We have another counseling intern in the office. We happen to share an instructor at the University, but we are not in the same cohort. Between us, we are counselors to the sophomore class- She has the students whose last name starts with A to JohnsEn and I have JohnsOn to the end of the alphabet. I also, in my job as Student Advocate, have all the students in the school in the alphabet JohnsOn to Z.
I never see her at the office but I thought it was because there is an outside door that leads to the hall in my office and students come into my office through it instead of through the counseling center.
Nope. It is because she never shows up. In fact last week the head counselor had a meeting with her and she is going to a different school that is open later at night so she can work around her other job and still get the 600 hours we need to graduate. It is a school that has students that need to do credit recovery or make up in order to graduate.
Guess what that means?
If you guessed that I am now the counselor for the entire sophomore class, you would be right.
State requirements state that the ratio of students to counselor should be 250:1. Our student to counselor ratio is 480/90:1. I have 600+ sophomores.
Every six years the school has to be acreditated and the counseling department has its Comprehensive Guidance Review by the state- basically accreditation for the counseling department. We have 12 standards that we have to prove we are meeting. (I have 3 that I get to present to the state) We also have 2 data projects we have to do every year. (I get to be in charge of 1 of them) We also need to give guidance lessons to students (starting next week and continuing the entire month of Nov. then again in Feb), conduct individual planning sessions with each student (in process now), run groups as needed (starting a grief group next month- we have had 6 families have a parent or sibling die just since Aug.) and respond to any crisis that come up (daily- already I have counseled students that have a pregnant girlfriend, or are pregnant, or are getting death threats because they witnessed a crime, or are being abused at home, or... makes me thankful that my kids only have a messy room and don't do their chores on time). And that is just the surface of what we have to do.
We also have to be on the accreditation teams for the school. I go to work every day and swear I enter a time warp because I barely open my office when the end of day bell is ringing. The pile of papers I need to deal with- now- is only getting larger.
And the district says there is no money to pay me as an intern. And the financial recession/depression at my house is only getting worse. We are hoping that after the state looks over our data they will realize that we have got to have at least 1 more counselor- full time- at the school. Because if I didn't have to do the advocate job and could consentrate fully on counseling, it would help. And if they can find the money, I will have a job next year. And I need a job next year.
Oh, did I tell you that one of the counselors and I are starting a 14 week group on families? Well we are. We have our first meeting on Thursday afternoon. We will meet with the principals with all of our "feeder" elementaries and junior highs. Each school will identify 1-3 families that they believe need help in learning how to be an effective family. Then we will interview each family and offer them the opportunity to join us for these 14 weeks. Then he and I will run the group. The first hour the parents will be seperated from the students and each group will learn a different skill each week- communication, goal setting or something like that. Then for the next hour they will get together and practice what they have learned. It is called Strengthining The Family. I am so excited to be part of this at the very beginning and defining how it works in our school. I am also excited to be able to teach some of the workshops. This is why I wanted to be a counselor. And even though the students will be allowed to make up absences if needed through this program, the skills they and their families will be learning is life changing.
But I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.