As has been discussed in this blog and in person with many parents, the middle school years are a time represented by significant physical, social and emotional change. This is not news to any of us who spend time with pre-adolescents. Most kids this age do not have fully developed coping skills to handle these changes alone. They need our help. They need help from home and they need help from school. It truly does take a village to raise a child. An integral part of this team approach is a school counselor. The roles of the teacher, administrator, bus driver, and custodian in a school are all pretty clear. Not so much for the school counselor. I hope to add some clarification.
To start, we have several staff members that fill counselor-like roles. In addition to our school counselor we have a two 1/2 time social workers. These roles are quite specific in working with identified students through their IEPs or 504 plans. They are attached to specific programs and provide more of a therapeutic service. Our social workers are not typically accessed by the general student population.
We have a full time time school counselor at OHMS. Her name is Mrs. Cloutier. Her job is complex and multi-faceted. Her primary role is to service students. All students are able to access Mrs. Cloutier through appointments. The reasons for students meeting with Mrs. Cloutier are as varied as the students themselves. Issues with friendships, troubles at home or in the classroom and the all too common low self-esteem cause many of these meetings. Her job is to listen and support the student through advocacy and problem-solving. She is a very busy lady.
Mrs. Cloutier also works to acclimate and register new students. She meets with new students and their families to develop schedules and provide as smooth a transition as possible. She teaches career prep skills, holds social skills groups, runs a "walking group" and has duties. All in a day.
Supporting students through their middle years takes everyone being involved. These are special kids and they deserve special treatment. Our counselors and social workers are a lesser known, but entirely crucial part of OHMS and the education we provide. Please call if you feel your child could benefit from these services!