At the start of the school day, a small girl jumps from the big yellow bus and straight to the arms of her welcoming school counselor. That safe personal connection with a caring adult is what starts the student’s academic and emotional day well.
As growing up becomes more complicated, so too does the job of a school counselor. But, the position is also very rewarding. Mimi Mathews, Counselor at Artondale Elementary reflects, “No day is ever the same. There is a lot of variety and it is so enjoyable to see things through kids’ eyes. They teach me as much as I teach them.”
School counselors have a minimum of a Masters Degree as well as certification from the State of Washington. Counselors work with all students, not just those in crisis situations. Their variety of work includes helping to develop positive attitudes, individual and group counseling, teaching success skills, developing and teaching research-based classroom lessons about healthy decision making, conflict resolution and respect, and identifying and removing barriers to student success. Counselors also connect students and families with community resources.
Students access counseling services by self referring, or being referred by parents, teachers, administrators, or even friends. Students are usually referred for counseling when there are concerns about achievement, family health problems, being new to the school and community, special needs, early discussions about potential crisis, and family difficulties or concerns. All Students have the opportunity to receive individual and small group counseling and support.
Commenting on the challenges in the position, Mimi notes, “ My job is built on relationships. The greatest challenge of school counseling relates to the number of students. Creating meaningful relationships with 470 students and their families is definitely a challenge.”