Frisco ISD Staff Ready to Support Students

Sep 04, 2020

Stafford Middle School counselor webpage of Erika Hughes and Melanie Prince

Through a mix of curriculum, staff training, remote counseling support and parent outreach, counselors are creating supportive connections for students and their families.

“No matter a child’s educational environment, students deserve to feel cared for, capable and connected,” said Stephanie Cook, managing director of guidance and counseling services. “The District’s counselors have the ability and capability to meet the needs of individuals or groups of students and we encourage them to take advantage.

“We know students have experienced trauma of some kind in the past few months due to the significant change brought on by the pandemic and counselors have been preparing how to expand the social-emotional support to students.”

Students around the country are facing challenges never experienced in our lifetime and counselors across the District are actively anticipating and responding to their needs in a variety of ways.

Embedded Social-Emotional Curriculum 

Frisco ISD students not only have access to a renowned academic curriculum, they also have access to a social-emotional curriculum written by District counselors with the help of teachers and administrators.

This summer, the Guidance and Counseling Department completed a long-term project of creating a Pre-K through 12th grade curriculum that addresses students’ needs with learning objectives that are defined by the American School Counselor Association. 

Elementary students typically access these lessons through morning meetings, while secondary students access them through advisory classes.

The lessons are based around five key competencies:

  • Self-management

  • Self-awareness

  • Social awareness

  • Relationships

  • Decision Making

“The curriculum is easy to follow and the kids enjoy learning more about themselves,” said Maus Middle School science teacher Lacrisha Lewis.

An Emphasis on Character Strengths

In extension of the SEL curriculum, elementary students have key character traits that they are familiar with from day 1 in the classroom, including: purpose, growth mindset, curious, zest, grateful, self-control, social intelligence and grit.

Elementary classrooms across Frisco ISD have these traits on the wall and students regularly move photos of their face from trait to trait when their teacher catches them exhibiting these character strengths.

“The character strengths curriculum is aligned vertically so that siblings in elementary and high school can have a dialogue on the same character strength around the dinner table,” Cook said. “Developmentally, the students are instructed in a way that is appropriate for them but the social-emotional skill is one that is shaped over time as the child grows.”

Remote Counseling Support

While regular in-person counseling continues for face-to-face students and their families, counselors are also available to support virtual learners and their families with challenges such as coping with social isolation, work-life demands and economic uncertainty.

Students and parents can request virtual meetings or phone calls via unique sign-up links shared by the campuses on the counselor webpage. Counselors stand ready to provide mental health support or resources for families who may be struggling emotionally or financially. 

Individualized Response to Student Needs

All students have been provided the opportunity to participate in a needs assessment. The annual assessments are conducted by school counselors to solicit feedback from students and parents regarding needs for an inclusive and supportive learning environment. 

This assessment asks them about how students are currently feeling, their interest levels in various activities and how they are feeling with their school workload. While the needs assessment is already an annual student activity, it has become more vital during a time when this generation of students are collectively going through trauma. Counselors are responding to student needs in real time and providing students the resources they need to be successful in and out of school.

Trauma-Informed Care Teacher Training

All teachers were engaged in professional learning on the topic of trauma-informed care over the summer. The training guided staff on ways to disarm fear, optimize learning and facilitate healing for children impacted by trauma or crisis through a trust-based relational intervention. 

The seminar included information on the educational impact of trauma, student empowerment and creating authentic relationships that matter. It also addressed rethinking classroom management to focus more on how trauma manifests itself in student behavior.

Although the training was well-timed with COVID-19, it also equipped educators with tools to help children with backgrounds in abuse, neglect and other traumas.

Upcoming Parent Trainings

In August, families were provided the opportunity to share what they want to learn more about parenting through a Guidance and Counseling survey in the monthly districtwide newsletter. According to the survey, parents are most interested in receiving additional information on: college and career, navigating a world pandemic with your child and parenting a strong-willed child. 

Look for more information on these trainings soon to land on the District calendar or in the Guidance and Counseling newsletter.

Connect with Guidance and Counseling

The Guidance and Counseling Department sends a monthly communication that highlights the character strength of the month and a wealth of timely resources for parents. The newsletter is a bridge so that families can use consistent language at home with what students are learning on campus through the SEL curriculum and resources. Click here to sign up for the Guidance and Counseling newsletter to receive monthly information. 

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