School Counseling Services
K-12 MTSD School Counseling Staff
The Role of the School Counselor
School counselors are generally the first school-employed mental health professional to interact with students as they commonly are involved in the provision of universal learning supports to the whole school population. School counselors have specialized knowledge of curriculum and instruction and help screen students for the basic skills needed for successful transition from cradle to college and career. School counselors focus on helping students’ address their academic, personal/social, and career development goals and needs by designing, implementing, and evaluating a comprehensive school counseling program that promotes and enhances student success. School counselors work to promote safe learning environments for all members of the school community and regularly monitor and respond to behavior issues that impact school climate, such as bullying, student interpersonal struggles, and student–teacher conflicts. Effective school counseling programs are a collaborative effort between the school counselor, teachers, families, and other educators to create an environment promoting student achievement, active engagement, equitable access to educational opportunities, and a rigorous curriculum for all students.
Meeting student needs to best facilitate the educational process is the primary concern of the school counselors. Individual counseling is an essential part of the program; referrals for assistance may be made by the teaching staff, parents, administrators, counselors or the students themselves. Small group counseling is utilized when appropriate; counselors develop and present small-group programming based on the developmental needs of students.
The counselors remain flexible to provide crisis counseling, which may include activation of the Crisis Intervention Team in response to parental concerns and students’ needs. Also, the counselors participate in the Student Assistance Program (SAP) and serve on other department and building committees to best meet the needs of students. As necessary, the counselors refer students to the nurse, school psychologist, the hearing or speech clinician, or other service providers in the school community. Ultimately, the counselor coordinates cooperative efforts by the staff to help students.
Facilitating communications between home and school, or other agencies and the school, is another important responsibility delegated to the school counselors. The counselors attend team meetings weekly, sharing relevant information from students’ cumulative record file with staff and gathering information to be shared with parents. Team meetings may be used for parent conferences, which are arranged by the team leaders or school counselors. The counselors oversee maintenance of student progress reports and report cards and, along with teachers, share the responsibility for communications related to the academic status of students. Other avenues of improving communications are explored by the counselor as well.
Counselors, working with the building administrators, are responsible for the placement and scheduling of all students. Whenever a new student transfers into the school district, the counselor worka with that student’s grade level teachers and administrators to develop a placement which best meets the student’s needs. Counselors also help the student make new connections via an initial orientation to our school. Additionally, throughout the sixth grade year, programs are provided to ease the adjustment for students entering the middle school in seventh grade. The school counselors also serve as resources to teachers and others with respect to planning career exploration activities.
Special Education Process
Counselors are involved in all dimensions of the special education process. Initial referrals for entrance into the special education program are screened and coordinated by counselors. The counselors then remain an integral part of the ongoing special education process and facilitate communications associated with special education initiatives.
Students Experiencing Academic Difficulty
Our counselors keep a watchful eye on those students who may be struggling academically. Meetings may be scheduled with students, parents, teachers, and administrators to plan how to best meet the student’s needs. Summer school options may also be discussed. Information is collected and reviewed with the building administrators; individual needs are the primary consideration and all options are explored during the promotion/retention process.
Student Academic Records
The school counselors also compile, update, and interpret student cumulative records. Teachers and parents may examine these records to review the past achievements, test results or other data contained in these confidential records in accordance with district policy and state and federal law. The counselors also coordinate PSSA and other standardized testing that occurs in the Middle School. Analysis of test results allows school personnel to examine strengths and areas of need with respect to individual students and the school’s curricular program.