CCSD employs 90 counselors across 39 schools and centers to provide support and guidance to our students. Thank you to all our counselors for their daily efforts to help students and families! In recognition of National School Counseling Week, we asked our Innovation Zone Counselors of the Year to share some thoughts about being a school counselor-- what they enjoy most about their job and how parents can best help their children. Parents are encouraged to reach out to their child's counselor if they have concerns, questions or need information or resources. They are here to help!
What do you enjoy most about your job as a school counselor?
Middle School is a time of rapid change. I get to work with students during some of their best times and their hardest times. One of the things I enjoy most about being a middle school counselor is helping students navigate some of the challenges they perceive as overwhelming and then celebrate with them the excitement of being successful. Rod Metcalf, Woodstock MS
Absolutely the KIDS are the BEST part of my job!!! I love helping them with any problem or obstacle they are dealing with and find solutions to help them cope and be successful in their day! Madonna Mezzanotte, Little River ES
It's so hard to choose just one thing!! The thing I most look forward to each day is teaching lessons to classrooms. It seems that no matter the topic, the kids engage and participate in a fun and interactive way. I always leave a classroom guidance lesson with a smile on my face. Allison Landreth, Macedonia ES
Teens today are facing issues that are unheard of in previous generations. I appreciate having the opportunity to assist them in working through these issues. Just when I think “I’ve seen it all”, I realize I haven’t. I enjoy the opportunity to collaborate with parents, teachers and community members on behalf of students. Helping young people grow to their full potential is a privilege. Donna Ratliff, ET Booth MS
What are the most serious challenges facing children today, in your opinion?
Social Media and anxiety! They need to be taught coping skills to use in every day situations. Madonna Mezzanotte, Little River ES
Anxiety is a mental health issue of growing proportions in our country and specifically in the adolescent population. Academic pressure, lack of confidence and self-esteem due to the influence of social media, combined with overwhelming emotions takes its toll on our students. The good news is that today there are many tools readily available to manage this mental health concern. Donna Ratliff, ET Booth MS
What do you think would most surprise parents about your job?
I think parents would be most surprised at how often I meet with students to celebrate success. I think sometimes we view the school counselor as the adult that talks to students when there is a "problem." While that is the case, we also love to meet with kids to celebrate growth and achievement. Sometimes the celebration is about academic growth, and sometimes it is about behavioral growth. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing the excitement when a student is making growth towards their goals. Allison Landreth, Macedonia ES
What are some of the “best practice” strategies for parents to help their child be successful or overcome a challenge?
As parents today, we try too hard to smooth the pathway for our children so they don’t have to struggle. It is hard to watch our children struggle. When we do this however, we take away the opportunities for our children to learn problem-solving skills and build confidence in themselves. We need to allow our children to make small mistakes and then work through the consequences of those mistakes. When we allow them to navigate the small issues on their own, they won’t be as likely to fall apart when bigger things arise. When our children are working through those mistakes, we can offer encouragement, let them know we believe in them, and remind them that mistakes are part of life and they aren’t defined by those mistakes. Rod Metcalf, Woodstock MS
Due to the influence of technology and social media, kids need to have specific times to engage in conversations one-on-one. Parents should encourage their kids to talk about things. Make time for them to talk about anything that interests them. Consider using time in the car for conversation. This might mean putting headphones and tablets aside for a few minutes. Listen to them without discounting their feelings even if you don’t agree with their perspective. Donna Ratliff, ET Booth MS
What led you to the field of school counseling?
My undergraduate degree was juvenile corrections. During several internships working with youth involved in the court system, once reoccurring theme I discovered was that most of the youth disliked school. I decided that if I was a school counselor, I could hopefully make school a better place for some of these youth and help them learn coping skills that would prevent them from entering the juvenile justice system. Rod Metcalf, Woodstock MS
Before going to college, I had no idea want I was going to do with the rest of my life. The one thing I did know was that I wanted to work with children. I wanted to be a School Psychologist, but, after some soul searching I discovered I wanted to be a School Counselor. I enjoy helping students develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for children to become healthy, competent and confident learners. Creating meaningful relationships and enriching the lives of students makes it easier for me to come to work each day. All the hugs and hearing my name down the hallway gets me through the day even on difficult days. Mable Ferry, Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy
I knew in the 8th grade I wanted to be a school counselor. I had just moved to Georgia from Michigan, and moving at the end of middle school was traumatic. It was very difficult to make friends, the courses were different than I was used to, scheduling was different, and my parents were divorcing. The counselor at my new middle school helped me through all the transitions with compassion, and I knew I wanted to do the same for students when I was older. Becoming a school counselor was the best decision I have made in my life. This is definitely my calling and I feel fulfilled each day by helping students and staff members. Lori Waycaster, Indian Knoll ES