Windemere Ranch Middle School Home
Burrows, Helen
Counseling Tech
Fraser, Alyssa
Hersch, Monica
Watkin, Julie

Newsletter Articles

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Dougherty Valley High School Math and Science Course Advancement

SRVUSD recognizes that some students want to challenge themselves academically beyond the classroom.  Course advancement is one opportunity available for our students.  Students may enroll in an approved math or science course of study outside of SRVUSD that may lead to course advancement.  We also recognize that advancement is not for all students.  Families must determine if their student(s) can manage the fast pace curriculum delivery. 

Students planning on advancing, need to go to the Dougherty Valley High School Counseling page of their website and click the advancement link to sign up.


Counseling Department

Bond While Setting Goals

By: Alyssa Fraser

As our children embark on a new school year, many parents think about the hopes and aspirations we have for our children for the upcoming school year, as well as their distant ...more

Unconditional Love

Quality over Quantity

Engage Your Brain in Better Learning

By:  Alyssa Fraser

Last month I had the opportunity to attend The Learning and the Brain Conference.  The conference is host to many neuroscientists who are actively discovering new information about how the brain learns and performs optimally. The information gained from this conference is fascinating. 

            Our brains are constantly changing.  Whether they change for better or worse, is in our hands. As we move through life, our brains gain and lose neurons, as well as strengthen and weaken neural connections, based on how we use them. To grossly simplify brain function, we will focus on the health of the frontal lobe of the brain and how it relates to learning. Brain research tells us that the brain and frontal lobe, in particular, undergo more changes during adolescence than any other time in life except for the first two months of life (Chapman, 2013). With this knowledge, we must ask, what can our children do now to ensure that their brains are optimally developing?

Of course brain development is partially based on genetics and physical maturity, but a large portion of frontal lobe development can be actively changed by an individual’s interaction with learning. Most simply put, for best learning results avoid distraction and information overload. 

In the case of knowledge, research shows that more is not always better. In order to form deep understanding of a concept, to really “know” information our brains need to make connections and actively engage with the information. I often hear students say that they learn new information for a test and then forget the information after the test has been taken (or in some cases before). This is because they are trying to memorize the information, rather than learn it.

In her book Make Your Brain Smarter, Sandra Bond Chapman says, “Your brain builds deeper connections across ideas when you can take a step back and rest; letting your brain have downtime leads to greater insights.” Greater insight and building better connections are what lead to actual learning. When we pile on tons of knowledge, or pack our children’s days full with learning new concepts all day at school followed up with additional tutoring after school, we fill their brains with facts, but the information is not usually truly learned. That is, they have difficulty applying the knowledge and retrieving the information after a period of time has passed. They keep piling information in, but without taking a break and taking the time to connect the new learning to previous information, they do not build the neural networks to actually allow the information to “stick.”  Chapman goes on to say, “Cognitive brain health depends not on how much information a person takes in but rather how deep the person is reinterpreting and creating new meaning from information.” Thus, quality over quantity.  Chapman’s research finds that when the focus of learning is placed on “strategic, abstract thinking, it becomes easier to remember the details.”

As we help our children learn and study for exams, emphasis should be placed on the overall ideas rather than the details. Research indicates that recall of the details will be greater when there is first a better understanding of the overall concept. One way to help our children with this is to ask for the overarching theme or concept that they are learning. Then lead them in a discussion about what connections they can make with this learning and what they already know. Ask them what they think about what they are learning or how it could be applicable to daily life. These points of discussion may not directly appear on an exam, but by engaging in this type of thinking, they will be better able to reason and solidify their learning of the material. Question what details lead them to this line of reasoning. By actively engaging with the information in this way, they will have better recall of facts on exams as well.

As we know, information does not only come from school. In fact, I believe that the majority of information overload experienced by our students today comes from their interaction with technology. Next month, my newsletter will take a look at adolescent technology use and multi-tasking and the effects on brain health and learning.

Information about the counseling department

What does a School Counselor do?
• Helps create a safe school environment where children can learn.
• Promotes positive attitudes among students toward self, family, peers and community.
• Assists students in learning how school performance relates to future opportunities, options and choices.
• Supports students by teaching skills for achieving success.
• Provides counseling with students individually and in groups.
• Works with students to ensure optimal attendance and minimal tardiness.
• Coordinates referrals to outside agencies.
• Helps design interventions to enhance student success in all areas of life.
• Helps students learn about anger management, conflict resolution and mediation skills.
• Helps parents, teachers, and administrators learn how to meet the needs of all students.

A School Counselor is not a doctor or a psychologist. School Counselors meet with you, the student, to help you sort through problems that might be happening in your day-to-day life. Let's face it; we are all faced with problems in our lives! Sometimes there are problems that need even more attention than a school counselor can offer. School Counselors work with other people in the field of psychology to assist students and parents in working through some difficult personal or family concerns.

How do I see the Counselor?
Ask your teacher for a pass, ask the counselor to send you a pass, request by the counselor, principal or assistant principal request, parent request, teacher request and friend request. Please contact Mrs. Dee Charbonnet to schedule an appointment.

When can I see the Counselor?
Mrs. Fraser is on campus from 7:45-2:45 pm.

Where is the Counselor's office?
Our office is in the back of the Administration Building.

How and why do parents contact the school counselor?
Concerns over student achievement, family health problems, new school registration and orientation, test interpretation, discussing special needs of their student, discussion of potential crisis, family difficulties or concerns, scheduling, 504 plans, student success team meetings, and parent Education.

Am I in trouble if I see the School Counselor?
When you receive a slip with your Counselor's name on it, it does not mean you have been called in because you are in trouble or "bad". In fact, a counselor is an adult who acts as your advocate! An advocate is someone who wants to listen to what you have to say and help you come up with reasonable solutions to making your situation better. It does not mean that your counselor can solve the problem for you; it does mean that you have a safe place that you can go to when you are not sure what to do.

Anti-Bullying Resources

<a target="_blank" href="http://www

Anti-Bullying Network
Bully Advice for Kids
Get Your ANGRIES Out
No Bully 4 Kids

Preventing Bullying And Harassment (a learning resource for teachers and students)


Student Incident Report

If you would like to submit a student incident report, please click on the link.  All incidences will be investigated by the administrators and/or counselors.

Click here to submit a report

General Resources/ Articles


Tips on Study Skills/Time Management/Test Preparation (PDF)

It's My Life: A Guide for Middle-Schoolers

American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
Articles and useful information for parents.

Hope Hospice
If yo
u are looking for a support service for students who have a parent who is ill or recently deceased, you may want to check out Hope Hospice which runs wonderful groups for students and teens who may need support yet want the "normalcy" of a school day and may not actually want to be in a grief/loss group at school. Please note that this response may be different for students who have experienced loss of a parent a while ago, as they have different issues that arise as time goes by. The bottom line is that Hope Hospice is a great resource for any sort of bereavement issues For your information, please visit their website or call them at 925-829-8770.

Twelve Secrets for Successful Step-parenting
Parenting and step-parenting is probably the most challenging job you can tackle, yet there are no job requirements (other than having kids). It doesn't require getting a child care license, serving an apprenticeship, passing an exam, or getting a degree. Worst of all, no instruction manual comes with the kids. You certainly wouldn't buy a refrigerator or computer that came with so little back-up information.

Self-injury Concern
Symptoms include refusal to wear shorts or short sleeve shirts, frequent "accidents" leaving bruises or scratches, increased secrecy, isolation and withdrawal. If you see any indication that your child may be involved, or tempted to be involved, in this type of activity please contact your pediatrician or medical insurance immediately. For families without medical coverage, or wanting a local counseling clinic,

Discovery Counseling Center (downtown Danville) has counseling services available at 837-0505.
This web site is for general information only so do not substitute these informational sources for immediate professional help.