MJHS Counseling Newsletter - Fall

published by Danielle VanMeenen

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Morton Junior High School Counseling Newsletter 

Fall Edition 2018-2019

Meet the Counselors

Beth Spaniol
School Counselor

Focus on Academic Needs

It’s a great day to be a Junior Potter! This is my 20th year as a school counselor at Morton Junior High. My goal is to help every student succeed academically, socially, and personally through the middle years.  I graduated from Illinois State University with a Masters In Education specializing in school counseling. I enjoy spending time with my family and exploring the great outdoors.

Danielle VanMeenen
School Counselor

Focus on Social-Emotional Needs

This is my first year in the district and I am excited to be a part of the Potter family! After graduating from Augustana College, I moved to central IL to begin my career in education teaching social studies at the junior high level. While teaching, I earned a master's degree from St. Xavier University in teacher leadership and another in school counseling from Bradley University. I am excited to bring 11 years of classroom experience working with junior high students to this new role. My hope is to equip students with the skills they need to successfully navigate future challenges while empowering them to seize opportunities so that their full potential can be achieved.

[email protected]  •  (309)-284-5065

[email protected]  •  (309)-284-5050

•2nd Quarter Midterm will be on November 16th 

•End of the 1st Semester will be on December 21st 

Honor Roll

Academic Spotlight

All subjects will be calculated in GPA (grade point average) for Honor Roll.  A 3.5 or higher GPA for a quarter will place a student on the Honor Roll. In order to calculate a student’s GPA, individual class grades are given a number value based on 4.0 point scale.  All classes are added up and then divided by the total number of classes. 

Congratulations to all of the MJHS students who made the Honor Roll 1st quarter - Keep up the good work, Potters!

Career Pathways

On Wednesday, October 24th, all 8th grade students were invited to join the 2nd Annual Greater Peoria CareerSpark Expo. Through exploring interactive, hands-on exhibits in 8 different career clusters, this event was intended to help spark students' interest in the exciting careers available to them in the Greater Peoria region.

1. Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, and Logistics

2. Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources 3. Architecture, Engineering, and Construction 4. Business and Finance 5. Government, Law, and Public Safety 6. Health and Life Sciences 7. Hospitality and Tourism
8. Arts, Technology, and Communication

Industries Represented

Scan to view images of MJHS students at the Career Spark event!

Navigating the Middle Years

Getting your child to communicate with you may just be a matter of finding the right time and place. Try a different setting, such as in the car on the way to soccer practice or while taking a walk around the block. They may open up more than they would if you were just staring at each other. Also, listen for openings that they give you. If they mention a topic they are interested in or bring up something funny that happened in school, be ready to listen and follow from that lead.

Connect with Your Teen

Set the stage for better interactions—and a better relationship—by treating your tween with respect. When you chat, put away distractions like your phone, and look them in the eye. Speak nicely, avoiding sarcasm or negative language, and they will be more likely to respond in a positive way. A good rule of thumb: Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want someone else to say to them.

Model Respect

Make a plan to ensure civil discussions with your tween. For instance, you might say that each person should be able to speak without being interrupted. Or set ground rules about no put-downs or yelling. Also, try to use "I" messages so no one feels attacked. You could say to them, “I feel worried when you don’t come straight home from school,” instead of “You never follow my rules!” Then, to avoid recycling old fights, only bring up past issues if they relate to the matter at hand.

Agree on Guidelines

Adopted from Middle Years, Resources for Educators, a division of CCH Incorporated, 2017

Common Questions

     It’s normal for adolescents to feel stressed from time to time about school, friends, or growing up. It is important to point out to them that this is a normal emotion to feel once in a while.  No emotion is “bad”, rather we should recognize our emotions as pointing out something that may need attention. For example, if a student gets anxious for a test, this emotion may be pointing to the reality that they need to spend more time preparing in advance. Or if your child is anxious around their friends, that could be signal that their friends are too judgmental or engaging in behaviors that would be best to be avoided.   But if they’re excessively anxious for long periods of time and miss out on activities because of it, that may signal a bigger problem. Anxiety disorder symptoms include worrying persistently for weeks or months, trouble sleeping, frequent headaches or stomachaches, and avoiding school or friends. If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, contact your pediatrician. They can refer you to a specialist if necessary.

Several of my friends and neighbors have mentioned that their kids have anxiety. My child gets stressed out sometimes— could they be suffering from anxiety, too?



Adopted from Middle Years, Resources for Educators, a division of CCH Incorporated, 2017

Teens and Technology

Determining how much screen time to allow your teen to have can be difficult. Devices are used for so many things including academics, connecting with peers, and, of course, gaming. Given the diversity of usage, it can be difficult to impose a screen time limit. Fortunately for Apple users, the iOS 12 update provides parents and teens with tools to help monitor usage so that healthy decisions can be made. This update has been made available on the student iPads. Check out the resources below for more information on this topic. 

Screen Time

Scan the QR code to check out this article from Common Sense Media

Article: What Apple's iOS 12 Parental Controls Mean for You

Adopted from, Parenting, Media and Everything In Between, 2018

Video: Don Sturm on Screen Time Restrictions

Hear from our district's technology integration specialist in this video


Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Others look like USB flash drives or pens and can be hidden inside other everyday items. 

Adopted from, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018

•The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults.

•Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.

•E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.

•Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.

Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Teens

Learn more facts from the CDC about how E-cigarettes affect teens by scanning the code below

"Ask yourself if what you're doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow"


Final Thoughts