K-12 Guidance Program Review and Plan

Presented to the Board of Education – June 2018

Committee Members

Mr. Eric Eulau, Director of Elementary Special Education
Dr. Eric J. Hassler, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction
Mrs. Kathleen Hassler, Middle School Guidance Department Chairperson
Mrs. Karen Jordan, Director of Secondary Special Education
Mrs. Christine Ricker, Director of Pupil Personnel Services
Mr. Wayne Williams, High School Guidance Department Chairperson


Table of Contents

Kindergarten – Fifth Grade

Sixth Grade

Seventh Grade

Eighth Grade

Ninth Grade

Tenth Grade

Eleventh Grade

Twelfth Grade

Guidance Overview

Resources


MISSION STATEMENT

A mission of the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District is to provide a comprehensive, counseling program that supports the academic, career, and personal/social development of our students while recognizing their unique needs as they grow from grades kindergarten through twelve.

PHILOSOPHY

The Monroe-Woodbury Central School District believes that the development of the whole child creates the foundation for lifelong success. Embracing this philosophy, school counselors work in collaboration with other school professionals to provide the support needed to foster the success of our students.

KINDERGARTEN – FIFTH GRADE

Entering kindergarten is an exciting milestone for our students, as many will be entering a formal school setting for the first time. The land of opportunity is before them as they venture towards learning new skills, making new friends and developing a sense of independence. Students face many new challenges as they learn to meet the academic, social and physical demands of a public school. For parents, it offers a mixture of feelings ranging from pride to trepidation, as they watch their children develop into self-sufficient and competent young learners.

The school experience begins in the month of January, prior to students beginning kindergarten the following September, with personal letters sent to prospective parents regarding how to register their child for kindergarten. At the end of February/early March, parents are invited to attend Parentsteps, a two-night information session. On the first evening, held at one of the K-1 buildings, parents are given information from the Departments of Transportation and Food Services. On the second evening, parents attend their home school and meet with the Building Principal, Superintendent and Board of Education President. They are given the opportunity to visit and explore kindergarten classrooms. Additionally, the special education department offers parents of students with disabilities an informational evening regarding the transition from preschool special education to school age special education. The parents are given an opportunity to meet the receiving staff from both Smith Clove and Sapphire Elementary Schools. The Committee on Special Education process is explained, program availability is reviewed and parents are provided a forum to share their concerns and ask questions.

The kindergarten screening process begins at the end of April and runs through June. This is a student’s first glimpse of their new school. The screening involves a snapshot of their kindergarten readiness skills, and checks the student’s fine and gross motor skills as well as speech and language abilities. In addition, the parents are given an opportunity to share their child’s health history and any medical concerns.

Over the summer, parents receive further correspondence regarding the upcoming school year. The anticipated teacher assignment, bus tags and supply list are all included in the mailing. Ongoing communications and updates are routinely posted on the Monroe-Woodbury website. During the summer months, children are welcomed and encouraged to access and enjoy the playground. Tours of the building are available to help ease the transition.

Kindergarten Orientation is held the day before school begins. Our kindergarten students, with their parents, eagerly find their new classrooms, meet their teacher and new friends. With much anticipation, the visit culminates with an exciting bus ride through the neighborhood.

As the year begins, students transition into their new setting at various comfort levels. All staff are on hand to address the students’ concerns, fears and anxieties with this adjustment. Direct supports from the school psychologists and administrators are available to any student who needs extra guidance and nurturance. Social emotional supports are provided to students in the forms of friendship groups, behavioral interventions and in the development of coping skills. Issues associated with school anxiety, frustration tolerance and impulsivity are addressed through classroom wide lessons and with trained professionals. The most prevalent goals for these sessions include helping the student achieve identification of feelings, coping with separation anxiety, conflict resolution among peers, maintaining personal space, increasing attention and concentration, anger management and game playing skills.

The school psychologists at the K-1 level form a strong partnership with the teachers and parents focusing on the development of the whole child. Parent consultations are available on an individual basis and address behavioral interventions with carry-over between school and home. Occasionally, home visits are conducted to assist in bridging the gap between home and school communication.

Another significant transition that occurs in a student’s life is the move from first to second grade. In the Spring of first grade, classroom teachers begin to discuss the pending movement to a new building and a host of new experiences. In early May, students take a bus and visit their respective new buildings where they tour the second grade classrooms and school facilities. Orientation evenings are planned for the entering second grade families as well.

Throughout the kindergarten to fifth grade level, social workers and school psychologists interface with school staff, parents and community resources in order to help students and families meet with success. By rallying all constituents and culling supports from a variety of sources, families are better able to support the needs of their children. With the networking skills of the trained school professionals, they are able to link supports for families through the Department of Mental Health, private counseling agencies, Department of Social Services, Public Assistance and various other community service providers. Through the McKinney-Vento Act, social workers provide assistance to homeless students and their families. With the goal of limiting the amount of disruption to our students’ education, our social workers collaborate with our transportation department, homeless shelters and neighboring school districts. One of our social workers at the K-5 grade level is specially trained in providing supports and resources to homeless families.

In grades K-5, the district has implemented the OLWEUS Bullying Prevention Program. Embedded in this program are strong elements of character education. Throughout the K-5 program, counseling groups are offered to classified and non-classified students to assist with a variety of social and emotional needs. An example in promoting age-appropriate social interactions involves providing students in need with assistance during free play and recess.

Another important component of the K-5 Guidance Program involves small committee meetings to discuss and address the concerns of individual learners. This committee is referred to as the Instructional Support Team (IST). The IST reviews student records and work samples to determine whether the student is in need of interventions (Response to Intervention-RTI). These interventions are provided for English Language Arts and Mathematics. RTI is a three-tiered system with Tier 1 consisting of small group instruction by the general education teacher. Tiers 2 and 3 are pull-out services of increasing degree based on a student’s continued need for small group or individualized support. Specialists provide research-based interventions and measure progress over six-week cycles. In the event that students fail to make progress from research-based intervention, the IST refers the student for further evaluation by the Committee on Special Education. Evaluations consist of the following: Cognitive, Academic, Social History, Classroom Observation and a Medical Record Review. Additional evaluations may include the areas of speech/language, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Further services offered through the K-5 Guidance Program include the development of behavior management plans for students presenting with socially maladjusted behaviors. Additionally, the school psychologists and social workers provide students with crisis intervention supports and when necessary conduct risk assessments. The District behaviorist supports social emotional growth for our staff, students and parents with the implementation of research based behavioral interventions and strategies to help reshape and replace maladaptive student behaviors across school environments. The behaviorist conducts student observations and develops functional behavior assessments and behavior intervention plans. The behaviorist works with staff, students and parents on data collection processes and procedures needed for the successful implementation of said plans.

There are many community-building activities throughout the elementary guidance department. The guidance department exemplifies the importance of giving back to the community and is committed to meeting the needs of our students and their families through coat drives, food drives, fundraisers, holiday baskets and holiday gift donations.

The guidance department’s highest priority is to nurture the whole child and to assist them in actualizing their full social/emotional, physical and academic potential.

SIXTH GRADE

Leaving the security of elementary school and moving on to the middle school is a journey filled with many emotions, ranging from excitement to anxiety. As a guidance department, we are dedicated to making this transition as seamless as possible and there are many ways we put this into practice. The transition to sixth grade begins in May of our students’ fifth grade year. Each fifth grade class visits the middle school in May. The children learn about the middle school through a video presentation and a question-and-answer session with administrators, teachers, students and counselors. Our fifth graders leave excited about coming to middle school (and perhaps a bit relieved!). In addition, Fifth grade parents are invited to an evening orientation where administrators, sixth grade teachers and the Guidance Department Chairperson give them basic information about sixth grade and answer their questions. There is a separate evening where parents of students with IEP’s are invited to learn about the Middle School’s special education programs, and to answer questions.

Once the school year ends, administrators and counselors work together to place our incoming sixth graders into their houses and classes. This is done with great care, student by student to ensure that each class is balanced by gender, band, orchestra, chorus, 504, AIS, ESL, and EXPAND. The balance of the four Houses is critical to the cohesiveness of the overall school. Students are then notified in mid-August as to which house and advisor they have been assigned to.

At the end of August, incoming sixth graders and their parents are invited to attend the Sixth Grade Orientation, which is offered both during the day and the evening. This event starts in the auditorium where the middle school administration presents the “ins and outs” of middle school life, including details such as which lunch period each House will have, who the teacher teams and support staff are, and how to navigate the first day on the bus. The counselors are introduced, and reassure parents and students by explaining the many ways the counselors will support them throughout this major transition and on through their middle school years.

After the presentation, students are given a “scavenger hunt” of key spots in the school, and are encouraged to visit their classrooms and Advisory rooms. The purpose of this orientation is to reassure students, calm their “jitters” and give them a sense of excitement about starting the middle school. The counselors are available in the guidance office and the hallways to meet students and answer any questions they may have. This is an exciting time for us as it is the first contact we have with many of our students and their parents.

The day of the orientation, we also have computer staff on hand to assist parents in registering for PowerSchool if they are not already using it. This is a critical tool that parents can access to stay on top of their child’s grades. The grades are updated constantly, and just by logging on parents are able to see all graded homework, class assignments, projects, tests and quizzes. Should there be any questions regarding grades, etc., parents are encouraged to reach out to the teacher or the counselor for clarification.

The first week of school for a sixth grader can be a challenging one! They will receive their schedules over the summer, via email. Since sixth graders travel in a group with their class, and because their core classes (ELA, Social Studies, Science, Math) are located in rooms very near to each other, there is very little chance for a sixth grader to get lost. When it is time to move to another part of the building for another class, such as Art, Physical Education, or Health, the teacher walks the group until they know their way around. Within the first weeks, most of our sixth graders are moving through the building with confidence.

Because three elementary schools have been merged into one, sixth graders don’t always know all of the students in their classes. This can be extremely anxiety producing for our students. As counselors, we are very aware of this and often spend time with upset students on the first few days of school as they find their comfort level here. In addition to meeting with these students, we visit our sixth grade classrooms within the first few weeks of school to introduce ourselves, talk a bit about the transition to middle school, and emphasize that we are here to help them solve problems, both large and small. We explain how they can make an appointment to see us if they need to. Their teachers also reach out to us if they notice anyone having a tough time with the transition. In addition, of course, we are frequently on the phone with parents, answering questions, filling them in on little problems that were solved, fine-tuning any schedules that might be missing a chorus or band – the possibilities of ways we can help are endless! Also, daily use of email communication speeds up our ability to answer parent questions during that first challenging week and throughout the school year.

Most of our sixth graders quickly bond with their House color, and even those who struggle at the start eventually adjust and feel a sense of belonging. Their House really becomes a community of familiar faces, beginning daily with their small group Advisory of sixth through eighth graders. We, school counselors assigned by House, soon become one of those familiar faces. Our goal is for our students to view reaching out to us as a “normal” or “typical” way to get help or solve a problem. Although we are responsible for three grades within our House, we spend extra time getting to know our sixth graders. Then, in each following year, we can build on that familiarity to be the most effective. Our guidance clerical are an essential part of creating a comfortable atmosphere within our guidance suite. They are wonderful with our children, always treat them with sensitivity and respect, and help them make appointments or see their counselors immediately, in case of tears or any kind of emergency.

Now that they are middle school students, our sixth graders are faced not only with new social challenges, but also with increased academic pressures. This is the first time that their report cards will reflect numerical grades, and most students and their parents view middle school as a time when academic performance becomes more serious business. Students must learn to cope with a greater number of teachers’ expectations throughout their day. Our students are often assigned homework in every subject each night, and learning how to use their daily planners consistently is an essential survival skill. A common middle school phrase is “Homework Counts!” Not only do they get daily assignments, they also are assigned long-term projects such as book reports, and they must study for quizzes and tests in a variety of subjects.

During this first middle school year, we especially focus on the importance of daily attendance and nightly home study, and we assist parents who are struggling to reinforce these routines. An extremely important aspect of our role is connecting with parents; forming and maintaining a close relationship with them. We are seen as “the first line of defense” for many parents, especially if this is their oldest child and their first-time experience with the middle school. Parents will contact us with any issues their children may be facing or any school-related questions. We jokingly refer to ourselves as “customer service.” In addition to being available by phone or email, we meet with parents during the school day, support them during teacher team meetings, and also are available by appointment during the parent-teacher conferences.

It is in the area of increased academic challenge that the school counselor plays a critical role. In order to be successful, students must develop good organizational and study skills. Every sixth grade teacher integrates the teaching of these skills into his/her daily lessons. However, for some of our students the increased academic and organizational demands of sixth grade feel completely overwhelming – for them and for their parents. Early in the school year, students who are struggling academically are identified in a variety of ways: by their teachers, through their parents’ phone calls, or by the students themselves as they come to us for help. Also, we have access to all of our students’ grades on PowerSchool, which helps to keep up on top of any struggles. As counselors, there are many steps we take to help our students move towards success. These include reviewing their cumulative folders to become familiar with their past academic performance, holding team meetings with the teachers and parents to share information and problem-solve together, and meeting
with our students to get to know them, earn their trust, understand the nature of their strengths and weaknesses, and offer helpful suggestions.

In addition to meeting with our students individually, we also frequently form academic support groups. These are weekly voluntary groups, which usually meet during lunch, to reinforce organizational skills and positive homework routines. Inevitably, at this age, the groups are also fun and students learn that they are not alone in their struggle to master their academics. By reinforcing self-confidence and independence, the school counselor teaches character skills which form a foundation for long-term success. The school counselor is the voice that encourages these young students to take responsibility for their actions, and not depend solely on parents to ensure that they succeed.

At the middle school, we have a wide range of professionals who work closely with the school counselors on the students’ behalf. These include our social workers, psychologist, nurses, administrators, and of course all of our teachers. If a student is still struggling even though all of the above are in place, we have a system of close communication with our teammates to explore other ways to provide assistance: through academic intervention services, team meetings to explore other interventions, evaluations for learning weaknesses. In addition, the school counselor is closely involved in monitoring the accurate scheduling of services for a wide range of students, such as our English as Second Language Learners, our classified students, or our students with 504 Plans. In addition, whenever a new student enters a counselor’s House, the counselor works closely to make sure the student and the parents feel welcomed and oriented to the district. New entrants are an especially important component of a counselor’s role, since social and academic adjustment is complicated and critical to future success.

Since coming to school daily is the best first step toward academic success and social well-being, monitoring attendance is another important part of our role. Attendance is a factor that has a profound impact on a student’s’ social and academic development – and one in which we must involve parents if we are to make a difference. Through PowerSchool we are able to monitor daily attendance, to look for any patterns of absence or tardiness. We reach out to students and call home, to explore what is underlying these absences. Often the reason for excessive absences is a blend of medical and emotional issues, and we work closely with our school nurses, psychologists and social workers to understand the causes. We invite parents in and develop behavior plans or goals – combined with strategies to use at home – all aimed at improving attendance. We are supported by our administrators, who will enforce, if necessary, the state requirement of regular school attendance by sending home warning letters and pursuing other avenues to address poor attendance.

While working throughout the year to support our students’ academic progress, we are also involved with their character development. For example, if a student misbehaves, teachers or administrators often ask us to meet with the students, to help them understand the misbehavior and make better choices in the future. Also, we take a very strong stand on the importance of kindness and respect for others. Bullying- especially peer cruelty or social bullying – is an issue we take very seriously here at the middle school. As counselors, we visit classrooms and conduct presentations on ways to handle bullying. The Olweus program has been very successful in increasing both students’ and staff awareness of ways to prevent bullying at our school. We teach our students about the seriousness of cyber bullying, how to report it so it will not get worse, and how to help stop it. We emphasize the importance of telling an adult and reassure students that we handle these situations very delicately. For many students who now have become comfortable with us, the privacy of our office is the best setting for reporting bullying.

During the sixth grade year, the counselors rarely talk directly about careers – most children need to focus on the present and learn to master the immediate challenges of their lives. However, by encouraging our students to try new experiences, we lay the groundwork for later career counseling. Many extra-curricular activities are available to our sixth graders. Although they are prohibited by New York State from joining the interscholastic athletic teams, they are welcomed to join our many exciting morning intramurals and after-school clubs – and many of them do. This is a great way to “branch out” – to learn to take the A.M. bus or the activity bus, and to make new friends who share their interests. Sixth graders are also enthusiastic participants in the Guidance Office’s Peer Tutoring program, in which students volunteer to tutor another student during lunch or flex time. These activities are the early steps towards clarifying interests, talents and values – which are the building blocks of good career choices.

As the year moves on, our interactions with our sixth grade students continue as they often seek us out for assistance with social situations. This is our chance to help them problem-solve and resolve issues or conflicts they may be having with their peers in a constructive, meaningful way. They also come to us with academic problems. By brainstorming possible strategies for improvement and including them actively in finding solutions to their problems, we hope to strengthen their inner motivation and help them become active learners. We continue to reach out to parents, especially of those students at risk of failing, to encourage changing home study routines to help ensure successful completion of sixth grade. This is the first year that summer school attendance is mandatory if a student fails two or more academic courses, so our goal is to help students pass, or be sure they attend summer school so that they qualify for promotion to grade seven.

By early spring, the counselors are already beginning to plan for their students’ seventh grade year. Most students will continue with the same House and counselor. However, we have a wide range of decisions to make, with teacher and parent input, regarding our students’ seventh grade programs. Some students will need to attend summer school before being promoted, some will be getting additional academic support during the following year, others will be recommended for accelerated math. Most will be choosing a specific World Language. All of these decisions begin to be reviewed during the spring of sixth grade year. Parents seek out our opinions regarding the best choices for their children. We visit our sixth graders near the end of the school year, to explain the differences they can expect when they enter seventh grade, to answer their questions and ease their worries as they face another important transition. But we are able to assure them that their school counselor will be a familiar face the following fall, even as many other things will be changing.

The move from sixth to seventh grade brings many changes, which is why the sixth grade year is such an important adjustment period. Sixth grade was a time for students to make new friends, learn their way around the building, and become familiar with school routines like lockers, planners, “A”, “B”, “C”, or “D” days, long lunch lines, and the homework hotline. At the start of seventh grade, our students are definitely excited and ready for new challenges. They feel more grown up and they love being more experienced than the sixth graders. Because the school counselors are very visible from day one – walking through the halls, stopping into classrooms, and spending time in the cafeterias – our students see us as familiar faces in the midst of great change. They no longer have “homeroom” teachers and rely more heavily on their school counselors this year when challenges arise.

SEVENTH GRADE

Our work with the seventh graders begins well before September. During the summer, we review each schedule to make sure that students are signed up for the appropriate World Language. This is the first year of a three-year Regents sequence for most students, so we try to enroll them in their first- choice language. We double-check each schedule to make sure the math placement is accurate, since this is the first year we offer accelerated math. We schedule individual electives, such as band, orchestra, chorus, and EXPAND, as well as recommended academic supports such Academic Intervention Services, Skills or Resource Room. A final step in creating our seventh graders’ schedules is to make sure they have all the core subjects, as well as the standard electives, which include technology, home & careers, art, health and computers. Since students have different programs and different requirements, each student’s schedule is quite unique. Our goal is to give them accurate schedules so their first day goes smoothly.

Seventh grade is the first time our students experience changing classes each period and moving throughout the building on their own. This frequent movement combined with having eight or nine teachers in a day presents organizational stressors for many of our students. In addition, their homework load increases and they must study for more tests in more subjects – which requires a greater level of time management. The heart of our work as counselors is to identify students who are struggling with these new academic demands.

We meet weekly with our seventh graders’ teacher teams, and are available to any teacher in the building who has concerns about our students. Because we have gotten to know our students during sixth grade, we can often provide helpful suggestions to teachers who are meeting these students for the first time. Also, by seventh grade many of our students come down to guidance on their own to schedule appointments with us. We meet with them individually and in small groups to brainstorm and identify helpful academic strategies. Because our students know us by now, these meetings are informal and allow us to be encouraging or demanding (or both) – whatever style is best suited to each student and situation. Our goal is to help students believe that they change, that they improve, and we help them identify specific steps to take. Through our conversations with them, we help them make the connection between a new behavior and a new result: “I actually studied for my test and I really did well!” or “I went to my math teacher for extra help and now I understand math better!” Our intention throughout middle school is to help our students internalize the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from being a responsible student. This internal pride will become the true motivator for future success.

We spend a great deal of our time on the phone with our parents, addressing whatever academic or social concerns they may have, offering suggestions, and reassuring them that what seems frightening or frustrating is often quite normal adolescent behavior. We invite parents in and work together on home study routines. By now, our parents have come to trust us, and many rely on our perspective and insight to help them survive the challenges of adolescence. Parents also may share with us their family crises or stressors – such as illness, death or divorce – that may be affecting their children in school. Just knowing there is someone to call when you have a concern or question is reassuring.

Our students’ social groups really expand this year because the sixth grade ELA classes in each House are pooled together into a group of 125 students assigned to one seventh grade teacher team. Our seventh graders are expected to work cooperatively with many students as they go through their day. The upside of this is that many students make new friends. One of our delights as counselors is to see a student we knew was very shy in sixth grade now walking down the hall with new friends, chattering away. This is a common sight for us! Most parents naturally worry about how well their children are developing socially. When a student invites no one home, or rarely gets a phone call, a parent may become extremely concerned. We can be their eyes and ears, because we can see whether a student is truly isolated – or is developing socially in school, and just not yet ready to transfer those friendships beyond the school day. For some students, this is very normal, and they will gradually evolve a more active social life. For other students, their interest in their friends can dominate their day and distract them from their academics. For those young adolescents, our role as counselors is to guide them towards a healthy balance of schoolwork and social interests.

Seventh graders are branching out, not only socially, but also in their interests and talents. They are at the very early stages of identifying future careers, as they sample many topics through their various classes, as well as the clubs and athletic opportunities offered. During sixth grade, our students’ major focus was on becoming a successful middle school student, and they were very focused on the here and now. Our seventh graders are ready to integrate a much greater range of activities, and they begin to notice where their interests lie. As counselors, we begin to weave early career counseling into our conversations, by encouraging our students to take on new challenges, by praising them for their successes, by helping them notice the strengths that they have – which is sometimes hard for a young adolescent to recognize.

Another major aspect of seventh grade is increased social pressure. Cliques really start to develop and groups form of students who share interests or values. These social pressures raise issues of self-esteem, which so often go hand-in-hand with the emergence of adolescence. In seventh grade, students are able to try out for our sports teams for the first time. While this brings a feeling of belonging for many students, it also brings a feeling of disappointment for students who do not “make” the team. As counselors, we really look out for the student who is the loner, and try to facilitate him or her joining a club or activity. We also are constantly meeting with our students to help them resolve little disagreements or hurt feelings, and we use our mediation skills to help them solve their own problems as quickly and effectively as possible. Sometimes a counselor’s early intervention with students helps a potential social problem “evaporate” – which is why the best work of school counselors is usually the least visible. We continue to educate students about the seriousness of social bullying – which sometimes starts as cyber bullying on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and others on a home computer, then ripples into school as a problem we must address. We include parents in solving these problems, and refer bullying incidents to administration when disciplinary measures are warranted.

We are also always on the lookout for students who are experiencing an unusual amount of stress or anxiety. This may present itself through school absenteeism, difficulties sleeping, or frequent visits to the nurse. Often, we are the first professionals that a student or parent reaches out to. We begin by meeting with a student suffering from stress to offer strategies, but quickly involve our team of social workers and psychologists if the need arises. We also serve as a referral to outside mental health resources. In fact, the range of possible problems and issues we get involved with is endless. In addition, we are continually welcoming new students into our school, facilitating their adjustment to new surroundings, evaluating their academic needs and creating schedules that meet those needs. As the year ends, we once again ensure that any student in need of summer school registers and attends so that s/he can be promoted to eighth grade.

For our students, seventh grade is a year of becoming “solid,” of feeling they truly belong, of gaining confidence in many ways. They grow so much during this year and cross the threshold into true adolescence as they prepare to enter eighth grade.

EIGHTH GRADE

Eighth grade is a year of paradox – our eighth graders are the oldest and most mature in the school, and yet they are in the full bloom of early adolescence – so they are often more emotional and volatile than any of our younger students. This is often the year a frustrated parent might call to say: my child has always been so cooperative, conscientious, focused….and now my child is losing things, not working to potential, becoming more moody or withdrawn. Our role as school counselors is to assess when these changes are signs of serious issues, or when they fall within the normal range of adolescent changes – and then to follow up as needed. We continue to assist our eighth graders with social issues including peer pressure, peer perception, social bullying, rumors, and of course, self-esteem.

For those students and parents who really struggle during this final year in middle school, we can draw on our knowledge of the student’s personal and academic history to be the most helpful possible. As in the earlier grades, support for academic growth lies at the heart of our interventions and this year, more than ever, social and emotional well-being impact academic performance. We draw on our background knowledge of our students and the relationships we have developed with them to evaluate concerns and choose appropriate interventions. This counselor-student relationship also enriches our meetings with parents and with teachers, because our recommendations take into consideration the unique history of each student.

The District behaviorist supports our social/emotional growth for our staff, students and parents with the implementation of research based behavioral interventions and strategies to help reshape and replace maladaptive student behaviors across school environments. The behaviorist conducts student observations and develops functional behavior assessments and behavior intervention plans. The behaviorist works with staff, students and parents on data collection processes and procedures needed for the successful implementation of said plans.

Our scheduling work with eighth graders begins during the spring of seventh grade. At that time, students’ performances are assessed by their counselors to determine the specific nature of their eighth grade program, which may range from accelerated to supported. Approximately twenty percent of our eighth grade students are recommended into high-school-level Algebra and Biology, and almost all of our students take the first year of the high school World Language sequence. The selection process for Biology and Algebra is rigorous, and there are many questions and concerns regarding the acceptance criteria. A large part of our summer work is devoted to answering parent questions about these accelerated classes, plus making sure all our eighth graders’ schedules are accurate.

Our goals for our eighth graders – and the techniques we use – are different from how we work with our younger students. With our sixth graders, for instance, we are low-key and gentle as we build a relationship of trust and comfort, and help them acclimate to the middle school. By eighth grade we know our students so well that we can use a more honest and blunt style of counseling (more humor, more confrontation) as we prepare them for the rigors of high school. We actively work to expand their social horizons, to increase their willingness to speak and act for themselves and to help them clarify their interests and strengths, which will lead toward future career choices. Encouraging them to find their own “voice” is an important part of our work. We do this by helping them refine their communication skills to speak effectively with their parents, their teachers and their friends. These skills enable them to resolve misunderstandings that interfere with a productive life. We facilitate their speaking directly to their teachers, to seek out resources, to make the types of connections that will lead to independence and success in the high school.

One of our most important goals this year is to reinforce the importance of students reporting to a trusted adult if they have any concern about a peer’s well-being. We laid the groundwork for this in sixth grade, and reinforced it in seventh grade, by explaining the confidential manner in which we handle all such reports. Eighth graders are beginning to learn that some peers may be struggling with self-harming feelings or self-destructive behaviors. They are the first and most reliable reports of a student at risk, so we encourage this skill. We let our reporting students know that they may be saving a life when they share that a friend is struggling with depression or experimenting with drinking. For us, as counselors, teaching this willingness to report is the most important skill of all before our students head on to the high school. It is a challenge because adolescents have a strong “code of secrecy,” but the nature of our sensitive follow-up to these reports reinforces to our students that it is the right thing to do.

During eighth grade, we also spend more time on career counseling than in earlier years. The eighth grade year – when students can apply for working papers, usually have joined clubs or perhaps are doing volunteer work – naturally suits itself to these discussions. Most eighth graders also take Home and Careers, which gives them the chance to research possible careers, write a resume and prepare for job interviews. We frequently weave questions about future goals into our academic counseling, without pressuring those who still have no ideas about their future. At mid-year, we begin the high school scheduling process, which also puts a special focus on developing career interests.

Eighth grade is a year of anticipation and transition, not unlike fifth grade – except now our students have experienced an educational setting, which really prepares them for high school. Just as students become more confident, they begin to worry about what is ahead. For many of our eighth graders, high school looms as overwhelming and intimidating, which is why we work closely during this year with our high school colleagues to prepare our students for this transition and ease their worries. Our first mention of high school comes in a special edition newsletter mailed home in December, which provides parents with a great deal of information about the high school scheduling process. Then, in early January, the high school hosts an evening orientation for our eighth graders and their parents. This is a very well attended event and is the conclusion to a week long set of tours and presentations that our middle schoolers attend at the high school. High school counselors, accompanied by L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Empowerment, Advocacy, and Dedication) mentors (juniors and seniors trained to assist freshmen), as well as administrators discuss the ins and outs of high school, and address any questions the eighth graders may have. The timing of these presentations is really helpful to our students. Not only does it give them useful information, but it also serves as a “wake-up call” to those who aren’t working their hardest. Together with the high school counselors, we emphasize how important it is to study and complete homework throughout the remainder of eighth grade. A successful completion of the year will mean few or no AIS classes and more room for Electives in a student’s schedule. This concrete outcome helps students understand that their hard work will have a specific benefit to them. The process of reviewing and selecting Electives is the beginning of creating their official high school transcript.

The second half of eighth grade always flies by. We continue to work closely with our most at-risk students, meet with any student or parent regarding a myriad of issues and questions. We also simply enjoy our eighth graders whom we have watched grow so much during the past three years. It is not unusual for a student who sought us out frequently in the earlier years to now confidently walk past us with barely a nod. This is a sign that we have done our job, and it is time for our students to move on to the high school.

NINTH GRADE

As our incoming freshmen prepare to enter the high school, they continue the long and sometimes difficult, but completely natural, process of developing personal independence and responsibility. These qualities are essential during the high school years since college and career pursuits will begin soon and students will start out on their own in a brand new world very shortly. For students who have remained “housed” together and received fairly uniform schedules for years, this tends to be an exciting process. At the outset of the scheduling process for eighth graders, they visit the high school for a brief presentation from high school administrators and staff. This visit helps to establish the context and set the stage for their high school career. Prior to the first day of ninth grade, there is a formal opportunity for incoming freshmen to explore the high school. This evening orientation involves a series of brief administrative speeches and an introduction to the Guidance staff, after which the incoming class receive their schedules and set out to find their classes.

The school counselors work during the year and certain summer days to ensure that schedules are accurate and reflect appropriate required courses and some of the elective requests that students made in the previous year. The first day of every semester, the School Counselors assist students who may be confused about their schedule or may have arrived without a schedule. Once the students begin classes in the high school, they have myriad new experiences, not the least of which involves being in this larger building with students from every “house” mingling in classes, physical education and the cafeteria. Suddenly, they are traveling throughout the entire building, not just one quadrant, for all of their classes. They are exposed to more clubs, sports and after school activities than they have ever seen before. The first two weeks tend to be an invigorating and moderately scary time. Finding their classrooms, meeting all of their new teachers, eating in the larger cafeteria and dealing with crowds of people introduce them to the challenges and nuances of their new and more grown up world. School counselors assist freshmen through the jarring realities of high school when necessary. The first week of school, and the first week of the second semester are similar in that teachers tend to be lenient with the attendance policy since all students are still getting accustomed to their new schedules and finding their best route to get to each class on time. While this may sound intimidating, the anxiety is mitigated by the fact that we have safety officers, hallway monitors and/or teachers on duty in all of the main hubs to assist students. In addition, each freshman is assigned a LEAD mentor, an upperclassman who is available by phone or free period to help them navigate ninth grade. Each hallway has plaques mounted to show which classes can be found there as well.

During the first week of school, teachers are distributing textbooks, describing their classes, explaining the course expectations, policies and procedures that will govern grading, attendance and success for the duration of that course. In the ensuing weeks, the most common declaration that counselors are accustomed to hearing from our students is, “there’s so much work!” Ideally, students who begin to wrestle with the volume or sophistication of the work required are identified early and the teachers work with them during and after school on specified days. Other students will be identified later through progress reports or report cards by the teacher and/or the school counselor. The Guidance department reviews the success or difficulty that our students are having and makes a point of meeting with students who are demonstrating said difficulty in multiple classes. Students who are proactive and want to seek out assistance even though they are having difficulty in only one class often make themselves known to us at grade reporting intervals to find out how to remedy the problem. In addition to extra help with the classroom teacher, school counselors often recommend the use of National Honor Society students who provide free tutoring services in the library after school on certain days. The Guidance department also maintains a list of private tutors that parents can contact and screen for help. The resources on this list are privately contracted by parents. School Counselors encourage parents to contact several resources, discuss cost, frequency and the location where this tutoring will take place before making a final selection.

As our freshmen move through their first year of high school, they continue the process of establishing routines and practices that work for them as well as navigating the typically awkward social waters of ninth grade. Many students discover after a couple of grade or progress reports (report cards or progress reports are provided every 5 weeks), that their old study habits are not working for them any longer and will respond to this discovery by adopting new practices or seeking out help. Here counselors may offer literature on study habits and techniques, advise extra help with the National Honor Society, provide the Tutor List or talk through some strategies or time management skills to help achieve better results. Oftentimes parents will contact the school counselor directly seeking advice or support. We find it to be true that, “success breeds success” and as students experience success in one area, they like the feeling and thus, they begin to pursue more success in that class and others. This is why it is important for our freshmen to recognize the need for good study, homework and classroom habits right from the start. “B” honor roll students are usually thrilled to have made the honor roll but many of them realize that if they can make the “B” honor roll, they may be able to make the “A” honor roll. Their motivation to thrive increases with each rewarding experience.

Once students discover what works for them and they begin to manage their classes well and navigate the hallways with success, it is time to begin considering taking the next step. Moving beyond thinking about getting involved and actually finding clubs and activities to become a part of is the perfect next step. With our robust extracurricular menu, there are plenty of options. Experience shows that involvement in the larger school community is a phenomenal contributor to overall school success. It minimizes the drawbacks of informal social groups. Within formal groups, there are vehicles for advancement such as elections, debates and various opportunities to take leadership or supporting roles wherever one’s comfort lies. Formal Involvement also provides an immediate peer group with a common goal. From the basketball team, where every member practices and plays for the success of the team, to the Interact Club whose members participate in various fundraisers for nonprofit organizations, being a part of something is important. Everyone has a role to play and a common goal to reach. Informal groups are necessary and natural but the benefit of formal groups in high school cannot be promoted enough.

As our students continue to move through their first year of high school, counselors invite them to begin selecting courses for their sophomore year first through the parent portal followed by a one on one meeting with their school counselor. This discussion includes graduation requirements, special diploma requirements and NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) considerations as dictated by the student’s stated interests. Then the course requests made through the parent portal are discussed and confirmed. During this meeting, the school counselor administers the first career interest inventory to help students begin developing a sense of their own career aspirations. This inventory yields a variety of career or industry pathways that their interests predispose them to being satisfied with. The inventory results do sometimes incline them to make different elective course requests. An important element of this course selection process involves the school mailing home a preliminary listing of the courses that each student has requested for the following year, a course verification. This allows parents to both remain in the loop and maintain their role as the primary caregiver and overseer of their children’s progress.

In addition to scheduling and conducting the first interest inventory, school counselors introduce freshmen to Naviance, a web-based computer program offering college, scholarship and career research tools as well as candid interviews of professionals from a variety of industries to enlighten young minds about the benefits of their respective career fields and the life-long process of finding the career or endeavor that allows one to be fully self-actualized. Through monthly Guidance Newsletters and emails, students are encouraged to watch for their first PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test), the practice test for the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) registration, in October of their sophomore year. This will be their first opportunity to begin testing the waters of how they will perform on this type of nationally normed exam. While the school, student and family are privy to these exam results, they are not reported to outside organizations such as colleges, universities or scholarship committees. This testing information and other important aspects of college admissions are discussed in the ninth grade Early College Planning Night presentation, usually held in October and hosted by the high school Guidance department. This evening meeting usually has two presenters. The Guidance Department Chair or his/her designee will discuss many of the fundamental issues related to how families and students will successfully navigate high school and eventually select appropriate colleges. They also discuss the value of experiencing high school success in all areas including their social, academic and extracurricular life. The second presenter is usually a college admission representative from one of the colleges / universities popular with our community.

Finally, by the end of the freshman year, which felt like two years to some and two months to others, many students will have identified themselves as achievers and others may still be trying to identify who they will be as a student and as a person. That is normal and fortunately, they do have two more years to experience great success in preparation for college admissions or three more years to work through the process of discovering their own identity, whichever is the priority for them. When freshmen do not experience the kind of success that they hoped for, some students or parents begin to despair and fear that they’ve forfeited their opportunity at getting into a good college. However, a good college is better defined as the school that best fits a student’s academic and personality profile than as a school with a particular reputation. There is a college and a career path out there for everyone. This reflects the guidance department’s practice of working with each student as an individual and assisting them in finding their own path to maximize their potential.

TENTH GRADE

As the tenth grade approaches, the counselors are busy making sure that student schedules perfectly align with graduation requirements, curriculum demands and match student preferences as closely as possible. Ensuring an on-time graduation takes precedence over elective requests.

During the sophomore year, there are a couple of “must haves” on the menu. Every October, the College board offers a PSAT. What makes this exam valuable is that it gives the most objective projection of how each student will do when they actually take the SAT. The SAT and the ACT (American College Test) are the two college entrance exams that college and university admission departments rely on in addition to other academic and non-academic criteria when considering student applications. While the practice exam (PSAT) is completely optional, we do encourage all sophomores to take it to gain experience with the testing format and to get a sense of their own readiness for the actual exam. It also serves as an excellent motivation for some students to work hard to improve the likelihood of a desirable score when they take the SAT for the first time. The PSAT results are reported to students and their families in a format that reveals strengths and weaknesses and makes suggestions for a better performance the next time, which will be October of their junior year.

In addition to the PSAT, the Guidance department also hosts an Early College Planning Evening during first semester to continue the college conversation and explain some of the items that tend to concern students and parents as they journey toward high school graduation and college enrollment. Here we discuss things such as NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) concerns, student/teacher relationships that facilitate academic learning, intellectual growth and even good letters of recommendation. At this event, we also discuss GPA (Grade Point Average), Rank, college entrance examinations and a general overview of how colleges select students as well as how students should select their colleges. This dialogue with our sophomore families tends to be somewhat generic since we do not want to create a pressure cooker environment where students begin to overly stress themselves about college admission. In truth, there is a college for everyone but we want to provide the proper information that allows all of our students to target the college of their dreams or the college that suits them best.

In February, the Guidance department coordinates with representatives from Orange Ulster BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) to visit our school and do a presentation for our sophomores. This presentation describes the opportunities that BOCES offers. Monroe Woodbury students who are actively enrolled in one of the BOCES programs describe what their program is like and give a “day in the life” outline of their experience with teachers, other students and the hands on learning that they do on campus. In February, sophomores who expressed an interest and submitted a permission slip on time, visit their top two vocational program choices at the BOCES campuses. During this visit they also have the opportunity to interact with BOCES instructors.

While we strongly encourage students to visit with their school counselor during their freshman year aside from scheduling purposes or emergencies, they are equally encouraged to make appointments to visit as sophomores. These encounters allow us to further develop a rapport with each of our students and get to know them beyond the review of courses and grades that we must perform. This should be a time when the student and Counselor sit and chat about who the student is and who they are becoming. This is a learning time when the counselor can discover if the individual student has specific career goals, or general interests. We learn what teams, clubs or activities they participate in and perhaps even begin getting a sense of colleges that the student is interested in. The tenth grade is early and our sophomores are not expected to show up with a carefully outlined career plan. However, in conversation, some general thoughts and plans can be discussed and we can offer information or resources to help them develop their plans. Building on the career plan that was discussed in the freshman year, the counselor will review the old plan to see if the student is still interested in that career path. If they are no longer interested in that path, they discuss and possibly conduct a new search to see where their interests lie now. The end result of this discussion/search is to provide the student with the latest information related to that career relative to job outlook, salary expectations, educational requirements etc. The counselor will also check with the student to see if they still have their Naviance login information so they are equipped with the resources they need to conduct scholarship, college or career searches as demonstrated during the meeting.

During the freshman and into the sophomore year, much of the work of the guidance department is the result of progress reports, report cards, teacher referrals, student concerns and parent calls. Around this time, some parent concerns from the freshman year have been resolved and those that have not continue to occupy parent and counselor thoughts and time. These concerns are many and range from simple assimilation issues all the way to speculation of learning disabilities and many personal issues that demand a great deal of time and attention but may not be discussed publicly. Personal and social issues are always a part of the student/counselor discussion as well. Family tragedies, personal losses, bullying, athletic success and difficulty all combine to add to this student/counselor repartee. In fact, much of each counselor’s day is invested answering these kinds of questions and attending to these issues.

A successful sophomore year is characterized by more than good test results and grades. In terms of the PSAT, regardless of the actual score, what the student does with that score can make him or her more successful on the actual SAT exam. If the score is low enough to cause concern than the appropriate response involves paying greater attention in class, doing higher quality project and homework, studying regularly and periodically requesting feedback from teachers to determine where improvements are needed. That type of effort and review applies to every content and elective area to ensure more learning and retention and help with earning the best grades possible. Since there are dimensions of school other than academics, a successful year is also characterized by achieving personal goals such as auditioning for or earning a role in a school play, or a place on a team roster. Appropriate student goals also include things like securing working papers, getting a driver’s license, improving personal best times in an athletic event, doing homework consistently, improving grades overall or in a particular subject and test preparation leading to desired results. All of these goals are in keeping with the appropriate development of each student and the acquisition of items for the senior resume, which will hopefully make a nice impression on college admission committees. For the students who do, and those who do not have ample resources at home, the school counselor assists with all of these elements of high school life.

ELEVENTH GRADE

As students continue to grow, we find them at the beginning of their junior year of high school. This is an incredibly exciting and sometimes stressful year for students because they begin to recognize that high school will not last forever. Very shortly, they must be prepared to enter the world of college, the military or career opportunities. Many students have been working diligently and with a sense of purpose and as a result, they have been enrolled in the most challenging courses that they can successfully complete. With college admission coming into view, many begin this year with great determination and the responsibility to put the finishing touches on the high school transcript that colleges will see next year. Other students have been working in high school but not to the best of their ability. They realize that this is their last chance to make an impression on college admission representatives and they begin working harder to make appropriate improvements. Much of the motivation for these adjustments come from personal conversations with their school counselor, which are sometimes received well and sometimes not. These conversations are very often driven by the counselors’ review of progress report, report card grades and formal or informal referrals from all sources. This is generally an honest review of the most recent grades or incidents followed by some discussion about possible future consequences.

Fully aware of the importance and value of their junior year of high school, eleventh graders begin classes receiving instructions from all of their teachers. In some classes, they are reminded that the course culminates with a state exam in June and whether the regents exam is a test of accumulated knowledge and skills developed over the past three years, as in the case of English or it is an assessment of one years’ study as in the case of US History and Government. These regents exams are required for graduation and do play a role in the student’s grade and/or the determination of the teacher’s’ recommendation for their senior year course. Students may take regents exams in Science, Math, US History and English during their junior year. As the year progresses, juniors will register for their SAT and /or ACT exams, and are encouraged to take both. They are further encouraged to take the exam scheduled late in the year since College board will report all scores received on SAT’s and SAT II’s and a full year of study can only improve the likelihood of a good score.

Following the opening year encouragement and reminders, all sophomores and juniors have the opportunity to sign up for the PSAT exam given in October. For the junior class, this opportunity is even more significant than offering a meaningful practice. For the junior class, this PSAT has the added NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) benefit. This added feature to the PSAT is the avenue of entry to the prestigious National Merit Scholarship competition that could allow them to become Honorably Mentioned, a Semifinalist or a Finalist.

As is the case every year, the Guidance department continues to monitor progress reports and report cards looking for students in clear need of intervention and discuss these students in multidisciplinary Instructional Support Team meetings if necessary. The School Counselor and other members of the team can share concerns about individual students and discuss possible remedies. These meetings cover everything from students receiving multiple referrals to students going through various crises.

In recent years, our new free practice SAT has gone well and exposed many students to a great practice opportunity. This offer will remain as long as it is a viable option for the school district and the test prep agency. The Guidance department has been pleased to develop relationships in support of this opportunity and will try to ensure its longevity.

Early in the first semester, the Guidance department coordinates an evening financial aid presentation designed to help junior and senior students and parents understand what financial aid is in its varied forms. The presenter explains how financial aid works, gives an overview of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal State Aid), and conducts a question and answer session that gives insight into common and uncommon questions as well. The second financial aid meeting each year is held late in the first semester usually and this session focuses specifically on the FAFSA. This workshop tends to be very well attended and always creates a positive stream of feedback because it simplifies an otherwise complicated task, completing the FAFSA.

During the second semester, juniors are given an invitation to schedule a post high school planning meeting with their parents and School Counselor. These meetings are a fruitful opportunity for the school counselor, the student and the family to collaborate on a direction for each student’s college path. This discussion includes topics like selecting colleges, accessing scholarship information, understanding the college application process and the different application instruments available such as Early Decision and Early Action applications. During these discussions, parents ask all of the questions that have been kitchen table conversations for months and now the School Counselor has an opportunity to weigh in and offer a different perspective from a more practiced hand. Each conversation is different but they tend to leave the student and parent feeling relieved that they have a better defined direction moving forward. Since some parents cannot attend such a meeting during the day, we also host an evening Post High School Planning event directed to parents and they are always encouraged to bring their children so they hear the same information at the same time. This evening meeting is always on the calendar and it is usually held in February. At the school day meeting with juniors and their parents,, the school counselor usually conducts a college search yielding a list of schools that match the student’s academic, athletic and geographic interests. This list is designed to assist with college research and prompt more focused efforts depending upon where each student is in the process. Students are handed a timeline or directed to use the timeline available on the Guidance page of the website to aid in staying on track from one month to the next. Students are encouraged to visit their school counselor with questions and make appointments for protracted conversations. Parents are encouraged to call or email with additional questions as well. A full explanation of Naviance and the Common Application are delivered during this meeting to assist students and parents with completing college applications and doing all of the preliminary work that must take place in Naviance to make their college applications as successful as possible.

As in previous years, the school counselor will meet with their students individually to do scheduling and advisement for the following year. Since the junior class is preparing for their final year of high school and graduation requirements loom larger than ever, this advisement session should be a clarifying moment stating what diploma(s) the student is eligible for and whether any Honors designations may be available as well. This is also a prime opportunity to discuss all other concerns or questions that the student may have relative to rank, number of students in their class, Honors or AP placements etc. Here, elective requests are clarified and remaining graduation requirements may be named as well.

The junior class ends their year taking their first SAT or ACT in May or June and makes their final determinations of whether they should enroll in test prep classes based on their results. When junior students or parents are dissatisfied with the results of the first examination, there is no cause for alarm since future opportunities to test prior to applying to college still exist. Two SAT’s and one ACT are given between October and November. This still allows ample time for seniors to test at the beginning of the year and be able to forward scores to colleges in a timely fashion.

TWELFTH GRADE

It has been mentioned that as a department, we work with students according to the needs that they demonstrate but the need for them to continue developing independence is always an underlying theme in our efforts. With the beginning of the senior year of high school comes crunch time for students to exercise the independence and responsibility that we have been encouraging in them over the last three years. While parents at home have been challenging their children to drive responsibly, select friends carefully and begin working to pay for some of the costly privileges that they expect, we have been working similarly in the Guidance department. With every decision that students make, each step is marked with paperwork. From applying for working papers to adding and dropping classes, their world evolves with a molting of paperwork. Every step is marked by an application, request, consent or scheduling form. Similarly, the senior year is characterized by the completion of a great many forms and applications.

Through the preparation of post high school planning meetings with their counselor, usually held with parents in the spring of junior year, most students begin their senior year with some sense of direction but needing to revisit a number of things. Each counselor is pleased to offer the necessary clarification or direct seniors to the appropriate staff or agency for the answers they are looking for. By this time, they should have completed their Parent Brag Sheets, resumes and Student Profiles in Naviance providing necessary information for the creation of letters of recommendation by school counselors and teachers alike. They have been advised to request letters of recommendation very early in the school year, if they did not request them in the spring of the prior year, so that teachers and counselors have ample time to prepare quality letters. They should have registered for the earliest administrations of the SAT and/or ACT of their senior year so that scores are available to send directly through the appropriate testing agency to the colleges to which they apply. They should be making final decisions with parents and guardians about these colleges, fields of work they will enter or military endeavors they will undertake. This flurry of activity is best managed with careful attention to deadlines. With all necessary deadlines firmly in hand, time management becomes vitally important to minimize stress and to chart a path on the calendar toward the completion of all necessary paperwork. Once the demand for additional testing has been satisfied and the college application process has been completed, many seniors and their parents turn their attention to paying for college. Aside from filing the FAFSA, which cannot begin until October 1 of the senior year, the pursuit of scholarship money begins. While this time is riddled with opportunities to consider, decisions to be made and deadlines to meet, the College and Career Planning Handbook and Student Timelines, both found on the Guidance page of the high school website provide a suggested schedule of when to act on the bigger items in this process.

Over the past three years, the Guidance department has developed relationships with college admission representatives resulting in two separate Instant Admission Day events. The first event takes place during November. This event provides students the opportunity to be interviewed by up to three available college representatives and receive on the spot decisions. For the event only, application fees are waived and many students have received instant scholarship offers in addition to letters of acceptance. This event has been a boon for many students, some of whom complete their college application process on this one day and turn their full attention to their classwork at that point. This first event has included schools such as Quinnipiac University, SUNY Oneonta, St. John’s University, Mount Saint Mary College, SUNY Brockport, Manhattanville College, Monmouth University and many more. These events have typically been very well attended by students and have proven valuable to our college admission colleagues as well. The second event usually takes place in April or May and involves SUNY Orange County Community College (SUNY OCCC) only. This opportunity is primarily enjoyed by seniors who have not applied to college during the traditional season and plan to begin their college education at SUNY OCCC. Arrangements have been made with SUNY OCCC to allow application fees to be waived for this event as well.

In addition to Instant Admission Days, Financial Aid, FAFSA and Post High School Planning evenings, and other events, the Guidance department has also created an opportunity for students to learn more about writing a quality college essay. Thus far, this presentation has been given by an admission representative from Penn State University along with the Director of their Schreyer Honors College. Visits from New York and Columbia Universities have also become a staple of the early part of senior year as well.

As a department, we have historically provided resources where scholarship information can be found. These resources detail local and national scholarship opportunities for all students. The Scholarship List is available under the “Colleges” tab on the main page of the student’s Naviance account. The Guidance department also creates and distributes a Common Scholarship Packet every year containing up to one hundred local scholarship opportunities to which students may apply with one application. This information is provided to assist our entire student population in finding any additional financial resources to help pay for the rising cost of a college education. As a department, we also encourage students to use the scholarship search engine found in their Collegeboard account since an investment of roughly forty-five minutes there can yield a lengthy list of scholarship opportunities that match their profile.

Juxtaposed against this tireless pursuit of appropriate college choices, presenting high quality application packages and the interest in scholarship funds is the continuing demand for academic excellence. As mentioned in the freshman narrative, some form of grades are tabulated and emailed every five weeks. These grades have not diminished in importance with the conclusion of the junior year. Many colleges will request first quarter grades if they are seriously considering admitting a student but they need to assess the continuing quality of the student’s work. All colleges will request mid-year grades for their applicants to further assess the students’ determination to learn and not just their desire to be admitted. A marked drop in grades during the senior year is the cause of many college rejections. “Senioritis” may be a humorous condition for the graduating class but it is an entirely rejected and unacceptable practice as seen through the eyes of both the high school Guidance department and college admission representative community as well. A change in effort is fairly easy to recognize through a review of first quarter and mid-year grades. Indeed, even with a college acceptance in hand, our department continues to review course grades and progress reports to ensure that all seniors continue working successfully toward graduation. Colleges, on the other hand continue their review of transcript data into July when final transcripts arrive in their offices. This is when they make their final decision about who will be in their incoming freshman class and regrettably rescind some offers of acceptance based on an unacceptable final transcript. In the midst of the uncertainty of college acceptances and financial concerns, our seniors should and do continue trying to enjoy their year. Through events like Spirit Week, Homecoming, Senior Breakfast, Senior Prom, graduation and others, their social lives are at their high school apex.

During the month of May, school counselors typically administer Collegeboard Advanced Placement exams. This falls in the middle of post high school planning meetings with juniors and annual reviews for students with Individualized Education Plans.

As the senior year draws to a close, parents and students alike begin coming to grips with the fact that they are on the cusp of what is likely to be the first long-term separation from one another. Parents are wrestling with the question of whether their son or daughter is emotionally and developmentally ready for this separation. Students are grappling with the question of whether they are academically and socially prepared for the associated rigors of college life, armed services or the world of work. It is during this season when students and parents question some of the decisions of the past four years such as which family member makes appointments, gathers paperwork, asks questions of teachers, counselors or administrators ultimately transferring ownership of responsibility from the parent to the student. If this gradual transfer has been taking place over the last four years, both parents and students are moving toward college with a measure of confidence that the student has learned the necessary skills to navigate a large bureaucracy, be flexible in adapting to changes and surprises and identify and access needed resources such as computer labs and tutoring services in college. Absent this gradual transfer of responsibility, both parties approach college enrollment with a heightened sense of trepidation.

All in all, school counselors are one of the only constants throughout high school. This four-year relationship is designed to support, encourage and even hold accountable each of our high school students. Most importantly, this relationship is intended to facilitate the use of all appropriate resources by the school or the family in the interest and service of each child’s overall success. In summary, the school counselor is involved in a number of formal activities such as scheduling, CSE and Annual Review meetings, disciplinary occurrences, college planning, Instructional Support Team meetings and many others. Informally, school counselors are involved in many more parent, student and team meetings involving things that cannot be discussed publicly. The high school guidance department continues to pursue additional resources that will enhance its ability to do all of the aforementioned activities as well as undertake more proactive means of support and intervention in students’ lives. We value and cherish the role that we have in the development of the next generation of leaders, innovators, laborers, law enforcement workers, educators, farmers and all that make our country and community great.

MONROE-WOODBURY C.S.D. GUIDANCE OVERVIEW AS OF JUNE 2017

Table of type of counseling staff assigned by building

School Building:

School Psychologists School Social Workers Guidance Department Chairperson Guidance Counselors
Sapphire Elementary 1.0* 0
Smith Clove Elementary 1.8* 0
Central Valley Elementary 1.0* 1.0•
North Main Elementary 1.0* 1.0#
Pine Tree Elementary 1.8* 1.0
Middle School 3.0* 1.0 1.0 4.0
High School 4.0* 2.0#← 1.0 8.0

* Serves as CPSE and district-wide responsibilities

•Also functions as McKinney-Vento Homeless Liaison

#Title – Student Assistance Counselor

←One Social Worker and One Student Assistance Counselor

 

RESOURCES

http://www.schoolcounselor.org/administrators/role-of-the-school-counselor.aspx

This provides a general overview of suggestions from the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) to design, develop, implement and evaluate a comprehensive school counseling program.

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/part100/pages/1002.html#j

New York State Education Department guidance program and plan requirements.