There has been some discussion recently regarding the relocation of the CVUSD continuation high school. Since I have worked with at-risk students, I think it would be valuable to add my perspective to the conversation.
I believe that each student is capable of achieving his/her potential if provided with appropriate tools and opportunities. I have direct experience working with public school students who were at-risk for not graduating (for a variety of reasons), and this has provided me with a lot of insight into the mission schools play in the community. Helping all students to succeed in school helps the whole community to succeed.
A number of years ago, I had the following internship opportunities to work with at-risk students in multiple settings to help 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 at the high school level exclusively with at-risk students. I helped ensure they had appropriate teachers and classes to meet their needs. I counseled with them one-on-one about personal issues to ensure 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 approximately eleven students with a small 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 the mission of helping continuation high school students and at-risk students succeed and go on to become productive members of society. The current site of the Conejo Valley High School (CVHS) has been sold, prompting debate on where the continuation high school should be relocated. The students and staff of CVHS deserve better and should not have been put in this controversial situation with no prior plan for where their school would be relocated. If I am elected to the Conejo Valley school board, I will work to ensure that the CVHS has the best possible facility to meet the needs of these important students, their teachers and staff.
- Sandee Everett, MSEd