When I was a child, one of my favorite books was What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry. Frequently, students ask me “What do school counselors do?” It occurred to me that students probably aren’t the only ones curious about the school counselor’s role; parents or guardians may wonder too!
Nick Dexter, Andree Cannon-Fleming and I work with all Edison students and staff to ensure a safe school climate filled with trust and respect. Unlike traditional high school counselors, we don’t have specific “caseloads.” We do not just work with special education or “problem” students. We work as a collaborative team to make sure that each student receives attention and care from one or all of us. School counselors address the academic and developmental needs of all students, not just those in need, by collaborating with students, parents, school staff and the community. We maintain the confidentiality of our students and their families unless there is a need to know or safety concerns.
Unlike the majority of high school counselors, Edison counselors do not focus mainly on student scheduling and college admissions. We may come into the classroom to supplement a teacher's lesson plans with psycho-educational information but we don’t teach academic classes or assign grades! Edison counselors also help students overwhelmed by obstacles that may form barriers to academic success. We are not involved in disciplining students but instead help them process the issue or behavior that lead to disciplinary action. Counselors can help students respond to issues such as divorce or death in their family, as well as developmental issues typical in adolescence. Nick, Andree and I help students who are struggling emotionally, socially or behaviorally by providing brief, solution-focused counseling. At times, we may provide referrals for outside therapists or specialists for long-term, in-depth assistance.
One of the other duties of Edison counselors is to facilitate small groups that address such issues as ADHD, Grief, Gender Topics, Learning Differences, Anxiety, and Peer Relationships. School counselors, because of our unique training, have an instrumental role in helping students become more engaged in the academic and social layers within the school through groups.
Although we are very invested in our students having positive social, emotional, and academic outcomes, we are not here to tell teachers how to teach or tell parents how to parent in their home. We are available to provide resources and consultation on parenting, classroom management, and adolescent development. Nick, Andree and I consider ourselves part of a team consisting of parents, guardians, teachers, support staff, and administration with the common goal of ensuring student success during their four years at Edison High School.