May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we are using this time to spotlight school counselors.
School counselors are primarily responsible for implementing the Texas Model of the Comprehensive School Counseling Program. The purpose is to fully develop each student’s academic, career, personal, and social abilities through four delivery components: responsive services, guidance curriculum, individual planning, and system support. Throughout Region 7, school counselors work tirelessly in their districts to deliver a comprehensive program to their students.
In the town of Martin’s Mill, Tina Hilton’s cozy office is full of floor-to-ceiling shelves lined with colorful children’s books on a wide range of topics. She pulls out a book titled The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson. The beautifully illustrated book tells the story of inclusion and highlights the importance of kindness. Tina uses this book, and many others, in her daily guidance lessons with elementary students. The guidance curriculum component of the CSCP is designed “to help students develop their full educational potential, including the student’s interests and career objectives.”
(Tina Hilton, Martin’s Mill ISD)
Tina taught at Martin’s Mill for 20 years and has been the elementary counselor for the last five years. She teaches 16 guidance lessons weekly, which means she sees every student in the school at least once during a five-day week. While she changes subjects every month, she scaffolds the lessons by grade level. For example, when learning about kindness, Tina focused on empathy, conflict resolution, apologizing, and compromise. During a lesson, Tina usually shows a 2-3 minute video, delivers the lesson, the students participate in a game or activity, and they close with a book. This allows students to experience the lesson in a number of different formats and promotes comprehension.
In addition to her guidance lessons, Tina hosts 3 “Lunch Bunch” groups per week. She pulls students from the same grade level at random, which allows them to interact with each other in ways they might not otherwise. During these small group meetings, students play Apples-to-Apples or use conversation starters. These weekly meetings promote diversity, inclusion, and acceptance far beyond the elementary campus.
Tina Hilton says that the most rewarding part is seeing students using her guidance lessons in practical application. In talking about her conflict resolution lesson, she says, “Sometimes they’ll come to me and say, ‘I did this, is that the right thing?’ and that just makes me so proud. Do we still see problems? Yes. But I think they are better able to manage.”
Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949. School counselors across Region 7 work diligently to ensure the next generation is healthy.
Find out more about Region 7 ESC on our Professional School Counselor Page.
|Katilyn Woodley works in the Center for State and Federal Programs as a Professional School Counseling Specialist for Region 7 ESC. She also works with the McKinney-Vento and CTE programs for Region 7. She previously served as a classroom teacher and high school counselor in the East Texas area.|
|Dana Harper is an educator with over 20 years of experience. She has served as a classroom teacher, elementary and high school counselor, academic interventionist, and district Director of Counseling and SEL. Her experiences have varied from urban to rural school districts in East, South, Central, and North Texas. She currently serves as a Professional School Counseling Specialist at the Region 7 Service Center in Kilgore.|
Texas Counseling Association. (2018). The Texas Model for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs.
Woodson, J., & Lewis, E. B. (2018). The other side. Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.