Feb. 1, 2021 – It’s National School Counseling Week, and Team Duval is recognizing its more than 250 school counselors and the invaluable impact they have on student achievement.
“School counselors help students in more ways than families realize, especially during these times as we continue to navigate a global pandemic,” said Wendy Dunlap, Director of School Counseling and High School Accelerations Program for the school district.
She continued, “School counselors are placed in schools so that they can use their specific training to teach students the social and emotional skills necessary to cope in an everchanging world with respect for all people. School counselors work to create environments that promote equity so that all students have access to opportunities that will develop them into college and career ready citizens.”
Like all educators, school counselors have had to learn how to use technology creatively so they can meet with students virtually as well as in person, said Dunlap. Virtually or in-person, the support counselors provide remains consistent.
- School counselors communicate via web pages, email and phone blasts; Families need to make sure they have created Parent Focus accounts to receive the most current information.
- Appointments with school counselors are available and include phone conferences and virtual meetings.
- School counselors connect students with school-based resources and make referrals to community-based resources when needed.
- Child Safety Matters lessons are a part of the counseling curriculum; inquire about these lessons designed to teach strategies to prevent, recognize, and respond to bullying, cyberbullying, all types od abuse, and digital danger.
- If your child is experiencing difficulties, contact the school counselor for an appointment.
- School counselors teach skills to help students transition from elementary to middle school, including those students participating in Duval HomeRoom.
- School counselors provide guidance in helping students create high school plans.
- School counselors create spaces where students feel safe, respected and cared for.
- School counselors monitor student grades and complete credit checks to ensure promotion to high school.
- High school counselors host virtual financial aid programs held virtually and connect students with postsecondary financial aid advisors for virtual one-to-one meetings with help with FAFSA.
- High school counselors are advertising virtual college fairs.
- High school counselors complete credit checks and meet with seniors face-to-face or virtually to review the graduation progress.
Dunlap encourages parents to visit their child’s school website or reach out directly to the school counselor to determine what services are being provided to students.
“We know that our students are resilient, but we also know that during these times, many need more support to manage their stressors,” said Dunlap. “Signs that may indicate a child needs help coping include acting out, loss of interest at school, disrespecting others, and having mood swings. School counselors can help these students by offering an induvial session, whether it be face-to-face or a virtual meeting through Microsoft Teams, to determine the best way to support the student in small group or making a referral to a different professional.”