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13 Reasons Why

By: Elise Banks, School Counselor, St. Mark's Episcopal School

Last week, I took the time to watch the hit series 13 Reasons Why. The show follows the life of a teenage girl who ultimately takes her life and leaves thirteen tapes to explain why she made this decision. I watched the show through two different lenses. As an adult and a therapist, I saw the show doing a wonderful job depicting real life issues teenagers are facing in this generation. However, I also watched through the lens of a middle school student, and I was left thinking “Woah…this is heavy…what just happened?”. You see, the show’s major themes include suicide, drug use, underage drinking, sexual assault, sexting, bullying, and extreme use of profanity. With the show’s target for a mature audience, and knowing some of our …

Posted by howarj in teens, St. Mark's Blog, courage, vulnerability on Tuesday May 16
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Strong Finish

By: Elise Banks, School Counselor, St. Mark's Episcopal School

With only 10 weeks left in the school year, some may say we are in “4th Quarter Game Mode”! We want to finish strong, but the fatigue starts to set in. Hopefully Spring Break helped give your student renewed strength to finish strong; however, I have listed a few ways to help your child get to the light at the end of the tunnel:

  1. Lead By Example
    Oftentimes, students adopt the attitude of the authority figure in their life. If they hear statements such as “I can’t wait until school is over and summer is here,” they will most likely view these last few weeks with a negative light. Instead, encourage your child to use the last part of the school year to do their very best, put extra effort in their school work, and obtain any …
Posted by howarj in parenting, St. Mark's Blog, courage, problem solving, leadership on Wednesday March 22
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Unconditional Positive Regard

By: Elise Banks, School Counselor, St. Mark's Episcopal School

Unconditional positive regard is the ability accept a person as they are without holding judgment. I pursue unconditional positive regard on a daily basis, both when working with students at St. Marks, and when working with clients in private practice. This task is easier said than done, but with practice it becomes one of the best ways to view people we come across in life. Our children deserve the opportunity to be accepted by us, the parents and authority figures in their lives, and treated fairly and positively with no strings attached. This ultimately fosters a healthy relationship that will set the tone for guiding the child in personal growth.

Therapists are not the only ones who use unconditional positive regard. Parents…

What is Boy World | Girl Word?

By: Elise Banks, School Counselor, St. Mark's Episcopal School

When I think back on my middle school experience, I have very fond memories. I went to a private school very similar to St. Mark’s. All the teachers knew my family and me; I had friends I had known since Pre-K, and I loved being the student-athlete who bounced around to different social circles.One of the experiences I missed out on was having a safe place to talk about any issues that surround adolescents. We had a school counselor, but she really should have been considered an academic support counselor. We could talk to our teachers about problems, but to be honest, we were at a college-preparatory school. Most of our conversations with teachers had to do with being academically successful. So I felt that the only outlets I …

Serving Others with the Holiday Blues

By: Elise Banks, School Counselor, St. Mark's Episcopal School

The weeks leading to the holidays can be stressful! The students are completing their school work while trying to stay as focused as they possibly can. Adults are wrapping up their time at work, while also listing the numerous duties that must be completed to make the holidays extra special. We are all running around preparing for time with family and friends and hoping that we will get some rest before we start the new year.

This was the case for me, a week ago, as I was preparing for another week of work, making travel arrangements for the holidays, while also listing how many holiday gifts I could buy online versus having to stand in a long line at the store. Taking a break, I sat down to relax and checked my Facebook. A …

Posted by howarj in parenting, praise, St. Mark's Blog, self-discipline, vulnerability, daring greatly, problem solving, leadership on Wednesday December 14, 2016 at 10:15AM
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Celebrate Your Child

By: Elise Banks, School Counselor, St. Mark's Episcopal School

The holidays are quickly approaching! Over the next few weeks, we will embark on celebrations that highlight traditions, different faiths and religions, while providing the opportunity to create more memories with our loved ones! At St. Mark’s we have the amazing privilege to celebrate every day. Our mission statement states that we “celebrate the uniqueness of each child,” and this phrase explains why I love the St. Mark’s community. At school, our goal is to focus on the strengths that every child has been given, create an atmosphere to limit or resolve weaknesses, and develop confidence and resilience for each student to possess. Just as our children are celebrated by faculty and staff, it is even more important for them to …

Posted by howarj in parenting, character, St. Mark's Blog on Tuesday November 15, 2016 at 01:30PM
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The Snowball Effect: You Make the Difference Here

By: Lou Ellen Stansell, Director of Development, St. Mark's Episcopal School

Donations to the St. Mark's Annual Fund are used for all the “value added” pieces of our school life, from facility improvements and professional development to new classroom resources like curriculum and technology. We are fortunate to have had multiple years of fundraising success both in dollars and participation.

We hope you know why the dollars are important. Approximately 5% of the school’s budget is from fundraising dollars. But why is participation important?

  • When considering their own support, some foundations and corporations scrutinize the percentage of parents who support their own community. (It makes sense, right? They want to be sure we are doing all we can, before they step in to help us.)
  • Annual …
Posted by howarj in Annual Fund on Thursday November 10, 2016 at 03:38PM
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How Volunteering Affects Our Mental Perspective

By: Elise Banks, School Counselor, St. Mark's Episcopal School

When I work with patients, students, and their families, one of the assignments I often give is to volunteer in their community. The typical response is a comment or a facial expression as to how volunteering can help in a personal or family crisis. Although the act of volunteerism will most likely not solve the issues my patients came to me for, it is interesting to see how their perspective on their issues change.I am a firm believer that in order for me to suggest an idea to a client, I must be willing to do it myself. So when I was offered the opportunity to travel to South Africa to volunteer earlier this month, I jumped at the chance!

Traveling to South Africa, a place that has been on my bucket list for some time, brought …

Posted by howarj in parenting, character, self-discipline, courage, daring greatly, leadership on Tuesday September 13, 2016 at 04:44PM
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Tag: parenting

Mental Health Month

By: Elise Banks, School Counselor, St. Mark's Episcopal School

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I find that it is important to not only help those who are in crisis, but also advocate for mental health, as there are many who are not aware of the symptoms and warning signs of different mental illnesses.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 1 in 5 children have, or will have, a mental illness. Eleven percent of youth have a mood disorder, 10% have a behavior or conduct disorder, and 8% have an anxiety disorder. These statistics are not meant to scare you, but to bring awareness to some of the issues our little ones face. Unfortunately, it takes an average of 8-10 years between the onset of symptoms and the initiation of an …

8th Grade Washington DC Trip Updates

By: Garhett Wagers, Headmaster, St. Mark's Episcopal School

Day One: Washington DC

The 8th grade trip had a great first day, making the most of our time in DC. After starting at the Marine Memorial we headed to Washington National Cathedral in the morning. We hit the Old Ebbit Grill for lunch then on for our class photo at Grant's Memorial with a view of the Capitol. From there we headed to The Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and on to Arlington National Cemetery where we saw the Kennedy Grave site and observed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

We had dinner at Clyde's of Georgetown and while boarding our bus we were chased down by the manager. When he caught us he said, "This was and incredible group of kids, and all the servers agreed and commented on it to…

Posted by howarj in St. Mark's Blog, St. Mark's Headmaster Blog, courage on Thursday April 21, 2016
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