Month: October 2021


The standing starfish pose is something I demo and offer to students who need an energy boost. It’s an effective stretch, especially right after lunch. The stretch is a signature move for the main character, Ellie, in the stunning debut novel by Lisa Fipps. The sixth graders and I had such forceful reactions to Ellie’s experience as a self-described Fat Girl with her Fat Girl Rules, verbally abusive mother and siblings, an no shortage of school-based bullies, too. Slowly, Ellie’s mindset shifts from self-loathing to self-love with the help of her supportive father, friends, and an astute therapist. As a former school counselor, I am always heartened when therapists are portrayed as competent and relatable in children’s literature. Dr. Wood’s approach to engage the reluctant Ellie in therapy were some of the strongest sections of the book. Starfish allowed ample opportunities for me to showcase the reading comp technique I employ, the Notice & Note Signposts developed by Probst & Beers, within the classroom. Students embraced that structure for close reading. They cheered Ellie on throughout her journey of self-discovery and shouldered a fair amount of her pain. Ultimately, they stretched themselves as readers and I’m so glad I was able to gift them this well-crafted work.

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The First Grief & Growth Notebook Class

Here’s the lowdown on the initial in-person Grief & Growth Notebook class I’m offering at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts (LPCA) on Saturday, October 23, 2021 from 1:00pm – 4:00pm: The G&G Notebook class features a technique that utilizes text, drawings, photos, and other images to help participants incorporate the grief of losing a loved one into their lives. The G&G Notebook is a personal and portable work of art.  I became familiar with the process nearly two decades ago, when I worked as a counselor with adults and children who’d experienced sexual assault. I helped clients create a new narrative about themselves, their relationship with the abuser, and a healthy path forward. I applied the same process, calling it my Grief & Growth Notebook, when I needed to reframe the trauma of losing my teen son to suicide in September 2018. The term reframing refers to perspective: looking at a situation differently so the brain can focus on coping rather than rumination. The idea is to examine hopefulness in conjunction with the heartache. The intention is to provide a nurturing, supportive space for individuals to start creating the initial pages of their own G&G Notebook during this afternoon class. Some supplies will be provided; however, participants will need to bring their own sketchbook-style notebook. While the G&G Notebook class is for those who are dealing with grief and loss, it’s not a group therapy session nor a support group.  The class is offered free of charge and,…

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