Monthly Reflections


5/15/2020 Written By: Omar Mora, APSS

Hello, my fellow Bruins:

I have always enjoyed the writing process. I find that it forces me to pause long enough to slow down and crystallize my thoughts. It is a way of brushing away the noise and more clearly identifying the emotions I wish to share. Writing can be an incredibly liberating experience but it is also one that requires an inordinate amount of grace and courtesy. The words we commit to require extraordinary care and it is that associated pressure, specifically, that I believe demands the most patience to get through. At its best, writing is the purest distillation of truth and I find this as the most appropriate way for me to share my reflection as we bring our year to a close.

I entered our community with the intent to learn and to serve. The days were long and challenging, but the love for our amazing students was evident from the beginning and that made me feel truly at home. That love powered me through. That love allowed me to see the best in our students. It allowed me to smile, to hug, to lean in towards our collective ambitions of making this world a better, safer space. I have observed so much on this campus and I am a better person for it.

However, we now face a sobering moment. Many of us continue to grapple with the painful, premature ending to the year. We struggle with the thought of our students facing this moment away from us or of loved ones being harmed. I carry that load with you. I too struggle with those same thoughts. But I am reminded of the very love that made this worry and concern possible. The love I’ve seen you share countless times with the students that are struggling with personal matters or the student that has developed a profound relationship with you and somehow the lines of staff-student have somewhat blurred. These relationships, and all the ones that exist in between, matter. Perhaps now more than ever. I believe the reality of social distancing has heightened our understanding of this.

But we are resilient and this is not everlasting.

Our students are more resilient and tenacious than I was at their age. The world they navigate is exceedingly complex, in ways I admittedly fail to comprehend at times. From them, I am reminded of the importance of wonder and curiosity. I am equally reminded of the importance of laughter and happiness. Resilience comes in many different forms, perhaps our students (and their behaviors that at times challenge our patience) have shown us another way of surviving. Although I do not see myself partaking in the latest Tik-Tok dance challenge or posting the latest meme, I do embrace the willingness to release my attachment to convention. What lies ahead of us is largely unknown and un-conventional thinking may prove to be our greatest asset. Their contribution is, and will continue to be, significant to our collective well-being.

Because of you all I am “Trevor tough!” I was sharpened and, though the time was brief, I grew exponentially. Although I will have to say goodbye to you all, it has been an honor to grow with you. Know that the very love you have shared on this campus has landed on me and know that that love is what will continue to carry Trevor G. Browne High School forward - rightfully seated as the “pride of the west side.”

Be authentic, be patient, be gracious!

~ Omar Mora

5/1/2020 Written By: Stephanie Streeter, Principal

Dear Bruin Champions:

Words cannot express how much I am grateful for each one of you and how much I miss your smile and presence. The strength that you bring to our campus is the heartbeat of Trevor Browne. On Mondays when I enter campus, the stillness and emptiness are stark reminders of the crucial importance of human connection and interdependence. As April transitions to May, the reality deepens that school closure will influence how we celebrate the end of the school year, including our graduation ceremony, recognition of our retirees, and honoring the accomplishments of our staff and students. How do we celebrate our students and staff with reverence and joy through virtual platforms?

Journaling and reading inspirational quotes have always sustained me. Even at a very young age, I enjoyed writing to process and express my thoughts, feelings, and wonders. Today is no different except clicks on the keyboard have replaced cursive in a notebook. For days that are exponentially challenging, my writing focuses on gratitude for specific individuals in my life, random acts of kindness received, and opportunities for laughter and silliness that help us connect. In moments of frustration, journaling becomes opportunities for brainstorming and thinking not just “outside the box”, but as if no box existed.

Although journaling may not occur daily, searching for motivational quotes is the equivalent of that first cup of coffee others use to start the day. In times of challenge, I search for quotes to reframe my thinking: positivity, perseverance, gratitude, opportunity, hope. I am often surprised that random searches develop into a theme for the week; one or two quotes rise to the top for further contemplation or celebration. The author appears to capture those words or phrases to share at that perfect moment we most need to read them. I wonder if the author knows the power of those words when they are written.

We will persevere. We will find joy and gratitude. We will celebrate. In great challenge, we have great opportunity. We will use our collective strength to rise higher than before. I look forward to the day that our staff and students return, and our campus once again is a place of human connection and human triumph. I cannot wait to see, hear, and feel the heart of Trevor Browne beat once more. Thank you for who you are and the strength you bring to our Trevor Browne community. You are a champion!

~ Stephanie Streeter, Principal


4/24/2020 Written By: David Kohl, LCSW

Hello Bruin Family,

Usually, April is full of excitement as we start closing down the school year. This year is different. We are heading into the end of the year much differently than any of us expected due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

I’ve been thinking about all of our students being at home instead of school. I have especially been thinking about our 2020 Seniors. They have been looking forward to enjoying some of the last monumental events of the year that include prom, senior skip day and graduation. Our school administration, teachers, staff and district administration are planning to have some sort of event for our seniors to close out the culmination of all the years of hard work towards graduation when it is healthy for people to gather. Seniors, you have not been forgotten. We will celebrate you soon.

As a social worker, I have been reaching out to students who may be experiencing depression or anxiety symptoms. Sometimes this is made worse by being “stuck in the house” or boredom. I am touched how many of the students have inquired how I am doing. Many people ae experiencing some anxiety and mood issues. I know my sleep patterns are definitely disrupted. Music and laughter are two of my go-to’s for when I am having barriers to being low in stress. I also use a self-guided meditation that I do. Can you believe I learned the self-guided meditation I use when I was in a 9th grade psychology class? I won’t tell you what year that was. LOL

You can find many tools on Youtube that can help you learn how to practice deep breathing exercise, and guided mediation. We also have links on this Student Services page too. Some are as short as 5 minutes. You may need to try a few different videos to find a voice or rhythm that helps you relax. The time to learn and practice deep breathing/guided meditation is when you are not in the middle of a panic attack. Practice daily to be better prepared if anxiety sneaks in.

We all need to take care of ourselves in the best way by making positive choices, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, turning off our phones and not staring at the news or internet too long. Disconnect once in a while. Too many of us are not getting enough sleep. Think about how long your cell phone lasts if you only charge it for a few minutes here and there. Ideally teenagers are supposed to get 8-10 hours of sleep. Although our state is practicing Stay At Home orders, you can still get outside to get some fresh air, ride a bike, or walk around the block.

Stay strong Bruin Family!!!!

~ David Kohl, LCSW

4/19/2020 Written By: Jef Heredia, LBSW, M.ED

Good day BRUINS!

As I sit to write down my reflection of the past several weeks I think about what I have taken for granted. What I miss. What I have. What I value. What I appreciate. Who I miss. Who I have. Who I love. It seems that a time of intentional reflection can truly challenge us to think deeper than we would think otherwise. I ask you each to take five minutes to reflect on where you were six months ago, where you are right now and where you want to be in 6 months.

I realize now, more than ever, that there are things I have taken for granted like relationships, freedoms, luxuries and necessities. The beautiful part about reflection is that it provides us opportunities to make changes and also celebrate. There are areas in my life where I will be certain to make some changes and other areas where I will be sure to enhance. Like reaching out more to friends and family who I do not speak with on a regular basis. Taking time to be extra kind to people. I am reminded to embrace the things I have control over and be flexible with things I do not have control over. I am reminded there are people who have struggles they do not regularly share with others.

I am hopeful that when we get to see each other again, that we stop and say hello to each other more often. I am hopeful that we appreciate the food that we have and we think twice before we throw away an uneaten apple or an unopened milk. When we get to be around each other again, I am hopeful that we are sensitive to the challenges our neighbors, teachers, students may be having. I am hopeful that we continue to invest in ourselves and take the time to write, draw, sing, dance, cook or whatever makes us happy and smile. I am hopeful we will continue to take pride in our homes, bedrooms, cars, pets and clean them and take care of them like we’re doing now. I am hopeful we get through this time with greater appreciation for the relationships we have. I am hopeful…

~ Jef Heredia

4/10/2020 Written By: Kristi Garrison, LCSW

Good morning Bruins!

Today marks the end of the fourth week of school being closed and it’s been five weeks since we were all together on March 6th. We were finishing up 3rd quarter and about to head off to spring break. When I look back on that final day at school I wish I would have appreciated it more, from beginning to end. Seeing James or Sabrina as I walked through the gate. Hearing the ladies call out to you to remind you to grab your breakfast before class. The quad filled with students throwing footballs or kicking a soccer ball. I feel like the things that used to bother me wouldn’t bother me now. Things that felt like problems then wouldn’t really feel like problems now. A low grade in a class, forgetting to study for a test, a conflict with a friend over a rumor on social media, wishing I had a new/better phone or a nicer pair of shoes, feeling irritated I had to wake up early and rush out of the house. It’s almost funny to remember what we were worried about five weeks ago.

Hard times are just that – they’re hard and it’s OK to admit that and sometimes just have a bad day. I know I’ve had quite a few since this all started. It’s OK to be sad and angry at all the things that we don’t get to do. I’m so sad for the seniors who don’t get the prom or graduation you’ve been working for. I’m sad for families who are struggling and kids who don’t get to play with their friends or see their grandparents. But I also have been taught my whole life to look for purpose in pain. When I was a kid and my parents got divorced I was taught that some day I’d be able to give comfort and support to someone else who’s parents were getting divorced – and that they’d trust me in a way that they wouldn’t trust someone who hadn’t been through it. That’s purpose. It took a while but eventually it happened. So I want to ask you, what will the purpose of this be? How will we be different when schools open again and life goes on? Will we come out of this on the other side with more empathy towards others who are hurting? Will we appreciate the little things more? Will we be more grateful for things we used to complain about? Will we decide our schedules were too busy and we actually like having a little more time at home with our families?

The next time I walk through the gate by the bear paw I know I will be smiling. I will thank James and Sabrina for keeping us safe. I will wave to the ladies who are helping make sure you’re fed and ready to learn for the day. I may even kick a soccer ball or throw a football with a student in the quad. And I will walk into the Student Support Center and hug my friends who I work with every day and miss terribly.

I just know I will appreciate it all more than I did on March 6th.

~Mrs. Garrison

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. So be kind. Always!”




3/30/2020 Written By: Gisele Rech Howard, LMSW

Dear Students, Families and Staff,

As I wrap up the month, I am overcome with so many feelings. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted us in ways that we never could have imagined. Our daily lives have been significantly altered, whether it’s seeing family, going to school, work, or being in social situations. There is no doubt that we are experiencing one of the most challenging and unpredictable times of our lives.

If you have felt any anxiety about Covid-19, or have felt tired and stressed as you search for new ways to cope, you are not alone. This month has felt like a year already, and I know I am not the only one who has experienced feelings of worry and confusion during this time. At the same time, I am grateful for so many things that I have encountered or experienced during Covid-19. The amount of kindness, compassion, and sense of community to help others gives me hope that we will get through this together. Whatever you’re feeling, please know that it’s okay.

During this time, go ahead, show yourself extra compassion. Build mindful moments into your day. Try to use this time to write a poem or a song, learn something new, follow an old family recipe, or anything else that you may have been putting on the back burner because you didn’t have the time. But if you can't focus on something new, that's okay too! Just take care of yourself and take the time to reflect on those feelings to help you feel more confident and productive as you move into April.

Check out the Student Support Services site regularly as we add a great deal of new information and tools.

Stay strong, stay positive, stay healthy 😊

Mrs. Rech Howard

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