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Interview and Observation of Elementary School Counselor

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Demographics

I was able to interview Mrs. Weller who is a school counselor at Winchester Avenue Elementary school, and Mrs. Aston who is from Hedgesville Middle.  Mrs. Weller is a school counselor employed at Winchester Avenue elementary school in Martinsburg, West Virginia.  Winchester Avenue Elementary is in a less than affluent neighborhood; a lot of the population is low economic students.  Winchester Avenue is a regular public school with a lot of diverse students, ranging from Hispanic, Caucasian, Black, and Italian students.  Mrs. Weller also counsels at Burke Street School in Martinsburg West Virginia. Similar to Winchester Avenue, Burke Street has very diverse students and is located in a less than affluent neighborhood. Winchester Avenue has an ESL program, LD program, and a BD program.

Mrs. Aston is one of the counselors at Hedgesville Middle school. Hedgesville Middle School is in a less than affluent neighborhood, but it is more affluent than Winchester Avenue Elementary. Hedgesville Middle School is also based in Berkeley County like Winchester Avenue Elementary. They are similar in the fact that they both are regular public schools but they are different in the fact that Hedgesville Middle School consists of primarily Caucasian students, whereas Winchester Avenue is made up of diverse students from a variety of different racial ethnic backgrounds. Hedgesville Middle also has a LD and BD program.

II. Role and Responsibility of Practicing Secondary School Counselor

Mrs. Weller days consist of touching base with the kids, teaching class, doing attendance clubs, and dealing with parents. Mrs. Aston also has very busy days, her days are similar in the fact that she does parent phone calls and meetings concerning students, and consults with teachers’ daily, as well as individual counseling.  Mrs. Aston also mentioned that she runs groups with kids for group therapy.  Keys and Green (2005) suggest that collaboration is the foundation on which a developmental school counseling program is built.

Mrs. Weller primary responsibilities in the school are guidance lessons, character value, safety, manners, respect with others, and anger management, a lot of classroom developmental. She helps organize career day and the schools can food drive. Mrs. Aston organizes her school career day, but her primary responsibilities are to provide school counseling services to students while she attempts to build a positive school setting. She has done various programs to promote school climate. I believe that both counselors recognize their primary responsibilities which are to assist students with academic, career, and personal/social needs, the key areas of development (Stone &Dahir, 2012, p. 182).

Paperwork is something that is done by both school counselors. Mrs. Weller makes lesson plans for all of her classes. She mentioned that tracking her time as well as keeping it documented is very important when meeting with parents or individual students. Mrs. Aston does very little paperwork, which consists of student enrollment.

Mrs. Weller and Mrs. Aston both consider themselves leaders. Mrs. Weller believes she is a leader because teachers come to her when they have problems with their students, as opposed to another disciplinary route.  Mrs. Aston believes she is also a leader, she believes she is a point person who teachers and others can come to if they need assistants. She also works with administration in training staff and she attends team leading meetings. Through their collaborative efforts, school counselors act as dynamic change agents in partnership with other stakeholders, promoting systemic change and equal access to opportunities for all students (Clark & Breman, 2009).

III. Key Development Areas

Mrs. Weller devotes time to students academically by doing individual counseling sessions to address academic concerns. She also goes over study skills, how to look listen and learn, and make the best of time in school. As far as career development, Mrs. Weller organizes career day, where she discusses different jobs, and what each of these jobs consist of. The students’ social development is spoken in their weekly guidance class, where she goes over friends ship, anger management, manners-how to treat each one respectfully, caring for others, and how to be a good citizen. Mrs. Weller addresses each of these areas of development with her students once a week, 30 minute developmental lessons, and she does this by having the kids come to her full class, attendance groups, or individual if something is going on.

Mrs. Aston students are getting ready for high school so she devotes her time to students academically differently than Mrs. Weller. She helps with students’ organization, test taking strategies. Mrs. Aston does career fair, but her students career fair is called day on the job, where the kids sign up to go to work with parents. She addresses personal/social development by the Olweus program lessons, and the bullying prevention program. These programs help encourage kids to make positive choices. She likes to do kids’ activities for drug prevention, like Red Robin week.  Mrs. Aston mentioned she does not have an exact time; but that they all overlay one another somewhere between 70-90 percent of the day. As far as addressing each of these areas of development, she meets with students in their classroom, individual counseling, and group counseling, similar to Mrs. Weller.

Collaboration is very important an interpersonal communication and problem solving strategy that allows school personnel to pool their resources whereby stakeholders feel empowered and vested in the institution and/or cause toward which they are working, often resulting in greater productivity and positive outcomes (Friend & Cook).

IV. Challenges and Benefits (Strengths and Limitations):

Mrs. Weller and Mrs. Aston find their job very rewarding. Mrs. Weller likes watching the children succeed, and seeing them grow with making friends, and coming out of their shyness. Mrs. Aston likes watching them succeed, and grow into mature young adults. Mrs. Weller finds that her main challenge is working at two different schools because she has double the children and less time with her students. Mrs. Aston also feels that time is her biggest challenge.

Mrs. Weller wanted to become a school counselor because she wanted to work with kids, and make a difference.  Mrs. Aston also enjoyed working with kids, and always wanted to help people. Mrs. Weller advised how important it was to stay dedicated to the kids, since it is very time consuming. Mrs. Aston also gave good advice, she informed me about some good resources and links, and clued me keeping up to date with what was popular with the students. Speaking with both counselors helped me get a good idea of what school counselors do, and how important they are in the school system.

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