• August 2020 Newsletter

    TOPIC: Back to School & Communication with Counselor 

    Dear Students & Parents:

    Welcome to High School 1327!!

    For those of you who are incoming frosh or transfer students, I am Sheila Souder, Counselor to students and resource for parents.  Students can find me in Counseling, Room 219 (once we return to the site). Until then, email is the best way to connect with me: ssouder@tamdistrict.org.   

    This will be a long communication, but I assure you they will get shorter as the year progresses.  Please bear with me and read on.

    Periodically, I will be sending out a newsletter to students and parents.  All newsletters are posted on My Website. You will also be getting weekly updates from the school. It is a good idea to post resources on the fridge for things like the calendar, course outlines and important contact info. 

    I will also be sending out links to videos of important grade level information, since we cannot meet in person. Although it is a strange way to begin a year of school, I am confident that we can all work together to get to know each other and make the best of the situation. The teen years are a great time for challenge, the excitement of unusual circumstances and figuring out new ways to engage!

    Given the fact that there is SOOO much going on with you, and only one of me, newsletters and emails and videos will be essential communication tools for us to connect and get to know each other, and for me to share important information. 

    This year, in addition to my newsletter, you will receive the Counseling Connection, which is a good resource for goals of Counseling, contact info and some of the services offered at each grade level. I sent it out last week:)


    I hike a lot. It’s great exercise, but also a time to relax, rejuvenate and reflect (not to mention maintain sanity in an ever-changing world). The environment here gives us the opportunity, for free, to hit the trails and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us.

    The start of a new school year is a whole new adventure for some, and a continuation of exploration for others.  Some of you will return to school feeling the confidence of knowing what is ahead and building on past success.  Others will be transitioning from middle school or joining us midway through your high school career.  All of you will be starting a school year remotely, which is a whole new ball game, and will require patience, resilience, increased organization, grace and persistence. It will also require a new/different form/level of communication for all of us, one which we may not feel is ideal, but it is what we have, so we will work together to make it as effective as possible.

    You may be wondering about the rigor of the classes, the challenge of the project based learning environment, how you will fit in, or where you will make new friends.  It is a scary time for some, but we are known as a warm and welcoming community with a place for students to find their niche.  Places to explore when finding your comfort zone:    Crew, your SLC or Academy, Peer Resource, Mock Trial, the sailing team, the game club, athletic teams...the list goes on. We will start all of these things virtually, but as time passes, we will be meeting in person and creating a new high school experience together. 

    Keep in mind the big picture, the grand scheme of things... WHO ARE YOU BECOMING?  That is part of what high school is all about: creating your own recipe for success through self-exploration.

    I hike in the hills of Marin because part of my recipe for success is balancing work with being in nature.  One of my favorite parts is running into former students or their parents.  Recent conversations include chatting with a student who is working construction and spending lots of time fishing, and learning that another is doing college remotely and applying to transfer someplace closer to home for junior year.  Another student is heading to medical school in Washington, where classes will be a combination of in person labs and virtual lectures.  These young adults are exploring the world and their potential, and their parents take great pride in the fact that they are each navigating their own personal journey.  When I think back to their high school years, I remember how engaged they were in their friendships, their extracurricular activities, and figuring out their dreams.   What I don't remember is their GPA or SAT scores.  I do know that they were grounded, reflective people who maintained balance in their lives as teens.  This is a strength that has carried over into their adult lives.

    I’m hoping that you and your families will strive to have a wonderful year as you each create a unique mix of pursuits and endeavors, which add spice to the experience of high school.  Try mixing a cup or two of academics, with a dollop of extracurricular activities, then add a splash of socializing (at a safe distance, of course) with a little pinch of daydreaming, and you may find your own recipe for a successful year.  

    Let’s judge the success of the year, not by how you feel today or mid-September when your first set of projects and assessments are due, and not merely by numbers on your transcript, but by how you feel in May when things are winding down and you are looking ahead.  Have you gained new skills and confidence?  Have your experiences brought you new insights?  Do you feel better prepared for the next adventure?  Are you becoming the young adult you want to be?


    • Link to My Website
    • Counseling Connection 
    • Weekly News – every Monday on the website and emailed home – please read weekly for updates and information
    • Course Guide - course information, graduation and UC/CSU requirements  procedures
    • Parent/Student Handbook - policies and procedures
    • Family Connection at Naviance - a great site for college searches, scholarship info, and resume building for college and beyond.  


    I encourage students to talk to me in person with all questions and concerns.  I would love parents to support this by encouraging students to develop a relationship with me, as one of my goals is to foster effective communication and increased independence.  We live in a very digital age, and emails right now are the primary means of communication, but I will also be using video conferencing with students, as I’d like to be able to see you and build a connection.  I try to focus the vast majority of my attention on direct student service, so please LIMIT PARENT EMAILS to communication that cannot take place between student and counselor.  If you have a true emergency (i.e., child in danger) please call 911.  Other issues for me: email or leave a voice message.  Given that we are virtual, I will be receiving hundreds of emails, so please be patient, always include STUDENT NAME AND GRADE LEVEL in the subject line, and realize that it  may take up to four days for a response.  

    When emailing me, please ALWAYS put your (your student’s) first and last name and grade level in the subject line (i.e., Emily Field – 12).  Please do NOT add any other information in the subject line – thank you.

    I run a paperless office and will be sending all  information  via e-mail.  Major info will be on the website.

    Each specific grade level will be receiving another email from me soon with specific grade level information.  Please review with your family and let me know if you have any questions. I realize that the next few days will be a bit of an information overload from me, but I have so many things to inform you about, so please excuse the length of these communications.  


    Live a balanced life.  Learn some and think some,

    And draw and paint and sing and dance

    And play and work every day some.”

    ~~ Robert Fulghum