The Suite Life

By the Student Services Team
Student Services
May 15, 2020

Welcome to Issue #3 of our Virtual Suite Newsletter

Weekly Focus:  Motivation

Thank you to those students who participated in the motivation survey!  We hope that your responses below will help your fellow TJ students as we navigate our new circumstances and keep motivated to Distance Learn and grow in other ways while staying safe at home.

Question #1: On a  scale of 1 to 10, rate your level of motivation; 1 being difficult to get motivated and 10 being easy to get motivated: 19/82 students chose an 8 on the scale.

Question #2: If you have been exercising, describe the exercising that has helped you feel energized.

  • I have noticed that I am a lot more energized when my team exercises together over Zoom, rather than when I exercise alone. 
  • I have been lifting weights and playing basketball.
  • I've been biking and walking more - just exploring new and exciting places and finding and making new paths has been my motivation.
  • Every day my mom and I do around half an hour of exercises. We'll alternate between days, so one day will be full body workouts, another will be yoga, or cardio, etc.
  • I’ve been using a website called CityStrides to try and run all the streets in the town I live in as well as doing some rowing inside when it’s not so nice out.

Question #3: Describe your organization and time management methods that help you to balance school-work and personal life.

  • Dedicate specific days for different subjects (math on Friday, history on Saturday, etc).   All work has to be finished between noon and five o’clock.
  • To do lists.
  • I discovered that I am more likely to work efficiently if I decide what tasks to complete each day, rather than decide how many hours I would spend on work.
  • I prioritize finishing schoolwork before leisure, keeping me on track.
  • I keep a list of all current assignments on-line and check them off as I go. I also write down some goals/assignments to do for the day, which I also check off during the day. I keep all my work in one space, so that if I’m ever in a productive mood, I do it in that space, so my mind associates that space with doing work. 

Question #4: Describe the schedule that you have created to stay on track with your schoolwork.

  • Work for 30 minutes, take a break for 5 minutes.
  • I work out as soon as I wake up, then shower, eat, do homework and take little breaks throughout the work time.  After dinner, I’m free and watch Netflix. 
  • I have still been using my planner in order to track assignments and due dates.
  • I try to get up at a reasonable time every day, and then I change into something other than pajamas (I think it helps me focus). I spend the rest of the day following the to-do list that I write out and try to take care of at least 2 or 3 "urgent" tasks. In the afternoon, I have an alarm to remind me to get out of my chair and go exercise.

Question #5: Describe what helps you to get through the day.

  • Knowing that once I do something productive, I’ll be able to relax and do the things I enjoy.
  • I tell myself that everything I'm doing now is going to help me in the future. If I work hard now, next year will be a lot easier, as opposed to not doing any work now and having to catch up next year.
  • Music has given me something to work on, listen to, and think about.
  • Giving myself some time to socialize with friends, watching shows while I work out, practicing trumpet, art.
  • Ambient sounds! Music doesn't work for me as it does for a lot of other people, but ambient sounds really help with getting myself into a study mood. Also, lots of breaks for snacks. That helps too. Sometimes calling up a friend and not talking - just kind of chilling on our separate ends, doing our own work - helps too. It feels like there's someone there to hold me accountable.
  • Spending time with my family after we are all finished with school and work.

Question #6: What are you looking forward to the most when we return to the school building?

  • Meeting my teachers! I didn’t realize how big of an impact they had on me and my well-being until this time.
  • Being able to make lasting memories during my senior year while I can hang out with my friends in person!
  • My engineering classes aren't really the same over online school. I miss going into the Proto and Energy Systems labs.
  • Seeing my brilliant friends in person. Neither talking on video chat nor texting can replace real-life interaction. I miss the spontaneous conversations we had in class just because we were near each other about the little things. It's harder to recreate those conversations because small things don't seem worth reaching out over or interesting enough. Also, I miss being in the labs and classrooms with everyone. We have a beautiful school that kept me inspired and grateful even in the most difficult of days.
decorative line

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

Ms. Smith:  Recreating old family photos with family members in other locations via WhatsApp. 

Ms. Ketchem:  Activating a sourdough starter and feeding it, watching it grow, and trying new recipes.  If you like chemistry and baking, a starter might be a great activity for you.  The awesome local Great Harvest bakeries have flour in stock.  the word sweet

Dr. Barkat: Walking!

Ms. McAleer:  Watching fun videos like this!

Ms. Phelps:  Watching reruns of the reality series Below Deck.  I imagine myself on the yacht, taking in the beautiful scenery, swimming, eating and laughing with my friends and family.

Ms. Martinez: Remaining thankful that everyone I’ve communicated with (family/friends/students/families) are practicing social distancing and remaining healthy.  Getting up later each morning since my commute to work to my computer in the family room is much shorter than my normal commute to TJHSST!

decorative line


Parent Information | Distance Learning Support

Helping your teen cope with the quarantine  

This probably comes as no surprise to parents, but teens are social and action-oriented creatures, and many are having a difficult time coping graciously with all the demands of living during  quarantine. Sometimes they get angry and lash out and may be cycling between acceptance and fury. They have lost their sense of control; they are bored; they are spending so much time on screens.

How can you help them process their complicated emotions? Clinical psychologist and founder of PositiviTeens Sherry Kelly,  who was interviewed in Melissa Hart’s Washington Post article about coping during quarantine, suggests the following exercises:

  • Draw an iceberg and write the words that reflect their anger below the surface of the water. For example: fear, grief, mourning and loss, frustration, feeling powerless, lack of control, invalidation, worry, helplessness, feeling disrespected or tricked, overwhelmed and hurt. 
  • Goals and achievements, they have worked years to attain are now cancelled or postponed. Help them generate a list of the parts of life they can’t control and those they can. They can’t control the pandemic, the weather, not being in school, homework, but if they focus on what they can control and what they believe about themselves, they will feel more in control of their emotions and their life and will ultimately feel more positive.
  • If they don’t want to commit to processing on paper, have them think about specific ways they can be helpful to gain a sense of purpose, self-worth and make them kinder to everyone around them. Delivering groceries to elderly neighbors or other helpful acts of kindness.
  • Giving your students some autonomy will make them feel empowered whether it involves choosing the family meal at night, the family movie, the game for game night which will result in less screen time, more physical activity and improved mood.

In this time of crisis, we can model positive coping behaviors for our teens that will last a lifetime.  

The FCPS Parent Resource Center has more information including: 

FCPS Transition Services is providing two virtual webinars for students with IEP's and their parents.  Registration closes on May 25, 2020.


Questions?  Reach out to us in the Suite.

This newsletter 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.