Check-In with Mrs. Jenn 6/15/20


Dear Holy Angels Community:

Hi my dear community at Holy Angels Catholic Academy. The time has come for me to say “See you!”, not “Good-bye”. I have had the privilege to be a part of this community since the Fall, 2017, as the Prevention Counselor from the Program for the Development of Human Potential (PDHP). There have been many challenges that this community has faced, especially in the year 2020. With the hard reality of these school doors closing after this school year, the COVID-19 pandemic and remote learning, feelings of fear, anger, sadness and anxiety rolled in like waves. The darkest of storms eventually follow with a rainbow and sky filled with sunshine. My hope is that we continue working together, helping one another, and spreading the love, care and kindness I have witnessed throughout my years here. That is what a community is all about.  Keep the faith, positivity and optimism!  You made it, WE MADE IT, STUDENTS, TEACHERS, STAFF, PARENTS/FAMILIES, MR. BERRY, OUR COMMUNITY!


All of us in this together and not going through this alone, is what a community is all about. Living or working together in the same area is what a community is all about. Helping each other is what a community is all about. Coming together to solve problems that might be too big for one person to handle is what a community is all about. 

Holy Angels Catholic Academy is what a community is all about!!


With all my love and care,


Mrs. Jenn

What Is a Community? – Lesson for Kids – Video & Lesson Transcript |

There are many communities. In fact, you are probably a part of at least a few communities. In this lesson, you will read about what makes a…

Check-in with Mrs. Jenn 6/8/20


Dear Holy Angels Community:


Wouldn’t it be great if we can shield our children from the horrors of hate? Wouldn’t it be great if we can eliminate the dangers, tragedies and traumas from the world and our children can live in a world filled with peace, love, sunshine and daisies? Reality is that we cannot protect our children from all the “bad things” going on in the world, especially today’s world. But, I continue to have hope for a better world. If we have these difficult conversations with our children, just talking to them, can promote change. Taking a proactive stance can provide security and safety to your children and help turn tragedies to triumphs. Between COVID-19 and the protests/riots that have been ongoing since the tragic death of African-American male George Floyd, children are gathering their information from social media, the news, friends and the internet. You can be that platform to your child that provides support and guidance in the conversation.


Here are some tips that can be used to guide these conversations:


Think about what you want to say. It’s OK to practice in your head, to a mirror or with another adult. Some advanced planning may make the discussion easier. You won’t have to think about it off the top of your head.

Find a quiet moment. Perhaps this is after dinner or while making the next day’s lunch.  This is time and place where your children can be  the center of your attention.

Find out what they know. For example, there was a shooting at a school or a bomb set off in another country. Ask them “What have you heard about this?” And then listen. Listen. Listen. And listen more.

Share your feelings with your child. It is OK to acknowledge your feelings with your children. They see you are human. They also get a chance to see that even though upset, you can pull yourself together and continue on.  Parents hear it often: Be a role model. This applies to emotions, too.

Tell the truth. Lay out the facts at a level they can understand. You do not need to give graphic details.

For young children, you may need to have the conversation about what death means (no longer feel anything, not hungry, thirsty, scared, or hurting; we will never see them again, but can hold their memories in our hearts and heads).

Say, “I don’t know.” Sometimes the answer to the question is “I don’t know.” “Why did the bad people do this?” “I don’t know” fits.

Above all, reassure. At the end of the conversation, reassure your children that you will do everything you know how to do to keep them safe and to watch out for them. Reassure them that you will be available to answer any questions or talk about this topic again in the future. Reassure them that they are loved.


Remember, parents are human beings too, although, I believe we have superpowers. As powerful and super as we can be at times, we are still human and might not always know what to say or what is appropriate. Below are suggestions on what you can say to your children when they are feeling anxious and scared. Or, just feeling a way that is uncertain, for your children as well as yourselves.




Love and care to you all,


Mrs. Jenn



Instead of shielding children from the dangers, violence or tragedies around us, adults should talk to kids about what is happening.

Parents may better face today’s challenges with an understanding of how racial bias works in children, as well as strategies to help them deal with and react to racial differences.



Weekly Check-In with Mrs. Jenn


Dear Holy Angels Community:

Relaxation techniques are great ways to reduce stress on your mind and body. It is also something that can actually be fun to do as a family while also benefiting from a health perspective. Below are several different relaxation techniques that as young as toddlers, are capable of doing. If there are family members and/or friends that you would like to try these techniques with, you can totally do it on a google meet, a zoom meeting, video chat or during the old-fashioned phone call. Enjoy your time together as a family! Enjoy the fun! And enjoy the health benefits you will gain from it. 

Deep Breathing


Pretend you have a lemon in your hand. Squeeze it hard. Feel the tightness in your arm and hand as you squeeze. Count to yourself for 5 seconds.  Now, relax and let the lemon fall out of our hand. This is called Progressive Relaxation.





Pretend you are a cat and just woke up from a nap. Stretch your arms out in front of you. Now relax them way up high over your head, stretch as high as you can. Keep stretching (Hold for 10 seconds and then release).









Pretend you are a turtle. Pull your head into your shell, and you do this by pulling your shoulders up to your ears and push your head down into your shoulders. Hold it tight (hold it for 10 seconds), then release.




Love, care and air hugs to you all!






Mrs. Jenn

Weekly Check-In with Mrs. Jenn


Dear Holy Angels Community,

Hi Everyone, this is Mrs. Jenn. Hope everyone had an enjoyable 3-day weekend! According to the news reports we are seeing on tv and internet news, New York City is on the road to recovery. Hospitalizations are decreasing, non-essential construction is back and what life was like before the pandemic, is slowly being restored. We have a long road ahead of us as we continue to socially distance, wear masks and gloves, sanitize and wash our hands; which can stir up feelings that we might all be too familiar with at this point, STRESS. Stress is a feeling we experience that causes physical or emotional tension. It also can create a feeling of nervousness. It is important to know what situations and/or people cause stress for your so you can learn ways to cope or deal with stress.  I am going to share H.O.S.E. with you which can help narrow down where your stress might be coming from.








Stress can feel like the pressure of a fire hose to the face. Difficulty concentrating, the inability to think clearly, sweaty hands, blurred vision, headaches, belly aches, and heart thumping are all symptoms that can be experienced when a person experiences stress. If you noticed any of these symptoms or feel a dip in your mood, there are 4 questions to consider with H.O.S.E.:

  1. H: AM I HUNGRY?


H: Am I hungry?







Hunger affects mood. When we haven’t eaten for a while, our blood sugar dips, and this triggers the release of hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline — the same ones that are released during a stress response. Sometimes a snack is just what our kids need to improve their emotional regulation. At predictable times each day, try taking a healthy snack break with your child — a time to connect with them and with your own body.


O: Am I overstimulated?

Every parent knows about the meltdowns that happen after school, after a long outing, or at the end of a long day. There’s only so much our brains and bodies can take in, and we all need downtime to recharge. As a parent, if you feel yourself on “overload,” ask yourself if you can take ten minutes to step away. Turn off the news, take a walk around the block or a warm shower, meditate or pray, drink a cup of tea, snuggle up with your child to read a favorite book, or sit in nature. Tell your kids what you are doing. “I am listening to my body and it needs a little break.” Help them take similar breaks.


Play is also a great way to relieve stress and build connection. Give your kids unstructured play time, free from too much adult direction. But also find some time to play with them — to toss a ball, color together, tackle a puzzle or play a game. Laugh! Be silly! Research shows that just being in the presence of a compassionate, safe adult can help kids calm down. As families, we can be “that person” for each other.


S: Do I need to sleep?









As the child psychologist Dr. Lisa Damour said, “Sleep is the glue that holds human beings together.” When we are sleep-deprived, we are less emotionally resilient. In stressful times, it is even more important to preserve good sleep routines for ourselves and our children. Routines help cue our brain that it is time to settle down. For example, Daniel Tiger uses this strategy song to help kids follow a bedtime process.






E: Do I need to exercise?

Little bodies and big bodies need to move. Neuropsychologist Wendy Suzuki says that “exercise is the most transformational thing you can do for your brain” because exercise boosts mood and improves focus and cognition. It helps us be responsive instead of reactive. As Dr. Suzuki further stated “When [kids] run around, their brains are getting a bubble bath of good neurochemicals, neurotransmitters and endorphins… Adults need this, too… Even if it’s just a walk up and down the stairs or a walk around the block. That is a surefire way to make your work more productive. It’s how humans were built. We were not built to sit in front of a screen all day long. Our bodies and brains work better with regular movement. It’s better than coffee.” Movement time can also be a time to connect with our kids — from a family dance party to a family hike.

Love and care to you all!

Mrs. Jenn

Holy Angels students celebrate Essential Workers

Hello everyone ,
In honor of Memorial Day and to honor our local essential workers, students in Grades 3 to 8 have created images of Essential Workers in our Art at 2 program.

This is a small sample of the many works that were submitted. 



Honoring our Mothers in the Month of May

All students, from Little Angels to 8th grade, created artwork to honor our Mothers…Mary, our heavenly Mother, and our wonderful earthly Mothers, as we celebrate them during the month of May.


Check In With Mrs. Jenn 5/18/20


Dear Holy Angels Community,

Hi Everyone, this is Mrs. Jenn. Hope everyone is doing well! I am wondering WHAT is everyone feeling? That’s right, I asked “WHAT”, which might sound a bit strange, let me explain. Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t take things for granted”, or “You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone”? Now, think about your 5 senses: SIGHT, TOUCH, HEAR, SMELL AND TASTE. 

Are you aware that your sense play a role in everything you do? Chances are that you are not because we are constantly on the “go” and adapting to new circumstances.  Who has the time to truly be aware and focus on what you’re doing, what it looks like, what it feels like, what sounds it makes, what it smells like and even tastes like? This is a deeper connection than “I love the taste of strawberry ice cream” or “It feels so good to just take a drive”. Some questions we might want to think about are:

  • What does the ice cream look like?
  • Solid, mushy, pink, red hints of stringy strawberry pieces?
  • What does it feel like?
  • Wet, cold, sticky, clumpy from the strawberries, hard from the strawberry seeds?
  • What does it sound like?
  • Droplets falling on the floor from melting, soundless?
  • What does it smell like?
  • Strawberry, fresh, soft scented?
  • What does it taste like?
  • Light, creamy, cold at first then gets liquidy in the mouth, sweet but slightly tart?






Chances are when a person has ice cream, they are not as mindful or aware of the ways your senses impact the experience. Also, our senses have memories so how might that impact your experiences in life?

What was just described above is called GROUNDING. To be “grounded”, refers to a state of mental awareness, where you are fully present in the here and now. This can be a helpful tool to be mentally and emotionally present. It can also help manage tasks and stressors, giving yourself a moment to “get yourself together”. I, sometimes, would say to myself, “Let’s see how many tasks I can complete at once”. I was proud of my multi-tasking abilities because I completed the tasks at hand, but the only feelings that were experienced were chaos, stress, and worry about what needs to be done next. Grounding techniques give you the opportunity to feel more than “ok, what’s next”. It allows you to be a part of the experience you are having in every sense and remain within a peaceful state!



Give yourself the chance to be grounded with your 5 senses.

With love and Care,

Mrs. Jenn


National Prevention Week from Mrs. Jenn


Jennifer Distefano, PDHP

May 10-16, 2020 is National Prevention Week, which is hosted by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The focus is on increasing substance use prevention and promoting mental health. Each day this week, a topic is dedicated to helping increase substance use prevention and promoting mental health and wellness.







Today’s topic is preventing suicide

Suicide is a very sensitive topic and can touch anyone, anywhere and anytime, BUT there is hope and prevention is possible.

According to SAMHSA, “Suicide touches whole communities. Each person who dies by suicide leaves behind 135 people who knew that person -and the impact of suicide and the bereavement that follow”.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, here are some warning signs to be aware of:









HELP IS HERE FOR YOU: Talking with someone about your thoughts and feelings can save your life. Below is a list of resources that can help save a life:







  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255
  • Find a therapist and/or support group
  • Establish and utilize a support network
  • Make a safety plan for yourself
  • Text, TALK to 741741


  • CALL 911, if danger for self-harm seems imminent.
  • ASK THEM, if they are thinking of killing themselves. This WILL NOT put the idea into their head or make it more likely that they will attempt suicide.
  • LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGING, show you care.
  • STAY WITH THE PERSON, make sure the person is in a private, secure plan with another caring person until you can get further assistance.
  • REMOVE ANY OBJECTS, that could be used in a suicide attempt.




How to help someone who is suicidal | Choices Psychotherapy

Here is a practical guide to demonstrate the best ways to help someone who may be experiencing a suicidal crisis.

Help Prevent Suicide | SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Suicide can touch anyone, anywhere, and at any time. But it is not inevitable. There is hope.

Home | AFSP

Learn about suicide, how you can help prevent it, and resources for those affected, from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Our mission: save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide


National Prevention Week from Mrs. Jenn 5/14/20


Jennifer Distefano, PDHP

May 10-16, 2020 is National Prevention Week, which is hosted by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The focus is on increasing substance use prevention and promoting mental health. Each day this week, a topic is dedicated to helping increase substance use prevention and promoting mental health and wellness.

Today’s topic is on Preventing Youth Tobacco Use (E-Cigarettes and Vaping)

Many of us have heard over the past year on the news or have read in newspapers about young deaths or serious lung injuries due to vaping. Vaping and Electronic Cigarettes (E-cigarettes) were thought to be safer, but that is not necessarily the case. The good news is that emergency department visits due to e-cigarettes or vaping products have declined since September, 2019.

The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults.






  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine.
  • Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.1
  • E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.
  • Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.

Key Facts about Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products

  • Electronic cigarettes—or e-cigarettes—are also called vapes, e-hookahs, vape pens, tank systems, mods, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
  • Using an e-cigarette is commonly called vaping.
  • E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs.
  • The liquid can contain: nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinoid (CBD) oils, and other substances, flavorings, and additives. THC is the psychoactive mind-altering compound of marijuana that produces the “high.”
  • Vaping products can come in all different flavors to appeal to the youth. Some flavors are cotton candy, watermelon and strawberry.

Key Facts about Vitamin E Acetate

  • Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive, most notably in THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products.
  • Vitamin E is a vitamin found in many foods, including vegetable oils, cereals, meat, fruits, and vegetables. It is also available as a dietary supplement and in many cosmetic products, like skin creams.
  • Vitamin E acetate usually does not cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, previous research suggests that when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung functioning.

Why Is Nicotine Unsafe for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults?

  • As mentioned, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine—the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products.
  • A recent CDC study found that 99% of the e-cigarettes sold in assessed venues in the United States contained nicotine.
  • Some e-cigarette labels do not disclose that they contain nicotine, and some e-cigarettes marketed as containing 0% nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.
  • Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain.1
  • The brain keeps developing until about age 25.
  • Using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.1
  • Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, stronger connections – or synapses – are built between brain cells. Young people’s brains build synapses faster than adult brains. Nicotine changes the way these synapses are formed.
  • Using nicotine in adolescence may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs

Let’s take a look at some real truths about E-Cigarettes; I have it listed in both English and Spanish







Please review the websites listed below for more information: