SEL Morning Update: March 24th

Good Morning Families, today is Tuesday March 24th 2020, and it is now time for our morning moment of SEL.

How are you feeling?

I want to start today by telling you how the Lynnwood Costco tried to destroy my life and my marriage. And, let me tell you up front, it was entirely my fault. Well, not entirely, have you been to the Lynnwood Costco at the “Aurora Village”? – NOT a village! You park a mile away from the entrance. You pause every few steps on your way in, so you and some rando driver can frenetically wave to one another to “go on”, “No you go on!” You wrestle out a cart that will somehow transform from too big as you go in, to too small as you go out. And at the gaping, Grave Digger size doorway you show them that you’re worth admission because you’ve already paid them, for nothing yet! But you can’t focus on that because once you’ve “abandoned all hope” and entered you’ve got 50 enormous 8K TVs blasting Star Wars and Football and Planet Earth, always looping the colorful but deadly poison dart frog, which is probably a corporate insider joke. Well, no one’s laughing.

By the time I get back to the paper towels I’m toast; the carts, the crowds, the lighting, the fact that the Social Contract has been fully eroded by the potential of snagging a Lit’l Smokie. I feel danger and I want to flee. Which, by the way, is why I also share with my students, if they see me rushing out of Costco on Sunday, we can talk about it on Monday.

I told Zoe I would no longer go to Costco. She should go and drag the boys. And of course, she supported me, until she realized she’d been duped. My feelings had very little to do with Costco and instead, in Truth, had everything to do with a very mindless, me.

Here’s what would really happen. When I would think about going, hours before I my mind would start booting up pages and pages of thoughts and feelings related to my cultural expectations, Seattle cultural expectations, the cultural expectations from my childhood in West Virginia, a legacy of familial poverty, my issues of class, my nurturant parent morals, my “Emperor Has No Clothes” anti-authority, disaffected youth, artist in torture, and a variety of other, more personal experiences, leaving me with quite an emotional load. And again, I hadn’t even left the house.

So, let me ask you what Zoe asked me. For the task at hand, which was getting groceries, do you think that if I were to go into the store in that state, I would be successful? How would you suggest that the weight of those thoughts and feelings would help me get the 5 lb bag of Quinoa my family “desperately” needed? I would in fact be quite “mindless” of what it was I physically doing and instead be quite triggered into a state of fight or flight or just panic.

When my system is feeling this sense of danger it directs my body to do all sorts of things to help it survive; be vigilant, scan for threats, increase the heartrate, take in more oxygen, send more oxygen to muscles, use my cart as a battering ram if necessary. In this state I am not able to do much shopping.

Okay, pause from Costco now in order to imagine how, if those same types of feelings were happening for students at school, how would they be able to learn? If those same types of feelings are present for any of us now, how will be present for our loved ones? These are important questions because many of us could be experiencing aspects of this during this strange time. It would well be within reason considering all that is currently going on in our world.

Here’s what I finally did to help myself and, I hope, if you are experiencing some unease or discomfort you would consider trying this for yourself. First, let me tell you, once Zoe discovered that I was really just avoiding my anxiety, and thusly increasing it, and that was making her go to Costco…ON A SUNDAY, well I needed to do some clean-up. So I began the process of using mindful breathing to help me self-manage. All of the baggage I carry, I work on that in many different ways, but when it’s time to Costco, I use mindful breathing. I turn my attention and focus to my breath.

I start by letting my gaze fall away, I’m not big on closing my eyes. Especially not with kids around, fool me once Finn! I close my mouth and relax the jaw and shoulders. First, I take a slow breath in through the nose and I let it be as deep and filling as it will. Then, I let it out with a little bit of tone; either a sigh, or a sound, or just an exaggerated rush of air. After that first breath, I take another inhale, again slowly, and this time, once it’s complete, hold it for just one second and then exhale a little slower than I inhaled, back out through the nose. While I’m doing this, I try to experience not thinking. That is, if I notice a thought at all, I just label it, “thinking” and dismiss it. I don’t judge it, or interact with it, I just recognize it, and let it go. Then, I focus back to my breathing. I repeat that second breath pattern 10 times and each time try to make the inhale and the exhale a little slower and longer than the first couple. Once I’m feeling calm or regulated, I go to the store.

When I am in the store, I use my breath to help settle if worried or panic thoughts sneak up. The slow and regulated breathing helps create a space for me to choose a part of me that can be present for the task at hand. *

This practice was transformative for me and I’ve heard for others as well. I mean, it’s been around for a while (I didn’t invent it) and I think about how it could be helpful now for students. Many students carry similar baggage or have similar experiences to mine at Costco, but for them, at school. If we can make the time to provide a space for students to also learn how to interact with their emotional and thoughtful selves, then they can gain the same skills it’s taken me 40 some years to understand. I think, during this time of social distancing, maybe providing some space to practice this style of mindful breathing might help all of us. Particularly for when we do find ourselves back in the classroom. Or in my case, back at Costco. Zoe doesn’t have to go anymore. Lucky.

We don’t always know when emotions will come on, how intense they will be, or how long they will last. However, if we provide our students, and ourselves access to skills that allow them/us to interact with whatever comes up, they/we will be able to learn to manage in real-time.

I hope this is helpful for you and yours. I wish you the very best and look forward to connecting in whatever way we can, tomorrow. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. I will be on email each day at

Until tomorrow, best wishes,


Bryan Manzo, M.Ed., NBCC
School Counselor
Sand Point Elementary

*Please note, my experience in Costco does not actually present any real danger to me or others. Also please know that I use Costco therapeutically as an Exposure/Response to help me manage my anxiety. I would not suggest that you should put yourself in emotional tumult without also giving yourself ample time to explore where your mental messaging is coming from, and what is best for you. I would suggest that mindfulness practice can help you discover those things, as can working with a professional counselor, therapist, or clinician.

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SEL Morning Update: March 23

Good Morning Families, today is Monday, March 23rd and it is now time for our morning moment of SEL.

How are you feeling? What are the thoughts you are thinking? How are you feeling in your body? How do you want to express yourself? How can you express yourself?

True confession. Sometimes during meetings, even though I am physically present, I think about things that aren’t on the meeting agenda. And sometimes in social settings, I look at my phone, more than once, just to see what else is going on. Also, once on the playground, a student was telling me a very long and exceptionally detailed story about Grandma’s cat. I pretended to listen, but I really wasn’t. I was thinking about going to the grocery store.

From time-to-time it may be true that all of us experience something like this: our bodies are present in an activity, while our minds are elsewhere. We may gently refer to this as “being spacey” or “zoning out”. Sometimes, perhaps less gently, we call it being distracted, or distant, unable to focus, or even, inattentive. In the presence of someone who is not Present with us, we may feel ignored, unseen, unimportant, or insignificant; others may experience that with us, when we are not Present with them. When we feel our friends or students or children are in this state, we may ask, or even demand, they pay attention or focus! Being present without being Present can bring stress to the relationships we build and maintain with loved ones, friends, and co-workers.

To offer specific skills for how to increase our ability to be Present we are going to spend this week focusing our SEL learning in the context of mindfulness.

In SEL language mindfulness can be found under the domains of Self-awareness and Social Awareness. You may be familiar with mindfulness through your own personal practice, or perhaps from the world of business/education as, certainly, mindfulness has become a buzzword for both the boardroom and the classroom. And with very good reason. Here are some of the benefits, research has demonstrated, that can come from having mindfulness skills: a reduction in rumination, greater cognitive flexibility, greater satisfaction with relationships, decrease in emotional reactivity, increase in emotion management, reduction of stress, improved general health, efficiency managing time/energy, increase in focus, boosts to working memory, and a decrease in depressive symptoms.

Maria Gonzalez, author of Mindful Leadership: 9 Ways to Self-Awareness, Transforming Yourself, and Inspiring Others, defines mindfulness most simply as the ability to be present and aware, moment by moment, regardless of circumstances.

For me, if I used mindfulness skills in the staff meeting I would have recognized my off-topic thought and gently dismissed it in order to stay present with the task at hand. In my social settings I would not check my phone for other activities but rather recognize and dismiss the desire to do so. Also, I would be fully Present in the experience of hearing a 6-year old’s saga of Grandma’s cat; all twists and turns and surprise introduction of characters included. But without practice building mindfulness skills, the ability for me to be fully Present, would be as low as my desire was, at the time, to do so.

Here is a brief exercise that can help you begin your work with mindfulness or can help supplement the work you are already doing. Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter, both of The Potential Project, identify two skills necessary to maintain a mindful mind: focus and awareness. They define focus as the ability to concentrate on what you’re doing in the moment and awareness as the ability to recognize, and release, unnecessary distractions as they arise.

So, choose one thing you will do today that will become your mindful practice. It could be doing the dishes, coloring, reading, playing with your kids, going for a walk, sitting on the couch, anything you want. For the time you are doing that thing try to commit to keeping your focus only on that thing. That is, allow yourself to fully concentrate on what it is you are doing. Really BE with all the aspects of the activity. Recognize all the parts and pieces that sometimes go unnoticed or happen on “autopilot”. While you are allowing yourself to focus, recognize any thought that is not part of the activity. Each time you recognize a thought about anything other than what you are doing, take a slow breath in through your nose. As you exhale, also out through the nose, label your thought as “thinking” and let it go. For this type of self-awareness, try not to engage with the thought at all, just allow it to flow out with your exhale. Once it’s gone, return your focus to the activity in which you are Present. Later, reflect on how you felt while being mindful. Okay, that’s it for today.

I wish you the very best and look forward to connecting in whatever way we can, tomorrow. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. I will be on email each day at

Until tomorrow, best wishes,


Bryan Manzo, M.Ed., NBCC
School Counselor
Sand Point Elementary

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SEL Morning Moment

Regarding Routines…

I’m a school counselor. My wife is a 4th and 5th grade teacher. We have a kindergartener and a 5th grader. So far we have not been able to establish a routine for learning, and it’s not because we’re lazy or don’t value education. It’s because its really-hard to do. Today my kids woke up at 9:45. I could have gotten them up earlier, because I was up at 6:30, but I didn’t because ME TIME!! I worked. I worried. I made coffee. I checked in with my feelings. I managed my worries. I cleaned the kitchen, or as it is now known, the cafeteria. All the while I was very quiet to keep them sleeping, because…well, I wasn’t ready for it to start again.

I want them to read. I want them to do math. I want them to explore the natural world and discover a genuine love of science. But we, as a family, aren’t there yet. Turns out, our house was not prepared for us to be in it like this.

I have always experienced March as the hardest month in school. In the schools I’ve been in, including ours, we usually see the most unexpected behavior choices (from both students and staff) an increase in office referrals, an increase in counseling referrals, and an increase in overall feelings of anxiousness, hopelessness, helplessness, and, in general, large group expressions of being “run-down”.

For all of March my clothes stay piled on the couch. I never fold or put them away. We are hardly home. School days in March are very long; meetings are long, budget is due, staffing is discussed. We have out-of-school events that are also long. Weekends are for errands and chores and socializing. We never host anything in our home in March because the kitchen is never clean enough, the living room is just a large storage container (arranged into piles only by who-threw-what-where). The garage becomes a museum of discarded hopes, the bathroom…there are three males in our house. I’m sorry to my wife, she had no idea what this would be like, so just imagine a bar of lavender hand-soap in truck stop men’s room.

I’m sharing this perspective with you in case you are feeling like only your house is in disarray. Rest assured, you’re not alone. I hope you find comfort in that. We will get through this and our children will still get jobs someday. Yes, there may be a slide for a bit, but in the circumstances, you/me/we will recover. You’ll get the routine going, somehow, because you are a survivor. How do I know you are a survivor? Because, if you are reading this there is an unbroken chain of life going back 100,000 years?  200,000 years? How about since time immemorial. Your people did all kinds of things to survive. They beat saber-toothed tigers, giant people eating birds (true – Australia) other humans, slavery, the plague(s), colonization, world wars, you name it. If you are reading this your people are/were amazing.

For you to be here now, on some level those who came before you understood and used self-management. Maybe not all the time, and maybe not even in front of you, but they must have had it for a portion of their lives, because here you are. And now it’s your turn to further build the SEL skill of self-management. Self-management refers to the skills necessary for maintaining healthy relationships with yourself and others. (It’s a very large set of abilities and we’ll get more on it later). When you are in your living space, give yourself permission to feel the emotions you feel. Recognize your emotions. Label how you are feeling. Recognizing and labeling your emotions are the first steps of self-management. Research in Emotional Intelligence has demonstrated that the process of recognizing and labeling can help illuminate and increase the space that exists between feeling/thought/action, allowing you to insert a decision about what to do with what you are feeling/thinking.

Here is something my wife reminds me of all the time; at some point everyone in our house will “have their moment” or “moments”. That is likely going to be true for your living space as well. Recognizing this can help you extend some grace to yourself, and to those around you. Maybe the first routine you can make is the “personal time” routine. When do you get personal time? When do you give others personal time? Maybe that is a conversation starter for you all. It is definitely a conversation for us. In fact, as I am writing this my sons just told me they only need 13 more Power Moons to finish Mario Odyssey. And though I feel proud of their accomplishment, I also feel scared that I don’t know what the heck they’re going to play next. I needed you for more Mario! I also know that as we go forward we will come to some equilibrium. It will take effort and perhaps tears (most likely on my part) but we will get there. Hopefully, before we head back to school.

I wish you the very best and look forward to connecting in whatever way we can, on Monday. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. I will be on email each day at

Until Monday,


Bryan Manzo, M.Ed., NBCC
School Counselor
Sand Point Elementary

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Let’s Rock This Boat RESCHEDULED

March 11, 2020
Ahoy Sand Point Supporters!

We have decided to move our Let’s Rock This Boat benefit concert date to Saturday, June 6, 2020. Same location, same awesome band, same plan to have a super fun night fundraising for Sand Point Elementary!

Now you have more time to work on your outfits and if you haven’t yet registered, the deadline is now Wednesday, May 20. Don’t forget to forward the link ( on to your family and friends to join us!

Looking forward to seeing you aboard the S.S. Squirrel (Seattle Yacht Club). No need to take dramamine!

Anchors aweigh,

Your 2020 Sand Point Elementary PTA Let’s Rock This Boat Benefit Concert Committee:

Megan Sun McIntosh & Brooke Lawson – Co-Chairs, Sachin Bhatia, Evan Briggs, Judy Findley, Renee France, Stacy Hinz, Sunny Hong, Juli Horan, Merrill Manza, Natasha Pope, and Paige Reischl

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Let’s Rock This Boat Update

March 5, 2020
Hello Squirrel Friends and Family,

At this time, the Let’s Rock This Boat Benefit Concert Committee is still moving forward with having our fundraiser on Saturday, March 21 at the Seattle Yacht Club as planned. The health and safety of our Sand Point community is our highest priority and we are committed to holding a safe and successful event.

We have been in contact with the Seattle Yacht Club (SYC) who assured us that they sanitize the club twice daily and require any staff who are sick not come to work. We will continue to reach out to SYC regularly and if anything changes with their availability, or the safety of our attendees at the event, we will let you know. If necessary, we will postpone our event.

We hope you are still planning on attending and helping us raise much needed dollars for Sand Point Elementary. Our goal is still $100,000! If you are unable to attend, we still need your support and welcome your online donation.

You may register and/or donate at

We will be in touch if anything changes. We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, March 21 at the Seattle Yacht Club. It will be another wonderful and festive night of awesome music, good company and fundraising for our favorite little neighborhood elementary school.

Registration closes on Friday, March 13. If you would like a commemorative event beach towel, please register by Sunday, March 8.

We will be in touch again on or before March 13and look forward to seeing you on the 21st!


Megan Sun McIntosh & Brooke Lawson
Sand Point Elementary PTA Let’s Rock This Boat Co-Chairs

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All School Assembly 2/28, 8:00am

Join us at the SPE All School Assembly Friday, 2/28, 8:00 am
Black History Month
SEL Recognition

With a special performance by Ms. Manzo’s class

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Sand Point Elementary School Tour 2/28

Have a friend or neighbor wondering about Sand Point Elementary for their student or soon-to-be student? Let them know about the Sand Point School Tour dates. Sand Point has so much to offer – spread the word!!

Families who would like to know more about school tours should contact Sandy Warner in the SPE Office at: 206-252-4640 or may contact the Sand Point Elementary PTA at

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Cultural Heritage Brunch: March 7, 10:30-12:30

Dear Sand Point Families,

This year the Sand Point Cultural Heritage Brunch will be Saturday, March 7th from 10:30am – 12:30pm.

Each classroom will participate in this event in a variety of ways. Students will be learning about the traditions, languages, and cultures of a particular country or region and will present their learning during the Brunch. Classes will do individual or class projects, that may include art or research. All students are invited to learn and enjoy the event! Join us at school that day for music, food, and student work.

We invite you to be part of the festivities! Here are two ways to participate:

  • Support your child’s learning of diverse cultures by researching the music, foods, traditions, and clothing of another culture or his/her own heritage.
  • Please consider preparing a dish for the potluck brunch that holds special cultural meaning for your family to bring to the event on Saturday, March 7th.

We look forward to your participation!


Sand Point Elementary Staff


Are you able to lend a hand at this cherished annual school event? Mark your calendar and sign up now at:

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Part Time Tutor Opening

Questions? Please contact Lexi Coyle at 206-252-4640.
Preschool Tutor Position Description

  • Work 17 hours a week, approximately 3.5 hours each day in the preschool classroom (3 hours on Wednesdays).  The schedule will be determined by coordinating with the lead teacher.  The schedule is based on the needs of the classroom and the daily schedule.
  • Work in the preschool classroom assisting children ages 3-5 in small group activities, large group, work time, and during one on one instruction.
  • Monitor children during recess and accompany them to PE, music, art, or library if that is part of the weekly schedule.
  • Assist with picking up meals from the cafeteria.  Sit with children and assist them during meals.
  • Allow for required teacher child ratio in the classroom while certificated teacher and instructional assistant take their breaks.
  • Work with classroom teachers to understand components of the curriculum and the weekly lesson plan.

We are happy to work with your schedule.  If you are interested in the position, please call us and we will work together to try and accommodate your availability.

Contact Lexi Coyle at 206-252-2620 for more information.


Squirrel in hand

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What Parents Need to Know About the Digital Addition Epidemic

Tuesday, February 25
Sand Point Elementary

Our guest speaker will focus on the neurobiological mechanisms of addiction, how they apply to today’s digital media, and what parents can do to raise healthy children in a digital world.

Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH

George Adkins Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington
Director, Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children’s Research Institute
Attending Pediatrician, Seattle Children’s Hospital

Dimitri Christakis graduated from Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is the author of over 200 original research articles, a textbook of pediatrics, and  “The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work for Your Kids” (September 2006; Rodale). In 2010 he was awarded the Academic Pediatric Association Research Award for outstanding contributions to pediatric research over his career.  His passion is developing actionable strategies to optimize the cognitive, emotional, and social development of preschool children. The pursuit of that passion has taken him from the exam room, to the community and most recently to cages of newborn mice.

Christakis’ laboratory focuses on the effects of early environmental influences on child health and development and his work has been featured on all major international news outlets as well as all major national and international newspapers. He speaks frequently to international audiences of pediatricians, parents, educators and policy makers about the impact of early learning on brain development.

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