The following paragraph is a description of the role of a school counselor in a middle school setting that was excerpted from the American School Counseling Association website:
Middle school students are characterized by rapid physical growth, curiosity about their world and an emerging self-identity. Through a comprehensive developmental school counseling program, counselors work as a team member with school staff, parents and the community to create a caring, supportive climate and atmosphere whereby young adolescents can achieve academic success. Middle school counselors enhance the learning process and promote academic achievement. School counseling programs are essential for students to achieve optimal personal growth, acquire positive social skills and values, set appropriate career goals and realize full academic potential to become productive, contributing members of the world community. The professional middle school counselor holds a master’s degree and required state certification in school counseling. Maintaining certification includes on-going professional development to stay current with education reform and challenges facing today’s students.
J.F.K. Middle School – Role of the Counselor
In the Guidance Department at J.F.K. we recognize that middle school is an exciting, yet challenging time for our students and families. During early adolescence, middle school students face unique developmental milestones that will have an impact on academic achievement. In today’s world, our students are living in an increasingly diverse society, with new technologies, and expanding opportunities and social pressures. For these reasons, every student needs support and guidance during this time of rapid growth and change. As school counselors, our primary goals during this period of development are to support an awareness of self, respect for others, a positive sense of self-worth, and personal responsibility. In the guidance office we strive to create a safe environment in which students can explore and develop the resiliency and coping mechanisms needed to successfully negotiate the passage towards young adulthood.
Grade Level Guidance Counselors
Each counselor is assigned to work with one grade level of students. Ideally, the counselor will pick-up students as they enter grade 6, and continue to work with them as they progress through grades 7 and 8. This model allows us to get to know the students in our caseload well, and have some continuity from year to year. Working with a specific grade level of students also allows us to work closely with the teaching Teams for that grade, fostering close communication and oversight for the educational planning of each student. Counselors also maintain on-going collaboration with our administration, school psychologist, social workers, special education staff, and nurse in addressing the developmental needs of our students. We consider ourselves to be part of a team working towards the healthy development of our students. Communication and involvement with parents and guardians is a vital component of this partnership. Parents/guardians are encouraged to contact us whenever they have any questions or concerns about their student. We are especially grateful when this communication is initiated around issues of academic concern, illness, loss, separation, divorce, stress or other family crisis.
Students who would like to meet with their counselor are encouraged to stop by the guidance office (the best times for this without missing class are – before homeroom begins in the morning, lunch, study hall, or the end of the school day). In general, class time cannot be missed without teacher permission. If your counselor is unavailable when you stop by, please fill out the “Guidance Walk–In Form” found in the guidance suite, and your counselor will follow-up with you to arrange a meeting. This form can also be used by parents/guardians who would like to schedule a time to meet with their child’s counselor. The best way to schedule a parent/guardian meeting is by calling or emailing your child’s counselor directly. We hope to see you in guidance soon!
School Adjustment Counselor
Mr. Andrew and Ms. Kiritsis are our School Adjustment Counselors, who may work with a number of students from each grade level who have been referred to either of their caseloads. Additionally, they work with student interns from the Smith College School of Social Work. Parents/guardians can contact their grade level counselor to discuss the referral process.
- Act as an advocate for students
- Develop realistic interventions upon listening to the needs of students and concerns of parents/guardians
- Provide short term personal and crisis counseling
- Report and/or refer a case when a person’s welfare is in jeopardy
- Provide short term group counseling
- Help adolescents to understand social, emotional and academic pressures
- Assist students in setting realistic goals, and becoming responsible young adults
- Guide students in their participation in school and community activities
- Provide feedback to parents/guardians regarding the possible need for counseling outside of school
- Assist students in developing coping skills and healthy outlets for stress
- Act as a resource for staff, parents, and the community
- Assist in the identification of problems that arise in school and to help provide recommendations that lead to solutions
- Develop educational strategies with school personnel and community mental health specialists to accommodate the needs of students who are experiencing difficulty
- Collaborate with special educators to aid in the development of educational plans that meet the needs of special education students
- Advocate for appropriate student placement
- Assist in the coordination of school meetings with parents, teachers, and students, as requested
- Coordinate yearly course selections and course changes
- Organize standardized testing administration (MCAS)
- Pursue parent/guardian outreach for the purpose of education regarding pertinent adolescent issues
- Review and maintain all records, report cards, progress reports and test scores
- Monitor student’s academic progress throughout the three years
- Communicate with teachers, parents and students regarding academic status
- Conduct high school planning and transition programming
- Provide information on extra-curricular and out-of-school enrichment activities
- Attend special education, administrative and departmental meetings
- Attend bi-weekly Student Support Team Meetings
- Facilitate transition planning for students new to the middle school
- Co-ordinate new student registrations in conjunction with the district’s Central Registrar
Confidentiality is an important aspect of counseling. What you share with a counselor is confidential. That is, the counselor is legally and ethically required to maintain confidentiality so as to provide a safe and trusting environment. To disclose any information shared in the course of receiving services, the counselor must obtain permission from the student.
There are specific situations, however, when the counselor is required by law to breach confidentiality; when there is a possibility the student may harm himself/herself, harm someone else, commit a crime, or when subpoenaed by a court of law.
For more information on ethical standards for school counselors, please refer to the document below.