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Mrs. Lisa Schrakamp, LCSW » Virtue Based Restorative Discipline

Virtue Based Restorative Discipline

3/1/19

Dear St. Rita Parents,

As winter visits for (hopefully) one last time this school year and the month of February comes to an end, we start March with a focus on the virtue of mercy in our focus circles and throughout our activities at St. Rita. Mercy is defined as caring for those who suffer. While this seems like common sense, it becomes more challenging when we embrace the idea that all people who suffer deserve mercy – even if they are at fault and created their own suffering. In my reflection, I realize my willingness to be merciful diminishes as I become more judgmental about others’ choices and actions.

Jesus calls us to be merciful both physically and spiritually. We can feed the hungry, provide clothing or shelter for those in need, and serve in a tangible way when the physical body is hurting. Our efforts to practice spiritual mercy come through forgiving those who wrong us, letting go of judgement of others, and recognizing that hurt is hurt, and we do not always know what is happening with someone else. It is human nature to judge, and we all do own the responsibility for the consequences of our actions, but the hurt is real even if it is a natural consequence of our own actions.

As a parent, I know that my own best intentions to protect my children have sometimes come at the cost of being merciful to others. When someone hurt my child’s feelings, I had difficulty moving past that to forgiveness – in fact, often a harder time than my child did. Being merciful in this instance calls for an exercise in perspective taking. We all hurt at times, and we all have created hurt for others. Understanding and accepting the imperfection of the human spirit will help us with this. We can model for children ownership of our own mistakes and acceptance that we have indeed done wrong at times. Perhaps we can build on this practice of honesty by moving into mercy toward others who have hurt us.

Please refer to this page for information about the saints we are studying this month as well as specific ideas for incorporating the virtue of mercy into your family life:

https://4.files.edl.io/5e14/02/28/19/171103-515c9859-23bb-44ed-90d4-3f42b5cf8dba.pdf

I hope many of you are able to attend our parent focus circle on Friday, March 29 after the all school mass in the morning in the coffee area of the commons. All parents are invited to see what a focus circle is like and share in the discussion of honesty.

 

As always, blessings to each of you,

 

Lisa

Lisa Schrakamp, LCSW

School Counselor

 

 

2/1/19

Dear St. Rita Parents,

Catholic Schools Week has been such a wonderful week for closing out the month of January and our focus on gratitude. We practiced gratitude in many ways all month, but with even more intention this week. I hope you all enjoyed the tokens of appreciation your children brought home on Wednesday to show appreciation for their families. As we move to the month of February, we focus on the virtue of honesty, defined as being trustworthy and true. What a worthwhile but difficult virtue to practice in this day and age.

 

Why is honesty so challenging? As I reflect on this in my own life, I keep coming back to the fact that when the truth does not paint a pretty picture, I want to shy away from it and place a more positive “spin” on things. In other words, I want people to like me and think good things about me… I am sure I am not alone in this. We only need to look at the information people post on social media to see that we all are (mostly) sharing triumph and victory. While this makes sense and I would not advise anyone to go public with all their sins, being surrounded with messages of the success of others can make it difficult to remember that no one is perfect.

 

As adults we know that despite what we see on social media, life is not always pretty.  In fact, it can be very messy at times, and sometimes the messiness is through our own actions with no one else to blame. Children may not have the life experience to know that life gets messy, but then it cleans back up again. No wonder honesty presents such a challenge. No one wants to admit mistakes, much less sin.

 

I think this may be at the heart of our goal in restorative discipline. Repairing harm in a relationship calls us first to accept and be honest that we have incurred such harm, perhaps unintentionally, but often out of selfishness or pride. Being able to be honest in these situations will allow the restoration of relationship to occur.

Perhaps we can model for children ownership of our own mistakes, and acceptance that we have indeed done wrong at times. Let children know that being honest in these situations is a sign of integrity and maturity.

 

Please refer to this page for information about the saints we are studying this month as well as specific ideas for incorporating the virtue of honesty into your family life:

https://4.files.edl.io/502e/01/29/19/180918-4f219c32-ccef-4905-b1ee-e9d2fa8d71c7.pdf

 

I hope many of you are able to attend our parent focus circle on Friday, February 22 after the all school mass in the morning. Mr. Wixted will be leading this circle in the coffee area of the commons. All parents are invited to see what a focus circle is like and share in the discussion of honesty.

 

As always, blessings to each of you,

 

Lisa

Lisa Schrakamp, LCSW

School Counselor

1/1/19

Dear St. Rita Parents,

Happy 2019! The start of a new year is such a wonderful time to focus on the practice of gratitude, the theme for January with our Virtue Based Restorative Discipline! The Virtue in Practice curriculum defines gratitude as seeing everything as a gift and being thankful. As we come off of the season of giving, it is easy to be grateful for the “things” we have been gifted. New clothes, toys, phones and games were all under the Christmas tree in our homes. Perhaps as adults we dig a little deeper into this practice of gratitude and build up our awareness that everything is a gift from God. I am working on this in my own life by really being intentional in recognizing the gifts I often take for granted. Many of you have probably seen the video produced by the church in North Carolina that reminds us of this, if not, it is worth a look: https://www.facebook.com/FOX13TampaBay/videos/449142808543157/

 

The 8th graders and faculty at school are participating in a Gratitude Challenge during the month of January. You may notice that we are wearing green wristbands. In order to build a gratitude mindset, we are challenging ourselves to notice our thoughts and if we find ourselves in a grumble or gripe, move the wristband to the other wrist and intentionally call to mind something that we are grateful for (focusing on those things we tend to take for granted, such as having shoes to wear or clean water to drink). This practice of intentional gratitude will help build our resilience for handling the difficult times that occur in all of our lives. Perhaps there is a similar challenge you could do at home.

 

Please refer to this page for information about the saints we are studying this month as well as specific ideas for incorporating the virtue of gratitude into your family life : https://4.files.edl.io/f70f/01/10/19/150440-e81010d3-a695-4b37-ad07-e1a998e3b140.pdf

I hope to see many of you at our parent focus circle on Friday, January 25 after the all school mass in the morning. We will meet in the coffee are of the commons. All parents are invited to see what a focus circle is like and share in the discussion of gratitude.

 

As always, blessings to each of you,

 

Lisa

Lisa Schrakamp, LCSW

School Counselor

11/27/18

Dear St. Rita Parents,

Happy almost December! The holiday season is in full swing and Advent begins this weekend. What a perfect time to focus on generosity with our Virtue Based Restorative Discipline! The Virtue in Practice curriculum defines generosity as giving without counting the costs. The without counting the costs is definitely the tricky part 😊. As adults, we also add to this understanding the idea of generosity being about honoring and serving the recipient, not about the benefit to the giver. It does feel good to give – but generosity is not about feeling good about ourselves because we are givers (or even the tax credit – though that is certainly a nice perk).

 

The Christmas season affords multiple opportunities for this practice of generosity. Adopt a Family, Angel Tree, and Toys for Tots are but a few of the ways we can be generous. My own reflection on generosity reveals to me that I tend to give from excess (being aware of the costs, in other words), so I am still maturing in this practice. This realization has led me to think more heavily about how I can be generous, not just monetarily, but also with my time and talent. As I reflect on how so many are generous to me, it becomes easier for me to practice generosity with others.

 

I have been blessed to have wonderful models of generosity in my own family. My parents have been generous throughout my life with time, talent and treasure, and continue to this day. My husband and I are in the process of remodeling a house (downsizing now that the kids are in their 20’s…), and I am awed by my father’s generosity in his gift of time and expertise in this process. He has the experience of building and remodeling houses, and while we are technically acting as our own contractors, my dad is the one on site each day, supervising contractors and making arrangements for work to be done. He does this without thinking of what it is costing him in time. I think back to so many times when he has been generous, starting in my childhood, continuing through my young adulthood when his generosity included treasure to help us as a young family, and still today. This recognition of others being generous to me is key as I seek to mature my own practice of generosity.

 

I invite you to think about those who model service and generosity in your own life. Perhaps it is a family member, co-worker, or one of your children’s teachers. Reach out and thank them for their giving, and make a commitment to follow their example. As you are talking with your children about generosity, help them to see that when others serve them, it is not because they are entitled to be served, but because someone is being generous.

 

Follow this link for some specific ways to practice generosity as a family this month: https://4.files.edl.io/4c77/11/27/18/164446-fcf26a26-7457-4303-a98c-9bbcac794c13.pdf

 

With the short month and Christmas activities requiring parent volunteers on the last Friday of the month, we will not be having a Parent Focus Circle in December, but I hope many of you will put the January date on your calendar and join us on January 25, 2019 right after the 8:00am school mass that morning.

 

As always, blessings to each of you,

 

Lisa

Lisa Schrakamp, LCSW

School Counselor

10/29/18

Dear St. Rita Parents,

Wow, November is almost upon us and we may even get to enjoy some fall weather. This month we are focusing on stewardship with our Virtue Based Restorative Discipline. The Virtue in Practice curriculum defines stewardship as returning to God the first fruits of your time, talent and treasure. What does this mean for us whom much has been given? As we enter the holiday season with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, there are many opportunities to practice stewardship.

Perhaps we start our practice of stewardship by first coming from a place of gratitude and thankfulness for the gifts we have been given. For most of us, there is so much to be thankful for, and then share. We have food to eat, a safe place to live, a wonderful school and church community, and enough money to provide for all our needs and many of our wants.

These are the questions I have been reflecting on in my own practice of stewardship. How am I taking care of my gifts? Am I sharing them with others? Are there times in which I am selfish with my gifts? When we hoard our own time, talent and treasure instead of sharing these gifts, it tends to come from a place of fear that we do not have enough instead of gratitude for what we have, and faith God will provide. Changing my inner dialog from “I wish that…” or “It’s not fair that…” to “I’m so blessed because …” has helped me be more generous, which is my challenge in the practice of stewardship.

Perhaps your family would like to share their time by serving at a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless or share treasure by joining in the adopt a family program with St. Mary of Carmel. What are the talents that God has given the members of your family? How can these talents be used to protect and serve? Each of us has gifts to share, and to those who much has been given, much is expected…

The parent focus circle for November will be on Friday, November 30, after the all school Mass in the coffee area of The Commons. Please join us as we discuss stewardship within the family. If you are wanting more specific ideas as you develop your family’s practice of stewardship, please refer to this page: https://4.files.edl.io/c725/10/26/18/180524-47915c4c-8746-4225-8547-127a47adf727.pdf .

As always, blessings to each of you,

 

Lisa

Lisa Schrakamp, LCSW

School Counselor

9/28/2018

Dear St. Rita Parents,

As we enter the month of October and begin to have occasional glimpses of cooler weather, dreams of Fletcher’s corny dogs from the fair and pumpkin flavored everything, at school we are moving into our second focus virtue for the year – REVERENCE. The Virtue in Practice Curriculum defines reverence as showing your deepest respect for God and the things of God. Focus circles will be discussing this in age appropriate ways, but a common theme across all grade levels is the idea that we show reverence for all human beings as we are made in God’s likeness and by Him.

As I reflect on this in my own life, I am aware of how I have almost normalized the irreverence of humanity towards each other. Sometimes I simply accept that society has decided it is okay to treat others with disrespect, whether it is popular music that sends messages of racism, sexism and hate, or live feed on Facebook or Instagram where a witness is videoing abuse instead of stopping it. This month I am making a commitment to be mindful of what is taking my attention, in the music I choose to listen to, the people I follow on social media, and the shows I stream.

I was blessed to grow up with amazing models of reverence in my own parents. Last week at a family gathering my 9th grade nephew was lamenting that his mom did not allow him to listen to certain music as it promotes what she considers abuse of women. My mom then recalled the time during my own teenage years that my father pulled my brother’s cassette tape out of the boom box (ahhh – it was fun being a teenager in the 80’s) and threw it in the lake because the message in the music was offensive.  We all laughed at the memory, and know today’s teenager would simply redownload the song, but the story reminded me that I can commit to reverence and challenge the “norm”.

Perhaps this particular practice of reverence speaks to you as well, or maybe in your life reverence takes the form of participation in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or perhaps praying the Rosary. Whatever form it takes, I invite you to find a way to practice reverence in your own life and with your family. This month’s home project from Virtue in Practice is available in the side panel and may work well with your children at home.

Please also join me on Friday, October 26, after our all-school mass for a parent focus circle in the coffee area of the Commons. All parents are welcome and as a bonus, on Fridays there is specialty coffee in the Commons 😊.

Lisa

Lisa Schrakamp, LCSW

School Counselor

8/29/18

Dear St. Rita Parents,

Can you believe we are already three weeks in to the school year? By now you have hopefully heard of our journey toward Virtue Based Restorative Discipline as a school, and our expansion of The Spartan Way to be The Spartan Way: Virtues Every Day. Our core virtues of kindness, compassion, gentleness, humility and thankfulness continue to guide us, but we are adding to them with the study of other virtues each month. During August we have focused on the general idea of virtue and have taught this definition of virtue:

Virtues are HOLY HABITS that make us like GOD and lead us to HEAVEN.

As we enter the month of September, we start our serious discussion and study of faith, using the Virtues In Practice curriculum. Please use this link for even more information about Virtues In Practice and the complete parent guide. https://4.files.edl.io/db2c/08/21/18/170405-9d8d3b3c-01b8-425d-9a86-d89b1e69c5ca.pdf

 

Faith is our overarching theme for this year, and in the month of September students will study faith through their focus circles. As adults, faith is a daunting concept, and not easy to explain, but in fact it is this gift of faith through baptism many of us call upon in our day to day life. Children are almost better able to accept faith than we are as adults, and we can learn from their example. Trusting blindly in God can be easier for children who have not had the life experiences of bad things happening to good people.

What if as adults we shift our thoughts from the negative experiences to the positive – cancer patients being healed, the bravery of first responders, kindness given without an expectation of repayment… These are the works of God. While we cannot ignore the atrocities that have occurred by human hand, especially as we hear stories of abuse and cover up within our own Catholic church, it is faith in God and his works that is comforting.

As you examine your own practice of faith this month, I invite you to choose an activity as a family to complete from the faith home projects (https://4.files.edl.io/acc2/08/29/18/152717-18a6f808-2bab-4bc4-a26d-5c79e090f403.pdf). As parents, you are not only the first teachers of faith for your children, but also their primary model of living a faithful life.  We are so thankful that you are entrusting us to educate and care for your children at school.

 

Lisa

Lisa Schrakamp, LCSW

School Counselor

 

What are Focus Circles?

 

As part of our Virtue Based Restorative Discipline (VBRD) plan, all students will be participating in small group focus circles three times per month.  Staff members will lead these groups of 9-12 students in our study of virtues, with a different focus virtue each month. Wednesday mornings all students will be engaged in either a focus circle or their monthly grade level mass. During August we will focus on the general idea of virtue in our Catholic faith and begin our study of specific virtues in September.

 

Parent focus circles will be offered the last Friday of each month after all school mass beginning in September with our study of the virtue of faith. All parents are welcome to join. Location coming soon!

 

More information will follow about VBRD and focus circles, but please see the parent guide for specifics about our study of virtues and reach out with any questions.