Pierce City reviews districtís guidance, counseling programs

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Committee supports parents, teachers, administrators and community

Pierce City School board members recently reviewed the district's guidance and counseling program.

Counselors include Emily Mulcahey, high school, Courtney Garner, middle school and Travis Van Horn, elementary school.

Counselors work in collaboration to provide a seamless program that meets the needs of students at all academic levels, facilitating their academic, personal and social development, and for high school students, help focus on their career and post-secondary education development, whether through college, vocational school or the military.

Van Horn, who serves the elementary school, reported students in that age group are beginning to develop their decision-making skills, as well as communication and life skills and character values.

"One of the things I think we are seeing more of is trauma," he said. "Whether traumatic events taking place at home or environment, we are trying to make sure we're prepared to meet their needs."

At the middle school, Garner said students being to explore a variety of interests, connecting their classroom learning to practical life and work experience, as well as searching for their unique identities through peer interaction rather than parental influence.

At the high school level, Mulcahey said students were transitioning into adulthood, when they begin separating from parents and defining their independence. They are also making choices about what they want to do upon graduation and afterward.

"Kids really just need to know they have someone they can talk to and trust," Mulcahey said. "They are learning to own their behaviors about taking personal responsibility."

Although counselors said they appreciated the support they received from parents and administrators, there were times their jobs posed challenges.

"We know we can't make everyone happy all the time," Mulcahey said. "Knowing you're here and have our backs is good. If you have anything to discuss, we'd ask that you bring it up in a constructive manner and help work on a solution."

Data collection and evaluation criteria used at the district includes safe and drug free school surveys, teacher and counselor surveys, MAP test score reviews, career testing and data, end of course exams and the ACT test.

Some of the programs offered through the counselors at the district include character education, VOICE and REAL ó OACAC, Red Ribbon Week, bullying prevention, college week, social media dangers, college and career fairs, classroom presentations, guidance lessons, substance abuse prevention, abstinence based sex education and hygiene presentations.

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