Sunday, February 2, 2014

Acts of Kindness for a School Counselor as part of National School Counselor Week

For the second day of my 14 Days of Loving-Kindness Challenge, I'm focusing on school counselors or a school helper or mentor, basically a person who provides support and guidance for our child's learning and life. I know with Wild Thing, just 4, that's what we will do -- discuss who he feels provides guidance for him or perhaps a person who has made starting preschool more inviting for him and do something nice for that person. 

I'll also be sending thank you letters -- hand-written thank you letters, not an email or Facebook message -- to 2 counselors who were significant to me. Plus, I'm highlighting a counselor here too: Barbara from The Corner On Character with a guest post about school counselors and some ideas on how to show them love and kindness this week. 

Hello from Barbara at The Corner On Character.

Did you know that the first week of February is set aside every year as National School Counseling Week so that school families everywhere can celebrate their counselors? This year's theme is: School Counselors - Building Magical Futures. What a great job that is, to help young people imagine and then build a magical future. I've been in the role of school counselor since 1994 and what a blessing it has been. Done right, school counseling is at once exhausting yet energizing, can be painful yet peace-filled, and is often harried yet hopeful. School counselors are privileged to help shape hearts and minds for the future, every day. Talk about magical.

In case you're wondering what exactly a school counselor does? Here's a list from my counseling brochure:
   1. Connects with and counsels individual students and small groups for assistance with study skills, grief/loss issues, time management, social skills, stress management, self-esteem, listening skills, friendship issues.
   2. Consults with teachers and parents to facilitate communication, serves on the Problem Solving Team (PST) and helps with Response to Intervention (RtI) process to help promote student success.
   3. Implements a classroom guidance curriculum to encourage and engage students as they practice conflict resolution, problem solving, motivation to achieve, decision making, responsible behavior, being a good friend.
   4. Facilitates character integration into the school community and create partnerships with businesses in the greater community. This includes coordinating service-learning opportunities.
   5. Guides students through academic and social/emotional development.
   6. Assists in age-appropriate assessment of students.
   7. Makes appropriate referrals for additional student services as needed.
   8. Coordinates school and community personnel for student resources.
   9. Helps to maintain student records.
   10. Follows the professional ethical standards for school counselors.

School counselors also provide a safe haven for staff members to reflect and process feelings when times get tough personally or professionally and, of course, refer out as needed. A huge part of my job is to keep my finger on the pulse of our family members so that school morale and climate is healthy and strong. 

None of this happens in isolation or by chance. School counselors work diligently to build bridges and make connections so that we're the trusted resource when our school family needs support, assistance, understanding and love.

How is my school celebrating? This year we're partnering with SOUPer Bowl of Caring and hosting a food drive. In years past, we've held book drives, sock drives, diaper drives, even the Undy 500 one year, a drive to collect underwear for children in an orphanage in the Ukraine.

And how does my school celebrate me? I’ve been blessed with some very generous families who over the years have showered me with little tokens of their appreciation and pampered me by delivering a caramel macchiato from Starbucks or a lunch from a local deli, by sending in a bouquet of home-grown flowers, a fragrant candle, a bottle of hand cream, some hand-dipped chocolates. I love when the kids write or draw their sentiments for me for my Smile File.

One year I received 200 4X6 index cards from each student in the third grade telling me what they found special about me. Another year a first-grade class made a video of each student telling me in their own words what it is they think I do and what I mean to them. Those kind affirmations keep refueling my emotional reserve every time I start running on empty. Knowing that I’m in a position to positively influence someone is one thing, but reading in a booklet or on a card what I specifically did to impact someone’s life for the better is like icing on the proverbial cake.

Personally, I equate school counselors with loving kindness. 

How will you celebrate your school counselor this week? Thank you, Jennifer, for the opportunity to stop by and showcase some of the super stuff that I get to do as I work with my school family to build magical futures.

Catch up on the 14 Days of Loving Kindness Challenge part of #Compassion2014:
Daily Prompts
Day 1 for Mama
Day 1 for the Family

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