Wednesday, December 6, 2017

With Gratitude

Hi all,

We have been so busy up on the hill it's hard to believe fall is behind us...

As we prepared for Thanksgiving and the Season of Giving, one small way that Silver Hill got into this spirit was through engaging in this:

I randomly hung these pages up around the first floor of the building-in spots that all of the children could reach. And we left it "open ended"...we didn't make a big announcement or go around to all the classes. Kids are smart. We let it "speak for itself". 

And they DISAPPEARED! I heard of kids giving to staff, to each other and vice versa. We all just passed along our thankfulness, in this small easy way...And as easy as it was, it definitely made folks feel good to receive. AND to give. I heard that some kids were even playing a game at recess that they made up using them...


Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Hi all,

I hope everyone's fall has gotten off to a great start, and while the weather seems to enjoy acting out of character, we are doing our best to help all of our Silver Hill friends build their own character in positive and important ways...

October is Bullying Prevention month and the Second Step lessons here at Silver Hill are either in full swing currently or already completed at this point. I have been fortunate enough to have made time in my schedule to join in on many of these lessons and I think there are great things happening around this important issue. The teachers are natural at weaving in Social Emotional components to just about everything they do!

With that said, once the Second Step curriculum lessons end, all social conflict does not simply end with them. We are trying hard to be proactive and continue the conversations with me stepping into classrooms and facilitating additional Social Emotional lessons and developing these essential "soft skills".

For example, once the 3rd grade Second Step was complete, I rotated around to each classroom and read "How to Fill A Bucket" and had wonderful dialogue with the students around thinking of ways we can be "bucket fillers" rather than "bucket dippers". The kids here are really awesome!

We will continue all of this moving forward, but I would like to share a video link that shows some of the videos that accompany the lessons (all different, depending on the grade level). These videos are very relevant and I think the kids really relate to them. I thought it would be fun for you to take a peek at this short video with some short clips from the videos your kids all see during Second Step.

Second Step video

I think the Second Step curriculum does a good job of identifying Bullying, however, I will continue to help kids learn to properly recognize "Social Conflict" as well, so that they can accurately identify what exactly is happening for them. But more importantly, so that they can learn PROBLEM SOLVING skills to manage these things :)

Please feel free to reach out at any time if I can be of support to your child or family!

Enjoy the foliage while it will be winter soon enough!

Kind Regards,
Amanda Symmes, LICSW
School Adjustment Counselor

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Greetings Silver Hill family...

Summer is winding down, and we are feeling the first signs of fall. I am so very excited to get back! In fact, I was pretty sad when last school year came to an end (saying goodbye to all of those fifth graders that I had started to build some strong connections with was so hard)...

Anyway, I am really excited to be back at Silver Hill. Not only do I now know all of the staff, I know SO many students and families...which makes the work of a School Adjustment Counselor that much more enriching. I look forward to meeting even more kids and families this year.

Honestly, it appears that this year is shaping up to be a great one! I am hoping to make myself even more available to students in need. With regular classroom visits and consultation this will be ideal. There are lots of challenging social-emotional topics to tackle and I am optimistic we can learn and engage around these things thoughtfully and while having fun as well. 

Please feel free to call or email me at ANY time if there is anything at all I can do to support your child or family...

If you prefer email, drop me a line at: 

Regarding, back to can be SO many things:
*Parents are eager to get kids back into a routine...and out of their hair! 😉  
*Kids are excited to see their friends and new teacher
*Teachers look forward to a fresh new start and building new relationships with kiddos

But this isn't ALL. We all have worries and insecurities about starting a new year as well. This is NORMAL. 

I always try to validate for kids that we can have more than one feeling at one time. Often when this happens, we feel a bit out of sorts and sometimes our bodies even show this. Parents can help validate that everyone feels a variety of things when change comes around, and it's how we handle these feelings that matters most. Please remember, that the School Counselor is always a good resource to help handle these jitters and work out the worries as well. 


Click here -----> Transitioning Back to School

It's gonna be a GrEaT yEaR! 

Kind Regards, 
Ms. Symmes 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

13 Reasons Why

Hey all!

Well, one thing is clear: this year HAS FLOWN BY! So much so, that my updates have not been as regular as I would have liked (and as they WILL be next year... 😃)

One thing is remains true: I LOVE SILVER HILL!

With that said, there is something that I wanted to address...

As many may know there is a new and popular Netflix series called "13 Reasons Why" based upon a Jay Asher novel. I personally read the book a few years ago and recently watched the 13 episode series as well. The fictional story is based around a young teen's suicide and contains other sensitive material as well. The series is very graphic and has created a lot of dialogue.

I realize Silver Hill is filled with younger aged children, but I am aware that there are students from our school who have seen this series (or parts of it). Also, it is often true that popular trends tend to trickle down and with this series being watched by so many high school and middle school students, I believe that there may be curiosity with our children. Try and be aware of what your kids are seeing and talk to them if you think they may have viewed this.

So, please, take some time to review the following link:

"13 Reasons Why" Talking Points

Read up on the subject and then please contact me at school if you or your child has any follow up questions or related concerns that I can help with (or if you prefer my email is:

Be well and stay tuned for more regular updates...Spring has sprung!

Kind Regards,

Amanda Symmes, LICSW
School Adjustment Counselor

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New Year, New Idea!


Happy New Year! I apologize for not being more diligent about updating my little section of the Silver Hill world... I am hopeful in the coming months and years ahead I will find my groove with this.  

As I have settled in and started to build trust and connection with staff, students and families, I have started to learn more about the day to day social challenges that present themselves. And while I have found that our Second Step bullying prevention curriculum certainly has its rightful place and serves it purpose, I have been reflecting a bit on what might be missing and where I can enhance the social emotional supports in the school.

It is my feeling that we can do more to provide our children essential "soft skills" in addition to all of the important hard skills that they learn day to day. Our children will only be able to problem solve (as well as negotiate and compromise) through social issues and truly utilize empathy and kindness if they are provided the skills to do this and given a chance to practice. One thing I treasure about Silver Hill, is that it values the social emotional learning component. This is something we should be proud of and I feel so grateful to be in a role where I can lend myself to enhancing this in the classroom.

With all of that said, I am rolling out some classroom lessons (beginning only in grades 3-5 to start, but hopefully to expand throughout)...I am SO excited to be able to get into the classrooms and connect with more of the amazing kids in our building. I think every child can benefit from being able to pull apart a situation and look at it with new eyes, and perhaps reflect on ways to deal with challenges in more productive ways in the future.

I have introduced myself in all twelve classrooms and explained that I would like to hear about their "challenges". In my initial visit with each class, I provided a mini lesson differentiating between bullying and peer conflict, as what I would like to do is meant to complement a bullying curriculum. (Incidents of bullying should be addressed immediately). I am hoping they will share their day to day disagreements, peer conflicts and social challenges so that we can utilize real life scenarios (while respecting anonymity) in order to act things out and create classroom lessons and activities. In this, I believe that we can help them learn and practice tangible problem solving skills, so that they can begin to work things out effectively on their own. I am also working to develop empathy and kindness as a lens through which children can begin to see things. In theory, if we can successfully build these skills and practices, we should be able significantly reduce the incidents of peer conflict.

I am in the early stages, but I am truly optimistic that we can begin to support children in a new way. When children are better able to self advocate, engage in perspective taking and solve problems for themselves, they are in a much better place to learn academically...and kindness will flow naturally.

Yay! Stay tuned for more updates...I am excited to get going :)

Raising kind children...

Hello Silver Hill Community!

I can't believe how fast this fall has fallen away...I suppose that old adage certainly rings true- Time flies when you're having fun! I really am enjoying this school in so many ways. The administration and staff are not only talented and fun, but so very hard working. The children are bright, clever and funny. And the families are warm and supporting. What a gift it is to be a part of Silver Hill.

With all of that said, and with holidays ahead, I feel that it is good practice to be reflective of not only all that we have but all that we can be. Becoming mindful of how we treat one another is always going to be important in life. As a child, teen, young person or older adult: Kindness Matters.

However, I do realize that facilitating this process with our children can be tricky...

I welcome you to click on the link below for a short, yet helpful piece. I believed it opens up the conversation for us to consider all of the ways we can plant the seeds of kindness and begin to teach these skills. And let us remember that all of our children need support in learning these things, they are not simply a given...Enjoy!

 *How to teach your child to be an 'Includer'*

"Be the change you wish to see in the world"...


Monday, October 24, 2016

Ms. Symmes’ Counseling Corner

Meet The New Counselor....

Greetings Silver Hill! My name is Amanda Symmes and I am the new School Adjustment Counselor and I am just so happy to be a part of this wonderful school community. I have a Masters in Social Work from Boston University and received my undergraduate degree in Public and Community Service Studies from Providence College. During my undergraduate years, I took a year “off” to join an Americorps Program called City Year in Boston. I completed 1700 hours of community service and worked on several different projects while also serving in an elementary school classroom. I have worked in a variety of capacities serving children and youth as young as 2 years old up all the way up to age 65. All of my work is rooted in one thing: Connection. I believe that connection is the key to life. Connection helps us to understand ourselves and grow individually and it is what builds our relationships. Here at Silver Hill I see a lot of wonderful connections happening. I see children making connections with what they are learning. I watch staff nurture connections with students and I see families building connections with each other. There are always more opportunities to creation connection and I am hoping to be a part of that. I feel fortunate that in my position, I will get the chance to connect with all of the students and staff in some way during the school year…I can’t wait to see what this school year will bring!

There are many ways I can be reached at school: feel free to call the school and ask to speak with me or if you prefer please send me an email: I can certainly accommodate in person appointments as well-so don’t hesitate to ask!

I will do my best to update this page with resources that I think you might find valuable. The following link includes many supports for managing the transition back to school: