School board learns about counseling plan

Shawn Hardy

What role did a school counselor play in your educational experience? That was the question put to Greencastle-Antrim School Board members last week as they learned about the Chapter 339 plan the district’s counselors have been working on for two years.

The district’s motto of “Children First” was kept in mind along with other factors like budgets as the counselors were formulating the plan, a requirement of by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Dan Barrett told school board members.

“We have a unique opportunity to work with students one-on-one,” said Barrett, a counselor for the third-, fourth and fifth-graders at the elementary school. He said counselors get to talk about things teachers don’t have time to talk about with students.

“We are 21st century counselors guiding 21st century students,” he noted.

Their work involves students’ personal/social, emotional, academic and college or career issues. Youngsters deal with emotional and mental challenges, stress, depression, parental pressure and substance abuse, according to Barrett, who noted 50 percent of teens feel like they are addicted to their mobile devices.

As the counselors worked on the plan, they chose four areas they want to focus on:

Leadership

Advocate

Collaborate

Agents of systematic change

Barrett said ratios are important and the national recommendation is one counselor to 250 students, which is well under what the ratio is in Greencastle.

“If we could dream a little, with three additional counselors we could better help our students,” he said.