of the past year and a half. When we get in gear, we move together. When one gear moves, the gears connected to it move as well. When we move together there is a positive synergy that builds and becomes greater than any single effort. Getting in GEAR together can help us set goals for growth, engage in action steps, advocate for needs, and raise our voices in discussions to create the connections necessary for students to develop critical academic and social emotional skills.

After what has been a long and challenging year for many, students and adults alike find themselves stuck in a rut or even regressing. We hope to connect students and staff to show that if they “Get in GEAR” together, it can lead to substantial positive change for all involved. Central to this theme is the importance of the relationships between all students, staff, faculty, and parents within a school building. This theme is perfect for any school that is actively looking to positively impact their school climate. Please visit the NASP’s Suggested Activities for Working with Students and Adults webpage for ideas to help you and your students thrive.

To find your building’s school psychologist, visit

Mental Health Corner Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 2.28.39 PM SOS – Signs of Suicide Program


During the months of October, November, December, Arlington Public Schools will be implementing a depression awareness and suicide prevention training to all eighth and tenth grade students as part of the SOS Signs of Suicide® Prevention Program. The program encourages students to seek help if they are concerned about themselves or a friend. The SOS Program is the only youth suicide prevention program that has demonstrated an improvement in students’ knowledge and adaptive attitudes about suicide risk and depression, as well as a reduction in actual suicide attempts. Listed on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices, the SOS Program has shown a reduction in self-reported suicide attempts by 40-64% in randomized control studies (Aseltine et al., 2007; Schilling et al., 2016).

SOS posterThe goals in participating in this program are straightforward:

  • To help our students understand that depression is treatable
  • To explain that suicide is a preventable tragedy that often occurs as a result of untreated depression
  • To train students how to identify potential signs of depression and suicide risk in themselves or a friend
  • To impress upon youth that they can help themselves or a friend by taking the simple step of talking to a trusted adult about their concerns
  • To teach students who they can turn to at school for help, if they need it

During these three months, our Student Services Team will present the program to all  8th grade and 10th grade students. The program includes a SOS video which encourages students to ACT (Acknowledge, Care, Tell) when concerned about themselves or a friend. After viewing the video, students will participate in a group discussion and will complete a depression screener. During this program, your student will be introduced to adults who can help in the building and can request a same-day confidential appointment. To learn more about SOS lesson, please watch the video below

Helping Your Child Save a Life: Parent Training
Click on the image to watch video

LEARN MORE: Child & Family Services Parent Support Group Sessions

The Arlington Child and Family Services clinical staff is hosting Parent Support group sessions this fall on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Join other parents in your community to share experiences and learn about topics relevant to your family each week!  The next session is titled Managing Holiday Stress and will take place on November 16. Come support other parents and share your successes and lean in for support! Send any questions to For information about Arlington County Spanish Speaking Parent Support Group, please email Norma Jimenez at

LEARN MORE: Arlington Parent Support Groups (NAMI)

NAMIThese groups are geared to parents whose child is experiencing symptoms of a mental illness, including: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, mood disorders and more. No diagnosis is required to participate. Participants are given the opportunity to share their story, experience support, and glean guidance (as desired) from group members regarding both community and school resources. Confidentiality is respected.


Parents of School Age Students and Teens (PK-12): Sundays 7pm-8:30pm (Upcoming 11/21 and 12/5) Cherrydale Baptist Church, 3910 Lorcom Lane, Arlington, VA 22207 – Building Entrance 16, Rm 118

Older Teen and Young Adults: 3rd Sunday 1-3pmTrinity Presbyterian Church, 5533 16th St N, Arlington, VA 22207

Questions??  Contact:

  • PK-12: Michelle Best (
  • Adults: Naomi Verdugo (
  • Both: Alisa Cowen (

LEARN MORE: Student Services Advisory Committee Invites YOU to learn more about SEL

Tuesday, November 16, 2021: 7pm ZOOM (details below)

The Student Services Committee invites you to their monthly meeting, featuring guest speakers Dr. Christina Choi and Peck Choi. Dr. Christina Choi is an author and presenter who appears regularly on TV and was the host of a very successful TV talk show in South Korea. She has made more than a dozen TV documentaries on marriage, parenting & education. Her TV documentary on motherhood received a Best Program award, and she was chosen as one of the three most influential women in Korea.  She is currently working on a miniseries with EBS, which is an equivalent of PBS in the U.S.  Dr. Choi and her husband, Peck Choi, will be talking to the committee about how they are making Social Emotional Learning a part of the culture.

Join the Zoom Meeting at:

Meeting ID: 865 1766 1396 Passcode: 987123

Find your local number:

If you have any questions or need assistance joining the Zoom call, please email Alisa Cowen at If you have any questions about the speakers, please email

LEARN MORE: Youth Mental Health First Aid Training Available to Staff & Parents

Youth Mental Health First Aid TrainingThe Office of Student Services continues to be committed to training all new staff  and re-certifying staff in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). This is a 6-hour course that teaches how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Registration for staff is through Frontline. Parents can register by calling the Office of Student Services at 703-228-6062. Training will be provided every month for the remainder of the year.

Upcoming session dates are: November 16, December 1, January 13, February 8, March 10, March 31, April 27, and May 10.

LEARN MORE: What can YOU do to prevent child abuse?

Arlington County, Child Advocacy Center offers Child Abuse Prevention Training. All courses are offered in English or Spanish on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Currently, all training sessions are offered virtually to ensure the health and safety in our community. For additional information about registering for one of these sessions, please visit the following link:

Resources: CIGNA School Support Line – OPEN TO ALL

Don’t do it alone. There are many reasons to seek help. Some are common, others more serious. Either way, talk with us today if you or a family member are dealing with: Anxiety, Depression, Abuse, Eating disorders, Bullying, Self-harm, Addiction, Peer Pressure, Suicidal thoughts or anything else. No one has to be a Cigna customer to call. If you go to school, or have a child who goes to school, the School Support Line was created for you.This is a no-cost, confidential service that puts students and families in touch with mental health professionals who know how to listen, ask the right questions, and offer advice. And it’s available around the clock for you and for members of your family. 833-MeCigna (833-632-4462) We’re here 24/7/365!

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