OUR GUIDANCE PROGRAM: K-12
Port Washington is one of the few districts which is fortunate to have a comprehensive guidance program at all educational levels. From kindergarten to grade 12, our students have a professional resource that provides them with support and counseling through the most arduous of times.
In keeping with the true spirit of the Commissioner’s Regulations, Part 100.2, Port Washington has maintained school counselors at both the elementary and secondary levels. Though other disciplines may have more extensive standards, as outlined in state documents, our curriculum is extremely diverse and wide spread. We work with other professionals and families on "real life" issues and choices. Our curriculum involves developing coping skills, emotional stability, self confidence, empathy, and independence in our students. We, as counselors, have worked with families and students on issues of bereavement, crisis intervention, career exploration, academic achievement, scheduling, self esteem, and healthy choices. Seventeen counselors, housed in seven different buildings, work with over 10,000 individuals (parents, students, administrators, faculty, and staff). Our structure can be found in the individual and group settings, in the discussions that take place, both formally and informally, and in the conversations that occur with any individual that has a stake in the child’s future. We are guided by a set of principles, ethical practices and professional guidelines that meet national and state standards established by our professional organizations.
The counselors at Port Washington are proactive in their approach. Our conversations are broader and more holistic than those of the counselors from 30 to 40 years ago. The issues our families face today are more demanding, far reaching, and significant. The counselors interact more with agencies, colleagues, families, and children more than ever before. Our elementary counselors go into the classrooms to conduct lessons and to reach out to students. Our middle school counselors work closely with their assigned teams to identify each student and his/her needs. Our high school counselors have developed more programs and events to provide information for our families. At each level, our counseling staff has been involved in committees and groups designed to address the larger issues facing our community.
In The New York State Model for Comprehensive K-12 School Counseling Programs (2005), the role of the counselor is explained as such:
"The school counselor has the challenging role of warding off "situations" or
problems in the making for kids and teachers. Their critical function of
evaluating and viewing each student with a discerning and caring eye is an
important part of the role of the school counselor in regard to that student.
Equally as important though, is the counselor's job of working toward finding a
solution or path, which works, for the essential educator and the student not only
for the present, but for the future also."
Our role has continued to change in the school system. Counselors assist in maintaining student records, assessing test scores, assisting parents in filling out paperwork, working with students on emotional, social, and academic issues, gathering information, learning about regulations such as IDEA and 504 and NCAA standards, graduation requirements, state mandates, and learning strategies. They are adept at seeing how changes in society, such as the economy affect the family dynamics. Each family or student struggle is handled with a "differentiated" approach. We use the most effective techniques based on the situation, the individuals involved and the parameters that exist. With all these areas, comes a great deal of accountability and responsibility. The effect of a strong counseling program can be felt in every aspect of the community and the school system.