Mental Heatlh

A Letter From Principal Rucinski: About Current Events of May/June 2020

Dear Gunston Families, 

I am thinking of our community and our students as our country faces such trauma and sadness. I am reaching out to acknowledge the wide variety of emotions, thoughts, and feelings shared by all of us as we reflect on the current events.  I would be doing a disservice to our students, staff, and families if I did not address the current racial crisis in our country.   In our school community, we recognize that there are feelings of fear, anger, confusion, uncertainty, and hopelessness.  We understand that each of us is experiencing the most recent events of racism and injustice differently and I am confident that together we can create brave and safe spaces for listening and collaboration.  As FCPS Superintendent, Dr. Brabrand shared, “Racism and hate have no place in FCPS. FCPS is a place where we strive for love, inclusiveness, and compassion for all while providing hope for the future.”  Gunston will continue to stand on those values. 

Our Gunston community will continue to nurture a caring culture where we celebrate our individuality and diversity.  We are devoted to establishing and providing a culturally responsive learning environment for our students, staff, and community.  We are committed to accepting our responsibility to recognize and educate our students regarding racism and other injustices that threaten the fabric of our country.  It is our moral imperative to teach and model acceptance, compassion, and embrace our differences.   Those differences make our community stronger and develops our school culture.  We will continue to share and listen to each other’s stories, help our students process complex, unfair, real world issues, and to serve as models of how to support each other.  Together we will make a difference. 

While it may be uncomfortable, our students are capable of having developmentally appropriate conversations about race and justice.  We recognize that while the recent events may be visible to our children, their responses may not be at this moment and may lead our children to ask questions.  Even though our current situation finds us apart, we want you to know we are here for you.  As always, our school clinical team and administrators are always available to support you and your family.  We will continue to come together to support our students and families during these challenging times.  Please reach out and take care of one another, even if we are at a distance.  If you and/or your children need support with talking about the recent events, I have added a few resources below. 


Kristen Rucinski, Acting Principal

Resources to Support Families 



Living With the Bear

Article on the constant exposure to violence via social media for our youth, and we can learn to recognize the signs to give them the support they need.

Supporting Vulnerable Students in Stressful Times: Tips for Parents

Article shares tips and related resources to help support children during stressful times. 

Talking to Children After Racial Incidents

Article shares why it is important to talk to children after racial incidents and tips to have the conversation with children.

Supporting Kids of Color in Wake of Racialized Violence

Discussion with EmbraceRace co-founders, parents, teachers, and other concerned adults about how to best support kids of color and teach them to approach the world with love.

Books for Children

A list of books for teaching children. 

Discussing Difficult Situations with Children

Tips on how to discuss difficult situations with your children.

YouTube version of Something Happened In Our Town

A children’s story that aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.


Gunston Coffee August 12 Planning for Fall

Gunston Coffee Hour  Preparing for Fall August 12

Don't worry if you missed this because we are sharing the two short recordings and tips right here. 

Ms Marques and Ms Campbell shared lots of tips with our community. 

image of teacher


Create a learning Space

  • Set up a quiet clutter-free area
  • Instead of focusing on square footage and actual space, think about creating consistency
  • The key is to create a specific routine and designated spot for your child’s learning
  • Get your child’s input on where they might work best.


Reduce Distractions

  • Make a list of things that distract your child, then find ways to limit them during learning time.


Make a Schedule

  • Develop good habits from the start
  • Create a flexible routine and talk about how it is working over time.
  • Chunk your days into predictable segments
  • Have a visual breakdown of what the day will look like


Use a Calendar

  • Set up systems to help your child stay on top of school deadlines
  • Use visual organizers to break an assignment down into steps and the specific strategies needed to complete it.



  • Exercise helps us think better and improves our problem-solving, memory, and attention
  • Physical activity also helps reduce stress and helps prevents anxiety
  • You can keep it as simple as doing some jumping jacks or doing a walk around the house

Watch the video here (15 min)


Part Two of the presentation

This part of the webinar included great resources including links to FCPS sponsored upcoming and recorded webinars and  technology tips on the FCPS website. 

Parent Resource Center

FCPS Tips for Return to Online School



teacher demonstrating a scrumboard
Mrs Hanna shared how she used a scrumboard at her house to stay organized.

Watch the video here (16 min)

Check out Counselor's Corner on the Gunston ES Blackboard Course