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Blog Archive

This is a list of all the past blog posts.


Opioid Use Now Included In All Stars
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Tuesday - December 12, 2017
<p>The national opioid use epidemic has created the need to address it as a specific behavior in All Stars. The middle school All Stars series - Core, Booster and Plus - have all been updated to include opioid use. Contact <a href="mailto:ALLSTARSPREVENTION1@GMAIL.COM">Anne</a> to get more information on how you can receive these updated materials to include in your future delivery of All Stars.</p>


All Stars Senior Has A Facelift
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - December 14, 2017
<p>All Stars Senior has a brand new design and delivery! The program now includes five interactive and engaging online modules that Senior High students complete on their own. Knowledge checks after each module, along with a teacher-facilitated classroom/group lesson before and after the students complete the modules, makes this version of All Stars Senior an efficient, fun and effective way to deliver a wellness and prevention program. Module topics include perceptions of drug use, personal consequences of use, resisting pressure, opioid and prescription drug use and planning for the future without ATOD use - just to name a few.</p>


Teachers Do Make A Difference
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Tuesday - December 19, 2017
<p>There is no doubt that nearly all teachers are effective. The more important consideration is the ways teachers differ in their influence on students. What is it that makes some teachers more effective and influential than others?</p> <p>Recall the teachers who truly made a difference to you when you were in school. Most of us think of 1-2 teachers. During your elementary, middle school and high school years you would have experienced between 40-60 teachers. That means only 4-6% of your teachers left their mark. What is unique about these teachers that sets them apart from all the others?</p>


The Importance of Ideals
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - January 4, 2018
<p>My son, Christopher, was an All Stars student. It didn’t surprise me that he choose me as the adult he wanted to talk to about his All Stars conversational assignments. I also wasn’t surprised by what he was saying about himself through his All Stars work. Everything seemed to “fit” for him. For example, Christopher by nature is a helpful person. It was no surprise to me when he brought his Getting A Reputation worksheet home and he had written that the reputation he most wanted in his future was “to be a helper,” it fit. He got great advice from his classroom partner, his best friend, and me on things he should and should not do if he wanted to earn this reputation.</p> <p>Things were going well for Christopher until one hot July day six months after All Stars concluded. That day I asked Christopher to pick the tomatoes in the garden. He had every excuse as to why he couldn’t pick the tomatoes. I was not in the mood to argue with him. In fact, I knew I didn’t have to argue with him. Within an arm’s reach hanging on the refrigerator were his All Stars worksheets, including his Getting A Reputation worksheet. I removed the sheet from the refrigerator and asked him to listen to something he wrote six months earlier. I read what he had written, ”More than anything else, I want to have a reputation of being a helper.” I also read aloud the advice his best friend and I had given him on how to earn this reputation, which included “being willing to do something when asked.”</p>


The Meaning Behind the All Stars Name
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - January 11, 2018
<p>Often I am asked about the name, All Stars. Does it have special meaning? Why was it chosen?</p> <p>While writing the commitment sessions in All Stars, developer, Dr. William Hansen, believed he needed to have students make commitments in some symbolic way. He considered giving some kind of recognition for each commitment made in All Stars. Dr. Hansen developed a circle of nine stars and found that each star could represent one of nine commitments made in All Stars. When a student makes nine commitments for themselves in All Stars – earning all nine stars – they become an All Star!</p>


All Stars Character Education: A Unique and Fun Way of Reaching Elementary Students
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - January 18, 2018
<p>All Stars Character Education is an innovative program that promotes the development of positive character traits and attitudes with children ages 9-11 (grades 4 and 5). Research consistently demonstrates that early intervention is essential to prevention and positive character development. Substance use and violence are rare among later elementary-aged students. However, research shows that attitudes and beliefs formed during these years predict the development of problems later on.</p>


Using Peer Opinion Leaders As Change Agents In The Classroom
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Monday - February 19, 2018
<p>Peer opinion leaders are students who set the trends. They define what is "in" and "out". They influence the opinion of others. Knowing who the natural peer opinion leaders in your class or group are is a key to setting positive norms and making anything you do successful.</p> <p>Almost every peer group has an opinion leader. During early adolescence, girls will have their leaders and boys will have theirs. Some can be positive leaders while others may be negative. We tend to think we know who the peer opinion leaders are on our own. We sometimes see them as the class clowns, the most vocal or the most popular. These characteristics can be misleading. Not all peer opinion leaders have these traits.</p>


Kids Without Friends
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Sunday - March 18, 2018
<p>I think I am like many of you. I know understanding and addressing the needs of kids who don’t have friends – social isolates – is important. The challenge is where to start. If you feel a little stumped, take heart that there are many who feel the same way.</p> <p>Friendships, belonging and acceptance grow in importance as kids move through adolescence. Their identity becomes defined by the group of friends they have. Spending time with friends provides opportunities for social interaction, information sharing, demonstration of values and reinforcement of behaviors important to the peer group. Sometimes we fear peer groups have a negative influence on adolescent behaviors; however, research and experience generally shows that, with the exception of getting high-risk kids together, the influence of peer groups is almost always positive.</p>


Becoming A Loving And Nurturing Adult
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - June 21, 2018


Every Good Teacher is Prepared
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Monday - October 15, 2018
<p>I think everyone will agree how important it is to prepare before teaching an All Stars lesson. However, agreeing and doing are two different things. Two challenges I hear All Stars teachers say they face in prepping is time and not knowing how to effectively prepare. Here are some suggestions.</p>


Tips For The Opinion Poll Game
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Tuesday - March 12, 2019
<p>I offer coaching to All Stars teachers who desire to be their best and do their best when teaching the program . The lesson I coach the most is the Opinion Poll Game. I want to share with you the tips I recommended to teachers to improve their effectiveness. I hope these insights are helpful.</p>


To Pick The Tomatoes Or Not Pick The Tomatoes
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - May 10, 2019
<p>My son, Christopher, was an All Stars student. It didn’t surprise me that he choose me as the adult he wanted to talk to about his All Stars conversational assignments. I also wasn’t surprised by what he was saying about himself through his All Stars work. Everything seemed to “fit” for him. For example, Christopher by nature is a helpful person. It was no surprise to me when he brought his <em>Getting A Reputation </em>worksheet home and he had written that the reputation he most wanted in his future was “to be a helper,” it fit. He got great advice from his classroom partner, his best friend, and me on things he should and should not do if he wanted to earn this reputation.</p>


The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - May 17, 2019
<p>A dear friend and colleague shared a podcast with me this morning and encouraged me to listen to it. The podcast, What's Not On The Test: The Overlooked Factors That Determine Success, was published by NPR as part of their Hidden Brain podcast series. It featured an interview with James Heckman, a professor at the University of Chicago who, in 2000, won the Nobel Prize in Economics.</p>


Lessons Learned From a “Dark Monday”
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - May 31, 2019
<p>I refer to it as “Dark Monday.” It was April 15, 2019. In a matter of hours, I learned…</p> <p>I had to write a check to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). (UGH!)</p> <p>My daughter was moving out and into her own place to live; leaving me to live alone for the first time in my home.</p> <p>My aunt had hours to live.</p> <p>My dad was diagnosed with kidney failure.</p> <p>I was diagnosed with shingles.</p> <p>I’ve had challenges, bad news and unfortunate luck in my past, but usually it’s over the course of weeks, months or years. I have never had a single day when, within hours, I have been hit with so much devastating and life-changing news.</p>


Teens And Volunteerism: "Try It! They'll Like It!"
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - June 6, 2019
<p>I remember a summer day when I told my 8-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son that I was taking them to lunch. They were excited and quickly requested their favorite restaurant.</p> <p>We got into the van and drove off. It didn’t take them long to notice I wasn’t going in the direction they expected me to go. Instead I parked in front of a local soup kitchen with people lined up outside waiting for lunch.</p>


Lessons Learned from Stories Told
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - June 13, 2019
<p>One of the best parts of my job is hearing stories from All Stars teachers after they have taught the program. Some stories make me laugh. Some stories make me proud. Some stories make me cry.</p> <p>But, every story teaches me (and you!) a lesson that impacts our work with kids, especially in All Stars.</p>


How Your Kids Will Remember You
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Monday - June 24, 2019
<p>You are a leader. You are a leader of children. You are creating a legacy every day you come to work. You are leaving your mark – an indelible impression upon the kids entrusted to your care.</p> <p>In this week's blog, we wonder <a href="https://el2.convertkit-mail3.com/c/preview/08h63mm9bgu0/aHR0cHM6Ly9rbnNsZWFybmluZ3NvbHV0aW9ucy5jb20vbmV3cy9ob3ctd2lsbC15b3VyLWtpZHMtcmVtZW1iZXIteW91Lw==">How Your Kids Will Remember You</a>.</p> <p>If you're wondering, too, then take a moment from your busy life and <a href="https://el2.convertkit-mail3.com/c/preview/08h63mm9bgu0/aHR0cHM6Ly9rbnNsZWFybmluZ3NvbHV0aW9ucy5jb20vbmV3cy9ob3ctd2lsbC15b3VyLWtpZHMtcmVtZW1iZXIteW91Lw==">read on</a>.</p> <p>We don't think you will be wondering any more.</p>


Vaping Surges... Largest Year to Year Increase Ever Recorded
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - June 28, 2019


Are Your Students Hopeful or Stuck?
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - July 11, 2019
<p>I want you to think about two kids you work with…one who is resilient and happy and the other who is struggling and discouraged. Imagine if you interviewed each of them and you ask them to respond to each of these statements with a “yes” or a “no.”</p>


Creating a Ripple Effect of Hope With Your Students
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - July 19, 2019
<p>I've been thinking about those students we talked about in last week's blog. Those students who are stuck and have no hope. And, are likely students you are working with right now.</p> <p>But, the good news is that hope is something you can cultivate with all of your students – even those who are at risk for losing it or have already lost it.</p>


Measuring Hope With Your Students
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - July 25, 2019
<p>I hope my blog series on instilling hope with your students over the past few weeks has been helpful and insightful. I've appreciated the comments and stories shared with me by my readers on their hope-filled work with kids.</p>


Helping Your Parents Transition to Middle School With Their Student
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - August 16, 2019
<p>A new school year has already started for some kids while for others it will begin in the coming weeks.</p> <p>I was watching the kids walk to the nearby elementary school for the start of a new school year on Monday and it brought back memories of the first day of school with my two kids.</p> <p>Both of my kids are now young adults, but the memories of their first day of a new school year are still vivid in my mind. Some of the memories make me sad as I yearn to have that first day of school experience with them again. But, there’s also a few memories of the first day of school I would prefer not to re-live.</p>


Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - August 23, 2019
<p>“I want to be a nurse. I’m going to be a fireman. I want to be a professional basketball player.” Ask elementary-age youth what they want to be when they grow up and they have quick and definite answers. They have hope and optimism for their future.</p> <p>Ask middle school youth the same question and you may still hear similar answers, but you will also hear comments such as, “I don’t know” or “whatever”. Starting in the middle school years a sense of hopelessness, apathy and discouragement can set in with some youth. The clear vision they once had for their future is now blurry or completely gone. Research shows that kids who “don’t know” what they want in their future or “don’t care” anymore are more likely to engage in risky behaviors.</p> <p>In last week’s masterclass, One Thing You Can Do to Instill Hope and Prevent Vaping, I introduced a prevention strategy called “Idealism.” This strategy has proven to keep kids from engaging in risky behaviors – including drinking alcohol, smoking, vaping, misusing opioids, fighting and being sexually active.</p>


Why 1 in 3 Teachers Consider Quitting the Profession.
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - August 30, 2019
<p>Starting a new school year on a positive note with a classroom or group of students is important. It's important for learning. It's important for teamwork. It's important for enjoyment. Let's just say, it's important for everything!</p> <p>One way to start the year on a positive note is creating an environment that minimizes negative student behavior and maximizes the positive. Unfortunately, too many students are losing critical opportunities for learning – and too many teachers are leaving the profession – because of the negative behavior of a few students. Student discipline is and continues to be a major concern to teachers and parents that affects both teacher morale and student learning.</p>


How Does Your Own Behavior Influence Your Students’ Behavior
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - September 6, 2019
<p>If classroom management is an ongoing issue for you, you are not alone. It's an ongoing issue for many teachers or anyone who works with kids. Nearly half of new teachers report they feel “not at all prepared” or “only somewhat prepared” to handle disruptive students. This is, in part, because the average teacher training program devotes just eight hours to the topic, according to a 2014 report from the National Council on Teacher Quality. This lack of training comes with a cost. Teachers report losing 144 minutes of instructional time on average to behavioral disruptions every week which comes out to roughly three weeks over the course of a year.</p> <p>Unfortunately, research indicates that teachers overwhelmingly report lack of professional development support in improving classroom management. How to effectively manage student behavior is the #1 concern I am asked to consult, coach and train on. It doesn’t matter if you are the most experienced teacher or the least experienced. We all deal with problem behavior. Over time it can take its toll on you, and the students, if not addressed as early as possible.</p>


The Difference A Word Can Make
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - September 19, 2019
<p>When you hear the word, “rules”, what do you think of? How does the word make you feel? How does it sound to you?</p> <p>Maybe the word sounds and feels the same to you as it does when kids hear it. When kids hear the word, “rules”, they think of everything they can’t or aren’t suppose to do. To them, rules are usually made by an adult and enforced upon them. Rules are made to be challenged.</p> <p>Let’s try another word…what do you think of when you hear the word, “standards”? How does this word make you feel? How does it sound to you?</p> <p>When you ask kids what the word, “standards”, means they usually say it is something they should or are expected to do. Standards are something to live up to.</p>


The Best, The Worst and The OK
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - October 4, 2019
<p>In my last blog I wrote about the importance of setting “standards” of behavior with student input as a more effective way of increasing positive student behavior than having “rules” established by you.</p> <p>Establishing standards for getting along with students can be done with late elementary through high school age. Consideration needs to be given to the age of the students when determining the process you will use for establishing the standards.</p>


How to Develop Standards for Getting Along With Your Students
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - October 11, 2019
<p>My blog this past month has focused on how to increase positive behavior with your students while decreasing the negative. We discussed a number of proven strategies to help you achieve this, including:</p>


How to Help 4th and 5th Grade Students Get Along With One Another
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - October 18, 2019
<p>The late elementary years are a time of great personal and social growth. At this age, children become more interested in friends and social activities. They begin to form stronger and more complex friendships that are based on more than just common interests. They understand that emotions play a major role in relationships. They learn how to identify what others are feeling based on their facial expressions and body language and to understand and evaluate social situations better. They are also learning how to communicate their needs and feelings verbally with others while respecting and identifying other people’s opinions and behaviors.</p> <p>Understanding how to get along with others is vital for 4th and 5th graders. Creating an environment in your classroom or group setting that has clear expectations of behavior, encourages team work and communication and promotes respect and responsibility among classmates is important.</p>


Peer Opinion As Change Agents
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - October 24, 2019
<p>Peer opinion leaders are students who set the trends and patterns of behavior. They define “what is in and out”, “what to do and not to do” and “what to believe and not believe.” The bottom line is…peer opinion leaders influence the opinion and behaviors of others. Knowing who the natural peer opinion leaders in your class or group are is key to establishing positive standards of behavior, setting positive norms and making anything you do successful.</p> <p> </p> <p>Almost every peer group has an opinion leader. During early adolescence, girls will have their leaders and boys will have theirs. Some can be positive leaders while others may be negative.</p>


Kids Without Friends
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Wednesday - November 6, 2019
<p>I think I am like many of you. I know that understanding and addressing the needs of kids who don’t have friends – social isolates – is important. The challenge is where to start. If you feel a little stumped, take heart that there are many who feel the same way as you.</p> <p>Friendships, belonging and acceptance grow in importance as kids move through adolescence. Their identity becomes defined by the group of friends they have. Spending time with friends provides opportunities for social interaction, information sharing, demonstration of values and reinforcement of behaviors important to the peer group. Sometimes we fear peer groups have a negative influence on adolescent behaviors; however, research and experience generally shows that, with the exception of getting high-risk kids together, the influence of peer groups is almost always positive.</p>


Pay Now or Pay Later
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - November 28, 2019
<p>Does alcohol and other drug prevention make sense in a time of shrinking budgets, fewer staff resources and an increasing emphasis on student performance?</p> <p>Should we make the time to do substance use prevention?</p> <p>Is there any benefit to keeping prevention alive?</p> <p>The answer is clearly, “Yes!”</p> <p>According to a recent article published by Verywell Mind, the estimated cost of substance abuse in the United States, including illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco, is more than $820 billion a year and growing.</p> <p>The total annual costs related to each type of drug is…</p>


Is It All or Nothing
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - December 5, 2019
<p>I am thinking about a mother I met who was so distraught when she heard her 18 year old son had drank alcohol for the first time the night before. She was disappointed in him. Her expectation of him was to not drink alcohol until the legal age of 21. He fell short of her expectation. She believed her prevention efforts as a parent failed.</p> <p>This mother’s experience reminds me of how we sometimes measure our success in prevention. If our kids drink alcohol before age 21, we see it as a failure. If our kids wait until the age of 21 or later, we see it as success. This “all or nothing” mentality with substance use prevention is common.</p> <p>But, is our success in prevention really “all or nothing?”</p> <p>Research shows that kids who start drinking alcohol before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after the legal age of 21.</p>


I'm Never Doing That Again!
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - December 13, 2019
<p>Have you ever done something that caused you to walk away and say, “I’m never doing that again!”? And, you really meant it!</p> <p>Believe it or not, a lot of kids think or say the same thing after their <em>first experience</em>* with drinking alcohol. And, they mean it, too!</p> <p>A majority of kids report their first experience with alcohol as being a negative experience for them. The #1 reason kids give for why it was negative is because they didn’t like the taste of it. Other reasons they give are not liking the way it made them feel, the loss of control they felt, feelings of a hangover the next day, doing or saying something they later regretted, the guilt of knowing they did something illegal or wrong and the fear of getting caught and the consequences if they did.</p>


What You Expect is What You Get
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - January 9, 2020
<p>The expectations you have of a student can influence their behavior. Kids can read you like a book. They will know what you expect of them based on what you say or don’t say and what you do or don’t do.</p> <p>So, how do you want your students to read you? What is the message you want them to get from you and what you expect of them in their future?</p> <p>There is a lot of research about the role of expectations and the influence they can have on kids. Research shows that it’s important to have expectations of your students, rather than no expectations.</p> <p>So, what are your expectations of your students when it comes to using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs sometime in their future?</p> <p>Do you expect them to not drink alcohol until the age of 21?</p> <p>Do you expect them to not use tobacco products for a lifetime?</p> <p>Do you expect them to never use illicit drugs?</p> <p>Do you believe it’s realistic or idealistic to have these expectations of your students? In other words, do you think it’s possible to expect all of your students to not use alcohol until the age of 21?</p>


Four Proven Strategies to Prevent Lying, Stealing, Cheating & Bullying With Your Students
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Tuesday - January 14, 2020
<p>I was recently visiting with a 4th grade classroom teacher about several of her students who she was concerned about. She shared how she had caught one of them cheating on a test – not just once, but twice! There is another student who has the habit of taking things that don’t belong to him and taking them home. While the things he has taken aren’t valuable, she’s worried about the behavior leading to more serious stealing in the future. And then there’s a girl who one day is liked by a group of other girls in her class only to be ousted and isolated from the friendship group the next.</p> <p>She’s concerned about each of these students, but she is most concerned their behaviors will influence other students in her classroom.</p> <p>I listened to her talk about her students. This isn’t the first time she has seen behaviors like this. She’s been teaching 4th grade for six years. But, this is the first time she began to see the behaviors in a different light.</p>


Imagine Teaching 24 Students In 2nd Grade
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - January 24, 2020
<p>Imagine…</p> <p>You are an expert in your community on the topic of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and the 2nd grade teacher in your local elementary school has invited you to speak on the topic with her students.</p> <p>You walk into the classroom and you find 24 excited 2nd graders anxiously waiting for your arrival. They love to have guests in their classroom!</p> <p>You begin to talk with the students about the consequences of smoking cigarettes and they are attentive and ready to learn from you. They see you as the expert and believe you know more than they do on the subject.</p>


How An Attitude Adjustment Saved My Life
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - January 31, 2020
<p>In the later stages of pregnancy with my son I developed preeclampsia. My blood pressure got dangerously high and an emergency c-section was performed for fear his life was in danger, as well as mine. He was born a very healthy baby boy while I, on the other hand, was not in a good state. I was immediately put on high blood pressure medication and placed in intensive care. Consequently, I couldn’t have my new baby son in the room with me. I couldn’t have any visitors or phone calls. The room needed to stay dark and quiet at all times. The slightest stimulation would elevate my blood pressure.</p>


The Importance Of Giving Your Kids 2020 Vision Of Their Future
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - February 14, 2020
<h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span class="BodyText">Have you ever had the opportunity in your past to do something that you knew, at the time, was illegal, unsafe or would break some rule and you didn’t do it because you knew that if you did you would risk losing something that was more important to you than what you had the opportunity to do?</span></h3> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span class="BodyText">Can you think of a time when this was true for you?</span></h3> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span class="BodyText">If so, then you had<strong> “Idealism!”</strong></span></h3> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span class="BodyText">Idealism is having a vision for yourself and your future and believing that risky behaviors will get in the way of what you want in your future.</span></h3> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><strong><span class="BodyText">Research has found that kids who have idealism are more likely to NOT participate in risky behaviors. Idealism is one of the five most effective prevention strategies you can use to influence the attitudes of middle and high school students if you don't want them to drink alcohol, use tobacco or illicit drugs, fight or engage in early sexual activity.</span></strong></h3> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><strong><span class="BodyText">The important question to ask yourself is...<em>Do ALL of my students have idealism</em>?</span></strong></h3>


A Story of How a BIG Dream Influenced a Young Man's Behaviors and Future
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - February 21, 2020
<span class="BodyText">I first met Craig Shelburne when he was a high school student and I was organizing alcohol and drug-free youth groups in schools around the state of Nebraska. Craig was active in his local drug-free group. His desire to achieve a big dream in his future gave him the strength, tenacity and focus to do what he needed to do to make it happen and stay away from the people and things that would get in the way of it, including alcohol and other drugs. His story is a real life example of how "idealism" can give a young person their own personal reasons to not use alcohol and other drugs when they want something so much in their future. Craig is now a grown adult living in Nashville, TN. I recently interviewed Craig about his journey to achieving his dream job and his decision to not use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs along the way.</span>


What Is Everyone Really Doing
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - February 27, 2020
“Everybody’s doing it. I’m the only one who isn’t!” I’m sure you have heard your students or maybe your own kids say this to you more than once. They think they are the only one who isn’t wearing the latest fashions, staying out late, having a cell phone, accessing social media or going to a party.<br /> The question is, “Are your kids right? Is everyone their age really doing these things?”<br /> It is somewhat true.<br /> When it comes to drinking, smoking and other risky behaviors there are more kids who begin to experiment with alcohol, tobacco and other risky behaviors in the middle and high school years. If we look for kids who are participating in these behaviors we will always find them. So will your students.<br /> For example, what would catch your students’ attention most – four kids their age vaping or thirty kids who aren’t? What would grab your attention – those who are or those who aren’t?<br /> Your students will very likely pay more attention to the kids who are vaping than those who aren’t and will generalize, from just a few, that lots of kids their age vape. Perhaps you would do the same. 


Making A Commitment Is Better Than Having No Commitment
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - March 5, 2020
<span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Have you ever made a commitment to someone or to something and then later you regretted making it? You probably had all kinds of reasons or excuses running through your head as to why you couldn’t keep the commitment. <i>(Trust me! You're not alone. This has happened to me many times over!)</i></span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">But, surprisingly, you found yourself still following through with the commitment anyway. Maybe you followed through because you didn’t want to let yourself or the other person down. Maybe you followed through because you wanted to be known as someone who does what they say they are going to do. Or, you followed through because you realized the commitment you made really was important to you.</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Research shows that when we make a commitment to someone or something we are more likely to follow through with it than if we made no commitment at all. Commitments guide and influence our behaviors.</span></span></span>


Step Up And Step In
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - March 12, 2020
The middle school years can be just as challenging of a time for parents as it is for their kids.<br /> We go from being one of the most admired, loved and smartest people in our kids’ lives during the elementary years to someone who doesn’t know anything anymore. We play “second fiddle” to our kids’ friends. Our rules and expectations are being questioned and challenged. Conversations that came easy with our child are now limited and difficult to initiate.<br /> If you’ve been or are a middle school parent, you understand. The middle school years can be tough.<br /> At a time when parents need to step up and step in even more with their parenting practices, parents may feel the tendency to step back and pull away during the middle school years. Many give up and give in to the other influences they believe is overriding their influence.


Shaking Things Up
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - March 20, 2020
We’re living through a very difficult time right now. Anxiety, stress, isolation and fear of the unknown seems to have invaded many of our lives in a short period of time. The coronavirus has shaken us to our very core. It has shaken up our routines. It has shaken up our jobs. It has shaken up our investments and bank accounts. It has shaken up our social lives. It has shaken up our families. It has shaken up our relationships and connection with others.<br /> I’m going to be honest. I worry about what this “shake up” means in my life and those I love. But, I worry even more about what it means in the lives of kids.


Are You Feeling Nostalgic These Days?
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Wednesday - March 25, 2020
<h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">How are you?</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">How are things in your corner of the world?</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">I hope that wherever you are and whoever you are with you are healthy and doing what you can to care for yourself.</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">After all the turbulence last week related to the coronavirus outbreak, I was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted when the weekend arrived. On Saturday and Sunday, I found myself craving breakfast for every meal and watching lots of classic TV shows. In two days, I binge watched two seasons of “The Waltons” and ate my share of fried eggs and bacon. By Sunday evening, I actually felt more calm, content and a few pounds heavier!</span></span></span></h3>


Quit Asking The Usual Question
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - April 2, 2020
<span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Have you been in an exchange with someone recently that goes something like this:</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">You: “How are you?”</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Other Person: “Good, and you?”</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">You: “I’m good, thanks.”</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">We ask the “How are you?” question with such regularity and little thought and answer the question from a standard set of responses. We’re either busy, fine, okay or good.</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Most of us ask this question out of habit, but also because it’s the polite thing to do. We usually ask it as a greeting and not necessarily with the intent of actually acquiring information about the other person.</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">These days we are asking the, “How are you?”, question even more in our exchanges with others as we all live through the current COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, we really DO want to know how the other person is doing.</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">During this time of social isolation and distancing, I hope you are reaching out and checking in with your students, parents, team members and others you love and care about. But, what alternative questions can you ask that shows you are genuinely asking about their life and well-being, leads to new information and builds a stronger relationship with them?</span></span></span>


The Wake Up Call That Changed Everything
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Wednesday - April 15, 2020
<h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">It was a phone call I wasn’t expecting. It was news I wasn’t prepared to hear.</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">“You have been exposed to the coronavirus in your home. You need to go into quarantine.”</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Instantly, my life changed with this one phone call from the Nebraska Department of Health.</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">My mind was racing when I got off the phone:</span></span></span></h3> <ul> <li style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in"> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Do I have the virus right now?</span></span></span></h3> </li> <li style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in"> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">What do I need to do today in case I test positive for the virus tomorrow?</span></span></span></h3> </li> <li style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in"> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Do I have enough groceries and other supplies to survive during the quarantine?</span></span></span></h3> </li> <li style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in"> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Where might the virus be in my home? Where do I even begin to sanitize?</span></span></span></h3> </li> <li style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in"> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">What have I already touched in my home that might have exposed me to the virus?</span></span></span></h3> </li> <li style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt 0.5in"> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Who should I tell about my exposure?</span></span></span></h3> </li> <li style="margin:0in 0in 8pt 0.5in"> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">How could this have happened to me?</span></span></span></h3> </li> </ul> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Earlier in the day and before I received the phone call, I listened to the local news on television. I remembered hearing the report that day…14 confirmed community spread cases of COVID 19 in Lincoln and Lancaster County (total population of almost 314,000 people), with the county health department monitoring 110 known exposed individuals for symptoms.</span></span></span></h3>


Will You Respond or React
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - April 24, 2020
<h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">The COVID-19 pandemic has the capacity to affect every person in the world. Its immediate effects and long-term impacts is still unknown. But, one thing is for sure. Life is different today than it was before the pandemic.</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">The world has changed since the day we shut the doors of our schools and community-based agencies. Kids have changed. Families have changed. Communities have changed. Life will never be what it was before COVID-19.</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">It’s still unknown when we will be able to open our doors and welcome kids and families back. But, when the time comes, we need to be ready…ready to respond.</span></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Anticipating and preparing for the issues and needs kids and parents will have when they walk through your doors again is one of the most important things you can be doing right now. Now is the time to get yourself, your staff and your organization ready to respond. If you don’t think or plan ahead now, you will find yourself in a state of reaction later. And, there’s a big difference between a reaction and a response…</span></span></span></h3>


Interact With Your Kids Using A Restorative Lens
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - May 1, 2020
There are so many unknowns living through the current pandemic. I’ve never had more unanswered questions in my life than I do right now. Just when I get an answer to one question another unanswered question comes to mind. Perhaps you’ve had a lot of unanswered questions, too.<br /> <br /> Lately, I’ve been wondering about the effects physical isolation will have on kids’ relationships with their peers. I also ponder what the impact will be for kids who have been physically disconnected from the daily routine of school and afterschool activities where they learn how to get along with others, gain a sense of belonging and community and build supportive relationships. While texting, phone calls, social media apps, FaceTime and Zoom can help to fill kids’ need to socially connect with others, does technology meet all of the emotional and mental needs a face-to-face, in-person connection can provide? Even so, when we open our doors and welcome kids back, what physical restrictions will we need to adhere to and how might they continue to influence a sense of community among kids and their overall well-being?


Restorative Circles
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - May 8, 2020
At some point, students will return to school, community-based programs and extra-curricular activities. When they do they will come with many questions, concerns and experiences on their minds and in their hearts. Giving your students the opportunity to tell their stories in an atmosphere of safety, trust, respect and equality will be vitally important.<br /> <br /> Restorative practices can cultivate a culture of community in which all your students feel they belong and are seen, heard and respected – increasing the chances they will feel comfortable sharing their stories with you and each other.<br /> Circles are the foundation of restorative practices. Restorative circles proactively build the trust students need to safely risk self-disclosure, authenticity, confrontation, empathy and care. Circles develop the relationships and skills students need to support one another and collectively address the challenges they face.<br /> <br /> Circles are exactly what they are called. Students are arranged in a circle shape so that everyone can see every face without having to lean forward.<br /> <br /> Sitting in a circle is a fundamentally different experience than sitting in rows or meeting across a desk. When we are in rows there is generally someone standing in front who is commanding our attention. Clearly, this is the person who is in charge and who has the answers and to whom the group is accountable to. When we are meeting with someone who faces us from behind a desk we instinctively know the authority and power belongs to that person.


Preventing A Second Pandemic
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - May 15, 2020
I recently saw a meme on Facebook that had been shared by thousands of people. It was a fictional story of a child asking his grandparent, who was a child during the 2020 coronavirus, what that scary time must have been like. The grandparent shares that he doesn't recall the fear or anxiety, but only remembers that it was a wonderful time at home with his loving family.<br /> <br /> Sadly, many families and children across the nation will not think back to this time so fondly. From a loss of employment or cuts in pay, increased stress in relationships, food insecurity, unreported physical/emotional abuse, uptick in substance use, to a loved one's death without proper closure, the list of damaging stressors goes on for some families.<br /> <br /> As I’ve mentioned numerous times in previous blogs, the coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything we have ever experienced. Consequently, there's no way of knowing what the long-term emotional effects of living through it will really be on families.


This Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint
Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - May 22, 2020
<h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;">You have likely heard this phrase before as you have begun any number of ambitious tasks: “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”</h3> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;">I’ve never run a marathon before (a 5K is my limit), but I have friends who have. I listen to them talk about what they endured while training for a marathon. I hear stories about what it is like to actually run 26.2 miles. The common theme I hear in all their stories is…marathons are hard. Really hard.</h3> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;">The race is a mental rollercoaster. You can feel unstoppable for miles, and then, out of the blue, your legs stop working. You can feel so many highs and lows over a four+ hour time period. At points you are cruising, passing people and smiling, and at other times, you are ready to pull yourself out of the race altogether.</h3> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;">Even though you are exhilarated and filled with pride (and relief!) for crossing the finish line, in the back of your mind, you’re already evaluating what you could have done differently. You think about all of the details you neglected in your training and the mistakes you made in your race.</h3> <h3 style="color:#555555;display:block;font-family:Questrial,Arial,Helvetica,Verdana,sans-serif;font-kerning:normal;font-size:15px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:1.5;line-spacing:0px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-top:0px;">Whether you realize it or not, you are running in a marathon right now. A pandemic marathon. Unfortunately, you didn’t have the opportunity to adequately train for it and your race has no set finish line. Pacing yourself and reserving all the energy you will need - physically, emotionally and mentally - to finish the race will be important in the days, weeks and months ahead.</h3>


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