• Dear Parents/Guardians,

    The school social workers have created a blog that is updated monthly.  So far this year, we have posted about Bullying Prevention (October), Hunger and Homeless Awareness Month (November) and December's post included activities to keep your family active and engaged this winter.  

    Thank you and we hope you enjoy the posts!

    Estimados Padres /Guardas, 

    Los trabajadores sociales de la escuela han creado un blog que se actualiza mensualmente. En lo que va del año, hemos publicado sobre la prevención del acoso escolar (octubre), el Mes de concientización sobre el hambre y las personas sin hogar (noviembre) y la publicación de diciembre incluyó actividades para mantener a su familia activa y comprometida este invierno.

    ¡Gracias y esperamos que disfrutes las publicaciones!

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  • Keeping Kids Safe In a Digital Age

    Posted by Sarah Machold on 4/1/2020 5:00:00 AM


    Children are exposed to technology in their home, school and community.

    According to an NPR article, in 2019, "Just over half of children in the United States — 53 percent — now own a smartphone by the age of 11. And 84 percent of teenagers now have their own phones, immersing themselves in a rich and complex world of experiences that adults sometimes need a lot of decoding to understand."

    With the rapidly growing advances in technology and the use of apps, it can be difficult for parents to stay "in the know" and monitor their child's activity on the Internet without becoming overly protective.  As children continue to connect and socialize in the cyber world, there are steps parents can take to keep their kids safe. The tips below provides parents with useful ways to promote cyber safety, all while continuing to  expose their children to beneficial online opportunities.

    Tips For Keeping Your Child Safe In The Digital Age



    • Set Clear Boundaries 
      • Amount of time your kids can be on the Internet or use an electronic device
        • Weekends only?
        • A set amount of hours a week?
      • What time your kids can get online
        • In the morning before school?
        • In the evening after they finish homework?
        • After they shower?
      • What kinds of things they can look up and do on the Internet
        • E-mail?
        • Chat with friends?
        • Do research for homework?
        • Listen to music and watch YouTube videos?
        • Engage on social media


    • Explain that not everything they see on the internet is true and people may NOT be who they say they are
      • Don’t agree to meet with someone without a guardian if you’re underaged; and if you are of age, meet somewhere public and safe
      • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You might get a fake email saying that you’ve won a prize, and asking for some personal information to redeem the prize. Don’t fall for the trap!
      • There may be people out there acting like your bank, so if you see something urgent looking, it is a good idea to check to make sure that the email address looks legitimate and directly from your bank rather than from some phishy email address. These emails will try to look official and replicate your bank very closely to get your information
      • Online predators frequent chat rooms and social media apps; be aware and know who your child is talking to


    • Monitor Online and Mobile Phone Activity
      • Have open communication with your child and address concerns before they arise
      • If you have younger children, monitoring the sites they visit and apps is important to protect your child's safety 
      • 5 Internet Monitoring Apps: Kaspersky Safe Kids, Net Nanny, Mobicip Parental Control, Family Time, Qustodio
      • Parent's Guide To Mobile Phones
      • Xfinity Parental Controls helps you manage what sites and information they have access to on the Internet


    • Create Unique Passwords And Protect Your Information
      • Use Dinopass to create your own simple or strong password
      • "It’s also a good idea to have more than one password. While having the same password for everything feels easy and convenient, it can also backfire and you can easily lose everything you have. If you use different passwords for different accounts, you don’t have to worry about all of the accounts being jeopardized if one somehow gets hacked" (safehome.org)
      • Logout when using public devices

    Most Frequently Used Social Media Apps


    Snapchat is a messaging app that lets users put a time limit on the pictures and videos they send before they disappear. Most teens use the app to share goofy or embarrassing photos without the risk of them going public. However, there are lots of opportunities to use it in other ways.

    10 Things Parents Should Know About Snapchat


    Instagram lets users snap, edit, and share photos and 60-second videos, either publicly or within a private network of followers. It unites the most popular features of social media sites: sharing, seeing, and commenting on photos. It also lets you apply fun filters and effects to your photos, making them look high-quality and artistic. 

    Parent's Guide to Instagram


    Real Short Videos is a performance-and video-sharing social network that mostly features teens lip-synching to famous songs but also includes some original songwriting and singing. Users can build up a following among friends or share posts publicly.

    Parent's Guide to TikTok

    Promote Family Time Without Technology 


    Visit our December and January blog posts for ideas on how to connect with your child.

    Stay tuned for a our May blog about summer activity ideas.

    Additional Resources

    A Parent's Guide To CyberSecuity

    CyberSecurity Presentation For Parents

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  • Social Work Month

    Posted by Sarah Machold on 3/1/2020 5:00:00 AM

    generations       SSWAA - Beacon of Hope - 2020 School Soc








    March is Social Work Month, a time for us to celebrate the profession and raise awareness of the work we do in Augusta County Public Schools.  This year's theme for social work month is Generations Strong—[which] highlights the fact social workers have been working for generations to improve the lives of every single American." -NASW

    School Social Work Week is March 1-7, 2020. “Beacon of Hope: School Social Workers – Lighting the Way” is our theme for School Social Work Week 2020.  In our role, School Social Workers are able to light the way, emphasizing the whole child, collaborating with other professionals, linking students and families with needed services, and advocating for our profession. " -SSWAA

    SW everywhere

    Where In The World Are Social Workers?

    The field of social work is projected to continue growing at both the micro (individuals, families and groups) and macro (community) levels. Social workers can be found throughout the community in such places as libraries, hospitals, mental health facilities, nursing homes, adoption, supporting our military population and in schools.

    Meet Your Augusta County School Social Workers

    Ashley Whitesel-Buffalo Gap Vertical Team

    Brandi Heiston-Wilson Vertical Team

    Jessica Hawkins-Fort Defiance Vertical Team

    Pat Coogan-Stuarts Draft Vertical Team

    Sarah Machold-Riverheads Vertical Team

    Virginia's School Social Workers/Visiting Teachers are required to have a Masters in Social Work or Education and hold a Pupil Personnel Services License. These professionals are trained to address the socio-emotional needs of students and their families in order to help them achieve success and stability. School Social Workers have a comprehensive skill set in the areas of mental health intervention/counseling, community resource awareness, advocacy, time management and critical thinking. School Social Workers act as a link between the home, school and community

    How We Support The School Division





     Advocating For Our Profession

    HB 398 School counselors and social workers; student to position ratio, certain schools.  The bill requires school boards to employ one school counselor and one social worker for every 250 students in each elementary school, middle school, and high school in which at least 50 percent of the students are eligible for federal free lunch. Please contact your local representative and ask them to support this bill to increase the number of school social workers in Virginia’s Schools!  http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+HB398

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  • Healthy Relationships

    Posted by Sarah Machold on 2/1/2020 5:00:00 AM


    February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.  Learn more about the warning signs of toxic relationships and how to talk to your teenager. 

    "Domestic abuse occurs in high-income families, low-income families, gay relationships, and straight relationships. Men and women can be abused, and both men and women can be abusers. Domestic violence can happen to anyone." -VeryWellFamily

    What is Teen Dating Violence?

    "The physical, sexual, psychological/emotional abuse within a dating relationship among adolescents.  One in three teens in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner. These violent relationships have serious consequences for victims - putting them at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, suicide and adult re-victimization." -DrydenWire


     The Cycle of Teen Dating Violence 

    The cycle may not look exactly the same for each situation.  The cycle may occur over months or years, or in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, children who have witnessed domestic violence are at a greater risk of engaging in violent relationships themselves, as either the victim or perpetrator.  If you have experienced unhealthy relationships, you have an opportunity to help your child or friend break the cycle.  

    Warning Signs of Toxic Relationships 


    For additional warning signs click here. 

     Take the Quiz!  Is my relationship healthy? 


    How to Talk to your Teen Or A Friend About Their Unhealthy Relationship

    Resist the Urge to Step In and Take Charge

    Spend More Time Listening Than Talking

    Support Their Decisions

    Encourage Them to Rekindle Relationships With Family and Friends

    Help Them Develop the Skills They Need to Break Up

          Rebuild Their Self-Esteem

          Teach Them To Be Assertive

          Foster Resiliency

    Tips For School Counselors Or Educators

    How to Identify and Intervene in Teen Dating Violence

    How Can We Stop The Problem Before It Starts

    how to help




    Everyone Deserves Healthy Relationships 

    Speak your mind - Being allowed to have a difference of opinion, speaking freely without a negative consequence or backlash, being able to tell your partner when you are upset or something is bothering you

    Trusting Eachother - Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship. Being able to spend time with others without suspicion of wrong-doing.

    Mutual Respect- Feeling that your ideas, statements or beliefs are as important as your partners. 

    Compromise - Being able to see both sides. Settling arguments or disagreements without physical or verbal threats

    Be Supportive - Inspiring and encouraging your partner. Avoiding put downs or attempts to control your partner

    Give each other space to breathe - It is important to have individual activities and hobbies and to spend time apart from each other, with friends and family.

    Check out these 10 Signs of a Healthy Relationship


    First Step  Based out of Harrisonburg, VA. First Step, provides hotline and prevention services, shelter, support groups, legal advocacy, case management services, rapid rehousing, children services, and opportunities for community outreach.

    New Directions A non-profit community organization devoted to diminishing the occurrence and impact of emotional, physical, and sexual violence in Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County. The organization provide crisis intervention, emergency housing, food, clothing, and transportation to women, children and men impacted by domestic violence.

    Virginia Victims Fund is a state program created to help victims of violent crime with out of pocket expenses. These can include medical bills, prescriptions, funeral expenses, and many other expenses.

    love is respect   

    Highly trained advocates offer support, information and advocacy to young people who have questions or concerns about their dating relationships.

    Text* loveis (capitalization does not matter) to 22522. You will receive a response from a peer advocate prompting you for your question. Go ahead and text your comment or question and we will reply.

    Speak to a peer advocate by calling 1-866-331-9474. 



    Text #HOPE – A Direct Link to Help --#HOPE is a service available across Verizon Wireless’ nationwide wireless network. By dialing #HOPE (#4673) then pressing send from any Verizon Wireless phone, callers are connected directly to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, where they can receive the confidential help they need through empowerment-based crisis intervention, information and resources. 

    HopeLine  Provides phones and other resources to victims or survivors of domestic violence.


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  • Focus on Family this New Year

    Posted by Sarah Machold on 1/2/2020 5:00:00 AM


    Have you ever considered creating a family New Year's resolution? January represents the start of a new 365 day journey, a time to start over, and create memories. It is a great time to also come together and think of family goals you would like to accomplish during the year.  

    Here are some ideas to get you started:


    • Learn Something New
      • Piano Lessons
      • Singing Lessons
      • Take a different route home
      • Explore your town's history


    • Get Active 
      • Taking up a new sport or hobby
      • Going to the playground together
      • Training for a 5k as a family
      • Have a dance party



    • Stop texting and driving
      • Enable the Do Not Disturb or Driving Auto-Reply on your cell phone
      • Listen to an audiobook or family sing-a-long in the car instead
      • Keep focused on the road to ensure you and your children's safety!


    • Put Down Devices
      • Make a rule for no phones, computers, and other devices at mealtime
      • Spend time, nightly, talking to your child about their school day modeling eye contact and positive communication skills


    • Eat and Make Healthier foods





    Help your kids also set realistic and attainable goals that are age appropriate


    • I will read with my parent at bedtime 
      • **Spending 20 minutes nightly reading shows positive vocabularly development, background knowledge and reading comprehension
      • Make a reading chart
      • Find the perfect fit book


    • Cook something new and try one of these kid friendly recipes
      • Make your own tacos
      • Small children may enjoy retrieving items from low shelves or mixing dry ingredients. Older children can set the table or start a pot of water to boil. Include the family in meal planning and food shopping. 


    Unsure about a goal?  Instead create a New Year's Time Capsule!
    Teach Kindness
    Do you have a chore chart at home for your children?  Have you ever put together a kindness chart? It works just like a chore chart, except it has little acts of kindness that you can do as a family or that your child can do by themselves!  Add an extra incentive and have your child ẗreat themselves with their favorite candy, toy or activity celebrating why and what they do to show kindness to others. Fill in a heart after you complete an act of kindness or check out this January Random Acts of Kindness Calendar to do as a family.
    100 acts
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  • Beating The Winter Blues

    Posted by Sarah Machold on 12/2/2019 5:00:00 AM

    Beating The Winter Blues


    Activities to keep your family active and engaged this winter

    Find inspiration with some of these winter themed activities to do with your preschool or younger aged kiddos. A winter sensory bag is perfect for long car rides to visit family and friends! Or, on those cold, snowy days where you can't be outside, enjoy warm play activities from the comfort of your home.  Obstacle courses using those boxes from presents or making blanket forts are a great way to enjoy cuddle time with your little one.  We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below to let us know some other family activities you enjoy doing with your younger children.  

    Handprint Winter Crafts for Kids

    Do you have school-aged children at home? The extended school break is a great time to connect with your child and enjoy activities in your community. 


    Shoveling snow for a neighbor, volunteering with a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, visiting a trampoline jump park or outdoor ice skating rink, are just a few options.

    Whether you want to play outside or stay inside, here are some other fun winter activities to explore.




    Incorporating math, reading and writing tasks into their daily routine, are creative ways to keep their brains active during the school break. 

    The Life Cycle of Snowman: Your child can learn the states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas through this family-friendly activity.

    Is your child interested in STEM activities?

    Check out these great STEM ideas you can do at home together this winter!

           winter activities for your teen


    Visit your local Augusta County Library website for a calendar of upcoming events or view the December-February winter activities guide.



    Snow Day Food and Fun!

    Try one of these tasty recipes for a snow day treat!  Snow cream or dairy-free snow cream is a simple and delicious snack.  Looking for other ideas? A pine cone birdfeeder or snow-playdough are other great craft options during winter time.

     Winter Craft Projects and Activities for Kids

    Another great way to make a difference this winter season, is to donate supplies to those less fortunate through charities and food banks. Use a pre-made Reverse Advent Calendar or follow directions to make your own.  Another option is making a Christmas Kindness calendar.


    We hope you have a healthy and happy winter season! 

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  • Hunger and Homeless Awareness Month

    Posted by Sarah Machold on 11/1/2019 12:05:00 AM

    Hunger and Homelessness is a growing concern in the United States and in our community.  Based on 2018 data, Virginia ranks 11th in Overall Poverty Rate.  Wondering where you will sleep at night or if you will have food to eat, also impacts your child's ability to learn. 


    State Wide Programs

    Blue Ridge Area Food Bank - Provides nourishing food to our neighbors in need through vibrant community partnerships and passionate public support. Serving 25 counties and 8 cities on either side of the Blue Ridge through distribution centers in Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Winchester and their headquarters in Verona. To learn more click here for their Network Fact Sheet or to find a pantry near you.

    Project HOPE - Virginia ensures the enrollment, attendance, and the school success of children and youth experiencing homelessness through public awareness efforts across the Commonwealth and subgrants to local school divisions. What Families Need To Know brochure provides an overview of rights for students lacking fixed, regular and adequate housing.

    For more information, please visit our Homeless Education webpage.

    Schools within our region work hard to identify homeless students and ensure educational stability for those experiencing unstable housing. 

    School Performance and Emotional Toll





    During elementary school, the typical student who was homeless missed 88 days of school--almost half of a school year. -Institute for Children Poverty and Homelessness 

     Absenteeism and Homelessness

    In 2016-2017, 70% of homeless students in grades 3-12th failed the Virginia Reading SOL. Approximately 75% of homeless students failed the Virginia Math SOL and 63% failed the Virginia Science SOL.  State and national efforts are being made towards improving these outcomes so that barriers to education can be eliminated.

    Local Resources

    Food Pantries, Soup Kitchens and Shelters in our local community 

    Food Bank By Locality




    New Directions A non-profit community organization devoted to diminishing the occurrence and impact of emotional, physical, and sexual violence in Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County.






    Mission logo

    A non-profit organization offering shelter, support and God's love to the homeless. Basic needs of shelter, food, clothing and spiritual encouragement are provided to all.


    Warm2  Waynesboro Area Refuse Ministry (WARM) is a non-profit ministry that provides emergency and temporary housing to homeless men, women and women with children in Waynesboro and Greater Augusta County, Virginia


    Mercy Mercy House is located in Harrisonburg, Virginia. A true grass roots movement-Mercy House helps to feed, clothe and shelter people in the community.

    Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week

    November 16-24, 2019 Join together with people across the country for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. You can help lend a hand to those in immediate need, while also supporting meaningful long-term solutions.



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  • Bullying Prevention Month

    Posted by Sarah Machold on 9/30/2019 5:00:00 AM

    Bullying Quote: Imagine a World (words appear on skin)

    Bullying has become a popular topic of discussion for our youth, parents and teachers today. Not just limited to face-to-face interactions, bullying can occur through social media, emails, and texting." The opportunity for bullying has expanded and become sneakier than ever."  

    There are five different types of bullying: physical bullying, verbal bullying, cyberbullying, sexual bullying, and bias bullying. 

    Look for changes in the child. However, be aware that not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs.

    Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are: 

    • Unexplainable injuries
    • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
    • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illnesses
    • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
    • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
    • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
    • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
    • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
    • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide

    How to communicate with the school regarding your concerns

    Contact your child's school administrator or school counselor to discuss your concerns.

    Augusta County Schools has begun using the STOPit App. This is an online reporting tool designed to bring attention to incidents of bullying, cyber abuse, and other inappropriate behaviors occuring in and outside of school. It allows students to anonymously report incidents or concerns to school staff. The parent video can be viewed for more information. 

    Parents as partners

    Parents are on the frontlines and often may hear about incidents of bullying from their child at home before the school is made aware. They play a vital role in addressing, responding, and communicating the concerns to help resolve the issues.  It is important for parents to talk openly with their children about their day, and directly about bullying. 

    Creating a safe school climate

    As educators, we also play a role in combatting bullying and establishing a safe school climate for all. Be aware that bullying most frequently occurs in the cafeteria, rest rooms, library, locker rooms, and on the bus and playground. School wide initiatives occur throughout Augusta County schools during October and throughout the school year to raise awareness.

     history bullying


    The World Day of Bullying Prevention is October 7. The online student participation toolkit provides resources to show your support. Unite together for this call to action and #BlueUp.  

    How to Get Help

          Crisis Text Line      love is respect     Image result for hope line inc




    Stomp Out Bullying



    web page counter

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