Student Services Newsletter September 2021

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

Image of CASEL competencies from VDOE past July, the Virginia Department of Education established a uniform definition of social emotional learning based on the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional (CASEL) definition:

“Social and emotional learning is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.”

Virginia’s vision for SEL is intended to center equity in this work which is key to VDOE’s vision and mission, and aligns without priorities in APS as well. The Virginia definition was intentionally created to include adults as well as students. Social emotional learning is important for all of us to become better human beings. You can find more information about the VDOE SEL standards here –  VDOE Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Over the summer, a team of school counselors, social workers, and psychologists, worked on several projects to align our SEL curriculums and tiers of support with the new standards. They also created staff SEL Canvas pages to support the implementation of SEL and the development of all APS staff.

This year APS will have a SEL focus each month. A different SEL competency and overarching concept will be addressed in classrooms with lessons and activities, and we encourage you to work with your students at home and in the community to further develop these social and emotional skills. Suggesting questions and activities will be provided each month in this newsletter.

September SEL Focus: Relationship Skills

picture of Stephanie Martin
School Counselor Stephanie Martin at Long Branch Elementary School

Apply verbal and non-verbal communication and listening skills to interact with others, form and maintain positive relationships, and resolve conflict constructively.

Questions for Discussion (NOTE: Answers should be accepted with no judgement.)

  • What are some things you can do with your body when someone is talking to show you are listening?
  • What are some things you can say after someone has spoken to show that you heard them and are not judging them?
  • What can you say and do when having a disagreement with a someone to show respect for yourself and them?
  • Who would you talk to at home if…(you needed help, you made a bad choice, you have good news to share, etc.)? Who would you talk to at school…?
  • Who is someone at home (and school) you want to be closer to? What can you do to make that happen?
  • Who is an adult that you talked to at school today? Who will you talk to tomorrow?


  • Spend time together. Play games. Eat meals. Go on walks. Work on a puzzle. Read a book. Be intentional about the time you spend together, making sure that times allows for communication.
  • Have one-on-one chats to build and strengthen individual relationships.
  • Make decisions together about what to do for specials events such as birthdays and holidays.
  • One minute shares. Allow everyone a minute to share on a topic of their choice. While someone is sharing everyone else is practicing active listening. (Eyes watching speaker, ears listening, voice quiet, body calm.) When speaker is finished, the listeners and share what they heard with no judgement. Example – So you are saying that you really did not have fun when we worked on the puzzle. Is that correct?

Healthy relationship skills are the ability to get along with others and make meaningful connections. Relationships take time to build and they can be difficult to develop and maintain. Learning and practicing the skills needed to build healthy relationships are life-skills that will help now and in years to come.

First 20 days of SEL

In line with the theme of relationship skills, each day during the first month of school, all staff will be focusing on connecting with their students and helping to foster connections among peers and the school community. Student Services has provided lessons and activities to be used in class for the “First 20 Days of School.” Lessons are taught at designated times in the class environment through social-emotional learning activities that build relationship skills in the class environment and/or support students in self-reflective practices.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a time to share resources in an effort to shed light on this serious and often stigmatized topic. We use this month to raise awareness and connect individuals with resources and support. Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. At this time, suicide is the second leading cause of death in people age 10-24. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please get help now. Access mental health resources by clicking the “Need to Talk?” Button on the APS District Webpage. In addition, all APS schools have a comprehensive mental health team, including counselors, school psychologists and social workers to support students and families in need.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

The 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 starting on September 23, September 30, October 14, October 28, November 16, December 1, January 13, February 8, March 10, March 31, April 27, and May 10.


Children’s Regional Crisis Response (CR2)

  • CR2 Provides 24- Hour rapid response to all youth (17 & younger) facing a mental health and/or substance use crisis. Their highly trained and compassionate counselors provide phone screening and face-to-face assessment, intervention, and support so that your child and family may continue with life as planned.
    • Call for 24-Hour Crisis Services 844-627-4747Information: 703-257-5997
    • Website:

In need of Emergency Mental Health Services? Call:

  • Arlington Behavioral Healthcare ServicesEmergency Line: 703-228-5160 General Number: 703-228-1560

Worried your child may attempt suicide/self-harm? Not sure what to do? Call:

  • Crisis Link Regional Hot Line: 703-527-4077 or Text: CONNECT to 85511
  • National Hope Line: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
  • LGBTQ Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357)

Local Resources:

Web Resources:

Video – Teen Suicide Prevention for Parents-Mayo Clinic