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Counseling Staff is not One Size Fits All

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Counseling Staff is not One Size Fits All

Counselor Sherri Patton-Grubb

Counselor Sherri Patton-Grubb

Counselor Sherri Patton-Grubb

Counselor Sherri Patton-Grubb

Katarina Carrico, Staff Writer

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Counselors are there to help, but there are different types of counselors, who are tasked to deal with certain areas of a student’s academic life. Sherri Patton-Grubb is a wellness counselor, meaning she focuses more on the mental health of students.

“I get here about 8:00 and meet with students that are struggling for whatever reason,” Patton-Grubb said. “I might do a screener if a student is experiencing thoughts about suicide, or I might talk to the student about resources at school or in the community that they could connect with if they’re struggling in other ways, things like substance abuse, domestic violence, peer conflict, etc. I have meetings with other counselors, I meet with the academy teams when there are students who are working with me. I’m here to meet with families and students if there’s a crisis, and I help work with the social-emotional learning committee.”

A part of Patton-Grubb’s job is to look for outside resources to further help students.

“Sometimes I help connect students with things like clothing and food,” Patton-Grubb said. “I might have meetings with community providers that I want to bring to the campus to help support students. I organize and bring group therapists or psychoeducational groups to campus. I manage connecting mentors and mentees on campus.”

Patton-Grubb said the number one goal in a school setting is to make sure every student is academically successful.

“As far as individual students might be struggling, it could be anything from ‘I don’t know what’s going on I’m having a tough day’, to a history of trauma, an emerging mental illness, school avoidance, anxiety, depression, lots of things,” Patton-Grubb said. “We want students to come in and let us know what’s going on and then we can figure out how best to help.”

Also part of the counseling staff, Lisa Reza is a graduation counselor, she hones in on students who are credit deficient and/or are not on track for graduation and therefore at risk of dropping out.

“I’m working closely with them and their families and determining what is the best course of action for them, whether that be implementing more supports for them, like 504, or is it a SPED referral,” Reza said. “Helping connect families with teachers or the right staff, so that we can figure out how to best help the student.”

Reza’s other part of her job is CST (Child Study Team) chair.

“I try finding those kids who’ll need more than just connecting parents and teachers, it’s that other layer of support provided by special education and going through that with staff members who have concerns about kids and then really kind of dissecting what’s going on with that kid and seeing if they would be a good candidate for the next level of support,” Reza said.

Reza also files truancies.

“Truancy is the failure to come to school,” Reza said. “It’s a repeated pattern and when a student is chronically absent it becomes a truancy-type situation. I go to court and argue my case to the judge of why I filed truancy on a parent or student and what my recommendations are for remediation. There is the 90% rule; students have to be in attendance for 90% of the time and if not the student is violating the law. So if I find some family or student violated the law and is unwilling to work with us, then I have to go to that next step.”

In a more traditional school counselor role, Camille Nix is the academic counselor for the Classical Studies Academy.

“We (academy counselors) work with schedules, we do credit checks, we write college recommendation letters, we visit middle schools for recruiting purposes (for incoming 9th graders), we hold information sessions for rising 9th graders that are outside of the district like private school kids, we participate in meetings with kids who are having mental health issues, etc.,” Nix said.

Nix said there’s not a standard day.

“There are things like schedule changes or credit recovery issues that I try to make sure is fixed the same day, but in terms of long-term deadlines, those shift as kids have needs,” Nix said. “If they’re having anxiety or something has happened, then I’m their go-to person, to help them work through that and so that would then shift the paperwork or whatever it is that I need to do.”

All three counselors said there have been more mental health issues among students over the years.

“When I was back in Illinois and working as an intern for school counseling, that wasn’t the case,” Reza said. “I can see a broad shift between states, as well as the years, and that was maybe eight years ago.”

Patton-Grubb said to become a school counselor in the state of Texas, you must have a masters degree in guidance and counseling, a teacher’s certification, and you need to have taught in a classroom for three years.

“I’m an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) so I have a masters degree in guidance and counseling, and I did internship/residency, and then I got licensed as a counselor in the state of Texas,” Patton-Grubb said.

Patton-Grubb said counselors care very much about students well being.

“The reason we’re here is to try to be helpful,” Patton-Grubb said. “Sometimes it’s strange to turn to an adult. I remember when I was in high school. I had a strong drive to try to take care of things on my own. I felt like that was part of becoming independent and that I really needed to do that, but it really can be helpful to have someone to turn to and ask questions sometimes. We are all here because we care a lot.”

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Counseling Staff is not One Size Fits All