Welcome to Cardinal Middle School

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July 24: Alumni Soccer Game, 10:00 a.m. | July 24: Peters Pig Roast, 3:00 p.m. | Aug. 11: K Orientation | Aug. 17: CMS Locker Setup, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. | Aug. 18: First Day of School (Grades 1-12)

School Counselor’s Page

Mrs. Amy Seifert, Cardinal Middle School Counselor
Email: amy.seifert@cardinalschools.org
Phone: 440-632-0261 ext. 4004

Geauga Cope Line 440-285-5665 24/7


Social & Emotional Supports at Cardinal Middle School 2020-21

We at Cardinal Middle School understand there may be increased anxiety about returning to school this year- whether remotely or in person. We want you to know we are here for you! Teachers and staff have received specialized training to help identify and support students’ social and emotional needs while remaining focused on providing appropriately rigorous academic learning. We are implementing some new programs and strategies that will help in a physically distanced learning environment. We may need to remain physically distanced to be safe, but we are finding new ways to stay socially and emotionally connected!

Virtual Happy Place

With the creative assistance of our Technology teacher, Mrs. Mandi Matchinga, during the first few weeks of school and throughout the year, each Cardinal Middle School student will be building a personalized “Virtual Happy Place.” Students will be able to access their Happy Place at appropriate times during the school day and will also have access to it at home through their school account. Utilizing a catered program in Google Slides, students will select from suggested items to include in their Happy Place to bring calm, focus, and fun.They can also add their own things such as pictures of family, pets, favorite memories, or favorite songs! There will be links to appropriate music, relaxing and funny YouTube videos, games, calming strategies, creative things like painting and journaling, movement activities you can do from your chair, and choosing a personal, encouraging quote. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

Here is a sample Virtual Happy Place

Once students create their own, they will be able to click on items in the room that link to their chosen resources. 



CMS Support Staff


Marci Samblero, B. S. Therapeutic Behavioral Support “TBS”

marci.samblero@cardinalschools.org 440-632-0261 x4043

“Marci” joined the CMS team in January 2020 as the on-site support person from Ravenwood Health, a community agency that provides professional counseling and supports to families in Northeast Ohio. Marci is in the CMS building full-time and has a regular caseload of CMS students who can seek support from her throughout the day. She also meets with students and families outside of the school day. She is taking new clients and loves to meet new students. She can connect with students virtually and in person. Students find Marci easy to talk to and a really cool person!


Sarah Drenik, MSW, LSW School Social Worker

sdrenik@escwr.org 440-417-4928 

“Ms. Sarah” has been a social worker for over 20 years, serving a diverse client population both in a private practice setting and 7 years in the school setting. Her passion is to approach all youth and families from a strength’s based perspective and believes building genuine rapport as paramount in a successful therapeutic relationship. She utilizes effective, evidence-based strategies, working with a targeted caseload of students most in need. Ms. Sarah is based at the Educational Service Center of the Western Reserve, contracted in two districts, and is in the CMS building two days per week. She also serves on the Geauga County Crisis Response Team and may assist Cardinal students in crisis situations outside of her caseload. Ms. Sarah is engaging and warm and students feel well-cared for in her presence.


Kelly Antos, M. Ed. School Psychologist

kelly.antos@cardinalschools.org 440-632-0261 x4032

Mrs. Antos is starting her third year with Cardinal Schools and her 13th year as a School Psychologist. Her focus is on providing cognitive, academic, and behavior assessments, and helping teams develop intervention plans for targeted students. She works closely with teacher teams at the middle and high schools on special education plans. She may work with your student one-on-one to provide indicated testing. Occasionally, she may help a student in crisis. Mrs. Antos is a data guru and keeps everyone focused on evidence-based strategies and interventions! Visit Mrs. Antos’ Virtual Office


Holly Jacobson, M.Ed., OCPC Youth Led Prevention Coordinator


New for the 2020-21 school year, “Holly” will be a permanent presence in the CMS building as long as Cardinal is on an adjusted schedule! Joining us from the Educational Service Center of the Western Reserve, Holly continues into her ninth year providing state-mandated wellness curriculum such as TPP and Digital World for multiple districts. In previous years she has led mentoring groups and Youth Led Prevention groups at CMS. This year she will be providing additional ways for students to remain socially connected and engaged while managing necessary physical distancing due to COVID-19. Holly has an infectious, loving, and fun enthusiasm that brings people together!


Mental Health & Pandemic Resources

In case of a mental health emergency, call 9-1-1- or go to the nearest emergency room. For less urgent matters, the Geauga Copeline is staffed 24/7 440-285-5665.

Mental Health SupportThe 24/7 Geauga County Cope Line is a great place to start if you’re not sure what to do 440-285-5665.

Here is a list of Local Mental Health Resources & Providers, including counselors, hotlines, and organizations.

Geauga County Job & Family Services (JFS) is the nonprofit organization that manages all public assistance (food, cash, child care, medicaid), social services (adult protection, child protection, community support, foster & adoption, child support), and employment services for Geauga County.

  • Immediate Food Assistance: Geauga County Job & Family Services  helps families year round. If you need help feeding your family during this crisis, call Sara Shininger at 440-285-9141 ext. 1262 and she will make arrangements to get you the food you need.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is America’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental health conditions such as major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder.

  • Managing a Mental Health Crisis: Essential information about warning signs of suicide or other mental health crises, and what to do about it. 
  • Virtual Support Groups: NAMI Geauga has been offering support groups for adolescents, adults, and families who suffer from a mental illness and/or substance abuse and grief & loss. They are working on making their support groups virtual so people can participate from home. Some of those virtual support groups are available now. Details are on their website https://namigeauga.org/
  • NAMI Geauga keeps an extensive list of all the social services available in Geauga County in their free 36-page pdf online booklet, “What’s Out There?” 

 The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

What do I say to my kids? The National Association of School Nurses and the National Association of School Psychologists put together a guide for parents to help them know how to talk to their children about COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

Feeling Anxious?

  1. Take a deep breath. Take another. Repeat until you’re in control of your breathing. Let everything else fall away from your mind and focus on your breath.
  2. Take a media break. If all the news feels overwhelming, it’s ok to turn it off or mute it. The information will still be there tomorrow.
  3. Turn to trustworthy sources for information. Rumors abound in times of crisis. Turn to official sources like the CDC for accurate information.
  4. Practice self-care. Take care of yourself and encourage your family members to do the same. Get good sleep, eat nutritious foods, exercise, have a little fun. Go for a walk outside!
  5. Take sensible steps to prepare. Don’t go overboard, but also don’t procrastinate doing what you need to make sure your family is prepared for what may come.
  6. Practice self-compassion. Acknowledge your fears and anxiety without judging yourself. It’s ok to feel upset. Write down your worries. BE BRAVE and ask for help if you need it.
  7. Stay connected to friends, family and neighbors. Reach out by phone, chat, email, video face time. We’re all in the same boat and a friendly connection goes a long way.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) is one of the most trusted sources for accurate information on the current situation and has expert tips to help adults and families cope. Here are their suggestions:

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
  • Poor school performance or avoiding school
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

There are many things you can do to support your child

  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
  • Be a role model.  Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.


Tips & Tricks for Succeeding in Online/Home Schooling

  1. Be positive! A positive attitude will increase your motivation and make it easier to get into a good learning groove.
  2. Treat it like real school- because it is: Your assignments are graded and will go towards the grades on your report card. It’s important to keep up with learning the curriculum so you’re ready for next year!
  3. Get organized and stay organized: Continue to use your planner or a calendar so you know when things are due. Check your homework sites daily to make sure you know what’s expected. Check Infinite Campus regularly to make sure you’re staying on track.
  4. Establish a Routine: Make a daily schedule for yourself just like a regular school day. Start with your favorite subject, then your least favorite subject (or whatever works for you.) Take short brain breaks and eat a healthy lunch. Plan on spending one hour per day per subject, including specials, however, some students will finish more quickly and some will need more time. That’s ok!
  5. Create a Regular Study Space: Figure out what works for you. Some people do best at the kitchen table, some in their bedroom. If you’re getting distracted, try something else! Have all the supplies you need in your space- Chromebook, pencils, paper, calculator, planner, etc.
  6. Eliminate Distractions: For most people the biggest distraction is SCREENS. Keep social media, texting, YouTube, video games, etc. out of sight and out of mind. Also be mindful of distracting pets, outside noises, TV in the next room, and clutter.
  7. Figure out How You Learn Best: All these tips mean nothing if they don’t work for you. Figure out what does by experimenting. Maybe you do best with quiet music in the background, staring out a window, reading out loud, walking while typing one-handed. EXPERIMENT!
  8. Reach out for Help: If you’re having technical problems or don’t understand an assignment, don’t wait for it to fix itself because it won’t. Email your teacher right away. Your teachers likely miss you and really want to help. That’s why they’re teachers!


The School Counselor’s Role

School counselors focus on helping students in three main areas: Academic, Career, and Social/Emotional

School counselors complete a masters degree through an accredited program that focuses on mental health, child & adolescent development, career guidance, and school programming. We then have to pass a state board exam and complete continuing education credits every few years.

For a school counselor, every day is different. I help students problem solve when they have friendship issues, failing grades, get in trouble, experience anxiety, depression, or have trouble focusing in class. I collaborate with teachers, parents, school specialists, and therapists to try to understand a problem from multiple points of view. Then I connect students and families with outside resources to address the needs that a school can’t. The primary purpose of coming to school is to learn. When a kid is having a hard time with that, we all work as a team to figure out why and how best to help.


Something Getting in the Way of Doing Your Best?

Mental Health

Attitudes about mental health have been changing drastically over the last several decades. More and more people are realizing that mental health is just as important as physical health. How you feel all day has a huge effect on your quality of life and your ability to do your best in school. Everything in your life could look perfect on the outside, but if something is getting in the way of you being able to enjoy that life or do your best, you can take steps to change that. The reverse is also true: to others, your life might look like a wreck, but you may have an inner peace that makes it all manageable. The brain is a powerful muscle that responds to mental health exercise. There are many professionals who can help you.

Here is a list of places nearby to get you started on your journey: Local Mental Health Resources

Learning Disabilities

Do you suspect your child may have a learning disability? Some kids have a hard time with all subjects, some may struggle with just one. Specific learning disabilities, dyslexia, and other disorders can be very frustrating for students, parents and teachers. Talk with your pediatrician and your child’s teachers if you suspect a disability.


Think your child might have an attention deficit? Talk with your child’s pediatrician. There are many tests that can help diagnose or rule out an attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. ADHD is an umbrella under which three different disorders fall: Hyperactive type, Inattentive type, and Combined type (hyperactive and inattentive.)

CHADD has an incredible website where you can find information, support, and ideas related to ADHD:  Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) It was founded in 1987 in response to the frustration and sense of isolation experienced by parents and their children with ADHD. At that time, one could turn to very few places for support or information. Many people seriously misunderstood ADHD. Many clinicians and educators knew little about the disability, and individuals with ADHD were often mistakenly labeled “a behavior problem,” “unmotivated,” or “not intelligent enough.”

ADHD is medically and legally recognized as a treatable yet potentially serious disorder, affecting up to nine percent of all children, and approximately four percent of adults.

Kids and adults who learn to manage their ADHD symptoms can live happy, productive lives and can learn to harness the positive qualities of ADHD, many of which are perfect for excelling in a fast-paced, creative society.

Trauma & Adverse Childhood Experiences

The most important person in a child’s life and in a child’s learning is YOU. Research shows that a child who has at least ONE caring adult in their life can overcome great and terrible challenges. Most people experience some sort of trauma in their lifetime and are able to work through it. When a child is exposed to multiple or severe adverse experiences before the age of 18, it can actually change how their brain develops. Trauma can include things like exposure to violence, abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual,) accidents, disasters, and loss (death, divorce/separation.) Other Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) can also affect a child’s ability to focus on learning if not properly addressed. Addressing the effects of trauma and ACES starts first with acknowledging it. Then, it usually involves supports through counseling and social workers. Often, if your child has experienced or is experiencing trauma, so are you. Acknowledge your own experiences, admit to your own RESILIENCY, and get help together. YOU are the most important person in your child’s life and you can make a difference.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) Research

Childhood Trauma

American Academy of Pediatrics Resiliency Project

Worried About Screen Time & Social Media?

is one of the most trusted sources for parents to find advice, reviews, and support related to all things media. They have parental guides about popular things such as Fortnite, Instagram, YouTube, parental controls, as well as reviews and recommendations on specific movies, shows, apps, books, and video games.

Parents’ Ultimate Guide to TikTok

Parents’ Ultimate Guide to Snapchat

17 Apps to Help Kids Stay Focused


If you think your child is being bullied, let the school counselor or principal know right away so we can intervene. Encourage your child to report bullying to the office every time it happens.




United Way – Geauga County 2-1-1