Dear SKS Parents,

We have settled into a good routine during our first full week back to school, as I hope you have at home. I think the messages below are important.  The rest of my blogs for the year will be much shorter (relatively).  I appreciate you taking the time to review school communications.

                                                              Back to School Nights

Thanks so much for joining Msgr. Brouwers, the teachers, Home & School, and me at the BTSN’s.  The BTSN’s are important each year to begin the partnership with your teacher(s) and the school. Great schools are a place where teachers and parents form a team and work together for the good of each child.

I only speak at the KG-1 night but I have firm beliefs in what is important to us as co-educators and what makes our school successful as we start a new year.  It is expressed clearly below. I hope you take the time to read it. Thank you.

                                                       Faith Journey – It starts across the street

Everything we do here starts with our faith. Parents and teachers model that faith through their words and actions. Modeling our faith is one of the best ways for children to learn. Christ is our lead teacher.  Your child’s faith journey is the main reason for this school. We want to educate the whole child and that starts spiritually teaching about a personal relationship with Jesus. If you can, come to the school masses and invite any grandparents. I can assure you that you will leave with your hearts, minds, and souls filled with joy and peace.

                  Importance of Meet and Greet (aka “Give me Five and Two.”) and Good Manners

We are big on the idea of Meet & Greet at SKS. It is an important life skill they can carry with them the rest of their lives.  You may have seen me at school working with students of all ages reinforcing the idea of Five and Two – five fingers and two eyes – a firm handshake, a smile, and a friendly greeting as in: “Hi, good morning, how are you doing today?”  If it is someone we are meeting for the first time, we introduce ourselves with our name and continue the conversation. This is all a part of being a welcoming community. Teach your children this skill. While you are it, do a Polite Manners Inventory Check as a family. Is there a steady dose of “Please, Thank you, Excuse Me, I’m Sorry, and You’re Welcome” at your house?  In a busy world, I am seeing fewer instances of good manners. The world is not that busy to ignore being mannerly.  Good manners is another important life skill and part of teaching the whole child.

                                     Welcome New Families – Each Year is a New Beginning

Every year is a new beginning, a fresh start for every school and every student. To those that are here for the first time, if your child (and you) feel nervous and anxious about the start of school and a new situation, those feelings are all very normal. We are here to help you through that transition phase. Your child is in very good hands with our teachers.

                                         Volunteerism Welcomed – with clearances!

We count on volunteerism here at SKS. Some schools won’t let you through the front door. We are not one of those schools. Please remember you need your clearances to volunteer. Please refer to the Safe Environment information under the Parent tab on Want to go on your child’s field trip?  Get your clearances.

                                                                  Stay Connected

We are a busy school! Stay in the loop with our communication by way of: School website, school calendar, emails from Anne C., Home & School communications, emails and blogs from teachers and me, and Option C (for grades and lunch ordering only). Parents in the know around here read what is sent to them.

                                             Routines: “Plan the work; work the plan.”

The more you plan and stay ahead of things, the better for you and your child. Establish routines and make your child contribute to those routines. For example, teach your child to get their uniform ready the night before. Please have them be a part of your family by assigning them chores.

                                               Say to Them: “It’s not always about you.”

Kids are smart. They know how to play parents and guilt them, the same way we did to our parents. Don’t fall for it. It’s not always about them. Get them to understand that they are a part of a larger group, such as your family, a classroom, a team or group activity, a school, and a community. In all these things, the group comes before the individual. Thus the quote: “It’s not always about you.  It can be about them on their birthday.  However, the other 364 days of the year it’s about what they can do to contribute to the good of the group.  Use this quote on them, parents.  It will start to sink in. Explain to them what you mean by it.  Get them to see how important it is to be a part of something that is bigger and more important than any individual.

                                                               Communication is vital

Communication between parent and teacher is vital for the partnership. Please use email for day to day details. When there is a conflict or concern, our policy is to contact the teacher first, not me.  Bypassing the teacher breaks down the trusting relationship you need to have with your child’s teacher. Look at problems or concerns as opportunities waiting for a solution.

For a recurring issue, tough situation, or if you need help or advice, avoid lengthy emails. It’s best to discuss voice to voice, or ask for a face to face meeting. Before you react to any situation, make sure you hear all sides of a story first.  Kids can be “street smart” and “play” us against each other. When students know parents and teachers are on the same page, the same team, there is usually a good resolution to any problem. We are a community of problem solvers, not finger pointers.

                                                              Advocating Vs. Enabling

Parenting, like teaching, is a complete balancing act.  It’s about nurturing and supporting, but not doing everything for them. Their lives need not be perfect. They shouldn’t be. Our lives are aren’t, right? They should experience their fair share of success and also experience some failure. If they do not experience failure how will they know how to handle it when it eventually comes and you are not there to pick them up?  Read any article about helicopter and snowplow parenting. This is not how you want to raise your children.  When to get involved and when not to get involved is a tough call.  Promote responsibility, foster independence, have your child take ownership for their education.  Advocate as needed, but try to let them be their own problem solvers. A parent who tries to fix every issue that comes down the road is enabling, and not helping their child.

Remember: “Sometimes the best thing you can do, is not do for your child.”  Also, avoid screaming and shouting matches with your child. They are counterproductive. Which leads to the next point, which is……

                                                                       Natural Consequences

Teach natural consequences: If A, then B.

* Example: If you do not do your homework and study for the test, then you probably should expect a poor grade.

* Example: If you do not get up in time for school, you can expect a penalty if you are late for school and loss of a privilege at home too.

* Example: If you do not clean up your room by 4 pm today, going to the dance tonight is not a possibility.

* Example: If your phone (or any technology device) is misused in any way, then you can expect a loss of privileges.

Make every effort to keep calm and matter of fact about things. They can get upset and act out, but you should remain calm and steadfast with natural consequences.

                                                   Teach Being an Upstander; not a Bystander

Teach students to be Upstanders, not Bystanders, to stand up for themselves and others too.  “See something; say something” is the Upstander’s Pledge.

Grades 5-8 sign the SKS Upstanders Pledge. In grades KG-4, the teachers make them aware of the concept.

Teach them to assert themselves by using “I statements…”


Student A has hurtful words for Student B:

Student B advocates and stands up for him/herself:

“I am really hurt and upset about how you embarrassed me at the lunch table today, and I don’t want that to ever happen again. Do you understand?”

If the situation doesn’t improve then the student needs to inform a trusted adult. Besides standing up for themselves, teach them they are expected to stand up for others in situations where others cannot stand for themselves. Give them examples of these situations such as a student who is shut out from playing a game in the schoolyard, alone at the lunch table, or has had mean words said to them by a peer.

                        Modeling Behavior and “Do the Right Thing Because It’s the Right Thing to Do.”

St. Francis Assisi said it best: “Preach the gospel; if necessary use words. Words are important, actions define us, and great leaders inspire the actions of others. For more on this watch this following video I showed the faculty on Leadership.  It’s one of the best videos I have seen on leadership.

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action | TED Talk

                                                    Praise Effort, not Intelligence

Praise a child’s effort, not their ability.


Don’t say: “You are so smart.”

Do say:      “You worked really hard on that project, I see the time you put into it. I am proud of you for your hard work.”

Failure with our best effort is absolutely acceptable. Failure without trying or being prepared is not. Either way they have to learn to pick up the pieces and move forward. As they get older, do not keep bailing them out. You are enabling and they won’t learn.

                                              “Fall down seven times; get up eight.”

Teach your child the importance of resiliency.

                                                                      Safe Place

Students need to feel they are “safe” before they can learn. They need to feel safe, physically, emotionally and socially. If your child is not feeling safe in any way please contact your child’s teacher.

                                                             Play by the Rules

It helps us to run a good, tight ship when we have families play fair and follow the rules.  There are good reasons for any rules we have here. Two prime examples would be:

  1. Following the rules in car line. Be respectful to our neighbors and to each other

So please, no butting in line and please don’t block or use our neighbors’ driveways on Midland Ave.

  1. The No pick up your child rule at the front desk after 2:30 PM rule. If you need to get your child early from school for any reason, please make sure it is before 2:30 pm. Any time after that is chaotic as we try to prepare for the dismissal of numerous buses, sports teams and walkers, and carline.

We expect our students to follow the rules here at school. We wouldn’t expect anything less from parents.

                                                      Acceptance, Inclusion, Empathy

Please support inclusion outside of school in social activities. Teach and model acceptance, not just tolerance (I am not a big fan of the word tolerate). Acceptance and inclusion is everything to a child, whether they are in KG or 8th grade. If you are planning a birthday party for your child and you invite just a handful of children, that’s absolutely fine.  However, if you plan a birthday party or social event and invite a majority of the class and a few students are left out, it is very hurtful to those children and families. I cringe when I hear stories of families who are not sensitive to the feelings of others. Common sense, empathy, and compassion go a long way in those situations. Adults modeling inclusion is essential. Your children will follow your lead.  They will learn empathy and compassion by our example.

                                                          We’ll All Make Mistakes

This school year there will be bumps along the way.  Principals, teachers, and parents are human.  We will make mistakes – some little and some big ones at times. Students will make mistakes. This is how they learn. How we handle the bumps, and any adversity we meet, says everything about who we are.  Please use email for little things, but for any serious stuff go to the teacher first (not me). Express your concerns honestly and problem solve the situation. Bad school cultures blame and point fingers. Good school cultures promote communication, identifying the problem and then problem solve. So when a mistake is made we preach the following:

* Own it –take responsibility for your actions

* Accept the consequences for any wrong doing

* Make the situation better, is an apology /restitution needed?

* Learn from it.

* Move forward

                                                    Students Advocating for Themselves

Teach your child to be an advocate for themselves in school.  Constantly reinforce that they are responsible for their education. You are there to support, not do for them. It is their science fair project, not yours! The sooner they learn this, the better. Help foster their responsibility, accountability and independence. They need to advocate for themselves as students. When they don’t understand a concept, do poorly on a test, don’t understand the instructions on a homework assignment rubric or project, teach them that asking for help is a sign of strength.

                                           Get a Handle on your Child’s Use of Technology

Get a handle on their technological world NOW before it’s out of control. Take it away at night always and check it always. You are in control, not them.  Be aware of our more restrictive cell phone policy and the penalties. It’s two strikes and they are out! See the parent/student handbook about that. Remember every parent should collect every child’s cell phone at night before they go to bed.  I am a firm believer if you don’t, you are kidding yourself.  Also, at any social gathering with your child’s friend at your house, I strongly suggest you collect their cell phones and return them to each child upon pick up. These two proactive steps will prevent a lot of issues. And if every parent is on board here, you have a Culture of Consistency, so kids cannot point fingers and say: “Well Mr. and Mrs. Milktoast always let us keep our phones …..” At school, we constantly refer to the student’s digital footprint.  You should refer to it at home as well.  What does their digital footprint look like? Is it something that their parents or grandparents would be proud to look at?  What are they texting –what kind of language are they using?  What are they posting on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat? Is what they are viewing appropriate? Are they videoing someone with their approval?  Is what they are videoing appropriate? Will it make them and you proud?


I hope you have found this helpful. You can lean on the teachers and me for support during your child’s journey. We care. Thanks for entrusting your child to us. Know that we will count on your support.  It is an honor and a pleasure to work with you for the betterment of each child that graces the hallways of SKS.

Take care,