- Child Development
- Health and Wellness
- The Aspen Difference
Together we are Stronger; Together we are Safer
As we are nearing the end of the first full month of school, it is important for all of us to reflect on the month of September and to look forward to the month of October as our beloved students continue to demonstrate their passion, wonder and curiosity here at Aspen Academy. The safety and well-being of our entire student body remains an absolute priority and stands as the primary reason that we offer continuing education and professional development to students, parents and teachers alike in these areas. September 2019 marked the annual recognition of National Suicide Prevention and Awareness month and October 2019 will mark the annual recognition of National Bullying Prevention month which began in 2006. Please take a moment to click on the various resources offered in this blog for additional information.
Aspen Academy students learn, from their very first day of enrollment, that we have one overarching rule: Be Kind. In the Spring of the 2018-19 school year, the Aspen Academy community was reminded by guest presenter Rosalind Wiseman that “it takes a village” to provide for the many young lives that we have in our care. By equipping our students to recognize the importance and power of being kind to one another and to themselves, and through the development of an increased awareness of the skills, tools and strategies that we as caring adults can model for our young people, we are increasing our capacity as an education community to be stronger and safer for one another.
We increase our capacity as a school community for caring observation by raising our awareness to the signs and behaviors that our students may exhibit when they are feeling alone and/or hopeless to find the help that they need, and by remaining vigilant in recognizing when bullying behavior might be the culprit or precursor to such feelings, we increase our capacity for care. We exponentially increase our capacity for care when our students, parents and educators are informed and have access to the resources that teach us how to recognize and support such students in need. In essence, the more eyes and ears that we have directed toward the health and wellness of others, the more we will be equipped to effectively guide our children to the appropriate places for help.
There is no doubt that our young students are facing great challenges in socialization in schools today and we see this on a national scale. Adolescence can already be an inherently challenging time as students strive to navigate through the web of developmental “distractions” that come their way. Challenges ranging from self-awareness, self-confidence and establishing one’s individuality, to creating healthy peer and family relationships, understanding the value of trust and growing into a mature and responsible young adult, can all be rather difficult developmental milestones. In fact, these natural challenges can become even greater as students find themselves inundated with the abundance of (not always healthy) perspectives, information and access that social media has added to the mix; broadening the reach of these challenges to even be felt on a global scale.
Although there are a multitude of contributing factors to our students experiencing both bullying and feelings of isolation that may lead to self-harm ideation, one common thread that can be seen in both is the misappropriated use of social media by young children. More specifically, we can help by familiarizing ourselves with various social media platforms such as Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram to name a few, and growing in our understanding of the impact that social media can potentially have on bullying, self-confidence and a feeling of isolation as one significant factor if not regulated appropriately. In fact, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) deems it illegal for children under the age of 13 to use many social media platforms. As such, we can support our young learners by both modeling and providing a safe and nurturing environment that promotes healthy and appropriate risk taking along their personal growth journey. We can assist our children by increasing their personal awareness and confidence in a variety of areas as we learn alongside them.
Thank you as always for your invitation to partner with you in the formation of your children and their personal growth and development here at Aspen Academy. With kindness as our number one rule, together we can all become stronger and safer. Please find below some additional resources for you to review in the areas of suicide prevention, bullying prevention and additional support for our students.
Suicide Prevention Resources:
The Toolbox Learning Series
Suicide Risk Information - National Alliance on Mental Illness
Safe to Tell - Colorado Suicide Report Line
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Click here for more information and resources from ELEVATE Student Services.
About the Author
Jessie Skipwith is the Student Success Coach at Aspen Academy.
Jessie comes to Aspen Academy with over 20 years of experience in educational leadership and student engagement. He has held head of school positions at elementary, middle and high schools, ran an all-school counseling department, provided private practice counseling services for families and individuals, and has served as the executive director of an education non-profit supporting low-income, English language learners from throughout the greater Denver area. He is a voracious reader of books about how students learn, how families and communities support developing young people, as well as books on progressive, innovative and dynamic new solutions to many of today’s life challenges. Jessie loves that Aspen Academy provides families and students with a small, nurturing and safe environment that encourages students to take healthy risks, to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, and that it inspires insatiable curiosity and wonder in students as they pursue their passions to help make the world a better place to live for all people. Outside of work, he loves to spend time with his wife and two children and enjoying Colorado’s great outdoors while hiking, golfing or skiing.