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    Family Letter from Kathy Hanson - May 15, 2020
    Posted on 05/16/2020

    Dear TOPS Students and Families,

    Greetings! As this COVID situation continues on, I want you to know that all of us at TOPS are thinking of you, missing your kids and sending you our deepest wishes for the health and wellness of your families.

    I have had the opportunity to speak to many parents over the past weeks. People have expressed a lot of feelings: exhaustion, worry, and self-criticism that they aren’t able to “be better” at managing parenting, helping kids with learning, etc. Please know that these feelings are all normal. Please know that we do not expect you to be teachers. Our teachers have had years and years of training, and that is their job! You are parenting, teaching, cooking, cleaning, shopping, working, etc. This week, my message to you is this: give yourself a break. As Mary Oliver says in her poem, Wild Geese, “You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles repenting.”

    The Islamic scholar and poet, Rumi, invites his readers to welcome feelings as guests (see Middle School letter). This resonates with what Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence calls the Metamoment, in which we first recognize, understand and name what we are feeling, before we take action to feel more or less of what we are experiencing.

    We care for you. We care for your children. We want to help. Please let us know how we can support you and we will do our best to help.
    Here are the links to this week’s videos. That being said, this is very helpful information for all students and adults:
    K-2 Video: Using Our Senses to Feel Calmer
    3-5 Video: (with a special guest appearance by Jennifer Murray!): Respectful Disagreement
    6-8 Letter: Rumi and the Metamoment

    High School Course Registration for 8th grade families:

    Our TOPS 8th graders will be dispersing to at least 9 public high schools in our district, plus private schools. Please check on my Middle School Schoology page with your student for specific information and resources for each SPS high school. Some of you have students on waiting lists and are wondering if you should have your student register for courses at their currently assigned school. The answer is YES. Your student might not get the courses they want, otherwise. This course registration has nothing to do with waitlist status.

    Garfield High School: Most of our rising 8th graders will be going to Garfield next year. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Garfield and the answers:
    • Can my child still register for courses?
    Yes. Online registration is over, but families can fill out the form and email it to Missy Chow, the registrar:
    • How do I make sure that my child is in Geometry?
    If a student was earning a C or higher, they are a good fit for Geometry. Our Algebra 1 code is properly listed in “historical grades” so Garfield will accept C or higher students into Geometry.
    • What about 9th grade electives?
    Garfield would like students to take:
    PE/Health (each is a semester course and a grad requirement) and a World language (also a grad requirement)
    • Who can I contact with questions?
    Registrar (Missy Chow):
    Counselor (Kandace Alston):

    Counseling Supports:

    I will be available to speak or email with you and/or your children while our school is closed (Mon. - Fri.). These sessions are FREE OF CHARGE and can happen by phone, email or video session. If you would like to set up a time to speak, please email me and I will reach out to you to schedule a time. If you or your family is in emotional crisis, call the Crisis Line at (206) 461-3222 or call 911.

    Resources specific to COVID-19:

    Support for Families During Covid-19 (Sound Supports) Talking to Children About Covid-19 (National Association of School Psychologists) Care for Your Coronavirus Anxiety (Mental Health America and Shine)

    Health Resources:

    How to Care for Yourself While Practicing Physical Distancing (Mental Health First Aid)
    Mental Health Resources (SPS Coordinated Health)
    Fitness and Character Videos for Families at Home (Access code: AtHome)

    Basic Needs Resources:

    Basic Needs Emerald City Resource Guide
    Office of the Mayor: COVID Resources
    Rent Assistance- United Way King County
    Rent Assistance- All Seattle Kids Home

    Racial Equity Resources:

    Seattle Student Tech Exchange (technology donations and requests for students of color)

    Parenting Supports:

    World Health Organization's Healthy Parenting tips
    ReStart: Net Addiction Resources (resources for support with internet/screen addictions)
    Sound Discipline (parenting resources and supports during school closures)
    Digital Citizenship (K-8 lessons on healthy use of digital media)
    Supporting learners with ADHD
    Parenting Advice During COVID-19- A Bulleted List to Keep on the Fridge

    Books I use to support students:

    Helping Your Anxious Child by Ronald Rapee, PhD et al.
    Freeing Your Child from Anxiety by Tamar Chansky, Ph.D.
    Yoga Calm for Children by Lynea Gillen, MS and Jim Gilen, RYT
    What to Do When You Worry Too Much, What to Do When Your Temper Flares, What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck, What to Do When You Grumble Too Much by Dawn Huebner
    The Invisible String by Geoff Stevenson - for young children to discuss difficult feelings related to death, loss and separation
    Impulse Control and Evidence-Based Insights and Activities for Teaching Kids Impulse Control by Tonia Caselman


    There are new TOPS elementary and middle school counseling courses in Schoology. I will be posting updates and resources for your students there. Additionally, I can now email students and set up appointments with them through the site!

    Kathy Hanson, M.A.Ed., Licensed Mental Health Counselor