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New school counselor interacts with kids PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

Success in school is not just about reading and math. It is also about knowing how to learn and how to get along with others.

And that’s where Holyoke Elementary School counselor Sharon Jones enters into K-6 students’ time.

Further describing her role at Holyoke Elementary, Jones asks the question, “Does the head work if the heart is hurting?”

It has been a number of years since Holyoke Elementary has had a school counselor, and the role of that position is ever-changing.

Jones emphasizes that her background is in teaching. This is her 20th year in a school environment, having served as a teacher in Holyoke, Wiggins, Fort Morgan and Ogallala, Neb.

National studies have shown that a good social emotional balance is key to increased test scores, and Jones agrees.

At Holyoke Elementary, Jones will teach each K-6 class for a 30-minute session once a week.

Holyoke Elementary School counselor Sharon Jones reads “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day” to an attentive first-grade class in their weekly 30-minute session last week.  
—Enterprise photo

She will use Second Step Curriculum, which is leveled for grades K-5 and will also feed her own curricular resources into the study plan.

A video and worksheet series called AutoBGood will delve into character education. Jones said she will also do a career unit with K-6 students to help students be more well-rounded.

Sixth-graders will work on transitioning to junior high, as well.

Topics in the half-hour sessions will include skills for learning, empathy, emotion management, problem solving, dealing with feelings, how to be a good friend, bully prevention and positive behavior.

Jones’ lessons will carry themes such as respect, responsibility, safety, truthfulness, good sportsmanship and more. She plans to talk about the difference between tattletaling and reporting.

Jones will head the Positive Behavior System (PBS) for grades K-6. She said she will incorporate the RISE to Excellence concepts, but will take a new direction­—the Dragon Direction.

Three elements will be the focus of the Dragon Direction.

1. Be Respectful.

2. Be Responsible.

3. Be Safe.

The Dragon Direction will have a small implementation this year— in the school lunch room, hallways, playground and restrooms. Jones will be writing lesson plans to help kids learn the Dragon Direction.

Down the road, the Dragon Direction will move to the classrooms.

Jones will be available to assist students with needs throughout the day. She has an area in her room (Room 139) that is comfortable and inviting to students, hoping they will be able to talk through their problems in a safe environment.

Each classroom teacher has a rubber duck. If a student in their room is crying, upset or angry, the teacher can give the student the rubber duck to take down to Jones’ room to talk with the counselor.

Jones emphasizes that her job does not include individual therapy sessions. If a student is in need of the services of a mental health counselor, she can make referrals to counselors in this area and when appropriate paperwork is signed, can communicate with the mental health professional.

Communication is key in Jones’ job as school counselor. She noted she will be in contact with students, parents, teachers, principal, community services, professional counselors and law enforcement.

Confidentiality is crucial in her job. She said information that students share with her is confidential unless there is a crime involved, the student wants to hurt him/herself or the student wishes to hurt someone else.

If these incidents are involved in a conversation, proper authorities must be contacted. Also, any conversation with a parent involving a child is kept confidential unless the parent wishes for Jones to talk to a teacher or other school personnel.

Jones’ experience in schools has led her to the Holyoke Elementary School counselor position.

As part of her role, she will work with data digging to find things within testing (such as TCAP, MAPS and DIBELS) to help students and teachers achieve higher test scores.

Additionally, Jones is teaching a daily third-grade reading small group and will assist with other duties as assigned.

Jones earned her Bachelor of Science degree in vocational business education and her Master of Education degree in school counseling, both from Chadron State College in Chadron, Neb. For the past three years, she served as school counselor at Ogallala Middle School, where she was responsible for grades 6-8 with approximately 210 students.

“I am very excited to work with the students and staff at Holyoke Elementary as we work to develop a counseling program,” Jones said last week.


Holyoke Enterprise September 6, 2012