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Family Academy

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The MCS Family Academy is designed to inform and empower families as advocates and partners in their children's education.  It is an important way we grow greatness together. We recognize that behind every successful student are supportive families, teachers, school staff and community members who take an active role in educating our children.

Virtual and in-person sessions and CommUNITY Conversations provide families with useful information and resources to support their children's academic and emotional well-being, as well as help them to be college and career ready. Through a variety of learning opportunities hosted by MCS staff and community partners, we hope to strengthen our engagement with families and the community. 

In-Person Sessions

PK-12 Teaching & Learning Night at Mason City Schools
Wednesday, January 24 from 6:00-8:00 PM
MHS Large Commons and Auditorium


This is an opportunity to learn more about what's new in teaching and learning in Mason City Schools, including new courses, curricular resources, and curriculum implementation. Information about high school scheduling and graduation requirements will also be shared. Multiple sessions will be offered; most sessions will be 25 minutes long.

After reviewing the schedule and session descriptions, please register for the sessions that you are interested in attending. Upon registration, you will receive an email with your selected schedule. Please register by Friday, January 19 so that we can ensure adequate space and meet accommodation needs.

View Schedule & Session Descriptions

Register for Sessions

Virtual Sessions

MCS Family Academy

How do you help your children develop their emotional intelligence? Recognizing, interpreting, and processing emotions can be challenging for children and their parents. In this month's Family Academy video installment, Executive Coach David Charpentier shares tips for how parents can practice active listening, manage their own emotions, teach emotional vocabulary, and give coping strategies that include lessons learned from Mason's CommUNITY Book Read, "Thrivers."

The Mason Schools Foundation has supported the CommUNITY Book Read by purchasing copies of the books for Mason families. If you are interested in getting a copy of Thrivers, email

View Additional Family Resources

How can you help your child make and keep friends...and bounce back when a friendship ends or isn't healthy? In this month's Family Academy video installment, Mason City Schools Prevention & Wellness Coordinator Laura Martin shares important tips for helping your children and teens develop positive peer relationships while navigating social dynamics at various stages of development.

View Additional Family Resources

Watch School Board President Charles Galvin and the Galvin Family share how they have incorporated tips from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear into their family's life.

Habit Stacking: Encourage the concept of habit stacking within the family by linking a new habit to an existing one. For instance, after dinner, the family can collectively engage in a short 10-minute cleanup routine before starting any other activities.

The Power of Small Changes: Emphasize the idea that tiny, consistent changes lead to significant results over time. Encourage each family member to identify small habits they can adopt to contribute positively to the household, like making their bed daily or tidying up after themselves.

Environment Design: Focus on creating an environment that promotes good habits. This can involve rearranging the home to make healthy snacks more accessible or setting up a designated study or reading corner to encourage great learning habits.

Habit Tracking and Accountability: Introduce a system where family members can track their habits, perhaps using a shared board or app. Encourage mutual accountability and support within the family, celebrating successes together and providing assistance when someone struggles.

Consistency and Routine: Stress the importance of consistency and routine in building habits. Establish consistent family routines for meals, bedtime, study time, etc., to make it easier for everyone to stick to desired habits.

View Additional Family Resources

Good kids vape, too. Peer pressure and managing stress are some of the main reasons that kids start vaping, even "high-achievers." And as kids learn about how it makes them feel, they become addicted and use it to cope with stress, anxiety or social situations.

In this month's Family Academy installment, TJ Glassmeyer, MCS Learner & Wellbeing Supports Supervisor, and MMS Principal Jay Reutter share what to look for, how Mason City Schools responds when a student is caught vaping, and resources families can use for talking to kids about vaping, and for getting help.

View Additional Family Resources

Emily Meyer, Cincinnati Children's school-based clinical supervisor, shares how anxiety presents in children, and what families and the 13 school-based therapists located in each Mason school building can do to help in this month's virtual family academy. 

"For younger children often you may see an increase of complaints about headaches, stomach aches, tantrum-like behaviors, avoiding different tasks that they may have to do. And then as we look at older children some of those symptoms can kind of continue to exacerbate or get worse. So you may still see migraines, stomach aches, and avoidant type of behaviors. They may try to avoid social situations like going out with friends.  I would suggest trying to talk to your child about it and normalizing anxiety explaining to your child that anxiety can be a normal human reaction to things."

View Additional Family Resources

Dr. Robyn Jordan, Mason City Schools Learner & Family Engagement Administrator, shares important tips for Comet families to start the beginning of the school year.

Watch Dr. Jordan and her family share the Top 5 Tips for Time Management & Organization

1. Establish a Consistent Routine: Create a daily routine for your children that includes set times for waking up, meals, homework, play, and bedtime. Consistency in your child’s schedule helps children develop a sense of structure and responsibility.

2. Use Visual Aids: Visual aids, such as calendars, to-do lists, and colorful planners, can be incredibly helpful for children to visualize their tasks and responsibilities. Families can work together to create these tools and place them in a visible location where the child can refer to them regularly.

3. Break Tasks into Manageable Chunks: Teach children to break down larger tasks or projects into smaller, more manageable chunks. This approach prevents them from feeling overwhelmed and helps build a sense of accomplishment as they complete each step.

4. Set Realistic Goals and Prioritize: Set realistic goals with your child. By teaching them how to prioritize tasks based on importance and deadlines, children will learn how to manage their time effectively and focus on what matters most.

5. Encourage Time for Rest and Play: It's crucial that time management isn't solely about productivity. Children need time for rest, relaxation, and play as well. Balancing work and play helps prevent burnout and enhances overall productivity.

View Additional Family Resources

Today’s families are constantly surrounded by technology and screens. Pediatricians tell us that if you want your kids to limit their screen time, you have to model the way.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Family Media Use Plan is one of the best resources to negotiate limits and boundaries around the usage of digital devices. Parents can create their personalized Family Media Use Plan to reduce excessive use of smartphones, tablets, and laptops among all members of the family. Consider trying it today!

Our teens tell us that getting inundated with questions about college is stressful. If they are struggling to choose a college or waiting on an acceptance letter, being questioned amps up their anxiety. If they aren’t going to college, being questioned can make them feel like a failure. 

There are a variety of pathways for today’s students. We need all of our teens to know that enrolling in college, pursuing vocational school, a trade or apprenticeship, serving our country as a member of the military, or becoming an entrepreneur are all great choices that can lead to a successful future. 

During this Family Academy installment, we share 5 alternative open-ended questions you can ask instead of "where are you going to college?" 

Experts share that the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. Immersing a child in a rich literacy environment can be a stronger predictor of literacy and academic achievement than family income. The more words a child hears, the larger the child’s vocabulary, and the larger the child’s vocabulary, the more likely the child will be a proficient reader.

The Warren County Imagination Library has a goal to deliver free books to all children from birth to age five across Warren County. The theme of this program is “Every Child Reads Every Day.” Mason City Schools staff can personally attest to the wonders this program has brought some of our own children!

Children can be registered at

This edition of our Family Academy series features an important conversation with Nancy Eigel-Miller, Executive Director of 1N5 and MHS Class of 2019's Zander Wells.

Nancy started 1N5 after her husband died of suicide. She and her team (which includes Comet Alum, Zander Wells) are on a mission to prevent suicide by erasing the stigma of mental illness and promoting optimal mental wellness. It's important to know that 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness in a given year, and that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in youth ages 10-24. It can be hard to be vulnerable and admit you need help, and scary to hear a loved one tell you they don't want to live any longer. Nancy and Xander share important tips for asking loved ones the right questions and following up with the next steps after you've started talking. 

If you or a family member are in crisis, text "4HOPE" to 741 741.

Every parent could use a little more peace and a little less stress. Prevention and Wellness Designer Breanna Lynch shares tips for peaceful parenting that include answers to these questions:

  • What are some ways families can practice peaceful parenting?
  • What should I do when my child is being difficult?
  • What does “play” look like for older children & teens?
  • What tips do you have to get the whole family involved in making home more peaceful?
  • What routines can you incorporate into your family’s daily life?
  • What strategies are kids seeing in school that parents can use at home?
  • What are ways to manage expectations during the holidays?
  • Where can I go for additional help?

Parents should always remember to call or text 911 in case of emergency. For non-emergency situations parents and family members may use the Safe Schools Tip Line:

  • Call or Text: (513) 972-4910
  • Email:
  • Web:

Parenting is hard, and probably harder today than it's ever been! Learn about Mason City Schools' Comet Culture language, and consider ways you might be able to use the disciplines and practices at home, too.

Major Definitions:

  • E+R=O : Event + Response = Outcome
  • R-Factor Disciplines are:
    • Press Pause: Before you respond, slow down and give yourself time to think
    • Get Your Mind Right: Get into a productive mindsight by taking ownership of what you focus on and the story you tell yourself
    • Step Up: Respond above the line. 
    • Adjust & Adapt: Change course when needed
    • Make a Difference: Create great experiences for others. Your R is an E for others.
    • Build Skill: Be intentional about the habits you develop.
  • 20 Square Feet: a metaphor that expresses that the way each of us behaves personally - the way each of us manages our personal 20 square feet - is what determines our collective culture
  • Above the Line: acting or responding with intention and integrity
  • Below the Line: acting or responding impulsively. Blaming, complaining or defending. 


watch this video

The Mason City School District utilizes ALICE - a system that encourages individualized decision-making options in response to an immediate threat with consideration to age and ability. Traditionally, schools have used a procedure known as “lockdown” which means locking the school building and classrooms and having students and teachers take shelter in their classrooms. We believe that offering additional age-appropriate options will allow our students and teachers to be better prepared if a crisis situation occurs. Providing a constant flow of information to everyone inside the building can allow opportunities to safely evacuate the building. Rescue by the police can take some time. An important goal of the ALICE program is to evacuate as many people as possible to a safe place.

ALICE is an acronym that stands for:

ALERT: Get the word out that a threat exists

LOCKDOWN: Secure a place to stay as much as possible as a starting point to buy time. Barricade if necessary, move to a safe spot with escape in mind.

INFORM: Give constant, real-time information throughout the building using all available technology. Communication keeps the shooter off balance.

COUNTER: Apply skills to distract, confuse, and gain control by using noise, movement, distance, and distractions. This is the last resort if individuals are unable to escape. Countering may be as simple as creating a distraction to allow opportunities to escape.

EVACUATE: To reduce the number of potential targets for the shooter and reduce the chances of victims resulting from friendly fire when help arrives. Take advantage of time and distance from the threat. The goal is to move students out of the danger zone. It’s important to be prepared to escape.

Goal: Maximize survival with the objective to escape from harm, get law enforcement on the scene quickly, decide and act, and interrupt the intruder’s decision action cycle.

How should I talk to my child about ALICE?
As a parent, you know your child best. For younger children, the most important thing is to listen carefully and remember to follow their teacher’s directions whether it’s during a drill or an actual emergency. Older students may be interested in talking about what they would do in an emergency situation. Follow your child’s lead and keep the opportunities to talk openly.

What if my child expresses fears about their safety?
It’s important to remember that we talk about ways to stay safe so that we can be prepared if something happens. If your child is worried, your school counselor or a member of our Mental Wellness Team is an excellent resource.