For many people, the word "counselor" takes them back to the image of someone they saw a few times in high school to help them with their class schedules, testing, college applications, and discipline. Elementary counselors are responding to today’s needs by providing children with comprehensive and developmental school counseling programs.
A Certified and/or Licensed Professional: All professional school counselors must have a master’s degree and meet other certification requirements as defined by each state.
The Developmental Needs of Elementary School Students: Elementary school is a time when students develop attitudes concerning school, self, peers, social groups, and family. It is a time when students develop decision-making, communication and life training skills, and character values.
Comprehensive developmental counseling is based on prevention, providing goals that are integrated into all aspects of children’s lives. Early identification and intervention of children’s problems are essential to change some of the current statistics regarding self-destructive behaviors. If we wait until children are in middle or high school to address these problems, we lose the opportunity to help them achieve their potential, as well as feelings of dignity and self-worth. For many children, the school counselor may be the one person who provides an atmosphere of safety, trust and positive regard.
Elementary School Counselors:
- Implement effective classroom guidance focusing on understanding self and others; coping strategies; peer relationships and effective social skills; communication, problem-solving, decision-making, conflict resolution, and study skills; career awareness and the world of work; substance education; and multicultural awareness.
- Provide individual and small group counseling dealing with self-image and self-esteem; personal adjustment; family issues; interpersonal concerns; academic development; behavior modification; as well as peer facilitation and peer mediation.
- Provide assessment by helping students identify their skills, abilities, achievements and interests through counseling and guidance activities and interpretation of standardized tests.
- Work with specialized populations and needs that require special attention, such as culturally diverse populations and students of varying abilities.
- Develop students’ career awareness as a lifelong process of forming basic values, attitudes and interests regarding their future world of work.
- Coordinate school, community and business resources; school wide guidance-related activities; and extracurricular programs which promote students’ personal growth and skill development.
- Provide consultation with teachers, administrators, school psychologists, school social workers, and outside agencies and social services concerning the welfare of the students.
- Make appropriate referrals for special services for students and families within the school and community.
- Communicate and exchange information with parents/guardians by way of conferences, parent education workshops and newsletters.
- Participate as members of the school improvement and interdisciplinary teams and work as liaisons with PTA.
Why Elementary School Counselors? Elementary school years set the tone for developing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for our children to become healthy, productive adults. With a comprehensive developmental counseling program, counselors work as a team with school. Parents and community to create a caring atmosphere whereby children’s needs are met through prevention, early identification and intervention.
Overview of the Program
The James Caldwell School Counseling Program is designed to be comprehensive and developmental, with an emphasis on prevention. This includes large group character education lessons, small group and individual counseling, and consultation with staff, parents and community.
The School Counselor, Ms. Marnie Zambolla, is a trained professional with a Masters' in School Counseling. She provides activities to enhance students’ academic progress by addressing issues such as conflict resolution, interpersonal relationships, bullying, and self-esteem. She also teaches the skills needed for coping in our fast-paced and ever-changing world.
The content of the character education lessons and the small group discussions reflects the needs of the children as identified by teachers, parents, counselors, and the children.
The School Counselor consults with parents and teachers to address the academic, social, and emotional concerns of the child. The Counselor can provide resources and information to help address specific concerns, as well as develop strategies to improve communication and the learning environment.
Please contact the School Counseling Office if you have any questions.
Large Group Character Education Lessons
Character education lessons are conducted bi-monthly focusing on topics such as responsibility, conflict resolution, communication skills, respecting others’, and careers.
All topics are tentatively planned as they change based on student need.
Small Group Counseling Opportunities
Newcomers Club: Students that are new to the district or transfer within district have the opportunity to take part in the newcomers club. The club meets for three sessions during lunch to discuss their past school and community, present school and community, and their goals for the future.
Changing Families Group: Every year, groups are run for children of families that are experiencing separation, divorce or remarriage. The goals of the group are to give children strategies for communicating their feelings about the challenges inherent in this situation; visitation, different sets of rules, where to put their loyalties, and anger management.
Friendship Group: The friendship group is for students that need to work on developing the social skills necessary for making and keeping friends. The goals of the group are to identify the important qualities of a friend, understand common friendship problems, and learn how to manage conflict.
"Cool" Kids Group: The cool kids group deals with identifying causes and understanding the consequences of angry behavior. Students learn to identify anger reduction techniques and practice alternatives to acting out.
Individual counseling may be requested by a student, parent or teacher. The children often self-refer and ask their teacher when the best time is to leave the room to see the counselor. If a child needs mediation with another student, both will often request a session in the counseling office to brainstorm the best ways to solve the conflict between them. Outside referral is also made to parents of students that need to seek long-term intervention and support from community mental health agencies and private practitioners.
Orientation programs are run for students transitioning from lower elementary to upper elementary and upper elementary to middle school. Students will have the opportunity to visit their new school and ask questions about the transition. An orientation program is also held for parents of future upper elementary and middle school students. More information about the program will be available in the spring.