A number of years ago, I had internship opportunities to work directly with public school students who were at-risk for not graduating. I helped them learn skills to cope with their difficulties, while preparing for their personal and professional futures. Because school counselors advocate for children and adhere to a code of confidentiality, barriers often can be overcome even where other interventions have been unsuccessful.
I worked exclusively with at-risk students at a large high school. I helped ensure they had appropriate teachers and classes to meet their needs. I counseled with them one-on-one about personal issues so they could stay focused at school and could do their best. In addition, I worked at an alternative high school site in group settings. I facilitated small counseling groups for teen moms in this setting. I thoroughly understand the issues facing students who are at-risk for not graduating.
I also had the opportunity to work with a group of middle school students that were placed in the alternative program. Each week I provided a group counseling experience where they were able to discuss topics such as bullying, relationships, and stress. I also did individual counseling for several members of the group. I saw how receiving unconditional positive regard can provide children with support they may otherwise be lacking. I learned first-hand about a whole host of struggles these children face and I saw them learn and grow throughout the group process. On the last day, the students gave me thank you notes. The following examples from among those notes reflect how important supporting these students is:
"Dear Ms. Everett,
I liked when we did the yarn ball and liked you coming because I could tell you anything and I could trust you and we will miss you!"
"Dear Ms. Everett,
Thank you so much for taking time and your patience with class because it can get a little mean. I love having you come and we talk about what’s been bothering us, also getting our feelings out. Come and see us soon!"
I am passionate about my work on the school board because ultimately, the board decides District priorities, how funds will be allocated and whether we focus our resources on the tools and opportunities students need to succeed, or on something else. If board members do not intimately understand the needs of at-risk students, the board may end up making decisions that limit the students' positive outcomes and ability to go on to become productive members of society.
When the school board focuses on helping all students to succeed, it helps the whole community succeed.
Sandee Everett, M.S. Ed.
Notice: the above opinions are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of CVUSD or any of the other board members.