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TLC, "Tools for Life's Challenges" - A New Approach to Learning

Kristin Spillane, building-wide counselor at Eastchester Middle School, brings a wide range of experience that has allowed her to thoroughly assess students’ needs and bridge gaps in their learning. 
Before joining the district in 2018, she worked across grade levels in elementary school, middle school, high school, and college admission settings. Spillane says she enjoyed partnering with students at every level but what she loves most about her current role is the teaching component. 
Incorporated into Spillane's lesson plan is what she calls TLC or “Tools for Life’s Challenges,” a social and emotional support program designed for middle-schoolers who are re-adapting to in-person learning. Outside of the classroom, she meets with each student once a month. 
“Everyone is still processing the last school year. It’s important that we allow space for students to talk about their varied experiences. Yes, COVID is still a factor in all of our lives, but we’re also moving forward,” Spillane explained. 
It is that need to move forward, despite life’s challenges, that inspired TLC, a different approach to learning where students are taught lessons like empathy, gratitude, self-awareness, and the importance of valuing themselves and their accomplishments.  
“I tell my students that there is a lot of critical material that you’ll learn in middle school, but there is so much more we want you to know that doesn't fall within the typically taught academic subjects," said Spillane. "That’s where I come in!”  
Keeping with the theme of moving forward, Spillane conducted an exercise in one of her recent classes. Students were prompted with the following two-part question: 
What is one piece of wisdom you gained or lesson you learned during last year? How could it help you as you move forward?
Read some of their responses below: