The Total Child

Making Memorial Day Meaningful: Supporting Military-Connected Students

(National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

A guest post by Dr. Tom Demaria from the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, who develops a number of topical articles on bereavement for the Coalition to Support Grieving Students

Memorial Day was established after the Civil War to honor those who had died while in military service. It is observed each year on the last Monday of May. While non-military families often see Memorial Day as the first celebration of summer, those connected to the military are likely to see it differently.

Military-connected students almost certainly attend your schools. There are nearly 2 million children of active service members—that is, with parents in active duty military, National Guard or Reserves. They live in communities across the nation. Over 80% attend public schools.

Things To Know 

 Here are some helpful things to consider if you are planning learning activities or other student events related to Memorial Day.

  •  Memorial Day is a solemn day for most military families. Many spend it visiting cemeteries to place flowers or flags on graves. They may attend special programs remembering those who have died in service.
  •  Children who have lost a loved one through a line-of-duty death often revisit powerful feelings of grief at this time of year.
  •  Memorial Day is not the same as Veteran’s Day. While Veteran’s Day honors all who have served in our military. Memorial Day focuses particularly on those who have died in the line of duty. This distinction is quite important to military-connected children and their families.
  •  The TAPS Good Grief Camp is a weekend experience offered over Memorial Day weekend to child survivors of service members who died in the line of duty.

 Things to Do

 To support military-connected children, especially those who are grieving a line-of-duty death, consider these steps. 

  •  Offer students opportunities to think about and discuss the serious and solemn qualities of Memorial Day.
  •  If active service members or veterans are invited to speak to students at this time of year, ask them to acknowledge and address the deeper meanings of Memorial Day.
  •  Support students’ efforts to attend events such as the Good Grief Camp.
  •  If you know military-connected students, especially if they are grieving, reach out as Memorial Day approaches. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask whether Memorial Day brings up any thoughts or feelings they’d like to talk about. Let them know you’re thinking of them.

 The Coalition to Support Grieving Students offers a range of free resources that can help educators learn more about supporting grieving students. They have just released a special module, Supporting Children and Family Survivors of Military Line-of-Duty Deaths. This will be helpful to any educator working with military-connected children. Our organization is a member of the Coalition.

 

Supporting Students After the Manchester Tragedy

(National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

Monday night's bombing in Manchester, England has likely unsettled some of your students, especially because so many of the deceased and injured are school-age. As the school year comes to a close, many students are preparing for trips to amusement parks, vacations to new places and concert venues to see their favorite artists. Cowardly actions like those of  the suspected suicide bomber will make some students AND adults afraid to go about their normal lives. In light of this, AASA has pulled together some resources to help you talk with your students as they process their grief and fear. These tools can help you provide suggestions for coping with this event and similar events in a healthy way.

 With any questions, please contact Kayla Jackson, project director, AASA, at kjackson@aasa.org or 703-875-0725.

 

Take the Prevention Promise: A Parent's Story

(National Awareness) Permanent link

The following guest post is by Martha Lopez-Anderson, Executive Director of Parent Heart Watch. She tells her story of how she became involved with Parent Heart Watch and why it's important to Take the Prevention Promise.

 A beautiful and sunny Sunday afternoon in February 2004 became the darkest day of my life. One minute my active 10 year-old son, Sean, was happily rollerblading to a friend’s house and the next he was lying unresponsive on the sidewalk of our neighborhood.

 PHWblogMay22
Martha Lopez-Anderson with her son, Sean.

At first, neighbors thought he was having a seizure and called 911, but it wasn’t until a neighbor and registered nurse recognized he was not breathing, that CPR was started. Police were the first to arrive at the scene. Paramedics followed more than 10 minutes later and used a device known as an automated external defibrillator or AED several times to shock Sean’s heart back to rhythm, but his heart just quivered…it was too late.

Ironically, Sean’s heart had stopped beating just two days after he had participated in Jump Rope for Heart at his school.

 Four and a half months later we learned that Sean had suffered sudden cardiac arrest or SCA due to a heart condition that went undetected until after his death. How could my seemingly healthy son be gone? He was not sick and had never missed a well-checkup. I thought of myself as an informed and resourceful parent, yet I was totally blindsided by sudden cardiac arrest.

As I grieved the loss of my baby boy and searched for answers, Parent Heart Watch reached out to me, which is how I became educated about sudden cardiac arrest in youth, its causes, prevention strategies and treatment. Like the fact that 1 in 300 youth has an undiagnosed heart condition that puts them at risk for SCA. And that sometimes, warning signs of a potential heart condition go unrecognized and unreported.

Do you know what made my grief worse? Learning that my son’s death could have been potentially prevented. How you may ask? Through early detection or by simply being prepared in the event of a cardiac emergency.

Sadly, mine is just one story.

 According to a US Fire Administration census on school building fires between 2009 - 2011, there were an estimated 75 fire-related injuries, with resulting fatalities being rare. The National Fire Protection Association reports that there have been eight K-12 school fires with 10 or more deaths since 1908. Likely because every school is now equipped with fire extinguishers and fire drills.

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Now consider this: SCA is the #1 killer of student athletes and is the leading cause of death on school campuses. Given this tragic dynamic, educators could play a critical role in saving lives by championing SCA awareness throughout their school community and advocating for life-saving SCA prevention tools on their campus.

 We lose thousands of youth each year to sudden cardiac arrest because adults who live and work with youth are not prepared for a cardiac emergency, either as parents who are not encouraged to proactively protect their kid’s heart through a cardiac risk assessment and screening, or as educators, coaches, counselors and others who have not had the opportunity to equip their facilities with cardiac emergency response plans, CPR trained staff and automated external defibrillators.

 There is a national movement called Take the Prevention Promise that compels anyone who has children or works with them to get educated about the true incidence of sudden cardiac arrest in youth and how anyone can save a life. Educational resources and tools can be found at www.ParentHeartWatch.org.

 My hope is that we can all take the time to be prepared – the life you save could very well be your own child’s.

'13 Reasons Why' Discussion Resource Library for Educators and Parents

(Coordinated School Health, National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

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The new Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, based on 2007 the young adult novel of the same name, revolves around a 17 year old girl, Hannah Baker, who commits suicide. She leaves behind audio recordings to 13 people- 12 students and one school counselor- who she perceives as playing a role in why she killed herself.

 Due to the realistic and graphic depictions of – among other topics-- bullying, rape and the protagonist’s suicide in the show, AASA compiled a resource library for parents and educators on how to talk to youth about the issues conveyed on the show.

 As the National Association of School Psychologists states , “ this is particularly important for adolescents who are isolated, struggling or vulnerable to suggestive images and storylines,” and it is vital to reinforce the message that “suicide is not the solution to problems and help is available.”

The following are the resources we have compiled as of Friday April 28, 2017. We will update the resource library on an ongoing basis on the following page: http://aasa.org/13ReasonsWhyResources.aspx 

Staff Contact

 Kayla Jackson, Project Director
703-875-0725
kjackson@aasa.org

 Resource Library

  •  National Association of School Psychologists. "'13 Reasons Why' Netflix Series: Considerations for Educators"
    •  This resource includes cautions related to the show, guidance for families and educators in recognizing the signs related to youth suicide, safe messaging when talking to students , and additional websites, fact sheets and books to reference on this topic.
     
  •  Child Mind Institute. "Why Talk to Kids About '13 Reasons Why.'" A blog post by Peter Faustino, PsyD, who is a school psychologist in the Bedford Central School District (NY) and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of School Psychologists.
  •  The Jed Foundation and SAVE. "13 Reasons Why: Talking Points for Viewing & Discussing the Netflix Series"
    •  Talking points , available in both English and Spanish, to assist parents, teachers and other educators in talking to youth about suicide as it relates to the situational drama that unfolds in '13 Reasons Why.' 
     

Do you want to offer school meals at no cost to all students?

(Alternative School Breakfast , National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

Guest Post by Alison Maurice, MSW, child nutrition policy analyst at the Food Research & Action Center.

FRAC will co-host a webinar with AASA and the National Rural Education Association on May 8th at 1pm EST on the Community Eligibility Provision. Learn more and Register.  
 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision is a powerful tool for high-need schools to provide breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students. Community eligibility reduces administrative paperwork for schools and increases school meal participation and benefits the entire community —students, families, school nutrition staff and administrators.

Why should I consider community eligibility for my school district? 

 FRACCEPPhoto

 Educators know that in order for children to learn, they must be well-nourished. Schools play an important role in ensuring students have access to healthy meals. That is why community eligibility continues to grow in popularity among high-need school districts. Community eligibility has been successful at increasing school breakfast and lunch participation, so more students experience the positive educational outcomes that are linked to participating in school meals. In the current school year, nearly 10 million children in over 20,000 schools and 3,500 school districts are being offered breakfast and lunch at no charge through the community eligibility program.

What are the benefits of community eligibility? 

 School districts participating in community eligibility benefit from: 

  •  less administrative work. School administrators no longer need to collect and verify school meal applications and can focus more resources on providing nutritious meals for students;
  •  increased participation in the school breakfast and lunch programs. In initial pilot states, community eligibility increased breakfast participation by 9.4 percent and increased lunch participation by 5.2 percent;
  •  improved financial viability of school nutrition programs. When community eligibility becomes available at a school, school meal participation increases, which can improve school nutrition finances; and
  •  the elimination of unpaid meal fees. This means schools no longer need to collect money from families or find available funds for the meals that go unpaid by students.

 Additionally, by offering meals at no charge to all students, community eligibility makes it easier for schools to leverage innovative school breakfast service models, such as breakfast in the classroom, “grab and go” breakfast, and second chance breakfast. Traditional school breakfast programs that operate before the school day begins must compete with hectic morning schedules and late bus arrivals. Rather, breakfast after the bell service models integrate breakfast into the school day, allowing more children to start the day ready to learn. 

How does community eligibility work? 

 Community eligibility allows high-need school districts and schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students, while eliminating the school meal application process. Any school district, group of schools in a district, or individual school with 40 percent or more “identified students” — children who are certified for free meals without submitting a school meal application — can choose to participate in community eligibility.

Identified Students Include:

  • children who live in households that receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and in some states, Medicaid benefits; and
  •  children who are homeless, migrant, enrolled in Head Start, or in foster care.

 How will my schools get reimbursed?

Once a school, group of schools, or school district establishes its identified student percentage (ISP), the ISP is multiplied by 1.6 to determine the percentage of meals reimbursed at the free reimbursement rate (capped at 100 percent). The remainder is reimbursed at the paid rate. This percentage is locked in for four years, unless the ISP goes up, in which case it would be adjusted to reflect the increase. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a “Community Eligibility Provision Estimator ” tool to help school districts determine if community eligibility makes financial sense. There is a lot of flexibility in how schools are grouped to determine the ISP, allowing districts to group schools to ensure financial viability.

 

Identified Student Percentage (ISP)

Meals Reimbursed at the Free Rate

Meals Reimbursed at the Paid Rate

40%

64%

36%

45%

72%

28%

50%

80%

20%

55%

88%

12%

60%

96%

4%

65%

100%

0%


 What can I do right now?

 Start planning for the 2017–2018 school year today. Find out which school districts and schools in your state have implemented community eligibility or were eligible during the 2016–2017 school year using FRAC’s Community Eligibility Database .

 Check out these resources to learn more about community eligibility:

 By adopting community eligibility, you can increase participation in school breakfast and lunch, ensuring your students the nutrition needed to succeed in school.

 Is there a deadline for my school district to apply for community eligibility?

On May 1, 2017, your state’s education agencies will publish a list of schools and school districts that qualify for community eligibility. Review the list to see which of your schools qualify for the 2017–2018 school year.

The deadline to apply to use community eligibility in the 2017–2018 school year is June 30, 2017.

 For more information on community eligibility, reach out to Alison Maurice , child nutrition policy analyst at the Food Research & Action Center .

Celebrating National School Breakfast Week 2017

(Alternative School Breakfast , National Awareness, Student Support Services) Permanent link

Since 2011, AASA has engaged 22 school districts in the Alternative School Breakfast Initiative, supported by the Walmart Foundation. This program increases the number of children who eat school breakfast, by taking breakfast out of the cafeteria and into the classroom and hallways through Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab ‘n’ Go, and Second Chance options.

These participating districts held activities over National School Breakfast Week, from March 6-10, to raise awareness of their school breakfast programs. Here are some shining examples:

School Administrators and Parents Engage in Meriden Public Schools

 MeridenAdminsNSBW2017

Meriden Public Schools hosted two elementary student and parent " School Breakfast Superhero" themed breakfast events, organized by their FoodCorp service member Lexi Brenner, during National School Breakfast Week to educate parents and students on the benefits of school breakfast and increase breakfast participation.

School and District Administrators, including Superintendent Dr. Mark D. Benigni , showed their support of school breakfast and were in attendance.

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Superintendent Dr. Mark D. Benigni, Meriden Public Schools, at a taste test activity.

The district’s three Registered Dietitians answered general health and nutrition questions and interacted with students and families. SNAP outreach efforts to increase CEP eligibility for more Meriden schools was also conducted. Students participated in the School Breakfast Week Challenge, tracking the amount of times they eat school breakfast with materials provided by the School Nutrition Association. Fun breakfast prizes were provided to each student daily when they ate breakfast during the week, in addition to breakfast "Lucky Tray" giveaways!

 Promotional Contests Popular Among Students in Two Large, Urban Districts 

San Diego Unified School District 

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San Diego had 12 of their  elementary schools participating in National School Breakfast Week promotion. Every student who ate breakfast every day of that week was entered into a drawing for a pair of movie tickets.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Spring Independent School District

Spring ISD continued their “Decorate Your Plate” promotion of National School Breakfast Week, which has become a hit in the district! Students decorate paper plates with their favorite breakfast foods and submit them for a chance to win a bike and helmet. The principals at each school select a winner. Below are a few of the student plates.

springisdnsbw2017pic1 springisdnsbw2017pic2

From Rural Towns to Robotics: Coming Full Circle with VISTA

(National Awareness, Equity) Permanent link

 The following is a cross guest post of Eileen Conoboy,Acting Director of AmeriCorps VISTA. She is the daughter of AASA staff member Carolyn Conoboy.

Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #AmeriCorpsWorks.  Learn more about AmeriCorps VISTA, by visiting this website https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-vista 

When I packed up my car in 1992 and left my familiar bubble in Arlington, VA to serve a year as a VISTA member in rural North Dakota, I was an adventurous 22-year-old, hitting the road with idealism and a duffel bag. With 3 days of training under my belt, I arrived in town, found a room to rent over the shop-keeper’s house, and settled into my new role at a domestic violence and sexual assault program. I spent the next 12 months recruiting and training volunteers for a battered women’s task force, establishing a safe house network, and setting up a court watch program to monitor how the system responded to victims of abuse. Being able to make a difference in people’s lives was an awakening for me, and I bounded out of bed each morning with excitement and vigor as I headed off to the first job I ever loved. My cultural intelligence also grew as I learned to recruit in church basements, came to understand the difference between a combine and a tractor, and developed a deep appreciation for the richness of Midwestern hospitality.

Fast forward 25 years and here I sit at my keyboard, pinching myself that my circuitous path has led me to be Acting Director of AmeriCorps VISTA. Having benefited from so many interventions in my own life, from Head Start to scholarships and Pell grants, this feels akin to winning the purpose lottery. I get to support the 8,000 VISTAs who are walking the talk and fighting poverty every day in America.

The secret sauce of this 52-year-strong anti-poverty program is its multiplying force. Have a dollar? A VISTA member can turn it into two. Running a program with five mentors to help keep kids in school? A VISTA can recruit and train ten more. VISTA members leveraged $178 million in cash and in-kind resources and mobilized 900,000 local volunteers in 2016 alone. From Anchorage to Orlando and 3,000 sites in between, these anti-poverty warriors are finding the good, multiplying it, and mobilizing the non-federal resources needed to ensure the positive ripples reverberate in communities long after the VISTA member leaves.  

The mission of VISTA hasn’t changed in its 52 years, but the scope of projects has adapted with the times. In addition to bolstering services for homeless veterans and helping low-income youth access college, VISTAs today are combating opioid abuse and expanding robotics programs in low-income communities. An example of the latter is the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) AmeriCorps VISTA project, which I’m thrilled to visit today as I serve alongside VISTA member Christina Lee during AmeriCorps Week. Through the FIRST project, VISTAs help inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, and engage underserved communities and school districts to make science and technology accessible to all children. Since 2013, 114 AmeriCorps VISTA members have expanded FIRST programming into 51 cities and 32 states, engaging more than 7,600 children from under-resourced communities in STEM activities. While robotics and Lego competitions may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of anti-poverty work, the FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA project provides children with access to education and technology resources in order to “engineer paths out of poverty.”

 I can’t wait to see how Christina’s work is empowering local kids. To all of the VISTAs and National Service members serving today – keep fighting the good fight, thank you for your service, and happy AmeriCorps Week!