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On The Point blog
from Rock Point School

CJ Spirito

Recent Posts

How to Reduce Teen Back-to-School Anxiety

on August 13, 2020 By CJ Spirito | resilience anxiety transitions
Every “back-to-school” season, teens experience anxiety around schoolwork, schedules, friendships, and activities. They must negotiate new teachers, try-out for activities, and navigate new social situations. This year most teens have been out of school for months after working from home during the spring due to COVID-19. For many teens (and their parents and some school staff), the transition back to in-person school feels daunting.
Read - How to Reduce Teen Back-to-School Anxiety

Art, Motivation, and Resilience

As students get to high school, many are forced to make the choice to give up taking an art class in order to make room in their schedule for other academic classes seen as more essential for college or careers. While it’s true that high school students should not be expected to overfill their schedules, the value of studying and creating art translates not only into the workplace, but also into emotional and social health. This is one of the reasons that at Rock Point School, we continue to put the arts at the center of our curriculum. Whether students are collaborating on a mosaic or doing a photoshoot in the woods, the skills they gain in the process are essential to becoming successful in school and beyond.
Read - Art, Motivation, and Resilience

Practicing Gratitude is Good for your Health

The other day I was helping a student prepare for our Thanksgiving service, when we started talking about what he was grateful for in his life. “I’m grateful I’m accepted for who I am here,” he said with a shrug. While he did not know it, his statement stayed with me all day. I am so grateful to work in a community of students who are inclusive and kind to one another, and I probably don’t tell them that enough. Our conversation reminded me of the importance of practicing gratitude in our daily lives, not just when the holiday rolls around.
Read - Practicing Gratitude is Good for your Health

Teaching Teens Three Life Skills that Last

on July 27, 2017 By CJ Spirito | Motivation
At graduation, our long-time History teacher, Gus Buchanan, has a sweet tradition of reading from  All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. The line that usually gets us all to tear up a little, comes at the end of the first chapter, “And it’s still true, no matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” We hope that as our graduates leave, they keep that lesson in their heart, to look out for one another, and stay connected. Of course we also hope they have learned some tangible life skills to take with them when they move on.
Read - Teaching Teens Three Life Skills that Last

Current Affairs: Teens and Anxiety

on May 4, 2017 By CJ Spirito | high school anxiety
I had a plan going into our weekly School-wide Reflections meeting before vacation, but as often happens when working with teens, my plans changed. Looking at their faces, tense bodies, and the general lack of attendance, I wondered what was going on. So, I asked. My students, as usual, surprised me with the depth and breadth of their answers.
Read - Current Affairs: Teens and Anxiety

What's in a Pronoun: Language and Inclusivity

on February 22, 2017 By CJ Spirito | Open & Inclusive
In my work with high school students, the “pronoun question” comes up regularly. For some students, it is something they have never thought about before - some might even not remember what a pronoun is! For others, the pronoun you use when talking with them is something that matters deeply to them and signals either acceptance of their identity or rejection. Some students may still be struggling with their gender identity and not be certain how they want to be defined, and others may not fit neatly into the gender binary of the English language.
Read - What's in a Pronoun: Language and Inclusivity

Setting Goals to Stay Motivated in the New Year

on January 9, 2017 By CJ Spirito | Motivation high school life skills
It’s the start of a new year and everyone, it seems, is making resolutions and setting goals. While many people are unable to maintain their resolutions beyond the first few months, there are ways to help make them stick. At Rock Point, we love helping our students set and achieve their personal goals. One way we are doing this, is through Personal Learning Plans, where each student outlines their long term and short term goals, with the steps required to achieve them along the way.
Read - Setting Goals to Stay Motivated in the New Year

Teens and Adoption: Identity, Inclusion, and Independence

In October, we hosted a discussion with local therapist and adoption specialist Benjamin Houchen on Adoption and Adolescents. We invited families in our community to join us to share insight and ask questions about how best to support teens who were adopted. While each family is unique, Houchen addressed the themes that emerge during adolescence and the particular significance they have for children who have been adopted.
Read - Teens and Adoption: Identity, Inclusion, and Independence

Nurturing Grit and Resilience for Better Learning

If you’ve been paying attention to the educational landscape in the past few years, you’ve probably heard the terms “Social and Emotional Learning,” “Grit,” “Resilience,” “Life Skills,” or “Soft Skills” being thrown around. While it is clear that these skills are extremely important to our young people and can be a large factor in determining success, it can be difficult to sort out which specific skills fall into these categories and how to teach them. At Rock Point School, we refer to teaching these skills as educating the “whole person.”
Read - Nurturing Grit and Resilience for Better Learning

Are You Worried about a Gap Year before College?

on June 1, 2016 By CJ Spirito | gap year
You may have heard that Malia Obama is taking a year ‘off’, known as a gap year, before she enters Harvard University in the fall of 2017. This news has brought lots of attention to what has become a trend - students taking a year between graduating high school and beginning college. To some, this seems like a luxury, and certainly there are luxurious excursion or adventure options for a gap year, but to others this year can be extremely beneficial and make their college experience more meaningful.
Read - Are You Worried about a Gap Year before College?