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An Interview With FASPS's School Counselor

Posted by Kyle Lewis

09/14/2018

Kyle: Brittany, this is your second year at FASPS as our school counselor. Tell us how you’re going to build on your work from last year, and if you’ll be doing anything different this year.

Brittany: This year I’ll be working in very close collaboration with Doris (Peer Mediation), Clay (SEL Coordinator), our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and Council, and the admin team to create a comprehensive school-wide SEL program. Last year I spent a lot of my time getting to know FASPS, our students, and our families. This year I’m going to focus on a more preventative approach to school counseling and social-emotional learning (SEL). Some of the things that Clay, Doris, and I are planning to collaborate on are peer mediation, school-wide assemblies, parent education nights, small groups, and classroom SEL lessons.

Kyle: Do you know what parent education nights are going to look like at this point?

Brittany: We’re still in the process of solidifying dates, but we have been in contact with all of the speakers that we’d like to invite for the year. Now we’re strategizing how best to fit them into the greater vision for the school.

Kyle: Can you quickly explain what a school counselor’s role is?

Brittany: A school counselor is here to provide social-emotional, academic, and career support. One of my goals this year is to develop and implement a comprehensive program that helps us from YPK through eighth grade, that helps kids to be social-emotional learners, to access their academics because they are confident students that understand themselves and respect others and are thinking about their future.

Kyle: You mentioned the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council / Committee, which met this morning [Thursday morning], as a cohesive body, for the first time this year to continue the work they began last year. You attended that meeting. Are there any insights you can tell us as far as next steps, what is on the horizon for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council / Committee?

Brittany: I co-chair the DEI Council with Clay Blankenship, and I sit on the DEI Committee, which is led by Gérard Morisseau and Deirdre Quarnstrom, who are both FASPS parents and trustees. Last year the initiative at the Council was primarily to get a school climate survey into the hands of our community and to, with the help of an outside consultant, gather the data from those survey questions. This year the DEI Council will focus primarily on the recommendations from the consultant based on the results of the survey, figuring out how to practically implement those recommendations into our school and what that means in terms of initiatives, SEL, and other areas.

Kyle: What’s the difference between the DEI Council and the DEI Committee?

Brittany: The Committee looks at the big picture for our school and gives guidance to the Council, which is a kind of a task force for the Committee. The Council takes the recommendations from the Committee and looks at how to implement them, how to breathe life into those recommendations at FASPS.

Kyle: So the Committee’s more strategy and the Council’s more tactical implementation.

Brittany: Yes, exactly.

Kyle: You and Doris were visiting classrooms this week. What were you doing?

Brittany: The last three days Doris and I took time going into classrooms to introduce peer mediation and school counseling, describing how to access us, and explaining when you might go to peer mediation and when to go to the school counselor. Peer Mediation is a program that Doris has been spearheading at FASPS for several years now, and the kids love it. This year we are so excited to bring peer mediation to all of our students, including the Middle School, which has never been done before. Next week we will have three days of training for the students that are chosen to be peer mediators. I will be at those trainings as a visible partner with Doris and the other peer mediator adult staff. Peer Mediation empowers students to solve their own conflicts, knowing that, if Doris or I are needed, we’re here as a resource.

Kyle: Doris is in charge of peer mediation for all of the grades?

Brittany: Yes, from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Kyle: What’s your favorite part of being FASPS’s school counselor?

Brittany: Spending time with students, getting to know them, is hands-down my favorite part of being FASPS’s school counselor.

Kyle: And, just as a final question, what should parents be looking for on the horizon in the next month or two in the SEL / peer mediation realm?

Brittany: Next week peer mediation training begins, SEL lessons in Middle School advisories are already up and running. Next week Dominique will begin to help students think through positive solutions to bullying and conflict in his drama class. Classroom teachers are implementing SEL every day in the way they conduct their classrooms. In addition, I have several upcoming meetings with Eric, Stacy, Ben, Doris, and Clay to talk through the parent education nights that we’re planning for the year, which I mentioned, along with a parent information night where we’ll better explain our comprehensive SEL program for this year and the years to come.

Kyle: Any timeline on when those presentations might happen?

Brittany: We’re talking about the presentations internally next week, and we’re planning on holding them in early October.

Kyle: Thank you for your time today, Brittany.

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