Supporting the Grieving Student

Thomas Ulmet is Midwest Regional Chapter Coordinator at Kappa Delta Pi.

It was probably the best week of my short life at 15. It was my first band trip, first visit to Florida, first time to Disney World, first time on a real ocean beach. It was basically the best week ever. Until I got home. As the bus pulled around the circle I noticed my mother and some friends from my youth group at church were waiting near the entrance to the school. I thought it was odd, but also considered that it was a Sunday, and perhaps they had all come over to see me as I was just getting back from this huge cross-country trip.

As I unloaded my trombone and started walking to the small cluster that was obviously waiting for me, I don’t think I even noticed that Chad wasn’t among them. Of course he was a busy teenager too, popular at his school and on the JV basketball team. We would talk about how he planned to transfer to my high school, which had a better basketball program, when he finally got his license. He was taking driver’s ed and I later found out, had just gotten his permit that week. We would often hang out on Sunday afternoons—he had a pool and a Nintendo so going to his house was a good time—so maybe I should have noticed he wasn’t with the group that sunny afternoon.

I don’t remember who said what, how the message was delivered. While I was having an amazing time in Florida, Chad had told his parents he was going to walk to a nearby cousin’s house, but he never made it. I don’t recall how they found him and his rifle in the shallow wooded area between the homes. I do know the friends who had gathered around explained that they had already taken him off life support, and he had passed away before I got back to Indiana. I do remember how instantly my emotions plummeted from a tired euphoria to total numbness. I can still remember feeling the weight, a heaviness that can’t possibly be real but somehow oozes down the shoulder to the tips of the fingers and just pulls you down to the ground stronger than gravity.

I can only remember one teacher, Mrs. Mahan, who realized that I was grieving. I remember being in her class, and after not finishing a test, she pulled me aside after the bell. I think she started to lecture me, maybe it was to warn me of my impending poor grades or that I needed to buckle down and work harder. I do remember I wasn’t trying to make excuses but I did let it slip that attending the funeral that week seemed to throw off my week. I think at that point she realized that she was dealing with a grieving student. Again I can’t remember what changed, I do know she showed me tenderness, and the rest of the semester she was supportive of me. My grades probably didn’t improve much, but she became one of my favorite teachers. She sewed a button back on my shirt that had come off and advised me to always carry an emergency sewing kit. Sewing kits are still special to me.

A couple of years later I remember our marching band director was going around recognizing all the seniors. The band director talked about how I really came out of my shell as a senior and what a transformation she had seen since I was a freshman. She also mentioned her memory of that day after the band trip, how she wondered at the time if this shy, introverted guy “would go nuts” but instead she was relieved to see how I broke out of my shell and became an outgoing section leader. I had no idea she was aware of the news I received that day, how it affected me. I truly doubted any other educator or counselor at the school was aware of my loss, and certainly nobody but Mrs. Mahan talked to me about it. It shocked and confused me that almost 2 years later I learned that others knew, and they stood back and watched.

Maybe this was the 1990s, and today schools are more proactive about dealing with student grief. After a tragedy we are now assured that counselors are available for students and families. I believe that is important. I also believe there is more educators can do when they know students are dealing with grief.

That is why I am so excited to hear Dr. David Schonfeld and a number of partner organizations have launched a new site, The site hopes to provide educators with information and advice to better understand and meet the needs of grieving students. I encourage you to check out the site, but also to access Dr. David Schonfeld’s KDP Webinar, “Supporting the Grieving Student” available in the KDP Resources Catalog. This is one of my favorite webinars and I often refer to it as a unique resource available to members from KDP. It is wonderful to note that there are now more free resources available to help educators support grieving students, and I am grateful for the work of Dr. Schonfeld and the many partners who make these resources available.

Got a Minute KDP? Week of December 1, 2014

Got a minute for KDP? See what’s going on at headquarters in a one-minute(ish) video.

This week:

What’s a Professional Profile? Learn at the Job Search Summit!

Dr. Mary C. Clement has been researching and writing about teacher hiring and induction for more than 20 years. Her work has resulted in 11 books and more than 125 articles. Her Job Search Summit webinar on résumés and professional profiles will be Saturday, February 28, 2015, at 11 a.m.

JSSGone are the days when teachers got multiple job offers by just completing student teaching and going to a job fair. Teacher candidates need to develop strong résumés that are customized to job advertisements, recognizing that their unique experience and training should start the résumé.

What goes at the top of a résumé today? What do you say at the beginning of an interview? What do you say during a one-minute elevator speech when you meet an administrator in his office or at a job fair? The answer to all those questions may be the same—your professional profile. Busy employers may only glance at your résumé and recruiters have only a few minutes to decide if you merit further consideration, so having one to two lines that summarize your teaching skills and qualifications can make the difference when it comes to being noticed in a positive way.

The professional profile, or profile statement, is more than a job objective or a statement about your teaching credentials. It is “you at a glance,” and something in it should catch the evaluator’s eye. In large school districts, an administrative assistant/secretary may sort the résumés, after receiving instructions to read only the top of the résumé to determine candidates’ qualifications.

A strong professional profile reveals a lot about the candidate, and encourages the evaluator to read the entire résumé. The rest of the résumé will include specific information about education, teaching, other work experiences, and special skills.

Kappa Delta Pi hosted a very successful Job Search Summit in 2014 and has an even better one planned for early 2015. Join me, or Dr. Benitha Jones, as we talk about creating your résumé and cover letter. I will focus more on the résumé of a first job seeker in teaching and Dr. Jones will focus more on the person applying for a leadership position like assistant principal or new faculty member at a college, so hers will include information on creating a curriculum vitae. In both cases, we will go through the parts of the résumé, how to decide what to put in your personal professional profile, and how to match it and your cover letter to the opening the school actually has.

My webinar will be Saturday, February 28, 2015, at 11 a.m., followed by webinars on working job fairs, turning your present situation (substitute teacher, instructional aide, or retail worker) into your dream teaching job, and networking tips. Dr. Jones will present her webinar at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, 2015. Prior to hers will be a webinar on how to create a video that really shows how you teach and how to put together an ePortfolio that will help you get a job. After hers will be webinars on using academic language on your paperwork and in your interview and on your personal commercial for starting or ending your interview.

By attending one of the résumé webinars and one of the other webinars, being a current member of KDP, completing a survey, and posting in KDP Global’s Job Search Academy (either a question or comment), you will be eligible to submit your résumé for a professional review in preparation for the teacher job hunting season!

Watch the KDP website for registration information and mark Feb. 28 and Mar. 14, 2015, as days you cannot miss!

Meet James Newman!

Check out this month’s Member Spotlight, James Newman! James has been a KDP member since 2013. Connect with him KDP Global.

James Newman flipWhat do you value most about your KDP membership?
The chance to meet other members is what I value most about my membership in Kappa Delta Pi. I have found my colleagues in the organization to be energetic, creative and enthusiastic about sharing what they have learned about teaching.

What is your most used KDP member benefit?
I use the KDP webinars most among the benefits offered by KDP. They are extremely useful, relating directly to what I am trying to do in the classroom. The webinars are well-organized so that they allow for interaction with the presenter. And the archives are a great way to catch up with webinars that I didn’t have time to attend.

Why do you use KDP Global?
I use KDP Global to access all the benefits of being a KDP member.

What do you love about being an educator?
I love being connected to the knowledge of the world and to the community of learners. Teaching links me to a caring family of life-long learners (teachers) and exploring learners (students).

Got a Minute for KDP? Week of November 3

Got a minute for KDP? See what’s going on at headquarters in a one-minute(ish) video.

This week:

  • Our RCCs are traveling the country–follow along!
  • KDP News is hitting email inboxes Tuesday.
  • Register for Tuesday’s KDP Webinar on second-language learners–free for members.
  • November 4 is Election Day in the US. Make your voice heard!

Need Help Preventing Bullying?

Sally Rushmore edits the New Teacher Advocate. She formerly taught secondary science and computer applications at a community college.

stop-bullyOctober is Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying can occur during or outside of school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet.

According to, over 77 percent of students have been bullied verbally, mentally, and physically. Each day about 160,000 students miss school because of bullying or because of their fear of being bullied. The sad fact is that every 7 minutes a child is bullied on the playground. Adult intervention is often 4%, peer or classmate intervention is 11%, and no intervention is 85%. This means that is more common for these incidents to be ignored.

School bullying prevention programs are known to decrease bullying in schools up to 25 percent. About 28 percent of students in grades 6-12 experience some form of bullying according to bullying statistics 2013. Over 30 percent of students admit to bullying classmates and peers. When an adult intervenes in a bullying incident, it stops within 10 seconds or more about 57 percent of the time. This is why addressing the problem often cuts down on bullying incidents that happen daily and rescues many students from being bullied.

Attend this 60−75-minute webinar live on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 8 PM Eastern time as individuals or as a group or access the webcast of it after Oct. 15 to use in a group setting in our Resources Catalog:

“Preparing a Bully-Free Environment” presented by Dr. Blythe Hinitz, a member of the Expert Advisory Group to the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention and co-author of The Anti-Bullying and Teasing Book.

Through planning, preparation, implementation and assessment of developmentally appropriate arrangement of classroom space and materials; and utilization of activities, lessons and units that incorporate anti-HIBT into existing curriculum mandates for early childhood and elementary level students.

What attendees will learn:

  • Basic definitions needed in anti- harassment, intimidation, bullying, and teasing (HIBT) work.
  • Brief review of relevant research results to demonstrate the breadth and depth of the field.
  • Principles for preparation of developmentally appropriate physical, cognitive, and affective environments.
  • Selected resources to assist in answering the question, “What do I do on Monday?” (and beyond).

Audience should include all teaching personnel, guidance personnel, supervisors, administrators, and anyone who works with students. We hope you can join us!

Teachers Have Power!

Nathan Bond is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University. He also serves as the faculty counselor of Eta Zeta Chapter. In August, Taylor and Francis Publishers and Kappa Delta Pi released his new book on teacher leadership.

Nathan Bond smMarilyn Katzenmeyer and Gayle Moller wrote a book in 2009 titled Awakening the Sleeping Giant. These scholars argued that teachers in the education profession resemble a sleeping giant. The authors’ wording conjures up the image of a huge snoring mythological beast that appears oblivious to the surrounding commotion. 

In some ways, teachers are like the giant. They possess untapped power, and they have remained relatively quiet throughout the clamor for school reform. The authors challenge teachers to mobilize as a group and act as teacher leaders who initiate positive change. Many teachers, especially those in the United States, are awakening from their deep slumber and are using their content and pedagogical expertise to make improvements in their schools.

Five years have passed since Katzenmeyer and Moller wrote their classic book and challenged teachers to use their gigantic power. In the new book The Power of Teacher Leaders: Their Roles, Influence and Impact (published by Taylor and Francis Publishers and Kappa Delta Pi), which I edited, scholars present various research-based ways that teachers are leading in their schools. What distinguishes this book from others is that the authors of the chapters focus on the impact that teacher leaders are having on student academic success and school communities.

How would you characterize the teachers in your school? Do they act like sleeping giants or awakened giants on the move? Are they passively letting events happen, or are they actively working with the administrators and their colleagues to bring about positive change? It’s time for teachers to realize the leadership power that they have as a group and use it for good in their schools.

If you’re interested in learning more about what it means to be a teacher leader, I’m presenting a webinar on the topic this coming Tuesday, Sept. 9. It’s free for members to register. Please join me!

Role of Parents in Student Success

Laura Stelsel is director of marketing and communications at Kappa Delta Pi.

Engaged ParentsDid you know that this past Sunday, July 27, was Parents’ Day in the US? President Bill Clinton started the national observance in 1994 to honor parents as positive role models and recognize the need to “promote responsible parenting in our society.”

Parents certainly play a huge role in the success of their children, so make sure you get your school year off to a great start with them! If you need help or guidance working with parents, we have MANY free resources in the Resources Catalog, including:

Simply head to the Resources Catalog and search using the term “parent.” Make sure you are logged in to access all of these resources for free!

Now, we want to hear from you about your experience. Tell us:

  • How have involved parents positively impacted your students?
  • What ways have you found to engage parents who need to be engaged?
  • How do you thank parents for being a part of student success?

Celebrating E. B. White

Sally Rushmore edits the New Teacher Advocate. She formerly taught secondary science and computer applications at a community college.

We celebrated the birthday of Elwyn Brooks “E. B.” White last week–he was born July 11, 1899. He was a contributor to (and for a while, on the staff of) The New Yorker magazine. However, you probably know him as a book author. You may have used The Elements of Style, also simply known as “Strunk and White,” in an English composition class in college or high school. White’s college professor William Strunk, Jr. originally wrote The Elements of Style in 1918 and White enlarged and revised it in 1959. He updated it again in 1972 and 1979. An illustrated version came out in 2005. It was listed as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923 in a 2011 list by Time. In it White said, “With some writers, style not only reveals the spirit of the man but reveals his identity, as surely as would his fingerprints.”

Most of us prefer to remember E. B. White for his children’s books. You most likely have read or seen the movie of Charlotte’s Web, which is often voted the top children’s novel for ages 9−12. You may also have read or seen movies of Stuart Little or The Trumpet of the Swan. These books are a few that were written by White. If you’ve never read them, get the boxed set so you can read them over and over—to yourself, your students, your own children, your grandchildren, and your neighbors’ children. Enjoy the movies as well. Either way you’ll learn the life lessons in a fun way.

He spent a great deal of time on a farm he and his wife owned in Maine, often going to the barn to write. After writing Charlotte’s Web about a spider he watched, he said, “I like animals, and my barn is a very pleasant place to be, at all hours!”

White’s influence as a writer was and still is far-reaching and will last for generations. Another example of his influence is a book called Here is New York. It is available on along with lesson plans and a study guide. It is appropriate for middle and high school students. It reflects his appreciation of the city he loved.

During his lifetime, many young readers asked Mr. White if his stories were true. In a letter written to be sent to his fans, he answered, “No, they are imaginary tales… But real life is only one kind of life — there is also the life of the imagination.” E. B. White died on October 1, 1985.

So whether you teach in the city or in a rural area, you will be happy to find a classroom management webinar to help you.

Help! I Don’t Have a Teaching Position Yet!

Sally Rushmore edits the New Teacher Advocate. She formerly taught secondary science and computer applications at a community college.

Is that the way you are feeling? You are not alone!

Did you know that most school districts hire the majority of their new teachers the last two weeks of July? Current teachers normally have until two weeks before the new school year begins to decide if they are returning or not (quitting teaching, retiring, taking another position). That opens a lot of positions within two weeks of the start of school. The other factor is that most districts do not have a handle on their enrollment by grade level and building until mid-July, so there is no way to know if they need two third grade teachers or three for XYZ Elementary or if they’ll need another English teacher at the high school.

There are some very important things you can be doing to be in the right place at the right time to be hired for these last minute positions. Dr. Renee Aitken, Dr. Melanie Shaw, and Dr. Karen Ferguson will be giving a webinar on Thursday, July 10, from 8−9:15 p.m. (EDT) to help you procure a teaching position in a PreK−12 setting—and what to do if you don’t get that position this August.  They will be covering:

  • Your résumé:  Crafting it for a specific position, checking it for errors, putting your best foot forward
  • Getting your foot in the door:  What to do after you apply
  • The interview process:  questions to ask, questions to avoid, how to present yourself
  • Other opportunities:  what do to if you don’t get into the classroom this August
  • Pursuing a teaching position through the year

They will also be hosting an asynchronous (ongoing) online chat in the Job Search Academy in KDP Global for the week following the webinar. Log in and ask your questions! There will also be personal résumé reviews available after the webinar for those who attend the webinar.

Register for the webinar even if you cannot attend live. You will receive a link to watch it any time for 30 days after the webinar.

1 Aitken

2 Ferguson3 Shaw




Dr. Aitken
has been working with teacher candidates for 14 years. She has held fulltime university positions working with teacher preparation education as an instructor, an NCATE committee member and the TEAC/CAEP Chair for Northcentral University.

Dr. Ferguson is the Assistant Dean of the School of Education at Northcentral University. She has experience in human resources, online training, and instructional design.

Dr. Shaw has over fifteen years of educational experience ranging from classroom and graduate level teaching to counseling and administration. She holds teaching certificates in online teaching, elementary education, and guidance counseling.