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StMM Guidance Schedule

March 15, 2019
By Mrs. Nikki Curliss

Throughout the year, our Guidance Counselor creates guidance lessons to help students academically, socially and personally. Through classroom lessons, the students gain a greater understanding of self-awareness and showing respect for self and others.

To help our kindergarten students with listening skills and following the rules, the students read the book, Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen and discussed the importance of being a good listener. It’s important to listen to keep up in school and to follow rules so one doesn’t get hurt. Another time, the students read the book, The Little Engine That Could,  The students thought about what they can focus on and work hard on at school. They learned the importance of perseverance and not giving up.

First grade learned about what qualities make a good friend and how to be one. After we talked about what a friend looks like, the students created friendship bracelets to remind them about the lesson.

Students in first - third grade learned about conflict management. The students watched the Kelso video series, which are short videos portraying children with small problems. The children then discussed how to handle the conflicts in the video. The students processed the small problems and talked about how to best handle the conflicts from the Kelso good choice wheel of options. Some options are; tell the person to stop, walk away, take turns, talk it out, etc.

The third grade learned about kindness by listening to a reading of Have you Filled a Bucket Today? Afterwards, the students discussed  being kind to others and filling someone else's bucket as well as your own. The students gave examples of what they do to help others, which in return, fills their own bucket. They came up with as simple tasks as holding the door open for someone, smiling at a classmate, and following directions in class.

Students in fourth and fifth grade learned about work habits and being organized. The students were led in discussions on “what do I want to do vs. what do I need to do?”. The students discussed how to handle conflicts within themselves and learn to prioritize and make time to do things they want to do.

To help our middle school students reach their potential and be successful, the students had a conversation and lesson on Learning Styles. The students took a questionnaire to find out if they were an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner. The goal was to help give examples of different ways of learning that will help each individual student.

Technology Safety is an important topic to discuss with students in fifth-eighth. The students were engaged in an interactive survey using Kahoot. The students answered questions and had to think how to best handle situations if someone was trying to contact them or if someone was cyberbullying someone. The students learned how to protect their digital footprint.

To further help our students socially and personally, the school community participated in the Sandy Hook Promise program; Start with Hello!. StMM is a registered school with the national program and we have been an innovative school leading the discussion in the Raleigh Diocese.  This year, some 8th graders were chosen to help facilitate the program. The 8th grade students were trained on the program and helped model social cues through icebreaker activities. The program is designed to reach out to others, teach empathy and how it simply starts with “hello”.

Nikki Curliss, Guidance Counselor, has been at StMM for 8 years. She enjoys spending time helping students one-on-one and with whole classroom lessons. 


January 15, 2019
By Mrs. Nikki Curliss

January is a month of new year's resolutions, making promises to improve ourselves, and organizing our lives. To some people that might mean eating healthier, drinking more water,  or spending less time on your device. This is also the perfect time to set some goals. Academically, students set goals to improve their overall grade or a grade in a specific class. Personally and socially, students can set goals to put them on a leadership track. .

Some examples of learning how to be a leader are found in the online Forbes article: “Ten Ways Parents Can Teach Their Children to be Leaders”

Students learn about leadership by trying out sports and activities and by being on a team. Mainly, through teamwork, students learn an important component in leadership. The team practices together and competes together. By playing hard, coordinating plays, and working insync with each other to reach a common goal, teams learn an important part of leadership. Students may not always be the star of the show, play in the whole game, or make the most shots. Luckily, that is what teams are for, to work together.

When students learn to problem solve and work things out with others using empathy and sympathy, they are gaining an important leadership skill. The ability to understand others feelings is important in being an effective leader and having others follow along. Students learn how to do this by respectfully talking to peers and respecting classroom rules.

Students need to know how to embrace failure. There will be times when things don’t go as planned, but how we deal with it is very important in who we are. Adults can model this behavior to help children find a healthy way of dealing with failure and disappointment. Students who handle their disappointments by trying harder, will learn  to keep working harder to meet their goals.

Teaching students the importance of not procrastinating. Knowing how to set a goal and taking the necessary steps to meet it on time, is an important part of leadership. Leaders know how to take charge to get things accomplished. Students practice this at school as they work toward projects, tests, and papers.

Nikki Curliss, Guidance Counselor, has been at StMM for 8 years. She enjoys spending time helping students one-on-one and with whole classroom lessons. 

Peaceful Christmastime

December 19, 2018
By Mrs. Nikki Curliss

It’s the Most  _______ Time of the Year! How would you complete the sentence? During the Christmas season, we are spending more time with distant relatives, keeping watch over children who are home from school, and creating shopping lists for gifts and food.  The American Psychological Association offers tips to help parents deal with holiday stress.

Set expectations – Talk to your kids about expectations for gifts and holiday activities. Be open with them if money is an issue. Talk about the real “reason for the season”.

Keep things in perspective – Try to consider stressful situations in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective.  If conversations about political views are a difficult topic, be ready with other topics to bring up. FOOD! Food is always a fun topic.

Make connections – Good relationships with family and friends are important. So, view the holidays as a time to reconnect with people. And, put down that device. Spend time talking to others, playing games together, and enjoying less technology.

Take care of yourself – Pay attention to your own needs and feelings during the holiday season. Engage in activities that you and your family enjoy and find relaxing. Take a walk, have family movie nights, play games as a family.

If you are feeling more stress and anxiety during the Christmas season, take some time to focus on how to best handle the stress. Think about what is causing the stress and determine which of these items you can control and what you cannot control.  Despite the endless lists you are keeping, remember to spend time thinking about the real gift of the season, Christ’s birth! Are you spending time during Advent preparing for Christmas? Spend time in prayer and reflection in Church and finding ways to help others.

For the complete article, visit the website:

Start with Hello

October 19, 2018
By Mrs. Nikki Curliss

“Start with Hello” is a program designed by members of the Sandy Hook Promise organization. The purpose of the program is to teach children how to reach out and find a way to connect with those who might not feel included. For more information, visit the website:

For two years, St. Mary Magdalene has registered with the Start with Hello program and has brought the week of discussions and activities to our school. Last spring and this fall, our students participated in lessons to identify what it feels like to “walk in someone else's shoes” who might not feel included and to then be the helper friend to reach out and connect with that person.

One basic way to help someone feel included is to talk with them. The students were actively involved with icebreakers throughout the week as a way to get to know others. Students learned more about each other and found out things they had in common. One of the days, the students were put in groups to sit with at lunch and used the icebreakers as a way to start conversations with other classmates. As difficult as it was for some to get out of their comfort zone and find things to talk about, the teachers could see how beneficial and necessary it was for them to have to find ways to reach out to everyone.

The students finished the week with compliment cards to each other and reflection questions on what it feels like to be lonely and how we can be a helper friend. The overall impression was positive. The students enjoyed getting to know each other and sharing a part of themselves while making new friends. The message of connecting and reaching out to others will go on as the teachers continue to introduce icebreakers and encouraging students to get to know others throughout the year.

Nikki Curliss, Guidance Counselor, has been at StMM for 6 years. She enjoys spending time helping students one-on-one and with whole classroom lessons. 

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