UNION ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
COMPREHENSIVE AND DEVELOPMENTAL
SCHOOL COUNSELING PROGRAM
The Union School District offers an elementary school counseling program which helps address the challenging needs of today's students.
The basic principle of the Union Elementary School program is that all students can be empowered, supported, and encouraged to experience success and maximize their potential.
In order to effectively meet this objective, the elementary school counseling program focuses proactively on a broad area of service, which includes, but is not limited to:
· Developmental activities, and
· Remedial intervention
· Crisis Intervention
The Union Elementary School program ascribes to the five basic tenets of the counseling process set forth by the Pennsylvania School Counseling Association and the American School Counseling Association. These are the tenets from which our counselors' professional responsibilities are derived:
1. Each person has the right to respect and dignity as a human being and to counseling services without prejudice as to person, character, belief, or practice.
2. Each person has the right to self-direction and self-development.
3. Each person has the right of choice and responsibility for decisions reached.
4. The counselor assists in the growth and development of each individual and uses his/her highly specialized skills to ensure that the rights of the counselee are properly protected within the structure of the school program.
5. The counselor-client relationship is private and, thereby, requires compliance with all laws, policies, and ethical standards pertaining to confidentiality.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITES OF THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL COUNSELOR
1. Conduct individual school counseling sessions with students on a referral basis. The process for referral is as follows:
· Teacher completes the referral form (available from counselor or in office)
· Counselor informs the parent or guardian of the referral and, if permission is obtained, proceeds with the counseling process.
· Student initiates referral
· Parent initiates referral
2. Consult with parents, teachers, and other school staff to facilitate the exchange of information on issues of concern to the student. These activities could include:
a. Implementation of behavior plans at home or at school.
b. Parent conferences.
c. Phone consultation.
d. Monitoring activities
e. Elementary Student Assistance program
f. CST Referral
g. Mentoring Programs
h. Career Awareness
3. Compile and maintain an information bank on a variety of topics of student's growth, development, adjustments and other areas of concern. This information could be disseminated to parents, teachers, and building staff through Parent Teacher Organization presentations, kindergarten orientations, parenting programs such as parenting programs, newsletter articles, etc.
4. Be involved in crisis prevention, intervention, and postvention management on as as-needed basis. The elementary school counselor:
a. Is a trained crisis management responder.
5. Offer a cohesive small-group counseling and guidance program that will focus on areas related to: changing families, grief/loss, social skills, peer relationships, study skills, self-esteem, communication, anger management, and feelings.
6. Interact with community agencies concerning the needs of specific students. Make referrals and attend meetings through Clarion County MH/MR and local agencies.
7. Serve as liaison for involving students in existing programs and school activities that may better address their needs. These activities may include: Special Education, after school tutoring, extra-curricular activities and community programs.
8. Promote career awareness with a Career Day at Rimersburg Elementary school each spring and present career activities within both elementary schools through classroom activities and guest speakers.
9. Support, monitor, and evaluate the adopted curriculum collaboratively with administrators, teachers, parents, and other school staff.
10. Present whole-class group guidance instruction 3-4 times per month per individual classroom. (Once per classroom each 6 day cycle) The guidance lessons endorse and support Character Education principles. These principles help students acquire the knowledge, skills and positive attitudes necessary for student achievement and success in life. These universal values include honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Guidance lessons are not limited to only Character Education. Lessons can be created on a need basis relating to a particular classroom or student.
11. Facilitates and monitors the advancement of students from one grade level to another or from one educational site to another. (Example). 6 th Grade tour of Union High School with 7 th and 8 th graders conducting the tour including lunch.
12. Develop, organize, train and oversee the Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program which pairs Union High School students as a mentor to identified at-risk students at Rimersburg Elementary.
13. Organize and oversee the 6 th grade Kindness Crusader program at Rimersburg Elementary. The philosophy of the Kindness Crusader Program is to promote, develop and maintain positive interactions and individual growth through role modeling among the entire student population. Students are chosen based on, but not limited to, individual needs accessed by the school counselor, performance in the classroom and social interactions among peers, and the promotion of leadership skills and abilities.
14. Organize and oversee the 6 th grade Kindness Crusader Program at Rimersburg Elementary as volunteers at Head Start 2-3 times per month and assist in Classroom Guidance.
15. Organize and oversee the 6 th Grade Kindness Crusader's Rimersburg Elementary School Store. The school store program assists in promoting leadership, responsibility, social and organizational skills. Profits earned will benefit school functions and support ongoing program needs.
16. Lead 2 small lunch group sessions per day or as needed. Groups may be organized as open or closed based on need. (Week based on 6 day cycle)
17. Organize and supervise the XC Running Club
at Rimersburg Elementary School for grades 4 th – 6 th .
18. Serve as the 504 Coordinator for Rimersburg and Sligo Elementary Schools.
19. Promote, develop and implement school wide violence prevention programs including anti-bullying activities. Collaborate with school staff, administration and community members to promote safe schools and confront issues of school safety. Teach students communication, problem solving and conflict resolution skills to assist them in achieving and establishing successful relationships through classroom guidance, anti-bulling programs, and mentoring programs such as the Kindness Crusaders and the Lunch Buddies.
20. Serve as the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) School Assessment Coordinator for Rimersburg and Sligo Elementary Schools.
THE ELEMENTARY COUNSELING STAFF
At present, the Union School District employs one elementary school counselor who services the needs of approximately 400 students in 2 elementary buildings.
In an effort to continually improve the services offered, the school counselor attends periodic meetings with other school staff. It is considered imperative that the counselor maintain open avenues of communication and participate in meaningful in-service activities to stay current about trends, changes, and needs in the realm of school counseling.
Union Elementary School Classroom Guidance Program Overview
GOAL: The classroom guidance program is a preventative program to promote, practice and reinforce kindness skills in the school, home and community settings for grades K-6.
The 3 main areas focused on are self-control, self-respect and self-confidence.
The Pillars of Character Education Model is also followed. All classroom lessons usually include a book and/or activity. Students are encouraged to participate in discussions but never forced.
Pillars of Character Education
1. Respect for others
7. Responsibility for self and others
13. Communication – We discuss ways to communicate effectively and ways that are ineffective through words, facial expressions, body movement (kicking, hitting, etc.) and tone of voice.
I discuss building bridges which are relationships/connections with others. We discuss what materials are necessary to build strong bridges. Trust, honesty, responsibility, caring, teamwork, compassion, fairness, helpfulness, love, understanding, patience, etc. Once we know the materials, then we talk about what the materials really do and how they work. I focus a lot on friendships, too.
I discuss all the different feelings that we experience and stress it is ok to have all these different feelings including but not limited to anger, happiness, sadness, frustration, jealousy, etc. We talk about how to deal with anger and that anger and being mad is ok but being mean is not ok. We talk a lot about anger management skills and conflict resolution. The feeling situations we discuss are school, social and sibling related. Private situations are not discussed in the classroom. Any private matter mentioned would not be allowed to continue and discussed in private only with a caregiver notified.
I utilize a lot of literature in my classroom lessons when possible. I choose books based on their reputation, my own favorites, series geared toward character education, and referrals. In summary, activities are generated by me or through activity books based on character education and child development and the American Counselor's Association website as well as many other resources. At times, the classroom teacher will request a particular topic such as tattling, teasing, rumors, listening skills, etc. for me to discuss.
Conflict Resolution Skills:
I work on Conflict Resolution skills. We primarily use examples based on peer relationships, school situations and siblings. I have a Peace Path that lists the steps to solving problems. Students take turns actually walking down the peace path with made-up conflicts generated by myself or students that are age appropriate. The students generate solutions to the problems and discuss consequences of actions.
I discuss Bullying. I use many books, activities and discussions. We talk about what a bully is, examples of what a bully does to be mean and ways to stop bullying without making the situation worse.
I discuss manners by using books, activities and discussions.
I discuss the importance of honesty using books and activities. We determine the differences between a "tell" and a "tattle" by playing games and using real life examples usually generated by the students.
We discuss the differences between all of us and learn ways to be accepting of them. I use books and have activities for this subject. The differences I focus on are finding out all the things that make us who we are. I ask the students to share what is really cool about them and how that makes them different. I do not focus on race, lifestyles, weight, etc. If a student chooses that for themselves, that is fine but I gear the differences to talents, pets, likes and dislikes.
If at any time a child makes a statement that is private in nature, I immediately stop that conversation and explain that it will be discussed in private with me at another time. If the statement made is a claim that the child is being hurt by someone, threatening to hurt themselves or others, and then I take immediate action and call that child's caregiver. PA state law requires that all educators in a school setting not just counselors must follow that same protocol as a mandatory reporter. Other topics brought up will include contacting the caregiver at the counselor's discretion.
I always welcome parent involvement and input. My program can only be successful with the support from the community. The bridge between home and school is very important and I am always striving to strengthen it whenever possible.
The Lunch Bunch Program is where I invite students to have lunch with me to discuss the same topics I just described on page 1 and 2 but in a small group setting. Your child's participation in these groups is completely voluntary The Lunch Bunch Group is at Sligo and Rimersburg Elementary.
There are at times when I have referrals made by either the parent or teacher for a particular problem or situation. At that time, I would organize a closed group of students with similar situations and gear our discussions toward that topic. This group also requires parent permission.
Individual counseling is also conducted with parent permission.
Melissa L. Anderson
Elementary School Counselor, M.Ed.
Personal Notes: I am a 1988 graduate of Clarion Area High School. I received my Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education at Clarion University and my Master's Degree in School Counseling from Slippery Rock University. I live in Lucinda with my husband Michael, sons Corbin and Gabriel and daughter Bryn.