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October 2022 - Empathy

Welcome to our new monthly Counselor Connections blog!

My name is Dani Angell and I have been the Student Advocacy Counselor here at HEB Middle School since 2018. I am a registered Social Worker with a BSW from the University of Calgary, but my educational background also includes psychology, cognitive behavior therapy, and animal assisted wellness. I am passionate about positive psychology, mental health advocacy, and the therapeutic power of animals. I look forward to sharing my love of animals with our school community on days when I bring one of my 3 dogs to work with me!

HEB has 4 pillar words that represent our philosophy and values- Empathy, Excellence, Respect, and Integrity. We teach all of these values throughout the year and will be highlighting each one with lessons and discussion in classes.

To begin the school year, we have been focusing on fostering and encouraging empathy in our students and school community. Last month as a school community we raised $642 for the SPCA at our welcome back color run! All classes are doing empathy projects in their homerooms and Mrs. Casselman spoke about what it means to have empathy at our first assemblies. We ended the month by honoring residential school survivors by wearing orange for the last week of September leading up to National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

To help your child develop empathy, I recommend pointing out and praising each time they exhibit this trait at home. Recognize when you notice them listening, validating, relating, or comforting another person or animal. You can model empathy by paraphrasing and relating to what your child shares with you, for example: “I’m hearing you say that you are really struggling with math this year. I can imagine that must feel frustrating, I remember grade 8 math being very challenging for me at your age too.” 

One of my role models in the field of social work is Brene Brown, who has contributed greatly to the profession with her decades of research on courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Check out the following short clip of her take on the difference between sympathy and empathy:

This month the Lakeland Family Resource Network is starting their "ADHD Parent Support Group" on October 12 from 5-6:30. This group will run the second Wednesday of each month at the Parent Child Centre at 4714 48 St Bonnyville. To register call 780-826-2120 or email

For more local parenting and family resources, check out the Lakeland Family Resource Network's resource page

Last, but not least, I am excited to share that Community Helpers training is happening this month! All newly nominated Community Helpers are being trained together as a division at Landry Lake Ranch for a day of fun and learning. I look forward to sharing more about our Community Helpers program and how it positively impacts our school and community in future posts! 

If you would like me to connect with your child or your family, you can contact me at the school at 780-826-3323 or by email at

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