The Suite Life

By the TJHSST Student Services Team
Student Services
December 18, 2020

Happy Winter Break and greetings from The Suite Life!  This week's Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lesson focuses on the SEL core competency of Social Awareness.  The Social Awareness competency includes understanding and showing empathy for people from all backgrounds and cultures, and those with varying perspectives. The topic of discussion during homeroom is Empathy.  

What is Empathy?

University of California at Berkeley's Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life defines empathy in this way:  “The term empathy is used to describe a wide range of experiences. Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.”  

One of the most common obstacles to understanding empathy and empathic relationships is that effective listening is difficult, and often individuals don’t listen to one another in conversation. Part of being an effective communicator, one of the FCPS Portrait of a Graduate skills, is employing active listening strategies to advance understanding. Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers designed the HEAR strategy to help students recognize this and devote their attention to listening to one another. The strategy consists of these steps:

  • Halt: Stop whatever else you are doing, end your internal dialogue on other thoughts, and free your mind to give the speaker your attention.
  • Engage: Focus on the speaker. They suggest a physical component, such as turning your head slightly so that your right ear is toward the speaker as a reminder to be engaged solely in listening.
  • Anticipate: By looking forward to what the speaker has to say, you are acknowledging that you will likely learn something new and interesting, which will enhance your motivation to listen.
  • Replay: Think about what the speaker is saying. Analyze and paraphrase it in your mind or in discussion with the speaker and other classmates. Replaying and dialoguing the information you have heard will aid in understanding what the speaker is attempting to convey.

Source: Edutopia,  HEAR Strategy  | Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers colored people and let's talk motto

December 18, 2020 SEL Dinner table conversation starters:

  1. Share a time you noticed someone was struggling and no one said or did anything to help. If given a re-do, what would you say or do, and how do you think the two of you would feel afterward?
  2. Are you an empathetic listener?  

Family Resources: 

The entire TJHSST Student Services team wishes you and your families a restful, safe, and peaceful Winter Break!  We'll be back in January with more Suite Life lessons and updates!


Timely Topic | Togetherness

We’ve all been together with our families, for better or worse, much more than normal during this very strange year. We’ve all had to find new, creative ways to communicate with each other after so much time in the same space. With Winter Break upon us and normal holiday plans changing, your family may be wondering “how do we make our time more positive?” The Safe Community Coalition Initiative (SCC) has put together several useful videos and help make your holidays more restful and joyful.

These short videos called Managing the Moments are produced by the psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers of the SCC’s mental health committee. Topics selected reflect what they are seeing both in their private practices and on the homefront. The videos include:

  • Coping With the Holidays | How to make the most of an unprecedented holiday season
  • Anxiety in School | An honest look at teenage anxiety straight from a teen being interviewed by his mother
  • Daily Prescription to Cope with Covid | Focusing on ways to nurture yourself 

All videos and accompanying tip sheets are free and available on the SCC website,

What's making life sweet this week in Student Services?

We've been swapping recipes these days here in our virtual Suite!  

Reindeer treat pictureMs. Hamblin:  I’ve enjoyed these adorable reindeer treats, as well as my favorite almost-healthy holiday snack, the famous Milk Bar®  rosemary nuts

Ms. Ketchem: My family and I have made this Chocolate Chip Cranberry Bread recipe several times over the last few weeks. It always disappears immediately. Super easy and delicious! My adjustments: use ½ cake flour and ½ all purpose flour, use both milk and white chocolate chips, and add a tablespoon of vanilla. I usually make it without the streusel topping and it’s great!

Ms. Wolf:  Simple, easy olive bread recipe!  Try some variations with fresh rosemary or sun dried tomatoes too! 

Ms. Phelps:  I looked forward to my grandmother’s sugar cookies during Christmas.  I have a huge extended family so she made a lot of cookies because they would disappear fast!



Community Resources

Sometimes the help we seek is related to mental wellness, for ourselves, a friend, or family member. If you or a friend are experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact one of the following for immediate support:

CrisisLink Regional Hotline: 703-527-4077  | CrisisText:  Text NEEDHELP to 85511

Mobile Crisis Unit: 703-573-5679

  • The Mobile Crisis Unit (MCU) is an emergency mental health program of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board that provides on-scene evaluation, treatment and crisis intervention in the community. MCU operates from 8 a.m. to midnight. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE

Call 911 in case of a life threatening emergency; TTY dial 711

FCPS Student Safety and Wellness   | Student Wellness Resources in FCPS

How to reach your counselor and the Student Services team?  Click here for all contacts:  Student Services 

This document contains links to one or more web pages that are outside the FCPS network.  Neither FCPS nor TJHSST controls the content or relevancy of these outside pages.

**External opportunities may utilize an online technology, or video and web conferencing tool that has not been assessed or approved for use in FCPS by the FCPS Department of Information Technology.  Students should gain permission from their parent/guardian before engaging in any non-FCPS enrichment opportunity.  Families should review and agree to the Terms of Service and User Agreements for any technology platform used to facilitate these opportunities.