Stillwater Area High School counselor Sandy Weaver recently returned from a year-long sabbatical. During her time away from SAHS, she focused on getting her K-12 counseling license, taking courses in the areas of counseling diverse populations, learning about transitioning students from one building and grade level to the next, attending Grief and Loss Training, learning more about treating teens who are struggling with substance abuse issues. Those are just a few of the many experiences Weaver participated in during her sabbatical.
One new program Weaver put into place last spring, Counselor Watch, was adapted from other schools she visited during her practicum. Counselor Watch provides counselors an opportunity to identify students who may be at risk during the transitions from sixth to seventh grade or ninth grade to tenth grade. Counselors at both junior highs identified approximately 40 students from each junior high who fit those criteria.
Those students were then paired with a teacher who will connect with that student throughout the year: Teacher Student Connection. The student doesn’t know they have been identified for additional support. The model was so well received at the secondary level, that the elementary schools started using Counselor Watch and Teacher Student Connection in the earlier grades as well.
Weaver also brings back to SAHS other important and timely tools for educators and counselors. For example, Naviance, a comprehensive web-based planning and advising system designed to support the work of counselors, teachers, and administrators will be put into effect this year. This software uniquely tracks students; it tracks where they apply to college and if they get in. It is then able to create a profile of which SAHS students are getting into various colleges. A Perkins grant went to support the program software costs.
Near the end of Weaver’s sabbatical, she had the opportunity to attend a week-long residence program at Hazeldon. The focus of the program was to support parents whose children were in treatment. The information she learned during this time will be helpful at SAHS due to the absence of a Chemical Health Specialist this year.