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Cliff's Corner - 10/12/2017

posted Oct 17, 2017, 9:38 AM by Admin at Winterhaven

Hello all,

In the K-6 classrooms, we are shifting our focus from Kindness (check out the Kindness Chain in the front hall!) to Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a secular type of meditation that has been shown in many studies to help with student relationships, bullying and overall school climate. 

We kick off this week with “The Laughing Game” in the 5th and 6th grades, a competitive game that relies on each student being able to maintain focus and not crack a smile while half of the class is really trying to get them to laugh. It is a good chance to talk about calming yourself and focusing through distractions and a way to introduce mindfulness to kids who may never have heard of it. Kindergarten through 2nd grade will work on staying focused and still despite the bubbles I blow around them before breaking off into other more yoga based activities. 

Next week, we will conduct the “Marshmallow Test”, another student favorite based off of an experiment done by Stanford University many years ago. More formal mindfulness training begins after that.  

7th and 8th graders have been stuck with me in Tech class doing Career Ed. We looked at the Japanese concept of Ikigai which is the overlap between what you love, what you can get paid for, what the world needs and what you are good at. We finished the two class session with a quiz on the students’ Holland Code and a scavenger hunt looking at all the many things the adults in the building have done for work before they became educators. Both the lesson on Ikigai and the link to the Holland Code quiz are on my very sparse and even more seldomly updated website if you are curious.  

Benson High School will be here visiting the 8th graders on Friday the 20th. Their high school lottery opens November 13th and closes December 1stYou’ll want to contact the Enrollment and Transfer Center of PPS if you are thinking of having your child attend somewhere other than your neighborhood high school.  

And our question of the week:  “What have you done to make the world a more accepting place for people of color this week?” Many of us might be drawing blanks. This is a chance to brainstorm things you can do as a family together and maybe reach out to other people in the community both for guidance and assistance.  

Thanks again!  Cliff Shaw,

Cliff's Corner - 10/5/2017

posted Oct 12, 2017, 10:25 AM by Admin at Winterhaven

“I don’t want people to be unkind to anyone”

“Don’t be mean / Be kind/ Otherwise bad luck will/ come up from behind”

“Get people’s spirits up when they feel down”

“Believe that you and others can follow their dreams”

If you get a chance, take a close look at the kindness chain forming in the front hall that I stole these quotes from.  It is the culmination of our kindness unit that we have been working on since the start of school with the K-6 students.  It is full of good ideas and very specific requests for kindness.  Each link is by an individual student and has what they can do on the outside and what kindnesses they would like towards them on the inside.  I turned them loose if they wanted to do it their own way and stay on topic, so some may be a little different.  We used the book “How Full is your Bucket?” with the younger grades to illustrate this concept with them.  

We will be shifting into mindfulness starting next week and through November using a mix of Mindful Schools, Mind Up, Yoga Calm and some other curriculum.  Mindfulness is secular, non-religious meditation.  There has been a huge amount of recent research showing benefits in academics, mental health and reducing bullying and aggressive behaviors after mindfulness practice.  I’ll be encouraging you to take on this practice at home as well to support our kids here.  

Thanks to the 24 parents who filled out my Needs Assessment last week.  I’d appreciate all of you taking the time to fill it out as I do base my year off of what these needs are.  I’ll publish the results in a couple weeks, the students will be done this week.  


Winterhaven Needs Assessment -Families

Please rate each of these topics for what would be most helpful for your family to cover

And to our weekly discussion question:  “How have you reached out to someone different than you lately?  What was difficult about it?  How did it go?  What got in the way if you didn’t?  How can you overcome these obstacles?”  

Thanks again!  Cliff Shaw,

Cliff's Corner - 9/28/2017

posted Oct 12, 2017, 10:23 AM by Admin at Winterhaven

Hey all, this week we continue to look at kindness in the K-6 classes.  Besides watching a couple Thai commercials ( and ) and discussing them, we are making links in the kindness chain.  The inside of each link is how we want to be treated kindly and the outside is something we can do for others.  The complete chain should be up next week in the front hall!  

For 8th graders, the high school transition legwork is happening even earlier than the “ridiculously early” that it was last year.  The high school lottery officially opens November 13th and closes December 1st.  If you are thinking of going somewhere other than your neighborhood school, you’ll need to get in the lottery again.  However, the district is really pushing for everyone to go to their neighborhood schools, so it is difficult to get in a different high school, other than Benson.  Because of this, Benson HS will be visiting our 8th graders October 20th and showing them what Benson has to offer.  I expect Cleveland and Franklin and possibly Grant to come visit in the coming months as it becomes time to choose classes (aka forecasting).

One of the things that has been coming up in Winterhaven is the casual commenting on people’s physical attributes.  We want to remind our students that even light hearted comments can hurt the student they are directed at as well as others who overhear.  The more we can remind our kids that all of them are beautiful in their own unique way, the better all of their self-esteem will be.  

Related to that:  In order to keep my finger on the proverbial pulse of the school, I’ve made a few needs assessments using Google forms.  Please take the time to fill this out to let me know where I should be focusing my attention:   Your students also completed (or will soon) a version of this as will the staff.  I’ll use this data to inform my work here at Winterhaven for the year.  

Our question of the week is centered on the current events in the NFL.  “How do you believe people should protest injustice?  What should the limits on their protests be?  Why?”  Again, these topics are in support of our PTSA’s goal to have all of our kids graduating from Winterhaven as informed, considerate, thoughtful people.  

Thanks again!  Cliff Shaw,

Cliff's Corner - 9/21/2017

posted Sep 22, 2017, 10:51 AM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor's Corner 

This week in counseling we are continuing to focus on kindness in K-5. After watching the Kindness Boomerang again and starting our own boomerangs, our second graders had a really cool idea of us making those boomerangs not just a simple artsy worksheet but a screenplay for a movie.  I’m not sure about the logistics of whether that is feasible yet, but ask them about it next week! A really cool idea from the creative minds of our students! 

Another set of creative minds in the 6th grade had the whole class trying (almost successfully!) to jump the same jump rope together.  It was a great opportunity to talk about problem solving, individualism vs. group goals, and leadership.  Well done sixth grade!  I love challenges like this because the issues that spring up in that scenario are the same issues that cause trouble in the classroom and it gives us a chance to talk about them in a non-threatening, collaborative way.    

I’ve been sharing with the middle school students and staff a blunder I made this summer in an effort to open up discussions of how we handle issues around race and the mistakes we are bound to make in dealing with it.  The deeper we dig, the more of these we are bound to come up with.  I think an important take-away is that if we take the time to process and reflect on these mistakes, a better option may come to mind that we can use in a similar situation in the future.    

Which brings us to our topic for the week’s discussion: “What is one blunder you have made around race?  How did you handle it?  How did you wish you handled it?  How did it make you feel?” This one really needs the adult to be the example before the kids take their turn. I think as parents, we often want to project this air of confidence, but it’s OK to talk about being uncomfortable and not knowing the answer.  That is both expected and necessary for us to move forward.  Younger students may not have the background or the language to talk about this yet, so it may just be you talking about your experiences and normalizing the discomfort they will have as part of their process.    

Thanks again!  Cliff Shaw, 

Cliff's Corner - 9/14/2017

posted Sep 14, 2017, 5:23 PM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor's Corner

Hi folks, 

For the month of September we are continuing our K-5 focus on kindness. This last week, we watched a video called The Kindness Boomerang <> and did some scheming on how we can make this happen in our Winterhaven community. 

Next week, we will be starting a book called Enemy Pie and thinking of ways that kindness can break down animosity and barriers between us.  



Life Vest Inside - Kindness Boomerang - "One Day"

Watch as the camera tracks an act of kindness as its passed from one individual to the next and manages to boomerang back to the person who set it into motion. Has ...

The 6th grade will also be focusing on kindness, but in a much more physical challenge way. We are also working on teambuilding and learning names and about each other since so many of them are new to Winterhaven this year.  

I also taught a lesson on the stages of racial identity to the 7th and 8th graders this week. We looked at Helms’ theory of white racial identity and delved into minority racial identity before setting them loose with other models of identity as well. All of this is done with the intention that students discover and learn more about how the concepts of race impact their lives and the lives of the people around them. It also helps to explain why people hold biases, and how to help each other think through those towards a more egalitarian mindset.

Our “avoiding-the-offspring-grunts-at-the-dinner-table” question of the week is: “How does your race affect your life?” This is a big, broad topic for all of us to explore, and continue to explore as we move through life. Expect this to be difficult and awkward for everyone. We actively encourage your students to embrace their discomfort around topics like this here at school, and it would be great if you could continue to push them and also lead by example outside of school. I know this can be hard to do, especially when you are exhausted after the work day. 

Cliff Shaw, Winterhaven School Counselor;


Cliff's Corner - 9/7/2017

posted Sep 8, 2017, 11:46 AM by Admin at Winterhaven

Counselor's Corner: 

Hi all: For this year, I'll be checking in every week on what I am doing in the classrooms. I will also suggest a topic to talk about at the dinner table, which could hopefully initiate a conversation.   


In the classrooms, I will be spending the month of September focusing on kindness and team building.  We will do some activities and challenges (ask them about the counting activity from last week, it was really hard for some of them) culminating in a collective art project that we will hang in the front hall.  The teambuilding will be most intense in the classes that have new students, especially 6th grade where we welcome more new folks than those who have been here.


If you weren't stranded on an island all summer, you might have heard about some increased tension in our country around race. The PTSA and staff would like our Winterhaven community to dig deeper into our beliefs around race this year. I'm still riding off the energy of this summer so let's start with this for a talking point:


Thomas Jefferson feared the "Tyranny of the Majority" - That 50.01% could rule the others with impunity in a democracy. How do we make sure to respect the rights of minorities in this culture?  How could we improve on this?  How could each of us, as individuals do better? I encourage you to zoom into race on this, but you could open with minorities of every type to get the ideas flowing. Obviously, adjust for age, but don't dodge discomfort.  Embrace it, and as a former professor of mine once said, "Use discomfort as a tool for motivation".

--Cliff Shaw, Winterhaven School Counselor;

Cliff's Corner - 6/9/2017

posted Jun 9, 2017, 5:09 PM by Rebekah Folsom

Hey folks, I’m wrapping up the lessons on bullying from the viewpoints of three students with Dare!, Weird!,  and Tough!  with the 3rd and 4th graders.  First grade had their lesson on Crickwing Monday that we will use to think about kindness and bullying in more depth next week, and Ms. Moran is doing her last bit of awesomeness with the Kindergarteners and 2nd grade.  5th and 6th grade will wrap up the year with Sex Ed.  Due to end of year activities, I may miss a few of these lessons next week.  

Something to ponder as summer approaches:  One of the hotter debates in education and in psychology is how much structure we provide for our kids vs. how much of that structure we expect them to create for themselves, and by extension, how much they learn to create those structures to manage themselves throughout their lives. You might consciously experiment with this over the summer and give your student some practice making their own decisions for the day in a responsible way.  If your student is old enough, discuss this openly with them and observe and process how it goes.  “Let’s try having you decide what you will do this afternoon.  Please remember that our expectations haven’t changed, we still expect you to make good choices.”  Be prepared for some challenges if they are used to a highly structured day, but be sure to talk about it with them afterwards.  Dealing with the inevitable struggles around this is a good place to grow some over the next few months and help them become more self-sufficient humans.  

The Question of the Week:  (A question for your family to talk about at a time together) What responsibilities come with being free to choose your path in a school?  In our society?     Questions or comments can be directed to Cliff Shaw at

Cliff's Corner - 6/2/2017

posted Jun 2, 2017, 7:07 PM by Rebekah Folsom

Counselor’s Notes Here is what’s happening in the world of counseling this week.

We are wrapping up the year.  I’ll only be visiting some classes one more time!  There is much to be done between now and then.  Kinder and 2nd continue to be taught by Ms. Moran who is working on diversity and inclusion lessons to round out the year.  1st, 3rd and 4th will be finishing up the bullying lessons we have been working on and then doing some end of year reflections.  5th and 6th grade will be starting (5th) and continuing (6th) sex education using the curriculum linked in last week’s email.  

On a broader note, one of the continuing struggles I see at Winterhaven is with anxiety around perfectionism.  I think that a school like Winterhaven that focuses so hard on academics can often draw out perfectionist tendencies in our students.  They are driven to do well, but they are still learning how to handle situations when they don’t do as well as they expect.  Something very helpful is for families to talk about their own struggles with perfectionism and failure, letting them know how you, as an adult make mistakes and deal with those mistakes.  

State testing is done.  Whew.  

Your Weekly Question: How does being anonymous online affect how people act?  What are the positives and negatives of having your identity hidden?  Younger grades can use this in a superhero context instead of online if that would help your kiddo talk about the issue.  

Cliff's Corner - 5/25/2017

posted May 31, 2017, 4:05 PM by Rebekah Folsom

Counselor’s Notes As our first grade teacher, Ms. Cooke says “Hi Everybody!”

Here’s the first of what will hopefully be a regular blurb from me mixed in the Winterhaven Weekly.  I’ll be sharing what the counseling staff is doing, ideas for you to try at home, articles worth reading and thinking about and the occasional struggles that may need broader attention.  Each one will also end in a question to pose to your youngsters for discussion during the week around the dinner table.

To get you up to speed on what is happening in the counseling world at Winterhaven: My fabulous intern, Molly Moran has been leading Kindergarten and 2nd grade all year.  If you have students in those grades and haven’t heard about her, ask.  I promise they’ll have glowing things to say.  She has been teaching emotional regulation for the past few months using the Zones of Regulation curriculum. Shortly, she will be changing gears and teaching lessons focused on inclusion and diversity appreciation to finish out the year before she leaves us to begin her doctoral program.  The other grades are with me.  I’m mostly buried in state testing right now, but when I manage to free myself… In 1st, 3rd, 4th we are looking into bullying from three viewpoints and examining the motivations for each person using the books Weird!, Tough!, and Dare! by Erin Frankel.  The older grades are also examining these through the lens of the four styles of communication and talking about how those play into the story.  1st grade may use the story Crickwing instead.  5th grade will spend two days with Nurse LueAnne and I going over very basic sex ed starting on the 31st. The curriculum is here, you’ll have to do some legwork making an account to get to it.   6th grade is deep in our state Health curriculum.  If you are curious what that looks like, here is the link:  I will be visiting 7th and 8th soon to do a little bit of Career Education as well, using the Japanese concept of Ikigai as a springboard.

That’s the plan.  However, the nature of my job is emergencies so I do miss lessons more often than I’d like to.  

The question of the week:  How is what we see on a screen different than what we see in real life?  Places to explore around this:  appearance, interactions, anonymity, kindness. The idea is to have a family discussion sometime this week based on this topic.  If you have any questions, please contact me at  Cliff Shaw, School Counselor

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