Counseling Office Shifts to New Model

Major changes have been made to the counseling office. Since last year, three new counselors, Ms. Melissa Perlmutter, Mr. Robert Conners, and Ms. Kelly Maxwell, have been added to the counseling office led by new head counselor Yolandria Wyche . “We are working on delivering a full comprehensive counseling program per the [American School Counseling Association] or ASCA model,” According to the ASCA website, the ASCA system “focuses on providing professional development, enhancing school counseling programs and researching effective school counseling practices.” The ASCA model gets used by many counseling offices around the country.

The model provides standards for counselors to adhere to, much like teachers have standards to teach by. New to the counseling office this year, Ms. Melissa Perlmutter has worked with the ASCA model before at her previous school in Fulton county. “It’s really designed for us to be doing the things that we should be doing to best serve all students,” said Perlmutter.

Instead of just staying in the counseling office, the counselors will meet with students in the classrooms. Wyche said, “If we’re in the classrooms, if we’re offering the lessons, if we’re running small groups, based on needs assessment surveys, then we should see that we’re supporting the needs of the students.” The counselors will be doing presentations focusing on informing students about college, mental health, and social skills.

ASCA provides a national health and education awareness dates calendar. It includes dates like Women’s Equality Day, Mental Health Awareness Week, and International Day for Tolerance. Suicide Prevention Week occurs in September and is one of the many events on the awareness calendar our own counseling office is putting together. “When it comes to emotional support, and we’re talking about mental health issues, there’s still such a stigma about that,” said Wyche. “A lot of students, in an emotional sense, are suffering in silence.” Since the ASCA model is nationally acclaimed, some wonder why all counseling offices don’t use the model. “What a lot of offices are doing is usually in response to what the students are doing or what’s going on at that point in time,” said counselor Mr. Conners. “To run the ASCA model, a lot of it is to plan ahead of time.”

Disturbing Trends: “If you look at the data, our 9 th grade class is the largest and the senior class is the smallest,” said head counselor Yolandria Wyche. “We know something happens between those grades, so it’s very important that we have someone in place to meet the unique needs that the students in 9th grade have in transitioning to high school.”

Graphic by Leila Baniassad

One reason the Netflix original series “Thirteen Reasons Why” has come under a lot of scrutiny from ASCA is because of its negative portrayal of the ‘guidance’ counselor. “We don’t like the using the word ‘guidance’; the term is antiquated. We are Professional School Counselors, or PSE’s.” said Wyche. Information about different educational opportunities will soon be more available to students. Move on When

Ready is a dual enrollment program that allows students to earn college credit while working on their high school diploma. It covers fees like tuition and textbooks for each class students take. “[Move on When Ready] is a great opportunity for students to see what it’s like in a college class and to do it for free,” said Wyche. The counseling office will give out information about Work based learning and Move on When Ready during the parent nights of each grade level to make sure all students are informed about the programs.

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