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Counselor's Corner

SVUSD Counselor Corner: Social Emotional Learning Resources

Please view the Simi Valley Unified School District's Counselor Corner, which has many wonderful resources for Social Emotional Learning.  CLICK HERE

Promotion Ceremony Requirements
Promotion Ceremony Requirements for Eighth Graders:

Requirements for eligibility to participate in the 8th Grade Activities/Promotion Ceremony include:

• Earn no more than 1 unsatisfactory mark (“U”) in citizenship in the 4th quarter. 
• Maintain acceptable behavior during the second semester. Excessive suspensions, truancies, and/or tardies could result in exclusion. 
• Earn a passing grade in at least 9 of their 12 classes taken; 4 of these passing grades must be earned in the final semester. 
• Pay all fines owed to Hillside Middle School a week prior to the date of the promotion activities. 
• Participation in the 8th Grade Portfolio Day.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Presentation

Every year, the counseling office presents to sixth and seventh grade students on the topic of Sexual Harassment Prevention.  Letters will be given to students to bring home and is available HERE. The presentation includes characteristics of sexual harassment, different forms of sexual harassment, and how to get support if the situation occurs. 


This counseling curriculum is district mandated to ensure that every student is provided a safe and positive learning environment at Hillside Middle School.  Students have the right to get an education and participate in school activities free from any unwelcome or unwanted sexual behavior. 


If a parent or guardian has any questions, feel free to contact Mr. Bednar or the Counseling Office. 

Elective Descriptions

Click Here to access the elective course descriptions for the 2019-2020 academic year. 

Contact Matthew Thompson  Matthew Thompson ex: 1012 Counselor A-K
Contact Cheri Toyen  Cheri Toyen ex: 1012 Counselor L-Z

The 10 Step Process to Succeeding in Middle School


1. Review the grades with your child in a rational manner and ask your child how you can help them to improve.

2. Remind your child that they have a fresh start with the beginning of each semester.

3. Develop a homework plan together. A time, place, supplies needed, schedule of how to attack the assignments each night.

4. Require your child to fill out their agenda book for each class every night and if needed, ask them to have each teacher initial next to the assignments that are written down.

5. Review the agenda every night and ask to see each assignment that is written down. Don’t accept “I left it at school” or “I haven’t finished it yet, I will finish it later” as an answer. Require that you see all assignments completed.

6. Ask your child to bring home all of their books (if they are not on line) every night if you can’t keep track of which books should come home on which night.  Many of the books now are on-line.  Check with your student's teachers.

7. Have your student stop by the counseling office for ideas and tips for improving their grades.

8. Review your child’s State Test scores to identify areas that they are struggling in and work with your child in those areas.

9. Contact your child’s teacher to discuss ways to help your child improve.  Teach your child to problem solve rather than requesting a class change.

10. Foster communication with your child and ask them how school is going on a daily basis. Sometimes kids just need a reminder that you care.


Study Skills

Being effective when studying and organizing is a purposeful act.  You can find some additional resources on studying and organization below:


1. How to Study


2. Study Guides and Strategies



Social Media

Social Media has overwhelming prevalence in our society today.  It is important to examine the benefits of social media as well as it's potential for harm or conflict if misused. 


The Novus Project is a fantastic resource for parents, students, and schools regarding healthy social media use, ways to monitor and limit social media use, and much more.  



Bullying is defined as:

  • A deliberate hostile action or aggression towards another person.
  • The victim is usually weaker and/or less powerful than the bully or bullies.
  • Bullying has an outcome, which is almost always painful and distressing for the victim.

Are you or someone you know being bullied?  If so, we can help! To report bullying, please have your child talk to the Principal, Assistant Principal, Dean, or Counselor. 


Children do not usually learn to solve these kinds of problems by themselves. We need to teach them. I need your help as parents to stop the cycle of bullying. Help me to teach your children to speak up on the behalf of the children being bullied. Since bullying is an imbalance of power, telling about a bullying situation is not tattling. Persistent bullying can lead to depression, low self-esteem, shyness, poor academic achievement, and at its extreme even suicide. Research has shown that children usually talk to their parents if they are being bullied, not the school, so communication between you, as parents, and the school is crucial to keep the children in our community safe.

If your child is being bullied:

  • Talk to your child calmly about what has happened.
  • Discuss alternatives to responding to bullies.
  • Tell your child not to react, instead to walk away, and get help if pursued.  If its during nutrition or lunch have them walk towards a campus supervisor.
  • Tell your child to be assertive and tell the bully to stop.
  • Note down what your child says, who was involved, how often, where the incident occurred, and what happened.
  • Reassure the child that reporting the incident was the right thing to do and if it were to happen again then they should immediately let you or a teacher know.
  • Make an appointment with your child's teacher and explain what your child is experiencing. They may not be aware of what is going on.

If your child is the bully:

  • Give your child suggestions for other things to do if they are frustrated.
  • Role-play new behavior with your child.
  • Discuss whom they could go to if they feel themselves getting into this type of situation.
  • Specify consequences if the aggression or bullying continues.
  • You want to stop the behavior, understand your child's feelings, and reward appropriate behaviors.

How to Bully-Proof Your Child

Make it a habit to talk to your child about school. Ask pointed questions, such as 'Who is a bully in your class?' and 'Who bothers kids at recess and on the bus?'

What to Look For:

  • Excuses for not wanting to go to school
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Torn clothing
  • Need for extra school supplies or money
  • Continually 'losing' belongings and school supplies
  • Problems sleeping; nightmares
  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Sudden academic problems
  • Being secretive, sullen, or having temper outbursts
  • Ravenous after school (lunches being taken)
  • Rushes to bathroom after school (avoiding use at school)
  • Frequent visits to school sick room with mysterious complaints

If You Suspect a Problem:

  • Let the school know your safety worries immediately
  • Keep a record of times, dates, names, and circumstances to show a pattern of harassment
  • Urge your school to adopt a clear conduct code that enforces strict penalties for bullying
  • Teach your child self-respect; confident kids are less likely to become victims
  • Let your child know it is OK to express their anger, if done appropriately
  • Encourage friendships ... there is strength in numbers
  • Arrange weekend play dates to encourage friendships
  • Help your child build social skills early
  • Help shy kids with social skills training. Role-play together situations that have occurred
  • Explain the difference between 'telling' and 'tattling'. 'Tattling' is when you report someone just to get them in trouble. 'Telling' is when you report that you or someone else is in danger. Danger includes verbal abuse, and being excluded.
  • Stress the importance of body language. A 'victim stance' may attract bullies
  • Teach your child effective skills for making friends. These include how to share, compromise, be diplomatic, change the topic of conversation to avoid conflict, use 'I' statements, and apologize.
  • Teach your child alternative responses ... use 'HA HA SO' (Help, Avoid, Humor, Assert yourself, Self-talk, Own it)
  • Don't advise either ignoring or physically attacking the bully

Books for Parents:

  • Arrezo, D. & Stocking, H. (1975) Helping Friendless Children: A Guide for Teachers and Parents; Boys Town Centre for the Study of Youth Development
  • Blechman, E. (1985) Solving Child Behaviour Problems at Home and at School; Research Press
  • Canter, L. & Canter, M. (1988) Assertive Discipline for Parents; Lee Canter & Associates
  • James, J. (1990) You Know I Wouldn't Say This If I Didn't Love You; Newmarket Press
  • Golant, M. & Crane, B. (1987) Sometimes It's OK to be Angry: A Parent/Child Manual for the Education of Children; OK Press

1. Find ways to internally motivate your child. Find out what the child's goals are. Once you have determined the child's goals, ask questions to help the child determine how he can meet these goals. 


Here are some ideas:

• How much time to you think you’ll need to study each day?

• What do you want your study space to look like?

• What conditions do you need to study most effectively?

• What materials do you need?

• What do you want the quality of your work to look like?

• How can I best assist you?

• What method do you want to use to monitor your daily and weekly progress?

• Where will you keep your completed homework?

2. Teach them time management skills. Help the child organize projects with a planner. Help them create a system for logging projects and checking them off upon completion.


3. Have the child create her own consequences for the following situations:

• Forgetting homework

• Not sticking to study schedule

• Careless homework

• How to get assignments when absent

• What should happen when a goal is not met?

Have the child write all agreements, consequences and schedules. Be specific. Keep all agreements in writing to

avoid power struggles over the plan. Use encouragement.

4. Make learning a family value. Establish a family quiet time when all family members read or do something educational. Keep this time sacred even if your child doesn’t have any homework that night.

5. Don’t argue or bargain about homework time. Simply state, "I understand. It’s homework time." Repeat as often as necessary, stay calm.

6. Make yourself available for help, without doing it for him. When the child asks for help, have him read the directions to you.

7. Make it fun. Learning is a natural talent for children and keeping it interesting, meaningful, fun and exciting is helpful.

8. Make the teacher a part of your team for success. When you feel frustrated or unsure, meet with the child’s teacher and ask him/her for ideas to help you support your child’s learning.

9. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep.

10. If your child does not want to study ask yourself, "What is my child trying to communicate?"

• Resisting controlling parental attitudes

• Not capable of the work

• Learning disability, ADD, ADHD

• Low self-esteem

• Child’s method of learning needs are not being met

• Sibling competition

11. Do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher if you need assistance or want to clarify homework. Hillside Middle School has a website and you can email teachers to communicate your concerns.

At the end of each grading period, it’s always a good idea to do a little spring-cleaning. A skill that is helpful for many students is to get into the habit of organizing and re-organizing their school supplies on a periodic basis. The end of a grading period provides students with an opportunity for a fresh start and being organized is a useful tool on the road to success. Here are a few things I would suggest to help your student get and stay organized:


1. Take everything out of the backpack and separate things into piles. Supplies (pencils, pens, hole puncher, stapler, ruler, colored pencils, etc.) in one pile and stack the papers for each subject area in another pile.

2. Make a folder for each subject area to keep at home and put all graded papers in the appropriate subject folder. Keep all your graded work until the end of the year. This will help your student if there is a discrepancy in their grade with the teacher.

3. Throw away all trash!

4. Put all school supplies back in a pencil pouch or the backpack pocket and replace any items that need to be replenished.

5. Reorganize the 3 ring binder by subject and re-fill notebook paper supply. Make sure to have subject dividers and check the metal rings on the binder because if students bend the rings then their papers will get caught on the rings and tear. It happens all the time.

6. Recover their textbooks if the covers are demolished or falling off.

7. If their backpack is a disaster, you can only imagine what their locker looks like. Consider taking a little trip to their locker when you pick them up from school or when you get home from work and cleaning out their locker. You will be amazed at how much can get lost in that little metal box.


Going through these steps should help your student to have a fresh start this semester. Keep up the hard work!



Education, Programs and Trainings

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training


Naviance's "Family Connection" is a web based program for academic planning, college and career research.  This system is now available to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at Hillside Middle School. Naviance helps students and families connect with what students do in the classroom to their life goals, including finding colleges and careers based on their personal skills and areas of interests.  All eighth grade students at Hillside will use Naviance to complete their career portfolio, a promotion requirement. Naviance provides a single location for students and their families to begin looking at improve college and career planning and measure student outcomes. We encourage parents, guardians and family members to explore the wealth of information contained in this incredible resource.


Click here to logon.


Counselor's Corner en español
Haga clic aquí para ver esta información en español. Para comunicarse con  el personal docente, en Español; favor de enviar el correo electronico a Ruth Good .