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PTA Meeting Minutes 4.10.18

By Katherine Novello | Apr 24, 2018

Campbell PTA Meeting

April 10, 2018

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Approximate
# of Attendees
: 32

I.     Welcome
and Introduction: Nathan Zee, President 

  • Nathan
    welcomed everyone to the PTA meeting and read a Thank You letter from Ms.
    Berg’s 2nd grade class, thanking the PTA for purchasing books
    from the Teacher’s Wish lists during the Book Fair
  • Reminders:
    • Brick’s
      Pizza Night tomorrow night, 4/11, order between 4-8 pm; a reminder email
      will be sent out over Announcements with the flyer attached
    • Garden
      Work Day is coming up on 4/21, 9 am -12 pm
    • Wetlands Festival is coming up
      on Saturday, 4/28, from 4-7pm
      • Please volunteer to help with
        the festival using Sign-Up Genius:
        http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f084aada723a5fe3-2018
      • Please consider a parent
        donation to the auction (dinner, item, event, etc.; contact Sean Doyle
        for ideas)
      • Please consider donating an
        item to the class basket(s), any grade

    • Spirit Days will be held leading
      up to the Wetlands Festival on 4/25-27; W – Superhero Day, Th – Crazy
      Hat/Hair Day, F – Class Color Day:
      • Pre-K – Purple
      • Kindergarten – Orange
      • 1st Grade – White
      • 2nd Grade – Yellow
      • 3rd Grade – Blue
      • 4th Grade – Red
      • 5th Grade – Green

  • The Outdoor Lab Trip previously
    scheduled for Sunday, 4/22, is postponed until next
    year
  • Julia
    Ahumada will take the lead for Teacher Appreciation week (May 7-11) since
    Mecca Keller will be unavailable. Thank you, Julia!
  • Elementary
    Boundary information will be updated this Thursday evening during the School
    Board Work Session – stay tuned!

 

II.    Anxiety
in Children: Cassie Class and Dr. Meg Michel, School Psychologists

·        
Ms. Nesselrode
introduced the Student Services team

o  
Kate Sullivan,
School Counselor: Tier 1 topics and schoolwide preventative interventions that
are part of Mind-Up/Second Step curriculum, facilitates small groups and
occasionally sees individual students as need arises

o  
Cory Bradley,
School Social Worker: helps families access community resources

o  
Cassandra Class,
School Psychologist: does all student evaluations, facilitates social skills
groups, and provides primarily Tier 2 support

o  
Dr. Meg Michel,
School Psychologist, Interlude: primarily interacts with Interlude students and
provides Tier 3 support

·        
Ms. Class began
the presentation on Anxiety in Children and provided hand-outs with detailed list
of resources and strategies for dealing with anxiety

o  
What is anxiety?

§ 
Anxiety is
something we’ve all experienced. It is a normal reaction to situations that we
perceive to be dangerous.

§ 
It is an adaptive
response that increases our arousal and alertness that allows us to prepare to
combat danger.

o  
When is anxiety a
concern?

§ 
When it is
experienced to a level that interferes with daily functioning and well-being

o  
Anxiety in
childhood:

§ 
Anxiety is most prevalent
psychiatric disorder in children and adolescents (3-25% of all children
experience anxiety to a diagnostic level)

§ 
Median age of
onset is 6 years old, peaking between 8-10 years old

§ 
Frequency of
disorder is equal between genders during elementary years, adolescent females
have an increased frequency (2 to 3 x more likely than male adolescents)

§ 
80% of youth with
a diagnosable anxiety disorder do not receive mental health treatment (includes
both counselling and Special Education identification or educational accommodations)

§ 
Childhood anxiety
is correlated with a variety of mental health disorders in adulthood, including
depression (children with anxiety are 8 to 10 x more likely to have depressive
disorder as an adult)

§ 
Important to
identify anxiety early because there are very effective treatments; if children
receive those treatments, the prognosis is very good

o  
In terms of how children
with anxiety present, they tend to:

§ 
Fear that future
events will have negative outcomes

§ 
View minor events
as potentially threatening

§ 
Engage in a
variety of avoidance behaviors to reduce exposure to perceived threat
(tantrums, for example)

§ 
Have worry that
is either unrealistic (e.g., an imagined threat) or out of proportion to the
situation

§ 
Anxiety in
children younger than 8 tends to be very specific, such as fear of the dark,
fear of dogs, fear of separation

§ 
Anxiety in
children aged 8 and older tends to be more abstract and more social, such as
fear of rejection, fear of poor school performance

o  
Signs of anxiety:

§ 
Elementary-aged
children often report somatic complaints (upset stomach, headaches, sleeping
problems, nausea, rapid heart rate)

§ 
They may request
to see the nurse on a frequent basis

§ 
May also display
thinking or learning challenges, such as attention or memory problems

§ 
Might display
restlessness, fidgetiness, rapid speech, withdrawal, perfectionism, and/or
failure to complete tasks

·        
The different
types of childhood anxiety disorders are described in detail on the hand-out;
in the interest of time I will not go into them all

·        
The types of
anxiety we see most frequently at school are generalized anxiety disorder,
which is a pervasive worry covering many broad areas of one’s life, lasting for
a prolonged time and interfering with daily activities, and social anxiety disorder,
which is an intense fear of social and performance situations and can present
as selective mutism

·        
Lately there has
been more attention given to anxiety resulting from trauma, PTSD

·        
We also see some
school-refusal behavior, which is usually a result of separation anxiety or
fear of an aversive situation at school

·        
When should you
seek professional help?

o  
Every child will
experience some level of anxiety, so it’s really looking at when it’s
interfering with daily functioning, when it’s excessive, and when the worry is
about something that is not developmentally appropriate

o  
Q: What about
phobias? I know adults who are still afraid of heights. Should they be seeking
help? A: Well, you must look at whether it’s impacting their daily life. For
example, if a veterinarian is afraid of animals, that would be a problem. If
your fear is being in public places, that could certainly interfere with
functioning. But if it’s a fear of heights, you can probably find ways to get
around that fear and still lead a typical life. If it was something an
individual wanted to work on, there are treatments available if someone felt it
was necessary to take those additional steps

·        
We have many
supports available at Campbell for students experiencing anxiety

o  
Classroom lessons
with Ms. Sullivan (Mind Up curriculum, steps for calming down, emotional
regulation) available to all students

o  
Anxiety groups
facilitated by a member of the Student Services team for students with
school-performance anxiety

o  
“Take a break”
spots in every classroom

o  
Counselling staff
available for check-ins with students as-needed

o  
We have some
students who require additional support than what is available to the general
population, so there are students who have IEPs or 504s with accommodations for
their anxiety

·        
Ms. Cass turned
over the floor to Dr. Michel to discuss strategies for dealing with anxiety

·        
Dr. Michel
discussed anxiety from the parents’ perspective

·        
Things for
parents to keep in mind:

o  
The goal isn’t to
eliminate anxiety, but to make it manageable

o  
Don’t avoid
things that make your child anxious (can become a learned coping mechanism;
exposure in some gradual fashion is a part of treatment for most anxiety)

o  
Avoid minimizing
or magnifying fears

o  
Model coping
skills

o  
Limits and
structure are important and serve to reduce anxiety

o  
Advance
preparation can help, perhaps keep period of anticipation short enough that
it’s manageable for your child

o  
Ask, “What’s the
worst-case scenario?” to talk through situations that are causing anxiety

·        
General
strategies for managing a child’s anxiety include:

o  
Give them a job
to do or put them in a “helper” role

o  
Make sure they
have activities where they can feel confident and competent, even chores

o  
Give them
creative outlets to experience mastery over their fears (e.g., writing,
drawing, drama, play)

o  
Use bibliotherapy

o  
Don’t forget
about the anxiety-reducing benefits of exercise

·        
Specific
strategies and mindfulness:

o  
Help children
judge the “size” of their worries (small, medium, large, or on a scale of 1-10)

o  
Worry tree:
worries are the leaves, bigger ones to the top, smaller to the bottom; can use
sticky notes so that as worries change over time they can be moved around on
the tree or maybe removed all together

o  
 “Mind in a jar” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2SqvqcQ__o)

o  
Meditation or
body scans

o  
Deep breathing
(“take 5” and box breathing)

o  
Yoga, progressive
muscle relaxation

o  
Aromatherapy

o  
Teach children to
use sensory details in their environments to ground themselves in the present
moment (e.g., looking for a specific color or shape, identifying 3 things they
can see, hear, or feel around them)

o  
Teach awareness
of how their bodies feel when they’re anxious vs. calm

·        
Q: Is the worry
tree a good technique to use to see if there’s an issue that’s causing anxiety
that you may not be aware of? Or is it better to wait until you know there’s
something worrying your child, because could this make them worry about
something that they weren’t worried about before?

o  
A: It’s a good
strategy for any kid, because they all have worries, even mundane ones, so you
aren’t doing harm with this technique. This may be a way to get at kids who
don’t express their worry/anxiety in more apparent ways.

·        
Q: Anger and
oppositional behavior, you mentioned those as possible signs of anxiety?

o  
A: Yes, these
behaviors, and irritability, are often signs of anxiety. It’s important to try
to understand what’s causing the behavior and sometimes the reason is that they
are feeling out of control and are trying to exert some control or gain some
control back, that’s fairly common for children who have trouble verbalizing
their anxiety. There’s an article here that talks about why disruptive behavior
can be a sign of anxiety: https://childmind.org/article/how-anxiety-leads-to-disruptive-behavior/

·        
Q: What kind of
professional development is APS offering to teachers to help them deal with
anxious students in the classroom? How is APS addressing this?

o  
A: There’s been a
recent focus on the idea of the “whole child” and a lot of attention is being
paid in that sense to the social/emotional aspect of a child’s education. The
new strategic plan that’s just been released includes an increase in
social/emotional curriculum opportunities, so I believe that aspect is going to
be developed within curriculum. We have some of those pieces now, but this
would be a broader curriculum. They have increased staff allocations for our
department (counsellors, psychologists, etc.) over the past couple of years to
provide more support in the schools, so that we can be supporting teachers. The
lessons we provide in the classroom are done with the teachers present, so they
are benefitting from the lessons, too. Occasionally there are presentations at
Staff Meetings. If teachers have a concern about a particular student, there is
a referral process and then the team meets to talk about case management.

·        
Q: What about a
scenario when one child in your family has anxiety and the other does not? What
are the best strategies for dealing with that?

o  
A: Well, you
probably don’t want to do a lot of comparing between your children and pointing
out differences in the responses to stressors between an anxious and a typical
child. As a parent, you can employ modelling, but with siblings, because of sibling
rivalry, this strategy might not work as well. As a parent, the things you can
do to help your anxious child are the same strategies that your less anxious
child can use when they do encounter the inevitable worry, even if it’s not as
frequent or as intense an experience for them as it is for your anxious child.
Any of the strategies we’ve listed on the handout are great for every child. The
mindfulness techniques could be done as a family. Incorporating these techniques
into your routine could benefit all of you. For instance, doing relaxation breathing
techniques before bedtime, or guided meditation. I would approach it as
something you’re going to do as a family because the mindfulness and
self-soothing strategies can be used by every child to calm down, whether they’re
anxious, angry upset, or winding down for bedtime.

·        
Q: Over the course
of your careers, have you noticed a change in the types of anxiety or the
incidences of anxiety?

o  
A: Yes, the
incidence seems higher over time. As for the types of anxiety, I’ve noticed
more anxiety related to school performance. Also, the prevalence of anxiety in
females ages 8-12 has increased and something we’ve noticed.

·        
Ms. Nesselrode: The
roll-out of additional mental health experts is a budget item that’s discussed nearly
every year during the budget proposal season. After Parkland, it was one of the
things discussed a great deal at the national level. One of the recommendations
discussed nationally is for all schools to have the type of support we
currently have, so that school psychologists aren’t spread too thin and don’t
have to spend all their time testing and going to meetings. By having more staff,
the psychologists can serve more kids, even those who don’t have an IEP or 504
or other formal plan. And sometimes they are even able to help a student avoid
needing those plans, because they’re able to intervene and extinguish a behavior
earlier on. We’ve noticed that the increased staff has been a tremendous improvement.
We’re also able to tell students that if they are in distress, they can go down
to the counselling suite and, because there are four staff members there, they
will be very likely to find someone who can see them right away.

·        
Ms. Sullivan: We
mentioned the staff referral form earlier, but I’d like to remind everyone that
there is also a parent referral form available online if you feel that you need.
The form comes straight to me and if it’s not suited to me, I would then refer
it to the appropriate staff member. You can access the form here: https://campbell.apsva.us/counseling-referral-form/.
Students in 3rd-5th grade can also refer themselves by submitting
a form and putting it in the locked mailbox on our door. Students have been availing
themselves of this opportunity and that’s a good thing, because the more we
normalize reaching out for help, the better.

 

III.   Treasurer’s
Report: Jenny Morris, Treasurer

·        
Highlights for this
month include:

o  
Paid
$305 for the K Field Trip to Discovery Theater

    • Spent $855
      to purchase remaining items on teacher book wish lists
    • Paid $735 for the Outdoor
      Coordinator February hours
    • $200+ for PTA meeting expenses
    • Spent $130 for the Online
      Auction website fees
    • Spent $150 for Magna Tiles for
      Ms. Sim's classroom
    • Spent $16 for Bunny supplies
    • Spent $100 for journals for the
      1st graders

o  
$2,080 in Project
Discovery income

o  
$175 in Amazon
rewards income

·        
No questions

·        
No new funding requests
this month

IV.  PTA
Officer Nominations: Beth Cavey, Nominating Committee Chair

  • The proposed PTA Officer Slate is:
    • President – Barbara Martinez
    • Treasurer– Amanda Lowenberger
    • Secretary – Shana Brown
    • VP
      Programming – Paige Hamrick
    • VP
      Fundraising – split between Julia Ahumada
      (General Fundraising) and Danielle Quist (Wetlands Festival Chair)
    • VP
      Communications and Outreach – Kathy Evans

  • We
    are taking nominations from the floor, if anyone else would like to be
    considered for a position
    • No
      additional nominations were offered

  • Do we have a motion to adopt the proposed slate?
    • Motion;
      seconded; approved unanimously

  • Nathan: To confirm, that was not the vote to elect officers.
    The vote will be held at next month’s meeting (May 8th), so if
    folks are still interested, we will take nominations from the floor as
    part of the voting process during the May PTA meeting.

 

V.    Closing:
Nathan Zee, President

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