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School Counselors Help Guide Through Closure Process

Persell School Counselor, Alycia Johnson, used Zoom to do a social/emotional learning lesson with fifth grade classrooms.

“Hi Bush School friends! I miss you so much! I wanted to do something together so it would be like we are in my office having lunch together,” said Bush School Counselor Alexandra Peterson on the Bush School Facebook page. “We are going to talk about happy thoughts. With all the crazy things going on right now it can feel overwhelming. We might feel confused or sad. We might have a few of these feelings at the same time. I want us to think about happy thoughts that can calm our bodies when we are feeling these strong emotions.”

Peterson talked to Bush students about happy thoughts by having each student trace their hands and use their five senses – hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching -to think of happy thoughts. Peterson is just one of JPS school counselors who are working very hard during the school closure to help with social and emotional health. Many school counselors are using social media, videoconferencing and Google classroom to help students and their families.

Persell School Counselor, Alycia Johnson, is leading 30-minute, weekly Zoom social/emotional learning (SEL) with classes. For example, she worked with fifth graders using a therapeutic workbook, “What To Do When You Worry Too Much.” Each day, she uploads a document or other useful, helpful information regarding their social/emotional progress to her Google Classroom and also posts a mindfulness activity. In the future, she will be recording herself reading therapeutic books and uploading them into Google Classrooms so that students can watch them at their leisure and return to them if needed.

Fletcher School Counselor, Gillian LaMancuso, has been using the school website to post social emotional activities for students and families. She has been updating it frequently with community resources and articles that might be helpful for families and will continue to post new activities for families to utilize. She has also linked to her website through the school’s Facebook page. Also every Monday on the school’s Facebook page, LaMancuso announces the Freddy Falcon Award via video.

“I wanted to continue with the award because I know how much it means to our students. They have worked so hard all year and deserve to be recognized for it,” said LaMancuso. “I am hoping that this will bring a smile to their faces. I will also be posting short videos with social emotional tips for students over the next few weeks. This is a way for them to still see my face and know how much I am missing them each day that we are not in school. The relationships that we have with our students mean just as much to us as they do to them.”

Love School Counselor, Joe Hall, signed up for a free appointment online scheduling service so that students and parents can select a 20-minute time slot for general conversation, counseling, or homework help, which is promoted on Love’s Facebook page and through a Remind message.

“It’s important that I offer this service because during the course of a regular school day, I have contact with dozens of students. I work with them on academic, behavioral and social/emotional issues,” said Hall.

“Now that we’re all in isolation, they’re essentially ‘cut off’ from their school support systems, including teachers, friends, and counselors. By meeting on Zoom for 20 minutes, positive connections can be maintained. Additionally, if a student or parent is going through a difficult emotional state or is having trouble adjusting to the new normal, having someone familiar to talk to can be very beneficial. I’m willing to meet on Zoom with students and parents for virtually any reason — whether it is just friendly conversation, counseling to deal with emotions, or help with completing homework.”

If a JPS student or family needs the help of a school counselor, please call your school’s main office or email your school counselor. You can find contact information at jpsny.org/contactus.

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