Summer…it seems endless and too short at the same time.  Every year.  You may have noticed a few “Back to School” sales signs in the windows or hanging over sections at Target.  There’s the familiar stomach drop…then the dread that washes over you…and then you go right back to Netflix, FaceTime or out with friends before the overwhelm of School hits you.


Some students are actually excited about this time of year.  It’s not that they had a horrible summer, or that they are “nerds”.  They actually have found ways to enjoy school, succeed and still have a life at the end of the week.  Others dragged through to the final days of school, and now have to re-experience some of the really hard feelings of anxiety, social anxiety (you know…where more than a few people exhaust and make you want to hide?), depression (the dark grey weight that keeps you on the couch or in bed when things get really hard).  For some of you, school also means returning to some really unhealthy people – either friends or kids who just seem to enjoy making your life miserable.


Here’s the truth…you get a FRESH START…a NEW YEAR…a CHANCE TO CHANGE!  Every year (actually, every DAY) offers you a new start.  It’s really up to you how you want to begin this year. So after the shopping for shoes, shorts and backpacks…I’m offering you Get Smart Boot Camp.  It’s just 4 easy experiments that, if you choose to try them out (I mean REALLY try them…), you have a really good chance to make some small yet important changes in your school experience that will help you from now on.  Don’t believe me?  I don’t blame you.  But I should tell you something…I taught middle and high school for a really long time. Now don’t judge me or label me “One of THEM”.  The truth is that kids in my classes actually NAILED it…I mean, when they started trying out the stuff I’m sharing with you, they actually found that they could learn, they didn’t freak out when homework was due, they were able to handle difficult teachers and friends, and they began to show up and excel in school.


So try it out.  I can’t promise perfection or unicorns or even the Broncos winning a championship…BUT I CAN PROMISE that when you make an effort, even a small one, to make incremental changes in your life…things happen.  And if you try these out, and you find that the old anxiety starts to freeze your brain in class, or depression weighs you down and makes you forget about sunshine and color, or you experience a devastating friendship break or a painful break up…you can email me at or call 720-230-3076.  My office is in Castle Rock, and kids think that it’s a really safe place to figure things out and get some tools to work through the hard parts of middle and high school…and college too.  You can email me or call, and I’ll talk to you.  For free.  I provide free 15-minute consultation to answer questions, to give you a support boost, or maybe even make an appointment.

But let’s get to BOOT CAMP!

Get Smart Boot Camp #1:  The 3 Most Important People in Your Day


Counselor – Guys, this is one of the most important people in your school life.  They are specifically trained to support you with academic and emotional issues.  Most schools assign a counselor for a grade level or per last name letters.  They are your advocate, your listening ear, your scheduler, your problem solver colleague. When you build a good relationship with them, you have GOLD!  I work with a lot of counselors at local middle and high schools.  They have great ideas and resources to support you – whether that means study support, changing your schedule, having a safe place to hang when it gets overwhelming.


CHALLENGE: Within the FIRST 10 DAYS OF SCHOOL, make a 10-minute appointment with your counselor.  Trust me, don’t wait until there are problems to get to know them and they get to know you.  Tell them (especially if you are new to the school) what works for you in school and any areas (don’t be shy!  I promise you can’t shock them!) that are difficult or overwhelming for you.  If you missed a lot of school last year, tell them.  You don’t have to explain everything, but letting your counselor know how they can support you is GOLD!


If you struggled last year, and your counselor knows you, spend some time making one goal.  Maybe you’ll do a weekly check in (10 minutes!) to make sure you’re doing well.  Maybe you need them to call you in once a week to make sure friendships are going well. Whatever you need…ask for it!


Important Teacher or Adult – When I talk to successful grown ups or students, they always say they had ONE IMPORTANT ADULT in their life while in school.  Some of you might be lucky enough to have a teacher, administrator or counselor be your person.  If you haven’t connected with an adult at school, fear not!  There are aunts, uncles, family friends…you need ONE ADULT who isn’t a parent in your life.  The advantage of a school person is that they are there if you need them…on a hard day, when you’re upset or don’t know how to deal with a difficult teacher, when things at home are hard.


CHALLENGE:  Find your adult.  Call him/her a friend, a mentor, a dude, a teacher…doesn’t matter.  Who’s “Your Person”?  If you are new to middle or high school, don’t forget someone at your former school.  When I was a teacher, I had a lot of kids who came back from high school to check in. I’m not going to put a timeline on this one, but I am going to say it’s good to have a grown up in your life who is safe, who knows you, who advocates for you, who calls you on your “stuff” when you are blowing it.  And…by the way…BE COURAGEOUS…tell them that they really are your person on campus. It’s not weird, and they won’t laugh. If they’re as great as you think, they’ll be honored and complimented by your words!


Good Ol’ Fashion Study Buddies – Here’s the truth:  I almost didn’t pass chemistry.  Except I found David Tong…and he helped me survive moles, equations, periodic tables and every lab we did.  I didn’t mooch off him, I promise.  But he understood things and explained them in ways I could understand. And I made sure to figure out ways to make it up to him for the help.


Getting through classes in middle school, high school and college can be brutal.  Some people go it alone, but I promise that it makes a lot more sense to make connections in your classes and find people who work hard like you do, have patience when things are confusing, and are actually fun in the classwork.


CHALLENGE:  Promise me you won’t roll your eyes when you read this…promise?  Ok…here goes.  Give yourself 2-4 class periods to find study buddies in every class you attend.  No, you don’t have to call them a “study buddy”, but you DO have to connect with them and say, “it seems like you understand what’s going on in here, and I’d like to make sure we both have someone to get notes from when we’re absent or do projects together.  Here’s my number.”  It takes courage, and the pay off is HUGE!


The Secret Society of Moochers:  There are moochers in class.  In every class I attended in high school and college, there was always “one guy” who would try to flirt or distract me and then ask if I could lend him my notes.  After the third time, I got it.  Mooch. Steer clear.  They will take your info, copy your notes and maybe your test answers…and not follow through on a single thing.  And if YOU are the mooch…c’mon!  You can show up and work like everyone else.  Become the study buddy you’ve always dreamed of!


Three important people to find at the beginning of the school year.  You may be one of the lucky ones, and can already talk about an important adult, the great counselor at your school, and your friends who study with you.  YOU ARE DOING WELL!  And things change, the summer comes and goes and people leave or change.  Just notice if your 3 People are ready to walk through the school year with you…because this is one of the big steps in School Success Boot Camp. School can feel enormous.  You might feel invisible, disconnected, isolated.  This is EXACTLY why you need three people (plus your friends and the amazingly cool lunch ladies!) in your school world.


Thinking about school, talking in class, facing deadlines, dealing with relationships might be raising the anxiety you didn’t have all summer.  It can be tough, and you might even have some pretty disturbing feelings and experiences in school.  If you need a safe place to work through school anxiety, social anxiety, depression or relationship issues, don’t hesitate to email me at or call 720-230-3076 for a free 15-minute consultation.  We can figure out if therapy is a good place to support you and work on the stuff that keeps you stuck in school, with friends and relationships, or at home. I’m looking forward to meeting you!

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