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.
It’s raining in Edgewood ISD, but the weather doesn’t feel threatening in the counselor’s office. Bailey Broechin and Ronda Alaniz have soft music playing, there are several comfortable places to curl up, and the room smells like lavender. These two counselors excel in the area of responsive services.
After attending the NOVA Crisis Response Training at Region 7, Bailey and Ronda recognized that they needed to build their tools for crisis response. Their brainstorming results are stacked neatly on shelves in the form of “Grief Boxes” and binders. Ronda calls Bailey an “organization queen. She overhauled our guidance lessons and individual counseling tools for crisis scenarios.” Their tools are also mobile. When a crisis occurred in a nearby district, Bailey and Ronda were ready. They went to their shelves, picked up their boxes, and responded to their neighbors.
Each “Grief Box” contains the NOVA manual, counseling activities and manipulatives, paper and pens or markers, and practical items like snacks, water, and tissues. The boxes can be used in individual or group settings and have improved with use. Bailey and Ronda found that they needed to keep a checklist in each box of consumable supplies and that they needed to take extra copies of the children’s books they use discussing grief.
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst is one of their favorite books to use. Ronda has additional training in working with students with trauma, and she sees great benefit in using books when working with students who are in crisis. Ronda also knows that many students do not want to read with an adult when they are upset, so she and Bailey always take a computer. “There are so many books available on YouTube,” Bailey says. “It allows students to watch or listen at their own pace.”
When students lose a loved one, the primary need is comfort. Bailey and Ronda have created a calm, comforting space in their office, filled with tools designed to help students process whatever tragic circumstance they are facing. When students are comforted, they are better able to regulate their emotions, and then they are better able to learn.
(Ronda Alaniz, left, and Bailey Broechin, right; Edgewood ISD)
School counselors across the state are such valuable members of the school community. As they support students and teachers, they are helping students grow into adults who make positive contributions to the world. Here in Region 7, the school counselors are innovative, creative, and always willing to go the extra mile for their students.
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.|
Karst, P., & Lew-Vriethoff, J. (2020). The invisible string. Findaway World, LLC.
Texas Counseling Association. (2018). The Texas Model for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs.