Archive for October, 2016

Why Water?

October 25, 2016

This edition of the MCPS blog is from guest blogger, Stephanie Reeves. Stephanie is mom to two 6th graders at St. Clare Walker Middle School.  Stephanie is currently self-employed, but previously was a behavior specialist for 5 years.

Why Water?? Well, thanks for asking. This is a topic about which I am very passionate!

It was brought to my attention at the beginning of the school year that at some facilities in our school division, our children are not allowed to regularly have bottled water at their disposal unless there is a doctor note provided. Water is absolutely essential for our bodies to properly function and should not be limited to our children during the school day.

Our brains are made up of 80-85% water, our bodies 70% water. Dehydration in school students is detrimental to their cognitive performance.  Water gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain function, to include thought and memory processing.  According to Dr. Corinne Allen, founder of the Advanced Learning and Development Institute, brain cells need two times more energy than other cells in the body and water provides this more effectively than any other substance.  When fully hydrated you are able to think faster, be more focused, and have a greater capacity for learning.  The brain is unable to store water, therefore all day access is most important for proper functioning.  Proper hydration requires that we drink half our weight in ounces per day.  A 100 pound student would struggle with drinking 50 ounces a day if it were limited to before school, lunch time, and after school to evening.

Dehydration causes your brain to shut down and not run at full speed – symptoms including brain fog, afternoon fatigue, focus issues, depression, anger, emotional instability, exhaustion, headaches, sleep issues, stress, and lack of mental clarity and acuity… all decreasing the students ability to be fully acute and aware within the school environment. Teaching our children about proper hydration and the overall positive health effects is one of the most valuable life-long lessons we can offer them.

When I was a counselor in one of our local high schools, the first thing I offered my students when they were agitated was a bottle of water and a healthy snack, because often they were not eating properly either. Within moments of giving them the water and snack, their mood would begin to shift and their overall disposition would change, allowing them to better function through their day.  As a massage therapist, I get to see the dangerous negative effects of dehydration on our physical bodies.  I would like to see all schools in our division have a generous water policy allowing our children to have unlimited water during their day.   Please note that during the first few weeks, there will be more frequent bathroom breaks! It will have the same effect as heavy rain on dry soil… excessive run off (Smile!) But within a short time, our tissues start to absorb the water, and assimilate it better resulting in happier, healthier, more productive students.

So remember, Keep Calm & Drink More Water!

New Coordinator of Gifted Named in Middlesex

October 10, 2016

Middlesex County Public Schools is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Katie Brockel as Coordinator for Gifted Education. Ms. Brockel replaces Mrs. Kim Waite who left the position in late August for a job in the private education sector. “We are thrilled with this appointment,” commented MCPS Superintendent Dr. Peter Gretz. “Ms. Brockel has the experience and perspective to really enhance our team’s pursuit of deeper learning for all students.”

A native of Hanover County, Ms. Brockel earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from James Madison University before completing the Teacher Licensure Program at University of Richmond. While teaching elementary education in Mechanicsville, Ms. Brockel earned her Gifted and Talented Endorsement from the University of Virginia. Ms. Brockel taught in Hanover County Public Schools for twelve years, and she was serving as Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher at Mechanicsville Elementary School before accepting the position with Middlesex County Public Schools.


When asked about her vision for the future of gifted education in Middlesex County, Ms. Brockel said, “I am thrilled to be a part of such and amazing and distinguished team of educators in Middlesex County. I intend to continue to provide and support the teachers and students in our school with quality differentiated instruction. I believe it is our responsibility as educators to meet the needs of all students, and challenge is something to be embraced because through our challenges, we are able to grow.”

A Certified Google Educator with extensive knowledge in Google Apps for Education and SMARTboard technologies, Ms. Brockel currently resides in Northumberland County on the Great Wicomico River. She enjoys paddle boarding, surfing and relaxing on the beach with family, friends and her two rescue dogs, Maddie and Lincoln

The Social Media 411

October 10, 2016

Several weeks ago the MHS Varsity Charger football game against neighboring Lancaster High School was postponed due to safety reasons as the result of some disconcerting social media postings:  a huge dose of reality about the importance of the responsible use of social media for the relatively sheltered community of Middlesex County.

The sad truth is that no-one with a cell phone, tablet or computer is immune to the pitfalls of social media. This is even more so for teens where social media is an essential part of their lives, much in the same way that telephones were thirty years ago.

Sure there are good things about social media — staying connected with family & friends, sharing ideas & interacting with others who have similar interests, and stimulating creativity & imagination, but the flipside is that social media can be a hub for things like cyber bullying and questionable activities.  An active presence on social media presents many potential dangers that we want our children to avoid. Remember, children don’t always make the smartest choices when they post something to a site like Instagram or Snapchat, so it is really important for parents to teach their children how to use social media wisely.

Spending too much time on social media can be counterproductive and quite frankly depressing, too. Seeing how many “friends” others have and viewing pictures of them having fun or showing off their possessions, can make all of us feel worse about ourselves or feel we don’t measure up to our peers. If adults can get caught up these feelings of inferiority, imagine the toll they can take on a teenager’s fragile psyche.

Statistics show about 90% of teens have used some form of social media and 75% have a profile on a social networking site.  More than half of all American teens visit social networking sites every day. These numbers are way up from just a few years ago, and there’s almost no chance of them ever coming down again.

Take the time to teach your child that mean behavior is just as unacceptable in the virtual world as it is in the real world.  If a child sends a mean-spirited tweet as a joke, it could be very hurtful to someone else and even taken as a threat.  Make it clear that you expect your kids to treat others with respect and courtesy, and to never post hurtful or embarrassing messages about others.  Ask them to always tell you about any harassing or bullying messages that others may post.

Tell children to think twice before hitting ‘enter’ and remind them that “once it’s out there, you can’t get it back”.  Photos, videos, and comments made online usually can’t be taken back once they’re posted. Even after you think something has been deleted, it can be impossible to completely erase it from the Internet.  Posting an inappropriate photo can damage a child’s reputation in ways that may cause problems years later — such as when a potential employer or college admissions officer does a background check. They shouldn’t share anything on social media that they wouldn’t want their teachers, college admissions officers, future bosses — and yes, even grandmom — to see.

So, how can you drive these messages home?

As a parent, it’s important to be aware of what your children are doing online.  The key is to stay involved in a way that makes your children understand that you respect their privacy but want to make sure they are safe and using good judgment.

…And try setting a good example through your own virtual behavior!  This can go a long way toward helping your children use social media wisely.

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